T Nation

Natural Lifter: Bulking Diet

I’ve been lifting for around 4 years. I’ve made many diet mistakes including not eating enough, dirty bulking to 20%+ body fat, cutting immediately after bulking without maintaining the weight, and dieting with large calorie deficits. But, I’m finally at the point where I feel like I have a solid plan.

At my strongest, I could 1RM bench 325, 1RM squat 315 (weak spot), and 1RM deadlift 475. This was over a year ago at 240lbs and 20% body fat (6’-0" tall) following a very dirty bulk where I went from 195-240 in 4 months. I liked the strength, but it was not impressive at my body weight. I looked bloated and didn’t feel healthy. I started cutting slowly for the next year and ended up at 185lbs at 10% body fat which I’ve maintained lately. My lifts dropped 15-20% across the board. Now, I can only bench 285, squat 275, and deadlift 405. These lifts are nearly identical to where I was prior to dirty bulking, although I am 10lbs lighter and leaner. Regardless, the progress in 2 years was discouraging.

I started bulking this week at 3000 Cals daily and I plan to track my weight over the next 2-3 weeks to see how I respond. I want to limit my monthly weight gain to 5lbs to ensure I’m maintaining a caloric surplus without putting on too much fat. I will stop bulking once I hit 15% body fat, so I’d like to maximize the amount of time I can bulk before I reach this. I’m hoping I can make it until the end of the year which will give me 5 months of bulking. I will then maintain this weight for 2-3 months prior to doing any cutting.

Does this sound like an effective plan? Is there anything I should do differently? My goal is to make the same strength gains as I did while dirty bulking, but with much less excess fat. So, in the long run, I’ll be able to cut back down to 10%, but be heavier and stronger than I am now. My goal over the next few years is 315 bench, 365 squat, and 495 deadlift all at under 10% body fat.

Am I being too optimistic for a natural lifter with average genetics? I definitely feel like I have room for improvement, but most of the guys I know who are natural are either strong or lean, but rarely both.

well i wouldnt ever be gaining 5 lbs a month during off season or mass phase

You’re goals are not unrealistic.
Should be pretty easy if you put in the work, IMO.

God I wish I could gain at 3000cals…
You lucky son of a bitch.

Well you’ve done your few “big” bulks so to speak. So I’d aim to gain 2-3lbs a month with a focus on increasing gym performance (as you mentioned). I think you’ll have good success as you seem to have a decent plan

Yeah to echo a few of the previous posters, I’d definitely shoot for no more than 2 lbs a months as a natty who’s been training for at least a year or two. Anymore than that and you’re gonna have to diet a lot of dirty weight off at some point in the future…lucky if you even keep most of the lbm that you managed to put on in that time

[quote]GrindOverMatter wrote:
well i wouldnt ever be gaining 5 lbs a month during off season or mass phase[/quote]

So, less than 5lbs per month? I have read that it’s difficult to put on more than 1-2lbs of muscle per month during a bulk for a natural intermediate lifter, but trying to stay within a narrow window of gaining between 2-3lbs of body weight per month is going to be tough. I’d hate to lose a month’s progress by not eating enough.

[quote]iVoodoo wrote:
You’re goals are not unrealistic.
Should be pretty easy if you put in the work, IMO.

God I wish I could gain at 3000cals…
You lucky son of a bitch.[/quote]

Thanks.

I doubt I’ll be able to keep it at 3000 once my metabolism speeds back up. I’m really just experimenting for the next few weeks. When initially cutting after my last bulk, I was losing 2 lbs per week on 3000 Cals daily.

OK, thanks. I definitely see concurrence on the weight gain per month. I’ll do my best to track this and keep it at a minimum. I know that I don’t want to spend another year cutting with no progress.

[quote]pwolves17 wrote:
Yeah to echo a few of the previous posters, I’d definitely shoot for no more than 2 lbs a months as a natty who’s been training for at least a year or two. Anymore than that and you’re gonna have to diet a lot of dirty weight off at some point in the future…lucky if you even keep most of the lbm that you managed to put on in that time[/quote]

This.

