T Nation

Bulking: The 10% Bodyfat Rule

I remember reading in one of the T-Nation articles that you should cut your body fat down to 10% before you start bulking. I’ve read this elsewhere too. However, no one here ever recommends this when someone asks if they should cut or bulk. 99% of the time people say bulk even if the person’s bodyfat is over 10%. Do you think the 10% body fat rule is a bad one?

Do anyone here think you should follow the 10% body fat rule?

I think you should ask for the persons picture or a picture of the before and afters of people they’ve trained, before you determine which way to bulk is better.

I’m pretty sure that article was for advanced lifters and people who dabble in BB contests.

That “rule” is from the “Truth about Bulking” article:
http://www.T-Nation.com/readTopic.do?id=1268956

No, besides, I’ve been bulking for years.

It’s totally un-necessary.

[quote]HoratioSandoval wrote:
I’m pretty sure that article was for advanced lifters and people who dabble in BB contests. [/quote]

This is true, and the author has addressed it elsewhere. The article was NOT meant for people who are carrying 130 pounds of LBM, but rather for guys who have already established a very good muscular base and are looking to potentially compete and therefore need to stay fairly lean.

If you are small and weak, eat up. Now obviously dont turn into a cow, and anything more than a pound a week is probably unnecessary, but dont be afraid to carry some love handles for a little bit in order for the long term investment to pay off big time.

it would be an even slower process that way!

[quote]Lonnie123 wrote:
HoratioSandoval wrote:
I’m pretty sure that article was for advanced lifters and people who dabble in BB contests.

This is true, and the author has addressed it elsewhere. The article was NOT meant for people who are carrying 130 pounds of LBM, but rather for guys who have already established a very good muscular base and are looking to potentially compete and therefore need to stay fairly lean.

If you are small and weak, eat up. Now obviously dont turn into a cow, and anything more than a pound a week is probably unnecessary, but dont be afraid to carry some love handles for a little bit in order for the long term investment to pay off big time.

[/quote]

CT has specifically stated in the thread where we debated this that he was NOT recommending everyone drop to 10% body fat before they try to gain muscle mass.

I knew it would cause this level of confusion from the first day it got posted. There is no surprise people STILL took that message the wrong way.

In fact, you should read this thread again if you haven’t.

He actually stated a number closer to 15% even though I think telling most of these people a number at all is a mistake.

http://www.T-Nation.com/tmagnum/readTopic.do?id=1949269

Page 4 specifically answers your question…and also proves that too many of you take every single word these authors write too literally.

I fell into the trap (almost) of trying to cut down too much when I started lifting, after reading that on here.

Maybe even more so because I was a chubby kid my whole life. Lucky people like the Prof changed my outlook on a lot of things in the weightroom.

Knew Prof. X was gonna get in this! We have to take everything with a grain of salt. But I do think that guidelines like those are important. They just don’t have to be followed if you already know how your body is going to react.

BTW. Joe, I like your other avatar better. More intimidating, haha.

Think this through for a minute once and for all.

What happens if you get to 10%, begin looking for gains and find yourself above 10% again. Do you then whittle yourself back to 10% only to find that to make serious gains you drift up again hence requiring yet another quest for 10% and so on?

Somebody’s gonna say “well no, once you get to 10% you can then concentrate on gaining”. Ok, then why worry about ever making it down to 10% in the first place?

Concentrate on making your gains and once you’re gaining at an acceptable level you will then know how much fat you have to carry while gaining. It will be more or less for different people. I use a pinch of about an inch off my stomach as my personal measure. Gaining more fat than that gets me no more muscle. I may be able to get away with a little less, but I’m not willing to gamble my muscle on that proposition.

[quote]Professor X wrote:
In fact, you should read this thread again if you haven’t.

He actually stated a number closer to 15% even though I think telling most of these people a number at all is a mistake.

http://www.T-Nation.com/tmagnum/readTopic.do?id=1949269

Page 4 specifically answers your question…and also proves that too many of you take every single word these authors write too literally.[/quote]

Okay, I read all of page 4 and I see what you’re saying. That thread looks interesting…I’ll have to read it all when i have more time.

I disagree about your statement that I’m taking what the authors say too literally. If you look at the quote I posted above from the “Truth about Bulking” I’m not sure how else you can interpret that. Maybe the authors need to be more clear…rather than putting the blame on the reads.

