T Nation

Moving Away from 'Dirty' Bulk?


It seems in the last couple years..the mood has change so to speak. That attitudes towards "bulking" has changed. Atleast, this is what I sense. In fact, it seems like "bulking" has kind of been overplayed or something on here..to the point that noone seems to really mention it. I could be wrong..this is the only sub-section I really post or read (Nutrition).

I think a lot have toned it down with the BULK OR DIE..EAT SHIT AND GET CALORIES!! CALS CALS CALS! I can attest that I did this..it worked..I gained a great deal of strength during that period and size in a relatively short time..about a year. But..I was pretty "bloated" ..probably 16% bf atleast..I probably could have stood to take it back with the dirty cals a bit..gained less weight, but that less weight most likely would have been excess fat I gained. Or not? Who knows.

I was going through an old thread out of boredom..going through my old posts and found it..you can search it. Bulking Motivation by Dave Tate. Compare the overall attitude and vibe on that thread in comparison to the average vibe or articles written by contributors on here today.

But..reading this thread made me think about a few things. Many on there stated, in basically the same words that: If you are training HARD, actually training..you CAN and SHOULD eat ALOT of calories, no matter your weight. In other words..you basically earn these excess calories if you truly train hard and can stand to eat some "shit". I question this..I KNOW how I trained..I was on my schools powerlifting team...I still gained a considerable amount of fat.

For some reason, I get the vibe that ALOT of the nutritional info of the last 5 years or so..the stuff being re-iterated so hard on this and many other boards is EAT BIGGGG. Perhaps..this is geared towards the "ectos"...the "hardgainers"...the skinny kids who ate cereal all day and played video games but stayed 120lbs. Sure..THEY need to scarf food down including wendys burgers..but perhaps I don't. Maybe this is where the attitudes have shifted towards a more clean approach..? I really don't know.

I have said this and will always say this...the skinny kids..the ectomorphs so to speak (if that shit even exists) they ARE the genetically gifted ones. I have seen SOOO many of these kids ..peers of mine..scronny (but lean) ..they are the ones that simply need to EAT..that's IT..EAT everythingggg and lift. Guess what..they gain tons of muscle and close to NO fat. That's the most conducive body type outside of the guy who is naturally larger and leaner. I think people are starting to realize this now..and in turn are "marketing" their nutritional information to the average person; someone who can gain muscle when they train and eat..but can also gain fat if they eat w.e. they want.

This has been a long post and may be totally bullshit..but I'd really like to hear your opinions on this.


A considerable amount of fat to you personally, may not be the same to someone else. I've seen guys at 12 % bitch and moan about how "fat" they are. It's a personal thing. Some people don't give a fuck if they gain some fat, as long as they're gaining muscle.

I'll tell you this much - the more muscle you have, the better being "fat" looks. In other words - skinny fat retards at 210 and 25 % bodyfat don't look the same as a 280 lb guy with 25 % bodyfat - as long as the 280 lb guy has actually built a considerable amount of LBM.

People can talk about slowly making "lean" gains, and if that's the route they want to go, then it's their business. I personally don't give a shit about looking like a human refrigerator for a specified period of time - once the fat comes off (and it does, as long as you're doing what it takes to make that happen) there's a lean physique with plenty of muscle.

Again, it's a personal choice. Some guys would be mortified at gaining a considerable amount of fat along with the muscle - others don't care and will do what it takes to make the fastest progress.


Things change.

Never jump on the bandwagon.

KISS principal.

Know your body.

Don't sweat the small stuff.



Dude, to get really big requires eating really big. If you have the genetics for this and are training hard enough, this isn't some crisis, even if you do gain some extra body fat.

I just lost that shit in less than 3 months so why would I spend all of my training time overly concerned about gaining some fat?

Yes, different people have different tolerances, but no one is getting huge on just talapia unless loads of test and gh are on hand.

I think the real problem is guys who don't have the drive for this long term who also try to eat like someone who is all out pushing to get huge.

That also isn't saying disregard your food intake and eat crap. It IS saying that if your goal is to go from skinny to fucking huge, good luck doing that while being afraid to ever eat 5,000 cals or more in a day.


I aggree with this


Are you continuing to diet down, or are you satisfied with where you are right now (BF%-wise, not LBM-wise)?


I like where I am as far as body fat but may take it a little further. As far as "lean body mass", I haven't filled back out so I don't know what I will look like once my eating is normalized...but yeah, the goal is MOAR.


I believe the whole "set point" thing. I raised mine 25 pounds by pounding 6k a day for six months. It wasn't the best decision I ever made, but it worked.


like Prof X said some people NEED to dirty bulk aka the 6'2" 150 lb newb but dirty bulks get a bad rap from people losing all control and eating complete junk 24/7 and not adjusting

anyway, i too have noticed a lot of guys mention (especially on this board) that in the future they arent gonna lose their abs or go over 12-15% BF.

Not really sure what caused ^^^ but it seems like once you get lean its hard to accept looking worse


I'm not sure if it has to do with not accepting looking worse, or maybe people are just content where they are once they get lean enough. I think newbs can get away with eating lots of food, whether it be considered crap or not, because they are looking to grow quickly and if they are training correctly, it won't affect them negatively.

