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Bulkers' Support Thread


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Both Blueberries and I recently posted something along the lines of "ARGH MY STRENGTH GAINS STOPPED FOR A WEEK". We're told to use strength gains as a way to gauge muscle gain versus fat gain, but is that realistic for women? I don't know.

Lastly, I hope that this can become a support thread too, not just an info thread. Feel free to post your "omg omg omg bulking is freaking me out! :(" posts here.

How did I miss this thread? o.O

The "omg" quote pretty much sums it up for me. I've been working on moving from weight loss to maintenance/muscle growth this challenge, and it's psychologically difficult. I've been focusing on meeting my protein goal (80g/day), and increasing food intake slightly. I probably need to increase my intake further, but that's very mentally challenging. I don't want to regain the fat I've worked so hard to lose. What I really want is for the proportions of muscle to fat to shift around slightly, while roughly maintaining current body weight. I'd like to see strength gains go up a little faster, while not demanding they skyrocket like I'd hope they would if I was chowing down heaps of food at a big surplus.

The bang for the buck, both calories and protein, is almost unbeatable. Milk is a dirt cheap source for both. I'm not sure why protein supplementation is so popular among people, only the cheapest bulk sources of whey are cheaper per gram of protein than basic milk, any variety. Milk has all the other nutrition that protein powder lacks.

I can't answer for anyone else, but in my particular case, I buy whey protein isolate because it's a milk powder I can keep in a high cupboard. My son's dairy anaphylactic, so any dairy-containing products we bring into the house must be tightly controlled - keeping milk in the fridge just isn't safe enough for him.

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Do people tend to eat less on non-lifting days? Do you eat the same throughout the week, or try and eat more on/after lifting days?

 

I keep my surplus the same every day.  How much I actually eat depends on how much exercise I do, from as low as 3200 on non-workout days to 4400 or so on heavy workout days.

 

Recovery is growth.  Recovery happens every day, not just on lifting days.

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Philosophical question: Do you see any point, whatsoever, in eating "clean" when bulking?  If yes/no, why?

 

I think eating clean has merits from a health perspective, but when it comes purely to the weight gain aspect of bulking, I've found that I just need to freaking eat, and not try to be too precise with things, or I just end up undershooting and going nowhere.  My bulking diet has basically been paleoish + dairy (milk, cheese, even *gasp* ice cream on occasion) + occasional rice.  I haven't seen any excess fat gain as a consequence.

 

I was up to 190 lbs prior to the holidays and somehow managed to lose 2 lbs in spite of the holiday parties, craft beer, spiked eggnog and homemade desserts.  $#@!$@! 

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I've been eating what I consider to be extremely clean all throughout bulking.  Has it helped?  No idea.  The problem with N=1 experiments is no control/treatment pair. :D

 

Possibly we should all keep and share a food log with what and when we're eating things as well as measuring strength as a ratio to body weight and/or estimating BF% every [time interval] for progress? You know, for science!

 

I generally find that the more I think about what I eat the more I obsess about it, but if I treat it like a science experiment I may have better success at keeping emotional distance.

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How are the other bulking folks doing?

 

I'm just past the halfway point of my current bulk (bulking 1/1 to 3/31).

 

Up about 5 lb thus far, 4 lb of muscle, 1 lb of fat.  BF% has drifted slightly higher, but not much yet.

Chest has gained an inch (now more than a 15" difference between chest and waist circumference). Got about a 1/2" gain across the board in the arms and legs.

 

Getting enough calories for me was starting to get hard (though I always forced myself to at least get close every day), but I've taken to buying ice cream by the gallon to solve that issue.  Ice cream never, ever gets old to eat day after day.

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Well, I've been doing my fairly conservative bulking efforts, and I've gained about 1-2kgs (2-5lb) over the past couple of months. I know some of that's fat, and I *presume* some of it is muscle, given the nice bump in lifts I've had. Correction, I know at least a *little* of it is muscle; my pecs at least are noticeably larger (it's weird, I've never had muscle there before). But it's harder to trust in muscle gain. The fat is easier to see.

 

As a woman, and one who's only recently lost a lot of weight, I've found it quite stressful to try and increase my weight.

 

I'm currently just starting to focus again on controlling my diet and trying to lose the little layer of fat I've accumulated.

 

Protein intake has been much higher and very consistent, that's a habit that's stuck nicely, though it's hard when I'm calorie-controlling. My fave recipe is definitely my protein soft serve. 1 banana, frozen in chunks, 1/2 cup almond milk, 1 scoop protein powder, flavouring to taste, whizzed up in a blender. Makes something the consistency of soft serve or a good thickshake. I nom up this big bowl of stuff that's like chocolate ice cream, and get to feel really healthy and virtuous. Great stuff.

