T Nation

The Right Time To Stop Bulking


Hey guys, let me introduce myself. I've been reading this forum for about a month. I came into this six months ago at 5'9 - 150 pounds, and around 15% body fat.

I've increased my caloric intake pretty drastically (probably to 3800 cal per day) and my weight has shot up to about 190 pounds.

My arms at just below 15 inches flexed, and my waist is at around 39-40 inches (it was probably 35-36 before)

My routine has been:

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: Back
Wednesday: Shoulders, triceps
Thursday: Rest
Friday: Legs
Saturday: Biceps, Abs
Sunday: Chest

I used compound movements (dead lifts, squats, bench press, military press) as well as some isolations, 12-15 sets on major muscle groups, 6-8 on minor muscle groups. I kept a good variety throughout.

I'm drinking lots of water, eating every 3 hours, sleeping 8-10 hours, and training until absolute failure in the gym.

The question that's weighing on my mind is whether should I keep bulking or begin to cut down?

On one side, I'm definitely heavy. But at the same time, it's not like I'm concerned about cutting up for a competition here. I see regular posters here such as Professor X reaming guys out for dieting before reaching a significant weight, but I'm wondering if my BF level is simply too high.

Feedback hugely appreciated. Where do I go from here?


If you are 5'9" and your waist is already hitting 40" with only 15" arms, you need to cut back on the calories. You have taken it too far. That doesn't mean you need to "contest diet" for months on end, but obviously there is a huge disconnect between your concept of food intake and what your body actually needs. Simply increasing your activity (as in more cardio throughout the week) may be enough to help you get a handle on that. I would do that first if your strength is matching your weight gains. If you are simply gaining weight with no significant strength or muscular size increase, you are clearly eating too much.


Also, if you weigh 190lbs and your arms are just now hitting 15", what were they measuring before? At 5'6" and that weight, I am having a hard time understanding why your arms are that small.


I struggle with this myself. I need a reliable body fat method, and I can't afford calipers. My scale sux. I've gained 45 pounds in about a year, and started at 10% bodyfat. I was 6'2, 220, and I'm now at 6'2 265. My waist size, which was a 33, is now a 36. I'm going to cut now, figuring 45 lbs and 3 in is pretty good, but I honestly want to cut first. I know that a good amount of it was muscle bc I was eating pretty clean and I am putting up new PR's often.


Thanks for the feedback - appreciated.

My arms were at about 12 inches before, so they've grown about 3 inches. My strength has also shot up very drastically.

Which is great... but being this heavy has weighed on my mind as well.

I'm thinking to maintain this weight for a month or two and begin to diet down. I like the idea of bringing in cardio for now, and seeing how that changes things in a month's time.


what you didnt mention was that he allready had a waist size of 35 inches before bulking!!!

sometimes its not a bad idea to cut before bulking.. . even at low weights. ..


I didn't mention it because it wasn't important. Waist size is also largely dependant on bone structure. There is no way my waist will ever be below 32". It is simply not structurally possible. Everyone isn't made the same even though some generalizations can be drawn. 40" on most people is fat. 40" on Gunter Schilerkamp is competition condition. For me a 36" waist means I am very lean. You are focused on the wrong issue.

Also, most people shouldn't be cutting first if they only weigh 150lbs. Are you insane?


on a 5' 9" guy with 12" arms a 35" waist is just not right.. . he obviously bought into this T-Nation mandatory weight gain idea.. . so now he has a ton more weight to lose in one go than he would have had otherwise.. .

150lbs at his height is a normal weight and doesnt come close to being dangerously underweight.. . it would not have hurt him to lose a few inches off his waist before bulking.. . at that weight with 12" arms he would not have lost a significat amount of muscle.. . but now he's going to stand a bigger chance of losing quite a lot of that muscle if he cuts calories.. . which incidentally I dont agree with and tend to think your opinion of increasing activity through cardio or whatever would be a better way to approach it initially. ..


I don't think this guy should have necessarily been "bulking" at all, but dieting for someone with 12" arms is ridiculous. I hope no one listens to that. What, he was supposed to drop to wonderfully sickly looking 130lbs? Get serious.

I also told him he should not be all out dieting. If he is active enough, adding more activity may help him lose that extra weight around his mid section when his body adapts. I would see how his body responds to more cardio before drastically dropping calories that could lead to lean muscle loss.


firstly dieting at 150lbs is a lot different than doing it at 190lbs or the heavier extremmes.. . he could have lost an inch off his waist by only losing 2-3lbs 140lbs would have probably seen him around 32" which would have been a far better place to start bulking from. ..

and yes I allready said that I agree with you on the second idea of increasing activity.. . definately a better first option than dropping cals. ..



