T Nation

Good at Strength, Bad at Muscle Gains


hence, i'm a beginner.

my plan is to do a slow clean bulk of 6 months to get from ~160-185 @ 5'9. Currently ~15% bf, hope to be still 15% bf with the clean bulk. that approximates to 4lb fat gain, 21 lb lbm gains. sound reasonable?

training i believe i got down already, so here's my food plan. in carb/protein/fat/cals
meal 1: blender smoothie: 60/40/10/490
meal 2: blender smoothie (the rest of it): 60/40/10/490
Workout: grape juice/whey: 40/24/2/274
PWO: grapejuice/whey: 40/24/2/274
meal 3: meat/veggie/carb: 80/45/15/635
meal 4: meat/veggie/carb: 80/45/15/635
meal 5: meat/veggie/fat: 10/50/30/510
meal 6: tuna/cottage/cheese/evoo: 10/60/30/550

TOTAL for workout days: 380/328/114/3858
total for nonworkout days (remove the 2 protein drink): 300/280/110/3310

critique? these area all estimates too. only thing i might see is that the protein is excessive right now, and calories might be a little high for my current weight. also, ive been low carb for a long time and i dont know how practical/much it is to eat 80g carbs for 2 consecutive meals in the form of spaghetti noodles.


You probably are going a bit overboard with the cals, I eat around 3000 a day, and im 220lbs. But try it out and adjust from there


It took me around 3000 calories a day to get to 190lbs at your height (im 5'10" with shoes) relatively lean. Hell, i hit 200lbs recently on 2000 calories a day somehow.

Now i don't suggest low calories, i don't even know how i gained muscle eating like a bird.

I would start off at 2800 CONSISTENTLY, you will be amazed at the changes you can make by being consistent with your diet without going overboard with the calories.


good, you already have a food log.

Get the base value for growing and consistently up your calories by 200 averaging a gain of 2lbs per week, you are the only one who will know how your body will respond, tailor-made your calories and adapt to it.


thanks again guys. i figured out why my calories seem high opposed to others: when i was very low carb 2 summers ago (similar to anabolic diet) i'd eat 3000-3400 calories a day @ 175ish and not gain even 1lb for 2 months. for some reason, not having any carbs made it VERY hard to put on weight. since now i'm putting carbs back in, i guess i'll have to scale calories down a bit.

anyone have a similar experience here -- the magic of carbs? :slight_smile:


the best thing about going low on carbs for a while is the improvement you will see on your insulin sensivity


Agreed with regards to carbs, maybe not magic, but crucial.

I agree that you may succeed in getting bigger on that diet, but also get fatter due to too many cals and therefore not see any of the muscle, doubt you've gained any etc....

In your position, I'd cut back to a solid diet of say 2500 or whatever, good balance of carbs, protein and moderate fats (I like carb cycling both for gaining and cutting, for gaining just add in more high/medium days)

Weigh yourself each AM after pissing, track that along with your food intake, you will quickly find what quantity of food allows you to gain steadily. You just aren't going to gain 2lbs of muscle per week, so why gain 1/2 lb muscle and 1 1/2lb fat? When you add it up over a year though, that consistent 1/2 lb, if achieved, will be massive.

If you find you aren't inching up in weight steadily, add in more cals, (on high and medium days if you did carb cycling) primarily from carbs and protein. It's trial and error from there, forever upwards

Good luck mate


thanks. i'm going to rethink my diet to accomodate for the lower cals. im quite surprised that the 220lber is gaining on 3000cals.

i plugged in massive eating calculator and it gave me like 4k or something high.

i tried calculating BMR x activity level, getting me 2700. with a common +500cal increase for gains (dont remmeber where i read that) it pushed me to 3200. i added in some PWO/WO drinks and it pushed me to 3800! i thought that was just how it was supposed to be.

amazed really, as to how off i was compared to the people who were ACTUALLY doin a clean gain, since something like 2500 is already under the calculated bmr x activity level. damn articles.


Remember that those BMR things are only intelligent(ish) estimates. Many times I feel that the authors of such articles (such as John Berardi) were EXTREMELY thin as a starting point, so that's what worked for them. If you eat 20,00 cals per day for a month you wouldn't gain several stone of muscle, unfortunately. Simple enough to work out what's right for you by tracking kcals and BW.

That + patience + intelligent training including periodisation + injury prevention + time : success