T Nation

Bulking: Starting to Notice a Belly


Hi, I've been bulking for just over a month now and have started to gain a little belly. I weigh 135 and have been in athletic shape all my life (a bit skinny too). As a beginner who has always been slim, this belly issue is worrying but as I have read loads of stuff on this website I knew what I was getting myself into.

I eat roughly 3000-3500 calories per day

My question is, if I put on a bit of fat, will this serve as energy reserves if for instance I eat 2000 calories for a few days, so that I can still train hard, or do I still need the food? Also, would this help me lose the fat?

Basically I want to put on as much muscle as possible with as little fat as possible (the golden ratio). I eat 90% clean and the other 10% is pretty good too. Please appreciate my psychological issues with gaining fat for the first time (I don't mind, but I'd rather keep it to a minimum).


If you interrupt your caloric surplus days with caloric defecit days, I doubt you will go anywhere. I think this is a bad strategy. A little fat gain is inevitable.

As an admitted beginner, the thing that I would question is your intensity in the gym. Would you venture to say that you have gained 1:1 Muscle:Fat? 2:1? 3:1? .5:1? You need to ask yourself if you are really giving ALL you have in the gym. Look around your gym. Are you working harder than 99% of those people who come there day after day and don't get results? If you are, and you are still gaining fat at a rate which is unacceptable to you, then perhaps you should tone down the calories a tiny bit.




Thanks for the advice. I'm incredibly motivated in the gym at the moment because I'm seeing big gains in muscle so it's easy for me to get stuck in. I'd say the ratio is more like 3:1, the fat is definitely not a deal breaker for me as to whether or not I carry on going to the gym. I was just interested in what others have to say about it. I'm following the advice of pretty much everyone on this site and eating everything I can get my hands on.

The reason that made me aware initially was that I was on the bus and it was bouncing around and I could feel my belly jiggling. This was a first for me. It's more of a mentality thing at the moment due to my history of being skinny.

I train 3 times a week, is this enough to keep the fat levels down? or should I try and go 4 times? I do 10 mins and the bike and 10 mins on the ergo rowing machine as a warmup, plus I walk a lot and sometimes go swimming. By most peoples standards I still probably look like a rake, but you always notice minor changes in your own body more.


That's not always good advice. Just thought I'd mention that. In these last few weeks of training, exactly how much weight have you gained, and how much has your strength increased on some of the basic lifts?

Any chance you were just full from recently eating? The simplest answer is often correct.

Um... no... you still need food. You just need a bit less than you've been taking in. Dropping calories for a few days will have no major impact on fat loss, unless you totally revamp your training along with it, but that's much more complicated than we need to get right now.

How often you train isn't a major issue, it's the calories you're taking in. At 135 pounds, you're still a little fella (no offense), and you just don't need as many calories as you've been eating. I'd start reducing the calories you're eating in your meals later in the day, specifically peling back the carbs and fat in your last two meals before bed.

What, exactly, did you eat yesterday?

That's not a warm-up... that's cardio. You're doing 20 minute of cardio before you lift, which is unnecessary and counterproductive to building strength and muscle.

More cardio.

Quite true, but pictures don't lie. I suggest, every week or two, you snap some relaxed pics (from the front, back, and side) with your arms at your sides, not trying any bodybuilding poses, and keep them to yourself. You should be able to compare the pictures to each other more objectively, rather than looking in the mirror and thinking "Did my gut get bigger? Is that a bicep?"


So I shouldn't put my pictures on rate my physique then? :wink:

I've been training free weights for just over a month now and I used machines for just under a couple of months before that. My lifts have increased by:

Dead: 55kg-110kg
Bench: 40kg-55kg (only been doing them for a couple weeks and I had to do lots of form work)
Vertical Squat: 70-130kg
Press: 25kg-35kg (only been doing this for 2 weeks also)
T-bar: 25kg-70kg
Pull-ups: 14 (I need to add weight but don't have the ability to do so yet)
Dips: 30

all for 5 reps, I'm kind of folling Starting Strength with a few extra exercises after my main lifts

My lifts have increased a lot over a short period of time and my body weight has increased by about 10 pounds over the 3 months (first minth and a half were a joke though). I haven't checked for a bit because I don't have scales, but I think I will have increased a bit more now.

My average daily diet goes:

1 banana
1 orange
1 cup of oats
1/2 cup natural yoghurt
1 cup whole milk
1 scoop whey protein in water
tablespoon of peanut butter

Sandwich with vegetables and cheese

Dinner (this is my poorest quality meal of the day health but it's free due to me living in Poland and getting free dinners)

Various soups - vegetable based
1/2 cup cabbage
2 cups mashed potatoes
150g various meat sometimes fried
fruit juice

1l whole milk
tin of tuna
tub of cottage cheese

2nd dinner
150-200g lean beef or chicken breast
200g whole wheat pasta
1/2 pepper
1/2 onion
1/2 cup of mushrooms
various sauces for spag bol etc...