I'm in pretty much the same position as you. I've bulked to 5-6 180, and my waist is 39 with small arms, even though my chest, back, and legs are pretty big. I know my diet wasn't the cleanest, so I'm starting to follow CT's carb cycling codex. I know for me, I was taking in too many carbs before, so hopefully the new diet should help, since I'm not ready to start cutting.


From my personal experience. A split routing like yours will not work forever. The full body workouts on this site are a great change and adding some plyometrics will decrease body fat. Don't go dieting without at least trying different routines that have cardio built in. Have you ever done squats and cleans on the same day with only 60 second rests between sets? That twice a week is awesome cardio. And even though people love to say the tricep is 75% of your arm so why are you doing so many curls, doing a lot of curls will make your arms bigger. And it's hard to overtrain biceps as long as you don't get to nutty with the poundages and tear it. And heavy hammer curs make your forearms look like popeyes and really help grip strenth. That's just my 2 cents worth.


As funny as it might sound, the reason I chose to go this route was because I know from experience how my how body responds - and even with lifting if I'd cut down to 140 or 130 I believe my body would have been more inclined to add fat back on before adding muscle.

My body has a natural tendency to stay around 15% BF, 35-36 inch waist. So I felt that if I'd cut down first, many of the calories I'd consume to bulk up later would have gone to 'replenishing my fat' so to speak.

By adding the mass first, I expect that when I begin dieting that I will lose the fat pretty easily. I have a lot of extra muscle to help me do this, and despite that I have a hard time adding muscle I've always tended to hold it once I have. During weeks that I travelled and couldn't eat enough, I lost fat immediately while showing no real muscle loss, because I was still pounding the weights in the hotel gyms.

From my personal perspective, I prefer weighing in at a fatter 190 with the huge strength increases than I did weighing in at 150. I can still pull girls every weekend I go out, and people's first impression is "you look great", probably because I was already carrying fat and they notice the arms before the 3 extra inches on what was an already bloated mid section.

Still, from a health perpsective, tipping the scales at 190 concerns me. It seems too extreme. It FEELS too extreme. I'd like to be back at 15% BF but this time weighing in at 170, which I think is very realistic.

That said, I'm hardly qualified to be giving anyone advice and not suggesting that anyone follow along in my footsteps. Just sharing what I chose to do.

I'll gladly post the results as I continue training - perhaps put some before/after pics as well.


I have done a "split routine" for 10 years. It works great. Most of the people you see in magazines do split routines.


Why do you think anyone should be dieting at 150lbs? Being 15% body fat so great a burden that he shouldn't have worked on any strength or muscle gains?


Something about this troubles me. There is a possibility that i am not understanding but today i weighed 186 on a calibrated scale. I am 5'7 inches and i have like a 32/33 inch waist. That is being measured with a tape which i believe is less forgiving, than pair of jeans IMO.

If you dont mind me asking is your diet clean and is your p/f/c ratio ideally balanced? Also what kind of protiens are you bulking with, how much cardio do you do??

I im bulking and i do about 30 mins of cardio maybe 3 times a week, hill work. I just wonder b/c my goal was to maintain my measurment on waist and bulk to 210 and shred down to like 195-200.
Sorry to hijack your thread i was just wondering few things. I know everyone is different but i dont necessarily consider myself lean by any means.
good luck with your working out also, and if you are gaining strength that is important, but if my waist was to shoot to even a 36 in 3 months without serious muscle development (lowerback upper quads, glutes) i would prob cycle myself down to a reasonable caloric intake and build a frame from there.
just my opinion though
good luck


I think his eating was completely off. Also, I am betting he was doing NO cardio at all before. Some can get away with that. Apparently, this guy can't...or he simply needs to eat better.


I started doing mine at 19. I'm 34 now. So I'm not bagging the split routine. And I will eventually probably go back to one once I burn out on the full body stuff. I just beleive changing to a full body type workout can help in cutting fat gained over the years and give a person a different sort of fitness level. I've laughed at the full body guys for a couple of years now, so it wasn't easy for me to commit to this at all. But at this point I really have nothing to loose and experimenting with stuff is a nice change. It just so happens it seems to have made quite a significant difference in my fitness level.


I think that is what cardio is for.


I agree with you Professor. I prefer split routines too. But I started noticing that after some time that I reach a plateu. For a while I wouldnt change anything, then I found T-Nation. So now I like to switch up to a full-body routine after around 6-8 weeks of a "split routine" or i will just switch things up in my "split" routine.