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Attn : Eric Cressey

In one of the recent threads you mentions that you had a less than spectacular bulking phase. If I’m not mistaken you stated that because you claimed to have gained too much fat during this period.

I would appreciate if you went into greater detail of your regiment. I’m very interested in your case because it’s one I often battle with. Perhaps your retrospection can help me over come my ‘demons’.

Thank you.

Let’s see if I can put this all into words without forgetting anything! I will say, however, that it wasn’t totally unsuccessful, just a little frustrating in a few regards.

I actually just finished my second Mag-10 cycle (first one began at Thanksgiving). Pending the normal 1-2 pounds of water weight loss, the results of the my two cycles will be 3.5 lbs. of FM gain and 8 lbs. of FFM. Considering that the 2:1 FFM:FM ratio is something that I have achieved (and surpassed) in the past, I was a bit disappointed with that much fat gain.

On the bright side, I gained a little size on my arms (one of my weaker points) and upper body strength was up appreciably. Unfortunately, I’ve been having a lot of problems with some sort of hip/lower back injury (suspected sacroiliac injury) that none of the doctors can figure out. It’s definitely neural to some extent, and has prevented me from doing back squats for several months now. Surprisingly, I can do front and hack squats without a problem, and my deadlifts were only minorly affected. All in all, though, I feel like I’ve lost some size in my legs since the initial injury (early November).

My training was 2-a-day throughout, with different splits each time (using a modified GSP). Diet, as always, was clean to the point of being anal retentive. I felt like I took in too many carbs the first time around, so calories were a little lower in the second cycle. I never felt overtrained throughout the entire cycle. Lifestyle was pretty unstressful. Although I went through finals during the first cycle, I’m actually more relaxed during those times of year because I don’t have to worry about going to al kinds of classes. After that, I was on winter break (still am).

All in all, I’m simply coming to the conclusion that I don’t respond well to intense, short-term bulking cycles. There is no doubt in my mind that I was “primed” for these cycles by my leanness (~9%BF) at the start, the strength-only work in the months that preceded them, and the week of complete rest prior to the beginning of the first cycle.

That being said, I’m beginning to think that my optimal scenario is a more gradual approach that includes regular cardio, moderate carbs, and specifically planned specialization phases for lagging bodyparts. In the new year, I’m going to be setting a lot more strength goals than weight gain goals, and letting the chips fall where they may. I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve for the months to come, but first priority is to get my hip/lower back healthy.

Hope this helps. By all means, post some of your thoughts and maybe I (among others) can help you brainstorm why you’re having similar troubles.

All the Best, Eric

I should also add that I traditionally tend to be a non-responder. I didn’t gain anything on the EDT arms specialization program, nor did bromo make a bit of difference in terms of favorable partitioning during my bulking cycles. Suffice it to say that I don’t have great bodybuilding genes…

Eric, I know you’re a pretty precise kind of guy. What was your fat intake while on your Mag-10 cycle?

Twenty fish oil softgels per day (6g combined EPA/DHA) plus whatever came from my food. It worked out to roughly 70-80g/day and 15-17% or so of total calories.

Thank you for taking the time to give a detailed response.

All and all I would still say your bulking phase was a success. Anytime you can add that much FFM in such a short period of time is great. My problem is that despite also being “near the point of being anal retentive” when it comes to what I eat I usually have a poor muscle to fat muscle gain.

I’ve experimented with the 3 macro ratios [and quantity of calories]suggested in JB Massive eating diet having obtained very similar results.

The problem I believe I had was eating to gain 1 lb per week. Although some people think that this isnt an impressive amount to gain in a week, its far too rapid for me. I, like you, have to slowly gain weight.

Christian Thibaudeau posted recently that he estimated that gaining 50lbs on AAS in 1 year would be hard to accomplish for most individuals. He also predicted that one could probably gain ~30lbs FFM with Mag-10 in 1 year. If those numbers are correct, that clearly shows that the 1 lbs per week for a natural lifter is far to rapid a progression to aim for. Simply, the human boday cant change that fast regardless of how well planned your diet and training program are.

Anyhow, thanks for posting. I’ll keep on experimenting :wink:

I’ve had very similar results. I obviously don’t have the greatest genes in the world either. When I was in my early twenties, I put on weight slowly and stayed lean and was pretty satisfied with the results which was about 10lbs or so of FFM per year for three years going from 135@10% to 168@7-8% at 5’7". I’m definitely not HOOOOOOOGGGEEEE or anything.

After sitting on my ass in front of a computer for seven years and blooming up to 185 lbs, I hit the gym once again at the age of 30 and decided to try the bulk and cut routine. Hasn't worked worth a damn for me. Actually, it worked well for a while because I quickly regained most of the LBM that I had lost. Muscle memory is great.

The last two years haven't worked as well as I've tried to put on more weight by bulking up. No matter what I've tried, I put on too much fat and lose too much muscle cutting down.

I'm going back to doing it slowly. Any words of advice?

Sewerhooker-Good point on the pound per week concept. I guess I had never actually done the math, but it definitely makes a lot of sense. I honestly feel that whether or not I consider the last six weeks successful will ultimately come down to what the mirror, scale, and calipers tell me in the next few days. I know I’m primed for some crazy water weight fluctuations, so we’ll see how everything actually plays out.

