Help with Bulking & Cutting

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Hi All - I introduced lifting into my workout routine in January of this year, using the 5x5 StrongLifts program. I don't have the powerpack yet, but plan to add that in next month. I'm seeing increases in strength, however I don't see nearly as much of a change physically as I expected I would after almost 3 months. If you want to see pictures, feel free to add me and you'll be able to see the photos in my feed.

I'm wondering if a bulk & cut program is right for me. Right now I feel very strong, but look very thin (5'8", 138 lbs with long limbs that make me look extra gangly). I'm hoping to add additional muscle, then cut to reduce any added fat. BTW, I should add that I'm vegan, but have a very varied diet and supplement whole-food protein intake with vegan protein powder daily, take a multivitamin, and a B12 supplement).

I'm currently eating ~2,500 calories per day and have been successfully maintaining since September. I do StrongLifts 3x/week, 30 min walk 5x/week, and vinyasa yoga 4x/week on average. What would be a good bulking number to start with, and for how long? Then, once I see the gains I'm looking for, what do I cut back to, and for how long?

Thanks in advance for any help!

Replies

  • Muscle_for_Fitness
    Muscle_for_Fitness Posts: 2,198 Member
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    Sounds like you have a pretty good base. If you have been able to maintain at 2,500 calories then I would add 250 calories to that for a slow bulk. If you still aren't seeing any results in 3-4 weeks, you may try to add an additional 250 calories. Take it slow adding calories or you will just add a lot more unneeded fat. It does take time to see results so even in 3 months the changes may not be drastic.
  • Chieflrg
    Chieflrg Posts: 9,097 Member
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    On that program you will gain more strength than muscle as its a strength based program.

    Generally speaking bulk until you starting feeling too fat and cut until you feel your getting too skinny. Length of time depends on each and how agressive to gain/lose.
  • alexjvolk
    alexjvolk Posts: 22 Member
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    Here is a good rule of thumb:

    Lean muscle gain: Maintenance plus 5%
    Medium muscle gain: Maintenance plus 10%
    Fast muscle gain: Maintenance plus 15%
    Extreme muscle gain: Maintenance plus 20%

    When you need to cut, use this:
    http://www.simplyshredded.com/layne-norton-the-most-effective-cutting-diet.html

    It is a very, very good article, and what I used initially to traverse a 12 month and 40+ lb cut with minimal strength lost

    To gain extra muscle there must be extra effort, so put the extra nutrition to good use and really work the weight training! Good luck!

  • bbell1985
    bbell1985 Posts: 4,572 Member
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    Yeah you're not going to have huge physique changes with a strength program once you're already relatively lean.

    Before running a bulk you could try a more hypertrophy based or a hybrid of hypertrophy/strength program in maintenance. Recomp.
  • richardgavel
    richardgavel Posts: 1,001 Member
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    When you say you introduced weight training in, does that mean you are completely new to weight training? What amounts are you lifting? I'm wondering if it might be a good idea of using Stronglifts at maintenance to build a solid strength foundation before shifting to more hypertrophy style routines.
  • edwill3456
    edwill3456 Posts: 59 Member
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    You should try a hypertrophy program. StrongLifts is mainly a strength training program. But if you wanna see both strength and muscle gains then you should find a mixed strength/hypertrophy program.
  • kzooyogi
    kzooyogi Posts: 121 Member
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    When you say you introduced weight training in, does that mean you are completely new to weight training? What amounts are you lifting? I'm wondering if it might be a good idea of using Stronglifts at maintenance to build a solid strength foundation before shifting to more hypertrophy style routines.

    I started lifting in January of this year, so yes I'm very new to it, but I love it. Here's what I'm lifting right now:

    Squat: 90 lbs 5x5
    Bench press: 70 lbs 5x5
    Overhead press: 35 lbs 5x5 (nursing an injury)
    Dead lift: 95 lbs 1x5
    Barbell Row: 60 lbs 5x5
  • kzooyogi
    kzooyogi Posts: 121 Member
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    bbell1985 wrote: »
    Yeah you're not going to have huge physique changes with a strength program once you're already relatively lean.

    Before running a bulk you could try a more hypertrophy based or a hybrid of hypertrophy/strength program in maintenance. Recomp.

    That's good insight. Being that I'm new at this and pretty ignorant, can you point me in a direction of a good resource to help start this? Looks like I'm going to have to do my research!

  • kzooyogi
    kzooyogi Posts: 121 Member
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    Bump
  • Ironandwine69
    Ironandwine69 Posts: 2,432 Member
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    Okay, now, which one, cutting or bulking?
    And 5x5 is for strength not muscle growth
  • sardelsa
    sardelsa Posts: 9,812 Member
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    If you are looking to move on with your workout program, you can check out this link:

    community.myfitnesspal.com/en/discussion/10332083/which-lifting-program-is-the-best-for-you/p1

    Also for info on bulking:

    https://community.myfitnesspal.com/en/discussion/10226536/bulking-for-beginners/p1

    As mentioned, length of bulk and cut will be highly personal. To give you an idea, I am just getting out of an 8 month bulk... it seems long but it was a slow/lean bulk where I gained ~1.5lbs per month. My first bulk was 4.5 months and I gained 10lbs. Both were highly successful just different.
  • ndj1979
    ndj1979 Posts: 29,139 Member
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    do you have any idea what your current body fat % is?
  • kzooyogi
    kzooyogi Posts: 121 Member
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    ndj1979 wrote: »
    do you have any idea what your current body fat % is?

    About 18% according to my biometric scale.
  • kzooyogi
    kzooyogi Posts: 121 Member
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    sardelsa wrote: »
    If you are looking to move on with your workout program, you can check out this link:

    community.myfitnesspal.com/en/discussion/10332083/which-lifting-program-is-the-best-for-you/p1

    Also for info on bulking:

    https://community.myfitnesspal.com/en/discussion/10226536/bulking-for-beginners/p1

    As mentioned, length of bulk and cut will be highly personal. To give you an idea, I am just getting out of an 8 month bulk... it seems long but it was a slow/lean bulk where I gained ~1.5lbs per month. My first bulk was 4.5 months and I gained 10lbs. Both were highly successful just different.

    Thank you so much!
  • ndj1979
    ndj1979 Posts: 29,139 Member
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    kzooyogi wrote: »
    ndj1979 wrote: »
    do you have any idea what your current body fat % is?

    About 18% according to my biometric scale.

    those are not the most accurate ...but assuming that then yes you could do a 250 calorie surplus with a structured lifting regiment and see how it goes. Since you have been doing strong lifts you might benefit from switching to a four day upper/lower split like PHUL.

    or you can run a recomp = eat at maintenance and lift heavy
  • kzooyogi
    kzooyogi Posts: 121 Member
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    ndj1979 wrote: »
    kzooyogi wrote: »
    ndj1979 wrote: »
    do you have any idea what your current body fat % is?

    About 18% according to my biometric scale.

    those are not the most accurate ...but assuming that then yes you could do a 250 calorie surplus with a structured lifting regiment and see how it goes. Since you have been doing strong lifts you might benefit from switching to a four day upper/lower split like PHUL.

    or you can run a recomp = eat at maintenance and lift heavy

    Yeah, it's definitely not the most accurate, but a good estimate nonetheless. Thanks for your reply, I actually looked into PHUL yesterday and think I'm gonna give it a go! Do you think I'd benefit from another month of strong lifts before I do that just to build up an even stronger base? The article I read yesterday made it seem like a person should have 4-6 months of strength training under their belt before starting PHUL.