Gaining Mass or getting lean?


Im 6’6 around 200 lbs, I have a very lean muscular build. I have average muscle mass but a lot of muscle definition. Im about 6-7% bf I have always wanted to add muscle mass to my frame. In H.S I was 6’6 and 165 pounds, and a twig. Since I have added 25-30 pounds of good weight to my frame through trial and error and just getting educated with an exercise degree etc, and good nutrition.

My whole program would consist of bulking in the winter and cutting in the summer. I would always add 10-15 to my frame in the winter by lifting hard, avoiding cardio and eating 4000-5000 cal a day. My bodyfat would always go up, and my waistline would never look the way I wanted it too. I would add probally 8 pounds of good weight and 8 pounds of bad weight. But all that hard work, and high food bill would never seem to be worth it in the end. Being tall adding 15 pounds to my frame wouldnt never be even noticable except on my waistline. When I cut, my abs look good, my whole body looks good, and I get more looks being 195 and ripped than I do being 210 and bloated with small measurement increases. This summer I said Im done with trying to add mass, because I will never be satisfied. I thought I know I will never be the biggest guy in the gym, so I why not be the most ripped. But the craving of getting bigger arms and legs and chest seems like it wont go away…and keeps saying its possible, even thoughI feel I am very genetically limited.

Far as how to get big I realize once you maximize training which I think I have in the last 5 years…it all comes down to diet and meeting your calorie needs.

Anyone else struggle with this?I know there are some that can gain weight easy, and struggle to get lean…and probally asked themselves is it worth it? I have always thought it always easier to eat less than more, espically when its healthy food.

Do I want to keep lowering my BF or do I go back to wanting to get big…decisions…decisions.


First off, congrats on the degree - that’s no small thing. I have a civil degree, but I am getting certified in personal training/nutrition as well.

I’m mostly “street” taught as a trainer. I totally feel you with the weight yo-yo. Except, I’m the later guy you mention who has more trouble cutting and staying cut than gaining. I’m 6 foot, 222 right now, about 10% BF. Last several years since college, I have ballooned up to 140ish then cut to 220ish each winter/summer!!! That is really a pain the arse, because my waist goes from 33/34 in the summer, to nearly 40 in the winter! That has got to stop - especially because I train other people - they have to believe that I don’t just preach it, that I practice it too.

As for you, I have gathered some key points on your problem (my problem too) from several decent body builders and from good authors on this site. What i have found is that, when bulking you just need a slight positive energy (calorie) balance. It sounds like you are eating (and spending) WAY more than you need to bulk. Adding muscle and fat at a 50/50 ratio proves that. Now, without drugs as most of us are, we almost always have to add a pinch of fat with some lean beef. However, the ratio should be closer to 5:1 or so. So, you should be able to gain 10 pounds each winter (with proper diet and supps) and only gain around 2 pounds of fat.

Well, what’s the burning question - HOW do you do this??? Many ways. One way that a lot of traditional body builders do this is by simply keeping a VERY accurate food log. This may sound like a pain, but they know EXACTLY where they are at all times. What they do is SLOWLY add cals after a cutting phase/show. Say 300/day additionally (above an approx maintanence total). They keep that for the first few weeks. They skin fold themselves (or have it done professinally) after several weeks. [Side note - You have to be careful of the scale after a cutting phase, beause you will likely have a lot more glycogen stores which means you will carry more water weight. So, don’t always go by your scale weight.] Anyway, if they see they are not gaining any fat, but aren’t feeling strong in the gym (or getting through tough workouts) they add another 200-300 cals a day for a week or two. They basically keep readjusting their totals to reflect how they feel and where their bodyfat is going. Many keep a “line” that they won’t go over, say at 10% bodyfat. At that point they hit a couple weeks of cardio (but DO NOT lessen the calories).

Another way is to “cycle” your bulking or “wave” you training. Again, a food log is very helpful, but a bit less critical in this case. When cycling your bulking, you would say mass-up for 6 weeks, eating around 500 cals more than your maintenance. Then, get a skin fold or some other means of measuring BF. You will likely have gained a pound or two of LBM mass, so you are good here. However, if you have found you have gained too much fat for your liking, hit a 2-3 week cardio cycle. This wave or cycle is also helpful, because changing up your training like this keeps you from over-training and will likely help your body recovery from the 6 weeks of heavy-duty iron slinging!

In either case, you have to slowly add fuel to the fire - don’t just pile on 100 logs and expect it to stay lit!

Keep your head up 6foot6 - you are at the right forum, with lot’s of supportive people to help you reach your goals! I think you can be a natural 220-225 at 7% if you learn the correct way to do it!