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Don't Want to Bulk, I Want to Gain Muscle Mass

Cheers folks, Hope you’re all doing well and feeling good. I realize this is a long-ass post, but I ask that you bear with me, as I honestly would like to hear your opinions.

So for the past two months I’ve been on a more refined menu than I’ve been before given to me by a sports nutritionist. I play amateur american football and I wanted to really nail my diet and training so I could perform my best. Coupled with getting proper rest that also allowed me to add volume, especially to my conditioning, I’ve been getting good results. I dropped about 15 lbs over these two months, also dropped 3% body fat in the first month (I don’t know what’s my BF% exactly right now since I haven’t measured it in over a month). It wasn’t exactly my plan to drop so much weight, but since I saw increases in performance and strength coupled with fat loss, I didn’t mind it that much. After the nutritionist saw I dropped so much weight in the span of a month, he added some food to the diet which slowed down the weight loss.

For some years now performance has been the main reason I trained. Everything else was an added benefit. But I won’t lie, I like the impact training and eating healthy has on my life, especially now. I do care how I look. I’m not looking to be a fitness model or 6% BF bodybuilder, but I like being lean and functional. Right now I’m at about 170-171, around 8-9% bodyfat, at a height of 5’10.

With that being said, as I don’t compete in a sport that has weight classes and would like to be heavier, I want to at some point start putting some mass on. I want to be able to walk around 185-190 lbs permenantly at a fairly lean bodyfat level, no higher than 11% I would say. I don’t care how long it takes me, I don’t care if I gain 1 lbs of lean mass per month, I want to do this proper so that I gain as little fat as possible. I don’t want to go on a bulk where I just massively start piling on calories to get big, sure I’ll gain muscle, but I’ll also gain a nice amount of fat. I hate the whole bulk/cut cycle, as I said, I’m not a bodybuilder (absolutely no disrespect meant). I’ve been through all that before. It works eventually, but I’m not into that.

What sounds reasonable to me is something like what Dr. John Berardi suggests in his Massive Eating Reloaded articles, a very slow and gradual increase of calories, perhaps even lower than the 250 a day he suggests over periods of two weeks. Do this coupled with advice and work with the nutritionist on where to exactly add the extra calories, and keeping up the volume I have on conditioning. I realize it’s near impossible not to gain any fat on any kind of program or protocol in which you hope to gain weight, but I really want to minimize this as much as possible. I also believe that as I add lean mass and food intake, it’ll be easier for my body to burn fat as my metabolism will be revved up.

What I’m wondering about is what I should do in the immediate future. Being at 170 at 8-10% body fat is something new to me and my body. I wonder if I should first let it get used to it, try to maintain that for like a month or two before I start slowly increasing my food intake, or simply start now. Does the body really need that time to let everything settle and get used to it (skin tighten, drop excess water, etc…)?

A basic outline of my diet and routine… I train six times a week:

-3 strength sessions, based around heavy compoud movements with some explosive work thrown in, 2 sessions include a conditioning finisher.
-2 football practices a week, 2 hrs each. they include conditioning work.
-1 dedicated conditioning session. Jump rope, minute drills, sprints. I hope to purchase or even construct or sled/prowler sometime in the near future.

Diet is fairly high protein, low carb, moderate fats I guess. I don’t really count calories on grams, I would say I go past the 200g protein a day. Carbs like whole grains, oats and such I have for breakfast, PWO and the meal after that. The rest is fresh and cooked greens. Fats are almonds, walnuts, olive oil, natural PB. Spread out over breakfast, daily snacks and before bed.

I understand this post may have been tedious to read but I really would appreciate any input you would have on this matter. Anyone who has gone this route of gradually gaining lean muscle mass without sacrificing performance.

Cheers folks, All the best!

read the article matt k wrote here on T-Nation, “Getting big without getting fat”. I would follow that if I were you.

I will do that, mate. Thank you for the advice!

I just read, helpful stuff. Thanks alot mate.

for future reference:

long post w/ lots of crap in it = article references

short post w/ concise points = individual responses


Articles to consider:

My 0.02

I would just start the bulk.
If you have already added more food to your diet to slow weight loss I would assume that your metabolism is back to running on all 8 cylinders.

Cheers to both of you for the honesty and advice. I’ll makue sure to read both of those.