Started bulking soon and would appreciate any advice or recommendations

I’m just little over a month out from when I’ve been planning to start a bulk. I thought I’d go ahead and post my ideas here and get a little feedback since I’m getting a little anxious the closer I get.

Background
I’ve only been lifting for a little over 8 months. I started lifting after getting down to a middle range BMI level and being unhappy with the body composition. Did a slow diet down of a half-pound a week to lose around 10 pounds. Hit maintenance and have been maintaining for around 4 months for a recomp.

Weight gain goals
I’m looking to gain 10 pounds (total fat/muscle). That’s what I feel comfortable with for right now. Half pound a week gain. If for some reason I get to that 10 pounds and am still feeling pretty good about the gain, I may sneak a few more in. I’m also on somewhat of a specific timeline with this. I’d like to begin competing in bodybuilding next year (summer time). So I can’t really carry out a very long bulk (not sure I want to anyway with it being my first bulk and still new to lifting).

I plan on doing a dexa scan before I start…I’m just very nervous to get one because I did a bodpod right before I started lifting and it was VERY disheartening (results really helped push me to start lifting). So I’ve been avoiding a test and just going based off how I look and feel. Happy with my current look.

Exercise notes
5 days of lifting. Plan is a Bret Contreras recommendation for those that have bodybuilding goals but want a focus on glutes…Monday (glutes), Tuesday (chest/shoulders/tris), Wednesday (quads/glutes), Thursday (back, rear delts, bis), Friday (hams, glutes). Lots of glutes lol. But that is the goal. Gains in lower body.

I currently lift full body 3 days a week. Really looking forward to an extra 2 days.

I also plan on keeping cardio in my routine as I’ve been working very hard at becoming a better runner. I currently run 3 days a week ( usually around 3 miles a run…working my way up to 6 but that’s just a performance goal, not something I’d do 3 days a week). I may knock the running down to 2 days a week with 1 day of swimming (I competed in level club and high school so I like to keep myself fresh and not go too long without it but I can leave it if it becomes too much of a bother). But max cardio would be 3 days a week 23-45 minutes each session.

Any advice is greatly appreciated!
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Replies

  • terar21
    terar21 Posts: 523 Member
    Does your lifting include some sort of progressive overload? It would be good to minimize the cardio because it can interfere with gains. Do you know about what percentage body fat you are? The lower you start, the better the bulk efficiency. 1/2 lb a week is good. It is suggested to bump up your Carbs in a bulk. I have mine at 50%. Accept that you will gain some fat along with the muscle. If you get a chance, read over this article http://strengthunbound.com/bulking-complete-guide-for-beginners/.

    Yep it'll be progressive overload. That's what I do right now (strong curves). This will basically just parse out the upper body portions in strong curves to dedicated days and expand on it while adding more quad/hamstring work.

    Not sure on my body fat. I'd really just be guessing if I took a stab at it. Just know my measurements. But i plan on getting it tested within the next couple of weeks.

    And yes, I plan on doing a carb increase. I natural eat higher fat and protein just off my food preferences so those macros shouldn't really change much (slighter low fat maybe). I'm increasing my carbs over the next few weeks so it isn't a big jump when I bulk since my percentage right now is only at 45% (if I hit that). Not sure why I'm not a big carb person. But I've noticed low fat ice cream is recommended as an easy way to get it.
  • terar21
    terar21 Posts: 523 Member
    Haha title of the post should say starting. Not started.
  • FitForL1fe
    FitForL1fe Posts: 1,872 Member
    sounds like you've put in your time and done your research already

    just start ramping up slowly over maintenance each week while lifting and track your weight gain until you find a comfortable calorie goal for the bulk
  • GibsonSG_67
    GibsonSG_67 Posts: 1,406 Member
    First off you look amazing,
    I would just say to watch the cardio, I like the dropping running to 2 days a week. But it sounds like you've got the plan. Good luck :)
  • sardelsa
    sardelsa Posts: 9,826 Member
    Great advice from the others so far. Just wanted to add, don't worry too much about the bf% results. I never had mine tested before, during or after my bulk so it isn't necessary unless it is something you are curious about. I measured progress based on how I looked, measurements and the scale.

