T Nation

Thoughts on a Bulk

Alright, so here’s the deal. I use to be really fat, and now I’m not. I’ve lost around 135-140 lbs in the last two years, all while training with bodybuilding methodology and high-intensity cardio principles.

Right now I sit at about 215 lbs, 5’11", don’t care what bodyfat %, but still a bit chunky. Thing is, I don’t have a whole lot of lot of fat left on my body except my belly and thighs. The Problem is is that a lot of it is loose skin (understandably) so it looks worse than it is.

I’m thinking about starting a bulk instead of waiting another 1-2 months. It’s frustrating not being able to increase your lifts because of caloric deficits, but even worse when it lasts for two years.

I really want to gain strength and size, and I figure that if I go on a bulk, I can increase my metabolism in the process. I’d still do cardio to help conserve some additional added fat, so that could help. My stats are typical “Level before you take the next step” - Bench around 230-240, Squat around 300, and Deadlift in the mid to upper 300’s. These have been my numbers, again, for the better part of 2 years.

So what do you guys think? I’d obviously rather get positive reinforcement, and I think if I do this bulk right, and keep the bullshit out, I could definitely add some quality mass.

For what it’s worth, I think you’re part of a massive demographic and probably will have lots of interest in this thread.

You could try the carb cycling approach Thibs laid out in the alpha thread for X, according to him his client continued to increase his strength until he got deep into the diet and made really hard cuts, which I’d assume you won’t be attempting any time soon.

You won’t be making any size gains, and your endurance(reps/volume) will drop, but if you keep heavy weight on the bar the high carb days can really fuel some productive workouts.

http://www.T-Nation.com/free_online_forum/blog_sports_training_performance_bodybuilding_alpha/dietingart_or_living_hell?id=2535604&pageNo=2#bottom

About middle of the page, he has 2 posts outlining it, and the discussion in general on the next few pages is excellent.

[quote]red04 wrote:
You could try the carb cycling approach Thibs laid out in the alpha thread for X, according to him his client continued to increase his strength until he got deep into the diet and made really hard cuts, which I’d assume you won’t be attempting any time soon.

You won’t be making any size gains, and your endurance(reps/volume) will drop, but if you keep heavy weight on the bar the high carb days can really fuel some productive workouts.

http://www.T-Nation.com/free_online_forum/blog_sports_training_performance_bodybuilding_alpha/dietingart_or_living_hell?id=2535604&pageNo=2#bottom

About middle of the page, he has 2 posts outlining it, and the discussion in general on the next few pages is excellent.[/quote]

That looks like a good program if I wanted to continue to lose weight, but I just can’t stand having such small muscles and no increase in weights. I don’t mind putting some fat on, because I know that’s how bulking works.

I think now is just a nice time to go for it because, again, I’m not all THAT chunky at this point, and it is transitioning into winter so I’d be adding a bit of extra material anyway.

Fair enough, it just sounded like the lack of strength gains was the reason you didn’t want to continue on your fat loss quest.

Bodypart split it up and eat some food =]

I was in a similar situation after dropping 70 lbs (congrats on the weight loss, btw). It was great to slim down, but felt (and still) felt my arms were too small, so I wanted to put some quality mass back on before it’s too late-- (I’m 37).

I put 2.75" on my arms from March to now.

I followed a Push/Pull/Legs with an extra arm day, then transitioned into more of a body part split with a lot of extra arm work (still doing that). The key has been the food and consistently moving a lot of weight.

Here’s my log detailing this summer’s training:

I was in the exact same boat as you. After dieting for 2 years I think your body could use a break.

Even if it’s as little as a month or two bulk, it will jump start fat loss when you get back to it.

I say go for it, but do it smart if getting ripped is still in the long term goal. The AD worked wonders for me as far as staying leanish (as I was) while still eating a shit load.

Then in a few months when your ready (if you even still want to) get back on the fat loss, and kill the rest of it.

That’s what I did, except I got addicted to getting bigger/stronger, and never got back on my diet, and I’m even happier where I am now.

I wouldn’t waste the golden years worrying about getting ripped though. It takes months to lose serious fat, but years to pack on serious muscle.

