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Should i bulk or cut - what is the best bf% to start bulking

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  1. #1
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    Should i bulk or cut - what is the best bf% to start bulking

    Hi.

    am writing really for some advise. I am really fit guy in the cardiovascular department. Have done many challenges, my resting heart rate is 37 beats per minute and I do sway towards cardio generally as it makes me feel great after a really hard session. I do weight but have decided to do it seriously and cut down on the cardio. I have an athletic physic but I would like to pack on some size on my upper body. My current body fat percentage is 13.5% at 178ILB and i am 6ft . With all the conflicting information out there and people saying you can build muscle and burn fat when ordinary people like me cant unless you are a genetic freak which I am not. They are therefore two different goals requiring two different strategies. My question therefore is this, should I lose a bit more body fat before building muscle, or should I just go for it now. How long roughly should I add muscle for, realistically how long does it take to build some decent muscle (months). My problem is I don’t want to add to much fat. I tried many years ago and trained really hard, but for every pound of muscle I gained I also gained a pound of fat I was around 12% body fat at that time. Any comments apart from NOOB"

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    The first obvious questions are going to be geared around your diet. Do you track your macros and if so could you post them?

    As for the answers to your questions.

    Personally at 13% I think you're ready to bulk. As for how long, it's dependent on your goals. Given the proper training and diet you could add 1-2lbs of muscle per month. This will likely come with fat as well. There's just no way around it. I'll take a 1 to 1 ratio any day!

    Get your training and diet protocols in place and post them for review. Our diet and training gurus will help you out once you've posted them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by goldcol View Post
    Hi.

    am writing really for some advise. I am really fit guy in the cardiovascular department. Have done many challenges, my resting heart rate is 37 beats per minute and I do sway towards cardio generally as it makes me feel great after a really hard session. I do weight but have decided to do it seriously and cut down on the cardio. I have an athletic physic but I would like to pack on some size on my upper body. My current body fat percentage is 13.5% at 178ILB and i am 6ft . With all the conflicting information out there and people saying you can build muscle and burn fat when ordinary people like me cant unless you are a genetic freak which I am not. They are therefore two different goals requiring two different strategies. My question therefore is this, should I lose a bit more body fat before building muscle, or should I just go for it now. How long roughly should I add muscle for, realistically how long does it take to build some decent muscle (months). My problem is I don’t want to add to much fat. I tried many years ago and trained really hard, but for every pound of muscle I gained I also gained a pound of fat I was around 12% body fat at that time. Any comments apart from NOOB"
    6ft 178 really isn't heavy...Bulk, slowly. I would say about 300 calories over maintenance and try to put on as less fat as possible. 13.5% isn't bad at all, but i see where your coming from. From all the cardio you do, your probably a little saggy in some areas, because you have very little muscle mass. Which is fine, heavy cardio will do this when you don't lift weights...Your body starts using muscle as fuel if you don't eat enough, or have sufficient protein. You need to build some muscle and tighten your physique a bit.

    I bet if you start bulking your body composition will start to look better, although you will put on a little more fat...I would rather be 190lbs 15% body fat with muscle, than 178lbs with no muscle mass...See where I'm coming from?

    If you start gaining too much fat at first, simply cut back a little. But, don't go by the scale! Get some clamps and go by body fat percentage. Lets not confuse water weight with fat gain...

    Best of luck!
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    Alot of this depends on your goals. If you arent carrying alot of muscle, 13% might not look that lean and its easy to shoot up to the high teens if you dont know what your doing.

    You may be happy with this as you will look bigger. but you may not be as you wont look like you have the conditioning. Really depends on what you trying to achieve.

    I would recommend not making drastic changes such as dropping all cardio, only doing weights and eating tonnes of food. Get a good basic routine (such as a 5x5 routine), keep your cardio in as you obviously enjoy it and get a proper diet sorted. Good advice regarding the monitoring of the bodyfat so you can make adjustment to ensure you dont put on much fat.

    Also, if you dont do much weight training you may be able to add muscle and lose fat cos your a newbie.

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    thanks for the feedback guys. i am actually toned from doing weights a couple of times a week. Certainly not saggy anywhere.
    To be honest i do not track my macros. i just make sure i have 5 to 6 meals a day with protein, carbs and healthy fats.

