Guide to lean bulking

Discussion in 'Diet & Nutrition' started by skinnyman, Jun 21, 2005.

  1. Mojo77

    Mojo77 Member

    Valid question. BF is measured using a 3-point skinfold method with callipers. Each skinfold is measured three times to obtain consistency over all measurements. I know skinfold callipers can be off and a DEXA-scan could indicate that I am unknowingly already between 15 and 20% BF, which is then an extra argument not to let BF go over 15% according to my own measurements.

    How about my weight gain approach above? Experiences, thoughts, comments? Your own plans?
  2. mickc1965

    mickc1965 Well-Known Member

    I used to use calipers but how I measured must have been incorrect as at around 180-182 lbs body weight the 3 point had me consistently around 8% which looking in the mirror I would have thought I was nearer 12% but when I had my body fat measured in a BodPod I was 14.4% @ 180 lbs, so I no longer bother doing skinfold measures. I intend to have another BodPod test in August before my next holiday (hopefully around 172 lbs) and this will hopefully help me to determine my p ratio!!

    Weight gain of 0.5 lbs per week is a little low as this is only 250 kcals per day surplus , I do understand your thinking but I personally would be aiming for ~1 lb per week.

    My own plan is to cut to ~12% then bulk to ~15%, rinse and repeat - hopefully the next BodPod test will give me some indication of how much lbm is lost in relation to fat loss and then I should be able to estimate what my weight should be at both 12 and 15% and then I will just cut and bulk between those two figures and if both my diet and training are dialed in then I should be progressively leaner at the end of each phase, for me at 50 I feel this is the best way to go.
  3. Mojo77

    Mojo77 Member

    Been there, done that. Too much fat gain. Probably in the lines of a third muscle gain with two thirds of fat.
    Fantastic if it works for you, but I Will have to go slower. I will most probably readjust to an increase between 0,5 and 1kg per month. Still searching for the sweet spot but that could be it.

    How can you get leaner when each phase just moves between 12 and 15%? I would think that your upper limit should slowly drop down to lean out. Go from between 12 and 15 to between 10 and 12 if that is your goal.

    I am considering to get a dexa scan myself to have an exact number, but I realize the result could give me a serious mental blow if it turns out my own readings were way off, so I hesitate.
  4. mickc1965

    mickc1965 Well-Known Member

    My aim is to establish what my weight is at both 12 and 15% (via BodPod) and say that is 168 and 182 respectively then my future bulks will be stopped at 182 and cuts at 168 and therefore assuming increased muscle mass then I 'should' be at a slightly lower body fat %
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2015
  5. Mojo77

    Mojo77 Member

    @mickc1965 ,

    What kind of strategy do you use during your cuts? How do you cut?
    Simply going on a deficit for an extended period of time could have you lose as much muscle as you just came to build during your bulk. That could just have you spinning your wheels, looking exactly the same thoughout your varies bulk and cut cycles.

    For my case, during my bulk, to minimize fat gains, I think it could be more effective and efficient to have periods at caloric maintenance, rather then periods of mini-cuts to achieve my goal faster
  6. mickc1965

    mickc1965 Well-Known Member

    No real strategy during cuts other than reduce calorie intake to body weight in lbs x 13 to 13.5 (macros are approx 30% carbs, 45% protein (1.5 g per lb of body weight) and 25% fats) which on average should give me a weight loss of 1 to 1.5 lbs per week with no cardio unless I over indulge on either food or alcohol at family events (such as yesterday for a birthday and tonight for my wedding anniversary) and then I just go for daily walks until the calorie excess has been balanced. I seem to suffer no drop in the loads I can lift at this intake and in fact I am still getting PBs, once desired weight loss is achieved then I will eat at maintenance or slightly above for the remainder of the summer (circa 3000 - 3200 calories)

    With bulks I have up until now gone to around 188 - 190 lbs (have gone to 200 before) and generally aim for a gain of 1 to 1.5 lb per week but have found that going this high means my period to cut down to low 170's requires 15-20 weeks (could be done faster I know but I feel too much of the weight loss is LBM) hence why I think I will stop bulking at around 182 lbs which currently should be around 15% body fat, bulk this year will start in September once the UK summer (if we get one) is over and depending on how long this takes to get to 182 will determine if I do a mini cut to say mid 170's and bulk back to 182 or just maintain 182 (ish) before cutting to approx 170 for next May / June.

