T Nation

Clean Bulk vs. Dirty Bulk


#1


Winter is almost upon us, so I'm getting ready for a good bulk. I've been back in the gym for half a year after a 3 year hiatus and have made some decent gains, but I know I'm still small.

What would you recommend I do, I know (smart) dirty bulking will give me more muscle gains, but is it worth it for someone who can eat relatively well clean? Would the benefits outweigh the cost of me getting a fat head (it's my curse)? I don't care about eating boring food, I just get it down. I go to the gym 3 times a week for around 1 hour, intending on upping this if I get time.

Current stats:

28
5'8
67kg-73kg target weight for next summer is 70+kg at around 10%

Current diet:
Morning: 8am
protein shake with milk and 2 raw eggs
banana

lunch: 12:10
School lunch buffet (I'm a teacher)
Unlimited rice available - usually eat around a cup full
Unlimited veg available - one cup
Mystery protein meal - if It's lean, I eat a until full, if it's crap I eat cautiously

snack: 5pm
protein shake with milk and 2 raw eggs
milk
chicken breast/tuna/pork loin

Dinner:9pm
3 large chicken breasts
Mixed veg - 2 cups

Bonus round - I drink around 2 liters of milk a day because I love it. I eat a lot of condiments with my chicken (mayo usually), and also bread sometimes and I eat out a lot, but usually eat tons of lean protein sources when I do. I drink quite a bit of coffee without sugar.

Any glaring issues? I know mayo is my vice.

I've gained weight and unintentionally developed abs, so I fell my diet has been going pretty well.


#2

Oh man buddy.

Why would a smart dirty bulk give you more muscle than a clean bulk?

Clean bulk and dirty bulk are the worst terms in the fitness/diet/lifting world… Even worse than functional.


#3

[quote]gregron wrote:
Oh man buddy.

Why would a smart dirty bulk give you more muscle than a clean bulk?

Clean bulk and dirty bulk are the worst terms in the fitness/diet/lifting world… Even worse than functional.[/quote]

What I mean then, is it worth it, muscle gainswise, to stuff my face with every available source of food (that’s not unhealthy) or should I go slow and steady?

I’m asking because I don’t know the answer. From a layman’s perspective, I would assume a ‘dirty bulk’ would give more muscle and more fat, and a ‘clean bulk’ would give less of both, is this wrong?

There seems to be lot of contradictory info available as of late, I was under the impression meal frequency was really important until I read that car crash of a thread in BSL.


#4

Do not dirty bulk, do not get fat. Trust me on this.

Find out what your calorie needs are and eat them consistently. When your weight gain stalls out for 2-3 weeks add in 250 cals a day in a relatively even macro split. If you are in bulk mode, or hell even diet mode, do not worry about the occasional Thanksgiving or X-mas feast.

Again, there is NO benefit to be gained for a natty lifter by throwing caution to the wind and getting fat for the sake of 5 pounds of muscle.


#5

[quote]HiFiBoy wrote:

[quote]gregron wrote:
Oh man buddy.

Why would a smart dirty bulk give you more muscle than a clean bulk?

Clean bulk and dirty bulk are the worst terms in the fitness/diet/lifting world… Even worse than functional.[/quote]

What I mean then, is it worth it, muscle gainswise, to stuff my face with every available source of food (that’s not unhealthy) or should I go slow and steady?

I’m asking because I don’t know the answer. From a layman’s perspective, I would assume a ‘dirty bulk’ would give more muscle and more fat, and a ‘clean bulk’ would give less of both, is this wrong?

There seems to be lot of contradictory info available as of late, I was under the impression meal frequency was really important until I read that car crash of a thread in BSL.

