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Time to Gain! Anyone running a bulk?

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  • genki90genki90 Member Posts: 94 Member Member Posts: 94 Member
    GaryRuns wrote: »
    genki90 wrote: »
    Hey everyone! I'm new in this area. I'm going through chronic pain for the past 4 years and I need to have a certain amount of muscle mass to support my joints and protect me from inflammation.
    That said I wasn't very consistent with my workouts, and covid made things worse. So it comes to a point where there aren't enough muscles left in my body after two long quarantines...

    I need to build back my muscles but so far I've been eating at maintenance calories. How much should I increase these calories so that I can feed my muscles without getting much bigger?
    At that point I need to mention that I'm a female in my 30s with some fluff (168cm - 63kg). I put on weight as easily as I lose it and my body likes to store fat (even when I was more muscular I was always a bit jiggly).

    If you're overweight the best answer is probably to stay at maintenance and recomp. That is, very slowly lose fat while at the same time very slowly gaining muscle, fueling the muscle growth, in part, by using your body's fat stores. There are some caveats: 1) Your use of the word "fluffy" has to mean that your body fat percentage is above something like 15-18% (I'm not super familiar with the female number so forgive me if that's wrong, but it's close. For men you should probably be above 10-12% for an effective recomp). 2) You need to make sure your lifting program is good, meaning it needs to apply progressive overload effectively. 3) If you're not new to weight lifting this will be a slow process compared to "bulking", although keep in mind that building muscle is a slow process no matter which way you go. 4) Make sure you eat sufficient protein. Something like 1.7-2.2 grams of protein per kg of body weight per day 5) This applies to most people who are overweight, which is, generally by far, more of a health concern than gaining muscle, thus the recommendation to make losing the fat your first priority. Your situation may be different due to your existing health condition.

    If you do decide to bulk use a calorie surplus on the order of 10% above your maintenance level for a couple of weeks and see if you start gaining. For example, if your daily maintenance level is 2000 calories then try 2200 and see what that does. If you're not gaining after a couple of weeks at that level then increase to 2400, etc. Keep that up until you reach a level where you're gaining roughly 0.25% of your total body weight a week. For a 200lb person that would mean gaining about 0.5lb per week. If you have enough control over your diet you can certainly reduce that rate of weight gain, but that takes some pretty disciplined eating, logging and measuring. The slower you gain weight the less fat you'll be gaining.

    If you're less conservative, and you are starting a new exercise program, you might want to consider making that initial bump in calories 20%. The example would then be to increase your calories to 2400 the first couple of weeks. I say this because starting a new exercise program will likely add to your calorie burn for the day and could stall your attempt to gain weight for a couple of weeks if you don't adjust your calories slightly more in the beginning.

    Good luck!

    Hey Gary, thank you for your reply!

    I'm 15 lbs (7kg) away from being overweight according to my BMI (no calipers or open gym to have a body fat estimation atm). This leaves some room for bulking for 5-6 months. I understand I shouldn't rush things as this would lead to gaining more fat than muscle. A 10% surplus sounds safer to me!

    Since I really need more stregth ASAP, I thought of bulking at first and then switching to a recomposition. I'm not sure if it will work the way I want it to though.

    At the moment I'm adjusting my maintenance calories while following a light exercise program to give my body some time to adjust. Depending on the result and my strength gains I may or may not go over my maintenance.

    I appreciate the feedback,
    Greetings from Greece!
  • alexmose2alexmose2 Member Posts: 128 Member Member Posts: 128 Member
    Just wondering, does anyone have a cardio or step goal in a bulk? I told myself I would keep to 10K steps/day but now I am wondering if that is too much (I usually get 10k/day everyday).
    edited March 19
  • GaryRunsGaryRuns Member, Premium Posts: 425 Member Member, Premium Posts: 425 Member
    alexmose2 wrote: »
    Just wondering, does anyone have a cardio or step goal in a bulk? I told myself I would keep to 10K steps/day but now I am wondering if that is too much (I usually get 10k/day everyday).

    I was at 10k, which was my cut goal and really helped me finish off my cut, but I've increased my eating to 3,000 calories and I'm not gaining after 2.5 weeks so I'm cutting back to 7k for my step goal. Not a big difference really, and I could just eat more, but there's some psychology at play. While eating 3k calories a day has become easier it still feels like I'm already eating all the time so cutting down the step goal is my next step, no pun intended.

