T Nation

Help. Problems with First Bulk


So, here's the situation. (The post is kinda all over the place.. Sorry about that)

I went on my first serious bulk about 7 weeks ago. Before that, after a year-long period of yo-yo cuts and bulks, I was skinny fat, 72-73 kg, with a 31" waist, and 13.5" "guns."* Oh - and an eating disorder from overstressing about my diet

*(My arms are the only measurement I can take reliably, so I kinda use them to gauge progress)

Since then, I gained about 12 kilos (!). According to EVERYTHING I've read on this website, only a few kilos of that can POSSIBLY be muscle. Well, from past experience, I'd say a few kilos are just from creatine loading, and extra food/crap in my body. Still, we're looking at around 8-10 kilos of mass gain over a 7 week period.

Anyway, here's the catch: my arms are now about 15.25" pumped. When I measured them a week or so into the bulk, they were 14.1" (Some of the size increase from my initial measurement of 13.5" was probably due to carb loading and a pump). So I gained at LEAST an inch on my arms, and the rest of my body has progressed similarly well (I don't do direct arm work). My back got a lot thicker, my lats got wider.. I can't tell if my chest and legs grew a lot, but my front squat increased by almost 20kg (!), and bench press by 10 kg.

People keep commenting about how I seem to look bigger every time they see me, and generally notice that I work out, which didn't happen before.

Now, I'm really happy with my gains so far. But, because of the extra fat I've gained, my abs have just about disappeared (I can see them when I flex, but only barely). My jeans are starting to get tight in the waist, too. I was gonna bulk until March at first, but now I'm contemplating going on a 3-week cut in January. What should I do?

I'm getting a bit self-conscious about my bulk belly, but that's not the part that bothers me most. I'm more bothered by the fact that, theoretically, my gains are impossible and I probably gained way too much fat :(. If any vets could give me some feedback, I'd be really grateful. If it helps, I can post a few photos, too.

Oh - from an earlier thread on a botched bulk, I got advice about doing a bit of cardio while bulking to get bigger AND leaner at the same time (the whole g-flux thing). I had to walk a few km every day a few weeks back, and actually noticed that I got noticeably leaner. So, I'm incorporating a little bit of slow, steady-state cardio every day, and I'm gonna see where that takes me. I'm also thinking of HIIT, but not sure where I'd fit it, as I lift 5x a week.

Leucine with meals
BCAA (25g pre/peri workout)
Generic omega 3 pills
Power Drive
My own nootropic blend
Occasional Z-12


Do you know how many calories you are consuming now vs. before the bulk? If not, not a big deal but it helps.

You have a few options 1) like you suggest, go on a cut (but I wouldn't recommend that), 2) reduce the amount of calories you are taking in by a slight amount, 3) increase the amount of exercise you are doing without increasing calories.

I'm in the same boat you are in, the gut is getting a little fatter than I wanted it to. I have chosen option 2 and am reduce my carb intake by a slight amount. Of course, I measure my food out and can make an adjustment easily. I'm still bulking up but have reduced my calorie intake by a small amount (about 200 calories). This should slow the fat gain without affecting my workouts.


Thanks, Arioch. I am consuming a good deal (1000) calories more than I was consuming on my cut. Actually, I started eating even more in the past 2 weeks, which is, perhaps, where the problem stems from. I'm also thinking of putting in a "control" day like Thibs recommended in a recent article, but I'm kind of worried about this compromising my other goal (which is to get huge) :).

But, like I said, the extra fat isn't the part that really bothers me. I'm more confused by how much mass I've gained (17-22 lbs in under 2 months). I read somewhere that you need 15 lbs of muscle to gain an inch in your arms.. If so, then I've only probably gained a bit of fat. The biggest change is that I got smoother around the abdominal area. Actually, hey, I guess I'll post what limited photos I have if that'll help people give me advice.


Bad lat spread, yesterday (don't know how to pose)


Back, yesterday


Front, 2 weeks old. This is what my stomach looks like now when flexed, more or less.


Back, 2 weeks ago.

Again, these photos were taken more for me to gauge my own progress, so sorry about the bad and inconsistent posing/lighting.



Two things. 1) I wouldn't worry about a single 'control' day affecting your overall goals. One day really won't matter too much other than to affect glycogen stores. 2) you shouldn't be worried about fat gain. You don't look like you have put on a lot so your present pace may be a good one. Relax and stop thinking you have to be able to see your abs while bulking.

