Bulking “Phase”


January is here and many of us are trying out new fitness plans to reach our new year’s resolution. My goal this year is to start training for the NPC Men’s Physique competition. It’s a different type of bodybuilding than the tradition type of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Being an ectomorph, I definitely will never be like Arnold Schwarzenegger, but I think I can push myself to add lean mass to reach the status of a Physique competitor. I’m not rushing this process because I want this to build a sustainable behavior and lifestyle.

So here’s the question: how do I bulk up? This is something most guys are interested in because most of the time when guys “bulk” up, they don’t do it cleanly. Most guys will eat anything and everything to add mass. Then, after that bulking phase, they “cut” or lean out. This cyclical behavior seems just too hard. For my personal lifestyle, I prefer to have build a sustainable routine. I don’t want to “bulk” by gaining a bunch of muscle with bunch of fat, then strictly diet to lose any fat gained. Call me lazy, that just seems like way too much work.

Here’s my plan–train harder and eat bigger (but cleanly!) which I started 2-3 weeks ago.


Total Workout time: 75 min. per session (maximum) to encourage focus and efficiency. Stretch Every Day.

Number of Reps & Sets per Exercise: 4 sets of 8-15 reps, drop set on the last set (unless noted otherwise).

Day 1—Biceps/Triceps:
Single-Arm Concentration Curl (4 sets)
Alternating-Arm Bicep Curl (4 sets)
Rope Pull-Down
Superset with Rope Hammer Curl
Straight Bar Push-Down
Superset with Cable Bar Curl
Single-Arm Tricep Push-Down (4 sets)
Dips (to failure)

Day 2—Chest/Core 1:
Cable Decline Chest Press (5 sets)
Superset with Cable Chest Fly
Seated Chest Press
Incline Chest Press
Modified Dip
Decline Bench Leg Raises (4 sets)
Decline Bench Sit-Ups (4 sets)
Push-Ups (to failure)

Day 3—Rest Day/Stretching

Day 4—Legs/Back:
Weighted Squat (5 sets)
Superset with 3D Squat
Leg Curls
Single-Leg Lunges
Standing Calf Raises
Seated Calf Raises
Seated Rows
Superset with Back Extension
Close Grip Lat Pull-Down or Pull up
Superset with Squat Hold (to failure)
Stretch: 10 minutes

Day 5—Shoulders/Core 2:
Dumbbell Shoulder Press
Superset with Dumbbell Shrug
Single-Arm Cable Lateral Raise
Reverse Fly
Superset 21’s:
Alternating Dumbbell Frontal Raise
Dumbbell Lateral Raise
Dumbbell Upright Row
Standing Oblique Crunches (4 sets)
Standing Side Crunches/Torso Twists (4 sets of 50)

Day 6—Rest Day/Yoga

Rinse, dry, repeat.

MY NUTRITION: sample menu

Water throughout the day and with every meal (~2-3L)
Chicken is replaced with any lean meats
Brown rice is replaced with any whole grain
Vegetable and fruits are a variety

Breakfast (7:00am) Oatmeal Oats
Black Beans
Snack (9:30am) Yogurt Greek Yogurt
Lunch (12:00pm) Main Chicken
Brown Rice
Snack (2:00pm) Misc Fruit
Pre-Workout Snack (4:30pm) PBJ WW Bread
Peanut Butter
Rasp Jam
Post-Workout Meal (8pm) Main Chicken
Brown Rice
Smoothie Fruit
Apple Juice
Supplement Creatine
Cereal Cereal

Wish me luck!

Thomas Ngo
NASM Certified Personal Trainer
Dietetic Intern


5 Comments Add yours

  1. Chris Salazar says:

    You mentioned creatine as a supplement, what about whey?

    1. Thomas says:

      Hi! Whey is a supplement a lot of people use to get enough or extra protein as a post-workout supplement. I think it’s fine to take in addition to diet if a person deems it necessary. It’s just not my preference.

  2. BJ says:

    Thomas, how many calories are you consuming per day? Do you cook large quantities of chicken and rice, then eat that throughout the day?

    1. Thomas says:

      Hey BJ! I would estimate I need about 3000 kcals a day, which I don’t always get. Everyone’s different based on many factors like age, height, weight, amount of exercise, goals etc. I don’t always cook in advance. It varies based on my busy schedule. I always try to have food around either cooked or easy to prepare on hand. I like prepping food in large batches for ease!

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