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Better to Bulk or Strengthen First?



My long term goal is to both bulk and strengthen my body, I want to know if its better to start with a bulking routine, a strengthening routine or try to do both at the same time?


Is it really possible to do one without the other? Unless you are approaching the elite level of either


Continuously try to get stronger on a good strength program (like 5/3/1) while continuously try to eat more high quality food. As a beginner you can have the best of both worlds! Check out the article by Jim Wendler of a few days ago and read all the comments in the live spill that follows it. That sounds just about right for what you wish to achieve. You will get stronger and bigger at the same time, especially if you do things right in the kitchen.


I read the article on 5/3/1 and it seems like a good place to get started, do you guys have any other tips in terms of exercise selection or anything else?


buy the book if you're gonna do 531, so you're ACTUALLY DOING 531 and not some crazy hybrid of your own design.


X2. I always thought I had a good idea of how to do 531 before reading the actual book. Reading the book showed me that what I knew was very basic and it eliminated any confusion.


Well Im not sure if I will be doing 531, I'm keeping my options open right now as I dont know as many different training methods and I want to find the right one first before committing


the right one is whatever routine that is intelligently designed, gives you a clear progression towards your goals and one that you can stick to.


Bulking without strength is getting fat. Strength without some bulk is probably close to impossible.


Imo a rank beginner shouldn't use 5/3/1, at least not exactly as written. You should be able to make a lot faster strength progress than 5 lbs/month, as will happen with 5/3/1.

Use a program that allows you to add 5 lbs every/almost every week for awhile


5/3/1 is not limited by the pounds you add to the training max. There are also templates for beginners.


531 is more about how to structure your reps/sets rather than exercise selection right? (atleast thats what I thought after reading the article).


...... buying the book would answer your question


What are your current stats? Weight, body fat, strength on the basic lifts?

How much "bulk" do you want? How much do you want to able to lift?

If your goals are vague, then your progress may be dire.


I weight 135, low body fat, I can do 20 underhand pullups, 40 pushups with pushup bars, I can bench 100 for 5 reps, I can lunge 100 pounds for 10 reps each leg (One legged balance lunges are what I normally do). My body is somewhat imbalanced I have very strong legs compared to my upper body.

Goals are to increase lean muscle mass by 10 pounds in a year to a year and a half without steroids. As for strength goals I'm not sure yet as I don't know whats realistic for a years worth of work, Ideally I'd like to more than double my stats but I don't know how realistic that is.


Starting Strength, Huge In A Hurry and Stronglifts are good too.

I would keep 5/3/1 for after at least one run through one of those.

But to be honest, it hardly matters. At 135 benching 100, unless you're like 4 foot 6, just looking at iron might make you stronger. So if 5/3/1 interests you, by all means jump in.

And yes, by the book.


It's probably best to focus on getting stronger in the hypertrophy range (8-12 reps) on all the basic lifts, like the bench press, overhead press, barbell/dumbbell row, squat, deadlift. If you eat plenty and train as hard as you can, you should make plenty of gains over the next year.

For routines and nutrition advice, refer to the stickied article in this forum: http://tnation.T-Nation.com/free_online_forum/sports_body_training_performance_bodybuilding_beginner/are_you_a_beginner_ii

Also, refer to the Best of T-Nation collection of articles and threads:

I would recommend doing a routine like the one in this thread: http://tnation.T-Nation.com/free_online_forum/sports_body_training_performance_bodybuilding/do_this_routine_instead_of_that_dumb_one

Don't over think it - just get to the gym and lift weights as many times a week as you can, and you should make gains. The most important factors are consistency and hard work.

Good luck!


If you don't know how to do any of the exercises in the routine above, there are lots of videos on this site that will help you.


Why in the world are you only aiming to gain 10 pounds? you're 135 dude, start eating.


Starting Strength and a gallon of WHOLE milk a day. Done!

By the Starting Strength book by Rippetoe. Don't just rely on articles online. Spend a little money and get a full understanding of what you'll be doing.