[quote]Digity wrote:
Professor X wrote:
In fact, you should read this thread again if you haven’t.

He actually stated a number closer to 15% even though I think telling most of these people a number at all is a mistake.

http://www.T-Nation.com/tmagnum/readTopic.do?id=1949269

Page 4 specifically answers your question…and also proves that too many of you take every single word these authors write too literally.

Okay, I read all of page 4 and I see what you’re saying. That thread looks interesting…I’ll have to read it all when i have more time.

I disagree about your statement that I’m taking what the authors say too literally. If you look at the quote I posted above from the “Truth about Bulking” I’m not sure how else you can interpret that. Maybe the authors need to be more clear…rather than putting the blame on the reads.[/quote]

OR maybe you could consider that many of these authors are human, some of whom are just personal trainers who may or may not have a PhD in a certain area of study, and start thinking for yourself more than following every word they write.

It shouldn’t make sense to most of you who have been lifting for more than a year in the first place. Why would ANYONE think you NEEDED to be at 10% body fat just to start gaining muscle mass? Where is the logic in that?

If most of the really big guys don’t support a certain idea when it comes to getting really big, why do so many of you ignore the big guys?

Most of you will be on the same perpetual hunt for abs for the rest of your training lives with very little results when it comes to actually BUILDING muscle mass. Meanwhile, the ones making the MOST physical progress have NEVER been the ones who approached their training that way…so why do so many of you think you will be the first? Because you read it from a personal trainer?

That isn’t even a put-down to many personal trainers, but this is coming from someone who actually works on human bodies everyday in a clinic and who has been lifting weights for a long fucking time. That is why I keep writing that you should NOT be getting everything you think you know from only one website or source of knowledge.

If you have already built a solid base of muscle mass and have arms over 18" and now want to stay much leaner when gaining, more power to you. Maybe you should try staying much leaner considering you just may compete soon. That does not mean every skinny newb who most people can barely tell has even seen a weight should do the same.

Why does that even need an explanation? Why do so many think every article is written specifically with YOU in mind?

So whats the cut off point?

and what does being a FFB contribute to this?

Im at about 173 pounds LBM(6foot1). Not alot, but im not a typical nub lifter.

Im a FFB big style and I think that starting from 10% will mean that I will be able to sustain a bulk longer before I give in to the need to stop fat regain.

thats what we are talking about really…10% start is good if you would otherwise let fat gain stop you bulking.

ideally fat gain shouldnt matter in the search for optimal muscle mass, but for the majority there is no point having the muscle without it looking good.

For an average joe wanting to bulk id still suggest doing 3-4 months strength training with gradually more and more eating before anything else.

Then is just opinion at what stage youve achieved a decent muscle base. and once you think you are done with the biggest bulk, then start from 10% for further dev?

I think that’s a bad idea for a beginner. I decided to think for myself, as you suggest, and ignored a lot of stuff I’d read when I first started lifting. I thought the amount of food people suggested I should eat was too excessive. My plan was to continue eating as I always did and only add one big meal, which was after my workout. That meal always had protein, but my other meals may or may not have. Anyway, my diet was a real joke and it got me nowhere.

As you see, thinking for yourself can be a recipe for disaster if you’re completely clueless. I think once a person has some experience under their belt and has made progress then they can start thinking for themselves a bit more…but newbs need it spelled out. I can see how an experienced lifter might find dealing with newbs very frustrating, but that’s the nature of the beast. There’s always going to be that level of frustration with anyone learning something new.

[quote]chutec wrote:
So whats the cut off point?

and what does being a FFB contribute to this?

Im at about 173 pounds LBM(6foot1). Not alot, but im not a typical nub lifter.

Im a FFB big style and I think that starting from 10% will mean that I will be able to sustain a bulk longer before I give in to the need to stop fat regain.

thats what we are talking about really…10% start is good if you would otherwise let fat gain stop you bulking.

ideally fat gain shouldnt matter in the search for optimal muscle mass, but for the majority there is no point having the muscle without it looking good.

For an average joe wanting to bulk id still suggest doing 3-4 months strength training with gradually more and more eating before anything else.

Then is just opinion at what stage youve achieved a decent muscle base. and once you think you are done with the biggest bulk, then start from 10% for further dev?

[/quote]

I’m not the biggest or most experienced guy in these forums, but I’m I’ve made enough gains and learned a few things so as to be able to tell you the following without equivocation.

THERE IS NO UNIVERSALLY APPLICABLE CUTOFF POINT. No formula.

If I were ever in my life to write an article it would be about training intuition. It should develop in the first 1 to 2 years of very serious training and without it you’re lost.

Getting too fat DOES matter. Nobody is going to tell you that one has to be come a jiggling pig to gain muscle. However people who approach the weights with a set of calipers in one hand and a religious obsession with their abs in the other will die small.

If you simply concentrate on making gains, once those gains are coming at a solid rate, however much fat you are then carrying is how much you will have to put up with to continue growing and maybe a bit more. It’s better to overshoot a little.

Some may be able to do that at a fairly low BF level, but most will have to carry some more, and some maybe quite a bit more. However trying to apply formulas without that intuition will have you chasing your tail til the end of time.

To get big, you have to first think big, then train big, eat big and live big as a package. Nowadays people’s minds are firmly cemented on thinking about fat and then they wonder why they aren’t getting bigger.

Does not anybody understand anymore that once you have 50 additional pounds of muscle to burn fat with it will leave that much easier?

As for former fat boys, defined as somebody who was once obese enough to have altered their physiology in the direction of storing fat, they are relatively few in these forums. If someone actually is one it isn’t that terribly different. As they train and eat right they will lose fat and make gains.

Assuming they are acquiring that intuition once they level off and the fat loss slows down, it probably makes the most sense to keep eating what they’ve been and let the gains continue. Unless they are still pretty fat when the fat loss slows down, but I doubt that would usually be the case if they were on the right track to begin with.

In short if you get a grip on how this game works for you the fat will largely take care of itself until you have made gains sufficient to justify actually cutting. Tightening up SOME for the summer is maybe understandable, but trying to be ripped every spring will not work in your favor either over the long run.

[quote]Digity wrote:
<<< As you see, thinking for yourself can be a recipe for disaster if you’re completely clueless. >>>[/quote]

I won’t make any friends with this one, but here goes anyway.

For somebody who will ultimately get it in this game, thinking for yourself as a clueless noob with all the mistakes and stumbling around is the single most valuable learning experience they will ever go through.

Someone who can’t get rolling in a relatively short amount of time without being led by the hand and babysat will probably never REALLY get it.

That doesn’t mean they should just become a sedentary slug and ditch the weights, any exercise is good, but they’ll be following whatever they read last around in circles forever.

[quote]Tiribulus wrote:
Digity wrote:
<<< As you see, thinking for yourself can be a recipe for disaster if you’re completely clueless. >>>

I won’t make any friends with this one, but here goes anyway.

For somebody who will ultimately get it in this game, thinking for yourself as a clueless noob with all the mistakes and stumbling around is the single most valuable learning experience they will ever go through.

Someone who can’t get rolling in a relatively short amount of time without being led by the hand and babysat will probably never REALLY get it.

That doesn’t mean they should just become a sedentary slug and ditch the weights, any exercise is good, but they’ll be following whatever they read last around in circles forever.[/quote]

I don’t buy that for a second. Newbs needs direction and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. If anything, I think being given proper direction from those who know what they are talking about improves the chances that a beginner will stick to bodybuilding.

For instance, imagine you’re a newb who doesn’t eat enough and does curls and bench presses all day. Now, you have another newb who is told to eat a lot more and follow the “Starting Strength” program. The first person goes nowhere and ends up getting frustrated and quits. The second person, who listened to experienced lifters, starts to see his weight go up and muscles grow and becomes even more motivated to keep going.

[quote]Tiribulus wrote:
Digity wrote:
<<< As you see, thinking for yourself can be a recipe for disaster if you’re completely clueless. >>>

I won’t make any friends with this one, but here goes anyway.

For somebody who will ultimately get it in this game, thinking for yourself as a clueless noob with all the mistakes and stumbling around is the single most valuable learning experience they will ever go through.

Someone who can’t get rolling in a relatively short amount of time without being led by the hand and babysat will probably never REALLY get it.

That doesn’t mean they should just become a sedentary slug and ditch the weights, any exercise is good, but they’ll be following whatever they read last around in circles forever.[/quote]

Agreed. That trial and error period is WHY many of us learned what not to do early on. Anyone who needs THAT much guidance so that they can’t even observe others around them to get the basics is likely not someone who will make much progress overall anyway.