    At the moment my training program is based around burning fat. I have not decided to bulk up yet and therefore for when I do if you have any workout plans to suit that would be great for intermediate lifter. Is the 5 x 5 routine a good one for an intermediate lifter.

    As you mentioned Lobo the last thing I want to do is shoot up to the high teens. I read in article please see below( t-nation) that you should bulk from about 10% which seems like a while away for me and wonder if I could actually get there. At 13% using the tanita body fat scales all my abs are visible, the bottom two not showing as much but surely that is a decent base to bulk up from. At my weight should I aim to have 3000 calories per day. Is it best to only have more calories than your maintenance on training days.

    Here the article

    Thanks for your time on the posting guys, much appreciated.

    There are several good reasons not to bulk up, at least not in the traditional manner. Here are a few:
    1. Very few people will ever set foot on a bodybuilding stage. Those who have no aspiration to compete train mostly to look good. Is looking good two months out of the year what you're really after? Of course not. Most want to look good all year long!
    I don't mean be stage-ready 365 days a year, but being at a body fat percentage where you look lean and muscular. In my opinion, someone who's training for aesthetic purposes should never go above 10% body fat. Trust me, 10% is actually not that lean! But it's a point where muscle definition and muscularity are sufficient to make you look very good. It also leaves you within four weeks or so of being in superb, super-lean condition.
    So what if you're at 13% body fat and don't have that much muscle? Should you bulk up? No! You should go down to 10% then gradually increase your nutritional intake until you reach a point where you're gaining 1.5 to 2 pounds per month. This will allow you to gain muscle at your optimal rate while staying at 10%.
    2. The leaner you are, the better your body becomes at nutrient partitioning. This means that lean individuals are more effective at storing the ingested nutrients in the muscle (as muscle tissue or glycogen) or in the liver (glycogen), and less effective at storing them as body fat. Simply put, leaner individuals can eat more nutrients without gaining fat.
    3. The fatter you let yourself become, the more fat cells you're adding to your body. As we saw earlier, this will make it easier to gain fat and harder to lose it in the future, not to mention that the fatter you are, the less insulin sensitive you become. This is one of the reasons why fatter individuals are more effective at storing nutrients in the form of body fat than their leaner counterparts.
    4. Building a good looking body isn't something that happens overnight. Many people have this distorted idea that within a year of training it's possible to look like a competitive bodybuilder. Not the case!
    Building a great body is a 24 hour a day job. It isn't limited to the hour you spend at the gym; it's about the lifestyle. By eating good all year long, you aren't using a fad approach but rather changing your habits. It's much easier to lose fat when you're already used to eating well 90% of the time.

    So Should I Eat Like a Bird?
    Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that you should eat a low calorie diet year 'round. I'm not against eating large amounts of food. In fact, to build muscle you must ingest more calories than you expend every day. However, the message is to use the correct amount of food to allow your body to build muscle at an optimum rate. You shouldn't stuff yourself trying to force-feed muscle onto your body.
    The following table gives you an estimate of what your caloric intake should be set at depending on your lean body weight (total body weight minus fat weight. For example, someone who's 210 at 12% body fat has a fat mass of 25 pounds and a lean mass of 185 pounds.)
    Caloric intake relative to lean body weight to support optimal growth (considering a normal activity level)
    Lean Body Weight (total weight — fat weight) Caloric Intake to Support Optimal Growth
    120lbs 2455kcals
    130lbs 2634kcals
    140lbs 2813kcals
    150lbs 3037kcals
    160lbs 3260kcals
    170lbs 3440kcals
    180lbs 3663kcals
    190lbs 3885kcals
    200lbs 4064kcals
    210lbs 4244kcals
    220lbs 4467kcals
    230lbs 4646kcals
    240lbs 4868kcals
    250lbs 5091kcals
    260lbs 5270kcals
    270lbs 5494kcals
    This caloric intake should allow you to gain around two to three pounds per month. If you aren't gaining that amount, slowly increase your caloric intake until you reach that rate of growth (add 250kcals at a time).
    If you're gaining more than three pounds per month, you might be adding fat. If you're gaining a lot more than three pounds (like 5-7 per month), reduce the caloric intake.

