What should be my intake when bulking?

Hi all,

After years of training alongside sport, I’ve recently quit sport and now decided to gym full time as it aligns better with work. I have never bulked before and want to make sure I get it right from the start.

I have been struggling to calculate my intake for when bulking. I am 6’3 (191cm) and weigh 220lbs (100kg) at 28 years old. I am a big guy and I’d say building muscle has not been an issue in the past apart from my chest. Losing the last bit of fat has always been an issue but overall, never really struggled with weight. So I think I am Mesomorph.

I work a desk job and work from home 4-5 days a week. I usually don’t get too many steps in apart from going to the gym. I spend about 4 - 6 days in the gym a week and that is fully spent on lifting weights (push/pull).

I’ve tried calculating what my intake should be and when I do it comes to 5400 calories roughly. That sounds like a lot and I am bot entirely sure of its accuracy.

I would appreciate anyones input/guidance :)

Thanks

A

Answers

  • Retroguy2000
    Retroguy2000 Posts: 1,486 Member
    edited January 6
    Woah, how did you calculate 5400?

    Anyway, it's simple. If your weight has been constant recently then your current intake is your TDEE. Log everything in MFP to confirm that number. Or, wing it, add about 200-300 daily, with at least 0.7g-1g per pound protein (higher part of that range if you are lean), and track your progess that way via waist measuring, weight, pics. If you're gaining more fat than you like, back off the surplus.

    I would guess your current TDEE is closer to 3000 than 5000.
  • nossmf
    nossmf Posts: 8,898 Member
    ^^Truth.

    Also, you mentioned you do push/pull, but did not mention legs. Not sure if that was just an oversight or you actually do not spend time on legs, which is a mistake. Guys who neglect working on legs in favor of chest/back not only set themselves up for funny looks and snickers, but are missing out on an important boost to their upper body work. Seriously, my bench press jumped 20# when I started focusing on squats, because by working the largest muscles in the body I got more hormone production throughout the body, including chest.
  • Theoldguy1
    Theoldguy1 Posts: 2,454 Member
    Any idea on your bodyfat percentage? One probably doesn't want to bulk, if their bodyfat percentage is over around 18%.
  • adamnordstrm
    adamnordstrm Posts: 4 Member
    Thanks for the responses guys.

    Yes I do legs, it was just an oversight hahah.

    @Theoldguy1 - my body percentage as of now is most likely over 18%. I had a slipped disc that I was nursing back to health for the past year so have put on weight since last being active. However, I have always had problems growing my chest with no issues growing my shoulder or back - therefore I thought bulking was my only option. Would you advise against it?
  • Retroguy2000
    Retroguy2000 Posts: 1,486 Member
    edited January 7
    It sounds like you need to specialize chest. Increase volume and frequency there. Do your back and shoulders at maintenance volume to manage system fatigue during specialization, about 4-5 working sets in just one weekly session should be enough to maintain strength and muscle. Increase chest to 20-25 weekly sets over two or preferably three sessions, or you may need to go every third day depending on your recovery. Do this for about three months and then reassess.

    I wouldn't do that while in a deficit though. If you're like most people, whatever bf % you estimate is probably several points below where you actually are. Which means your 18+ is actually low 20's. You've made a couple of references now to having put on weight while being inactive, which suggests to me this is the case. IMO a bulk at that level would be a big mistake.

    Therefore I'd suggest for the next three months pick one of:

    a) Eat around maintenance to keep current weight, specialize chest as described above.

    b) Focus on a deficit, say 500 per day, that's one pound per week. Keep lifting, but don't expect muscle gains. Losing fat will help you see more of the muscle you have though.

    Note that choosing path a likely just means delaying doing path b.
  • adamnordstrm
    adamnordstrm Posts: 4 Member
    Thanks @Retroguy2000, this all makes sense.

    Can I ask - and just so I understand - whats wrong with doing a 2 - 3 month bulk when already in a 20% body fat?

    Is it for health reasons? Or is it more that there is less benefit in terms of gains?
  • Retroguy2000
    Retroguy2000 Posts: 1,486 Member
    edited January 7
    There's nothing wrong it with for health reasons, other than the general health issues that may come from being overweight.

    It's really about how you want to look. If you want to add even more fat that anything more than a very lean bulk (about 200 calories) would bring, leading to a harder or longer diet in the future if you ever want to lose your current fat and the extra you'll add in a bulk, that's your choice.

    If you're genuinely about 18% bf, a lean bulk may be OK for you. If you're low 20's, ehh, your call. Many would say that's cutting time. If you insist on going over maintenance calories, track your waist and take pics to follow progress and adjust as needed.

    Did you come up with a better estimate for your current TDEE?
  • adamnordstrm
    adamnordstrm Posts: 4 Member
    Thanks @Retroguy2000.

    And if my bodyfat percentage is close to 20-22% - would you avoid even a lean bulk? Essentially as mentioned, my goal is to build out my chest. Currently my shoulders and back is broad, but the chest looks very under developed and so I want to build it out for the summer. Or is this where you mean that it comes down the fat that I am later willing to trim?

    In terms of TDEE - Yes so it seems my maintenance intake is around 2800-3000cal and so if I want to bulk, just adding an additional 300cal ontop of that.

    In terms of the chest 3x a week - would I see any result if doing this whilst eating my maintenance intake? Or is it only worth doing it whilst bulking?
  • Theoldguy1
    Theoldguy1 Posts: 2,454 Member
    Thanks @Retroguy2000.

    And if my bodyfat percentage is close to 20-22% - would you avoid even a lean bulk? Essentially as mentioned, my goal is to build out my chest. Currently my shoulders and back is broad, but the chest looks very under developed and so I want to build it out for the summer. Or is this where you mean that it comes down the fat that I am later willing to trim?

    In terms of TDEE - Yes so it seems my maintenance intake is around 2800-3000cal and so if I want to bulk, just adding an additional 300cal ontop of that.

    In terms of the chest 3x a week - would I see any result if doing this whilst eating my maintenance intake? Or is it only worth doing it whilst bulking?

    As mentioned, given what you have said about your bodyfat, you do not need to bulk.

    @Retroguy2000 gave you some good advice regarding chest workouts. I would also suggest checking your posture. With an office job, hunched over a computer poor posture can make you chest looked caved in (in addition long term it will be bad for shoulder health).

    Take a look at your self in a mirror. When standing in your normal posture facing the mirror are the tops of your hands visible?
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x07Zp1HQLwk

    Some sample information:
    https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318897#symptoms
  • Retroguy2000
    Retroguy2000 Posts: 1,486 Member
    And if my bodyfat percentage is close to 20-22% - would you avoid even a lean bulk? Essentially as mentioned, my goal is to build out my chest. Currently my shoulders and back is broad, but the chest looks very under developed and so I want to build it out for the summer. Or is this where you mean that it comes down the fat that I am later willing to trim?

    In terms of the chest 3x a week - would I see any result if doing this whilst eating my maintenance intake? Or is it only worth doing it whilst bulking?
    What I would do is irrelevant :-) It's what you want for yourself that matters.

    It sounds like your #1 goal is building chest currently, not losing fat. So do the specialization I talked about, increase chest volume, decrease back and shoulders to maintenance. The leaner the bulk, the less additional fat you'll add. A lean bulk being about +200 to +300. You have enough fat that yes you could probably build your chest at maintenance, but it might be more efficient for you in a surplus, that's true. You should certainly track your waist and take pics. e.g. if you use a belt at the gym it should be obvious quickly whether you're gaining too much fat for your preference.