T Nation

Coaching Advice, "Truth About Bulking" Plan

I enjoy your articles on T-nation the most. your old article about bulking ( https://www.t-nation.com/training/truth-about-bulking?sf=jvpnlyp ) has opened my eyes to nutrition and I have been doing well since then.
based on that article my diet is 3000-3500 Calories. 260-320 g of protein , 260-320 g carbs and the rest comes from fats. I am doing well in my lifts and dont do any cardio. I do lots of drop sets to limit fat gains or to lose fat during cutting. 50 % drop in weight and trying to get above 10-15 in total reps. my only concern is strength gains in the big lifts (bench, dead lift, squat and standing up military press). I am not able to advance in those lifts fast and I mean lifting heavy for reps (6-8). for example my bench is stuck at 225 lbs for 5 reps for 1 year and a half now and those 5 reps are not a guarantee from week to week… though this didnt limit my gains. I was able to add 4 kilos of muscle in a 6 months bulk naturally. It is my first bulk. now i am on my second
here is my complete program,
heavy flat bench, heavy inclined bench followed by inclined light dumbells, hammer strength, machine flies 4 sets with 2 drop sets.

dead lift, machine rows, shrugs, 2 cable workouts: 4 sets 2 being drop sets.

2 bicep workoout one fore arm, 3 tri ceps workout. all 4 sets include a drop set.

Military press, lateral raises, front raises, bending shoulder raises for back shoulders. the last three workout are all 4 sets with drop sets.

squat , machine squat , calves raises, and quad curls with drop sets. I cant do any hamstring isolation because it always tend to cramp painfully. I guess deadlifting and squat would be enough.

so as I said my strength gians is limited.

am I overtraining ? I try to limit fat gains with drop sets and it was the only way to cut down to 7% body fat. I try not to rest any day in a cut session while on a bulk I rest 2 days.
is there a training technique required (power lifting training) to add strength ? I have seen people less muscular than me lifting way more in all these lifts.

my aim here is to be able to lift heavy for reps (at least 5) not 1-rep max.

please critique my workout in general and give a lifting wisdom on my main concern.


CT already has a good strength program. Search for his 915 program. Otherwise I like 531 for strength. It’s steady strength gains and autoreguled if you’re smart and actually follow the instructions. 915 is good for couple of “bursts” of strength gains. 531 is slow and steady, but no doubt it is steady. I’ve been doing it for around 6 months and have yet to stall.
Hopefully CT will chime in because he has great work. I just don’t have a lot of experience with his strength programs

You’re all over with this. It’s unlikely CT will address this. He’s a busy man and likely doesn’t have time to wade through it all.

doesn’t he respond anymore other threads ?

My point is that i want to make strength gains in my program. when I started I was able to add weight from month to month. now I get stronger at the same weight repping too much and if I try to add I rep too low. example: benching 185 lbs for 14 reps on a bulk easily and the it feels like nothing, so I add 20 lbs and I can barely finish 6. the bar feels drastically heavier and requires more of me. those 6 might become 4 or 5 the next week.

Your looking at it the wrong way. You can’t have it all. You specifically said you want to get stronger. That requires a strength training program. Like 915 or 531. If you want size gains you should do a hypertrophy based program. It’s pretty simple. You are trying to have everything and it doesn’t work like that.
Here is my personal suggestion. Do a strength training program for at least a year. Don’t program hop, just focus on good nutrition and getting cock strong. Here are some basic goals you could shoot for.
For a set of 3
Deadlift = bodyweight (BW) x2.5
Squat = BW x2
Bench = BW 1.5
Overhead Barbell Press = bodyweight

Once you get here you will be very strong. Not elite but who gives a shit. Then switch to a hypertrophy style of training and get jacked.

A foundation of strength is nessiccary if you want to get to the results you desire. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Also, if you build a house without a concrete foundation then it’s gonna fall.
Get strong, to hell with the rest and the bullshit.
After your strong then you can go for your dream body. Without the strength you will never get there. Period.

Cheers! Good luck with your journey. If you’d like recommendations let me know.

Hopefully CT will chime in

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Yes I try to respond as much as possible. But this is too broad of a question and honestly I almost fell asleep after one paragraph.

I want to be as helpful as possible. But there are some topics I don’t like to answer. The first one is any questions related to injuries, the second are performance-enhancing drugs and the third is training program critique.

