What is Dirty Bulking? – The SECRET To Getting Big

I’m going to start out by saying the truth- dirty bulking is definitely NOT the horrors everybody on the internet says it is.

Every single fitness person is out there saying dirty bulking does absolutely nothing but put on fat, ruin your gains, and destroy your health.

But the truth is- dirty bulking is actually the SECRET to getting big.

There isn’t a single massive bodybuilder (even Arnold dirty bulked regularly) that hasn’t dirty bulked. If they’re dirty bulking- why aren’t you?

#1 – What is Dirty Bulking?

In bodybuilding, there are two cycles to preparing for a show or just in general bodybuilding.

The first cycle is called cutting. Cutting is losing weight at a 500-700 calorie deficit of your TDEE (daily calories you burn every day). This is to lose body fat and let your muscle show.

The second cycle is called bulking. Bulking is done at eating 500-700 calories above your TDEE (daily calories you burn every day). This is to grow muscle.

The critical component of all of this is to weight lift and train hard.

So dirty bulking is when you eat above 500-700 calories above your TDEE every day. This usually means eating anything and everything in sight. (including ice cream, chips, junk food) Many people dirty bulking will eat upwards of 4,000-5,000 calories a day to try and gain muscle!

That Sounds Awesome- Why Isn’t Everybody Dirty Bulking?

Sure, eating everything in sight sounds fun! Especially since it puts on more muscle- right? So why isn’t everybody dirty bulking?

The general idea is that dirty bulking puts on more fat.

What is Dirty Bulking?
What is Dirty Bulking?

Everyday you burn a set amount of calories, this is called your TDEE, or total daily energy expenditure.

Many bodybuilders have come to the general consensus that eating anything 500 calories more than your TDEE will just add only fat and no more muscle.

That’s why dirty bulking is so frowned upon, many people just see it as useless and state it only puts on more fat.

But, I’ve been bodybuilding for 3 years at the time of writing this.

And truthfully, I’ve ONLY been dirty bulking- and my physique looks INCREDIBLE.

Regardless of What People Say – ALL The Famous Bodybuilders Dirty Bulked

Sure, I can say how incredible my physique looks. But what about all the famous bodybuilders?

Every famous bodybuilder dirty bulked at one point in their career- if not regularly.

Arnold Schwarzenegger even had a day every week in his program where he would eat nearly 5,000 calories and just go to town at a buffet.

So….if dirty bulking is SO bad….how come the best bodybuilders we know and love today were all dirty bulking?

#2 – The ‘Old School Bodybuilding Diet’ – AKA Dirty Bulking

The old school bodybuilding diet is something I highly recommend to anybody starting out.

The truth is- it’s pretty healthy. Back in the 70s, they didn’t have the selection of we have today.

And the truth is, back then, many bodybuilders didn’t do the whole ‘TDEE’ thing or anything. They just ATE a lot of food and put on weight.

Many of them were dirty bulking by definition, intentional or not, it worked!

Buff Dudes just uploaded a video a week ago talking about dirty bulking, I highly recommend you watch it. Many old school bodybuilders drunk a gallon or two of milk a day!

Old school bodybuilders didn’t have the science we had today.

Many of them worked out twice a day, for 2 hours minimum each, and had multiple steaks, vegetables, chicken breasts, gallons of milk, and more.

Bodybuilding Has Shifted The Wrong Direction

The big problem today in bodybuilding is that people are TOO FOCUSED in eating ‘exactly’ 500 calories above their TDEE.

And this for lack of better terms- royally screws everything up.

They get so focused on reaching this ‘glory’ number that will ‘make them shredded’ that they forget the entire concept of bodybuilding.

Many of these people are being told to NOT be in the gym for more than 45 minutes a day due to ‘overtraining’.

All of this is just incredibly wrong. At the heart of bodybuilding, it’s really just about breaking down every muscle in your body and making it stronger.

That’s the mentality of a ******* bodybuilder, not everybody can just do this **** every day. – Rich Piana

At the end of all of this- it’s just killing your gains. Being too focused on hitting this exact number and not training enough just doesn’t do anything.

The real secret to bodybuilding is hard work and big eating. There’s nothing more to it!

