T Nation

I'm Planning Training For 2018

Hey CT,
I’ve never planned training this far ahead. Some feedback on this would be really appreciated.

The lastest TNation article inspired the approach for the blocks of time


A balance of training methods that allows for continuous progression in the lifts I love (compound movements)

A balanced diet that allows for strength and size gains while remaining as lean as possible.

Be more jacked and tan

BULK: 16 WEEKS hypertrophy focus
300 Calorie surplus. Carbs @300g. 5/2 method
10 Weeks 5/3/1 5s Pro “BBB” 3 cycles
6 Weeks “Fastest Way to Get Jacked” - CT

MAINTENANCE: 4 WEEKS Performance focus
Calorie maintenance. Carbs >200g. 5/2 method
The Waterbury Method

500 Calorie Deficit. Carbs @ 100g. 5/2 method
“10x3 for fat loss” - Waterbury

BULK: 16 WEEKS Powerbuilding focus
500 Calorie surplus. Carbs @300g.
10 Weeks “Look BB, Perform Athlete” - CT
6 Weeks 5/3/1 “SVR II”

Calorie maintenance. Carbs >200g. 5/2 method
“7th Week” + “SVR II Anchor”

500 Calorie Deficit. Carbs @ 100g. 5/2 method
“10x3 for fat loss” - Waterbury

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I will not critique your plan because you simply cannot planned this far in advance.

You don’t know if you are going to pile on fat or stay lean while “bulking”, you have no idea if dieting for 6 weeks after 16 weeks of bulking will be enough to get rid of the fat you gained by bulking let alone get leaner.

You have no idea how your body will respond to the type of programs you selected.

Simply put you have no idea how your body will evolve over the year. What if after 8 weeks of bulking you got a lot more out of shape than you wanted? Will you stop the bulking and start a cut? Will you continue on with the bulking, making it impossible to regain you leanness in 6 weeks?

What if after 16 weeks on the bulking plan you actually lost fat and did not gain as much muscle as you wanted… will you continue on or switch to cutting?

I honestly do not like your approach at all. AT ALL.

Its great to have a plan. Know what you are trying to accomplish over the year. But you must understand that the body doesn’t always respond the way you think . For example 6 weeks of dieting (especially with only a 500 calories deficit) is not enough to get really lean, unless you are already pretty lean to start with. When I did my photoshoot I had abs and veins when I started my diet but I still needed 10 weeks to look good. And that was with daily cardio and sometimes 2-a-days training and a non-stressful life.


Thanks a heap for the rapid response. Would you suggest then to plan on the blocks still? Bulk, maintain, then cut. Except allowing the blocks to be fluid and not a set amount of weeks. What I’m doing now is just winging it until I get bored then changing it up. I require some sort of reliable and somewhat consistent pattern or I will get sidetracked and make dumb choices. I suppose I have “training ADD” but that doesn’t always work well for me. It’s a crap shoot. Sometimes it’s great, sometimes I sabotage myself.

For example.
Bulk until progress stalls for several weeks
maintain weight and mass for 4 weeks
cut back down to 10-12%BF

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Except for the Waterbury routines (of which I have never tried) . I have done and have had success in all of the selections.

A 500 deficit puts me in the ball park of 1700. I’ve always thought we shouldn’t go lower than that for average calories per week

I think I would continue on.

I think I most definitely would start a cut. In the past I’ve always quit bulking when I don’t like what the mirror tells me

Here’s your problem… are you a REAL 10-12% … at 10% you have full abs, good muscle definition, veins. A TRUE 10% is what the average gym person would call “ripped” (even though it’s not ripped). At a true 10% you would be one of the leanest in the gym. In the first picture I was a true 9.1%. In the second picture 7.4%. So unless you have the same degree of leanness as in my first pic, you are not 10%.

The thing is that most people who think they are 10% really are 15% or so. And a caliper measure is not a lot better (it can be OK to evaluate progress but not the actual body fat)… I was once tested at 4.1% by a high level coach and I had at least 15lbs to lose to be in really good condition.

If you are a TRUE 10%, then yeah your approach might work.

But what if it is an “approximation” and you really are 13-15%… the thing is that at that level you can be 1-2% higher and not notice it. And if every bulking cycle it happens, then you might be gradually getting fatter.

So unless you have your measurements taken by a truly effective measure like DEXA on a regular basis I can’t see how you would regular your phases based on an actual body fat percentage.

A smarter approach is to go from a baseline. What I mean by that is get to the degree of leanness you want to be at the end of the year, take pics, and every time you “diet down” go back to state level.