    Also, I ran SC on my bulk and now I am currently doing the same program split as you are...it's great and if you keep up with the surplus and program you will see amazing results. Good luck!
  • jimmmer
    jimmmer Posts: 3,535 Member
    edited July 2015
    It's totally fine to do cardio while bulking - you just need to eat enough to account for it.

    One thing that you might want to do from a work capacity/recovery stand point is to reduce the running volume initially (for the first week or two) as you acclimatise to the higher lifting volume. Then slowly build in more running as your body adapts to to the higher volume demands of your 5 day/week lifting routine.

    There's nothing you can't recover from (given enough food) if you build up to it. Make sure your sleep is on point too for optimal recovery and better gains.

    I'm in good c-v shape and wouldn't sacrifice it in the name of adding mass (I would aim to maintain it during a mass gaining phase, rather than push it). It just needs to be regulated and planned properly and you're good to go.
  • ndj1979
    ndj1979 Posts: 29,147 Member
    edited July 2015
    OP - you have already received great advice. I would just add on macros that most recommend .85 grams of protein per pound of body weight; .45 gram of fat per pound of body weight; and fill in rest with carbs. Not sure if you mentioned this but I would suggest taking starting measurements and then re-take them about every four weeks...
  • jdscrubs32
    jdscrubs32 Posts: 513 Member
    Sounds like you have a good plan. Re your cardio, try the running twice a week and see how you get on. If you aren't gaining, you may have to reduce that to one 30 minute session a week. I had to in order to gain anything. Increase the amount of food you eat slowly as its a lot more comfortable that way. My carbs are like @asflatasapancake and set at 50%. I would recommend pre logging your day so you know what you are eating and when and aren't left at the end of the day with a lot of calories remaining and wondering how you will fill it up.
  • terar21
    terar21 Posts: 523 Member
    draznyth wrote: »
    sounds like you've put in your time and done your research already

    just start ramping up slowly over maintenance each week while lifting and track your weight gain until you find a comfortable calorie goal for the bulk

    Thanks! Increments do sound good for going into the bulk.
  • terar21
    terar21 Posts: 523 Member
    First off you look amazing,
    I would just say to watch the cardio, I like the dropping running to 2 days a week. But it sounds like you've got the plan. Good luck :)

    Thank you :)

    Based off the feedback I think I definitely will keep in to 2 days of running.
  • terar21
    terar21 Posts: 523 Member
    sardelsa wrote: »
    Great advice from the others so far. Just wanted to add, don't worry too much about the bf% results. I never had mine tested before, during or after my bulk so it isn't necessary unless it is something you are curious about. I measured progress based on how I looked, measurements and the scale.

    Also, I ran SC on my bulk and now I am currently doing the same program split as you are...it's great and if you keep up with the surplus and program you will see amazing results. Good luck!

    Ahh thank you! Good to hear from someone running the same program. I'm really excited to try it.

    Only reason I want the body fat test is just verification that I'm at a good percentage for bulking. My eye test says I'm good to go but the worrier in me keeps saying "double check."
  • terar21
    terar21 Posts: 523 Member
    jimmmer wrote: »
    It's totally fine to do cardio while bulking - you just need to eat enough to account for it.

    One thing that you might want to do from a work capacity/recovery stand point is to reduce the running volume initially (for the first week or two) as you acclimatise to the higher lifting volume. Then slowly build in more running as your body adapts to to the higher volume demands of your 5 day/week lifting routine.

    There's nothing you can't recover from (given enough food) if you build up to it. Make sure your sleep is on point too for optimal recovery and better gains.