#3 – Dirty Bulking Works

Dirty bulking works. You’ll get the same muscle as somebody normal bulking. But dirty bulking is WAY more effective.

However- not for the reasons many people think. Let’s delve into every reason dirty bulking works in-depth.

The End Result Is The Same

This is something many new bodybuilders make the mistake of. You CANNOT look at bodybuilding or getting fit as a race, it’s a marathon.

I see it all the time. My gym is in the local high school. I see people come every new year for their resolutions, bust their backs working so hard for 1 month, don’t see results, and NEVER step foot in the gym again.

I’m always one to give advice if people want it. I’m NEVER one to go and approach people and try to ‘correct’ them (unless they are doing something unsafe) because the truth is it ususally never works.

But when people ask for advice, I am more than willing to give it. I want to see all of us eat at the end of the day.

I give some of these people free programs, diet advice, etc.

You WON’T See Results in 3 Months

Okay, truthfully, you probably will see results in 3 months. But not the results you are expecting.

People think they can work out every day for 2 months and look almost like Arnold. Anybody who has been bodybuilding for a long time will just laugh at you and tell you to get ready for the long haul.

Everybody wants to get ‘ripped’ and gets super frustrated when they don’t see results in 2-3 months. It takes years to really get to that ‘ripped’ or shredded state.

‘The Cut is WAY Longer, ruining your gains’ Debunked

I hear this ALL the time. People say when you’re dirty bulking, the cut phase is going to be way longer. The idea is if you’re spending more time cutting, that’s less time you spend building muscle.

This is simply just stupid. Bodybuilding is not a race, it’s a marathon. Most people will not get the physique they want for 5 years of lifting minimum.

Many of these influencers are just trying to peddle their ‘fat burner’ products to you to try and ‘speed up this process’.

I’m not selling anything here- I’m just saying it how it is. It doesn’t matter if your cut phase is 1 month longer than your best friend who ‘clean bulked’.

At the end of the day, bodybuilding is a long haul race of 5-10 years. 1 month is absolutely minuscule comparatively with the rest of this.

Use The College Analogy

Think of it like failing a class in college. College can be 4-7 years. Failing one class is barely going to make a dent in your progress.

Sure- you might save 3 months at the end of your entire college career if you had not failed that class. But think about the other aspects…

Your mental health may have been better because you failed that class. (I really don’t regret getting that B- in pre-calc) You gave up on that class and got an A+ in every other class because you had more time to study.

Or, that class was too hard and you just took the stress away. It’s the same thing here. You’re removing this stress of tracking every single tiny calorie but in turn delaying your progress a small bit.

But in the grand scheme of things- what does it matter? You add 2-3 months onto a total of 7 years. That’s not even to mention you could take that class over summer (a quick summer cut cycle).

You Feel More Energized

It’s no secret, eating more food will give your body: more energy.

If you’ve ever done a cut cycle you know, when you’re restricting those calories you feel tired and useless. Trust me, I’ve been there.

And you’ll know that without saying, adding a ton of calories to that will make you feel way more energized.

Instead of bulking at 200-300 calories and barely making it by, bulking at 400-800 calories will make you way more energized.

This in the long term means more muscle gains. The truth is, many people screw up their training. It doesn’t matter if you have the perfect diet if your training is trash.

That’s why you always see me taking pre-workout before the gym- because I know training is a critical part to all of this. I NEED energy to fully destroy my muscles and push them to their limit.

This quote is thrown around a lot: 20% of it is training, 80% of it is diet.

Yeah, if you don’t eat enough, you won’t gain any muscle. But I guarantee if you’re going to get in the gym and do 3 sets of 10 reps of bicep curls and leave the gym- you’ll see tiny results.

An important program is critical to your success. That extra energy is super important to training.

As Rich Piana said: “If you add another hour to your workout, add another 1,000 calories to your diet. You’re going to see a MASSIVE difference, and tell me how it would make sense for you to not see a difference?”.

Makes Bodybuilding More Fun

Look- basically everybody loves ice cream or some cheat meal here or there.

Dirty bulking makes bodybuilding more fun. Instead of trying to desperately slam down 20 chicken breasts every day in tears as you can barely get it down- you can have some ice cream.