[/quote]

The body can only build so much muscle, and at a certain rate. As long as you’re giving your body the training stimulus, proper recovery, and adequate nutrients, you’ll build muscle just as quickly as if you “stuff your face.” Lots of people overestimate the caloric surplus necessary to make muscular gains; while the people that dirty bulk may fill out shirts quicker and the scale will rapidly climb, the slow and steady approach will yield just as much muscle in the long run. The guys that dirty bulk won’t be any bigger than you once they diet down, as long as you’re actually making progress while staying relatively lean. Now, this doesn’t mean that you should be afraid of getting a little soft in the process, but that shouldn’t happen right off the bat, and you should never have to get sloppy to build muscle. The way I see it, a bb’er (not saying you’re competing)should always look better than the average person, regardless of whether or not you’re in a fat loss stage


#6

This thread spoke to me because I too am cursed with fat-head-balesha-beacon-bloat-face when I start to gain any of the bad weight.

If you are willing to track macros/cals then I would opt for a ‘clean bulk’ every time. Just figure out your maintenance cals, make sure protein is at or just above b/w in lb’s and the carbs/fats are too individual to prescribe so you’ll have to figure that part out yourself.

Once you have maintenance sorted add ~300cals and keep one eye on the scale. Once the weight gain stalls, add more cals (sensibly).

A good goal would be NO MORE than 1 lb/wk.


#7

[quote]Lonnie123 wrote:
Do not dirty bulk, do not get fat. Trust me on this.

Find out what your calorie needs are and eat them consistently. When your weight gain stalls out for 2-3 weeks add in 250 cals a day in a relatively even macro split. If you are in bulk mode, or hell even diet mode, do not worry about the occasional Thanksgiving or X-mas feast.

Again, there is NO benefit to be gained for a natty lifter by throwing caution to the wind and getting fat for the sake of 5 pounds of muscle.[/quote]

Thanks, I guess that’s what I wanted to hear. I did a pretty heavy bulk in the past and all my family just said I looked fat, yet I thought I looked thick and full house via mental gymnastics.

I think one dominant poster on this site (who shall remain nameless) has influenced my mind, so that I feel I’m doing it wrong if I’m not constantly 20% bf.


#8

[quote]pwolves17 wrote:

The body can only build so much muscle, and at a certain rate. As long as you’re giving your body the training stimulus, proper recovery, and adequate nutrients, you’ll build muscle just as quickly as if you “stuff your face.” Lots of people overestimate the caloric surplus necessary to make muscular gains; while the people that dirty bulk may fill out shirts quicker and the scale will rapidly climb, the slow and steady approach will yield just as much muscle in the long run. The guys that dirty bulk won’t be any bigger than you once they diet down, as long as you’re actually making progress while staying relatively lean. Now, this doesn’t mean that you should be afraid of getting a little soft in the process, but that shouldn’t happen right off the bat, and you should never have to get sloppy to build muscle. The way I see it, a bb’er (not saying you’re competing)should always look better than the average person, regardless of whether or not you’re in a fat loss stage[/quote]

Makes sense, thanks.


#9

[quote]pwolves17 wrote:
The body can only build so much muscle, and at a certain rate. As long as you’re giving your body the training stimulus, proper recovery, and adequate nutrients, you’ll build muscle just as quickly as if you “stuff your face.” Lots of people overestimate the caloric surplus necessary to make muscular gains; while the people that dirty bulk may fill out shirts quicker and the scale will rapidly climb, the slow and steady approach will yield just as much muscle in the long run. The guys that dirty bulk won’t be any bigger than you once they diet down, as long as you’re actually making progress while staying relatively lean. Now, this doesn’t mean that you should be afraid of getting a little soft in the process, but that shouldn’t happen right off the bat, and you should never have to get sloppy to build muscle. The way I see it, a bb’er (not saying you’re competing)should always look better than the average person, regardless of whether or not you’re in a fat loss stage[/quote]
BOOM


#10

For your goals, I think it makes zero sense to “dirty” bulk or whatever, just ensure an adequate protein intake and make consistent progress in the gym.