    Take Home Messages
    • Don't get fat. In my opinion, no man needs to be above 10% body fat, and getting there isn't that hard. It can take time if you carry a lot of fat, but every man can get there and maintain this level.
    • You can't bully your body into adding more muscle simply by overeating.
    • You can limit your rate of gain by not ingesting enough nutrients. So adding good food if you're lacking in that department will help you gain muscle faster, but past a certain point, continuing to jack up calories will only make you fatter.
    • Have realistic expectations. You won't gain 20 pounds of muscle in three months, not even in six months. Gaining 1.5 to 2 pounds of muscle per month is the most you can expect. And for most, gaining more than ten pounds of solid muscle per year (once they're past the beginner stage) will be very rare. However, gain 5-7 pounds per year for ten years straight and you'll be one huge beast!
    • Being lean makes it easier to stay lean and to gain muscle through better nutrient partitioning. Getting fatter makes it easier to gain more fat and harder to lose it.
    • Trying to gain muscle mass should never be a justification for eating crap. If you want to eat a junk diet, at least have the decency to admit it's because you like your food too much to give it up. Don't try to pass it off as a "bulking diet." Pizzas, Big Macs, and donuts don't have higher anabolic properties than clean food!

    Conclusion
    Somebody had to say it and it was me. I'm tired of seeing young kids with good potential, who are lean and have nice shapes to start with, ruin their bodies by following the bulking advice from self-proclaimed Internet "gurus" who advise them to eat as much food as they can, even junk food if it can help them jack up their calories. All this will accomplish is helping them add heaps of fat to their lean bodies.
    I agree that a lot of young lifters don't eat enough to support maximum muscle growth, but eating junk or super-excessive calories isn't the way to go. The basic message is good: if you aren't gaining muscle, you're probably not eating enough. However, that doesn't mean you should eat too much and it doesn't mean you should eat crap!
    Think about it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by C6zo6 View Post
    6ft 178 really isn't heavy...Bulk, slowly. I would say about 300 calories over maintenance and try to put on as less fat as possible. 13.5% isn't bad at all, but i see where your coming from. From all the cardio you do, your probably a little saggy in some areas, because you have very little muscle mass. Which is fine, heavy cardio will do this when you don't lift weights...Your body starts using muscle as fuel if you don't eat enough, or have sufficient protein. You need to build some muscle and tighten your physique a bit.

    I bet if you start bulking your body composition will start to look better, although you will put on a little more fat...I would rather be 190lbs 15% body fat with muscle, than 178lbs with no muscle mass...See where I'm coming from?

    If you start gaining too much fat at first, simply cut back a little. But, don't go by the scale! Get some clamps and go by body fat percentage. Lets not confuse water weight with fat gain...

    Best of luck!
    I'd say go on a pure mass cycle for about 3 months, then recomp. This guy is right; 6 ft at 178 is lightweight. I'm 6'1", at 230. Granted I am coming off a mass cycle, I will be cutting soon after a recomp. I'd like to take a look at a daily intake of food from you. Post it. We'll see whats going on. Also, list your training protocols.
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    Monday - Football 1 hour 5 a side
    Tuesday - Chest and Triceps. 20 mins HIT
    Wednesday - X-biking 1hour or 1.5 hours
    Thurday - legs. 20mins HIT
    Friday - Shoulders, Abs 20mins HIT
    Saturday - Back - 40mins 80% effort x-trainer
    Sunday - Rest

    diet is never over 2500 calories per day whilst i am cutting and i am losing body fat weekly. i have a blow out day over the weekend to keeo the body guessing

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    what exactly are your goals? bbing? Strength? Power? Cross training? Aesthetics?
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    to add 20 pounds of lean muscle, yeah right. Body building and Aesthetics are my main goals.