I think eating cleaner once you have reached a respectable level of size is probably a better idea, simply because you know your body better at that point and can decide what works for you and what doesnt.

Those that get really lean (prepping for a contest) or something, need to make a decision after, and that is whether they want to push their bodies to the next level. I can say personally, that after I do my contest, I want to push my size to the next level, and that is going to require getting much heavier than I did my previous offseason (235), which will mean I'll lose some leanness...It's justified though.
People need to think of the bigger picture at times if they want to get bigger, but then again, some people's goals simply change.


Everyone has different goals, and their progress will be measured based on their "starting point" and their "ending point" and their METHODS will be evaluated at their "ending point" after they have hopefully reached or exceeded their goals.

Here are a few goals I've seen on T-Nation:

"Get huge"
"Look good nekid"
"Be able to lift X,Y,Z and look the part"
"Compete in a bbing show"
"Win a natural pro-card" (i.e. be like Stu)
"Put on X pounds of muscle"
"Reach X bodyweight at Y bodyfat"
Look cute in my fitted tee at the club (this one I haven't heard so I can't put it in quotes)


I'm scared too many people have been training with Patches O'Houlihan. I'm pretty sure shit is low in kcals.

Find what works for you, allowing you to make progress in a manner that meets YOUR criteria.

IMO, comments like being "bloated at 16% bf%" is in the category of stuff I hear women on their periods saying... LOL


You might be right... This is what I plan to do: see what works for me. If I feel I made better progress over time by incoperating a lot more dirty food in my diet..I'll be the first to admit so to myself and others..and start doing that. I feel as though at my current weight..I don't need a whole lot of kcals to grow, and have no problems eating LARGE portions of "clean" food.


But dude, you aren't that big yet. That isn't a degrading comment either because you have made progress...but you are basing relative "newbie gains" with the approach someone should take 3-5 years later.

I had to FORCE a gain past certain set points. That is what we are constantly discussing....even though some of you seem to think some of us got huge by accident and not by thinking about this shit and being more committed than most.

For instance, it takes WAY LESS food right now for me to maintain my current body weight. Meanwhile, to reach a "fat" version of this same weight years back, I was quite possibly eating well over 3-4,000 extra calorie over what I am eating right now...no exaggeration.

My body did not want to weigh this much or carry this much muscle and there will likely come a time soon when your body will hit a wall because added size is literally knocking it out of homeostasis.

I avoided that by bulking up...but I also understood what was happening back then while some of you seem to really think your body will just constantly add size slowly just because you lift weights.


@ deat and ebomb

FWIW i wasnt knocking anyone for wanting to be lean or stay lean w/e

i personally am trying to get lean for the first time in my life (lol) i was just thinking out loud


Also, one reason you see less of this...is because fewer people are even getting all that big. I admit, bodybuilding is making a come back because there are some younger guys in the gym lately who are making great progress who ask me for advice and shit. However, overall, you see more simply accepting lesser progress than you see people literally blowing the fuck up aside from the growing number who are using anabolics almost right out the gate.

Not only that, but if I was working a job that allowed me to eat all day (like those working as personal trainers), you can bet my approach to food intake would be a tad different than if I was in school and trying to only fit food in when I could. But even then, it is rare (as in, requires phenomenal genetics) to go from skinny to truly huge while staying near single digit body fat readings the whole time.

And if you don't know what "huge" is, that is why I discussed body types and looks in that other thread.


its interesting you say this, I've noticed this too. Personally I'm going through something similar. I have always been between 12-18% or so, except when I was young and fat. I would have gotten leaner but I always lost too much strength/muscle and had to do too much cardio. Now that I've somehow maintained all my muscle and put on strength while cutting down to the leanness of the end of my last summers cut I'd like to keep going to 8-10% and never really go above 14-15% again. My hope is that a range of 8-14% will allow muscle gains as well as 12-18% would but I guess we'll see. I can definitely understand not wanting to get fat again after leaning down. Idk if its because I was fat as a child (I was never picked on for it or anything) but I don't think I'll ever be one of those guys who is OK with getting up to ~25% to gain more size. In a world of all guys maybe lol. I will say though that all of the biggest guys have seemed to do that. Except KingBeef because he's a freak :\


i am the same... i am pretty sure once i finish leaning out this summer i will not be the least bit aggressive in trying to gain size

i have never been below 15% BF and probably above 25% for i'd say 75% of my life so im probably just gonna try enjoying it/lean gaining for a while


X...I don't take that as a negative comment at all.. I'm not big AT ALL. At one point in time, I genuinely did make good progress and was nearing 190 at 5'8"..Although I certainly wasn't "lean" ..I wasn't "fat" either. At this point in time..it's as if I had never done that because I stopped weight training for a very significant period..and then ended up involved in running. As one would guess...I lost considerable muscle mass (and fat of course too). But yea..I guess I have a partial FFB syndrome. In middle school and the beginning of high school I was certainly moving towards the pudgy side..and having slight gyno didn't help matters.


Dirty bulking and doing so for years helped me push pass weight barriers I probably never would have crossed by trying to stay lean the whole time. In my mind it's the most efficient way for skinny kids to get bigger.

I probably won't get that fat again (not that I was a goddamn blimp or anything), but worked well.

It's not for every body type, but it should be the strategy for those that could be mistaken for fence posts.