However the claim that the slow and steady approach will yield just as much muscle for everyone… well that statement seems to ignore people like George Leeman and others who have made awesome rapid progress bulking up heavy and getting brutally strong. I don’t think you get to a 900lb deadlift going slow and steady. Most people of course want no part of that kind of approach, myself included… but it’s wrong to ignore it like it’s not a valid method.


#11

[quote]pwolves17 wrote:
The body can only build so much muscle, and at a certain rate. As long as you’re giving your body the training stimulus, proper recovery, and adequate nutrients, you’ll build muscle just as quickly as if you “stuff your face.” Lots of people overestimate the caloric surplus necessary to make muscular gains; while the people that dirty bulk may fill out shirts quicker and the scale will rapidly climb, the slow and steady approach will yield just as much muscle in the long run. The guys that dirty bulk won’t be any bigger than you once they diet down, as long as you’re actually making progress while staying relatively lean. Now, this doesn’t mean that you should be afraid of getting a little soft in the process, but that shouldn’t happen right off the bat, and you should never have to get sloppy to build muscle. The way I see it, a bb’er (not saying you’re competing)should always look better than the average person, regardless of whether or not you’re in a fat loss stage[/quote]

^^ This! This! This!

Anyone who tells you that eating more than your body actually requires to build muscle as fast as it possibly can (genetically) is fooling themselves, and will either end up shocked when they eventually diet down, or will always come up with a reason why they’re not cutting “yet”.

Target your requirements giving yourself a little more, paying attention to how soft you may get (and how soft you can tolerate day to day), train your ass off, and put in the time. You can’t rush time my friend, so keep some perspective on things.

S


#12

Consume large amounts of MAG-10 and you will reach your goals. At least that’s what I do.


#13

[quote]The Mighty Stu wrote:

[quote]pwolves17 wrote:
The body can only build so much muscle, and at a certain rate. As long as you’re giving your body the training stimulus, proper recovery, and adequate nutrients, you’ll build muscle just as quickly as if you “stuff your face.” Lots of people overestimate the caloric surplus necessary to make muscular gains; while the people that dirty bulk may fill out shirts quicker and the scale will rapidly climb, the slow and steady approach will yield just as much muscle in the long run. The guys that dirty bulk won’t be any bigger than you once they diet down, as long as you’re actually making progress while staying relatively lean. Now, this doesn’t mean that you should be afraid of getting a little soft in the process, but that shouldn’t happen right off the bat, and you should never have to get sloppy to build muscle. The way I see it, a bb’er (not saying you’re competing)should always look better than the average person, regardless of whether or not you’re in a fat loss stage[/quote]

^^ This! This! This!

Anyone who tells you that eating more than your body actually requires to build muscle as fast as it possibly can (genetically) is fooling themselves, and will either end up shocked when they eventually diet down, or will always come up with a reason why they’re not cutting “yet”.

Target your requirements giving yourself a little more, paying attention to how soft you may get (and how soft you can tolerate day to day), train your ass off, and put in the time. You can’t rush time my friend, so keep some perspective on things.

S[/quote]

I agree with everyone that’s saying take it slowly. I’ve FINALLY done that for the first time and am very happy with the results. You do have to be patient though b/c some weeks you might find you will lose weight, gain weight, stay the same, etc. Just like fat loss, look at it over the long run. I just hit the 3-month mark of focusing on my muscle gain and had very good results, especially considering the 1st month I actually ended up losing 2 or 3 more pounds before I figured out how much food I needed to eat.

My 3-month results:

Comparison this today as of 3 months ago.

Weight: 162.4 -> 171.5

Girth
Neck: 14 -> 14.1
Shoulders: 44.5 -> 45
Chest: 37.2 -> 38.5
Upper Arm: 12 -> 12.6
Waist: 31.5 -> 32.3
Hip: 37 -> 38
Thigh: 22.3 -> 22.4
Calf: 13.2 -> 13.3
Total: 211.7 -> 216.2

Skinfold
Abdominal: 12 -> 14
Triceps: 7 -> 7
Chest: 8 -> 8
Midaxillary: 9 -> 8
Subscapular: 8 -> 10
Suprailiac: 5 -> 7
Thigh: 9 -> 7.5
Total: 58 -> 61.5

Put the numbers into the calculation and says I went from 8.3% bf to 8.9%. Now, I know I’m not that low in bf lol.

