Hi, guys. I came here asking for help...Sorry if this is long, but I'm trying to give as much detail so I can get help!
ABOUT ME: A little bit about me. I've struggled with gaining weight in the past with regards to muscle and I would consider myself an ectomorph. I should note that I am not necessarily a beginner, but maybe more of an intermediate. I swam and played water polo in high school and lifted on occasion. I'd like to say I stayed pretty fit, I just did not eat enough or the right things.
I used to weigh about 130 lbs and this past summer I managed to get myself up to 160 lbs. I ate a lot more and used the Starting Strength program with some extra here and there. The progress was awesome and I was really happy with it. One thing, though, was that I felt like I was gaining a bit more fat than I would like to.
So I decided to try and change some things up since I had made some good progress, but wanted to not gain as much fat. This may or may not have been a mistake because since school has started I feel like I am in a spiral of confusion with all the information and different methods with regards to my goals. Should I cut? Should I bulk? Is my rep range right? Am I eating too much or too little? There is so much conflicting information and it is hard for a someone like myself to get the answers I would like. That said I do understand that creating a physique I am happy with is an all day job and a constant experiment.
GOALS: I should probably tell you guys my goals at this point. I'd like to gain a lot of muscle and weigh somewhere around 180-200 lbs with somewhere around 10% body fat. To put it in a more silly way, I'd like to fill the sleeves on my shirts. I am not looking to be in a competition or anything like that. I just want to improve my physique to a point that I am happy with. I'm not looking to go into a cut or bulk cycle, I want to reach a point where I can happily attract the attention of lots of ladies and easily maintain my physique year round. I also want to not lose my mind over everything. The simpler my life can be the better, that said I am still flexible in things I am willing to do.
I am currently 160 lbs with the scale reading about 18% body fat. I don't know if I should try and cut that weight or proceed with lean muscle gain. The way I kind of look at it is if I continue with as lean of a bulk as I can with minimal fat gains I can perhaps reach my goal without having to cut or at least a minimal cut towards the end. I am unsure though since I am not as experienced and that's why I am here asking for advice.
So my rough measurements right now are 160lbs, 18% body fat, Arms: 11.75", Chest: 40", Waist: 33", Thigh: 22", and Calf: 14".
DIET: My diet is around 2600 Calories with 247 grams of protein, 305 grams of carbs, and 45 grams of fat. I tried my hand at drastically dropping my carbs to "cut" which was okay, but my bench press suffered considerably as did my overall energy, which also frustrated me some.
Foods: Chicken, Pasta, Greek Yogurt, Rice, Milk, Almonds, and Whey Protein. Fruits are sprinkled here and there if I get extra hungry. I should probably eat more vegetables, so if you guys have any good recommendations that'd be awesome.
I like to keep my diet as simple as possible, almost the same thing everyday, it's easy for me to follow and stick to. It's what helped me gain the weight over the summer that I did since food is something I really used to struggle with. I am open to some variation on different days though, for example: training days and non training days. I'd also like to do my best to stay away from a crazy amount of supplements, seeing as I am not looking to reach some competition level or be unbelievably extreme.
WORKOUT: I recently swapped from a 3 day a week full body routine to a 3 day split twice a week with 1 rest day. I really like it because I enjoy being at the gym and I feel like it allows me to do more exercises because with the full body I felt very restricted on the exercises I could do. I felt like I had to pick between triceps exercises rather than do multiples. I like doing more than Compounds-> 1 or 2 Accessory exercises -> Go home.
My workout looks something like this right now:
Mon: Chest/Triceps/Anterior & Lateral Delts
Bench Press: 3x7
Incline Bench: 3x7
Dumbbell Bench: 3x8-10
Dumbbell Incline: 3x8-10
Standing Shoulder Press: 3x7
Side Laterals: 3x8-10
Skull Crushers: 3x8
Overhead Extensions: 3x8-10
and Dips/Push ups towards the end if I am feeling it.
Back Squat: 3x7
Barbell Calf Raise: 4x10
Standing Calf Raise: 4x30 or so
Seated Leg Curl: 3x10
3 or so weighted ab exercises
Wen: Back/Biceps/Posterior Delts
Bent Over Barbell Row: 3x7
Cable Rows: 3x8-10
Lat Pull Down: 3x8-10
Dumbbell Shrugs: 3x10
Hammer Curls: 3x8
EZ Bar Curls: 3x8
and Pullups if I feel like it.
I repeat this sequence for Thurs, Fri, Sat and Sunday is my rest day. I like this split a lot and I'd like to keep doing something similar if I can, but if that is not ideal I'd understand.
I've also provided some pictures of myself to help give you guys a better idea of what I am working with.
So yeah I guess the TL;DR: Should I cut or bulk at my current state for my goals? And how should I go about doing whichever you suggest?