If you’re a weight training enthusiast or want to be, you may have heard the term “Bear Mode.”
This term was popularized by Jeff Nippard, who experimented with achieving this physique on his YouTube channel.
Below we’ll break down exactly what bear mode is and tips for achieving this body type.
Table of Contents
- 1 What Is Bear Mode?
- 2 Jeff Nippard’s Experience with Bear Mode
- 3 Bear Mode Workout
- 4 Recommended Programs for Bear Mode
- 5 Bear Mode Benefits
- 6 Bear Mode Cons
- 7 Bear Mode Timeline
- 8 Tips for Going Bear Mode
- 9 Wrap Up
- 10 Other Body Type Tips
What Is Bear Mode?
Bear Mode is a dieting and training technique that focuses on gaining muscle mass and overall size. The goal is to look like you take steroids without actually taking steroids.
The ultimate goal of Bear Mode is to look big (or bigger) in clothes. A Bear Mode physique typically has a 15-20% body fat percentage.
Popularized by weight trainer Jeff Nippard, Bear Mode training focuses on the upper body. This makes sense, right? If you want to look big in a t-shirt, it’s all about the upper body muscles, especially the neck, shoulders, and traps.
Nippard points out that even if you have a lean, shredded body, you can still appear thin when you have your clothes on. Solution? The Bear Mode body. In this training program, your physique may, in actuality, be less shredded, but you’ll look big with your clothes on.
Bear Mode and Dirty Bulking
One of the critiques of going Bear Mode is that you’ll end up gaining body fat while you’re building up all that muscle.
Going Bear Mode is considered a type of dirty bulking. Your main goal is building muscle and bulking up. So, with this regime, you’ll need to be eating more every day to help you gain that muscle quickly.
A caloric surplus of 300-500 calories per day is recommended in Bear Mode. Gym enthusiasts and bodybuilders may be suspicious of the fat gain potential here.
But Bear Mode isn’t really just about gaining weight and muscle mass. It’s about making the muscles bigger and stronger and doing it quickly.
However, it’s important to remember that Bear Mode is not the same thing as dirty bulking. Dirty bulking aims to build muscle mass through eating and training—a lot. There’s no end goal other than growing big muscles.
Bear Mode does use dirty bulking tactics, but the ultimate goal is to look big in clothes and increase muscle hypertrophy.
Trained Bear Mode bodies usually end up with a body fat percentage of 15-20%, which is still considered healthy and in the athletic range.
Bear Mode Diet Tips
It may surprise you to learn that 300-500 extra calories per day isn’t actually that much. Your average glazed donut, for example, runs between 200-300 calories (depending on the size).
So, while it can be tempting to consume a lot of junk food in the name of going Bear Mode, it’s not a license to eat however much you want.
You’ll still want to make sure that you’re eating lean proteins such as fish and chicken, plenty of vegetables, and some fruits.
For example, here are the recommended daily diet guidelines for 5/3/1 Building the Monolith, one of the recommended programs for going bear mode:
- 1.5 lbs (0.68 kg) of ground beef
- 12 eggs
- The rest is up to you
This is a total of 170 grams of protein each day without counting any other food consumed.
You can also use healthy fats (nuts, avocado, olive oil) to help you add fat and protein to your meals and keep you feeling full. This may help to keep your carb cravings at bay too.
Bulking diets get a lot of flack for focusing on mass at the expense of overall nutrition. We’ll explore the pros and cons of this more below. For now, let’s focus on the exercises you need to begin doing to achieve a Bear Mode body.
Jeff Nippard’s Experience with Bear Mode
Jeff Nippard has a great video detailing his experience with the bear mode physique. You can check it out below.
Bear Mode Workout
A good Bear Mode workout regime focuses on the neck, shoulders, and traps. It’s still a good idea to incorporate cardio (although not too much) into your workout routine as well as other muscle groups. But you want most of your workout time and energy devoted to the upper body.
Bear Mode Exercises
Good exercises to do when going Bear Mode:
- Behind the neck press
- Weighted neck extensions
- Bench press
- Overhead press
- Compound lifts
Let’s start with the neck. Weighted neck extensions are a great way to build up your neck muscles, but you can also try neck flexion exercises. Adding weight to neck flexions will help increase muscle tone.