But according to the calc, I gained about 7.5lbs of lean mass and 1.75lb of fat.

Not to shabby, especially if it’s correct. Over the course of a year, that would equate to 30lbs of lean mass and 7lbs of fat. If I’m able to put on additional lean mass above and beyond this, I’m sure it would be minor.


#14

[quote]Purple wrote:
For your goals, I think it makes zero sense to “dirty” bulk or whatever, just ensure an adequate protein intake and make consistent progress in the gym.

However the claim that the slow and steady approach will yield just as much muscle for everyone… well that statement seems to ignore people like George Leeman and others who have made awesome rapid progress bulking up heavy and getting brutally strong. I don’t think you get to a 900lb deadlift going slow and steady. Most people of course want no part of that kind of approach, myself included… but it’s wrong to ignore it like it’s not a valid method.[/quote]

Like the guy above said, does that kind of mentality benefit natural lifters who are training for looks though? For the record, I have nothing against it. I’m just assuming a 900lb DL is not attainable naturally, maybe I’m wrong.

Thanks everyone for chipping in. I was edging on the side of steady gains with minimal fat gain anyway, I just wanted some input from more experienced people. I’m settled for the first time in 4 years, so I can finally dedicate some serious time to lifting.

Here is a comparison pic after 6 months. I know I’m wearing a top in the before, but I don’t have any topless pics from before. You can still see I made some progress I think.


#15

Man, I really regret getting “fat” this past year trying to maximize the gainz that basically are visually non-existent. I let the scale scare me into eating more. Sometimes it would never budge. Sometimes it would go BACKWARDS! Real mind-fuckery

Let the mirror and performance be your guide to your caloric needs. Your light too. Measuring tape might actually be of help to you.


#16

I opened this thread expecting Lonnie’s usual solid bulking advice and wasn’t disappointed hahaha. Also, if you are training very hard and eating enough calories within reason, I wouldn’t even call it “slow gaining.” A fast bulk is slow gaining, as every extra lb of fat you put on will increase the debt you have to pay off later by dieting.


#17

Dude… Massive trap gains in 6 months, super jelly over here. What the hell did you do for them?


#18

[quote]Lonnie123 wrote:
Dude… Massive trap gains in 6 months, super jelly over here. What the hell did you do for them?[/quote]

Thanks, I could deadlift 405 x 2 (with straps and belt) at 160lbs in less than 6 months, I think that had a big part to play. Plus, I work harder than anyone in my gym and have missed maybe two days since starting.

3 x bw DL within the first year, here I come.


#19

[quote]HiFiBoy wrote:

[quote]Lonnie123 wrote:
Dude… Massive trap gains in 6 months, super jelly over here. What the hell did you do for them?[/quote]

Thanks, I could deadlift 405 x 2 (with straps and belt) at 160lbs in less than 6 months, I think that had a big part to play. Plus, I work harder than anyone in my gym and have missed maybe two days since starting.

3 x bw DL within the first year, here I come.[/quote]

Agreed. Amazing trap development.

Is that all you did? Just deadlift once a week and you got those traps???


#20

[quote]Brett620 wrote:

Agreed. Amazing trap development.

Is that all you did? Just deadlift once a week and you got those traps???[/quote]

I train the ususal 4 bodypart split, which takes 8 days to complete.

My back day is as follows:

Deadlift: 5x5 without straps or belt, then two heavy sets with the final one being as much as I can manage (with straps and belt).

Weighted pullups: 4x5-6 last set to failure.

Maybe some bicep curls if I feel like it

Cable rows 4x8

Face pulls 4x12.

No shrugs or anything special.