T Nation

Bulking while keeping lean look

I know it is not possible to bulk and cut up at the same time.
My problem is that whenever I bulk up I’m obviously gaining fat aswell as muscle, and I begin getting a double chin and put fat on around my face, my cheeck bones seem to dissapear and I look podgy, it’s not a major problem but I hate looking at myself like that in the mirror.
Would it be a good idea to cut right down to a really low body fat percentage say 5 - 7% and then start to bulk, then cut down when I go above 8 or 9%? or will I always put on fat around my face when bulking regardless of my bodyfat %?

It may just be water retention that your are noticing. Are you taking a lot of creatine?

You could try not bulking.

Seriously. My body fat never breaks 11%. The intent of bulking is to provide a nutrient overload, but if your diet’s dialed in, what’s the point?


You goal is to be gaining lean muscle while maintaining a consistant body fat level.

Typo… Your is what I meant

Generally speaking, if you try and stay lean while attempting to put on muscle, you’ll end up just spinning your wheels. Look around your gym. Everyone is trying to do just that and for the most part (outside of a cycle or two) everyone looks the same year in and year out.

You may make progress doing so, but you’ll make more progress if you’re willing to accept some fat gain. Now, that’s not an excuse to get really fat. You just have to have the mindset that SOME fat is ok. Give yourself a set point and don’t go above it. Just be reasonable about it.

Stop bulking…whats the point?

Eating more food will not make the muscle grow faster…

Check out Marc McDougal’s thread entitled “Progress” in the photo section

Jay, check out Marc McDougal’s thread over on the photo forum (“Progess”). Lots of good info there.

I have stuck to bulking and cutting phases for the past two years, I have about 2 of each every year (about 4mo bulking, 2 mo cutting). I don’t mind putting on a few extra pounds of fat because I feel I pack on muscle much quicker. It also helps to keep me sane as I love eating 4500 cals a day. However, I never let myself get beyond 13-14% bf. I have a relatively easy time leaning out. I just feel this thread is giving a fairly bad rap to bulking and cutting…I believe it has its place and works better for some than others.

TDog… I think most of us were supportive of bulking, we were just saying that you should try to do it w/ out increasing your bodyfat.

The thread “Progress” was great!

To quote Nate Dogg:
"Believe it or not, it really is possible. If your training is consistent and your nutrition is dialed in perfectly, you can get leaner and gain muscle (or at least stay at the same bodyfat percentage). Don’t believe me? Look at Marc! Don’t believe him? Ask Don Alessi. Still not enough evidence? I’ll prove it in a few months! "

No I know everyone would be in support of bulking perse because everyone wants to put on muscle, but for me and many others it just slows things down too much trying to keep my bodyfat constant. I find it much easier to get bigger and than lean out.

TDog- I just wanted to point out that I wasn’t speaking from experience. I’ve never bulked as my goal has always been to loose bodyfat while gaining lean muscle. That is just what I’ve read. So if it works well for you, then keep doing what you are doing. :slight_smile:

The term “bulking” in itself means to gain both muscle and fat? right? why would you want to do that? Why not just gain muscle? Fat gain is not required for muscle gain. Fat gain is a by-product of overeating. Muscle gain is a product of training, rest, and recovery including nutrition.

I dont see the correlation.

Also check out Nate Dogg’s thread in the Dog Pound: Gaining Lean Mass without the Fat Nate Dogg 51 05/13/03
03:21 PM


I really feel that just gaining muscle during periods of time that are generally considered “off-seasons” is counter-productive. I am not saying this is set in stone for everyone, but people such as endomorphs, which I am by the way, put on fat relatively easily, but also have a easy time putting on muscle. So by breaking the year up into 4 parts (cycles or whatever you want to call them) where bulking (yes your right it is the process of gaining muscle along with added fat) is done two parts of the year makes it easier for a lot people that are of my body type to put on as much muscle as possible while accepting they will put on a couple of percentage points of fat. This is something I can deal with during the winter, as there is no need for me to keep my bf below 9% because honestly how many people are acutally going to see it. However, I do believe a cap should be put on how high the bf% gets or increases and it should be within a considerable range of ones lean cycle bf%.

If this isnt very comprehendable I apologize I am falling asleep at my computer.