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I'm curious to your diet Waldo! 4 pounds of muscle with minimal fat is excellent!

 

Nothing special.  3200 net cal/day (~+400-500 cal), 200g protein/day (1g/lb BW).  I average about 4000 gross cal/day intake and 800 cal exercise/day.

 

Usually do protein bar or special k protein cereal for breakfast.

Weekdays at lunch I eat a couple PB&J's with some greek yogurt, fruit cup, and pudding, on the weekends Sat lunch is our eat out meal (usually get subs), Sunday I make brunch

Dinner varies.  The usuals are a feta pasta, turkey-rice, pizza, fancy hot dogs (kielbasa), chicken tacos.

I use whole milk+chocolate milk powder and ice cream to make up calories.  Protein powder, meat snacks (pepperoni, summer sausage), cottage cheese to make up a protein shortfall.

I pretty much eat a protein elevated standard american diet.  I'm very much an IIFYMer and don't believe in clean foods.

 

I pretty much hit my goals dead on the head day after day, rarely is there more than a 100 calorie variance or 10g protein variance.

 

The one thing I do that I think helps to keep the gains cleaner is that I do a fair amount of low impact cardio.  Walk a couple miles 5 days a week.  Plus I run about 10 miles a week total.  About 20 miles a week total of cardio, though of that only my Wednesday run (2.6M/3M/3.1M, depends on the course I choose) is at an intensity higher than could hold a conversation pace, and even that one I don't push myself too hard.  I think that has a small effect.  

 

Though the main factor will always be testosterone.  The more you've got, the cleaner you bulk.  I find a strong correlation between stress and sleep and how much it seems I have (due to the other side effect of high T, appetite for sex, which is easy to keep track of).  Though for the most part T levels are strongly affected by genetics (and supplementation, if you're into that sort of thing).  I'm pretty lucky in that regard, due to how clean I bulk I could probably get very, very big if I wanted to, genetics are definitely on my side.

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If anything I've been eating at a slight deficit lately but I'm going to start upping calories slightly -- I've been tired and the deficit isn't large enough for noticeable weight loss if my calculations are correct (and sometimes eating too little makes one unable to lose weight anyway) so I want to see if my lifts improve and pay attention to what else happens.

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I've been doing a LeanGains recomp. But the high carb days certainly feel like bulking. And I love it. Only one month in but I've broken through plateaus on squat and OHP and finally got my bench to 150. Part of me wants to see what kind of gains I could get from a proper bulk, but at the moment I would rather be slim for the summer.

@Waldo I could literally eat ice cream and general tso's chicken exclusively. Your diet makes me jealous. For now.

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'Eh, unless you overdo it on the surplus, fat gains can be kept to a minimum.  I'm a short non-aggressive cut (4-6 weeks @ 1 lb/wk) away from having unflexed abs, a lower BF% point than when I started this bulk.

 

*****************************************

 

I've noticed a pattern, I wonder if anybody else here has seen it.  I've read about it elsewhere and thought that I somewhat saw it, but now that I really go over my data I can see the pattern strong.

 

The first 1-2 months of bulking it doesn't show up.  Though my weight undulates a good bit, it does track on a fairly straight line on average.  Until the spike and stall pattern begins.  The spike-stall pattern seems to be about a 5-6 week pattern that starts with about a 3 week weight spike where I gain well beyond my expected rate, sustained for that 3 weeks, before gains completely stall out, at best, or I lose a bit, which lasts another 2-3 weeks, before starting another spike.

 

The first time I bulked I went through 3 distinct periods of this pattern, though due to cicumstances I never really picked up on the pattern.  The first time it was weak, the spike wasn't as strong and the pullback not as strong.  The second time the pullback coincided exactly with a short break, though the spike was strong, and the pullback even stronger, I assumed that the break caused the stall.  The 3rd time the spike was strong but the stall was a bit long, though not a pullback, and right at the end of the stall I finished my bulk (I thought that I had reached a bulking plateau at the time, since depite my best efforts I could not gain more, and then it was time to start my end of the year cut).

 

This time about a month and a half after starting to bulk, my weight began a 3 week spike, since then I've been in a fairly major pullback for the last 2 weeks.  It seems that it is beginnng to crack, but until a good upward trend is reestablished I have remain skeptical.

