T Nation

Gaining Fat Vs. Gaining Weight


#1

This true:

It seems that a lot of people, especially beginners, do not make the difference between gaining bodyweight and gaining muscle mass. Especially with the hot topic of Mark Rippetoe's 1 gallon of milk people are getting way out of hand with the whole process of building muscle mass. Let me tell you something and please remember it.

"Building muscle Is HARD and TAKES a LOT of TIME. Sorry"

I guess you've all heard stories such as: "I gained 20 pounds in a month.", "I gained 50 pounds in 3 months." Yeah, right. People with similar "progress" probably don't know the difference between muscle and fat or are missing the D-bol part of the equation.

Let's me explain what happens when you start bulking up and overfeeding your organism. Most people will instantly gain between 5 to 10 pounds after starting eating like champions. However they will be lucky if 1 pound of that is muscle. The truth is that when you increase your calories you will initially gain water weight and glycogen. That's why you will look fuller and the scale will go up. Water and glycogen is actually LBM (lean body mass) but it's not muscle. So, you've gained 5 to 10 pounds but probably none of them actually muscle.

You have to understand that you can't lie to your body and you can't make it grow by eating for two or three people. Every single calorie over your needs goes to fat right away. Your body is limited when it comes to building muscles but it's not limited when it comes to gaining and storing fat. Also fat may easily appear as muscle gains especially when you wear clothes. Sorry but by eating 2000 calories more than you need won't speed up your mass construction because guess what - EASY DOESN'T WORK. Everybody can drink 1 gallon of milk for a few months, everybody can dirty bulk because it's relatively easy. However not everybody can follow a clean diet, not everybody can be patient and not everybody can be honest and say: "I fucking got fat. That isn?t muscle. It's just another layer of fat."

So how muscle can you really gain? It's not set in stone obviously because people with more dedication and better potential will do better but my experience says that you can expect 15-20 pounds of pure muscle during your first year of training if you are relatively tall and started skinny. After that you are looking at 5-10 pounds of muscle in a year. It may not sound like a lot but it's because people have been brainwashed by fitness gurus like Rippetoe who claims stupid things like: ?It's possible to gain 60 pounds in a year.? Yes, it's possible. Question is do you know the difference between fat and muscle? Looking at Rippetoe's beer gut I think he should be the last one to give diet advices.

Easy doesn?t cut it. I wish it worked but it doesn't. We all have to work hard and to me the idea of working hard has nothing to do with dirty bulking. That's easy - plenty of fat people around you are already doing it.


#2

I would say it has fair points and keeps things realistic.

Their are definitely a lot of variables to this and nobody will ever completely agree with eachother.

IMO "weight gain" has it's place.


#3

As a beginner, it is often just about "weight gain" assuming most of that "weight gain" is actually muscle. For a beginner to think they should even attempt to do everything "perfectly" right out the gate will likely hold more back than help more become really muscular. This is about trial and error.....and there are far fewer really muscular people in these gyms lately.

Yeah, gaining muscle takes time. It takes YEARS...and the guys who get really big are likely NOT the ones worried about fat gain so much that they limit their own muscle gains.

That article wrote this:

Who the hell is telling people to gain 20lbs in one month or 50lbs in 3 months?

That's retarded....and it seems is the only way some people can get a point across, by speaking in extremes so that it will seem the alternate message is to become obese.

Did I gain 20lbs my first couple of months lifting? Yeah, I did. I was 150lbs my first semester and was over 175 by the time I got home for Thanksgiving. That doesn't mean anyone telling people to go out and gain 20lbs a month....but if you have the genetics for this, why would you hold back progress thinking there is an absolute limit?

That article isn't saying anything that the rest of us aren't only with exaggeration.

Yeah, MOST PEOPLE will gain about 20lbs a year the first couple of years and likely gain much less after that (and that is if they have decent genetics for this). How is that any different than what the rest of us are saying?

What is different is the knowledge that you will NOT ONLY gain muscle during all of this time because your body does not want to casually put on 80lbs of muscle. It will take a lot of work to pull something like that off and quite a bit of food to force that gain.

If that was not the case, all of the extreme fat phobes out here would be making far more progress.