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    age? If you plan on getting bigger, you need to cut down on the cardio-not totally eliminate it, but get down to a respectable level for partitioning.
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    age 32. i could limit my cardio to just monday night football

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    well...

    you could get by and I would probably do this with an HST training routine. Sticking with heavy ass compound moves and really chowing down on good, clean foods. It's really not hard. Go heavy with weight, low with reps.
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    you dont need a big surplus in calories-show me exactly what you eat in a day.
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    Quote Originally Posted by goldcol View Post
    to add 20 pounds of lean muscle, yeah right. Body building and Aesthetics are my main goals.
    From the look at your program and how much you eat, losing body fat is your goal...Your certainly not going to gain any muscle and from the scale mentioned above, your eating way under maintenance. Which is fine, your just going to lose fat/muscle faster. (Hopefully not much muscle)

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    Bulking...Blah.
    Staying in shape all year long is hard, but can be done while gaining quality muscle. You truly have to keep your bdy ft levels in check while doing so.
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    Quote Originally Posted by goldcol View Post
    There are several good reasons not to bulk up, at least not in the traditional manner. Here are a few:
    1. Very few people will ever set foot on a bodybuilding stage. Those who have no aspiration to compete train mostly to look good. Is looking good two months out of the year what you're really after? Of course not. Most want to look good all year long!
    I don't mean be stage-ready 365 days a year, but being at a body fat percentage where you look lean and muscular. In my opinion, someone who's training for aesthetic purposes should never go above 10% body fat. Trust me, 10% is actually not that lean! But it's a point where muscle definition and muscularity are sufficient to make you look very good. It also leaves you within four weeks or so of being in superb, super-lean condition.
    So what if you're at 13% body fat and don't have that much muscle? Should you bulk up? No! You should go down to 10% then gradually increase your nutritional intake until you reach a point where you're gaining 1.5 to 2 pounds per month. This will allow you to gain muscle at your optimal rate while staying at 10%.
    2. The leaner you are, the better your body becomes at nutrient partitioning. This means that lean individuals are more effective at storing the ingested nutrients in the muscle (as muscle tissue or glycogen) or in the liver (glycogen), and less effective at storing them as body fat. Simply put, leaner individuals can eat more nutrients without gaining fat.
    3. The fatter you let yourself become, the more fat cells you're adding to your body. As we saw earlier, this will make it easier to gain fat and harder to lose it in the future, not to mention that the fatter you are, the less insulin sensitive you become. This is one of the reasons why fatter individuals are more effective at storing nutrients in the form of body fat than their leaner counterparts.
    4. Building a good looking body isn't something that happens overnight. Many people have this distorted idea that within a year of training it's possible to look like a competitive bodybuilder. Not the case!
    Building a great body is a 24 hour a day job. It isn't limited to the hour you spend at the gym; it's about the lifestyle. By eating good all year long, you aren't using a fad approach but rather changing your habits. It's much easier to lose fat when you're already used to eating well 90% of the time.

    So Should I Eat Like a Bird?
    Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that you should eat a low calorie diet year 'round. I'm not against eating large amounts of food. In fact, to build muscle you must ingest more calories than you expend every day. However, the message is to use the correct amount of food to allow your body to build muscle at an optimum rate. You shouldn't stuff yourself trying to force-feed muscle onto your body.
    The following table gives you an estimate of what your caloric intake should be set at depending on your lean body weight (total body weight minus fat weight. For example, someone who's 210 at 12% body fat has a fat mass of 25 pounds and a lean mass of 185 pounds.)
    Caloric intake relative to lean body weight to support optimal growth (considering a normal activity level)
    Lean Body Weight (total weight — fat weight) Caloric Intake to Support Optimal Growth
    120lbs 2455kcals
    130lbs 2634kcals
    140lbs 2813kcals
    150lbs 3037kcals
    160lbs 3260kcals
    170lbs 3440kcals
    180lbs 3663kcals
    190lbs 3885kcals
    200lbs 4064kcals
    210lbs 4244kcals
    220lbs 4467kcals
    230lbs 4646kcals
    240lbs 4868kcals
    250lbs 5091kcals
    260lbs 5270kcals
    270lbs 5494kcals
    This caloric intake should allow you to gain around two to three pounds per month. If you aren't gaining that amount, slowly increase your caloric intake until you reach that rate of growth (add 250kcals at a time).
    If you're gaining more than three pounds per month, you might be adding fat. If you're gaining a lot more than three pounds (like 5-7 per month), reduce the caloric intake.

