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  1. #1
    Registered User RapidFail's Avatar
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    Lean bulking consistency

    Not sure where the best place for lean bulking topics is...

    Has anyone else found that consistency and trackability is more difficult while lean bulking than when cutting? Whenever I cut, I'll usually drop 2lb in the first week, then an average of 1lb per week from then on - although it often comes in the form of 2lb every second week, despite being consistent with calories.

    I've made mistakes when bulking before - bulking too fast and putting on unnecessary fat, and being too attached to my leanness and not bulking for long enough. I'm about two-thirds of the way into my bulk this year, but still find getting calories right to be much more difficult than when cutting. I guess this makes sense because the margin is smaller - my lean bulking surplus is about half of my cutting deficit.

    My goal this year has been 2lb of weight gain per month and I'd be satisfied if it was 50:50 muscle and fat. So far I'm averaging a bit slower than that, not sure about the body composition, but I'll take some measurements soon.

    Here's what my weekly average weight has looked like since I started bulking in February:

    Jan 29 - 167.2lb (aimed for 3050 calories)
    Feb 4 - 168.3lb [+ 1.1lb]
    Feb 11 - 167.7lb [- 0.6lb]
    Feb 18 - 168.7lb [+ 1.0lb]
    Feb 25 - 169.6lb [+ 0.9lb]
    Mar 4 - 169.8lb [+ 0.2lb]
    Mar 11 - 169.2lb [- 0.6lb]
    Mar 18 - 170.1lb [+ 0.9lb]
    Mar 25 - 171.0lb [+ 0.9lb]
    Apr 1 - 171.1lb [+ 0.1lb]
    Apr 8 - 171.2lb [+ 0.1lb] (increased calories to 3100)
    Apr 15 - on holiday, didn't weigh myself
    Apr 22 - 171.4lb [+ 0.2lb]
    Apr 29 - 172.1lb [+ 0.7lb]
    May 6 - 173.8lb [+ 1.7lb]
    May 13 - 173.9lb [+ 0.1lb]
    May 20 - 171.9lb [- 2.0lb] (got sick, ate intuitively)
    May 27 - 172.4lb [+ 0.5lb]
    June 3 - 172.4lb (increased calories to 3300)
    June 10 - 173.3lb [+ 0.9lb]
    June 17 - 174.7lb [+ 1.4lb]
    June 24 - 174.5lb [- 0.2lb]
    June 30 - 174.3lb [- 0.2lb]

    My adherence to both diet and training have been very consistent. Overall I'm a bit behind my goal - I've been bulking for five months and have gained 7.1lb rather than the 10lb that 2lb per month would have meant. In this time I've gotten a little stronger for most lifts and my abs have gotten a bit blurrier. I'm curious what these numbers look like compared to the other lean bulkers here.
    Last edited by RapidFail; 07-02-2022 at 05:55 AM.
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    Age: 38
    Height: 185cm (6'1")
    Weight: 81.8kg (180.4lb)

    Personal best lifts
    Bench - 5 x 65kg (143lb), 8 x 62.5kg (138lb)
    Bent Over Row - 10 x 70kg (154lb)
    Front squat - 5 x 67.5kg (149lb)
    Back squat - 3 x 80kg (176lb), 8 x 75kg (165lb)
    RDL - 9 x 85kg (187lb)
    Deadlift - 6 x 107.5kg (237lb)
    Overhead Press - 6 x 40kg (88lb)
    Chin Ups - 7 x bodyweight + 12.5kg (27.5lb), 14 x bodyweight
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  2. #2
    Registered User coachcalande's Avatar
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    After losing 40 lbs and now working to regain strength and size, I have regained about 6-7 lbs with significant progress, especially in my leg training. To me, if I don’t see performance changes along side scale changes, only then would I worry.

    Look at your lifting…are you able to set PRs every single day in the gym? If not, take in more food. Training without gains is pointless unless you are cutting.
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  3. #3
    Registered User air2fakie's Avatar
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    The human body isn't a universal math formula, that all looks pretty precise to me. I step on the scale about once every few months so you're a superstar recordkeeper in my book.
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  4. #4
    Registered User RapidFail's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by air2fakie View Post
    The human body isn't a universal math formula, that all looks pretty precise to me. I step on the scale about once every few months so you're a superstar recordkeeper in my book.
    Haha, I weigh myself three times per week (Mon-Wed-Fri) and take a weekly average.
    Last edited by RapidFail; 07-02-2022 at 04:38 PM.
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  5. #5
    Registered User RapidFail's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by coachcalande View Post
    After losing 40 lbs and now working to regain strength and size, I have regained about 6-7 lbs with significant progress, especially in my leg training. To me, if I don’t see performance changes along side scale changes, only then would I worry.

