While bulking is a tactic to increasing muscle size, adding extra calories adds fat too. Unless you’re underweight, it’s not necessary to increase calorie intake for the sole purpose of muscle gains. Not only does excess fat cause inflammation and increases estrogen, that extra fat reduces testosterone; “…low testosterone levels make it difficult to significantly increase muscle size” (1). If you want muscle gains, you’ll want your body fat in the teens to show off those muscles (otherwise they’ll be hidden under a layer of fat).
Even though you want to increase muscle size, don’t train at 100% all the time, or lift more than six days a week (four is typically plenty though); doing so will lead to overtraining. By overtraining, the immune system is suppressed and testosterone levels fall, “…making gains in muscle size impossible.”
Lift heavier, focus on form, and reduce reps to 12 (those last few reps should be challenging). Sets should range from 4-6, prioritize whole foods and complex carbs with the highest nutritional value over calories, vary training intensity, take rest days, and you’ll see improved strength with consistency.
Photo: Kasey Housmans, Fitness Trainer
(1) Source: Fahey, EdD, Thomas. Strength and Conditioning. Carpinteria: International Sports Sciences Association. 9th ed., 2018. Print. Pg. 90, 94.