    Take Home Messages
    • Don't get fat. In my opinion, no man needs to be above 10% body fat, and getting there isn't that hard. It can take time if you carry a lot of fat, but every man can get there and maintain this level.
    • You can't bully your body into adding more muscle simply by overeating.
    • You can limit your rate of gain by not ingesting enough nutrients. So adding good food if you're lacking in that department will help you gain muscle faster, but past a certain point, continuing to jack up calories will only make you fatter.
    • Have realistic expectations. You won't gain 20 pounds of muscle in three months, not even in six months. Gaining 1.5 to 2 pounds of muscle per month is the most you can expect. And for most, gaining more than ten pounds of solid muscle per year (once they're past the beginner stage) will be very rare. However, gain 5-7 pounds per year for ten years straight and you'll be one huge beast!
    • Being lean makes it easier to stay lean and to gain muscle through better nutrient partitioning. Getting fatter makes it easier to gain more fat and harder to lose it.
    • Trying to gain muscle mass should never be a justification for eating crap. If you want to eat a junk diet, at least have the decency to admit it's because you like your food too much to give it up. Don't try to pass it off as a "bulking diet." Pizzas, Big Macs, and donuts don't have higher anabolic properties than clean food!

    Conclusion
    Somebody had to say it and it was me. I'm tired of seeing young kids with good potential, who are lean and have nice shapes to start with, ruin their bodies by following the bulking advice from self-proclaimed Internet "gurus" who advise them to eat as much food as they can, even junk food if it can help them jack up their calories. All this will accomplish is helping them add heaps of fat to their lean bodies.
    I agree that a lot of young lifters don't eat enough to support maximum muscle growth, but eating junk or super-excessive calories isn't the way to go. The basic message is good: if you aren't gaining muscle, you're probably not eating enough. However, that doesn't mean you should eat too much and it doesn't mean you should eat crap!
    Think about it.
    This is very interesting. But, it can get a little confusing. What if a person is 5'8, 150lbs, 14% body fat...Would you want him to eat at a calorie deficit until he was 10%? This would mean he would weigh about 138 or so...Then, he would have to gradually start eating 2-300 calories over maintenance. That seems a little on the odd side...But, i do agree that their is no need to be over 10% all year. However, depending on the persons size to begin with can really change how i view this guys opinion...

    I've never thought that "bulking" was a good idea. Eating 250 calories over maintenance is perfectly fine and his guidelines for calorie suggestions are great. Although, keep in mind that was for a typical person. If your playing football and being active 6 days a week, your burning a lot more calories than the average person...I mean, even casual walking for an hour burns 200 calories...Imagine what moderate biking would be for an hour...

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    Quote Originally Posted by goldcol View Post
    2. The leaner you are, the better your body becomes at nutrient partitioning. This means that lean individuals are more effective at storing the ingested nutrients in the muscle (as muscle tissue or glycogen) or in the liver (glycogen), and less effective at storing them as body fat. Simply put, leaner individuals can eat more nutrients without gaining fat.
    This isn't true of dieted down individuals. It's only true of naturally lean individuals. In general, I respect the hell out of Thibaudeau though. T-Nation.com | Truth About Bulking

    Quote Originally Posted by Built View Post
    I don't think that's a fair assessment. There seems to be a sweet spot for bulking, for most men that's probably around 15% give or take. I'd just gradually increase calories and keep lifting - or bulk faster, but accept looking juicy for a bit.
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    thanks built, this is an interesting artical claiming to help build muscle whilst limiting fat gain. have you tried it?

    Bodybuilding.com - Mark McManus - Cyclical Ketogenic Diet: The Best Ever Bodybuilding Diet?

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    Quote Originally Posted by goldcol View Post
    to add 20 pounds of lean muscle, yeah right. Body building and Aesthetics are my main goals.
    Juggernaut is on the right track with your goals.

