T Nation

4 Weeks Into Bulk, Up 10 lbs. Help


#1

I just started to bulk about a month ago and have added approximately 10 pounds. I was 196 before with 15% bodyfat (according to a handheld device) and am now 206 with 16% bodyfat (according to the same device). If my math is correct, I have gained approximately 7 pounds of muscle and 3 pounds of fat. I have seen a doctor and am currently undergoing legally prescribed hormone therapy (taking testosterone cypionate, 200ng/dl once per week, and an estrogen blocker).

Over the past month I have increased my food intake to approx 3600-3700 calories per day (approx 300-350 grams protein, 50-70 grams of fat, and the rest carbs) and have been eating pretty clean. My strength has been improving and I am obviously gaining mass, but it seems like I am gaining more fat than what my calculations show according to how I look in the mirror. From what I've read the body will only produce about 1 pound of muscle per week, max.

I've been checking my BF% about once per week just to make sure the calculations are consistent and they are coming up the same (within 1% each time). Any thoughts from experienced lifters? I want to keep gaining as much muscle as I can while I'm on a roll, but I don't want to turn into a fat slob and spend 6 months working it off. What should I do?

Thank you!


#2

[quote]pmm326 wrote:
I just started to bulk about a month ago and have added approximately 10 pounds. I was 196 before with 15% bodyfat (according to a handheld device) and am now 206 with 16% bodyfat (according to the same device).[/quote]
Handheld devices are notoriously inconsistent, nevermind inaccurate. They can change based on your hydration level, the last time you ate, and other variables that have little to do with actual bodyfat.

When did you start this protocol? Last month at the same time you started bulking, or before that?

How much were you eating before the bulk?

If my numbers are right, “the rest carbs” ends up being about 415-485 grams. For a not-exactly-lean 200-ish pound guy, that’s on the higher side. Consider significantly dropping carbs and increasing fats to compensate.

Exactly how much strength progress have you seen on the basic lifts?

Also, what does your training look like (the days, exercises, sets, and reps)? Are you doing any cardio? Something as simple as 15-20 minutes of easy-ish cardio a few days a week might be enough to keep things in check.

As far as tracking/“proving” progress, the mirror or photos are more important than just numbers (unless those numbers are inches measured). So, base your tweaks on what you’re seeing in the mirror even if the calculations on paper say you’re on track.

This doesn’t make much sense. By that logic, you gained no additional bodyfat since you’re still within 1% change. Again, go by what you see in the mirrors and also how clothes are fitting (if the waist is getting snug and shirt sleeves aren’t, you’re not in a good place).


#3

When did you start this protocol? Last month at the same time you started bulking, or before that?

I have been doing TRT for a little over a year now, with a significant weight gain only in the past few weeks. I am taking 1ml injections (which has been my dosage the entire time). Maybe I’m just eating too much?

How much were you eating before the bulk?

I wasn’t tracking any calories prior to the bulk, just general healthy choices during meals and the occasional meal out. I was also working out twice a day, 5 days a week.

Exactly how much strength progress have you seen on the basic lifts? Also, what does your training look like (the days, exercises, sets, and reps)? Are you doing any cardio?

I have just started tracking my exact stats for each workout last week. Big mistake, I know. Having the numbers in front of me when I go in has been a big help already so I can push myself each time. My leg press has gone up in the past week (450 to 470), EZ barbell bicep curl (50-60, strict form), arnold presses (35’s to 40’s) in the past week. I lift 4 times per week as follows:

Legs
Hip Adduction (5 sets, high reps, prior injury working on prevention)
Angled Leg Press (5 sets, 10-12 reps)
Leg Extension (5 sets, 10-12 reps)
Leg Curl (3 sets, 10-12 reps)
50 x bodyweight squats
Seated calf-press (4 sets, 20-25 reps)

Chest/Tricep:
Flat Bench (4 sets, 8-10 reps)
IsoLat Incline Press (4 sets, 8-10 reps)
Seated Dip (4 sets, 8-10 reps)
Flat DB fly / DB press compound (3 sets, 10-12 reps)
Overhead Tricep Extension (4 sets, 8-10 reps)
Dip Machine Gravitron (3 sets, 10-12 reps)

Back/Bicep:
DB Rows (5 sets, 10-12 reps)
Lat-Pulldown (5 sets, 10 reps)
Low Row close grip (4 sets, 10-12)
IsoLat Wide Pulldown (3 sets, 10 reps)
Deadlift (4 sets, 8-10)
Standing Bicep EZ bar Curl (5 sets, 8-10)
Cable Curls (3 sets, 10 reps)

Shoulders/Abs:
Push Press (4 sets, 8-10)
Arnold Press (4 sets, 8-10)
Front Raise (4 sets, 8-10)
Lateral Raise (4 sets, 8-10)
Rear Delt Machine (4 sets, 8-10)
IsoLat Shoulder Shrug / High-Pull compound set (4 sets, 10-12)
AbCore Weighted Crunch (3 sets, 8-12)
Cable Crunches (3 sets, 12-15)

My heart rate always stays elevated and I leave the gym completely soaked each time. I perform virtually zero cardio. I can perform cardio well, just haven’t been because I didn’t want to detract from muscle growth. I ran a 10 miler 6 weeks ago and another one in 10 days, so I’m perfectly capable of doing it.

I understand about not relying on the handheld devices; won’t do that in the future. As I’m typing this maybe it seems like the answer is in front of me. I was relatively more active when doing twice-a-days prior to this bulking period (my first real bulk) and have eaten more and done less. You think I should just incorporate cardio 3-4 times per week or do cardio and cut carbs/calories?


#4

[quote]pmm326 wrote:
As I’m typing this maybe it seems like the answer is in front of me. I was relatively more active when doing twice-a-days prior to this bulking period (my first real bulk) and have eaten more and done less.[/quote]
I’m with you on this. It’s the most likely answer.

Around 15 minutes of high incline treadmill walking (just walking, no sprints or anything wild) would be a good thing to tack onto the end of each lifting session. It’s enough to boost calorie burning, but not too much to interfere with recovery or growth.

Also, like I said, you could probably stand to cut carbs down a good bit. That’s the easiest/fastest way to clean up a diet that’s on the path to getting out of control.

Either way, make changes one at a time to see the overall impact they have. So incorporate one tweak, wait a few weeks to see how things go, and then consider adding the next step. Most guys seem to agree that adding a little preventive cardio (even during a bulk) is a sweeter option than cutting carbs/calories, so maybe start with that.


#5

Thanks for the advice. I will drop calorie intake to about 3100 daily and replace at least 150 grams of carbs with either protein or fats for a couple weeks and reasses from there. I’ll post an update once I get more of an idea how things are going after the tweak.