T Nation

Done Bulking - Now What?


#1

Ok, here is the situation. I have recently went from approx 170-185lbs @ 6'1". My goal is to get to between 190-200lbs by summer. This will happen no problem.

I have been putting on about 3lbs a week. I know I should be putting on around 0.5-1lb of muscle a week and because of this I am probably putting on a bit more fat, but I don't really care. I am a naturally lean guy and the weight gain i would say is about 75% muscle atleast. I am seeing results and I am happy with it. At that rate I am expecting to hit the low end of my goal range (190lbs) in 2-5 weeks.

I have a few questions as to what to do after I hit my goal.

1) I recall seeing Px state many times that you should stick at that weight for a few months to get your body used to carrying it before cutting. Approximately how long should I wait before cutting?

2) I have been eating a ton of food each day but have not been logging it. Because of this, I have no idea my total calories. All i have is an estimate between 3000-3600 kcal but could potentially be a bit higher. I have a program at school that I can use to analyze my diet though. Once I get a more accurate kcal estimate and am ready to cut, What is the procedure?

3) My strength has gone up dramatically in most of my lifts. My pull-up strength seems to have gone down. Has anyone had any similar results while bulking?

4) This question is really meaningless. I just want to see if I have the theory correct. I intend on getting my BF measured. Lets say I want to be a lean 12% at 190lbs for summer. lets say I am approx 15% right now at 185. Lets also say that I stay at approximately 15% while gaining weight. 190lbs x 15%Bf = 28.5lbs of BF. 190lbs x 12%BF = 22.8lbs of BF. So that means I would need to get to approx 196 lbs before cutting? I know my math is funky but does that sound about right?


#2

You shouldn't jump into an extreme cutting phase if you want to prevent muscle loss. But that really depends on a person's goals.

It can take some time for your body to become used to the new muscle, but I cannot see waiting months before cutting. For you I would take just 2 weeks to help adapt, then slowly reduce the calories and add in some HIIT and possibly (should I use the word) cardio until you have about a pound of fat loss a week.

You probably have a body type that will lose that fat fairly easily, so your goal is to just make sure it is mostly fat you are losing.

It helps to have a food log, or at least a planned diet in place. It is too easy to have calories bounce around if you are not paying attention. But as I stated above, start slowly cutting out calories. This could all come from carbohydrate sources, or a mix of carbs and fat. This cut could be as simple as subtracting 100 - 200 calories from your daily intake every 1 to 2 weeks until you hit that 1 pound a week point, and keep an eye on your progress.

If your weight is going up, it could be going up faster then your increase in strength on that exercise. Chins have always been one of my week points. There are plenty of articles here on chins and pull-ups.

Really you want to gain about 10 pounds of Lean Body Mass if you are 157 lbs right now. 196.5 is roughly right, math wise, but it may not work that way. I would say shoot for at least 200 lbs before cutting, (and that assumes the 190 end goal) and that would give you a good cushion to hit your goals, plus if you do end up losing some muscle, it won't be that detrimental.

Now seriously at your level, I doubt you will have a problem with all of this. Maintaining 167 lbs of LBM is a lot easier then trying to maintain 210 lbs LBM. And if you are the lean person you say, that fat most likely will melt off of you without a problem. You might find 12% BF too high, and 167 LBM too low for you, but that is for you to decide.


#3

Hey man,
First off, nice work on your progress. My suggestion would be that you have to make adjustments as you go along with any phase of your training, whether it's bulking or cutting. For either one though, I'd say take about 3-4 weeks to solidify your progress, in this case, your newfound gains in LBM. You're at a good spot around 15%, as that's probably a good cut off point for bulking. I know for myself, I base calories on LBM as opposed to bodyweight, so you could take 4 weeks and eat at about 15XLBM in Calories, then after that perhaps drop to 12xLBM for cutting. It should honestly not take you long to get down to close to 10% since you're pretty lean right now anyway. If you're 185 at 15% bodyfat, you have about 28 pounds of fat and 157 pounds of LBM. For the next 3-4 weeks, I'd suggest eating at LBMx15, which is 157x15= 2355 calories, and just round it up to 2400. After about a month of that, you should enter into a fat loss phase (I assume this is your goal) and drop to 157x12= 1884, and round that to 1900. You could incorporate a cheat/overfeed day like Joel Marion recommends, every 7-8 days or so.