Sometimes, you can lose them (abs) and still gain a good amount of muscle. Plus, the extra muscle will help you late on to lose the fat.

If I were in your situation, which I sort of am, I would just drop a few calories as well as add in some additional exercise (walking, easy bike ride, etc).


I think you're overreacting man or just not used to having little extra fat, you don't look fat. If I were you I would keep bulking, and if you're truly worried about it, just clean up your diet if you can. You look fine, no worries.


Thanks, Arioch. I think that's what I'm gonna do. Tighten up my calories, add some cardio, and see where that gets me in December. Then, unless things get real bad, I'll persevere until the end of March.

Evolv, I see what you're thinking. Thing is, my diet is already clean as sh*t to be honest! I do my own cooking, and the only sweet things I have are Surge, fruit and cottage cheese w/ splenda. For "cheat foods," I have sushi, which I only eat PWO, and an occasional Metabolic Drive bar. LoL! I don't actually enjoy 99% of fast foods!

I think fruit may be a slight problem though - I can pack away 10-15 in a day like it's nothing, and we're talking big fruit here!

P.S. I realised my legs look tiny in the top pic. Well, OK, the rest of me ain't huge either, but my legs are bigger than that in real life, and yes, I squat and deadlift.


I know how you feel dude. The second things start to look bad in the mirror I puss out. Thank god for T-Nation...

I offer this advice:
have some peanut butter and keep on chugging away. you can cut in april :stuck_out_tongue:


I agree with what's been said, don't go on a cut, just reduce your calories a little if you feel like too much is fat, but not too much.

I noticed that when I first started eating a lot and putting on mass, my weight jumped up a lot immediately due to water weight and having more food. I wouldn't overreact to it, it reduced somewhat for me as i stopped taking in food. I got my BF% checked a couple weeks ago and it actually didn't increase (still 12%), my muscle gains far outpaced my fat gains.

If you're REALLY worried, get your BF% checked. If it's gone up really significantly then you should reduce calories or eat cleaner.


If you want to look impressive, then don't cut until April.... 2010...

Cutting now would be stupid.


How long did you go on maintenance between your cut and your bulk?

FWIW, I'd have recommended a period where you specifically try to re-set your body's set point at the lower level before trying to bulk up again. I believe you could do it leaner that way.


Thanks all. Otep, it's not a bad idea and I might do that next time; however, I was actually stuck at more or less the same point in my "cut" for 4 weeks or so, and was just really sick of it all and then I wasted two months on a mini bulk and mini cut (both useless) so I just decided to get on with it already. I'll probably do a post-bulk maintain, cut, and post-cut maintain like you just outlined in 2009 though.

Thanks for the advice, everyone. I still don't know if the 1kg+/week gain is abnormal or not, but at least I'm intent to keep chugging through March right now. After doing cardio for a few days, I already feel better and "tighter," if that makes sense, so with control days I should be able to keep fitting into these jeans for another 3 months. (At least in the waist, think they might get to be tight in the thighs, too).

Oh yeah, while we're here: this is probably a long shot, but are there any body parts that are visibly lagging in the shots? (I know calves are one, but they aren't visible in the shots.)


Bump. Really, I know where I'm going now, but very curious to hear about how bad it is that I've gained a lot of weight in such a short period of time.


Not bad at all.

I skimmed most of this, but has nobody mentioned that new lifters can gain a lot of weight quite quickly and have a large % of it be muscle?

Don't freak out just because the scale is going up quickly - if you are quickly turning into a fatass, it means something is wrong.

If I had restricted calories because I was gaining weight faster than you are "supposed" to be able to, I would be a lot less developed than I am right now.

The only impact I've seen from those articles saying you can only gain muscle so fast is people holding themselves back. Not good!


Looks pretty good to me. Your back is much wider and thicker than it used to be. Unless your sucking in your stomach it doesn't look to big.

Control days are good, I use them, but rather than taper back on the kcals just taper back on the carbs.


Thanks! Really appreciate it, because the pics are only 2 weeks apart :). Part of it is the lighting, but I feel that my back got noticeably quicker really fast in a pretty short amount of time.

As for "sucking in" - I am flexing, but not sucking it in, i.e. not doing a vacuum. I do have a bulk belly right now, no denying that.. But, well, what can ya do. I'm gonna try and keep it down, but I'm realistic: unless it gets do where I can't breathe in my current jeans, I'm not gonna stop my bulk. (And even THEN I'll think about it twice)