First Time Bulk

Hey all,

First of all, I appreciate everyone taking the time to read this. I know we’re busy.

I am looking for the ideal mass building workout regimen for a first time bulker; not a first time lifter.

I am conflicted as to if I should do something like a 3 to 4 day split emphasizing volume, or a 3 day full body workout plan. I am natural. I would appreciate recommendations.

I will be coming out of my current plan which is a 3-day split for cutting, reverse pyramid 5,6,8 on the compound lifts and a few auxillary’s each day, I run on the off lifting days and just hike or rest on Sundays.

I put on muscle pretty quickly when I have the proper nutrition, I have gotten some very quick gains in strength and mass in the past by fucking up my intake/macros in a failed cutting attempt and just while lifting without nutrition.

Activity I plan on maintaining:
Running 3 miles 2-3x a week. I want to keep my cardiovascular health and endurance.
I hike every week or so, nothing crazy.
I walk to work 2mph each way everyday day. I average 20-30k steps today
I will be playing flag football once a week this Fall.
I plan on compensating with eating more for the bulk; I understand that much activity is likely not ideal.

Added details if interested:

I would not consider myself a beginner when it comes to lifting; I have been lifting since I was 13 years old. However, being a fat kid, it has taken me a long time (31 years old now) to finally get to a place where I have a low enough body fat percentage and have the motivation to do my first ever bulk.

Physique Status:
I am currently 170lb (77kg)ish and 8% BF on average. I have abs, but I still have some body fat on my love handles I want to try and get rid of, so I am prepping to start my bulk in September and go as low as I can go losing no more than 2lbs a week (I am on trajectory). I am trying to go really lean to ensure I have burned enough fat for my skin to reset (not doing too bad in that department and it’s improving drastically with basic care).

Any thoughts/recommendations appreciated. I just want a good program I believe in so I an kick things off the first week of September and start building a strong muscular physique after this long cut I’ve been on.


This can go a long way. Also, the article is full of tips about putting on mass that you can benefit from even if you decide on not doing the program itself.

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I find easier to gain mass while training for strength and as you get heavier and stronger you lift bigger weight so its even better. Maybe a template like BBB could help you


Unless someone is doing something totally ridiculous I often feel that smaller changes fit better into their entire lifestyle.

I’d youre currently training 3 days, and it’s been working well, revise your plan, adjust your diet and see if things move. If notbto your liking, then you can opt for a 4 or 5 day rotation.



Agreed with @The_Mighty_Stu. As a natural lifter you can make plenty of progress on a standard bodybuilding style split. I highly recommend this one:

Whether you gain weight or not will be largely determined by your nutrition, and a standard bodybuilding program will ensure you develop a well round, aesthetically pleasing physique. Try not to overthink it, train smart and consistently, track your nutrition and adjust accordingly.

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Why is it almost every bulk or cut thread starts with no mention of diet?


“I am eating Potatoes, Chipotle, and Mass gainers shakes(to maintain Muscle) every day, under maintenance of course, but am still gaining weight. halp plz”

“I am eating ice cubes, egg whites, and protein powder every day, above maintenance of course but dont wanna get fat, but am not gaining weight. plz halp.”


I kinda having a hard time imagining very much of any love handles at 8%


Most stage competitors are about 6-8%. The whole “I was 4% Brah!” nonsense is bullsh-t. It’s one of those levels you only reach when a mortician is using surgical implements to remove those hard to reach fatty areas between your organs.


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If you have perceivable love handles, you’re more likely to be 16% than 8%. If you’re worried about stretched skin being loose after losing additional lbs, you are DEFINITELY not in the 12% or less range.


When I was about 7% I didn’t have love handles. I had sunken cheeks and veins, if you were truly 7-8% you’d have those too. I only started seeing a tiny bit of fat in my lower back at 10%, and my lower back is one of the places which fat goes in FIRST. Lol

@flipcollar @emperorhirohito @The_Mighty_Stu

It’s totally possible my body fat measuring tools are giving me falsely low readings. I use an Omron handheld for measuring my BF% for those measurements, which I know is not the strongest method, but it seems to be consistent, and delta is what I am most concerned about. The % was meant to be an informative detail, I’m not claiming some status. Two pics posted if you’d like to analyze. I might keep cutting beyond September if I do not have the visual results I want.

