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Start bulk at 19% bodyfat?


I've recently starting lifting weights and want to add about 20 lbs of muscle. At the moment I'm 140 lbs with 19% body fat. I did a fat calipers test and also compared myself to other images to get this number.

I was wondering if I should start my bulk at this body fat percentage or drop down to 10% as suggested in this article:

Also, for the new two months I'll be biking to work everyday, so it might be the ideal time to cut down my weight anyway. After that, it'll be fall and I'll be busing to work.


As a beginner, you can gain muscle and lose fat at the same time. That's what you should do.


Bike to work. No worries on that. You've gotta do what you've gotta do, it's a good way to get outside an get some light cardio in. Training should fit into your life, not completely dominate it. How long is your bike commute? This will influence how many total calories you need (I also bike to work daily as long as the weather allows)

Start lifting. Pick a good beginner's program that you can execute with whatever equipment is available to you and follow it for at least 8 weeks.

Eat a lot, mostly meat, fruit, and vegetables. Make sure you're getting plenty of protein, some good fats, and clean carbs. Have a big helping of meat (or eggs) at every meal.



How tall are you only 140 pounds and 19% body fat seems a lot.


You're not a bodybuilder.

No one, and I mean no one needs to bulk. Unless you're a pro/aspiring bodybuilder.

You're 140lbs @ 19% bf. This should tell you one thing. You're out of shape. You most likely can't do 10 proper push ups, or a single pull up. Your squat probably sucks cocknballs and of course you aren't eating right...

And you want to bulk. Do you really think you're gonna go from completely untrained/unconditioned to +20lbs of muscle from internet advice?

This is your current futile path.

Should I bulk now?
Ok, then how do I bulk?
But I read somewhere else that [this and that this and that]
I can do most of that program, but it's hard to pack my lunch.
Ok, I will try what [insert random internet person's username] told me to do.

2 weeks later...

So I gained 2lbs. Is this good? How much weight should I gain every week?
Oh shut up, I just wanted some advice, you don't have to be mean about it.
Alright, so I'm not biking to work anymore, so I should be able to gain more weight.

Spends money on supplements.

Alright guys, so what is the best bulk program? I only have time to go to the gym three times a week, is that good?
How much weight should I squat?
Oh, I didn't know you had to learn how to squat.
Ok, I will post a video of my 'decent' squat

2 years later...

So I've been bulking for awhile now, and it isn't working.


Can we define "bulk"?

I'm being serious. I'm not so sure what the word means anymore.

And what the fuck is "dirty bulk"?


What Jarvan said is spot on.

Basically you need to find a good beginners program and stick to it for at least 6 months or more.
Work hard at getting stronger on the main lifts and make sure to eat plenty of whole foods. Your diet should mainly consist of meat, eggs, vegetables, rice, fruit and perhaps some nuts. Drink plenty of water.

As a beginner you will make rapid progress providing you don't eat lots of crap.


This is the post all other post shall be measured against.


Make food choices like someone who is cutting.
Set a calorie target that allows you to feel great but not gain fat.
Lift as if you were bulking.

Don't stop.


Read a bunch of Dan John articles and focus on getting a good base of strength in the big lifts. -As a beginner just by doing this you'll lean out as well as put on muscle.

Don't cut calories just cut out junk/sugar and get plenty of fresh meat and green veg


I 5'6" tall.

When I said I was 19% body fat I was guessing based on pictures I found on the internet. I actually used some fat calipers and according to it I'm actually closer to 14-15% body fat. I'm by no means fat. People say I'm thin, because all my fat is stored on my chest and stomach. My arms and legs don't hold much fat. When I did the fat calipers, which I measured one inch above my belly button, it measures around 11 mm. Also, since the around the beginning of August I dropped 2 pounds, so I'm 138 now. I'm trying to get pretty close to 10% body fat and then start my lean mass gains.

Jarden, for the record, I can do much more than 10 push ups. Since I've started working out at one point I was even able to do 4 pull ups. So, I wouldn't say I'm in horrible shape, but by no means am I strong. Also, the past month or so I've been learning how to squat by doing goblet squats. My last workout I switched back to barbell squats and for the first time I was able to go past parallel. This was all due to the fact that I practiced the goblet squat and improved my range of motion and hip flexibility. So, I am learning to squat.

Jarden I understand your criticism. I'm concerned too about going down a stupid path to no results like you suggested. I am trying to avoid that.


you cant use calipers on yourself

you need, at minimum, three points calibrated for a bf%... not just your belly

most men have their fat stored in torso, not just you

you can do 10 push ups and 4 pullups which means you're 'in shape' by your standard. Why are you asking for advice then


and how do you mix up your D and V, twice!


Okay, here is a picture of me. Now that I see this pic I feel stupid asking if I should cut more day. I think I obviously need to start gaining.

BTW I've only been lifting for about a month and I know I'm by no means strong...not even close.


Not sure what you mean by this.




Well, I did lose about 5 lbs...I was about 142 a month ago. I think it was a good idea to lose it but it's probably time to start gaining.


You should be gaining weight. And increasing your lifts.

I completely, utterly have no bloody idea what the term "bulk" means nowadays, so let's just use the term "gain".


The objective is to gain muscle mass while minimizing fat gain.

This is done by:

A. Eating in a reasonable caloric excess.

B. Increasing strength in the major lifts.

Generally, a good physique will require a strength to bodyweight ratio of at least:

Bench: 1.4 times bodyweight
Squat: 2 times bodyweight
Deadlift: 2.2 times bodyweight

Give or take subject to individual leverages and genetics.

This is achieved through:

  1. Using common sense

Use the mirror and the scale to gauge progress weekly. Always strive to break strength PRs.

  • If you gain 5lbs in a month but your bench goes up by 3lbs, you're getting fat.

  • If you gain 20lbs in 1 month for no rhyme nor reason just to make the scale move, you're getting fat. And you're fucking stupid.

BUT If you are a genetic outlier and can gain 20lbs in 1 month while increasing your bench by 100lbs, don't change what you're doing just because everyone else says what you've done is impossible.

  1. Consistancy in your diet

Develope good eating habits at fixed intervals in a day. Do not skip meals. Use a calorie tracker like Myfitnesspal and hold yourself accountable to meeting caloric targets.

  1. Intensity in the gym

Don't just move the weights around. Explode the weight up and lower under control. See CT's "The Perfect Rep" article.

  1. Do not have any pre-conceived notions of your bodytype and genetics.

Understand that we all fall on a bell curve when it comes to genetics.

A true hardgainer is as rare as an IFBB Pro. Most of us fall somewhere in between.

If you are not gaining it's almost always due to a lack of consistancy or effort in your diet or training.


How long should it take to hit those numbers? Should I develop my program so that my goal is to be lifting this much after one year?


It depends. The point is to make every workout count and make sure you are improving. You should always be fighting for that extra rep.

Look at it the other way around. Rather than plan to reach these numbers in some abitrary timeframe, plan to get all you can out of each workout and meet your nutritional needs and you'll get there sooner than you expect.

This would be different, of course, for an intermediate to advanced trainee.