We can’t deny that Jeff Nippard is a bodybuilding hero deserving respect and admiration.
So when we learned that the guy who can deadlift and squat over 500 pounds recommended something called “Bear Mode,” we had to take a closer look.
Are you ready to go Bear Mode like Jeff Nippard? Then, keep reading to find out how!
Table of Contents
What is “Bear Mode”?
Bear Mode is a method of “dirty bulking.” So the overall goal of Bear Mode is to eat as many calories as possible to trigger some serious weight gain and fast!
By the end of the cycle, you’ll bump up your body fat percentage to a whopping 15% to 20%.
Nippard shares his personal experience with this bulking approach in a couple videos.
When combined with a hypertrophy routine, particularly one that targets the traps and neck, the goal of Bear Mode is quite clear: To look massive without having to take your shirt off.
Bear Mode will help you look buff and muscular (a clear benefit of cutting) without restricting your diet and adding cardio to your routine (a vital benefit of bulking).
This is also a common strategy used by strongman athletes to gain the maximum amount of muscle since they don’t care about fat gain.
It can earn you some respect in the gym and the freedom to eat what you please.
1. Bump Up Your Caloric Intake
You can’t go Bear Mode without packing on some serious weight along the way. So to do that, you’ll need to start eating much more than you usually do.
A lot more.
Jeff Nippard suggests gaining 2% of your body weight each month. So you’re probably looking at an extra 300 to 500 calories a day depending on your body weight.
Here are some tips for upping your daily calories more strategically.
- Drink your calories, specifically through high-calorie protein shakes or mass gainers.
- Eat the foods you’re craving, so don’t force yourself to eat low-calorie chicken if you’re craving cheesecake.
- Add toppings or extra ingredients with many calories, like cream in your coffee or gravy with your turkey.
- Avoid drinking too close to mealtime, as this fills your stomach up and reduces your appetite while eating.
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It’s a good idea to count calories to be sure you’re getting enough to see weight gain, but that you’re not overdoing it where you’re packing on too much weight each month.
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2. Do Cardio Here and There
The weight gain and the buff look are some of the greatest benefits of going Bear Mode. But there’s a major downside you may notice in the gym: The extra weight might slow you down.
Nippard himself has seen this effect on high-volume training days, particularly leg day.
The more reps he cranked out during the workout, the more fatigued and out of breath he felt. So he has a recommendation, one that you might not like:
Do some cardio.
Two or three sessions per week, to be exact.
The goal of these cardio sessions will be to keep your lungs and heart functioning as they should. Even strongman need this!
The harder you can push yourself in the gym, the more mass you’ll build.
So choose your favorite cardio exercise and keep at it for 15 to 30 minutes at a time. We’re talking about running, biking, swimming, or even something fun like kayaking.
3. Keep an Eye on Your Body Fat Percentage
Like any eating and workout plan out there, Bear Mode has a defined goal. In particular, you’re looking to limit your body fat percentage to just 15-20% of your total body weight.
For a lot of guys, especially if you hit the gym and are coming off a restricted diet, this can seem impossible.
But then you get into the swing of things.
You’ll find yourself piling mounds of food into your mouth and eating 3,000 or more calories a day. So when you notice the number on the scale going up, measure your body fat.
You can do that with skinfold calipers or a bathroom scale that measures your body fat (though these aren’t always 100% accurate).
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Once you see you’re nearing or exceeding the 15-20% body fat range, begin cutting your calories a little and add some cardio to your routine.
Don’t immediately switch to a cut cycle, but rather slow the bulk a bit and stick to Bear Mode.
4. Center Your Attention on the Compound Lifts
Eating more calories than normal (a caloric surplus) is needed when going Bear Mode to bump you up to that 15-20% body fat range. But just eating more won’t bulk you up in terms of muscle.
It’ll make you fat.
To go true Bear Mode like fitness expert Jeff Nippard, you have to hit the gym and hard.
Jeff Nippard suggests bulking up by sticking to the compound lifts to get stronger. That means ditching the dumbbell bicep curls and cable tricep extension and choosing exercises like:
- Bench press
- Overhead press
For example, Nippard sets a high priority on the deadlift and we share some of Jeff’s best deadlift form tips and ways to overcome mistakes so you can boost your own numbers faster.
The whole purpose is progressive overload. Perform these five exercises and make improvements weekly (either bump up the resistance or do more reps/sets).
And if you still have some fuel left in the tank, dedicate it to some of the minor movements that you like doing (like bicep and tricep exercises).
Most importantly, stick to a rep range that targets hypertrophy, typically 6 to 12 reps.
5. Focus on Specific Muscles to Make You Look Huge
The goal of Bear Mode is to build mass. But not just any muscle mass: You want to build visible muscle mass without having to take your shirt off.
You want to fill out your shirts (and pants) a little better.
Like Nippard explains in his interview with AlphaDestiny, you want to focus on muscles like:
So, in addition to the five compound lifts we talked about before, you might want to add exercises like wrist curls, shrugs, and glute-ham bridges to your routine.
These are great finishers, but also support your major compound lifts for guys aspiring to be a powerlifting or strongman competitor.
How Do You Go Bear Mode Like Jeff Nippard?
To go Bear Mode like Jeff Nippard, you’re not just going to eat as much food as you can in a day. Instead, you’ll:
- Eat more calories than usual (likely 300+ more calories a day)
- Do two to three cardio sessions a week to power through high-volume workouts.
- Limit your weight gain to 2% per month and slow down when you are near 15-20% body fat.
- Focus on the compound lifts like the bench press, squat, and deadlift.
- Do exercises that target muscles that make you look big, like your traps and forearms.
Stick to the program for a few months or a year, and you’ll look massive.
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