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Losing Muscle Mass on a Bulk

Hi guys

Just a bit of background before I get to the real question. Recently lost a lot of fat.

January 1st - 133kg, 33% bodyfat.
Sept 15th - 104kg, 7.5% bodyfat
I’m 1.94 m tall - 6 foot 4
Age: 23

I used to do strongman before deciding I would try do a physique competition and I achieved the goal of losing all the weight without losing too much strength - in fact I gained muscle since I lost only fat essentially.

Okay so the question
I’ve decided to I want to compete in a bodybuilding show next year - which of course requires that I gain a lot (a lot) of lean muscle. So obviously a bulk was in order.

I’ve been bulking for a month and a half, the diet I’m following is the Anabolic Diet (essentially a KCD). At first it was 4000 calories a day. Nothing happened on the scale in two weeks. Then 4500 calories, still nothing happened for a week, and then a 1kg increase on week 4. (Split 60% fat, 35% protein, 5% carbs on weekdays, and 25% fat, 25% protein, 50% carbs on weekends - all clean, I haven’t had a cheat meal once. I’m trying to refrain from gaining extra bodyfat)

Then I decided to get a body assessment done, and my bodyfat has increased from the show day (15 September) from 7.5 to 9.4% which I’m okay with.

However, my lean muscle mass has decreased from 99 to 96 kg - since my current weight is 106.5kg. So a loss of 3 Kg of lean mass.

My training program is
Monday to Saturday
1 hour Low Intensity cardio split - 30 min fasted and 15 min x 2
2 Weight sessions a day, following the Big Beyond Belief program

I know the diet and the program I’m using are old, but this was an experiment and obviously I have failed. So yes, I did something very very wrong.

I would just like to know what you guys think - where did I go wrong. Did I not eat enough, was the diet wrong (even though I bloat a tremendous amount when I try to eat a normal carb based diet), did I train too much?

Worth noting I’m a university student with a job and I live alone, so in the past 40 days I have probably not slept around 10 nights due to work/university work. Could also be an influence.

Appreciate the help guys!

Do you mind posting before and after pics of your transformation ?

IMG_20181013_170407 September 15th 2018 vs January 1st 2018

Thank you

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Your hair grew fast.

I’m so confused.

If this is before dropping weight vs show day. Well done that’s amazing, pictures opposite way round would make this clearer.

If this is show day vs today. What the hell!?

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What body comp method was used

Hahaha well the left was the after.

Body comp method - Are you referring to calculating the amount of calories needed? Or am I understanding you wrong @Bulldog9899

Which method was used to determine your body fat percentage

Worth noting that all the macros & caloric needs were that taken from the Anabolic Diet book itself. I didn’t push the calories as much as he suggests (he suggests about 6700 I think) so I didn’t want to jump that much and end up gaining a lot of unnecessary weight, so I rather took the gradual approach.

No no, this is Sept 15 vs January 1st. 104kg vs 133kg. My bad

Body Fat Calipers.

Training 12x a week really not necessary and def not a long term strategy. Try a template off this site. Either of these very effective…

Ha ha great work then, well done on your transformation.

I wouldn’t rely on the body fat measurements. What are the mirror and your gym lifts saying?

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Wouldn’t you say that the higher frequency is better for a natural lifter? I was taught to believe that as a natty, you’re supposed to lift as often as possible - but for shorter periods. So my workouts are seldom longer than 80 minutes.

Well, mixed results essentially.

Some lifts (such as deadlift) went up, while others have gone down or mostly stayed the same.

I’ve also lost a lot of vascularity which was to be expected. The mirror says I’m not stage lean, but it doesn’t exactly say I’ve grown.

It’s hard to judge since it’s the first time I’ve actively tried to gain weight. “People” say I have grown, but this could just be the difference between stage lean and normal?

I would say you need to simplify For a little while. 2 times a day and a lot of cardio is probably not helping the situation. Quality over quantity For a little while.

A good 4x a week hypertrophy routine and a little conditioning on your off days if you feel like it, really make progressing with the weights in a 8-15 rep range your top priority.

Gaining muscle is a slow and some what unnoticeable process, keep that scale slowly moving up and keep progressing on a proven routine and you will be building some muscle, but it will take a fair amount of time and you probably won’t notice it month to month.


Cool thanks man!!

Do you know of any particular program that worked well for you/others? I probably have about 6 weeks left before my cutting phase starts - leaving 15 weeks for the cut.

Also - and I know this is a stretch - do you have any opinion on the diet/caloric needs?

I’ve tried eating 4500 calories with a carb based diet, and I felt absolutely awful. Maybe I have a very poor digestive system when it comes to carbs, but anything more than 250g a day and I feel pretty bad, I feel “up and down” and tired and my workouts are just poor. So I’m liking the current keto cycle one, but I’ve heard numerous people bash it cause of the lack of insulin being harnessed for its anabolic properties?

And lastly, do you think I need to increase the calories to closer what the book suggests?

“(Ideal Competition weight + 15% of that weight) times 20 - 25”

Which leaves me with between 5600 - 7000 calories a day. Currently on 4800.

So - first off, awesome transformation, man. You look fantastic.

A few things:

One, calipers are seriously inaccurate. Your BF% at that show is low, but I’m sure others can confirm that based on that picture on the left you’re not at 7.5% bodyfat, you’re more likely over 10. The good thing is, actual bodyfat percentage doesn’t matter, all that does is the mirror.

Second, you shouldn’t need to get to the 5600-7000 calorie range to gain weight. Weight training twice a day with cardio is way too much. You have to treat this as a marathon. You either get to chug a gallon of water right before you start running, or you can pour the gallon into water bottles and spread them out along the way, ya know? Drop the cardio while you’re bulking, and save it for late in the cut when dieting isn’t doing enough to drop that last bit of fat. 4-5x a week training is fine. Try this:

Finally, if you’re serious about doing a show - and you have a great base for it - hire a coach. There are a few online coaches here, and lots of people with experience going through the misery that is a show prep. Nobody will be able to help you THAT much just based on a couple pictures and a few paragraphs. A coach can really make a huge difference.

@The_Mighty_Stu @EyeDentist @robstein @brickhead

Good luck!


Thanks man - I really appreciate the calmness you answered - was expecting a lot more hostility towards the noob.

Okay, seems the consensus is to decrease the load and just relax in relation with results - it will just take time.

Thank you for the training split, I’ll definitely give it a go!

Thanks again, I really appreciate you taking the time to answer.

No not really, as a natural you have a finite limit on the amount of stress your body can handle over the course of the week. 80 mins 12 times a week is a ton of volume. Long term its an invitation to injury and at best you’re spinning your wheels.

Plenty of people here get great results just hitting it hard 4 times a week

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