I'd also suggest using Max Strength HOT-ROX during the duration of your fat loss phase, and for every 12 weeks of use, cycle off for 2-4 weeks. This is just one way to go about it. I think if you take the time to solidify your new gains for a month, then go about cutting properly, you won't have to spend alot of time dieting at all. Good luck with reaching your goals.
-Greg


#4

I can. If you expect your body adapt and carry new lean muscle tissue that requires more calories just to sustain, there is no way I would go from gaining to cutting that quickly. I think most people should become more accustomed to holding that higher weight for a couple of months or at least slowing down your gaining for a few months to avoid any extra gains in body fat. I don't understand why so many seem to favor these yo yo diets going up and down in weight every single year because it isn't even healthy and your body won't adapt to a significant change if you don't allow it to.


#5

The reason being is homeostasis. Your body must become well adapted to what it carries first. And that may mean a couple months of working with the body weight at that time. This way the muscles acclimated themselves to having to move around and funciton day to day at that body weight. If one were to cut immediately after getting to a goal weight, the body will quickly lose some lbm because it never was given the chance to acclimate itself to what it was brought up to. I'll also say to get to a desired "bulk" weight and keep it there while training. Then later slowly start to slim down to avoid a major loss of muscle.


#6

I agree with Prof X. and BigRagoo. But I don't think it takes all that long to adapt. A gradual dropping of of calories (2-3 weeks) and another couple weeks at your new maintenance level (with the added muscle) should be fine before moving onto cutting to keep your gains. Although I suppose it could be different for 'hardgainers'.


#7

Ok, quick question. Your close to 200 pounds. Thats close to what I was my freshman year of college. When I went on my bulking phase I was getting between 5000 and 6000 calories a day. without putting on much fat. And now any given day I get between 1800 and 2800 calories because I'm trying to lose weight now, but the point is "How many people can bulk, or consider it bulking, at 3600 calories? I've found that to be about what my maintenance is."

Before anyone goes apeshit about it being different for everyone, I know that. I'm just curious.


#8

But we are not talking about a person with tons of muscle here, and I was not advocating an extreme diet, just the rolling back of some calories.

Now If he had 215 lbs LBM that may be different, but I don't think he will have too much trouble holding on to ~170 lbs.


#9

And he won't ever be someone with tons of muscle if he keeps dieting down every time he gains a little weight.


#10

OK, Thanks for the responses guys. You have been really helpful. This is the first time I have successfully bulked past 180. I attribute this to my metabolism slowing down just enough to easily gain muscle yet still lose weight easily. Also I never really ate enough in the past and just figured it out.

Thanks, that was exactly what I was looking for. Just keep the protein the same and cut from carbs or fat depending on how my diet is based.

Interesting. These numbers seem a bit low to me, but then again this will be the first time I will be in the position to cut. Are these numbers just an estimate of BMR(Basal Metabolic Rate)? I think that I might have to add in TDEEs(Total Daily Energy Expenditure) as well. I have seen this idea before in some sports nutrition books, so thanks for reminding me.

That is a great idea. What I had originally thought was that once I hit my weight gain goal I would slowly taper off my kcal intake until I got to the point of weight balance. The way I am going about bulking right now is just to eat everything in sight, so I will need to figure out what my BMR will be before I mess around with cutting. How long would you suggest waiting before starting a cut? 2 months?


#11

Ok, I didn?t really understand why at first. Thanks for clarifying.

Ok, that sounds good to me. So the whole process of getting ready to cut might take me about 1-3 months depending. That actually works out perfect. February starts soon. I will be done bulking probably around the end of march. April and May can be used to set up for summer. And I can start my cutting around june or july.

I did a really really rough kcal count tonight of my average food intake. Turns out that I am taking in approximately 4105.5 kcals. This could potentially be +/- a couple hundred calories. Again, this is a really rough count because some things like peanut butter or mayonnaise are difficult to measure. Do you know if you cut off the spoon or is it a heaping tbsp?

Thanks again for all your input. I will be sure to post some before and After pics when I hit 195ish. I have been weighing in every tuesday morning to make sure I keep on top of it, so you guys will deffinately see them.


#12

At least. That has helped me in the past as opposed to losing what I worked hard for. In fact, most newbies shouldn't be dieting in the first couple of years anyway unless they are obese, becoming fat as hell due to complete disregard for where calories are coming from or don't have goals that significant to begin with.


#13

For what it's worth, I have never "cut". When I felt I was getting too soft, I re-evaluated my eating habits and adjusted accordingly. If I wasn't gaining weight or actually started to lose weight, I adjusted my diet again. I know that my goals differ that yours, but I feel that actually cutting is more for a contest prep. To me, trying too hard to get lean wastes too much hard earned muscle size and shouldn't be worried about until you've reached your final goal weight or are holding too much bodyfat.


