Advice on bulking...or at least maintaining?

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marcone

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Firstly, I hope this is the right area for this thread..

Last week, I bought a scale that also measures my body fat percentage, along with BMI, etc and I was surprised and disappointed to see the BF% read 25.6% :(

A bit of history:

I'm 6'1 and I have always been around 180lbs (no idea what my body composition, BF% etc. was before). Around March of this year I had gone down to 175lbs and it was a wake up call to myself that I want to try to put on weight and change overall. I decided to focus on upping my calorie intake, didn't matter what I ate, I just wanted to gain weight (my goal was 200lbs). I also tried minimal dosage of Test E to help me along the way, along with about 3000 calories per day, and trying to intake at least 1g of protein per lb I weigh, and going to the gym 3-4 times a week.

Long story short, within a few months I was around 208lbs (210lbs was my heaviest). In July, for personal reasons, I stopped going to the gym and my caloric intake took a hit as well.. I also PCT'd off the Test E cycle and do not plan on jumping back into this anytime soon. Cardio was not part of my gym routine, but I would get cardio from playing sports.

Current day: back to the BF% which is what made me want to post about it here is, I've been hovering around 200lbs for the last couple of months, and I've just recently started going back to my gym routine 3-4 times a week (added cardio to the routine, along with getting cardio from playing sports). I've been focusing on clean eating (caloric intake still around 3000) thinking that will help more with the BF% / recomp. When I checked the scale today, my BF% is 23.9% which makes me feel positive about being on the right track in that regard, but my weight is now 194lbs, which I'm not so happy about.

So where I'm at now is, I'm looking for advice on clean bulking... in that I'll put on size to get back up to 200-208lbs while dropping BF% to below 20%...I will want to eventually drop it to low/mid teens but I'm more than happy with taking baby steps and hitting my goals one at a time.

Even though I'm still having ~3000 calories per day, both body weight and BF% are dropping. I also just got my order of some supplements from N-V, for a natty stack to help me along the way. I don't know much about macros or how those should be measured based on goals, the only thing I do know is I get about 200g of protein per day.

Any suggestions on how I should go about achieving my goal would be greatly appreciated.

If I'm missing any necessary information please ask and I'll add those details as well.


thanks
 
mickc1965

mickc1965

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Fist thing please ignore the body fat levels the scales tell you, they are notoriously inaccurate.

In respect of trying to gain weight while losing body fat this is nigh on impossible (or at least a very long and very slow process) unless you hop on the gear or are a complete newbie.

You need to decide on whether you want to cut or bulk and stick to that decision.

You will need to work out your maintenance calories and this will be trial and error, for me it's around my body weight multiplied by 16/16.5 for others is could be x14 or x15. Once maintenance is established to gain or lose a lb a week you need to adjust your caloric intake up or down by 500 kcals etc.

In terms of macros if cutting I would set protein at 1.5g per lb of body weight (satiation purposes), fats at 0.5g per lb (hormones) and get the rest of calories from carbs. When bulking reduce protein to 1-1.2g, fats stay at 0.5 and carbs again to complete your caloric intake.
 
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marcone

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mickc1965 I have a fitness assessment with a trainer scheduled for next week, which will include BF%, so I'll take your advice and not put much attention to the BF% reading on the scale.

I am somewhat of a newbie. I've never paid much attention to the diet part of things up until this year when trying to gain weight and now trying to get back to 200-208 as cleanly as possible. I've always eaten healthy, just not enough calorie-wise to get bigger, which I changed up back in march/April.

I want to keep my size, or get bigger, while not getting the "spare tire" feeling in the midsection. I do actually feel pretty good right now at 194lb...and obviously putting on lean muscle mass to get to 200lbs+ will take time. Just wondering what the best route to take for this goal would be.

As for calories, I'm at 3000 per day which is basically my Bodyweight multiplied by 15.5. What is 500 kcals? See... a newb question lol

Thanks for the macros advice. So to bulk, lowering protein but increasing carbs is the difference. I've been hesitant to add carbs because I'm trying to lose the midsection while maintaining/gaining size everywhere else. Maybe that's wishful thinking...and likely what everyone wants to achieve haha
 
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ericos_bob

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A good trainer should point you in the right direction. Personally I like to cut to 10% and bulk up to 15% before repeating the process. That way one never quite looks like a teletubby.
 