Sweet - Thanks for the replies, guys. Again, if I put some fat back on - Who fucking cares? I’ll be bigger and stronger! :slight_smile:

Steely, I remember a while ago in Heavythrower’s arm specialization thread there were two Poliquin articles that were referenced, and I think you decided to do one of them. While I think I’m going to use Bill Starr’s 5X5 Intermediate, I really need to do something about my arms. They’re right around 15", and that just ain’t going to cut it. What did you do, exactly?

Thanks again!

Why not simply add in more of the good stuff? More calories from low fat protein sources and low glycemic carbs?

The term bulking scares me as it ususally means splurge time. Congrat’s on your hard work.

[quote]chilco wrote:
Why not simply add in more of the good stuff? More calories from low fat protein sources and low glycemic carbs?

The term bulking scares me as it ususally means splurge time. Congrat’s on your hard work.[/quote]

That’s basically what I’m doing. I’m not going to be eating bullshit per se, but I didn’t feel bad this morning when I picked up two sausage-egg mcmuffins before I went to work. No, I won’t be making a habit of McDonald’s. I do my best to eat from whole, healthy sources, but again, won’t freak out if I decide to snack on some pizza after a workout. I’m just muscle-bound, now.

Fear of food is the FFB’s worst enemy. I spent the better part of my lifting career trying to clean bulk and not really making any progress.

Even though you used to be fat it still requires an obscene amount of calories to grow, including evil carbs.

Give it a month. Do a traditional bulk. Make sure you get at least 40g of protein with each meal, after that eat everything in sight. When you’re at the grocery store walk through the frozen food section and accidentally knock 6 frozen pizzas in your cart, grab a few boxes of pop tarts for PWO, and don’t forget that no breakfast is complete without bacon and whole milk.

After this month if you aren’t happy with your results you can punch me in the face and then go on a diet.

After losing 100+ lbs, you are a god damn fat loss expert. Are you really afraid of cutting 10lbs of fat for 20lbs of muscle?

As this is a topic that’s near and dear to my heart, I thought I would chime in.

SSC, congrats on the progress so far. That’s damn awesome.

I do think it would be a good idea, both mentally and physically, to do a bulk. However, you will gain fat back quickly if you overdo it. Enjoy eating the foods you want, but I would definitely avoid going nuts with this (which you said you aren’t going to do.)

Get in a good calorie surplus and put away most of your intake after workouts, and avoid too many Calorie H-bomb meals during the day should help minimize your fat gains.

One thing about bulking is to keep your food preparation up. Personally, when I bulk, I tend to slack on my grocery shopping and food prep, resorting to hitting up fast food more often than I should.

Just don’t go crazy and listen to your body - other than that, have fun smashing through all kinds of strength barriers. Its gonna kick ass.

Sweet, again, thanks for the replies guys. I think the biggest reason I was asking is because even before this bulk, it looked like I could still afford to lose about 15-20 additional pounds - most from my stomach and legs. I guess after spending 19 years as a fatass, I don’t mind sacrificing some fat for muscle and strength, though. If worse comes to worse, I can always go through a quick cut before summer, and hit the food hard again whenever I reduced my fat.

I like the 5x5 and it was how I built a good foundation of strength. Although Bill says dont F with it, I have been adding in isolation work to the 5x5 for years and making good progress from it. Of course slower now than when I was younger.

For isolation work for the arms, just pick one or two movements for a few working sets at the end of the regular routine. I use barbell curl, skull crushers in a 3X8 superset for example. Then finish off with unilateral work for a set or two of concentration curls and dumbell tricep extensions. Again I normally use an antagonistic superset for these. No need to 5X5 the isolation work if you dont want to.

Awesome work on the weight loss. I hope you pack on some muscle and fill out the loose skin problem. Good luck.

[quote]SSC wrote:

Right now I sit at about 215 lbs, 5’11", don’t care what bodyfat %, but still a bit chunky. Thing is, I don’t have a whole lot of lot of fat left on my body except my belly and thighs. The Problem is is that a lot of it is loose skin (understandably) so it looks worse than it is.

I’m thinking about starting a bulk instead of waiting another 1-2 months. It’s frustrating not being able to increase your lifts because of caloric deficits, but even worse when it lasts for two years.