For me analysing a program takes longer than writing a program. I just don’t have time. Furthermore you ask if you are overtraining. How the hell should I know? I know athletes who train 4h a day, 6 days a week and recover fine and others who have a hard time recovering from 3 sessions of 45 min per week. It is highly individualized

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Exactly. I like simple and the the point questions. When I have to ready someone’s life story and the questions are all over the place it demotivates me.

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Drop sets do not make you lose fat. And even if they did, lifting to lose fat is stupid. Lift to gain muscle or get stronger. Use diet and energy systems work to lose fat.

And you mention that your main goal is to get stronger. Well unless you are using drugs, getting A LOT stronger and LOT more muscle muscular cannot be done while also getting leaner.

You didn’t understand the message in my article properly.

The message is that eating so much that you gain A LOT of fat to try to gain more muscle is not a good idea.

BUT trying to get a lot more muscular and stronger while also losing fat will NOT work either.


2 points before you even bother to read or answer:
1- I dont know you are busy, I saw a link saying: ask CT a question and he will answer and i got excited so I posted. I am busy too, I took the time to register and to write that.
2-I am a huge fan but seriously don’t call me stupid, thank you. I have done my research and this technique and my program has worked greatly for me.

Drop sets dont make you lose fat ? this is you: " 7) I’m not saying that light pump training doesn’t work for natural lifters. Hypertrophy can be stimulated with light weights if you go to failure. The problem is what happens in the body when very high reps with light weights are done. YES you will eventually get maximum muscle fiber recruitment as you build fatigue during the set. But if it takes you 15 or 20 reps to get there instead of 6 to 8 then you are spending twice as much glycogen to achieve the same effect … remember what I said earlier: the more energy (glycogen) you need to mobilize, the more cortisol release you will get! That’s why super high rep work is not ideal for natural lifters, especially if you do many sets.

drop sets -> more work-> more energy spent and I can find many articles that supports this.

lets not argue this.

I am not trying to get stronger while leaner.

In my bulk:
1- I am expecting fat gains but I am trying to limit that by doing drop sets. my weight is getting up so does my fat weight and i totally got your message from the article. dont eat too much or too junky so you dont get too much fat. there is an optimal number of calories for bulking.
2- drop sets also give advantage of lifting heavy and 3-6 and then continue work with lighter weight to achieve fatigue 6-to>10.
3- based on # 2 and some research using this technique I am trying to achieve (during a bulk):
a- sarcoplasmic hypertrophy using volume work and b- myofibrillar hypertrophy by lifting heavy.
4- I am able to add weight in my squats and dead lift (+50 lbs) at the end of bulking expecting more this bulking season.
5-in my isolation work: I can add weight easily. my curls are about to surpass my military press.
6- I don’t seem to be able to add more weight for reps > 6 in the bench and military press.
7- I do military press while keeping the bar behind my head so I dont use much leg momentum during a rep.
8- my performance in those 2 lifts (bench and military) is obviously not improving. I am struggling at the same weights from week to week. I am afraid to add weight that injury might follow.

thanks for the reply, but lifting to get bigger will be accompanied by some strength gains not as much as a strength training but some strength gains. i am not trying to reach a power lifter level of strength. i saw a guy benching 315 for 4 reps. he is smaller than me and much less muscular. I cant even think that i want that.
I am not able to get any stronger in military or bench. I can bench 185 for reps easily now that I can reach 14 reps during bulking. the weight even feels very light with little effort to lift at the beginning. I try to bench 225 lbs (gradually, I reached that number) and the number of reps drops to 6 or 5 and not improving. pick any weight between 185 and 225 and I wouldn’t be able to lift it above 6 reps and it doesn’t seem to get any easier from week to week. maybe I am doing too much chest work, I am afraid to change my program because it is giving me size unless I get credible advice on that. the way i see it is that I am doing normal chest workout. it is intense and would leave me sore but so is my back workout but my 315 lbs deadlift is getting easier to carry so is my squat

First of all, he didn’t call you stupid. He said “lifting to lose fat is stupid” which is only providing help to you in what you do in your training going forward. If you’re looking to be coddled with advice, you’re on the wrong forum. Second, tough love is the medicine around here, and some people just can’t handle the taste.

As CT has said, no they don’t. Sure, additional work (addition calorie expenditure) will make you lose more fat, but this isn’t specific to drop sets. More regular sets, more cardio, more rest-pause sets, more of anything will burn more calories…so in a very literal term…sure, drop sets will help with fat loss if you’re doing nothing in comparison…

Sex would also work here.

Pick any program from the articles section of TNation. CT has plenty of them. Run it EXACTLY as it is laid out and believe in it like it’s your fucking bible. THIS is what is going to make your lifts go up, your shirts fill out and maybe even change this shitty attitude of yours.

In case you were looking for an example.

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Try smaller increases 10, even 5lbs. Adding alot of weight at once is only sustainable in the beginning

You can’t add weight forever on the bar every week. If you could add “only” 5lbs per week it would mean adding 250lbs in a year, 500 in 2 years…it’s just not possible.

When you reach a certain point you will have to fight to add even 5lbs to the bar. S certainly trying to add 10-20 in one shot is too much. Why don’t you take it slow? Add 5lbs at the next workout and stay at that weight to really master it… then a few weeks (or more) add another 5 for some weeks to really master the weight.

Might seem slow but adding 30 in a year is better than being stuck at the same weight for 12 months

i did not call you stupid. I said that using lifting as the main tool to lose fat is stupid because this means that the volume of work has to be high which is hard to recover from for a natural trainee, especially if calories are not high enough.

WEIGHT LIFTING: to build muscle, gain strength and power
CARDIO/CONDITIONING: To stimulate fat loss, get in better health, improve endurance
DIET: Main tool to lose fat

Now ANY FORM OF LIFTING can lead to fat loss. After all, you ARE burning calories on every rep you do. So the more reps you do, the more calories you burn. But from experience, designing a lifting program specifically to stimulate fat loss is a mistake. But that is MY opinion. But then again you asked for MY advice. If you don’t like my recommendations feel free to ask someone else.

Reason why I suggested a strength training program…

That’s exactly what a strength training program is for… Bro, do you know what you want?

You would be an awful powerlifter if that was all you could do by the way. “powerlifter level strength” is much higher…

You are too short sighted. Think about a year or years from now… You are looking at today and it’s not going to get you anywhere. I bet that very same guy, if he wanted to, switched and went for a hypertrophy style training, he’d make you look like a toothpick. Just a thought. Do you really want it?

Why did you even post anything? Every piece of advice you got you rejected. Did you expect that CT would sing your praises about your routine? You were given good advice. You got the answers to your questions. You don’t like the answers. It’s up to you. Keep doing what you’re and be the same. Or change, and get better.

You could consider something like this. It has a strength element that is the foundation yet freedom to do your bodybuilding stuff after. You won’t be great at either but you can get good at both. This method of training will give good results in both strength and size.

DAY1: BENCH PRESS 5x5 (national chest day)
Pull movement - 50 reps
Push movement - 50 reps
Single leg movement - 50 reps

Pull movement - 50 reps
Push movement - 50 reps
Abs - 50 reps

Pull movement - 50 reps
Push movement - 50 reps
Single leg movement - 50 reps

Pull movement - 50 reps
Push movement - 50 reps
Abs - 50 reps

All using double progression
The movements of 50, it doesn’t matter how you split it up. 5x10, 4x12, 3x17, 2x25, 1x50. Doesn’t matter. Just get the work in.

My personal recommendation is to do one compound movement for all 50 reps. Like Dips, chin up, rows, DB bench/OHP, RDL, Front Squat. Big movements like that. But I’m going to assume that you won’t think that is enough and you think you need to do more. Which is false. But to combat that you could split up the reps. Do 30 reps of a compound movement and 20 reps of isolation. For example, Push movement 50 reps:
2x10 (6/4 rest pause sets) decline bench press
10/10/10 drop set of triceps pushdown
Even though I’d suggest 5x10 or 4x12 of decline bench. You won’t die of you split it up. And everyone on this forum will agree that the best plan is one you like and believe in and can give all of your efforts for. If you don’t believe in it. It will not work

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relax dude. I didn’t reject his advice. I didn’t like calling a technique stupid. many coaches recommend doing drop sets for weight loss (lifting in general) and dislike cardio. in this regard, it seems CT disagrees with them. i’d follow a strength program if my goal is to reach 3x or more body weight deadlift (on’t care how much they lift). I had a concern that I am stuck which CT said that at some point I should fight to add more weight. in his second reply he recommended adding small amount until I master it and then move on. I am using a spotter now during my bench (just for safety). he recommended cardio to get lean, which I will do during my bulk to limit fat gains.

I didn’t expect praise, I clearly said critique my program.I actually had a concern that I am doing too much and it is holding me back. mentally I couldn’t switch to another program because how well this one worked for me.

Hey tough dude.

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I’m perfectly calm… Your attitude is shit. Good luck

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