This is about learning what works for you.


#4

Well,

Here's my story. I started training around 8-9 months ago and I all I did was - squat, bench press, deadlift, military, press, pull-ups. I was reading about Rippetoe and his famous weight gain plans and I though that when I get to 200 pounds I would look like a monster - looking back that's a typical newbie mistake.

At the same time one relatively big dude (who everybody calls The Big Frank ) and lives in the same building told me that it's all bullshit and that Dorian Yates gained around 70 pounds or so for 10 years and that I could expect 10-20 pounds of muscle a year depending on training and genetics. Anyway I didn't listen and continue eating 3700-4700 calories a day.

I'm 6' and started at 150lbs and went up to 195 at my "peak" during the first six months. So that's 45 pounds of "weight gain". But to be honest I think only 10-17 of that are muscle. And people around me were telling me that my face changed and I looked fatter. My waist went up to 37 inches. I don't know how much it was before but it was way smaller.

So I said to myself fuck it. I don't care how much I squat if will look like that and started a bodybuilding split a few weeks ago and started eating more clean. I lost 10-15 pounds in 4-5 weeks right away and almost 2-inches from my waist. So far I enjoy training this way much more. Looking back I was stupid to trust all this rage about fast weight gains promoted by fitness gurus.


#5

Yes if you follow the strength program you will gain some fat - its inevitable.

But the extra weight also will help you to grow.

1) Its very difficult to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time - unless you are a pro or have a pro coach who constantly analyzes your diet and performance.

2) The slightly heavy bodyweight (note that no one is telling you to eat until you are 20%++ BF) may provide better counter balance to lift heavier weight, especially on money exercises like squat or bench.

Better nutrition + heavier lifts = better physique in the long run.

No offence, but here is something I learned the hard way at 28 after making a lot of mistakes - you may have hawt abzzz but really, it doesn't matter.
If having hawt abzzz to attract pussy is the reason you get into this game, a) you'll soon find out the sort of girl who only loves you for your hawt abzzz is not really an ideal sort of female, and b) if that mindset doesn't change soon you won't be able to keep the lifestyle up.


#6

So Dorian averaged a 7 lb gain each year.... crazy when you think about it -lol.

Smart guy that Yates, he always stressed (and I know I've repeated it a zillion times on here) that you can't force feed muscle growth. The best analogy is in constructing a building. You have workers and you have materials. If you only have 5 workers, it doesn't matter how much extra material you have. They can't work any more than they're capable of doing. That doesn't mean that new trainers shouldn't try to raise their intake somewhat if they're having trouble putting on muscle, but obviously unscrupulous business men are always going to try to cash in on the gullibility and naivete of others.

S


#7

Speaking of averages, if anyone really looks at the training life of a bodybuilder that way, they are only seeing a small portion of the full picture. You could say I "averaged" 10lbs a year....but that isn't what happened. What happened was me forcing a rather large gain early on very quickly that got me well over 200lbs...and then a much slower climb past that.

The mistake is in the newbie thinking they are "limited by the average".

Dorian did NOT gain 7lbs a year. He gained WAY more than that some years and WAY less others.

He didn't hold back progress. The dude used to actually bulk up especially in the late 80's which is one reason he got so damned big so quick.

the other mistake is in people thinking "bulking up" means huge fat gain. It doesn't and no one ever said as much.


#8

For what it's worth, i think that most men at average height should be able to reach 200-210 without having to buy new pants (unless you have to buy new pants for having bigger quads, lol).

Of course 200-210 at 12-15% bodyfat at average height...is pretty average in the bodybuilding game.

To get to the extreme calls for more extreme measures, which probably will lead to a lot of food and a bigger waist for awhile.


#9

Sure. This is a great personal anecdote, but it not unique. There have been many other similar stories on these and other boards.

What no one here can assess is how hard did you really work during the time you fattened up. Sure, you went to the gym and you lifted weights and maybe your lifts progressed, but did you really, really, I mean really hit the weights?

I travel all over the country and go to gyms wherever I am for the job and I'm starting to rack up a pretty good population of people who I've talked to male, female, big, strong, weak, skinny, young, old, in addition to the 3 gyms I go to home-- the one observation I can say conclusively is that most people aren't working as hard or as intense as they think they are.