I really want to gain strength and size, and I figure that if I go on a bulk, I can increase my metabolism in the process. I’d still do cardio to help conserve some additional added fat, so that could help. My stats are typical “Level before you take the next step” - Bench around 230-240, Squat around 300, and Deadlift in the mid to upper 300’s. These have been my numbers, again, for the better part of 2 years.

So what do you guys think? I’d obviously rather get positive reinforcement, and I think if I do this bulk right, and keep the bullshit out, I could definitely add some quality mass.[/quote]

First off congrats on the weight loss.

Second Pottassium supplement is GREAT for loose skin apparently so Gironda says.

Thirdly, why cant you increase your lifts while in a deficit ??
I mean if you want to use the outdated calorie use theres only an 800 difference or something ?? So i dont see why you cant add strength…

Are you sure there is not something your leaving out ? Are you telling me/T-Nation you have not added strength for 2 YEARS ??
And have been cutting THAT long ??

As for your metabalism, again im really confused wtf are you eating lol ? To spend 2 years with those lift numbers i would have taken up chess or something… it MUST be your nutrition thats screwing you over, any hope of seeing what your plan used to be ?

Look im not attempting to call bullshit or anything, but this story is blowing my mind to be honest.

You have spent 2 years with no strength gain, 2 years cutting which i cant imagine and you are still somewhat “chunky”

Again, im not looking to rag on you… i dont mind an iota helping people but this story is just weird no 2 ways.

if your not to pissed at me, can you post what your nutrition looked like for the 2 years and what training program because it must be atrocious… just because your ina defecit DOES NOT mean you lose strength…

300, I think you may be missing the fact that they guy lost 130-140lbs over 2 years. Taking that long to cut that much weight is not unreasonable. And if he is losing that much mass, it is not surprising that he is generating less force in his lifts.

OP, I agree with most of the people posting here. A ‘bulk’ will do you good. And you may be surprised by how adding some muscle mass will ultimately help your metabolism and get you leaner in the long run.

Being a former “chunky” guy myself, I would advise against an all out bulk as some have suggested. I see no benefit in you gaining back 50lbs only to have 30lbs of it be fat. I’d suggest increasing a couple of hundred calories a day and go from there. You are not one of these naturally skinny kids who has a hard time putting on weight, so I don’t know why you would follow an ‘eat at all costs’ approach. You can put on weight easily, make it the right kind of weight. Especially since you are not at low bf% right now. That’s my thought. All basic stuff we’ve heard before.

[quote]300andabove wrote:
First off congrats on the weight loss.

Second Pottassium supplement is GREAT for loose skin apparently so Gironda says. [/quote]

Nice, I’ll give this a try. I’ve been using Cocoa Butter after my evening showers, but I tend to slack on it considering I have to rub that shit all over my legs, stomach, pecs, back, traps, etc. It gets annoying - definitely. Thanks for the heads up, though.

[quote]Thirdly, why cant you increase your lifts while in a deficit ??
I mean if you want to use the outdated calorie use theres only an 800 difference or something ?? So i dont see why you cant add strength…

Are you sure there is not something your leaving out ? Are you telling me/T-Nation you have not added strength for 2 YEARS ??
And have been cutting THAT long ??[/quote]

To avoid a huge post, I basically lost weight slowly for the first 5-6 months on my diet, only around 30 lbs, and then lost about 70-80 lbs in the following months of '07. I was only taking in around 1,200-1,500 calories a day during this. I then went on a ‘mini-bulk,’ eating around 3,000 a day. That wasn’t enough to gain muscle for me, and all I really did was stay in limbo, so the last few months I’ve lost around an additional 30-35 lbs or so. All the time, eating 2,000 calories or less.

That’s pretty much why my lifts have barely moved, really.

[quote]As for your metabalism, again im really confused wtf are you eating lol ? To spend 2 years with those lift numbers i would have taken up chess or something… it MUST be your nutrition thats screwing you over, any hope of seeing what your plan used to be ?

Look im not attempting to call bullshit or anything, but this story is blowing my mind to be honest.