1/2l whole milk
scoop whey protein
2 slices of whole wheat bread with peanut butter

I also drink some evoo sometimes, eat fruit, about 4 cups of tea and extra milk (I've drunk lots of milk since I was very young, it's my favourite drink). I don't eat any unhealthy snacks really.

I got the calorie count from fitday.com

With regards to cardio, I want to be quite fit also and it seems to help with flexibility. I run to the gym also :(. I might cut out the bike and just row, I've been doing a lot of work on my back and this seems to get me good to go.

I'm going back to England at the end of the month after 5 months away so my family and friends will be the biggest judges of how my body comp has changed.


I am betting 99% of these types of posts are because these people are experiencing being full constantly for the first time in their lives.


totally agree
this is my first month and it's been strange to be full all the time for the first time in 32 years.


For God's sake please do not post pictures in RMP. If anything, post them here!!!

You will gain a little fat while bulking. It's the nature of the beast.

Also are you doing your squats, bench presses, deadlifts, "overhead" presses, and rows?

You will prob go through a few bulk/cut phases on your way to getting jacked.

You need to AT LEAST "bulk" for 3 months before cutting if you want results.

3500 calories might be a tad too much for a 135 newbie.

Hope this helps


3 months? What kind of muscle mass do you think you will build in only three months especially if you suddenly drop calories right after that?


Three months for a newbie I think, if done correctly, could be noticeable. I've seen my very own ex-roommate start scrawny and did a 180 in just 3 months. Though, he had a bit of an obsessive mindset too. As for his statement, he DID say "AT LEAST" [three months].


I said "AT LEAST" 3 months. The OP seems like he is having second thoughts already and it's only been 1 month. He only weighs 135 and is already feeling like he is getting fat.

I think a guy like him could gain at least 10 pounds of solid mass if not more to answer your question.


You have to think in terms of YEARS. That's why it's important to get the right idea about bulking. It's not a yo-yo diet. If you cut every six months, you'll get nowhere. I've been at it for about a year now, and I've gone from 170 to 208, and my lifts have improved by about 50%. I probably won't consider cutting until at least next year (unless something magical happens and I get to 250 before then).

Once you get it nailed down, you just have to make minor adjustments every now and then. But STICK WITH IT and you'll make gains.


This is true, but this is why I posted on the beginners forum. I'm encountering some intitial psychological barriers that have kept me in shape for 24 years (not muscular, but healthy and lean). I assume others are experiencing the same sorts of things.


I was joking, I've had many a laugh myself looking at people wanting there ego's stroked and getting shot down in flames.

I'm aware of the fact that I will put on a little fat, I just want to keep it little. I have spent a lot of time reading on this website, but it's good to get opinions on your own case.

I do all the main lifts and have increased them quite substantially. I can almost lift in the intermediate levels as seen in http://www.exrx.net/Testing/WeightLifting/StrengthStandards.html
for my bodyweight. I have only been lifting compounds for just over a month.

I am a bit scared of fat, but it won't put me off. I'm definitely not having doubts, I just wanted to get some feedback. I'm training very hard, I've stopped smoking and drinking and I have changed my whole diet in 2 months. Plus, I actually enjoy going to the gym which is a bonus (please don't say I'm obviously not lifting enough then :wink:)


squat lower. I doubt someone deadlifting 110kg is squatting 130kg correctly.


I'm not squatting raw, I'm using a vertical squat machine. It's not a leg press but it's not squatting either. It has shoulder pads and mimics squatting to some extent. I put the setting to as low as possible to equal ass to grass.


Any reason why you're not doing actual Squats?


I'm relatively new to the gym and I've never seen anyone do squats at my gym. There is no squat rack either which doesn't help. I live in Poland for now and I go to my closest gym which is easiest for me, it's not the best but it exists which is good enough for now.

I'll be back in England next month so hopefully I'll be able to do some proper squats, don't think I'd be able to clean 130kg as of now so I'm stuck for a month.


This sounds more like a health spa than anything. Any self respecting gym SHOULD have a squat or power rack which you can do squats in.

And the weightlifting community doesn't consider smith machine squats "actual" squats just because machines obviously elimate the freeweight factor. There are a lot of reasons barbell squats are better but simply because it's more taxing on the body keeping yourself and the bar stable as you perform the exercise.

You'll hear people who have any inkling of gym knowledge tell you form is more important than the weight. Machines usually make proper form much easier.

BTW, I think 3000-3500 is pretty high. I used to be thin at around 145lb and trying to gain weight, and I took roughly how much you had. I got a belly and it fucked with my mind too, especially when I was working to look big and strong, but expected a bit more definition than what I had, and got bummed out.

Seriously, I think 2800 should be good. I'm at 160lbs roughly now, and look strong with little to no gut but am still gaining, maybe a bit slower, but it isn't fucking with my mind. I think with that news that Phelps has 12,000 calories a day wrongfully encourages people to push their total caloric intake to acheive their goals. Stick to a little bit less, you should be good dude, good luck.