 

I point this out because if you are like me and track calorie levels and metabolism, adjusting as needed, what you'll see is your metabolism absolutely go it the tank as your weight spikes (and the psycholical side effect of thinking that you are way overeating and gaining fat very fast), then when it stalls you'll see your metabolism shoot up (and the psycholigical side effect of thinking you are not eating enough and have plateaued while bulking).  Now that I see that I've gone through the pattern 4 times, it is good to note that it exists, that you should not adjust your calories in response.  I did adjust my calories a bit the first time I was bulking; adjusting calories upward during a stall could be a big contributer to fat gain, downshifting calories during a spike can lead to a prolonged stall afterwards, and does little to blunt the spike.

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'Eh, unless you overdo it on the surplus, fat gains can be kept to a minimum.  I'm a short non-aggressive cut (4-6 weeks @ 1 lb/wk) away from having unflexed abs, a lower BF% point than when I started this bulk.

 

*****************************************

 

I've noticed a pattern, I wonder if anybody else here has seen it.  I've read about it elsewhere and thought that I somewhat saw it, but now that I really go over my data I can see the pattern strong.

 

The first 1-2 months of bulking it doesn't show up.  Though my weight undulates a good bit, it does track on a fairly straight line on average.  Until the spike and stall pattern begins.  The spike-stall pattern seems to be about a 5-6 week pattern that starts with about a 3 week weight spike where I gain well beyond my expected rate, sustained for that 3 weeks, before gains completely stall out, at best, or I lose a bit, which lasts another 2-3 weeks, before starting another spike.

 

The first time I bulked I went through 3 distinct periods of this pattern, though due to cicumstances I never really picked up on the pattern.  The first time it was weak, the spike wasn't as strong and the pullback not as strong.  The second time the pullback coincided exactly with a short break, though the spike was strong, and the pullback even stronger, I assumed that the break caused the stall.  The 3rd time the spike was strong but the stall was a bit long, though not a pullback, and right at the end of the stall I finished my bulk (I thought that I had reached a bulking plateau at the time, since depite my best efforts I could not gain more, and then it was time to start my end of the year cut).

 

This time about a month and a half after starting to bulk, my weight began a 3 week spike, since then I've been in a fairly major pullback for the last 2 weeks.  It seems that it is beginnng to crack, but until a good upward trend is reestablished I have remain skeptical.

 

I point this out because if you are like me and track calorie levels and metabolism, adjusting as needed, what you'll see is your metabolism absolutely go it the tank as your weight spikes (and the psycholical side effect of thinking that you are way overeating and gaining fat very fast), then when it stalls you'll see your metabolism shoot up (and the psycholigical side effect of thinking you are not eating enough and have plateaued while bulking).  Now that I see that I've gone through the pattern 4 times, it is good to note that it exists, that you should not adjust your calories in response.  I did adjust my calories a bit the first time I was bulking; adjusting calories upward during a stall could be a big contributer to fat gain, downshifting calories during a spike can lead to a prolonged stall afterwards, and does little to blunt the spike.

 

Hmm very interesting. So basically just because we think we're eating too little, too much based on our goals.. we could be in the sweet spot. This spells trouble from gauging week to week. During your weight spikes do you find the PRs come in more or are they fairly consistent? Also, this could be terrible as we gauge week to week on how we should up/lower calories for bulking or cutting. 

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Hmm very interesting. So basically just because we think we're eating too little, too much based on our goals.. we could be in the sweet spot. This spells trouble from gauging week to week. During your weight spikes do you find the PRs come in more or are they fairly consistent? Also, this could be terrible as we gauge week to week on how we should up/lower calories for bulking or cutting.

Yes, it very much is a problem if you are trying to constantly adjust. Though the first month of bulking the pattern hasn't shown up for me.

PR's are fairly constant I guess. I never really notice a lack of PR's unless I've been cutting for a while. PR's are a bit more difficult to guage for me; it isn't as easy as adding plates to the bar, where I'm at BW-wise, load is highly form dependant, tiny differences in form make huge load differences, judging whether or not something is a PR is a somewhat more difficult task. I do see continuous improvement though and occasionally go hunting for PR's, but it is more just for fun as I know at any given moment I'm holding plenty of PR's in the tank.

Physical measurements seem to follow right along with the pullback/stall or spike. During spikes I get across the board growth and some silly numbers, during pullback/stalls I get very little growth and actually shrink a bit in spots.

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Alas all good things must come to an end.  Time to cut for summer.

 

This bulk went great for me, pretty much accomplished everything I wanted to accomplish with regard to measurements.  Gained a little over 10 lbs, about 7 lbs muscle, 3 lbs fat.  Chest is up 2", quads each up almost 1.5", made good progress toward side to side symmetry.

 

Now all goes right and I'll be about 9% BF by Memorial Day.

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