You have spent 2 years with no strength gain, 2 years cutting which i cant imagine and you are still somewhat “chunky”

Again, im not looking to rag on you… i dont mind an iota helping people but this story is just weird no 2 ways.

if your not to pissed at me, can you post what your nutrition looked like for the 2 years and what training program because it must be atrocious… just because your ina defecit DOES NOT mean you lose strength…
[/quote]

Again, my nutrition was extremely piss-poor. My huge weight loss occured as I was only just starting to find T-Nation and its articles, so I had a pretty bad misconception of how important dieting was. This was around my Muscle & Fitness days.

[quote]tdrink wrote:
300, I think you may be missing the fact that they guy lost 130-140lbs over 2 years. Taking that long to cut that much weight is not unreasonable. And if he is losing that much mass, it is not surprising that he is generating less force in his lifts.

OP, I agree with most of the people posting here. A ‘bulk’ will do you good. And you may be surprised by how adding some muscle mass will ultimately help your metabolism and get you leaner in the long run.

Being a former “chunky” guy myself, I would advise against an all out bulk as some have suggested. I see no benefit in you gaining back 50lbs only to have 30lbs of it be fat. I’d suggest increasing a couple of hundred calories a day and go from there. You are not one of these naturally skinny kids who has a hard time putting on weight, so I don’t know why you would follow an ‘eat at all costs’ approach. You can put on weight easily, make it the right kind of weight. Especially since you are not at low bf% right now. That’s my thought. All basic stuff we’ve heard before.[/quote]

Yeah… like I said before, 3,000-3,400 calories a day just didn’t cut it for me, so I’m bumping it up to a traditional 4,000-5,000. I’m trying to keep it ‘quality’ calories if I can avoid it, though… eggs, nuts, protein shakes, meats, whole grains, cheeses, etc. I definitely didn’t feel bad last night when I made myself a pizza topped with a shit load of pepperoni and chicken, though.

I’ll see how this many calories affects my body, and adjust from there.

Again, I really do appreciate all the comments and congrats.

I definitely agree a bulk would be a good idea. You’re bound to slip up on your diet throughout the holiday season anyways, so you might as well make it a part of your training plan. No use killing yourself on cutting for 2 more months and miss out on all the good stuff. A 140 lb drop in 2 years is very impressive. Good job.

Yeah… like I said before, 3,000-3,400 calories a day just didn’t cut it for me, so I’m bumping it up to a traditional 4,000-5,000. I’m trying to keep it ‘quality’ calories if I can avoid it, though… eggs, nuts, protein shakes, meats, whole grains, cheeses, etc. I definitely didn’t feel bad last night when I made myself a pizza topped with a shit load of pepperoni and chicken, though.

I guess I’m saying that maybe you should be concerned with eating a shit load of pepperoni on a pizza.

I think with your disposition to carry a lot of fat, bulking on crap foods is not going to give you the results you want. I realize that is not everyone’s opinion, but as someone with that same fat-storing disposition I would not recommend approaching your bulk that way. I think for your body type, food choices are going to make a difference. Sure, have a pizza occasionally, but I’d make the habit of eating more body comp friendly foods. In my experience it is just a sounder plan.

[quote]tdrink wrote:

Yeah… like I said before, 3,000-3,400 calories a day just didn’t cut it for me, so I’m bumping it up to a traditional 4,000-5,000. I’m trying to keep it ‘quality’ calories if I can avoid it, though… eggs, nuts, protein shakes, meats, whole grains, cheeses, etc. I definitely didn’t feel bad last night when I made myself a pizza topped with a shit load of pepperoni and chicken, though.

I guess I’m saying that maybe you should be concerned with eating a shit load of pepperoni on a pizza.

I think with your disposition to carry a lot of fat, bulking on crap foods is not going to give you the results you want. I realize that is not everyone’s opinion, but as someone with that same fat-storing disposition I would not recommend approaching your bulk that way. I think for your body type, food choices are going to make a difference. Sure, have a pizza occasionally, but I’d make the habit of eating more body comp friendly foods. In my experience it is just a sounder plan.

[/quote]

Right - I should have elaborated a bit better. I definitely am not making pizza a mainstay in my diet, and it was just a tiny little personal pizza, haha - just after my workout. If that helps at all. Plus, I did get to 350 lbs through years of eating fast food twice a day, with absolutely no exercise whatsoever. I’m a bit cautious to try and figure out how naturally my body does actually gain fat, so it’s worth experimenting with.