T Nation

Bulking vs Strength


#1

super newbie question: why is it easier to gain muscle mass after you're you bulk? Does that extra muscle mass directly cause extra strength gains or would you get similar strength gains even if you didn't eat more & lifted the same?

I'm just curious, I'm 5'5" and about 130lbs so of course i'm going to bulk anyways, but I was just wondering about the whole science behind bulking before muscle mass. Thanks


#2

More muscle = more strength or at very least more potential forn strength if you are lifting loads heavy enough.

Sure theri are and can be strength gain without size gain. A lot of neuro reactions and such getting more profecient, etc.. Your CNS. Also muscle tissue adaptation.

But all in all. your get stronger then its a good bet you get bigger.


#3

I'm not sure I understand... bulikng IS gaining muscle mass, with some unavoidable fat.


#4

I agree.

I also agree that when bulking, you should try to eat clean for almost all meals, just like DaFreak mentioned in his photo thread. If people bulk with reckless abandon and consume fast food and a lot of other crap, they will get fat!

I have learned this the hard way in the past. Now, when "bulking" I slowly add more food/calories to the mix, while still eating clean. I manipulate the type of food I eat, rather than going nuts and eating pizza, fast food and too many carbs and processed foods.

Basically, my "bulking" diet consists of more meals per day, more carbs (mainly from whole-wheat bread and pasta and brown rice, more potatoes) and more protein too. Since I'm trying to get leaner, I'm no longer eating the bread, pasta, rice and am eating much less of the potatoes. And instead of 7-8 meals a day, I'm eating 5-6.


#5

I agree with the more carbs while bulking. When cutting, I've been sticking to a lower carb diet with restricted fat intake. When bulking, my two best friends are protein and fat. I build like no other on those two. Clean of course, not potato chip fat.

Gimme peanut butter any time I want to bulk.


#6

I always thought that "bulking" MEANS gaining muscle mass. If that's not what it means, who does it mean? Just curious...


#7

Bulking is more common in bodybuilding than powerlifting I would assume. I've always understood it to be something that people ususally do once they have some size and experience and it starts to get harder to gain muscle. They will over eat and gain a combo of fat and muscle than cut back down to the desired weight.

In Arnie's "Education of a Bodybuilder" he describes his body as a sculpture where he had to start off with extra material. After he got the desired size he would slowly harded and sculpt his body as necessary


#8

I see now my question doesn't make sense. What I mean is, is it easier to make strength gains as a heavier person. For example, would a 250 lb person be able to add more pounds to his bench and squat in a certain amount of time than someone that weighed 150 lbs? Seems like the answer is yes.


#9

Generally the answer is yes but body composition and genetics also come into play


#10

there are two main ways to get stronger:

  1. Get bigger muscles
  2. get a more efficient nervous system

So if your ultimate goal is to get stronger, yes being bigger will definatly help. Train for stength and eat alot and you will get bigger and stronger


#11

Dude, bulking is building muscle as quickly as possible. Due to the fact that you're doing it as quickly as possible, there is usually a bit of fat gain. It's for everyone, beginners or experienced lifters. Sure, more experienced lifter do it when copmared to new lifters, but that's usually because newbies haven't figured out that building new muscle takes a shitload of calories.

With regards to bulking for powerlifters or bodybuilders, anybody who wants to build new muscle should bulk, with the exception of obese bastards. They should diet, then bulk.


#12

Yes, generally, the bigger person has the advantage. More raw material to work with (muscle mass) starting off. It's easier to gain coordination and nervous system efficiency in the beginning of a person's training. Basically, you get more used to your muscles firing. After a certain point, though, increased neural efficiency gets harder to accomplish, so gains come easier with more muscle mass (eg-veteran athletes can increase their strength by moving up a weight class. Old Soviet oly lifters, PLers, etc.).


#13

well, it depends if you are talking about relative strenght (strength compared to your own body weight) or absolute strength (weight lifted/pulled). This comparison involves more physics and dynamics since it depends on many factors including connective tissue, etc.

However I think you're just asking about general weight lifted. For the most part - if you take two untrained individuals with the same amount of fat mass and fat free non muscle mass but one person has more muscle - then that heavier person will be able to increase strength faster and/or further.