You can have some junk food here or there. Dirty bulking doesn’t mean that 100% of your food has to be bad! But it allows you to have ice-cream or maybe that big mac that you want without feeling shameful.

And let me tell you- the Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese with M&M McFlurry hits harder than failing a bench press set. That’s around 1400 calories and will actually be pretty good in terms of muscle growth.

Dirty Bulking Saves Time

Dirty bulking saves time. I just mentioned above how my favorite sandwich and ice cream at McDonald’s is around 1400 calories.

The thing is- it is super easy to wolf down. If I was trying to do that cleanly, it would take way too many chicken breasts and milk. It would basically be impossible and take way too much time eating all day.

When I first started weight-lifting, I didn’t let it remove the fact I had friends.

Bodybuilding Doesn’t Have To Destroy Your Life

I still biked with Daniel, Michael, Carsten, Chaz, and Preston everyday. All I did was get my lift in, wolf down some food at McDonald’s, then go terrorizing the town with my buddies.

Instead of refusing them ‘because I have to eat for the next hour’ I quickly wolfed down ice-cream because it had a ton of calories.’

And you know what? I put on a lot of muscle in my first year, and I wasn’t even really on a ‘good’ program by my standards today. And for what it’s worth, I had a noticeable difference in my physique.

I was able to spend more time with my friends. And when we were biking, I could buy a $1 Big Mac (if you remember when they had that) for 630 calories and keep racking up the calories for the day.

Plus- I always had some ICEEs. But I don’t really recommend the sugar drinks unless you’ve hit the protein limit.

This meant when I eventually went back home exhausted, I had already hit my calorie limit and didn’t have to try and force-feed myself before bed.

If I was trying to ‘clean bulk’ this would simply be impossible with my schedule.

Even today running this blog, having a full-time career, going to the gym, etcetera I do not have the time to cook every chicken breast and make rice all day.

I have to be apart of the dirty bulking movement because it saves so much time. Eating a pint of Ben & Jerrys with a Double Quarter Pounder from McDonald’s puts nearly 2,000 calories in me in roughly 10 minutes.

Then I can get back to work.

#4 – Dirty Bulking Results

Many people want to see dirty bulking results.

Firstly- I’d look at any old school bodybuilders in the golden era. They all dirty bulked at one point and look at them now.


One example of a current active fitness trainer is from PhysiqueOfGreatness- he is this absolutely stunningly large bodybuilder and trainer who regularly dirty bulks.

In fact- he makes a huge argument for the dirty bulk in his video below. Check this out right away.

Rich Piana

Rich Piana was also a huge fan of dirty bulking and encouraged his fans to eat thousands of calories a day and they will just see huge growth.

Checkout his videos here!

Dirty Bulking Before and After

Sure- I can keep referencing the old bodybuilders. But I’m sure some of you want to see some more ‘realistic’ transformations if you will.

Here are some dirty bulking before and after photos, from people that aren’t necessarily professional.

Jeff Nippard’s Scientific Approach

If you don’t know who Jeff Nippard is, you better start watching him. He provides incredible videos referencing direct science in all of his videos.

Jeff gave the dirty bulk or ‘bear mode’ a try. He had a lot to say about the topic, including how interestingly enough, even if it isn’t the “best” way, some people prefer it.

I loved his points talking about how it makes you stronger and look beefier, giving a bigger appearance. And how not everybody wants that 5% body fat shredded look.

Colossus Fitness and His Dirty Bulking Experiment

Colossus fitness and his dirty bulking experiment was incredible. He did medical scans and talked about some pros and cons of this.

I like how he talked about how he put on a ton of muscle over those 4 months (nearly 10 lbs) but also had some setbacks like he didn’t like how ‘fat’ his face got.

Although I will say- he did a very extreme dirty bulk. At nearly 5,000 calories a day! I doubt most of us regular dirty bulkers will exceed 3500.

Jacob McDonald’s Dirty Bulking Success

Jacob McDonald is a newer bodybuilder (Well, at the time of uploading this video he was) and did a very successful dirty bulk with before and after pictures to show!

#5 – Dirty Bulking vs Clean Bulking

Many people ask what the main difference of dirty bulking vs clean bulking.