    Whether this strategy works is yet to be seen but at 50 years old I feel it is better not to overdo the bulking phase
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2015
  7. Mojo77

    Mojo77 Member

    So far I have noticed that I gain weight rather easily. The slightest surplus is enough to bump up the weight scale, I don't need 3000kcal at all to start gaining. While I used to be extremely skinny, I was actually an endo in disguise, rather then an ecto :).
    I don't carry a lot of fat, but the bulk of the fat that I do carry, sits around the waist, which kind of sucks.

    I think for me, the road to succes sits in having a really slow, long bulk in wich I gain a maximum of 2 pounds per month. I gained a little more so far, a good two months in, my weight is up around 5,8 pounds and I haven't changed a single thing to my diet compared to day one. I'm still gaining on the exact same calorie intake, so I plan on milking these gains until I stall out for a couple of weeks before I raise my intake a bit.

    Ideally, I'd like to gain another 20 to 25 pounds in this single bulk. That would bring the total gain between 25 and 30 pounds over the course of 15 months. After that I could start a cut. That is the plan.

    I plan to get a DEXA scan as well in the upcomming weeks to get an exact number for my BF%. I wonder, suppose it turns out to be 22%, should that mean I have to break off my bulk and go for a grueling cut first or could I just continue??
  8. mickc1965

    mickc1965 Well-Known Member

    I think looking in the mirror you would know if you were over 20%, google images for bodyfat % and this would give you a general idea where you currently sit, but if you are 22% then I would cut back to 15% and start again
  9. Mojo77

    Mojo77 Member

    After some reading regarding bf measurment, it turns out that bod pods or dexa's and the like still aren't that accurate at all and can have up to 10 or 15% variance for an individual. No matter the tool, it is always but a guess, an estimate you are having.

    Therefor, my final decision is to not have a Dexa scan, as this will only confuse me on my journey of mass gain. I must simply continue the path I have chosen, with as little distraction as possible. While bodyfat callipers might be inaccurate for a good first BF estimate, they are great to measure changes in bf. You might measure incorrectly, but you will measure incorrectly exactly the same every time. According to these changes you can adjust calorie intake. Say for example you gained 1,2 kg in the course of a month, and, in the same period your bf% went up by 1%. Given your bodyweight and your initial bf, you know that about 50% of your weight gain has been fat. according to that, you can reduce your intake by say 100kcal to optimize your diet and reduce fat gain in the upcomming month. 100kcal will be for example around 50gr of chicken and a slice of bread. That is all it takes and no further changes are needed. If you micromanage your intake that way, and act upon your metrics, I am convinced you can really reduce fat gain to the bare minimum. Your 'bulk' will be greatly extended since you will not have to cut as cutting can always mean losing whatever muscle you build in the first place. Since you might gain only 1 pound or 1,5 pound in an entire month, things will go very slow, but this slow will, over the course of a year add up to more then 15 pounds, of which two thirds or more will be actual muscle! That is the horizon we need to set for ourselves. There simply are no quick solutions! It might take three or more years to reach your final goal, but we have to be in it for the long haul!

    My own bf, based upon my own calliper measurements is now just a little over 0,5% more then one month ago and sits at just a little over 14%. I am very happy about that and it indicates me that there are no dietary adjustments needed at this point since, while I'm gaining weight rather slowly, I'm still adding some fat as well. Once my bodyweight increase stalls, I expect to see a stall ot even a decrease in bf as well. At that point I can raise my calorie intake by say 100kcals.
    That is not much, but I found that my body reacts very quickly to changes in caloric intake. The slightest increase or decrease will make the scale move. So, this is very usefull to micromanage my intake
  10. mickc1965

    mickc1965 Well-Known Member

    I assume that the 10 - 15% variance you are referring to is the estimation of body fat, so a 180 lb person @ 10% would suggest that the LBM is 162 and body fat @ 18 lbs so a variance of 15% (assuming 7.5% each way) would suggest the body fat levels to be between 9.25 and 10.75% and if worse case scenario the variance is 15% either way this would be between 8.5 and 11.5%.
  11. Mojo77

    Mojo77 Member

  12. mickc1965

    mickc1965 Well-Known Member


    I understand what you are saying but you can search the internet for something that will back up or debunk pretty much any subject nowadays - I only use body fat testing as a guide and to try and give me some idea of my p-ratio.
  13. Rebecca_Daw

    Rebecca_Daw New Member

    To bulk up it's important to do appropriate workout in right way.
  14. Totentanz

    Totentanz Super Moderator Staff Member

    Some mind blowing stuff right there.

    I never realized. This changes everything.
    Brixtonian likes this.

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