    Look at your lifting…are you able to set PRs every single day in the gym? If not, take in more food. Training without gains is pointless unless you are cutting.
    Most training days I am hitting some kind of PR, but not always and sometimes poor sleep and injuries get in the way of progress.
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  6. #6
    Registered User sunsean's Avatar
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    I usually discourage lean bulking precisely because it’s so difficult to dial in and do effectively. Too few calories and you don’t progress, too many and you’re just bulking lol.

    I’d err on the side of too many calories than too few, if the ultimate goal is strength/mass gains. Or you can be conservative and eat less, worst case is you will maintain or recomp a little, as long as you’re lifting no real harm or muscle loss should happen.

    Guess it comes down to your priority, is it more important to maintain your leanness or to add muscle?
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  7. #7
    My pronouns are bro/brah Tommy W.'s Avatar
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    OP, go off of waist measurements at the navel. Keep this number in check and you’re on the right track. When it grows an inch or slightly more, go on a short cutting period. This way you’ll eliminate long cutting phases later on
    If you don't get what you want you didn't want it bad enough
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  8. #8
    Registered User RapidFail's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Tommy W. View Post
    OP, go off of waist measurements at the navel. Keep this number in check and you’re on the right track. When it grows an inch or slightly more, go on a short cutting period. This way you’ll eliminate long cutting phases later on
    Unfortunately this was my old strategy that lead to me spinning my wheels switching between bulking and cutting too frequently. I'm 6'1" and about 16% body fat at present, so I'm still relatively light for my height - though I've come a long way and have probably already gained 20lb of muscle in the 3.5 years I've been training. I think I have to accept at this point that any muscle gains will likely have to come with some fat.

    Last year I gained 11lb in 5 months and gained 1.6 inches at the navel. When I cut back down I lost 9lb and 2 inches at the navel, finishing the year 2lb heavier and slightly leaner than I started. I store nearly all of my fat on my belly and love handles - even now my upper abs are getting blurry, love handles bigger and I still have bicep veins and faint striations on my chest and shoulders when flexed.
    Last edited by RapidFail; 07-02-2022 at 06:19 PM.
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  9. #9
    Masstrophysicist Camarija's Avatar
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    I know you're very good at adherence, but a long lean bulk is just hard. There are fat gains no matter what pretty much.

    I am just about to start a 'lean' bulk for ~20 weeks or so, with a goal of ~ 0.5% gain per week.



    4 mesocycles of 4 ramping weeks, and 1 deload week. Might decide to go on a mini cut, or final bulking meso to end the year.

    Each day of a given mesocycle I will basically eat exactly the same thing.

    Each subsequent mesocycle I'll add a little more, something like +10% more calories.

    Maybe something like:
    Weeks 1-5: 2,700 calories (starting close to maintenance)
    Weeks 6-10: 3,000 calories
    Weeks 11-15: 3,300 calories
    Weeks 16-20: 3,600 calories

    I cannot back this up, but i feel the sudden 10% increases in calories cause anabolic signaling.
    Just like I believe the volume ramping increases anabolic signaling.

    I'm not an expert, we'll see how it goes.

    *edit* trying to answer your question

    Last lean bulk was like this:

    I've bulked for 3 continuous mesocycles, 15 weeks total.

    Gained ~ 15 lbs

    At the end of last cut, I was around 188 lbs without creatine.
    Right now I'm somewhere around 203 lbs without creatine.
    Last edited by Camarija; 07-02-2022 at 10:15 PM.
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  10. #10
    NASM-CPT xsquid99's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by RapidFail View Post
    Last year I gained 11lb in 5 months and gained 1.6 inches at the navel. When I cut back down I lost 9lb and 2 inches at the navel, finishing the year 2lb heavier and slightly leaner than I started. I store nearly all of my fat on my belly and love handles - even now my upper abs are getting blurry, love handles bigger and I still have bicep veins and faint striations on my chest and shoulders when flexed.
    This is similar to me. Unfortunately my belly is the first place to store fat, and with a 12 pound gain over a 6 month bulk I saw a nearly 2.5 inch gain at the navel. I just accept that it comes with the territory now because jumping back into a cut because of fear of fat gain was really hampering my long term ability to grow. I'm currently 5 months into my current bulk, and up 10 pounds, and I'm going to keep right on going until I'm up a good 20-22 pounds, however long that takes, regardless of the belly fat.
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  11. #11
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    Looks like textbook slow weight gain OP.

    I do find it harder to control weight gain. If I decide to cut which I hate doing, I get into a 'mode' where I am just eating roughly the same each day and sticking to a calorie level, this usually involves going complete cold turkey on all junk foods. But slow mass gain is harder because I always think I can have 1 or 2 biscuits or a bag of crisps but then that makes me ravenously hungry, especially if it comes after a cut phase. I have never had to bring my weight up a long way because I was never really below my target weight. For me at least, mass gain can be done just on a reasonably sensible ad libitum diet. I figure that I'm going to be close to maintenance on average which is fine for muscle gain without significant weight gain when I am at or possibly above my target weight.
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