Theoretically, clean bulking is the idea of minimizing fat gain while bulking. So this has the advantage of making a shorter cut phase, as you will put on lower fat.

That sounds all perfect until you realize how hard it is to actually track the correct number of calories and restrict your food accordingly.

This ends up leading to many people making a big mistake of not eating enough- so they end up putting less muscle on in the end.

They end up eating at maintenance or even lower and suddenly cannot see any muscle gains- as they are not giving their body enough food to work with.

Dirty Bulking is eating as many calories as you want. This will ensure your body has enough nutrients to gain weight.

Dirty bulking basically always ensures that you are gaining the maximum amount of muscle possible. When it comes down to it, you can only put on a certain amount of muscle every month.

Why risk not hitting that quota every month? You only get so much time on this Earth, to risk losing that muscle growth is a NO-GO to me.

#6 – Dirty Bulking Foods

There are a lot of dirty bulking foods I recommend. The main idea of dirty bulking is to ideally get in the most amount of calories in the lowest amount of time possible.

Here are my recommended dirty bulking foods:

  • Any ice cream.
    • Dairy queen blizzard, McDonald’s McFlurry, Ben & Jerry’s Pint/Haagen Daz pint, culvers concrete mixer, sonic etc.
  • Burgers.
    • Many of the 1/2 lbs will give around 800-1000 calories and give 50-60g of protein.
  • Anything with peanut butter in it.
    • Peanut butter has a ton of calories and protein for a small serving. Those scotcharoos or peanut butter crispy bites are really good for this.
  • PB&Js, Brownies, Cookies
    • All good stuff with high calories

Dirty Bulk Meal Plan

Here’s a simple dirty bulk meal plan that I use all the time.

  • Breakfast: Something light like Chobani Flip/PBJ
  • Workout (2-3 hours)
  • BIG meal: Culver’s 1/2lb Burger with Large Chocolate Cookie Dough Concrete Mixer
  • Smaller meal: PB&J, protein bar, ice cream
  • Big meal: Pizza or 2 burgers. 2 mcchickens/mcdoubles.
  • Small bag of chips
  • Chicken breast/ broccoli
  • Another PBJ/Protein Bar
  • Chicken wrap/cheese quesadilla
  • Cheese stick

#7 – Dirty Bulk Transformation (Tyler1!)

Tyler1 the famous League of Legends stream has had a HUGE dirty bulk transformation.

In fact, he’s one of the reasons I stuck with dirty bulking for so long.

Here’s his incredibly motivational video.

#8 – But, Don’t Dirty Bulk TOO Hard.

The key to doing dirty bulking the right way is to not dirty bulk TOO hard.

Eating 10,000 calories a day and doing a 10 minute workout isn’t the wave.

Get in that gym, bust your back and get a good 2-3 hours of weight training with cardio.

Then, eat around 4,000 calories. 5,000 calories every single day is a little steep for my liking, but doing it every now and then isn’t bad.

Don’t be the idiot downing 8,000 calories after doing 3 sets on the bench press.

Tear your body up. Break every muscle, get sweat going, build your cardiovascular system, become a new man.

And then EAT. Eat a lot, around 3,5000-4,000 calories, and sleep good.

#9 – The Big Key To Dirty Bulking is Doing a Proper Cut

The big key to dirty bulking is at the end of your cycle: doing a proper cut.

This means reducing your caloric intake to 500 calories under your TDEE and sitting like that for a while.

Doing that is critical to all of this. It will shred off that fat, and show that precious muscle you’ve earned.

This is the crunch time, this is the time you should be focusing on your calories and shredding down.

Don’t let the bulk be a time of concern, push yourself to the limit, and use your cut as the reward.

#10 – Conclusion – Is Dirty Bulking Worth It?

Yes, dirty bulking is worth it!

At the end of the day. It doesn’t really impede your progress much. Sure- you might put on a little bit of fat, but it has its’ advantages.

You get way more energy in the gym, you’re happier, you still grow muscle, and it’s a lot more fun than clean bulking.

If you’re looking for a good program to start dirty bulking on, check out Arnold’s Blueprint to Mass!

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