Exercises such as behind-the-neck presses and flyers will target your rear deltoids. Shrugs, when done correctly, are a great exercise that targets both traps and shoulders.
Compound lifting movements stress multiple muscle groups at the same time. Think of a squat/shoulder press combo. You’re not only using your leg muscles, but you’re also engaging your deltoids. Compound movements are great for building muscle because they give you more bang for your buck, so to speak.
Recommended Programs for Bear Mode
Freefalling into Bear Mode can be disorienting at first.
Never tried going Bear Mode before but thinking that it might be for you? It might be helpful to follow a specific routine or program first.
These weight training programs give you a litany of different exercises for each workout day, all focused on building muscle mass. And the programs come with sample diets too, giving you some valuable ideas.
Bear Mode Benefits
So why is going Bear Mode so popular? Well, in short, because it’s effective. It also has a lot of things going for it. The three most significant benefits of going Bear Mode are:
- You’ll look bigger (in clothes): This is the one a lot of lifters are after. As mentioned above, Jeff Nippard references how frustrating it can be. You spend all this time getting cut, and then others cannot even tell when you put your clothes on.
- You’ll get stronger: Even though Bear Mode is about maximizing muscle size, you will likely get stronger during your training. Bigger muscles equal more power.
- You’ll be able to eat what you want: Because Bear Mode isn’t focused on lean bulking, you can pretty much eat what you want. And you can feel okay about it, too, because the calorie intake is going toward your goal of getting big.
A lot of folks really like the idea of eating what you want and getting big while you’re at it. It’s definitely more freeing than being on a lean diet.
You do need a caloric surplus when you’re in Bear Mode. (Caloric surplus is just a fancy term for consuming more calories than you burn). But you don’t exactly want to eat all you want, either. Aim for a surplus of 300-500 calories per day.
Bear Mode Cons
As popular as going Bear Mode is, it definitely does have some cons:
- You’ll gain fat: Current bodybuilders going Bear Mode will almost certainly gain fat from all the dirty bulking.
- You’ll look less shredded: Nippard points out that if you’re going Bear Mode, you’ll likely lose your six-pack. And while you may look bigger in your clothes, in actuality, you’ll probably get smaller.
- You’ll be eating less healthy foods: From a nutritional standpoint, dirty bulking isn’t as good for you as lean bulking.
Nippard also points out that Bear Mode can make you feel more sluggish during training.
There’s also no way around the fact that one of the easiest ways to consume more calories is to eat more fast food. Fast food and high carbohydrate meals tend to be calorie-heavy and low-nutrient options.
This may be a great strategy in the short term because it will definitely help you to get the calories you need to bulk up. But bad eating habits can be hard to break. It may be hard to cut out the fast food and go back to eating healthy.
Eating poorly and overeating can also lead to obesity and other long-term health problems.
Bear Mode Timeline
A lot of people wonder how long they will need to train before they start seeing results. This will really depend on your starting condition. If you’re already a regular weightlifter and you consider yourself pretty fit, you may see changes in as little as four to six weeks.
But for those just starting out or just beginning to bulk up, be patient. A good workout routine can take quite a bit to become a habit. You’ll need to learn how to balance your workout sessions with a complimentary diet, which can take time.
So if you’re new to the game, don’t get discouraged. Keep it up and be patient. As long as you’re consistent, you’ll definitely begin to see results.
Tips for Going Bear Mode
Remember, if you want to go Bear Mode and you want it fast, here are your tips:
- Eat an extra 300-500 calories per day
- Keep training volume high to help induce muscle hypertrophy
- Target neck, shoulder, and traps with additional accessories if needed
Even though your journey won’t be as challenging as traditional lean bulking, going Bear Mode is no joke. Keep tabs on your diet, and aim for 15-20% total body fat. Be sure to make a commitment and get a training plan first, and you’ll be well on your way to going Bear Mode.
Other Body Type Tips
If you’re looking for advice for other body types, check out the following articles.