Bulking is a gaining phase where the focus is on gaining as much lean muscle mass as possible which involves lifting more weight and consuming more calories.
While this dedicated focus is usually effective for building muscle mass (most people find bulking easier than cutting), it’s not without its side effects or downsides!
While you can wear long clothes to cover up excess fat when bulking, there is one area that is still susceptible to gaining fat that is quite a big issue for some is your face getting fat as a result of bulking.
Does bulking make your face fat? Bulking will make your face fat as a result of the surplus calories. Certain genetic factors will heavily influence this as well as the size of the calorie surplus that you consume but during a bulk, you should expect to see at least some fat gain around your face.
Wanting to keep chiseled cheekbones on a bulk is understandable, even if you don’t have a lean face normally you may still want to avoid getting “puffed” cheeks. In this article, I’ll cover some of the basics of whether bulking makes your face fat and how to reduce excessive fat gain if it’s a concern.
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Fat Gain While Bulking
If you are new to bulking then it’s likely you’ve already done some research (and are still in the process of doing it) and have probably realized that gaining excess body fat is a common side effect for 99% of people that choose to bulk.
While there will be some genetic freaks that can consume more calories and build lean muscle mass without putting on an ounce of additional fat. These are the exceptions though, for most people the reality is that you will gain some excess body fat during a bulk.
While there are some lean bulking methods that look to minimize fat gain on a bulk and there are even people that can look leaner on a bulk, it’s inevitable that you will gain some degree of body fat while bulking.
Consuming a calorie surplus is an essential component of bulking and is needed to facilitate muscle growth and strength progression, the main side effect though is that surplus calories not utilized in the weight room will often be stored in the form of body fat.
Fat gains or also not targeted, while you might be happy to gain some weight around the midsection on a bulk, most excess fat that you gain will be genetically be predetermined.
Males are genetically prone to gaining more body fat around the abdomen and lower back whilst females will see more fat storage around the thighs, hips, and glutes.
This doesn’t mean that you won’t hold body fat in other areas though and depending on how high of a calorie surplus you consume (and for how long), you’ll store body fat in all areas while bulking.
Does Bulking Make Your Face Fat
As a result of genetics and other factors out of your control, bulking will most likely result in gaining body fat all over, including your face. There are countless forum threads with bulking beginners wondering how they can bulk up without getting a fat face.
Some are already experiencing this issue whilst others are looking to be preventative and looking for solutions or tips to ensure that it doesn’t happen to them. It is however a very common occurrence.
A well known fitness influencer Merjin, even has a transformation video that shows the difference between a bulking face and a sub 10% body fat face to highlight the noticeable differences.
While genetics will play a significant part in where you store body fat as a result of surplus calories when bulking, there are some tactics or strategies that you can implement to try and reduce the effects of fat gain around your face while bulking.
These are not guaranteed methods and if I’m being honest, it’s best to accept that you will gain some facial fat while bulking and try to focus on the process of building muscle mass.
While you might temporarily have a “fatter” face, the improvements to your physique will more than overshadow this in the long term. Bulking is hard and if the process was easy, everyone would weigh 200lbs+ whilst being <10% body fat.
Can you Bulk Without Gaining Face Fat
If you really want to bulk without gaining face fat, the only realistic method that you can take is to bulk with a very small calorie surplus. Typically, I’d advise utilizing a smaller calorie surplus most of the time anyway and then adjusting it based on how you respond in terms of scale weight.
When it comes to really trying to minimize excess fat gain though (including fat around your face), a controlled and minimal surplus will be the most effective option. Even when using this method though, it’s important to keep in mind that you are still likely to gain some fluff around your face in the long term.
When keeping the surplus low, you should look to only go 100 – 200 calories over your maintenance calorie requirements. A 100kcal surplus would be a good starting place as this is low enough to track any changes in weight and body composition but not so high that you see any excessive gains in weight or fat.
A low calorie surplus will still be enough to facilitate new muscle growth as a surplus essentials means that you are consuming more calories than your body requires to maintain weight (regardless of how large or small the deficit is).
It is worth keeping in mind though that a small surplus may not be the optimal method for a lot of people. Personally, I advocate a small surplus when bulking for most people. However, during my own bulking phase my surplus will be at the higher end of 500kcal+.
Not everyone can see progress on a small calorie surplus and this is why it is so important that you track your body weight changes on the scale, track changes with a tape measure, and even use the mirror as a guide.
A slow and controlled calorie surplus will certainly help you bulk with minimum fat gain in the process but unfortunately, there is no way to guarantee you can bulk without gaining unwanted facial fat.
This is a genetic and responsive factor that will vary for every individual, the best method you can follow to combat it is to keep the calorie surplus low and try to accept that some facial fat is just part of the process when it comes to building a physique.
When bulking, there is a very high probability you to will gain some excess body fat in the process and unfortunately for most people, this will also result in storing fat around your face.
Genetics and how high of a calorie surplus you consume (alongside how long you consume it for) are the two key factors that will influence just how much excess fat you will put on around your face.
While some will be blessed genetically and will see a minimal fat gain in their face while bulking, the vast majority will sport a set of hamster cheeks at some point during a bulk and the best way to prevent this is to take your calorie surplus slowly in incremental increases.
This will extend the period of time required to build muscle mass and it’s therefore an ongoing balancing act between trying to maximize muscle growth whilst simultaneously minimizing excess fat gain.
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