The funny thing is (unsurprisingly) is that the one's who legitimately LOOK like they're working hard LOOK LIKE they've been working hard for awhile.

Just because you seemed to have failed or have had poor results or didn't meet your own or other's expectation doesn't mean the theory of what you tried is wrong. It's worked for others.

Instead of starting threads about your failings contributed to things that have worked for others, why don't you start a thread that illustrates what's worked for you.

This is about finding what works for you. Sounds like what I have to tell my kids "You worry about you, don't worry about him/her."

Boo hoo, someone told you your face got fat-- is it a means to an end? So what? I've gone up several sizes. Not all muscle for sure. I'm "morbidly obese" for some on these boards. So what?

I'm just getting close to what I think is a limit for fat and will adjust accordingly when I reach a more important goal than "keeping visible abs" or "worrying about what other people think".

I've PM'd several people on these boards (aside from asking actual physical people that I see in person) for candid assessments. My feelings don't get hurt with such objectivity. They, and I, understand that real goals for getting bigger/stronger involve a level of sacrifice, like lifestyle level sacrifice.

I've sacrificed 'hot abz' a few years to get weight/lift numbers that I wanted. After knowing that my body at my age requires me to 'bulk up', that's the path I took for the most gains in a short amount of time. Now that I'm coming back down (slowly), I wouldn't have done it any other way (given my age and genetics).


#10

^ GREAT post above.

I know how I train in the gym. I just got back. There were probably at least 20 different people in there...and I didn't see ONE person training like I was, or sweating as hard as I was...or working so hard they were out of breath after a set.

If one of those people logged on and claimed they "bulked up" for 6 months and just gained fat....the reason for that is their lack of intensity when training and the apparent assumption that food will go where you want it to just because you showed up at the gym in new workout clothes.


#11

Here's what I know about ME.

When I bulk I put on excess weight (obvious not all muscle). I tend to get stronger and recover faster (all good things for building muscle). When I gradually drop weight I keep relative strength increases and proportions. I'm not a contest guy so I don't care that I don't do a clean bulk. My objectives are calories and protein. When I do the mirror/scale check and I'm not happy with my progress I stick with it. When I feel I've achieved my goal, I take it down a notch to get in decent shape.

I've never bulked to a point that I couldn't fit my pants and had to wear jogging pants all the time.


#12

My approach up to where its got me now is very similar, sometimes i didnt take it down a notch but rather a full 180 and cut right away. I can say right now on both sides of the argument that I wouldnt be 240lbs right now if I did not dirty bulk up to it and have times where I was fatter then I wanted. Is this easy? No not at all. However would I be 240lbs if I never did this? obviously not however I also dont even think I would be 220 if I stayed lean and slow gained up whereas now if I cut at to 220 I would be relatively lean which I do not think would be accomplished already without the dirt bulks.

Again though I think when your natural dirty bulks after a while become a waste of time. Enhanced? not so much because you will automatically be gaining muscle over what genetically is possible, so dirty bulking to those high weights will still leave you with muscle after you cut. For natural guys in my opinion after a while they have to clean it up and go slow from there and shift the mindset to slow but consistent progress rather then immediate results and 12 week cuts.


#13

In order to gain muscle, you have to gain weight and a typical side effect of weight gain, is fat gain. People tend to go too far in hopes that by adding an extra 50 lbs of blubber, they'll somehow force additional muscle gain.

It takes most people years to build an appreciable amount of muscle. The key is to find exercises that effectively stimulate your muscles to grow, progress on those lifts via increasing poundage or volume and make sure that you're eating enough so that your body can adequately recover and then grow.

Done.


#14

I would say this statement is completely false. I don't think there is anyone alive who actually thinks, "I will add 50lbs of body fat hoping it will mean more muscle gain". That type of thinking doesn't even make sense and is part of the reason so many are so confused.

THE REALITY is that many bigger guys who have been at this for several years who don't compete are simply in the process of putting on muscle. Over the years through dieting and gaining, they may end up carrying more body fat than desired...mostly because they aren't contest dieting, enjoy eating and just don't keep it tight at all times. Not one of them gained "50lbs of fat to gain muscle".

To make this clearer, this is a process that takes several years....which means LIFE is going to get in the way quite often for anyone who isn't still in college.

Try keeping this up through break ups, graduations, lay offs, weddings and funerals and I can guarantee nearly every meathead who has trained for more than 10 years has had periods where they were not in optimal shape and it was NOT all out intentional.

For instance, do you really think the GOAL was for me to carry as much weight I was carrying after that accident? My goal was to hold onto all of the muscle I could while recovering. Considering the extra weight is off now, the negative is what? Did I gain too much fat? esthetically, yeah...but in terms of the alternative of me dropping more weight and muscle mass, the ends justify the means.

I know you may not have meant it that way, but there do seem to be people here who think that some weight lifter's heavier days came from him deciding, "gee, 40-50 extra pounds of fat will help me gain more muscle.

What is being stated is that one, it is not always optimal to be at or below 10% body fat when it comes to performance. Two, bulking up will likely be the most effective way for skinny guys with the genetics for this to reach their full potential...and Three, that your body fat levels are not the main focus...your MUSCLE GAINS are...and if those aren't coming, why keep gaining weight?

many criticisms here would only make sense if aimed at obese people with no muscle mass.


#15

I'm confused. That was exactly my point. I have met younger guys at my gym who do however believe it to be true.


#16

Also, after reading your post further, that wasn't directed at you X. You've stated countless times the goal wasn't to put on fat, it was to put on weight and to increase your lifts in order to gain muscle. I think you misinterpreted my post.

I've been through my fair shares of obstacles from herniating discs in my back, my own wedding, now having a 5 month old son, dislocating my shoulder and dealing with a rotator cuff injury as a consequence with the last 3 happening in close succession. So I know what the deal is in that regard too.


#17

I must have read you wrong.

I am just making it clear that the goal is NOT to gain 50lbs of body fat. No sane above average weightlifter has that goal in bodybuilding.

However, there are many who will avoid dieting for quite a while in the pursuit of muscle. How far they get out of range of optimal is likely personal preference along with the understanding that fat can simply be lost later.


#18

^OK.


#19

If I can address a few general issues with the article from the first post:

Rippetoe does talk about some lifters gaining 60 pounds in 6-12 months, but he always clarifies that he's talking about skinny guys gaining that much. When you start out underweight and add consistent lifting and big eating, the gains will definitely be more dramatic.

He actually says something like 20 pounds in 4 months is a more common pattern for gaining size. That's certainly more "reasonable" for most folks.

Lastly, Rippetoe's general nutrition guideline is: "Lots of protein, vegetables, fruits, and clean carbs. No effort should be made to lower dietary fat whatsoever, but watch the crappy carbs and sugar." The daily gallon of milk is used as a convenient supplement.

That plan, plus the common frickin' sense to adjusting your plan according to weekly progress, should absolutely have you gaining bodyweight, the majority of which would be lean mass. If you're gaining weight and nearly two-thirds of it is fat, you're doing something wrong. I'd wager either a poor training program or simply too many total calories.

There's a huge difference between bulking correctly and doing something like that kid Artem did here a few years ago (Gaining almost 100 pounds in one year and not gaining significant strength/muscle along the way).


#20

I really did hit the weights during those months. I didn't miss a single workout. I started with 95 pounds squat and got it to 290 for 4 reps. I started with 95 pounds deadlift and got it to 375 for 5 reps. Bench started at 75 pounds and ended at 185 for 3 reps. Military press started with bar and ended at 120 for 3 reps. Pull-ups have remain the same number - 8 reps.

Anyway I'm now focused on bodybuilding and changed some of the exercises. I do front squat, leg presses and hack squats because I have long legs and the back squat is more of glute exercises for me. Also started doing dumbbell bench because I feel it hit my chest much more and there is less shoulder pain. The regular bench only made my front delts grow a little and did nothing for chest.

Looking back the biggest mistake I did was not being honest with myself - I started training because I wanted to gain muscle and look good which is pure bodybuilding but then I got into that thinking - bodybuilding is bad and so on, bodybuilders are not strong which is ridiculous. Anyway I'm happy now. :slight_smile: