T Nation

To Bulk Or Not To Bulk


That's just one of my questions. Here's some info about me (I'm going to be as specific as I can because I would appreciate any and all constructive criticism regarding my diet and routine):

I'm 31, 183 pounds, 6'1" tall and 12% bf. I started lifting 2 1/2 months ago after running for a couple months and eating under maintenance. I started out at 203 lbs, over 20% bf.

Currently I'm eating 5 times a day under maintenance 2200 cals 4 days a week and 2400 on the three days I lift. Everyday I have 270 g protein (1080 cals), 80 grams fat (720) cals and vary the carbs between 100 and 150 depending on if it's a lifting day or not.

As far as supplements and nutrition I'm taking HOT-ROX and Alpha Male (both at 6 per day), 6-12 fish oil caps depending on my fish consumption that day, Surge on workout days and ZMA at night. I also have some Udo's Ultimate and of course a daily multi-vitamin.

My lifting routine is based on Total Body Training and Lifting For Fat Loss. Right now it looks like this:

All three days:
Warm up with 3 sets 30 reps leg raises super-setted with 3 sets 30 reps hypers and 3 sets 15 reps push-ups. I wait 30 seconds between each set and do the reps as fast as I can to get the blood pumping and warm up my muscles, then I move on to:

5x5 flat bench barbell
4x5 assisted wide grip chins (can't wait to get off that pussified machine for the wide-grips--I just don't like lat pulldowns)
4x5 weighted dips
4x8 squats
4x6 seated dumbbell military press

5x5 incline bench barbell
4x5 pull-ups (I call pull-ups palms facing me and chin-ups palms away)
4x7 deadlift
3x7 leg curls
4x5 seated barbell military press

5x5 decline bench barbell
5x5 chin-ups (my chins and pull-ups just use my full body weight for now--not weighted)
4x6 bent-over row
4x5 upright row

I do HIIT two days a week and a 5 mile run once. I'm careful to have BCAAs before and after my runs with 260 cals of a protein/carb drink. I do 400 meter intervals at 10 mph with 90 second jog rests at 5.5 mph 7 or 8 times with a warm-up and cool down--it ends up being just over 4 miles.

I've been doing HIIT for a couple weeks and it's really increasing my oxygen capacity. I'm ready to cut the jogs down to 60 seconds (0.10 miles at 5.5 mph) and see how that goes and I'm also going to up my distance run to 6 miles, once per week.

The thing is I've been hovering around the same weight for 8 weeks or so. I've probably gained a few pounds of muscle because my measurements have increased in my chest and arms but I cut calories back a bit because I seemed to have hit a plateau around the 12% bf mark.

I'm drinking lots of water and eating really clean--but a Thanksgiving trip back east f-ed my goals up more than I would have thought. I plan to stay under maintenance for the next month to see if I can get down to, or a bit below 10% bf before I start increasing calories and finally putting some real muscle on my body.

I planned to start bulking with Full Body Training for 8 to 12 weeks before cutting down again. I was going to go to 3500 cals four off--days a week with 325 g carbs, 275 g protein and 122 g fat (37/31/31) and on lifting days 3900 cals with 425 g carbs, 275 g protein and 122 g fat (44/28/28).

My maintenance level with activities is anywhere from 2900 to 3300 per day. I would be really interested in putting on muscle without too much fat (duh), so my first question is:

Does my diet plan look good for bulking? and/or should I consider using Carbolin 19 and eating 3300 cals per day in order to put on muscle while retaining my lean physique? It was hard getting this fat off and I do hate dieting.

Also I like the idea of looking somewhat cut and putting on muscle, even if it is slower--but I'm leaning toward bulking--I also love the idea of adding muscle quickly.

My other question goes out to guys that have had similar stats to mine. Does it make sense to slim up even more before bulking--or should I just start now and diet it all off later--I'm itching to add some real weight to that bar. My reasoning behind losing fat first was 1.) I wanted to look better nekid 2.)

I read somewhere (I think Berardi) that it's better to diet down first because you'll add a better proportion of muscle to fat the leaner you are and 3.) I wanted to get as low as I could to minimize the amount of time on my next diet/cut cycle--I hate eating under maintenance--I'm also going to Jamaica end of March.

Any and all criticism/support for my current and future plans are much appreciated. T-Nation has been the fuel for my fire and given me the tools and knowledge to finally get into great shape. I return the favor by spending lots of money on Biotest supps. Some of you guys have also really helped me in the past to get my training in order. Thanks in advance.


GOOD LORD that was a novel. Better than the usual "Help???"

I say neither cut or bulk how you have it laid out. You have onlt been lifting 2 1/2 months dont start this BS yoyo cycyle every few weeks, You are now only 183 @ 6'1".

I say slowly up your k/cals get to and hen slightly above maint. and stay there slowly raising intake as needed and let all those newbie gains come insetaed of wasting them while not eating or going on these bulks that bring a ton of excesss fat that you turn around and diet off.

In short I say aim to eat more and slowly gain quality nmass noth Muscle and of course a little fat or simply holding a little fat. check back in a few years and re evaluate your goals.

Thats my take,



Thanks for the input Phill
I'm replying a little early on the two year mark;)

I've definitely already reaped some of the newbie gains--I'm suprised how my body has changed over the last few months.

If I just went up to 3300 cals or so per day, how much weight/muscle could I expect do gain in 2 or 3 months with proper diet and training?

I'm definintely not interested in doing the yoyo thing--more into the lifestyle, healthy approach--I was just under the influence that it's faster to bulk (eat 10 or 20% over maintenance) and then to shed off the fat with a little muscle later. Is that unhealthy?

How 'bout the Carbolin 19? Or am I too new?


I would keep everything that you're doing. That's a good solid program. The only thing I would suggest is upping your calories...that's pretty low esp. if you want to put on some good muscle.


When I want to cut up and keep muscle,or gain a bit,I zig zag my calories.This is usually my eating plan: Mon and Friday: 2,400-2,600 calories.About 275 carbs,230 grams protein,the rest is good fats. Sunday,Tues,Wed,Thirs,Sat:1,900-2,000 calories.Those days are 30 % carbs/50% protein/20%fat. About 150 grams of carbs,250-265 grams of protein,and 45 grams of fat. Those two days will give my body enough calories to build a little muscle and/or keep/hold on to the muscle that I have while cutting.

Most people,when bulking ,think they need four thousand extra calories to gain muscle.If you give your body just enough calories to gain muscle ,and not fat,you'll be able to lose fat and gain muscle. I starting cutting for summer and lost 7 pounds of fat and gained 8 pounds of muscle within 2 months of doing this.


Thanks for the reply
What are your height and weight stats?
Your eating plan looks like mine except for the fats. Are you able to get your good fats staying so low? I didn't want to cut my fats down so low I couldn't have some olive oil, peanut butter or Udo's here and there to go with the 10 to 12 daily fish oil caps.