| | Bulking Tips for a “Healthy” Thanksgiving

Author / John

Here’s a scenario; you’re a hard charging bulking machine who’s following the Bulking Protocol to a “T”. You’ve been steadily gaining 1 or 2 lbs each week, and to your delight, your pants are busting at the seams. The good news, Thanksgiving is your Super Bowl. It’s national gluttony day! The bad news, we’re in a “health” conscious world; you are traveling for Thanksgiving, and the food prep is out of your hands. The hosts are of the health conscious, low fat, steady state cardio, get in shape crowd.


You want to be a good guest and leave a good impression, and you don’t want to constantly explain the rationale behind bulking to the whole party the whole night. After all, you are not just representing yourself, maybe you are representing your significant other or a friend. So unleashing the inner Viking and pillaging the dinner table is out of the question.

Never to fear. I’m on the road as I write this, in a very similar situation testing out some strategies to keep your calories up. Here’s what I’ve fleshed out.


We’ll come back to this later, but I need you to travel back in time and bust out some old school threads. You’re going to need a pull over hooded sweatshirt with a front pocket, and cargo pants or shorts. If you have the pants that zip off into shorts that’s even better. Not because they help us achieve our bulking goal, only because their functionality is unmatched.

On top of that, bring a Power Athlete Tee and some sweat pants as a secondary set of digs.



People are simply too inquisitive and opinionated. They don’t understand the concept of bulking. If you announce the bulking protocol, you’ll get hit back with “It’s so unhealthy” or “why would you want to get bigger”? They don’t understand what it’s like to step under a 300, 400, or 500 pound barbell. Bigger is better. Plus, you don’t have time for that. Here’s the thing, do you know who would get it, or if they don’t, wont care? The kids.

The kids table will be your satellite bulking station. Make friends early, play whatever video games you need to, don’t let them win. No mercy. Outside playing football or catch? Teach them a lesson, establish your dominance, but be cool. Sneak off and break some glass or burn something with them, but swear them to secrecy. Because during dinner, as you excuse yourself from the table, you can pillage the kids table, leave a mess, and no one will be the wiser.



Perception is reality, if you can get your hands on a larger plate, you’re gonna be able to get larger portion sizes without standing out. If you can get your self an opaque cup, you can sneak off to the kids table and fill it up with gravy. Drink that sucker down, and pack in the extra cals. Drinking gravy is definitely weird, but you’re bulking and it’s Thanksgiving so it’s all good.


Gravy? or Water? Nobody knows…


Offer up to clear the table and take the plates over to the sink. As your clearing the table, bring up something extremely topical that will be sure to engage the whole table in discussion so their distracted. I recommend the Furious 7 movie trailer, it’s a sure thing.

Remember that strategic outfit you’re wearing, those pockets need plastic lining asap. You’re about to jam turkey, mashed potatoes, veggies, whatever macros you are short on in there for late night bulking. We’ll cover that strategy later, but for right now, pack it up, but not to an obvious level. We call this the Napoleon technique.

While the party is distracted talking about skydiving cars, don’t be afraid to finish off any partial plates near the sink. There has to be at least one hero who tried to put on a clinic, but fell short, and left a perfectly good piece of turkey prime for the taking.



It’s after dinner time. Maybe you’re watching football, playing board games or cards, or watching movies. Either way, no one will blame you if you change and get comfy. Head to your room, or the bathroom, and change out of the food packed clothes and into the sweat pants and Power Athlete tee. Sure, sweatpants are sure sign of “giving up” but everyone at the dinner will secretly be jealous, and more accepting than you think.

Before you join the party, snack up on some of that pocket food, but don’t get crazy you’ll need it for the midnight snack, or the drive home.

Be the bartender, pour some stiff drinks, and make sure the rest of the party will have a nice sound sleep. Feel free to partake but limit your alcohol intake, you still have work to do.


You can’t just hit the fridge, rifle through all the left overs, and get your last 1500 cals in. The breach will not go unnoticed, and it’ll be a hard sell to blame it on the dog. It’s time to crush all the pocket food you packed away in those cargo pants.


If you’re staying late, or staying overnight, no one will be the wiser of the mass consumption. You will have been a thanksgiving patron memorable only for their larger than average traps and quads. Say your thanks, goodbyes, and happy Thanksgivings, and mark this momentous occasion as a bulking success!

Happy bulking Power Athletes!




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John Welbourn is CEO of Power Athlete and Fuse Move. He is also creator of the online training phenomena, Johnnie WOD. He is a 9 year veteran of the NFL. John was drafted with the 97th pick in 1999 NFL Draft and went on to be a starter for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1999-2003, appearing in 3 NFC Championship games, and for starter for the Kansas City Chiefs from 2004-2007. In 2008, he played with the New England Patriots until an injury ended his season early with him retiring in 2009. Over the course of his career, John has started over 100 games and has 10 play-off appearances. He was a four year lettermen while playing football at the University of California at Berkeley. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in Rhetoric in 1998. John has worked with the MLB, NFL, NHL, Olympic athletes and Military. He travels the world lecturing on performance and nutrition for Power Athlete. You can catch up with John as his personal blog on training, food and life, Talk To Me Johnnie and at Power Athlete.


  1. pacificera on November 26, 2014 at 7:54 pm

    Hilarious!!! Thanks for making me smile.

  2. Paula on November 27, 2014 at 3:51 am

    Just got on the road and saw this-thanks for the great read! And guess what’s in my suitcase? Sweat pants and my PA tee shirt. Happy Thanksgiving!

  3. Luke Summers on November 27, 2014 at 7:39 am

    Happy Thanksgiving you two!

  4. Greg on November 27, 2014 at 7:50 am

    This has to be my favorite article by Luke ever. Well a close tie with the one about the Rock/Hercules. Happy thanksgiving everyone!

  5. Ingo B on November 27, 2014 at 9:00 am

    Luke, you’d be a hit with my grandmother. I was her favorite because I ate like a champ, but if you were there, you’d easily eclipse me.

    So maybe it’s best you stay away.

  6. Steve (a.k.a. Prof. Booty) Platek on November 27, 2014 at 4:07 pm

    mission accomplished.

  7. Gavin on November 27, 2014 at 6:17 pm

    Love it!

  8. Tyson Shumway on November 28, 2014 at 9:43 am

    Nice job!!!! I carved the turkey this year and used the one for you one for me method with each slice.

  9. The Turkey to End All Bird-Bans | Power Athlete on November 19, 2019 at 11:26 pm

    […] BLOG:  Bulking Tips for a "Healthy" Thanksgiving by Luke Summers […]

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