T Nation

Calories Burnt Through Cardio While Bulking?

My current maintenance level, due to my understanding, is around 1900-2000 calories. I am now in the process of bulking where I’m consuming around 2100 calories give or take 50 calories.

I do moderate intensity cardio three days a week (fast-paced walking on a 2% incline) for about 22-25min and I burn around 130 calories at a time.

Should I then consume 2230 calories on the days I do cardio to make up for the calories burned?

These are my current stats:

weight (lbs): 172

height: 5’8

body fat %: 20-22%


Are you male or female?
How old are you?

Your maintenance level might be around 2000-2100. Are you gaining on this formula? That is really the only way to answer the question.

I am a 20-year-old male and I would say that yeah,my maintenance is around 1900-2000 tops. I have been eating at around 2,250 and have been gaining weight but more than I would have liked it when looking at this past month. I gained 4 lbs and even though my lifts did increase, I definitely should have not gained as much fat.

I’m currently at 20-22% body fat but I’m fine with how I look so far. I’m planning to decrease my surplus to 2100 starting tomorrow and see where that takes me. I have also been taking creatine for over a month now so that probably added a couple of water weight pounds.

The “water weight pounds” are definitely something to keep in mind, but it also probably means you’re going to gain more muscle mass. If you are lifting routinely while starting to take creatine, you are going to have this side effect for sure.

If you are doing that cardio fasted then you’re probably burning some good fat. You can afford to add a bit more calories, but just keep in mind human error as it is. We have a tendency to under-report food that we eat. So if you’re trying to be real precise, just know you may have already hit those numbers. Just my two cents…

So the next questions would be 1) What do you eat and 2) How do you train although if you are gaining.

1): oatmeal, 4 oz chicken breasts throughout the day, brocolli, cucumbers, spinach, cabbage, tomatoes, cottage cheese, skim milk, sugar-free fat-free pudding, jiff peanut butter, walnuts, sometimes salmon or Tilapia if they are available, sugar-free Smuckers jam or preservatives, sometimes anchovies, steamed cauliflower,rarely brown rice with black beans, bananas, strawberries, oranges, watermelon, kiwi, and that’s pretty much it.

Training program:

Tuesday: high-bar or hybrid squat, paused bench press, barbell rows, face pulls.

Thursday: high-bar or hybrid squat, conventional deadlift, overhead press, body weight chin ups mixed in with weighted chin ups, and face pulls.

The cycle then keeps repeating.

Yeah, I’ll probably just subtract 100 calories from my daily caloric intake from my the calories burned during my usual cardio workout.

Have you had an eating disorder or otherwise conducted prolonged calorie restriction on yourself? Even though you’re a skinny fat guy, as a 20 year old your maintenance level should be higher than 2100 calories.

Also, trying to micromanage your calorie surplus with 100 extra a day is a surefire way to spend time spinning your wheels.

I think mostly you need some simplification and harder work.

Trying to calculate intake and adjust within 50 calories is more complex than needed.

Considering it to be bulking while aiming for a 100 calorie per day surplus, and being at 20-22% bodyfat already, is being too precise on definitions or calculations.

130 calories in 25 minutes is only about 320 calories per hour. That’s hardly working. I would either work seriously on the treadmill, or switch to high-intensity interval training sprinting if not wanting to work hard on the treadmill.

I wouldn’t bulk at 20-22% bodyfat. At most, when at that point and wanting to gain muscle quickly, aim to keep fat the same while working hard in the gym. You didn’t mention how many sets you do, reps, or ideas of weights. If your weight training is intensive, this calorie intake is probably inadequate. If it’s not intensive, then you’re not working hard enough.

If you’re weight training just twice per week, then there’s a problem right there.

At a more advanced level it can work to train a bodypart only once per week, but typically the total volume per week would be enough to demand at least three workouts per week and more commonly four to six. At a less advanced level, two or three times per week per bodypart is almost always better, and again with at least three workouts per week. At a less advanced level, usually it wouldn’t be just that the bodypart is trained at least twice per week, but key exercises are trained twice per week. For example, really there is no reason for you to be bench press only once per week as your only chest exercise and nearly your only triceps exercise. Or for you to be doing shoulder press only once per week. This is hardly working.

How many sets total per week are you doing, in what rep ranges?

Bench press: I am following Greg Nuckol’s periodization plan where I deload 5-20% and do 5x8 until I plateu, then 6x5 and finally 7x4. My last weight I did for bench press (paused reps) was 127 so I will be doing 130 next time and should be able to do it. I plateud at 165 at 3x5 but I think I have gotten stronger already doing this new plan. I have yet to see though.

