T Nation

Getting Fat When Bulking


G'day all,

I'm currently on a bulking phase and have gained over 17lbs in the last 4 months. My concern is, I'm geting way too much fat around the mid section and I'm thinking twice about continuing with this bulk up phase.

Yes I understand that fat is expected when bulking up but I'm discouraged by the fact that most of my fat gains are located around the belly area. My ultimate goal is really about looking good neked so the strength gains so far have been nice but I can live with any decrease in max lifts.

The next step I guess would be to examine my food intake and I'd probably be looking at getting JB's Precision Nutrition kit.

In the meantime I'll appreciate any suggestions or opinions regarding whether or not I should continue bulking? I would definitely like to retain whatever muscles I've managed to built during this past few months (if possible.)


Quick stats:

height: 5'8
bw: 229lbs
bf: >25%
Pgm: FBT/No Cardio
waist size: 38 and gut hangs over the belt


amazing as it may sound, it is entirely possible to consistently add muscle mass without "getting fat" along the way.

it is also entirely possible to fit cardio into the goals of a "bulking phase." (sprints on a track or grass field)


Perhaps cutting back a few calories every day will help. I'm talking like 100 or 200 only, but that might slow the fat gains. Either that or do some HIIT for like 20 minutes a day (recommended over cutting cals).As far as the fact that it is "belly fat", there is nothing you can do about that, thats just where you body wants to put it.


im a newbie so im just tryin to make sense of things, but why are you in a bulking phase when your at greater than 25% body fat? and doing no cardio at all?


Well I guess I understand that you're trying to increase your lean tissue so that your metabolic rate will be higher for your eventual focus on fat loss. However if your goals are to look good nekid you may want to shift focus a little bit first. JB has stated that the leaner you are when you start to bulk the more of the weight gain will be muscle, and I personally have found this to be true.

Perhaps you should focus more on just leaning out first, and then once you get your bodyfat to whatever you deem acceptable (15-20% might be a good goal for right now, although you could also just use waist measurments) start increasing calories for a bulk. If your bodyfat/waist ever gets too far out of your comfort zone, adjust the calories a little or add some cardio/hiit.

I have the PN package and its been very useful for me (especially gourmet nutrition). I used it in Feburary to get my body fat down and have since been gaining muscle. I've put on about 10 pounds in the last two months with very little fat gain. Now obviously I'm a different case than you, but I just thought you'd like to know that it is a useful tool.
That being said I'd recommend you read 'the tailor made nutrition' series on this site. Its actually part of the PN package, but you can read it for free on this site.
I figure that with a few years of training under your belt you should have decent enough base of muscle right now to focus on losing fat first and then gaining more muscle later.


Best question. You shouldn't be "bulking" at all if you are carrying that much fat to begin with.


Dude, 5'8" and 229lbs with over 29%bf...you are obese. Forget the bulking phase, you are already too bulky. You need to slim WAAAAAYYYYYY down. Bulking is something that is done AFTER you achieve a certain level of muscularity and leanness. Get in shape first, then bulk. I bet if you got down to about 190lbs you would be very impressed with what you have achieved. I mean, really, what's your current goal? 250lbs and 30%bf? Your knees and back will be killing you. Get down to 190 and see what you think.


Right. You need to expect fat gains when bulking. You try to limit them to the degree possible and still be putting on good muscle. But you shouldn't BEGIN your bulk when you're already fat.


You probably did not read his post or stats.


Common sense, wherefore art thou?


When you have that much body fat it's easy to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time.


I agree. Sounds like the original poster has been "bulking" for a long time.

Anyone over 15% bodyfat has no business "bulking" at all IMO.


Unfortunately "common sense" isn't very common. Sad but true.



wait wait wait

so me the newbie actually was thinking correctly for once? this calls for a celebration! :smiley:


Thanks for the suggestion, HIIT sounds more like something I'll introduce.


Everyone has already said it, but yah you definately need to cut, not bulk. Not trying to cut you down, but the big joke with me and my friends is when we have been slacking off in the gym and just eating unhealthy. We say that we are in our "bulking stage". I'm not saying you fall into that category, but I know how easy it is to get lazy with cardio and diet, and to just trick yourself into thinking you are bulking, when really you are just being unhealthy.


I think i was at a reasonably comfortable weight and bf when I started and to be honest I never really paid too much attention to what my exact bf% was.

Yep, you read that correctly, I haven't done any cardio for the last 4-5 months apart from 30mins a week of swimming. Last year I did the whole cardio thing and funny enough the fat disappeared slowly from the midsection along with some muscle mass especially around the arms.

Anyhow, I'm here now so I'm looking forward to learning alot more from everyone else's experience.


dude, really appreaciate you taking the time to reply with your experience on PN.




Thanks for taking the time to reply to this and I didn't expect to get less than honest opinions and rich suggestions from T-Nation.

I'm glad I threw this out there as it serves to remind me that I'm still a newbie at this. I think a picture would've been helpful in a thread like this and I'll try and put one up as soon as I can. I do enjoy the overall size gains when bulking but my belly seems to put on twice as much size compared to the rest of me. Early attempts at cutting have resulted in fat slowly disappearing along with some significant muscle loss, hence my hesitation at introducing cardio and cutting down.

However, My focus NOW will be on cutting, introducing HIIT, reading up on JB's PN and my biggest challenge will be figuring out how to minimize muscle loss during a cutting phase. I have no desires to be ripped, but a decrease in the amount of fat around the belly would be nice.

Thanks again.


There is no reason you should loose muscle mass while cutting. It's extremely difficult to GAIN muscle while cutting, but you shouldn't LOOSE muscle (unless, perhaps you stop lifting in order to focus 100% of cardio, but that is not necessary).

The key is High Intensity, short duration cardio AND a lifting program that actually makes you sweat and breathe hard the whole time. Lift hard, take a short break (nothing over 60 seconds) then lift again (even if you're still out of breath). Keep that pace up for 60 minutes and you will seriously get your metabolism going.

I know everyone's got a program that is foolproof, but I did the Body-for-Life program and it made a huge difference. A great eating program that will change your eating habits and a kick-ass workout routine based on max-effort/low rep lifting followed immediately by high rep burnouts that will have you gasping for air and your muscles screaming.