Think of it this way - Say untrained you use 10% of your muscle when you lift. As you train more but gain no weight you slowly increase that percentage say to 50%. None of this is a linear relationship but just play along. Say you are now lifting 5 times the weight that you started with even though you have no new mass. But what if you were adding muscle at the same time by eating. Muscle mass to weight lifted isn't linear either so it makes this difficult but say your muscle mass increases by 20% (around 10-20lb depending on size) and you also increase the percentage of muscle used to 30%. Well with the new muscle and training you may be lifting 6 times what you started with. By adding muscle (not an extreme amount either) you are easily lifting more weight without becoming as efficient. It's probably harder to get the percentage of muscle used up than to add muscle if you are currently skinny/small. In that sense, yes, you will gain strength easier and faster if you gain muscle while you train. And if you do the more current lifting programs that involve some strength oriented parts (i.e. 10x3) instead of 3x12 then you will definetely gain strength easily.

Obviously this is just an example and doesn't make much (or any) sense in the "real world" but it is my example of showing that adding muscle makes weights go up and depending on your starting point may allow you to lift a lot more than if you were just trying to gain strength. This example would be totally different and even more convoluted if you were looking for relative strength.

The point is it is hard to lift anything without muscle. Sometimes that is the only thing that may be holding you back. And luckily we've determined it's possible to gain more muscle without having to get stronger at the same time an vice versa.

Boy, I hope that makes sense. I'm sure explaining it more would make it worse.


#14

Not exactly! Bulking is building mass as quickly as possible with the intention of cutting the fat away at a later time. Bulking is NOT for everybody. Burning fat can be damn hard and if a person is not going to be able to lose the fat then they shouldn't bulk. It would be much more appropriate for a beginner to build mass slowly if they are not ready to take the time to shed the fat later. It all depends on the person


#15

I stand by the contention that any who wants to put on some serious muscle should bulk and then cut. If you have to keep in a weight class, or have to retain high levels of anaerobic fitness (such as an athlete during season), then maybe not, but these people wouldn't be looking to put on serious amounts of muscle.

I just wanted to go over this part:

"if a person is not going to be able to lose the fat then they shouldn't bulk."

A couple of things:

  1. You can bulk up without putting on ridiculous amounts of fat. DaFreak has just finished bulking and he is about 10-12% bodyfat.

  2. Apart from Pavaroti and Roseanne Barr, who the fuck can't lose a few extra pounds down the road? If there is a specific time limit in which the person has to get in tip top shape by, you use a more controlled or shorter bulking time. But apart from that, you can trim down using diet and your normal exercise program.

Once again, anybody, except fatties, who wants to put on some serious muscle should bulk and then cut.


#16

I'm not sure how accurate my electronic weighing scale is in its body fat% calculation, but it's telling me I'm at 21.7% BF

I'm 5'4.5" and 131 lbs and I feel like I should be weighing lots more, like maybe 160 but at a lower BF% , like in the low teens.

It seems like I'm going to have to eat a shitload more protein and carbs, less fat, and time my meals better.


#17

Hey im new i just joined...im 16 years old im 5'7" and 125. I am pretty skinny and im trying to gain some weight just so when i get results it looks good. i dont want to be huge huge, because i want it to be fit looking that my abs show nicely, kinda body like the guy from blade trinity that plays hannibal king, he's also in the national lampoon van wilder video. and also getting the "V" thing or K cut i dont know the name of what it is really just like the slang versions, what type of exercises work to get good results on that specific area?. But to get on topic are weight gainers any good? i saw one in GNC i think its their brand that its a big black bottle with a red label are those any good?. i read it has like 74g of protein and like 1000 calories. i highly appreciate all the advice i can get


#18

Dude, how old are you?


#19

You are 16 - just start eating a lot more food. Good wholesome food like meat, vege and salad. Whole milk milkshakes are good to. Do that and some sort of resistance training, and you'll put on muscle. At 16 and 125lbs, you don't need a weight gainer. You need to eat.


#20

I agree. At that age you just want to eat right and lift. The bad thing is at that age I didn't want to listen to anyone and bought the Weider crap like everyone else. It wasn't until years later and a lot more knowledge that I understood how to keep it simple for gains.