We can’t deny that Jeff Nippard is a bodybuilding hero deserving respect and admiration.
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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!
Who Is Jeff Nippard?
Jeff Nippard is a professional natural bodybuilder and powerlifter from Canada. Nippard was crowned Mr. Junior Canada in the 2012 natural bodybuilding competition, and he held the Canadian national bench press award in 2014.
His credentials involve a Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry, and experience coaching women and men for natural bodybuilding and powerlifting competitions, and he’s responsible for a couple of fitness programs.
Jeff shares a lot of free knowledge with his 3.5+ million subscribers on Youtube, and he offers premium content that covers training and nutrition.
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.
9 Bead Mode Bulking Tips
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.
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.
6. Watch your diet
Dirty bulking doesn’t have to be so dirty. Remember that the aim of Bear Mode isn’t to be fat, but to increase your size by allowing more body fat.
So don’t be careless about what you eat because not all calories are the same. It’s better to increase your calorie intake by adding healthier foods over Junk food.
7. Cut out the bad carbs
Not all carbohydrates are the same as well. Simple carbohydrates are bad for your blood sugar, and they make burning fat more difficult. Examples of these simple carbs are white rice, white bread, pizza, pasta, sweet desserts, pastries, and common breakfast cereals.
Instead, you should opt for complex carbohydrates that are healthier, keep you energized for longer, and contain less sugar. Examples of complex carbs to consume include brown rice, quinoa, peas, fruits, etc.
8. Take training seriously
If you rely solely on dirty bulking to go Bear Mode, then you’ll just look chubby or fat at 15-20% body fat.
So avoid looking like a fat bear by having well-developed muscles for the fat to sit on. With consistent training, you’ll retain some muscle definition and symmetry even after gaining fat.
9. Keep your shirt on
A major benefit of Bear Mode is looking bigger and better with your clothes on, but we can’t say the same when you’re without clothes.
At 15-20% body, your muscles get covered by layers of fat, and you’ll lose muscle definition around your body. Your rock-hard abs, ripped obliques, and horse-shoe triceps may seem invincible.
So while you’re in Bear Mode, you might want to keep your shirt on.
Pros And Cons Of Bear Mode
3 Bear Mode Pros
- More Size and Strength. Bumping up your body fat to 15-20% will significantly increase your size, but also your strength and lifting potential, which is why strongmen powerlifters don’t care about the extra pounds.
- Satisfy your cravings. On Bear Mode, there are fewer dietary restrictions, and since the aim is to reach 15-20% body fat, you can eat almost how you’d like and say bye-bye to those annoying cravings.
- Look Bigger in Clothes. For guys, one of the biggest benefits of going Bear Mode is looking bigger and bulkier in clothes.
3 Bear Mode Cons
- Most of the weight is fat. When you’re dirty bulking, it shouldn’t surprise you that most of that mass is going to be fat. So while you look bigger, most of that weight is just fat.
- Lose your aesthetics. If you’re spotting an 8-12% body fat and decide to go Bear Mode, be ready to lose most of the muscle definition and symmetry you had. Without your shirt, you may even look fat.
- Sluggish training sessions. The extra pounds of fat can make you feel sluggish or tired during training.
Sample Bear Mode Workout
Now, this might not be exactly what Jeff Nippard would do to build a bear-esque physique, but here’s a sample workout that you can try to beef and go bear mode.
- Squats – 3 sets x 5-8 reps
- Bench Press – 3 sets x 5-8 reps
- Lateral Raise – 3 sets x 15-20 reps
- Calf Raise – 3 sets x 8-12 reps
- Wrist Flexion – 3 sets x 8-12 reps
- Deadlift – 3 sets x 5-8 reps
- Bent Row – 3 sets x 5-8 reps
- Neck Flexion/Extension – 3 sets x 8-12 reps
- Dumbbell Shrug – 3 sets x 8-12 reps
- Forearm Deviations – 3 sets x 8-12 reps
- Split Squat – 3 sets x 8-12 reps
- Overhead Press – 3 sets x 8-12 reps
- Cable Lateral Raise – 3 sets x 15-20 reps
- Seated Calf Raise – 3 sets x 8-12 reps
- Wrist Extension – 3 sets x 8-12 reps
- Romanian Deadlift – 3 sets x 8-12 reps
- Chin-ups – 3 sets of as much reps as you can do
- Neck Lateral Flexion – 3 sets x 8-12 reps
- Farmer’s Carry – 3 sets x 50 steps
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.
Bear Mode FAQs
What is bear mode?
Bear Mode is a method of bulking that’s meant to maximize your size, muscle growth, and lift potential. Another aim of Bear Mode is for you to look as big as possible in your clothes, which is much easier when you put on a little body fat.
How do you train for bear mode?
Bear Mode is all about looking bigger, so your training should focus on the muscles that make you look huge. These muscles include your neck, shoulder, traps, chest, and arms. Additionally, you’ll need to participate in high volume resistance training in the 8-12 rep range on most exercises for 3-5 sets.
How long will it take to go bear mode?
Thankfully, going “Bear Mode” is easier than you think. Since the majority of mass you’ll gain is fat, it wouldn’t take as long as building raw muscle. But the bear body still requires a muscular neck, traps, and delts, so it will take you longer if you need to develop these muscles.
What is a bear body type?
A bear body type is bulky and falls between 15-20% body fat. Although this body type has more fat than a shredded bodybuilder, you’re more likely to look bigger and more powerful in clothes.
Is the bear body type healthy?
A trained bear body of 15-20% body fat is still considered healthy and within the athletic range. As long as you limit your fat gain and stop the dirty bulking after reaching your desired weight, you shouldn’t have any adverse health problems with a bear body.