    And I should add that I'm not quite willing to give up all my cardio, like hikes and walking. I'm lifting almost as much for my health as I am for aesthetics (almost), and getting some cardio is just as important for that reason. I do try to limit any HIIT to my deload week and keep the rest reasonably low intensity.

    Here's an interesting article on the topic of cardio and weight training:
    https://www.strongerbyscience.com/avoiding-cardio-could-be-holding-you-back/
    edited March 19
  • recodeexistancerecodeexistance Member Posts: 49 Member Member Posts: 49 Member
    Hi guys. Would anyone recommend cardio as a definite for running a bulk? I'm one of these guys that can quite easily go out and run miles, but I've tried to avoid it so far xD
  • GaryRunsGaryRuns Member, Premium Posts: 425 Member Member, Premium Posts: 425 Member
    Hi guys. Would anyone recommend cardio as a definite for running a bulk? I'm one of these guys that can quite easily go out and run miles, but I've tried to avoid it so far xD

    "Cardio" is a bit of a loaded term. Are we talking about HIIT training multiple times a week or some low intensity stuff? And there's at least one study, the details of which escape me at the moment, that says to avoid running if your primary fitness goal is based on resistance training. They're not entirely sure why but that specific form of cardio seems to interfere with strength/hypertrophy goals. Anyway, I just linked to a podcast that covers this but here it is again:
    https://www.strongerbyscience.com/avoiding-cardio-could-be-holding-you-back/
  • maronesax1972maronesax1972 Member Posts: 253 Member Member Posts: 253 Member
    I had a trainer who was ademate about no more than 9M steps per day when on the bulk. And definitely no running. He wanted my HR to only get to “fat burn” status. He was concerned that if you get HR too high, you’ll be working against your bulk goals which is to build muscle.
  • alexmose2alexmose2 Member Posts: 128 Member Member Posts: 128 Member
    I am up about 3 lbs from last week and held back resistance training due to my muscles being extra sore from a workout class I taught (I have since given up teaching the class...at least for now while I bulk). I know that I should not freak out over suck a fluctuation since my calories are only up about 200-300 per day, but it's still mentally hard to see that in such a short period of time. Cheers.
  • GaryRunsGaryRuns Member, Premium Posts: 425 Member Member, Premium Posts: 425 Member
    alexmose2 wrote: »
    I am up about 3 lbs from last week and held back resistance training due to my muscles being extra sore from a workout class I taught (I have since given up teaching the class...at least for now while I bulk). I know that I should not freak out over suck a fluctuation since my calories are only up about 200-300 per day, but it's still mentally hard to see that in such a short period of time. Cheers.

    I hear ya. I've never been one to overly stress about my weight, but after working so hard to get down to what I did it's a mental struggle to switch things to go the other way. Hang in there.

    In my own case, I went to maintenance for two weeks, at 2700 calories, and then to 3000 the last two weeks to try and start gaining but it hasn't worked, I'm still not gaining. I have to increase to 3200 next week. I feel like I have a fork in my mouth 24/7. And talk about weight fluctuations. Thank goodness for trendweight otherwise I'd be going mad. I suppose it's my body getting accustomed to the new level of carbs.

    I had a setback this week due to some non-exercise stress activity, or what I refer to as NESA :D , so it even trended down a bit. But the particularly stressful day I probably only ate half my 3k calories. On the plus side I'm almost dead-on with my macros. Protein consistently at about 1.1 times my weight (I try to get a bit extra since I'm an old F*er). Fat and carbs perfect.

    3m.png
  • AKDonFAKDonF Member Posts: 234 Member Member Posts: 234 Member
    7 weeks into the current bulk and good things are happening.
  • sardelsasardelsa Member Posts: 9,834 Member Member Posts: 9,834 Member
    So I mentioned this in the other thread but I am now cutting. My bulk got a little out of hand but I am determined to get back on it. It happens! And I have no regrets, I think my body needed the longer duration spent in surplus and perhaps even the added body fat. I am cutting down gradually, adding a bit of cardio for health (and stress release) plus of course lifting 3-4x per week.
    Hope everyone is finding success on their gaining journeys. :)
  • AKDonFAKDonF Member Posts: 234 Member Member Posts: 234 Member
    Cutting is inevitable, but I always enjoy the processing of revealing the bulk and use that as my inspiration. Fat comes with muscle, but fat really is so much easier to loose that gaining muscle. Sometimes the whole process seems like a grind, but the end results are so worth it!
  • GaryRunsGaryRuns Member, Premium Posts: 425 Member Member, Premium Posts: 425 Member
    sardelsa wrote: »
    So I mentioned this in the other thread but I am now cutting. My bulk got a little out of hand but I am determined to get back on it. It happens! And I have no regrets, I think my body needed the longer duration spent in surplus and perhaps even the added body fat. I am cutting down gradually, adding a bit of cardio for health (and stress release) plus of course lifting 3-4x per week.
    Hope everyone is finding success on their gaining journeys. :)

