T Nation

The Most Important Part of LEAN Bulking


#1

So during a LEAN bulk, is eating more of a factor to muscle size or working your ass off and overloading your muscles even if sometimes the weight wont increase? Also another question about the weight. If the weight wont go up but you’re struggling does that still mean muscle growth? In shorter words, I know mass follows strength but can mass also help you gain strength? So for me my 135 bench wont go up at all even though it’s been over 12 chest workouts aka 6 weeks. I’m really disappointed in myself and I try so hard to push the bar but it just wont. Now is this just a problem because I’m weaker genetically or is it because I’m not eating enough (which is weird because I’ve been gaining fat too i think…)


#2

Routine ?


#3

A bigger muscle has more potential for strength gains, but a stronger person can generally get more out of lighter weights for hypertrophy work than a weaker person can - i.e. a man with a 600lb deadlift will get more out of curling 20lb dumbbells than a man with a 200lb deadlift will.

So whether you focus on strength or size, each will be aided in improvement. Although obviously the one with the primary focus will improve more, faster.

Like @bulldog9899 said, what’s your routine? Give more information, like age, weight, height, experience, diet, routine, etc.

What assistance work are you doing for your bench? If you’re not doing any, consider doing some. Extra chest/shoulder/tricep work for your bench, and definitely lots and lots of upper back/rear delt work to keep your shoulders healthy.

If you’re doing a lot of assistance work for your bench, cut it all out. Pushups and overhead presses are both “musts” in my book if you are going to barbell bench press, so you can do those, but if you’re doing lots of inclines, declines, flyes, crossovers, etc. that may just be too much.

So add more in if you’re doing too little, take some out if you’re doing too much. Giving us your routine will help determine that.

6 weeks is not that much time, so don’t be too disappointed, but I’d guess you’re just not eating enough if you’re stuck at 135. Have you tried a linear progression like Starting Strength or something like 5/3/1? I think almost everybody could get to at least a 225 bench on something like those…definitely much more with 5/3/1 with patience.

Again, getting more info will determine this, but I’d guess you need to eat more, sleep more, overhead press more, row more, and squat more. That’ll get your bench moving.


#4

Bodyweight?

If you only bench a plate I think you need the weight gain/extra muscle unless you are super obese already. Can only help your goals. Maybe dudes who are already big lean and benching massive weights might be different but for you it’s important to be gaining weight

Like bulldog was saying your routine or program might (probably lol?) be shite.

Working hard is usually enough for some gains even with a shitty program but on the flip side your recovery might need a boost.

Food is part of that and being in a surplus is great. But sleep is also crucial and something I’ve not done a good enough job of myself.


#5

Sleep is so underrated and overlooked. Definitely would help 99% of people recover better, and therefore, perform better.


#6

I really need to do better in that regard. I’m thinking some 30min naps too or even long 1.5hr naps if I ever have time.


#7

I’ve found 20 minute naps help. Any longer, and I feel like I just got woken up from a deep sleep. 20-25 minutes, splash some cold water on my face, and start moving around and I feel good.

Just getting enough at night is my big thing. 8-10 hours and I feel great, any less and I’m tired all day. Averaging 5-6 right now though and I can tell it’s affecting me.


#8

I feel like it’s something you can get away with sleeping 6 or less a night like you can function just fine day to day forever but it’s gonna hold you back when it comes to lifting or sports.

That’s why it be one of my new year goals.


#9

Push pull legs 2 times a week so 7 and I do gut training every other day. Sometimes I go 7 times a week to do a lagging body part


#10

Will do. My stats right now

Weight fluctuates between 151-161 (10 pounds!!!)
Height: 5’10
Male
I try to get 15,000 steps daily but I always at least get 10,000
I workout 7times a week
Max bench: untested but I would guess 160

Max squat:265 or 270 I forgot, it was 3 weeks ago and I stopped squatting and did more leg press and I see more leg development now so ill probably squat in a couple weeks or so… I think it taxed my CNS too much but I’ll make sure to test my max squat again

Max ohp: 95/100

Max DL: untested but I did DL 250 once but that was a week or two ago. Currently trying rack pulls instead of DL

My workouts arent that intense as I’m used to extremely long rest periods. Also considering the winter temperature but also the AC in the gym I hardly ever break a sweat unless it’s a compound movement except bench press


#11

Yeah just eat more and enough protein. Weigh yourself same time/ circumstances every day and make sure you are slowly gaining. Fuck that fluctuation bullshit. Fluctuate up in weight


#12

This probably isn’t best for strength goals. It could maybe work for hypertrophy, but since you’re concerned about your bench max, I’d guess you want to get stronger. Try 3-4 days of lifting a week. You can conditoning too on other days if you want to do keep busy.

I’d be surprised how much leg development happened in 3 weeks…

Recover better. Don’t lift 7 days a week. Squats are awesome, and you should be doing some form of them. A powerlifting style, low bar back squat; bodybuilder style, high bar back squat; Olympic weightlifter, ass to grass, front squat; goblet squats for high reps; safety bar squats for those with shoulder issues, etc. Lots of options. Do at least one, at least once a week.