Given your past experience, 2 pounds is a good guideline.

Yup, them dirty bulks… I swear I will never do one again. I am 5 months into a 55 lb cut.

A good plan. I think as long as you track your progress well, you can make minor adjustments as needed.

Thanks for advice above, as I’m going thru the same thing. Tried all the above: not eating enough, dirty bulk, and cutting right after dirty bulk and the large calorie deficits.

I went from 180 to 165 to 155 over 4 years. Don’t get me wrong, body comp has come a long way… but I’ve done a horrible job, and learned alot in 4 years, and i’m nowhere near the condition I hope to maintain one day. And nutrition has just started to make sense over the past few months (FACEPALM!)

I’m doing a variation of Dr John B’s Massive Eating plan. Ramping up from a sub-2000 calorie now. At 2700 currently. I keep same calories the same for two weeks, re access, and then add 250kcals to diet.

Thanks for advice on limiting lb gain per month. I am giving myself 10 months to go from 155 to 185, as lean as possible. Although I think i’ll do 6 months and take whatever I get. Again, with hopes of avoiding a dirty bulk, I’m going SLOW and giving myself TIME. Both of these concepts are hard to deal with, but its the only wayy (I hope).

Tired of being that skinny guy who in clothes doesn’t appear as though he lifts. I would almost rather look good in clothes.

Thanks again TNATION

Check out lean gains series by Alberto Nunez of 3DMJ on YouTube.

[quote]JumpNZ wrote:
Yup, them dirty bulks… I swear I will never do one again. I am 5 months into a 55 lb cut.

A good plan. I think as long as you track your progress well, you can make minor adjustments as needed.[/quote]

If you had to cut 55lbs, that wasn’t a “bulk” unless you were extremely muscular to justify it.

I have been training for 5 years and am in a similar circumstance, my life situation made me drop a bit of weight recently and took time off training… is it realistic to try and gain 30 pds in about a 4 month period? If you are starting from a deficit of your normal weight and strength? I started bumping the calories to close to 4000, and started a body part split 5 day a week program… I have never done body building specific training and figured I want to get my physique and size up a bit before going back into any performance training…

I figured I would be able to gain at least 20 pds in a three month period at this point, with lowish fat gain, this was my first goal.

Genetically speaking I can gain muscle with minimum fat gain pretty easily when I really put the effort into eating, gained 30 pounds and stayed under 11% body fat within a three and half month period after highschool.

[quote]GrindOverMatter wrote:
well i wouldnt ever be gaining 5 lbs a month during off season or mass phase[/quote]

I would definitely DISagree with this. This depends on the person’s genetics.

The guy who can gain mostly 5lbs of muscle in a month will be holding back gains if he limits it based on what he is told he can only gain…instead of following his actual results.

[quote]Professor X wrote:

[quote]GrindOverMatter wrote:
well i wouldnt ever be gaining 5 lbs a month during off season or mass phase[/quote]

I would definitely DISagree with this. This depends on the person’s genetics.

The guy who can gain mostly 5lbs of muscle in a month will be holding back gains if he limits it based on what he is told he can only gain…instead of following his actual results.[/quote]
damn, i guess my genetics suck or ive just been doing it wrong, shucks

[quote]GrindOverMatter wrote:

[quote]Professor X wrote:

[quote]GrindOverMatter wrote:
well i wouldnt ever be gaining 5 lbs a month during off season or mass phase[/quote]

I would definitely DISagree with this. This depends on the person’s genetics.

The guy who can gain mostly 5lbs of muscle in a month will be holding back gains if he limits it based on what he is told he can only gain…instead of following his actual results.[/quote]
damn, i guess my genetics suck or ive just been doing it wrong, shucks[/quote]

You and every other natty bodybuilder ever I guess.