R1balla

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Ok, where to start...

Correct me if I am wrong. You are wanting to “recomp”. Which is add muscle but burn fat. Or are you wanting to just lean bulk and not add any fat? Those two are very different. Executing a recomp is VERY hard to do. I rarely recommend it. Results come very slow and you can become discouraged. I suggest a lean bulk. Let’s get started.

First of all, you need to find your maintenance calories. How many calories do you need to stay at the weight you are at. Once you find that (let’s say it’s 3,000), you need to increase it slowly by about 250 calories a day. Some people do 500. Seems like you are really not wanting any fat so that is why I suggest only 250. Weight gain will come slower, but it should be leaner.

I’ll let you respond to that portion of my response before I go any further.
 
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R1balla thanks for the reply.

Not sure what the best strategy would be then since I’m above 20% BF (according to the home scale...I do have a personal training assessment tomorrow so that’ll be more accurate). My goal was to drop BF% even if it means dropping some weight, and then climbing back up in weight while minimizing fat increase.

My original goal was to get back to 208-210lbs. But, I’m about 198-200lbs right now and if the scale is somewhat accurate I’d be at 23% BF. If I can get down to ~17% and still be at 198-200 I’d be happy with that as my first goal and then work on climbing up to 208-210 as a secondary goal.
 
mickc1965

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I would decrease your body fat to ~10% and then lean bulk as your body will be primed to add more muscle than fat up to 15% then cut back to 10% rinse and repeat, returning to trying to add mass at 17/18% will only result in adding more fat than muscle.
 
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marcone

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I would decrease your body fat to ~10% and then lean bulk as your body will be primed to add more muscle than fat up to 15% then cut back to 10% rinse and repeat, returning to trying to add mass at 17/18% will only result in adding more fat than muscle.
I hope I’m wrong, but would dropping to ~10% likely bring my weight far down? My reason for asking is because my target weight is 205-210...about 198-200 right now. I don’t want to go back to being closer to 180 again :\
 
mickc1965

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You are not wrong but increasing weight at higher body fat levels (15%+) will result in more of the weight gained being fat than muscle while leaning out to 10 or 12% then bulking will result in a higher % of the gains being muscle, it seems the general consensus is not to try and bulk above 15%.
 
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mickc1965 let’s say then 200lbs and 23% BF is what I am. What should I expect to weigh if I can drop BF% down to say even ~13% ? I don’t want to go back to 175-180lbs because I feel scrawny especially for my height 6’1.. I don’t want to lose any muscle I have put on since around March.

Any advice to get me on the right path would be greatly appreciated!
 
mickc1965

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That will totally depend on you p ratio which is unknown until you have lost the weight and then have your body fat retested, if you lost fat only (impossible) then you would be ~177 lbs at 13%
 
banjobounce

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I would decrease your body fat to ~10% and then lean bulk as your body will be primed to add more muscle than fat up to 15% then cut back to 10% rinse and repeat, returning to trying to add mass at 17/18% will only result in adding more fat than muscle.
This all the way.
 
R1balla

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Agreed with mick. For now, I would go on a cut. Don’t worry about weight loss. If your diet is on point then you will be losing mainly fat (which is what you wanted). Start from there.
 
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Whisky

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Interesting thread, I agree with mickc1965 all the way here - you definitely want to cut first and then look to lean bulk.

Unless your fitness assessment uses Calipers (sadly unusual these days, most just have fancier bio impedance scales) then the BF reading can not be trusted - post a picture front and side view and we’d have a good idea from that.

However, assuming you are over 20% Bf at the moment I would just create the 500 kcal deficit per day (track everything) and focus on weight training with some HIIT 2-3 times a week. Depending on your training history you may find you get stronger whilst losing weight (this isn’t because you’re adding muscle, in the early days you’re body gets better at using what’s already there). The aim during this cut is to hold onto as much of the lean mass as possible. Keep workouts to an intense hour, no more.

You should aim to lose no more than 2lb a week, more than that is probably lean mass. If you get the calories right (aim is to cut on as many as possible) then it’s an enjoyable process imo, you feel sharp without any major hunger pangs.

If you really want to know your bf then pay for a dexa or hydrostatic weighing......
 