This isn’t necessary. This tests you, it doesn’t build you. All it does is show where you are on a specific day. Spend your gym time doing sets with multiple reps in them, and don’t max out for a year. People who max out often rarely make much progress.

This is fine, but don’t brag about your rack pull numbers. No one cares, haha. At least make sure they’re below the knee.

This is fine. At least for strength building.

This isn’t really a problem either. I lift in my garage, and it’s usually -30℉ where I live, so I almost never sweat. Then in the summer it’s like 80-100℉ and I do sweat. It’s all fine.

It seems like your goal is strength. You gave us your numbers, but not what you do week to week. If it is strength, I’d suggest a 5/3/1 style thing until you get stronger. Some like Dave Tate say you should bench 1.5x bodyweight, squat double bodyweight, and deadlift 2.5x bodyweight. At this point, you’re not super strong, but you’re also not that weak. I’d add in a bodyweight overhead press. At a bodyweight of 160 (just using this number, I know it changes), that’s a 160 press, 240 bench, 320 squat, 480 deadlift. This can be reached using 5/3/1. At that point, you can switch to a more advanced method.


#13

@Chris_Colucci

I tried finding an old link given to me a year ago in an old thread. It’s no longer there, and when I clicked on the user’s username who gave it to me, nothing happens. Does this mean their account has been deleted?

(The link I was trying to find was related to this post.)


#14

More specific please. Reps and sets on a average push day.


#15

Yeah ^^. That’s what would be helpful.


#16

Happy 2019 and Let the Gains Begin!


#17

Thanks!! I also forgot to mention that i do a 12,10,8,5 rep pyramid on smith machine front squat with a spotter/helper


#18

I would like to get stronger because I know that will get me bigger but I’m still trying to bulk smart and not too over the top with fat gain


#19

It all depends on what’s taken but today, like most days I couldnt push myself but I did
Warmup with 2 sets pushups 20-25 reps
BB bench 3x5 with spotter helping me
Hammer strength shoulder press seated pyramid of 10,6,5 reps
Pec dec 2x10
Lateral raises 2x15
Front raises alternating at 2x15or 3x15
Rear delt bent over pulls 2x10
Tricep push down ez bar pyramid underhand grip 15,12,10,8
Tricep pushdown ez bar pyramid overhand grip 15,13,12,10
Rope pushdown(I really didnt push myself at all with this and did like 2 sets of bs effort)


#20

Why the Smith machine? I do think it sometimes has its uses for hypertrophy, but if your goal is strength, I wouldn’t use it, basically ever. (You’re using it for front squats, correct? Not bench presses? I wouldn’t use it for either one.) And dude, you DO NOT need a spotter for that.

Front squats are awesome, and your abs and upper back can be strengthened a ton just by trying to hold onto the bar, so I’d do normal ones with a real barbell.

That’s perfectly fine, and a healthy choice. Do some conditioning and I think you’ll be good.

I’m not bulldog, but in my honest opinion, you have too much in that workout.

This is usually fine, just depends on how hard pushups are for you. 40-50 pushups shouldn’t be too hard for a guy on the smaller side like you, but if you’re struggling with these, do less. You don’t want to be tired out before benching. Maybe try just benching the empty barbell for 2-4 sets first, and seeing how that feels. Then do a few reps at 65lbs and 95lbs or something.

Only part that concerns me the spotter helping you. It’s fine to have someone there to watch you, and help if needed, but don’t let them set a new upright row PR and tell you, “It’s all you bro!”

For strength, again, do a real standing barbell overhead press. Much better for strengthening the shoulders, triceps, upper back, abs, etc.

I don’t think this will help really at all with strength, and if you wanted size, you should do more than 2x10. Like 3-4x10-20.

If you are doing pushups, benching, and some form of overhead pressing, you don’t need to work your front delts anymore. Do more upper back/rear delt work to keep your shoulder healthy. You can drop this movement.

This is good. After dropping the previously mentioned movement, do more like 3-4x15-25 of these.

You do not need 3 different variations of a tricep pushdown when you struggle to bench 135lbs. I don’t even think 500lb benchers need that. Nor professional bodybuilders who need to hit “all angles” of a muscle. Use a rope (or a band - I kinda prefer this, a band slung over a pullup bar or something) and do 3-4x25-50.

I would reallllly recommend a 5/3/1 program for you.

Here’s the link:

Follow his basic protocol for progression

W1: 5 reps @ 65%, 5 reps @ 75%, 5 reps @ 85%
W2: 3 reps @ 70%, 3 reps @ 80%, 3 reps @ 90%
W3: 5 reps @ 75%, 3 reps @ 85%, 1 rep @ 95%
W4: deload

Follow that for a year. Never skip a workout, eat and sleep a ton, and I guarantee you’ll get at least a 225lb bench by 2020. Maybe more, if you think you can already maybe hit 160lbs.

Do 25-50 band pull-aparts between every set of benching, do some pushups, rear delt raises, and band tricep pushdowns afterwards, and set a seperate day aside to focus entirely on overhead pressing. Make sure your legs, hips, and back are being strengthened through some form of squatting and deadlifting, and you’ll be good.