MR-I’m actually in a similar boat as you. I made my best gains using a gradual approach. I spent much of 1999-2000 in the hospital and lost a LOT of weight. Since April of 2000, I’ve gained 77.5 pounds without exceeding 12% body fat. Two and a half years sounds like a long time, but when I look at it as 900 days or so, it doesn’t seem like all that long a time. Why? I took everything one day, one meal, and one training session at a time. Looking back, that’s how I made my best gains. Granted, most of those gains were “newbie” gains, but I still feel that there is some merit to adhering to what got you to where you are. I plan to stay below 10% for the next six months (at least) and see where it gets me. For the next few weeks, I’ll be training 5x5, then I’m trying out a little Westside meets Bodybuilding program that I’ve put together. I’ll also be doing a lot more core conditioning work and some supplemental cardio/HIIT.

Hope this helps. Let me know if there is anything that I can do to help.

MR, I’m curious to know what your bodyfat levels were when you started bulking? I, too, always put on fat much more easily than muscle, so any bulking phases I’ve done in the past have been what I consider failures. This time I’m doing a cutting phase (T-Dawg and Christian’s OVT) before trying another bulking phase. I’m around 14% bodyfat right now and want to be around 10% before bulking. Just wondering if your BF was a little higher too?

Also, whenever I’ve done a bulking cycle, it’s always been by following someone’s very general dietary guidelines. As I think my manintenance calories are a bit lower than most other peoples, I’ve decided that when I embark on my next bulking cycle in a couple of months, I’m going to raise my cals only 300 above maintenance and slowly up it from there until I get a handle on how it’s working for me. Before, I would just scarf down the 4,000 cals I was told to eat and end up getting fat. Not to mention the fact that I’m pretty carb sensitive and the low-fat, high carb thing didn’t help me much. Anyway, EC and Sewerhooker are much better versed in this stuff than I, but I thought throw in my two cents. I’m only a few days into my cutting cycle, but it doesn’t hurt for me to be thinking about what’s coming up. Good luck to you!


I’m in the same or similar boat, a slow loser (of fat) and a slow gainer (of muscle) and a non-responder of just about everything that seems to give everyone else fabulous results.

I wanted to share with the two of you a new resource of mine. Rob Faigin wrote a book, “Natural Hormonal Enhancement.” He’s a (current/ex?) BB. You’ll have to buy the book online, as it’s not available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon or the like. $29, give or take, but do a search.

Rob’s approach (like many) is a low-carb approach to fat loss, with some subtle twists and precise numbers that have yielded me great results thus far. What we call “carb refeeds,” Rob calls “carb cycling.” There are two versions of the Natural Hormonal Enhancement (NHE) diet. The General version’s physique objectives are to maximize fat loss while preserving or enhancing muscle mass. The BB version’s physique objectives are to maximize muscle growth while maintaining or reducing fat mass.

Rob’s approach is to enhance growth hormone and testosterone; optimize glucagon and insulin (which are both double-edged swords); and to suppress cortisol. There are literally thousands of clinical references.

Considering the quality of information available on T-Mag, there’s very little similar/competing information that I’d be willing to pay for. NHE is worth the read at any price. It’s an epic work and, surprisingly, a very entertaining read.

Personally, I’m an advocate of Berardi’s writtings and works. I believe strongly in P+F and P+C food combining. And along those lines you could describe my food intake somewhat like a see-saw. On the four days of the week that I eat low carbs, P+F is the status quo and carbs are <30g. On the two days a week I do my carb refeeds (Day 3 and Day 7), I take in <20g of protein + 100g of carbs at each of the first two meals of the day; at the same time I strive to get my fat intake as close to zero as possible. With my high carb intake, all insulin is going to do with any fat intake is store it. My emphasis, based on my readings, is on starchy, not sugary carbs because sugar is a disaccharide made up of glucose and fructose, and the goal is restore muscle glycogen only (as nearly as possible). Rob maintains that liver glycogen is responsible for maintaining blood sugar levels and thus is responsible for cravings after a refeed.

So back to the see-saw analogy, when carbs go up, fat goes down; when fat goes up, carbs go down.

Myself, I’m planning on using the BB version for my bulking cycle. Those who have used the BB version in the past have put on VERY little fat.

NHE is an incredibly scientific read. I don’t agree with everything that Rob Faigin wrote, but I want from dismissive to impressed in very short order. At the very least, reading NHE will cause you to look inside yourself and question those scientific concepts you hold near and dear.

Take care, and if you get the book and decide to apply any of the concepts, let me know what you think and how things work for you. BTW, the site I ordered it from had a 100% money-back guarantee.

When I went back in the gym, the summer that I turned 30, I was cruising at 185 and 15%. I actually gained muscle and lost fat for about three months dropping down to about 12% at 174.

I then went on a cutting phase wanting to see the lower abs that I hadn't seen in almost ten years. I figured that it would be no problem! Drop 10 pounds and I would be at the lowest body fat that I had even seen. Didn't work that well. I got down to little more than 9% at 163 instead of the 6-7% that I was looking for. Too much cardio may have been the problem there. I was running with a buddy of mine that has a much slower metabolism. You guys would feel very sorry for him.

I did the yo-yo thing several other times and got even worse results because of injury. I quit lifting weights at 24 because of shoulder problems and they resurfaced after 1.5 years of doing it again, except worse. Hard to work out consistently when one shoulder is impinged and the a torn rotator in the other.

Now, I'm weighing in at 164 at about 10%. I agree with you though. I want to get that 10% a little lower before trying to slowly put on weight so I think I'm gonna very, very slowly try to cut a 3-4% off that number and then try to VERY slowly gain some muscle again.

That's basically what Stallone (God, I know. I'm mentioning another movie star! Flame suit on!) did for Rocky IV and Rambo and then started bulking from there.

Good luck to you!!