    At 178 and a fat free mass of 154 lbs, your bodytype should limit cardio. Any cardio you perform burns calories, and in order to synthesize new muscle tissue you have to eat more calories than your body burns off (unless a complete beginner). At your weight/height your BMR/Activities would require 3000+ calories per day, At a start figure of calorie intake you should consume approx 3500 calories per day, split between protein, carbs, essential fats. After one month monitor body fat and fat free mass levels and then make changes to the diet.
    Doug

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    Quote Originally Posted by Built View Post
    This isn't true of dieted down individuals. It's only true of naturally lean individuals. In general, I respect the hell out of Thibaudeau though. T-Nation.com | Truth About Bulking



    My .02
    I gotta agree with Built-she has taught me a lot. She knows. And Thib's work does speak for itself.
    I personally came off a PSMF diet to cut a bit, started a smalllllll bulk, and I was completely shocked when I added 20 lbs to my frame. Granted, I was doing a PH, but the gains were made with hard work and top notch nutrition. I put a little fat on, but damn I was impressed!
    Last edited by juggernaut; 04-28-2009 at 09:38 AM.
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    PSMF & PF. Come on i am a noob!

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    protein sparing modified fast. It's by Lyle McDonald. Good-no-great read. Or, as I like to call it-protein simply mother fucker.
    Disclaimer: All health, fitness, diet, nutrition, anabolic steroid & supplement information posted here is intended for educational and informational purposes only, and is not intended as a substitute for proper medical advice from a medical doctor. We do not condone the use of anabolic steroids (AAS), all information about AAS is for educational and entertainment purposes only. If you choose to use AAS it's your responsibility to know the laws of the country that you live in. Consult your physician or health care professional before performing any of the exercises, or following any diet, nutrition or supplement advice described on this website.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tank316 View Post
    Bulking...Blah.
    Staying in shape all year long is hard, but can be done while gaining quality muscle. You truly have to keep your bdy ft levels in check while doing so.
    while I agree with keeping fat levels in check, how can you expect to grow if you dont get a small supply of extra calories-albeit clean, to emphasize growth? Maintenance is one thing-which is what you clearly state as being "hard". I disagree with that statement-afterall, homeostasis is what the body favors. Gaining muscle can be harder if that person has a fast metabolism or eats the wrong type of calories.
    Disclaimer: All health, fitness, diet, nutrition, anabolic steroid & supplement information posted here is intended for educational and informational purposes only, and is not intended as a substitute for proper medical advice from a medical doctor. We do not condone the use of anabolic steroids (AAS), all information about AAS is for educational and entertainment purposes only. If you choose to use AAS it's your responsibility to know the laws of the country that you live in. Consult your physician or health care professional before performing any of the exercises, or following any diet, nutrition or supplement advice described on this website.

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    Quote Originally Posted by juggernaut View Post
    while I agree with keeping fat levels in check, how can you expect to grow if you dont get a small supply of extra calories-albeit clean, to emphasize growth? Maintenance is one thing-which is what you clearly state as being "hard". I disagree with that statement-afterall, homeostasis is what the body favors. Gaining muscle can be harder if that person has a fast metabolism or eats the wrong type of calories.
    you clearly state as being "hard".

    Bulking...Blah.
    Staying in shape all year long is hard, but can be done while gaining quality muscle. You truly have to keep your bdy ft levels in check while doing so.
    Far cry from stating being hard bro...
    By keeping them in check i meant not getting out of hand...
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    www.prrstraining.com Time to GROW Without Plateau!

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    Like I said, there's a sweet spot, and it's a little different for everybody - too lean, and you could be growing faster if you just ate more. Too fat, and you simply won't partition well - you get progressively insulin resistant and that means you partition less and less into muscle - and more and more into fat.

    goldcol, that's basically how I eat and train. Very comfortable way to maintain and ever so slowly cut OR bulk.
    Wondering where to start? Confused? "Homework 1" will get you started.

    Think you're ready for the "next step"? Take this test.

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    thanks for all your feedback its been great.

    i have decided to start my bulking up cycle in 2 weeks (leanish bulk hopefully). I have a training plan drafted. Diet plan drafted. I was going to post all of this and my stats and then post 2 weekly results(measurements, LBM BF)

    Would you guys be interested to give me some pointers and advise on the results from the the traning and diet program.

    I feel this will give me great motivation and you are all very knowlegeable on the subject. Hey if ya cant be assed then fair play!

    Keep it rocking!

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    sure. Be leery, we can be brutally honest.
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