    I'm in good c-v shape and wouldn't sacrifice it in the name of adding mass (I would aim to maintain it during a mass gaining phase, rather than push it). It just needs to be regulated and planned properly and you're good to go.

    @jimmmer REALLY appreciate this. That makes sense about reducing while I get used to 5 days a week since that'll be a first. One if my runs is usually intervals and more taxing on my body so maybe I'll eliminate that for a slower steady pace run as well for the first couple of weeks.

    Makes sense to move into a maintaining mode and stop upping the mileage once the bulk starts. Think I'll cap the mileage 3 miles a run and drop pace a bit. Should definitely help with hitting the right calories if I just keep mileage and pace relatively consistent.

    Would you recommend doing the runs on the 2 upper body days? I hadn't really worked out which days I was planning to run and was tossing around the idea of doing them on lifting days to leave 2 full rest days at the end of the week. At the very least, one would be on a lift day.
  • terar21
    terar21 Posts: 523 Member
    ndj1979 wrote: »
    OP - you have already received great advice. I would just add on macros that most recommend .85 grams of protein per pound of body weight; .45 gram of fat per pound of body weight; and fill in rest with carbs. Not sure if you mentioned this but I would suggest taking starting measurements and then re-take them about every four weeks...

    Thanks for the reminder on that. My problem has always been that I hit those minimums on protein and fat easily and it's the carbs I struggle to get in. It's because I throw guacamole on top of fish and call it a day. But it's something I'm definitely going to fix for the bulk.

    I do take measurements as well.
  • terar21
    terar21 Posts: 523 Member
    jdscrubs32 wrote: »
    Sounds like you have a good plan. Re your cardio, try the running twice a week and see how you get on. If you aren't gaining, you may have to reduce that to one 30 minute session a week. I had to in order to gain anything. Increase the amount of food you eat slowly as its a lot more comfortable that way. My carbs are like @asflatasapancake and set at 50%. I would recommend pre logging your day so you know what you are eating and when and aren't left at the end of the day with a lot of calories remaining and wondering how you will fill it up.

    Thanks! And really good point, definitely plan on prelogging. Don't want to end up trying to find calories.
  • jimmmer
    jimmmer Posts: 3,535 Member
    terar21 wrote: »
    jimmmer wrote: »
    It's totally fine to do cardio while bulking - you just need to eat enough to account for it.

    One thing that you might want to do from a work capacity/recovery stand point is to reduce the running volume initially (for the first week or two) as you acclimatise to the higher lifting volume. Then slowly build in more running as your body adapts to to the higher volume demands of your 5 day/week lifting routine.

    There's nothing you can't recover from (given enough food) if you build up to it. Make sure your sleep is on point too for optimal recovery and better gains.

    I'm in good c-v shape and wouldn't sacrifice it in the name of adding mass (I would aim to maintain it during a mass gaining phase, rather than push it). It just needs to be regulated and planned properly and you're good to go.

    @jimmmer REALLY appreciate this. That makes sense about reducing while I get used to 5 days a week since that'll be a first. One if my runs is usually intervals and more taxing on my body so maybe I'll eliminate that for a slower steady pace run as well for the first couple of weeks.

    Makes sense to move into a maintaining mode and stop upping the mileage once the bulk starts. Think I'll cap the mileage 3 miles a run and drop pace a bit. Should definitely help with hitting the right calories if I just keep mileage and pace relatively consistent.

    Would you recommend doing the runs on the 2 upper body days? I hadn't really worked out which days I was planning to run and was tossing around the idea of doing them on lifting days to leave 2 full rest days at the end of the week. At the very least, one would be on a lift day.

    I run intervals or sprints rather than distance (so max 20-30 min session with warm-ups and cool down), so I would typically either do that after my lower body session on the same day:

    A) Upper/Lower+Run/Rest/Upper/Lower+Run/Rest/Rest

    Or something like I'm currently doing:

    b) Upper/lower/run/upper/lower/run/rest

    The reason I switched over to B is that I'm still recovering in time for my next lower session, but I'm giving a better shake to both my leg session and my explosive running by giving them their own dedicated space.