@flipcollar: I’m really not sure what you mean, as someone could have loose skin from a long cut and be a super low BF%. Can you explain more?

@MarkKO @MarkKO

I wanted to focus this thread on lifting strategies; not diet, but I am definitely open to feedback on that. If there are diet specific strategies for the bulking lift regimen recommended please let me know.

On my cut, I am eating 1500-1600 kcal a day, on average un-adjusted for my activity level. When I started my cut, I was at 199lb in January (had no been lifting consistently for a year), and I was at 169.8 this morning. I enter everything I eat into myfitnesspal and weigh my food. Based on the last 2 months of data (when my muscle memory noob gains seemed to level off and weight loss got more consistent) I have calculated my maintenance calories at @2600ish with my current activity level. I target roughly 45/40/15% ratio for carbs/protein/fat right now. Sometimes fat and carbs fluctuate, but I make sure to keep protein at least 1g/lb of body weight and keep my carbs above protein. I will go a little above my calories if I err a little bit and need more protein and have to go over my limit. This has given me 10-20% accuracy in targeting 2lbs lost per week for the last 2 months. BF delta shoes the weight loss is 90-100% body fat on average. I way myself and measure my BF% every single day at the same time (in the morning, after I piss, before I eat or drink) I try to get at least 2/3rds of my protein from whole food sources (meats etc), I eat at least 6 cups of leafy greens a day, and try to spread my protein out throughout the day and get the majority of my carbs/fat in earlier in the day. I drink at least 4-5 liters of water a day. Only supplements are multivitamin, fish oil, probiotic, 5g BCAA, and ZMA at night. I do at least 30g of whey a day after I lift and a little bit before. Presently doing 16/6 IF, I have dabbled in day-off fasting and resort to that occasionally to balance my average calories off at 1500-1600. On running days I break my fast after running, on lifting days I eat a balanced breakfast two hours before I lift. I used to lift fasted, but find much better performance and energy fed.

For my bulk, I plan on eating between 3100-3600 and maintaining my current activity level to start and adjusting as needed; targeting 1-2lbs gained each week. I plan on keeping my macros around the same ratio, but am not going to be as religious about it. I am not trying to compete on stage, I am ok with it not being perfect, but mostly controlled and always measured. I am going to introduce 5g of creatine a day and never stop again when I start my bulk. I am considering trying night time cassein but haven’t concluded yet.

Ok, it sounds like your diet plan is there and seems OK. TBH how you train isn’t anywhere near as important. Train four days a week. Do plenty of reps and focus on feeling the muscle, not how much weight you’re using. You’ll grow.


That is a big caloric difference between your cut and bulk. Either your cutting caloric intake is too low or your bulking caloric intake is too high. If you didn’t lose weight really fast when cutting at 1500-1600 cal, then you probably have somewhat of slow metabolism or your activity level is low or combination of both, 3600 calories will be overkill and lead to too much unnecessary fat gain. I do lean bulk (not necessary mean healthy;just at a slight caloric surplus) at around 3600 calories and if I cut at 1500 calories, I’d lose way too much mass (including muscle) in a blink of an eye.

Just to make sure we are on the same page:

I’m losing 2lbs a week at 1600 (-1000kcal)
This would indicate my maintenance is 2600 (+/- 0 kcal; weight stays same)
Therefore, @ 3600, I’d stand to gain 2lbs a week (+1000kcal)

Are you recommending I aim to only gain 1lb a week?


Are you trying to just gain back weight or actually build muscle?

No one puts on 2 lbs of muscle per week -lol



How would you optimize it? Any tips? I’ve been pretty scientific about it for awhile now. I enjoy spicing it up.

losing 2 lbs a week is too drastic and more like a starvation diet that will lead to loss of muscle mass. The huge difference between your cut and bulk calories are because cut calories are too low, making your math for the bulk calories too high. For reference I’m 5’9 190 ~11% BF. I cut @ 2000, maintenance @ 2600 bulk @ 3000. Everyone is different of course but that’s what always worked for me

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