When To Bulk?

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  • #19533
    Ryan Cormier
    Participant

    Hi Joe,

     

    Short Version: General questions that apply to everyone =]

    1.) Do you think a very gradual “lean bulk” is a good idea? (12-18 months, 200-400 cal surplus, periodic mini cuts)

    2.) What is the lowest body fat % you recommend cutting to before bulking? (8%, 10%, 12%, 15%)

    3.) Is their a body fat % that you like as guard rails for low and high end? (something like 10% to 15% OR 10 <–>20%)

     

     

    Long Version: Details about myself and the above questions worded a little more specific to me =]

    My name is Ryan. I believe im an intermediate when it comes to training status. Been exercising for 10 years. Mostly Crossfit with some periods of body building using exercises with shitty profiles in the 10-20 range with short rest.

    I have accumulated some decent results, photo attached for end of bulk vs current physique (angle and lighting is deceiving)

    Im 6’3, 197lbs, around 11-12%bf. In high school I was 160lbs post swimming season with little muscle muscle. Ive probably put on 30lbs of muscle in the last 10 years. I have abs with veins in the lower abs, but still have some body fat thickness around the belly button, lower back, behind the tricep, and glutes.

    Last year I ended a cut in May around the same body stats. From June 1st – September 1st, I did a dirty bulk eating 4200-4500 calories per day, which resulted in about 20lbs of weight gain in 3 months and hitting 20% body fat. I spent the last 8 months dieting/maintaining from 217lbs (lifetime heaviest) to current 197 (Probably lifetime leanest).  I think I put roughly 1-2lbs of muscle which I was able to retain, with the other 18lbs being were fat, water, and lean tissue I have since lost.

    My plan is to continue dieting down to 8% body fat and then do the opposite from last year and take a slower more gradual approach. Hoping to “leaner” bulk for 12-18 months eating around 3500-3750 calories per day, with a 1-2 week mini cut every 3-6 months.

    1.) Do you like the approach of a slower lean bulk for the yo/yo bulkers? I have been notorious for switching between bulking and cutting every few months. As soon as I start bulking I want my abs back. When im lean I want to bulk and get bigger muscles.

    2.) Is 8% too low? My lifetime low is 11% which Im at currently. Dieting has always been easy and I think I can lose another 4-6lbs without “suffering”. I kinda want to push further as its new uncharted territory to me, however Ive heard some respected influencers in the science based community hypothesis that at lower body fats your body will regain fat at a much faster rate to get back to its set point before muscle gain starts to occur. Therefore, I don’t want to cut for another 3-4 weeks to then gain it all back. The hope was by cutting to 8% and losing another 6-7lbs, it will allow an extra 2-3 months of lean bulking.

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    #19558
    Joe
    Keymaster

    Hi Joe,

     

    Short Version: General questions that apply to everyone =]

    1.) Do you think a very gradual “lean bulk” is a good idea? (12-18 months, 200-400 cal surplus, periodic mini cuts)

    2.) What is the lowest body fat % you recommend cutting to before bulking? (8%, 10%, 12%, 15%)

    3.) Is their a body fat % that you like as guard rails for low and high end? (something like 10% to 15% OR 10 <-->20%)

     

     

    Long Version: Details about myself and the above questions worded a little more specific to me =]

    My name is Ryan. I believe im an intermediate when it comes to training status. Been exercising for 10 years. Mostly Crossfit with some periods of body building using exercises with shitty profiles in the 10-20 range with short rest.

    I have accumulated some decent results, photo attached for end of bulk vs current physique (angle and lighting is deceiving)

    Im 6’3, 197lbs, around 11-12%bf. In high school I was 160lbs post swimming season with little muscle muscle. Ive probably put on 30lbs of muscle in the last 10 years. I have abs with veins in the lower abs, but still have some body fat thickness around the belly button, lower back, behind the tricep, and glutes.

    Last year I ended a cut in May around the same body stats. From June 1st – September 1st, I did a dirty bulk eating 4200-4500 calories per day, which resulted in about 20lbs of weight gain in 3 months and hitting 20% body fat. I spent the last 8 months dieting/maintaining from 217lbs (life heaviest) to current 197 (Probably life leanest).  I think I put roughly 1-2lbs of muscle which I was able to retain, with the other 18lbs being were fat, water, and lean tissue I have since lost.

    My plan is to continue dieting down to 8% body fat and then do the opposite from last year and take a slower more gradual approach. Hoping to “leaner” bulk for 12-18 months eating around 3500-3750 calories per day, with a 1-2 week mini cut every 3-6 months.

    1.) Do you like the approach of a slower lean bulk for the yo/yo bulkers? I have been notorious for switching between bulking and cutting every few months. As soon as I start bulking I want my abs back. When im lean I want to bulk and get bigger muscles.

    2.) Is 8% too low? My life low is 11% which Im at currently. Dieting has always been easy and I think I can lose another 4-6lbs without “suffering”. I kinda want to push further as its new uncharted territory to me, however Ive heard some respected influencers in the science based community hypothesis that at lower body fats your body will regain fat at a much faster rate to get back to its set point before muscle gain starts to occur. Therefore, I don’t want to cut for another 3-4 weeks to then gain it all back. The hope was by cutting to 8% and losing another 6-7lbs, it will allow an extra 2-3 months of lean bulking.

    I think everything you’ve outlined sounds like a solid plan. From a physiological standpoint, there is nothing about getting “too lean” (in and of itself) that will make you bounce back fast. It would be more about getting to somewhere very far off your baseline. (Someone going from 14% to contest ready, 4% etc).

    So personally if I had to give a range of what I’ve seen work best, it would be stay in a surplus until you’re at 12-13% body fat, then cut to 9-10. And repeat.

    That being said, 8% as a goal is also perfectly fine, as it’s also nice to just take yourself to uncharted territory from time to time.

    I also thing it’s good to set yourself a minimum timeframe to bulk, so you aren’t tempted to bail out as soon as you’re abs blur a tad. So 3-4 months is a good minimum. Just be sure you watch for signs of needing a break once you get to that point. (Can’t get a pump, waking up foggy after adequate sleep, feeling beat up)

    #21292
    Ben
    Participant

    Did this get answered?

    Really interesting but don’t seem to have the response on my app??

    Sorry if so

    #21298
    Joe
    Keymaster

    Did this get answered?

    Really interesting but don’t seem to have the response on my app??

    Sorry if so

    It is. Just keep reading. It’s written out (this was before I had audio reply)

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