Clean Bulking vs Dirty Bulking

Clean Bulking vs Dirty Bulking: Which One Is Better For Bodybuilding?

Comparing clean bulking vs dirty bulking is not an easy task to do; especially if you're a big fan of both. During my first year of weight training – I did everything instinctively without relying on books or the internet. I enjoyed lifting weights and I loved to eat; I also didn't have a concept of what bodybuilding was and the massive world of knowledge that it was built upon.

Eventually, the inevitable happened and I stumbled across the peculiar sport of competitive bodybuilding. Working out and eating for fun would soon be a thing of the past; my new goal was to look like the guys in the muscle magazines. Like any other amateur bodybuilding enthusiast, I did as much research on the sport as possible; so I could expand my knowledge and improve my physique.

Shredded Bodybuilder Posing

It's now been approximately seven years since this happened and I've learned a lot along the way – I've also made plenty of mistakes. Some of these mistakes were bulking related and that's why I decided to write this article. I know that a lot beginner gym rats get excited and want to eat everything in sight while bulking – if this is you, you might be interested in what I have to say.

There's no better way to talk about this subject than by comparing clean bulking vs dirty bulking. I've personally read, researched, and tried both dieting methods for building muscle; it's safe to say that both of them offer their own risks and benefits. Let's talk about the basics, point out their pros and cons, and choose a winner.

Dirty Bulking

The classic way to bulk is the dirty way. In theory, dirty bulking consists of placing the body under an unregulated caloric surplus. Bodybuilders who use this method rarely track calories and eat everything in sight. Dirty bulking is pretty cool -and popular among hard gainers- because it allows you to gain weight very fast.

The bad thing about bulking this way is that it's very easy to get carried away and get fat. I can't even begin to tell you how many time I've heard experienced athletes share their regrets regarding their experiences with dirty bulking. Gaining weight is very easy; dropping it isn't.

Ron Coleman Off Season

So, does this mean that dirty bulking is bad? I personally don't think so. If you watch what you eat and try to maintain a certain level of body fat while slowly increasing your calories; you shouldn't have any issues. Your food sources should be healthy and clean – avoid eating excess junk food and sugars.

A lot of lifters think that dirty bulking consists of eating a bunch of junk food and they're wrong – bulking is about increasing your overall daily food intake. If you're striving to become bigger, do this by eating healthy quality foods that are packed with nutrients. Don't skip your cardio and try to get the most out of your training sessions.

Clean Bulking

Clean bulking is the favorite dieting approach of experienced athletes and bodybuilders. Clean bulking consists of raising the daily food intake in a calculated and regulated manner. Clean bulkers strive to gain as much lean muscle mass as possible while adding minimal body fat. Even though it's a lot more difficult to do and requires a lot of patience and skill – the rewards are worth it.

Fitness and physique models are big advocates for this bulking style because it allows them to maintain a certain level of leanness that allows them to have an idea of how they're looking. If you dirty bulk and get fat; there's no way to tell if you're making any real progress under all that mass.

Abs Six Pack

Things get interesting when you begin to compare the gains achieved through clean bulking vs dirty bulking. A lot of people claim that it's nearly impossible to make big changes through the clean approach – while others think that going dirty is nothing but a way to justify excess body fat.

I personally think that even though these types of bulking have their pros and cons – they are both equally as important. While it's true that getting chunkier than usual can be weird; the crazy strength gains at the gym are enough to get me excited. The same thing applies for lean bulking – even though it's cool to be lean year-round; having the same strength levels and size can be annoying.

The Winner

If I had to pick a winner, I would probably have to go with lean bulking. Don't get me wrong, dirty bulking is a cool tool – but it can also easily get out of hand. The first time that I decided to formally bulk, I went down the wrong path and ended up becoming way too pudgy. Although it was awesome to be insanely strong – not being able to sleep comfortably, having problems breathing, and suffering from intense joint pan; wasn't all that great.

I wasn't comfortable with my physique and I dragged it out for way too long. Once I decided to get shredded; it was honestly a huge hassle. It took me about a year before I was able to undo most of the damage and see the light at the end of the tunnel. The cool thing was that most of my strength stayed with me and I put on a considerable amount of quality size.

Aesthetic Classic Physique

With that being said, I honestly believe that I could've achieved the same results had I done it the clean way. Like I said at the beginning of the article, I've made plenty of mistakes that allowed me to learn a lot of cool stuff – and that's the beauty of bodybuilding. Thinking back, I should've upped my calories slowly and avoided eating everything in sight.

If you're stuck and don't know how to go about your bulking; it's important to weigh the benefits and the risks. I've already shared my personal experience and I'm sure that you can find tons of extra online resources out there that offer a different point of view. Even though I think that lean bulking is better – if a dirty bulk is done in a controlled environment for a short period of time; it can also be very fruitful.