Bear mode — the name alone invokes images of a strong, big, man chopping some wood in a Canadian forest somewhere. Maybe this man looks like Jeff Nippard. Maybe he doesn’t.
If you admire this “stacked-like-a-brick shithouse” physique, you’ll have to leave behind all the cliche tips you usually get at the gym about how to “get ripped”. If you’re willing to change your mindset to from lean Ken doll to NFL linebacker you can come out the other side stronger and healthier than ever. Welcome to Bear Mode.
What IS Bear Mode?
Bear mode is pretty much the opposite to the lean, chiseled, and even “plastic” look that’s so popular in Hollywood these days. Some would say that it embodies ideal masculine qualities — that this is what real men should look like.
Guys who’ve embraced bear mode are incredibly muscular. They’ve worked hard, and it shows. They don’t, on the other hand, force themselves into unnatural and hard-to-maintain dietary plans, because unlike ottermode (that lean swimmer’s physique), bear mode features a higher body fat percentage of 15 to 20 percent.
The end result? Huge shoulders, a huge neck, and huge arms that nobody will ever be able to miss. You’ll look impressive even when you’re not in swim trunks. You’ll be strong and bulky AF, but you’ll give off protective vibes rather than Hollywood pretty boy ones.
Who Is Jeff Nippard?
Jeff Nippard is a lot of things. He’s a drug-free bodybuilder and powerlifter who can deadlift over 500 lbs. He earned the title of Mr Junior Canada for natural bodybuilders in 2012 and got the Canadian record for bench presses in 2014. Jeff has a degree in biochemistry, and aims to complete a PhD in the future. He is also sponsored by PEScience Supplements, of which we’ve personally reviewed their preworkout (Prolific) and pump enhancer (High Volume). We’re big fans, of Jeff and PEScience.
Jeff is a coach and a mentor, to both men and women. He’s also got a HUGE YouTube channel with nearly three million subs, so it’d be more than fair to say that when Jeff has something to say, others listen.
Bear mode wasn’t new when Jeff Nippard decided to embrace it, but he did do a lot to popularize this physique. When Jeff, who’s 5.5″, went full bear mode, he rapidly went from a lean 160 lbs to 183 lbs. The goal? As Jeff said, to “get as stacked as possible in your clothes” and look like a “big, beefy, buff guy” off the bodybuilding stage.
For the record, Jeff Nippard did decide to get back to a leaner physique after eight months of bear mode. He continues to inspire others to follow this path, though, and guys who are determined to go bear mode can learn a lot from Jeff.
Why Go Bear Mode?
Let’s face it — part of this choice is simply about your personal aesthetic preferences, and the message you’d like to send the rest of the world with your body. There are some distinct advantages to going bear mode, though.
By going bear mode, you’ll gain an immense amount of strength. Especially when you first embark on this path, the higher caloric load can help you gain muscle mass more rapidly, and you’ll comfortably be able to lift much heavier weights as long as you follow the right workout plan. Keep in mind, of course, that you’ll also be gaining more fat — this is something you have to be comfortable with.
Bear mode will save you from the cravings and strict diet leaner athletes are saddled with. In bear mode, you’ll aim to gain bulk fast — and that means eating a lot more than before. Jeff Nippard recommends adding two percent to your body weight every month. Of course, health-conscious folks who want to protect their muscle will still follow a responsible diet plan, but you won’t have to turn down foods when you’re still hungry anymore.
Guess what you can shift your full attention to when your diet plan isn’t taking up so much of your mental energy any longer? That’s right, your training.
Bear mode undoubtedly does exactly what it “says on the tin” — by aiming to maximize your performance at the gym and gain muscle mass, but also being comfortable with a higher body fat percentage, you’ll look much bigger in clothes.
Depending on your lifestyle, that could have some marked benefits. Guys in protective professions, from bouncers to law enforcement officers, will look as strong as they are even from a mile off.
Bear Mode: The Disadvantages
Is there a dark side to bear mode? Jeff Nippard does share that he felt more sluggish during his workouts when he was in bear mode. He suspects that he’d have been able to counter this effect by focusing more on cardio, but for bodybuilders, excessive cardio can reduce muscle gain.
Bear mode is an approach designed with experienced athletes in mind, too. By aiming for this kind of physique when you’re new to the gym, you can easily undermine yourself. Instead of becoming big and strong, you might just get fat.
Another disadvantage depending on what type of eater you are is the sheer number of calories you need to consume every day, consistently, over months. A lot of people struggle to consume the excessive calories required for a true big bear mode bulk.
How Do You Get to Bear Mode?
The short version? Work hard, bump up your calorie intake, and don’t forget to get in the occasional cardio workout.
- At the gym, focus on compound lifts like deadlifts, bench presses, squats, rowing, and overhead presses. Aim for progressive overload, making sure that you add to your training volume or choose heavier weights each week. Because your goal is to look big in your clothes, you pay extra attention to workouts that target the neck, delts, shoulders, traps, glutes, and forearms.
- Don’t skip cardio. Do at least two, and preferably three, sessions per week to counter the risk of feeling sluggish as you take in more calories. Yeah it sucks but if you don’t learn to love cardio you’ll always look like a pre-hibernation bear. We recommend rowing machines (bonus back workout) and Stair Stepper machine.
- Aim to gain two percent of your body weight each month, until you hit your target body fat percentage (which should be between 15 and 20 percent). At that point, work to maintain that. Downing a couple of protein shakes every day will make this easier, and you’ll want to consider adding a solid preworkout supplement to boost your gains and stamina, as well.
It’ll take a few months to really begin noticing the effects, and you can always reassess and make tweaks depending on how you’re feeling and progressing.
Skinny Yoked Summary
Bear Mode is a great way to ensure you are making the most of your “off-season” so to speak by packing on the pounds by consuming sufficient calories and lifting big weight. You can then diet down again for spring/summer and make the most of all your newfound muscle mass.
Speaking of spring/summer, if you’re looking to get in shape for some poolside socializing or you just want to live your best lean, ripped life, check out our guide to going full ottermode, the leaner, more suave alternative to bear mode!