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To Bulk or Not to Bulk?

to start off im 6ft and currently weigh 86kg and want to put on some muscle mass as I feel I have very little, I do compete at mma at 77kg so I cant go crazy especially for my sport, however im happy to bulk to a certain point to then cut to 84kg and maintain there, would you recommend cutting first then bulking? or just go straight into the bulk.

Side note; I have been trying to start bulking this week and have went from 84.9kg to 86.5kg within 4 days and that’s only on 3000 calories with a very active job and 60 minutes at the gym

While I hate the word “bulk” because many people view it as an excuse to try and force weight gain (which inevitably leads to fat gain), I would suggest trying to intelligently figure out how many cals you need, and a correspondingly smart macro breakdown in order to support gains as well as your mma training.

Keep in mind that the human body can only build muscle at a given pace, and any food eaten beyond what is needed will be stored as fat. This is true for everyone, no matter how much some people think they are different. IMO, the whole “try to gain a lb a week” approach you always find from online experts always leads to a 75% fat gain. Now, unless you are starting off drastically underfed, if you were to instead aim for a 1/2 lb per week gain, netting ~2 lbs per month, you’d most certainly end up with a higher percentage of actual muscle gain, maintain a fairly (i’m assuming) physique in the process, and not end up with buyer’s remorse when you realize that most of your “gainz” were fat.


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Yeah I was on a very agreesive weight cut for a competition just before the bulk so I think that’s why I’ve had quite a large weight gain because of muscle glycogen stores etc! I’m trying to keep it steady to minimise fat gain, but I think now im starting to see my actual weight (not one that’s depleted) I think it’s probably best to cut for a little while, just to cut some fat to eliminate a big cut after the bulk, if you agree?

Sorry for hijacking the post but how much surplus do you advice for about 2lbs per month gain?

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How lean or fat are you right now? And for context, what are your current bests on the big lifts?

Especially since you’re in a weight class sport, I’d say there’s more overall benefit to getting relatively lean before adding more size, especially if you focus on maintaining/building strength while dropping fat. Unless you plan on competing in the next weight class up, it’s probably not the best idea gaining bodyweight right now since you’re already walking around with 20 pounds to cut.

You might also want to check out the Combat forum to get more specific info about training for MMA.

In terms of Weight (not solely muscle) gain, you must have a Weekly surplus of 3500 cals to ideally equate to a lB/week change. But the goal here is muscle gain, and that can be accomplished at the expense of adipose tissue while yielding no actual scale movement.


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I’m still pretty lean, sustaining some abs but only just haha, my big lifts PR’s are terrible, deadlift is 140kg squat is 160kg and bench is 95kg, so need to up my strength game massively

Or in short:
1 lb = 3500 calories

I don’t see why you should worry about bulking at all. You are competing in a weight class, and having studied martial arts myself I’d say you’re better off not risking fat gain.

But since you are worried about your strength, you should have a healthy mix of explosive strength and power lifting exercises, mostly for low reps and high weights. For example, you might consider starting your chest days with those push ups where you throw yourself up and clap your hands before catching and lowering yourself again, and then later do bench presses. These sorts of exercises train your neurons as much as your muscles and I think that’s more important in your situation.