    You sure you didn't accidentally grab a Richter scale graph from a recent earthquake @sardelsa? 📈🤔

    Just teasing, of course. You can afford a little extra. I'm amazed everyone hasn't done a little dirty bulking, given all the lock downs. I know I did.

    Another plus, your cut timing is perfect for summer.
  • recodeexistancerecodeexistance Member Posts: 49 Member Member Posts: 49 Member
    I'm starting to hit that phase of questioning just how much fat I'm willing to put up with, but I know that if I start cutting now, I won't be as big as I planned to be. Unless I need to start thinking about this as incremental cycles. 🤔
  • alexmose2alexmose2 Member Posts: 128 Member Member Posts: 128 Member
    A much needed deload week starting today. I am not training at all. Motivation is down, joints ache, nightly headaches happening, mood is low.

    I have no idea what I am doing with my body. Weight is stable around 106-108, which is higher than it was back in December. I’m feeling lost in my journey. Sigh*
  • psuLemonpsuLemon Member, MFP Moderator, Greeter, Premium Posts: 37,362 MFP Moderator Member, MFP Moderator, Greeter, Premium Posts: 37,362 MFP Moderator
    Does over eating Easter weekend count as a bulk? If so, I am bulking now :D
  • wiigelecwiigelec Member Posts: 481 Member Member Posts: 481 Member
    @alexmose2 have you considered something like this to help manage training and non-training stress:

    https://www.hrv4training.com/blog/the-ultimate-guide-to-heart-rate-variability-hrv-part-one

  • steveko89steveko89 Member Posts: 1,947 Member Member Posts: 1,947 Member
    alexmose2 wrote: »
    A much needed deload week starting today. I am not training at all. Motivation is down, joints ache, nightly headaches happening, mood is low.

    I have no idea what I am doing with my body. Weight is stable around 106-108, which is higher than it was back in December. I’m feeling lost in my journey. Sigh*

    Perhaps some time in maintenance to put focus on things beyond the scale is in order? Are there performance or process goals you could focus on to bring back some excitement and mitigate stress?
  • sardelsasardelsa Member Posts: 9,834 Member Member Posts: 9,834 Member
    psuLemon wrote: »
    Does over eating Easter weekend count as a bulk? If so, I am bulking now :D

    Yes! I am cutting and I went back into mini-bulk mode. Worth it though. ;)
  • alexmose2alexmose2 Member Posts: 128 Member Member Posts: 128 Member
    steveko89 wrote: »
    alexmose2 wrote: »
    A much needed deload week starting today. I am not training at all. Motivation is down, joints ache, nightly headaches happening, mood is low.

    I have no idea what I am doing with my body. Weight is stable around 106-108, which is higher than it was back in December. I’m feeling lost in my journey. Sigh*

    Perhaps some time in maintenance to put focus on things beyond the scale is in order? Are there performance or process goals you could focus on to bring back some excitement and mitigate stress?

    I truly do not have real process or performance goals at the moment. And honesty, I am ok with that since I have some work stress currently. Maintenance is a good idea, but I truly hope that 3-4 days away from the iron will just reinvigorate my interest.
  • alexmose2alexmose2 Member Posts: 128 Member Member Posts: 128 Member
    Motivation has just about returned! I am giving myself today as my last day off in lifting which will have been about 5ish days off from heavy lifts. I was extremely pleased with my last macrocycle, which was PHUL, so I will run that again, except this time throwing out conventional deadlifts. I am still weary of my back and will just use Summo DLs and SLRDL. Given that I will be primed for muscle building, I don't see this as an issue with throwing it out. Plus, strength is not my goal, hypertrophy is. I am excited to start training in a rep range above 8-12. I know that is good for hypertrophy, but I am going to go for 12-15 as the new rep range goal.

    New macrocycle = less sets = shorter workout. whoo hoo!
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