This has several advantages:

  1. You get to know if you are capable of dieting and getting lean. If you are not capable of doing what is necessary to get lean, and you bulk up expecting to diet the fat off afterwards, you will be in trouble.

  2. The leaner you are, the more insulin sensitive you are. The more insulin sensitive you are the more slanted toward muscle growth will your nutrients portioning be. This means that for an equivalent diet you will build more muscle and less fat.

  3. You can more easily assess your physique while lean and it makes it easier to know what you need to focus on.

  4. You will stay leaner year round. I will use percentages for illustration purposes even though I’m not a big fan of them. Let’s say that your starting point is 14%.

Start by a “growth phase” (I hate the word bulking with a vengeance) … you add some good muscle and around 3% body fat. You are now 17%

You decide to do a mini cut and get back down to 14%

You then switch to another growth phase in which you add some more muscle but also add 2% body fat. You are now 16%

Now if you want to get lean (10% or less) you have 6% to drop… in reality it will be a lot more weight than the simple % calculation because with each pound of fat you lose you normally will drop 0.5lbs of water and other things. Not to mention the initial 3-5llbs drop which is water and glycogen. You will likely have to diet for 10-12 weeks to get into really good shape.

You decide to start with a solid cut and you diet down (and do cardio, energy system work) to get down to 8%. Should take you 10-12 weeks if you know what you are doing (assuming the TRUE 14% starting point)

From there you decide to increase calories, reduce cardio to build more muscle. You are successful in doing it but in the process you also add 2% body fat (you will gain more “weight” because of more muscle and water retention). You are now 10%.

You go on a mini cut to get back to your ripped condition. It shouldn’t be long this time because you only have 2% to lose and your insulin sensitivity is good because of your leanness. You might need only 4 weeks to get there.

Then you decide to do another growth phase. You really want to put on the mass so you make that phase a little longer and have more calories. You indeed build more muscle but add 3% body fat. But you are still only 11%. Still looking pretty good.

Finally you decide to get truly ripped (6-7%). From 11% it’s not that hard. Should take you 8 weeks. BUT you look lean pretty much all the time.

In the first option you spend most of the year between 14-17% and when you decide to try to get ripped you start from 16%.

In the second option you spend most of the year between 8 and 11% (so except for the initial phase you look good year round) and when you decide to get ripped you start from 11%

Which makes more sense???


To me that’s a waste of time unless you are in a situation where you are satisfied with both your degree of leanness and muscle mass. You should always try to improve one or the other.

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Another thing.

You can’t know how much muscle you truly have until you get really lean.

When you have a decent amount of muscle, if you carry an extra 20lbs of fat and 10lbs of water you still look solid in a tank top or t-shirt.

Many 200-210lbs guys (assuming 5’8" - 5’11") semi-lean walk like they are jacked (and they honestly believe that they are… believe me I was there once) but they’d be surprised that when truly lean they would be around 165. Nothing wrong with that mind you. 165-170 ripped on 5’9" looks really good… not big but it looks good.

But the moral of the story is that assuming that you have build decent muscle size over the years. I would always recommend starting by getting really lean to establish a baseline… see how much muscle you REALLY have.

It will also tell you if you are mentally and physically capable of dieting down to a lean/ripped state. While in theory everybody can get lean in reality few actually can, even among true gym rats. Basing your progression on the assumption that you will be capable of dieting all the fat off to get lean before actually KNOWING (by doing it) that you can do it is a recipe for disaster and gradually looking worse.


Wow. I actually hadn’t ever considered the math from that angle. It makes total sense to me. I guess I’ll continue with my cut. I’m almost as lean as I was when I was 21 but still have some work to do. As always, thanks for the reality check coach. I have to attest a lot of my progress to your advice over the years.

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Basically look for things -
Face is lean/chiselled, plus ab definition

Easier said than done acutally. I think thats a good state year round, then you “add” from here.

I made the mistake of getting fluffy as hell…now paying the dues with proper dieting to get back to the above chiselled state

I love training when “fluffy” though, makes me feel so powerful. Hate training when dieting, especially hard compound stuff (snatch grip high pull when I"m lean depleted feels like joint destruction…doing it while in bear mode get the biggest pump & drive)

CT, any opinions on a blitz type approach if the necessary fatloss of 6% bf is 10-12 lbs. Shooting for 2lb weekly or even something like a protein sparring modified fast.

It wont be 10-12lbs… right off the bat you will drop around 5lbs of water in the first few days. If you have 10-12lbs of fat to lose we are normally talking about 20lbs of scale weight.

I don’t like blitz diets… make you feel like crap, you are less productive, your workouts sucks and you risk losing muscle. Do it like 99% of the successful people do it