My mate went from 80kg to 100kg within 5months after he finished the first year of Uni. When he came back people were like WTF?! He is natural and started to train properly after his first year of Uni and most of the 20kg gained was mostly muscle. He squatted, deadlift, military pressed, db rowed and did a lot of weighted pull ups. He has freakish genetics though. He’s the only one I know that packed on so much muscle in such a short space of time. He ate A LOT of food.

Another friend added 75kg on to his back squat in his first real year of training. Went from 120kg to 195kg at 18 LOL. He won a Junior World powerlifting championship drug free. I think it was WDFP or something like that. No squat suit and only a belt. Who does that sort of thing?

I don’t know about you but it took me about 5 YEARS to add 75kg to my squat. Granted it wasn’t a main lift of mine and I had to work lots of OLifts and technical lifting he didn’t have to do. But still, you get the gist that genetic freaks are out there. And the funny thing is he eats TERRIBLY as well LOL. No shakes, barely more than 120-140g of protein in his diet, white bread with soft cheese, lots of chocolate bars, has pretty big legs but not huge and doesn’t look particularly hardcore or anything. But he pulls 235kg at 19, squats 195kg and recently did 200kg.

Koing

[quote]Mtag666 wrote:

[quote]GrindOverMatter wrote:

[quote]Professor X wrote:

[quote]GrindOverMatter wrote:
well i wouldnt ever be gaining 5 lbs a month during off season or mass phase[/quote]

I would definitely DISagree with this. This depends on the person’s genetics.

The guy who can gain mostly 5lbs of muscle in a month will be holding back gains if he limits it based on what he is told he can only gain…instead of following his actual results.[/quote]
damn, i guess my genetics suck or ive just been doing it wrong, shucks[/quote]

You and every other natty bodybuilder ever I guess.
[/quote]
Lol

[quote]Koing wrote:
My mate went from 80kg to 100kg within 5months after he finished the first year of Uni. When he came back people were like WTF?! He is natural and started to train properly after his first year of Uni and most of the 20kg gained was mostly muscle. He squatted, deadlift, military pressed, db rowed and did a lot of weighted pull ups. He has freakish genetics though. He’s the only one I know that packed on so much muscle in such a short space of time. He ate A LOT of food.

Another friend added 75kg on to his back squat in his first real year of training. Went from 120kg to 195kg at 18 LOL. He won a Junior World powerlifting championship drug free. I think it was WDFP or something like that. No squat suit and only a belt. Who does that sort of thing?

I don’t know about you but it took me about 5 YEARS to add 75kg to my squat. Granted it wasn’t a main lift of mine and I had to work lots of OLifts and technical lifting he didn’t have to do. But still, you get the gist that genetic freaks are out there. And the funny thing is he eats TERRIBLY as well LOL. No shakes, barely more than 120-140g of protein in his diet, white bread with soft cheese, lots of chocolate bars, has pretty big legs but not huge and doesn’t look particularly hardcore or anything. But he pulls 235kg at 19, squats 195kg and recently did 200kg.

Koing[/quote]

Almost 10lbs a month. Natty. Your buddy could be the next mr Olympia

[quote]Professor X wrote:

[quote]JumpNZ wrote:
Yup, them dirty bulks… I swear I will never do one again. I am 5 months into a 55 lb cut.

A good plan. I think as long as you track your progress well, you can make minor adjustments as needed.[/quote]

If you had to cut 55lbs, that wasn’t a “bulk” unless you were extremely muscular to justify it.[/quote]

Don’t want to hijack thread but it was a bulk, just a dirty one that went a bit too long and came at the end of an alcohol fueled NZ summer. Followed by a bloody hard cut. Obviously different lighting and poses in the two pictures, but you get the idea. The first one was taken Feb 1st this year at 115kg (253 lbs), the second one taken in June at 92kg (202 lbs).

Currently I am 3 weeks out from first comp.