OHP: 3x5 until I fail and then I will follow the above plan where I will deload to 110 because I’ve already tried to do 8 reps at 117 and wasn’t able to do it.

Barbell row: I am planning to deload to 130 or 135 and follow the same 5x8, 6x5 and 7x3 plan while really making sure my form is spot on because it wasn’t when I was doing 5x5 for 170 where I ended up plateuing.

Conventional deadlift: 1x5 (I originally was doing SL 5x5 but as you see above, the 5xx5 plan wasn’t really cutting it and I had to adjust it) I will be doing 345 lb next.

Face pulls: 3x11 for 22.5 lbs.

Chin ups: still deciding the plan but most likely a peridoization plan.

I am doing the light cardio because I am doing it for my health. I do fast-paced walking because it is considered to be moderate/light intensity cardio and this is what is recommended to have good health. This is based on countless studies and I am taking a physical activity health class at college (University of Iowa) and this notion has been emphasized.

When I go over 2100 calories, I tend to gain more weight than needed. The calculators online are not accurate for my caloric needs.

From my understanding, if I choose to not bulk right now given that my body at % is a bit high, how am I supposed to gain muscle quickly? I will gain it slowly but perhaps now that I’m following a different workout program (different set/rep range) maybe that will change.

Again, I workout on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday in terms of my strength training.

On my off days, I do cardio. I have seen improvements in my vo2max and overall cardiovascular endurance already.

So are you saying that if I am going to bulk (I’m not sure if I should or shouldn’t really because if I do it properly where I will consume 2100-2150 calories and not gain noticeable fat but more muscle), I should not subtract the 100 calories due to the calories burned from cardio? Hm…

I also do not look skinny fat by any means. I do have muscel mass. Most of the fat is centered around my chest and stomach + hip/waist area (“love handles”) and it doesn’t really look that bad when I am not bloated or anything.

When you say hardly working if I only do OHP once per week or so, I disagree because otherwise my body specifically (you or someone else may be different. Realize this) cannot fully recover. If I push myself harder, as you are really advocating for, my results may be worse…

I also forgot to mention something very important: due to me having an anxiety disorder, my stress levels do hamper with my ability to recover and have good sleep. Alot of stress and poor sleep have definitely not been helping me to the fullest extent.

Also note that I have been taking Creatine (pure form) for about 1.5 months and it definitely helped in the beginning for sure.

For squats, I am currently going to be doing 5x5 for 100 because before I was doing 5x5 150lbs but had an injury + needed to work on my butt-wink so I had to take some time off and only now am I going back up in weight.

I am not by any means a skinny fat guy and note again that I am 5’8 and weigh 172 lbs or so. Every person my age can have a different maintenance level based on how their metabolism works, stress levels, quality of sleep and so forth. Based on me having experience with trying different maintenance levels, I already know mine.

The calculators online are usually off if you haven’t noticed already for yourself…

Briefly, then you have something like:

high-bar or hybrid squat, 5x5
paused bench press, from 5x8 to 7x4
barbell rows, from 5x8 to 7x3
face pulls, 3x11

Thursday: high-bar or hybrid squat, 5x5
conventional deadlift, 1x5
overhead press, 3x5
body weight chin ups mixed in with weighted chin ups, ? but something like the other volumes?
face pulls, 3x11

In terms of counting volume I’ll take out the face pulls as they are not much work.

So basically, maybe 17 sets total on Tuesday and 13 sets total on Thursday? Or 30 sets per week.

I would make it more like 24 sets total each of 3x/week. Which would be about 2.5 times your present volume.

It seems to me that you’re doing a good job of finding out information and working to apply it, but while I haven’t followed Greg Nuckol’s programs, I’m pretty sure (because it would be impossible) that he hasn’t trained like the above program himself or would recommend it to someone at your stage, or actually any stage. Also I remember him as being of the volume-believing school.

A quick Googling got a quote from him:

[b]Key points

  1. The most reliable way, though not the ONLY way, to get stronger is to do more.

  2. Even advanced, drug-free athletes can make great progress training a lift just twice per week.

  3. You probably don’t need to worry about overtraining. Participants in this study squatted 8 sets to failure with 80% of their max and made sweet gainz.

If you don’t understand anything else about programming, understand this:

The most reliable way to make progress is to do more.[/b]

Hey, not bad advice, not bad advice at all! :slight_smile: