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Critique 5 Month Bulking Progress

Hey everyone. I’m 21, been training for about 3.5 years, but I spent most of that time cutting, and didn’t start ‘properly lifting’ until this past August.

Been doing a pretty slow bulk for about 5 months now, and I’ve gone from 133lbs to 140lbs at 5’6". I’m guessing I’m at ~12% BF. Heavy lifting 5 days/week.

Just wanted to get your thoughts on my progress so far, and any critiques of my physique in general. Looking specifically for any muscles that may be under/overdeveloped in proportion to the rest of my body.



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I wouldn’t say 7lb in 5 months is much of a bulk. It looks like you’re developing fine, but then again I’m no hypertrophy specialist. No leg pics?

Yeah, the weight gain has actually been slower than anticipated, despite eating well above (20%) my TDEE.

I was obese not so long ago, so my predisposition to fat gain has made me cautious.

Leg pics will be uploaded later today.


Also – I’m assuming I should keep bulking at this point?

I ask since standard procedure seems to be “cut for the summer,” but with my current amount of muscle mass, I imagine I’d look emaciated if I were to cut down to 10 or even sub-10%.

All feedback, no matter how brutal, is welcome.

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I’d take a clean bulk like yours over a “pig bulk”. You seem to have gained mostly if not almost only muscle during your bulk so I would consider that a 100% success.


I can’t imagine a cut making any sense for you right now. You’re really, really lean man. Congrats on all the fat loss btw! I think you’re closer to 10 percent than 12 already, to be honest.

You’re in a great position right now. You’ve obviously learned a lot about how to eat properly. Your physique shows that. And in my opinion, if muscle gains are slow, but you never get fat again, that’s ok! If you decide you want to start eating a bit more, you’ll likely find that the gains will come quicker, but do whatever is comfortable for you. You have to make decisions that make sense relative to your own ultimate goals.

If you have any specific questions, ask away!

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Delts are a very strong point, and that looks pretty good on you. It’s hard to really overdo delts, but I’ve seen what happens when that’s the case, and it ain’t pretty. Back jumps out as a weak point both in thickness and in the flare of your lats. Hitting the incline bench a little more wouldn’t hurt either. This is assuming that you’re training to look pretty for the beach/girls. You’re pretty aesthetic right now.

Can’t really say too much otherwise, since I’m not sure what you’re trying to look like.

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Hey man, I really appreciate the kind comments. I actually have a couple questions, if you don’t mind me asking.

Since I began weightlifting in 2013, I’ve only ever ‘cut’. These last 5 months have been my first ones
bulking, and I’m wondering at what rate I can expect to build muscle. I know there are predictive models out there based on years of training experience, so I guess I’m asking if I’ve already “used up my newbie gains.” If I have, I’m afraid that eating even more than I am now will do more to accelerate fat accumulation than muscle growth.

Second, if you couldn’t tell, my chest is noticeably less developed than the rest of my body, which is probably due to incorrect pressing technique for the majority of my time training. Do you have any recommendations for bringing it up to speed?

Right now, I perform 3 sets of 4-6 reps on my chest day, which consists of barbell flat and incline bench, dumbbell incline bench, and weighted dips. Three days later, I do 3 sets of 8-10 on one selected chest exercise on my arms day.

I’ll start with those for now!

First of all, don’t expect any specific amount of muscle. The building rate is determined by your genetics and general human physiology and biology neither of which you can control and what you do in the gym and how you eat. Don’t focus on getting “220 @10%”, focus on getting bigger. That way you don’t take unnecessary stress from not growing “fast enough” or useless shit like that. That way you also will most likely not put an artificial cap on what you even try to achieve.

Don’t worry about your chest. It will grow as your bench gets stronger. If you are not concerned about flat barbell bench numbers and/or are not going to compete in it, try something different for a change as your main upper body press movement. Start with barbell incline or even db flat or incline bench as the main exercise which you aim to get strong as possible.

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Great questions.

The rate at which you can expect to build muscle is largely dependent on 2 factors: what/how much you eat, and how much intensity and consistency you apply in the gym. Right now, it’s almost certainly the case that you’re not eating enough to gain muscle optimally . Do you track your macro nutrients? If so, how are you currently breaking them down? What sort of dieting did you do to lose the fat in the first place, and how heavy were you at your heaviest? If you can answer these questions, I can point you in the right direction as far as diet is concerned.

I think your proportions are fine. Chest isn’t underdeveloped in my opinion. A lot of people feel this way because of certain stereotypes and such, but when I look at you, I don’t see that. You’re probably going to want more muscularity all over. Arms, shoulders, chest, and back all have room to grow quite a bit. I’d keep doing what you’re doing. Just make sure you push yourself hard when you’re in the gym. Hard and smart. When I say push hard, I mainly mean applying a great deal of focus while you’re actually lifting. Pay attention to the details. When you bench press, accelerate the bar as fast you can when you press it, and maintain total control bringing it down. Don’t ever slack off on even 1 set or 1 rep. This will be of great use to you in the long run. You’re hitting a couple different rep ranges, so that’s good. It’s something I always suggest for optimal development.

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That makes sense, and certainly seems a more constructive way of viewing my growth.

Because you mentioned it, flat barbell bench press is actually the last exercise I do before finishing with dips. Since I switched my focus to incline, my entire chest has indeed improved – so I guess I’ll just keep at it.

I track my macros to the gram and weigh all of my food 90% of the time.

Summer of 2012, I weighed 185lbs, ate a traditional 40/40/20 split until this last November.

Right now, I’m eating 2550 calories: 140g protein, 400g carbs, 42g fat. Maybe I’m underestimating my TDEE? I can get more specific with my diet if you like, but it might be important to note that I eat a pescatarian diet.

I usually take my sets to failure, if not 1 rep short. So I guess I’ll keep at it, as you’ve said!