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marcone

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Ok so here's an update which hopefully gets me on the right path :)

I had my assessment done by a personal trainer at my gym... and just as advised in above posts, my home scale was pretty much a waste of money.

I weighed in at 206 lbs and my BF% was 18.6%.... as opposed to the 200 lbs and ~25% BF reading I got from my home scale!!!

I'm thinking maybe a recomp would be ok if I want to get down to 13%-15% range? or maybe a bit of a cut to get down to 13% and then get started with the lean bulk?

Looking for recommendations now that my stats are actually accurate lol

I was also thinking of starting 5x5 to help with strength and hopefully will add some size as well.
 
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Thanks Chados looks like a good read. Going to go over it tonight after work.

Thanks again
 
Chados

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Thanks Chados looks like a good read. Going to go over it tonight after work.

Thanks again
You're welcome sir. I liked the food there but would swap the cherries for blueberries. You can of course mix it up a bit but it can be good to have something simple to go with in the beginning.
 
R1balla

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Ok so here's an update which hopefully gets me on the right path :)

I had my assessment done by a personal trainer at my gym... and just as advised in above posts, my home scale was pretty much a waste of money.

I weighed in at 206 lbs and my BF% was 18.6%.... as opposed to the 200 lbs and ~25% BF reading I got from my home scale!!!

I'm thinking maybe a recomp would be ok if I want to get down to 13%-15% range? or maybe a bit of a cut to get down to 13% and then get started with the lean bulk?

Looking for recommendations now that my stats are actually accurate lol

I was also thinking of starting 5x5 to help with strength and hopefully will add some size as well.
I wouldn’t recommend a recomp unless you are willing to stick with it. Results come very slow and that can be discouraging to some people. I’d much rather suggest a quick cut to get some excess body fat off followed by a lean bulk.

If your goal is strength, 5x5 is good. I like to mix in heavy compound lifts in my routine instead of everything 5x5. It’s so taxing on my body and mind.
 
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R1balla can you give some examples of the heavy compound lifts you mix into your routine? Sounds interesting for sure
 
R1balla

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R1balla can you give some examples of the heavy compound lifts you mix into your routine? Sounds interesting for sure
Depends on what split I’m doing at the time, but I’ll stick to the simple bro split for this example.

If you do chest, I usually start out with 4x6 on flat bench or incline. Sometimes dumbbell sometimes barbell just depends. I follow that structure for all of my workouts. 4x6 (ish) on the compound lifts and 8-12 with supersets / drop sets on everything else.
 
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Depends on what split I’m doing at the time, but I’ll stick to the simple bro split for this example.

If you do chest, I usually start out with 4x6 on flat bench or incline. Sometimes dumbbell sometimes barbell just depends. I follow that structure for all of my workouts. 4x6 (ish) on the compound lifts and 8-12 with supersets / drop sets on everything else.
Thanks man I’m going to try to do something similar, mix it up a bit.

Do you find this to be good for strength and also adding some size? Ideally I’d like to do both...but then again who doesn’t? Lol
 
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Whisky

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Thanks man I’m going to try to do something similar, mix it up a bit.

Do you find this to be good for strength and also adding some size? Ideally I’d like to do both...but then again who doesn’t? Lol
Everything ive read over the years generally suggests sets and reps around 4×6 - 4×8 is the ideal for strength AND size.

Of course its also normally stated that you'll do better overall if you train for either strength OR strength.......but im a fan of the 6 to 8 rep range myself (i like 4x8).

You should look at layne nortons phat program as well mate, 3 days hyperthrophy, 2 strength each week......
 
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Whisky thanks for the recommendation I will definitely check it out!
 
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marcone

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Everything ive read over the years generally suggests sets and reps around 4×6 - 4×8 is the ideal for strength AND size.

Of course its also normally stated that you'll do better overall if you train for either strength OR strength.......but im a fan of the 6 to 8 rep range myself (i like 4x8).

You should look at layne nortons phat program as well mate, 3 days hyperthrophy, 2 strength each week......
Thanks man looking this one up for sure as well!
 
R1balla

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PHAT is really good, yes. One of my routines I rotate through. Def consider it.

As far as the reps go, I see strength from anything under 7 reps. I get my hypertrophic work from DB and machine. Leave the strength for barbell. That being said I do change it up a lot.
 

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