    Obviously, you'll have to find something that works with your recovery, work capacity and run duration as to where you place them in your schedule. You might find that duration running places a calorie demand that you find hard to exceed (eating like it's your job can become tough) - if that's the case, I'd keep the explosive running sessions. If you can manage them without frying your cns, that is! Plus, you'll end up keeping a decent pace without a tonne of extra work and the explosive aspect fits well with lifting, I find.
  • terar21
    terar21 Posts: 523 Member
    jimmmer wrote: »
    terar21 wrote: »
    jimmmer wrote: »
    It's totally fine to do cardio while bulking - you just need to eat enough to account for it.

    One thing that you might want to do from a work capacity/recovery stand point is to reduce the running volume initially (for the first week or two) as you acclimatise to the higher lifting volume. Then slowly build in more running as your body adapts to to the higher volume demands of your 5 day/week lifting routine.

    There's nothing you can't recover from (given enough food) if you build up to it. Make sure your sleep is on point too for optimal recovery and better gains.

    I'm in good c-v shape and wouldn't sacrifice it in the name of adding mass (I would aim to maintain it during a mass gaining phase, rather than push it). It just needs to be regulated and planned properly and you're good to go.

    @jimmmer REALLY appreciate this. That makes sense about reducing while I get used to 5 days a week since that'll be a first. One if my runs is usually intervals and more taxing on my body so maybe I'll eliminate that for a slower steady pace run as well for the first couple of weeks.

    Makes sense to move into a maintaining mode and stop upping the mileage once the bulk starts. Think I'll cap the mileage 3 miles a run and drop pace a bit. Should definitely help with hitting the right calories if I just keep mileage and pace relatively consistent.

    Would you recommend doing the runs on the 2 upper body days? I hadn't really worked out which days I was planning to run and was tossing around the idea of doing them on lifting days to leave 2 full rest days at the end of the week. At the very least, one would be on a lift day.

    I run intervals or sprints rather than distance (so max 20-30 min session with warm-ups and cool down), so I would typically either do that after my lower body session on the same day:

    A) Upper/Lower+Run/Rest/Upper/Lower+Run/Rest/Rest

    Or something like I'm currently doing:

    b) Upper/lower/run/upper/lower/run/rest

    The reason I switched over to B is that I'm still recovering in time for my next lower session, but I'm giving a better shake to both my leg session and my explosive running by giving them their own dedicated space.

    Obviously, you'll have to find something that works with your recovery, work capacity and run duration as to where you place them in your schedule. You might find that duration running places a calorie demand that you find hard to exceed (eating like it's your job can become tough) - if that's the case, I'd keep the explosive running sessions. If you can manage them without frying your cns, that is! Plus, you'll end up keeping a decent pace without a tonne of extra work and the explosive aspect fits well with lifting, I find.

    Thanks! That makes sense about following legs. I'll try a couple different things and see what works. It'll probably be more about time constraint for me. I do prefer to have a day of intervals. So that's definitely good to hear.

    I think I should be fine on the food portion because I'm only 5'2" so I don't have a lot to work with anyway. I plan to increase mainly through additional snacks and keep my meals general the same size. Although I may be optimistic on this :).
  • JoRocka
    JoRocka Posts: 17,552 Member
    So- I have little to add other than- 10 pounds isn't realistic.

    Most women start off way to timid and lose out a lot. Plan a 4-6 month window. 3 months will make you want to quit (I can almost guarantee it- but that time frame is different for different people- but it seems universally somewhere in month 3 you hate yourself and why you chose to do this) stick it out.

    Why is 10 pounds unrealistic- because- the first week or two the scale is going to jump 5-7 pounds and you're going to stop trying. Then you're going to spend a month assuming your gaining- and your not. So I'd aim for at least 15. and stick more to the time frame and how long you can take it rather than an actual number.

