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If you want to come into Summer looking like a carved Greek God, or Goddess for that matter, you need to put in the hard yards during Winter. It may feel counterintuitive eating in a calorie surplus, but it’s a sure-fire way to increase muscle mass, when combined with proper resistance training. The cooler months are in fact a perfect opportunity to add lean muscle mass, so let me tell you why and how.

1. You can’t contain those cravings.

With the turn of the season, our sweet cravings tend to rear their ugly head. A salad suddenly doesn’t feel so appetising, but in all honesty, there’s no need to fight the urge for more comfort driven meals. During these months, you have room to indulge in a few extra calories, and for the good of the gains they should be spent wisely.

To get the best results it’s important you use the best fuel. A dirty bulk might seem the easy route because of the tempting nature of inexpensive fast food, but it’s not going to get you to the right destination. A clean bulk is the way to go.

If you’re lacking a little inspiration in the kitchen, or simply not a fan of the art of meal prepping, might I suggest trialling one of the many fresh food delivery services now available in Aus. Brands like MACROS offer dietician-designed, chef-made meals which are packed with protein and wholefood ingredients, delivered straight to your door. In order to support your fitness needs and goals, they do in fact have several tailored meal plans on hand, including ‘gain’, which aims to build muscle mass through high calorie, carb loaded food. Indulge in a hearty lamb and rosemary shepherd’s pie, or juicy tandoori chicken guilt free.

2. Testosterone levels decrease slightly.

Studies suggest that during the colders seasons, testosterone levels tend to naturally decline, whilst estimated estrogen levels slightly increase. This change, along with other hormones such as leptin, may create an environment that is more conducive to weight gain. How this weight is gained may be affected by level and type of exercise, and diet.

3. You can hide those extra kilos.

As the temperature drops, it’s only natural to pile on the layers, clothing wise I mean; an opportunity to safely hide those extra kilos you’ve packed on under some snuggly hoodies. No stress however, as with any bulking phase the cutting follows, so these extra kilos eventually will melt away to reveal a well-earned chiselled physique, right in time for summer.

As with any wellness journey, physically focused, food oriented, or otherwise, I highly recommend you consult your medical and health professional to ensure your plan is tailored to your personal needs.

Once you’ve hit your bulking goals, whether that be a stronger booty or bigger shoulders, it’s time to maintain your progress and make a few small adjustments to your diet. Eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full, use your intuition to source energy as needed. You can expect to lose some weight but by all means consider a healthy routine established!

About James: James Halim has a Bachelor in Exercise & Sport Science and a Masters in Nutrition & Dietetics with over 5 years in the food industry. With a strong passion for fitness, health, and wellbeing, James has an aim to become an advocate for a balanced healthy lifestyle with exercise and nutrition.

About MACROS: MACROS ready-made meals make healthy eating easy and delicious for every Aussie. Nutritionally-balanced and portion-controlled, MACROS meals are dairy-free and cater to a range of dietary requirements whilst also offering high-protein, low-cal, and low-carb options. Whether you’re looking to sort healthy work lunches, are too busy to cook in the evening, or are looking to support your fitness goals, MACROS has a plan for you with meals that start at $8.70 each.