My friends and coaches have offered some great (and some not so great) advice over the last two weeks as I focus on bulking up and gaining 10 pounds by October.
From drinking coconut milk to eating lots of bananas and avocados to loading up on the McDonald’s dollar menu, all have been appreciated for their enthusiasm and support, though not always for their actual prescription.
In finding my way here, I thought it might be useful to also look at some more famous approaches to bulking.
THE SUMO WRESTLER DIET
Sumo is an ancient Japanese sport that dates back to the 16th century. The premise is simple – a rikshi (wrestler) attempts to force another wrestler out of a circular ring (dohyō) or to touch the ground with anything other than the soles of the feet.
The men who participate are famously known for their enormous builds and massive spirit.
On FUEL, a new web series by Munchies dedicated to the high performance diets of athletes, they follow Byamba Ulambyar, current world sumo champion, through his average day of consuming 10,000 calories.
In this amazing video profile, Byamba explains that to best compete in sumo, you need to eat healthy and take a lot of protein. His go-to dish is chankonabe, a stew made up of protein sources, such as beef and fish, and vegetables, including daikon and bok choy.
It is served with rice and beer. There is no one definitive way to make it, but this recipe will give you a sense for what goes in the pot.
And while we might be inclined to enjoy a large bowl, Byamba will eat multiple servings to reach his daily caloric goal.
The soup is rich in nutrients and vitamins and so Byamamba explains that, “You want to absorb everything from the bowl.” The other key is napping after meals.
To be a sumo champion, it all comes down to soup and sleep.
THE WOLVERINE DIET
The fan favorite of the X-Men has always been Wolverine and it is much in part thanks to Hugh Jackman’s portrayal on screen over the last decade, especially his amazing physical transformation in the more recent films.
In one year, Jackman went from being thing and frail for Les Miserables to superhero form in The Wolverine. His trainer, David Kingsbury, recalled, “That year, Hugh’s weight fluctuated by about (44 pounds).
By the time shooting for The Wolverine began, he’d shed (15 pounds) and gotten his body fat down to six per cent.”
So how did he do it? In an article for Metronews, Kingsbury described the grueling process. In terms of training, he was in the gym at least 11 hours a week.
Jackman would do one hour of weights followed by one hour of cardio every weekday. On Saturdays, he’d do a one-hour interval session using a gym sled and on Sundays, he’d rest.
As for his bulking, he had to eat around 5,000 calories a day. His diet included lots of protein (eggs, fish, chicken), vegetables (spinach, broccoli), carbs (oatmeal, brown rice, sweet potatoes) and fats (avocado, nuts, peanut butter, olives) but excluded all sugar, including fruit and alcohol. Kingsbury explains, “He ate protein every day, but to maximize results, we’d cycle his carbohydrates.
On weight training days, his first three meals would be carb heavy and the last three would include lots of healthy fats.
On non-weight training days (Saturday and Sunday) he would skip the carbs and just have healthy fats.”
GOMAD (Gallon Of Milk A Day)
The premise is simple – drink 1 US gallon of whole milk everyday for approximately one to two months.
This approach has been used by many skinny guys, especially in their teenage years, to easily hit their daily caloric intake goals by drinking their calories, rather than eating them.
One gallon contains 2400kcal, 200g carbs, 120g fat and 120g protein – that’s enough when combined with even a normal diet to push someone’s total calories through the roof.
Stronglifts explains that the plan is simple, easy, cheap, natural and offers permanent gains, in terms of both weight and strength if combined with a lifting program.
It can be fast and efficient but definitely involves a lot more grocery store runs and I’m pretty sure you will never want to see a glass of milk again in your life by the time you finish.
Thought by many to be the villain of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, but for any hard gainer Gaston is a true hero. He’s been bulking since he was a kid so that he can be an intimidating specimen.
The fact is no one’s neck’s as incredibly thick as Gaston’s. There’s no one as burly and brawny and he’s got biceps to spare.
Some question if he is on any illegal performance-enhancing drugs due to the fact that he bites people in wrestling matches and every inch of him is covered in hair.
Regardless, his bulking plan is incredibly simple as he explains in rhymed verse:
- When I was a lad I ate four dozen eggs
- Ev’ry morning to help me get large
- And now that I’m grown I eat five dozen eggs
- So I’m roughly the size of a barge!
Gaston’s approach may be a tad extreme as surely 60 eggs per day is going to cause one to have very unhealthy cholesterol levels.
Plus, that many fresh eggs ain’t cheap. Yet he might be onto something. Gaston might not get the girl in the end, but he’s full on “beast mode”.
THE MAC APPROACH
As the resident badass and karate expert “with “cat-like reflexes” on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Mac is always eager, usually with the help of sleeveless shirts, to show off his physique.
In the seventh season of the show, the crew decides to find replacements (their “avatars”) for themselves to work at the bar.
They want the replacements to mimic themselves and Mac believes a massive bodybuilder who interviews for the position is his equal in looks, especially when he leaves the gym and “has a full pump”.
But he admits Dee, who says they look nothing alike, is right and decides that if he is going to look like that “gorgeous muscle monster” he has “to put on some serious bulk”.
Mac puts on about 50 pounds in an attempt to be the same size as the bodybuilder. However, he does so without going to the gym.
He’s been stuffing his face with donuts and candy and the like; and, in all his grandeur of delusion, Mac believes he is cultivating mass. Much like how the statue of David started as a slab of marble, so must Mac gain size first.
Like all his hairbrained plans, Mac’s approach is flawed and ultimately fails. The Mac approach does not involve anything besides overeating and he is informed by his doctor that he is not healthy at all and has Type 2 adult onset diabetes.