T Nation

Newcomer: Rate of Lean Gain

Hi all, long time reader - first time poster…

I have been training for a year or so, but have really increased my diet and the intensity of workouts over the last uninterrupted 4-5 months.

I recently purchased a copy of Scrawny to Brawny and have been following its phases and diets. Following the final phase of this (another month) I plan on further researching some plans on here and following that.

My question relates to lean gains. I am what some may call a ‘hardgainer’, but this is likely more due to previous diet, exercise and lifestyle than anything. Currently
I weigh only 165, which is about 15 lbs more than 6 mths ago.

I have noticed with my training i seem to be gaining around 2 lbs per month - while my bodyfat has not changed much from around 8-9%.

What i am wondering is:
is it limiting my gains to not increase bodyfat also, or is this rate of mostly lean gain a good thing?
I understand the ‘noob gains’ may be a big part of my achievements thus far.

My long term goals are to gain a considerable amount of muscle over time (220 lbs over several years). Also i should add i am not worried about increasing my bodyfat levels, within reason =)

I would greatly appreciate some advice from anyone out there who may like to help.

Thanks in advance,

I wouldnt worry about it. Stick with what your doing… you probably can add a few extra calories to speed things up a little… it will probably gain you mostly lean mass anyway from the sounds of things. But a little fat wont kill you anyway. =)

So long as your gaining… if you arnt then … eat more :wink:

[quote]A-Dog wrote:
What i am wondering is:
is it limiting my gains to not increase bodyfat also,
[/quote]
Short answer : yes

still too short but slightly better answer : you never really know. to build muscle, you need a caloric surplus. Since you can’t really measure how many calories your body needs, it’s best to go the “better safe than sorry” route and eat as much as you need to put on a little fat. This ‘controlled overeating’ is to make sure you have at least enough calories to not limit mass gains.

You’ll be surprised how many calories you can actually burn with proper intense workout and a good diet.

It’s okay. Not really outstanding but not bad. It also depends alot on genetics so any generic statement would probably be more or less wrong.

I’ve seen total beginners put on 20lbs in a few months, for an experienced athlete (~2+ years of training), 10 lbs per year is pretty good.

[quote]I understand the ‘noob gains’ may be a big part of my achievements thus far.

My long term goals are to gain a considerable amount of muscle over time (220 lbs over several years). Also i should add i am not worried about increasing my bodyfat levels, within reason =)
[/quote]
Than you should gradually raise your caloric intake (by about 500/day) every ~2weeks and observe your body.

If you’re within a slight, slow gain of bodyfat (about ~1% per month or so, it’s almost impossible to measure with any reasonable error margin so thats really a rule of the thumbs and should be treated as such !), you’re fine.

Bulking to any given weight and dieting down the fat gained along the way is at least 2 to 3 times faster than gaining the same weight while staying at ~10% BF.

Also note that while increasing your bodyweight, your caloric need scale accordingly. So what took you from 150 to 165 will certainly not be enough to take you from 185 to 200lbs.

[quote]Petrichor wrote:
Bulking to any given weight and dieting down the fat gained along the way is at least 2 to 3 times faster than gaining the same weight while staying at ~10% BF.
[/quote]

So you’re saying that if he was bulking, and cutting, he would gain an average of at least 4-6 pounds of muscle per month, including time spent cutting?? so he would have to be gaining more than that during bulking … like 6-9 pounds of lbm per month? a pound of muscle every 3-4 days sounds like a lot to me if you’re natural.

To the OP, good job for making consistent gains, gaining 12 pounds of muscle in 6 months with no need to bulk/cut is awesome.

[quote]sean_mur88 wrote:
Petrichor wrote:
Bulking to any given weight and dieting down the fat gained along the way is at least 2 to 3 times faster than gaining the same weight while staying at ~10% BF.

So you’re saying that if he was bulking, and cutting, he would gain an average of at least 4-6 pounds of muscle per month, including time spent cutting?? so he would have to be gaining more than that during bulking … like 6-9 pounds of lbm per month? a pound of muscle every 3-4 days sounds like a lot to me if you’re natural.

To the OP, good job for making consistent gains, gaining 12 pounds of muscle in 6 months with no need to bulk/cut is awesome.[/quote]

Na, first of all, any and all actual numbers are more or less guidelines, everybody reacts different to resistance training, people have different body types, bone structure, genetics etc.

Second, the first 15-30lbs come ‘for free’, especially if no prior resistance training occurred.

And without any lifting experience, gaining 12lbs in 6 months is not “awesome”. It is not bad, especially considering thats it has been done without any bulking type of diet. I would call it solid.

Now specifically on gaining mass : The actual speed depends on so many factors, that it is almost impossible to predict anything like X or Y amount of LBM in Z amount of time etc.

I just wanted to so say that if he wishes to actually put on real muscle mass (e.g. weight 200lbs while being ~10% BF), he will achieve that goal much (and i mean much as in twice as fast or faster) if he just forgets about all that Brad-Pitt-Beach-Muscle thing, goes on a solid bulk and lifts heavy.

Maybe he’s even genetically gifted an CAN put on that mass while having a precious sixpack, but on this site you see literally dozens of 15-30 year old 150something lbs guys posting “zomg i want to look like XY and have huge guns but never go above 6% BF because the girls dig my Abs, i bench on mondays and curl on thursdays and do 1500 situps everyday, where are my gains ?”

(NOT saying the OP is anywhere near that kind of poster !)

So to make a long rant-type post short, if you want real gains beyond the typical “beginner gains” during the first 6-12 months, stop worrying about whether you’re 8 or 10 or 15% BF, eat until you know you’re in a caloric surplus and lift :slight_smile:

(sorry if i kinda hijacked the thread)

I say give eating more a try and see what happens.

Willingness to accept some fat gain isn’t necessary but seems to have served me well - I gained 38 pounds in my first six months. Everyone from young women to my elderly relatives thinks I look much better this way.

I say step number one is expunging the word hardgainer from your vocabulary. It’s a malignant psychological tumor that will unconsciously hold you back as long you think of yourself that way.

re. ‘Hardgainer’ mentality, i couldnt agree more. Also, my diet has indeed increased along with gains.

I believe i am training with decent intensity. With Pre/Post Shakes, 6-8 meals/day, plenty of sleep and so on. I think i simply need to get more in in these meals.

I went through the typical ‘i can’t eat enough’ blah-blah scenario, but learning slowly that its mostly a cop out and I really can eat copious amounts of decent food.

Given the advice on rate of gains whilst increasing fat also (someone said up to twice as fast) I will be upping my diet. Not fussed on being Brad-Pitt-abs-spectacular.

Has anyone else had similar growth where their bodyfat has remained almost constant?
I know my 2 brothers are similar to me in this, they are both 6’3, and low bf, but very fit - like AFL players (for the Australians out there).

Excellent words of wisdom all around. Thankyou all