It is quite common for men to go on a bulking phase, for anyone who doesn't know bulking is where the individual consumes large amounts of calories to try and add muscle mass. But should women bulk? To most women the thought of eating extra calories means they will gain body fat which is exactly what they are trying to avoid. It is common knowledge that eating too much will result in fat gain so why should women eat more calories?
Before we look at the reasons why lets look at what it means to bulk. In my opinion a bulk is simply where you consume more calories than you burn, a calorie surplus. This could be anything from a few hundred calories to thousands. If you are eating more than you burn it's a bulk as you are in a calorie surplus. Sometimes you may see people eating large meals that are high in calories which is sometimes referred to as a dirty bulk.
If the calories you are consuming are a lot more than you burn you will find you will gain a significant amount of body fat which is not ideal. When you are bulking the chances are you will gain some body fat but if you are not consuming too much this should be minimal. The more body fat you gain the longer you will have to diet at the end to get rid of it so you should bear this in mind when deciding on bulking.
In my experience women who should bulk fall into 2 categories. The first is the woman who has restricted calories to a low amount and is struggling to drop anymore body fat after the initial loss. The second is the woman who is already at a low body fat level and wants to make changes to their physique that requires an increase in calories.
In the first example these women usually eat small amounts of food. Their calories are quite low and their isn't much protein in their diet. They are doing a lot of cardio and not seeing much progress. Sometimes in the search for progress to continue they reduce calories even further which slows down progress even more. The reason these women should increase calories is because their metabolism has slowed down. They are consuming far less calories than they should be and this results in the body keeping hold of body fat instead of burning it. In this scenario I have found increasing calories with a good macronutrient balance has resulted in further fat loss.
In example 2 I have found women who want to improve on their glutes or specific body parts. In order to grow glutes the chances are you will need to consume some extra calories to achieve this. You can't expect something to grow if you are not feeding it. So yes girls as well as squatting and deadlifting you need to feed the booty (squatting and deadlifting is not the be all and end all but that's for another post). In this scenario you may find you do add a little body fat as you add in calories but one thing to point out is sometimes adding a little body fat to a very slim frame will actually make you look better. If you weigh 54kg for example and go on a slow steady bulk and add 2kg in lean body weight you will look a lot better i can assure you.
I have worked with clients before where we have increased calories over a long period of time and then gone on to diet to reduce the extra body fat. If you look at this picture here is the same girl before and after a long bulk. She weighs 54kg in the picture on the left and 54kg on the picture on the right. In order to achieve the results we did she had to bulk first.
I'm sure there will be some women reading the post who fall into one of these categories. i would encourage you to try slowly increasing calories and seeing what the effect is. Make sure you follow good macronutrient ratios and I’m sure you will find it useful.