    My highest recorded weight was 20 pounds of gain. I looked fluffier than normal but was okay across the board- I looked good- but not fat. I just had enough though- 180 pounds was high for me so I chose to call it quits- which was 5 months.

  • Brolympus
    Brolympus Posts: 360 Member
    jdscrubs32 wrote: »
    Sounds like you have a good plan. Re your cardio, try the running twice a week and see how you get on. If you aren't gaining, you may have to reduce that to one 30 minute session a week. I had to in order to gain anything. Increase the amount of food you eat slowly as its a lot more comfortable that way. My carbs are like @asflatasapancake and set at 50%. I would recommend pre logging your day so you know what you are eating and when and aren't left at the end of the day with a lot of calories remaining and wondering how you will fill it up.

    I agree, sounds like you have already done a decent amount of research already OP. I would limit cardio to just enough to warm-up prior to stretching and to maintain a healthy cardiovascular system, maybe 10-15mins at the most. If you are bulking, you are just wasting time doing any more, your goal is a calorie surplus. Definitely do not cut it out altogether though, it is important to have some to keep the heart and lungs healthy

    Best advice I can give, and doesn't look like anybody has covered it yet, is be mentally prepared for the mind games. Bulking is a battle of self-esteem (whereas cutting is a battle of self-control). I remember when I started getting a tad fluffier on my first real bulk, my self-confidence went into the toilet for a few weeks. It affected my lifts for sure, on top of everything else. Real bad tunnel vision where I couldn't see the long-term goal, only what was in front of me, and I was tempted to stop. Don't. Best thing you can do is to focus on the lifting numbers going up, up, up. I would even hesitate to give yourself a weight cutoff. Muscle building takes a lot longer than fat loss, so bulk as long as you can possibly stand it. You will be unhappy if you bulk for too short a period, cut the fat, only to find you really didn't add that much muscle to begin with. Draw your feeling of success from accomplishments in your lifts, because the longer you bulk, the less it will appear like you workout. Just remember it really won't be as painfully long to remove the fat as it was to build the muscle.
  • terar21
    terar21 Posts: 523 Member
    JoRocka wrote: »
    So- I have little to add other than- 10 pounds isn't realistic.

    Most women start off way to timid and lose out a lot. Plan a 4-6 month window. 3 months will make you want to quit (I can almost guarantee it- but that time frame is different for different people- but it seems universally somewhere in month 3 you hate yourself and why you chose to do this) stick it out.

    Why is 10 pounds unrealistic- because- the first week or two the scale is going to jump 5-7 pounds and you're going to stop trying. Then you're going to spend a month assuming your gaining- and your not. So I'd aim for at least 15. and stick more to the time frame and how long you can take it rather than an actual number.

    My highest recorded weight was 20 pounds of gain. I looked fluffier than normal but was okay across the board- I looked good- but not fat. I just had enough though- 180 pounds was high for me so I chose to call it quits- which was 5 months.

    @JoRocka

    I guess I'm worried about trying that much of a weight gain. I know bmi shouldn't be used as a baseline but 15 would put me on the edge and 20 pound put me overweight. Which is probably where body fat percentage test comes in as a need for personal verification. Because I don't really think bmi is very accurate for me considering I'm mid range (5'2" 118) seem to be leaner than that.

    15-20 would also be a pretty significant visual gain on me being this short. Time frame doesn't concern me as much as how heavy that amount would sit on me at this size. I guess it would be a different type of gain but 20 pounds ago I was pretty disappointed in my appearance. I know I can deal with what the visual was at 10 additional pounds. Maybe a few more being that the composition would be different. Would you still say at least 15 for someone shorter? I almost feel like I would need a little cut before that.

    5 months was my original commitment plan. I think 6 would be reasonable. I was planning on starting beginning of September and carry through end of January. Was going to spend August easing in and finding the right calorie goal since I'd be dropping a cardio day and adding 2 additional strength days.