#14

Chickenmcnug,
In retrospect, after reading the amount of calories you take in, the recommendations were low, and you seem like you'd be better of basing them on Total Bodyweight. Honestly, If you just threw in some GPP work, as there are plenty of articles an ideas on this site, and just at to at least maintain your new gains, you can probably gain muscle and lose bodyfat simultaneously. You and I are the same height, 6'1-6'2, and I remember being 190 with 23% bodyfat when I was 17. Granted, in the eyes of some people, I certainly did not go on a totally clean bulk, but I decided size was a priority. I'm currently in the midst of my first serious period of fat loss, and I'm 270 at 23% bodyfat, and I'll be turning 26 this monday. I feel that if I had some of the info back then that's available now, I would have been able to make better food choices, and wouldn't have gained quiet as much fat. I do know at 190, although you are leaner than I was then, I felt like I did not carry much mass at all for someone over 6 feet tall. In the end, you'll have some people who tell you to keep bulking. I say do what makes you happy, but I'd hate to see your gains you worked hard for disapear because you did not take the time to solidify them. Prof X gave some good advice, take maybe about 8 weeks, and just eat to maintain. Be sure to play things by ear though. If you decide that you do want to continue bulking, go for it. Learning to be what Dave Tate calls "audible ready" is something we all should learn how to do, and if you can start to practice that at your age, you'll be way ahead of the game.
-Greg


#15

Yo-yo dieting :slight_smile: I'm a pro at that. For that last 3 seasons, I would take my weight up to around 210 or so in the winter, then back down to around 180 in the summer. I'm real good at that part. The part I wasn't good at was retraining my body to carry the weight, so I've been running in circles for 3 years. This year I decided to enter a pl'ing meet. So far I've decided to lift in the 220 class, so now, weight isn't a problem. For me, carrying more weight is a mental thing (former FFB). I've finally decided that only my opinion of me matters. I don't post often. I lurk more than anything else, but Prof X is one of my favorite posters because he applies to the WYSIWYG concept. "What You See is What You Get". Unfortunately, most people don't like that.


#16

I don't think that was the stated goal though, to have tons of muscle.

There are other factors also, such as his genetics, and the goal of 12% as opposed to, say 5%.

Now I am not a FSB, but a FFB, so I have more trouble myself losing fat, but I keep close track of my LBM, and I know that even extreme diets, if not taken too far, will not seem to have much effect on my LBM. (After taking initial water loss into account.)

I understand wanting homeostasis to occur, but really see any longer then 4 weeks as overkill.


#17

Then we disagree. I will tell you that I seriously doubt the guys running up and down in weight that often from the start are making the most progress. If I had to give any guideline at all and someone's goal was to stand out more than the average "weight lifters" jamming gyms lately, I would say that the initial 4 years should not be about cutting much at all unless it is to simply clean up your diet for a while due to gaining too fast.


#18

I'm in agreement with PX on this one. I feel that when one achieves his desired bodyweight he should stabilize (or slightly decrease) his caloric intake so that bodyweight can be maintained but not increased. You'll find that doing this for 6-8 weeks will allow you to "solidify" your gains in that you'll continue to add a bit of muscle while losing a bit of fat. So if you bulked up to 200 you'll stabilize at that 200 for 6-8 weeks while continuing to gain some muscle.

Then you can start your initial cutting phase by reducing caloric intake by around 10-15%. After 6-8 weeks when progress slows down, you might need to reduce intake by another 5%.

The graphic (I hope it's readable) shows an example for someone with an initial maintenance caloric intake of around 3200kcals.


#19

Ok, I'll concede to the wisdom of Thibaudeau. Thanks for the response.

I do like this schedule of 12 weeks bulking, 6 weeks maintaining, and 12 cutting. To me a nice rolling of bulking and cutting.

Any modification for an endomorphic body type?


#20

Nice graph christian.

I don't really think that with my body type and how it runs that I really need to do much of a "cut" per se.

I'll tell you guys what I am looking forward to doing at the end of my bulk.

I intend on replacing some of my crappier meals like microwavable burritos with something healthier and more filling. Chicken and brown rice with some steamed veggies, etc. Also I am really looking forward to replacing a lot of the milk I drink with Water. I have been drinking over half a gallon of milk a day and have had dangerous gas. That will pretty much be the brunt of my change.

I'll keep in mind to make changes gradually(a few hundred calories at a time)to see what happens.