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    How does lean bulking work as you’re going from beginner to intermediate to advanced?

    So I’ve read that as a beginner, you want to aim for 2-3lbs a month since you can build 1-2 pounds of muscle a month at that stage. A surplus of 200-300 calories is usually what is always recommended for lean bulking.

    My question is, if I still maintain a 200-300 calorie surplus into intermediate and advanced stages, will it still be the same weight gain of 2-3 pounds a month? Because as an intermediate you’d build about 10-12 pounds of muscle in that year and as advanced you’d build about 5lbs in a year. Is a 200-300 calorie surplus based off only gaining 2-3lbs a month or is it just based off of continually gaining muscle with as little fat as possible? It wouldn’t make sense to gain 2-3lbs a month as an advanced lifted if you can only gain 5lbs of muscle that year. There would be too much fat gain at that rate.
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    Given that muscle gain slows as you get more advanced, more of it will be fat and less of it muscle. Don't ask me to put numbers on it because that would be total guesswork.
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    Originally Posted by SuffolkPunch View Post
    Given that muscle gain slows as you get more advanced, more of it will be fat and less of it muscle. Don't ask me to put numbers on it because that would be total guesswork.
    Right. So then if that’s the case where more of the gains will be fat than muscle as you get more advanced, then you can’t really decrease the surplus either. 200-300 calorie surplus is already the lowest and leanest surplus you can go. Trying to go lower than that would be so hard to track. Add one extra tablespoon of olive oil and you’re done. Since you need a surplus to build muscle what then? You’d end up with 5 pounds of muscle and 19 pounds of fat for that entire year being advanced if 200 calorie surplus yields 2-3lbs weight gain each month.

    So basically...there is no such thing as lean bulking anymore if you’re advanced. The leanest bulk would be dirty bulking at that point, what a bummer

    Only thing I can think of where you won’t gain a lot more fat than muscle is if fat gain slows at the same time as muscle gains do, remaining at an equal ratio of fat to muscle from beginner to advanced and the only reason for that would be that instead of the rest of the calories just going to mostly fat this time, they now mostly go to supporting your entire muscle mass. More muscle mass=higher metabolism so technically you wouldn’t gain fat at the same rate anymore

    I’d rather perma lean bulk than cut...if that’s possible. I guess that’s the real question...can you perma lean bulk? Muscle gains are always going to be infinite, they just slow down. With that logic, perma lean bulking should be possible, no?
    Last edited by Animal2692; 12-05-2018 at 06:48 PM.
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    Originally Posted by Animal2692 View Post
    Right. So then if that’s the case where more of the gains will be fat than muscle as you get more advanced, then you can’t really decrease the surplus either. 200-300 calorie surplus is already the lowest and leanest surplus you can go.
    Are you asking questions or giving advice?

    Most advanced lifters don't need a big surplus, there isn't much to gain so they focus on lifting progress primarily. Most advanced lifters who gained 25-35 pounds in a year would just get fat and waste a bunch of time dieting after.
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    Originally Posted by Animal2692 View Post
    200-300 calorie surplus is already the lowest and leanest surplus you can go.
    No.

    Trying to go lower than that would be so hard to track.
    No. Gaining 1 pound per month is fairly easy if you know how to track your weight with a moving average.

    Since you need a surplus to build muscle what then?
    False, a surplus isn't necessary to gain muscle, positive muscle protein balance is.

    ..can you perma lean bulk?
    Yes, if you are patient.

    There's no research showing that alternating bulking and cutting cycles will get you to your goal faster than eating a steady, small surplus. This doesn't mean that it's not faster, it could be or it could be that the slow & steady approach is faster. There's just no good research available.
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    Originally Posted by Mrpb View Post
    No.


    No. Gaining 1 pound per month is fairly easy if you know how to track your weight with a moving average.


    False, a surplus isn't necessary to gain muscle, positive muscle protein balance is.



    Yes, if you are patient.

    There's no research showing that alternating bulking and cutting cycles will get you to your goal faster than eating a steady, small surplus. This doesn't mean that it's not faster, it could be or it could be that the slow & steady approach is faster. There's just no good research available.
    Well for those who are already fairly lean, they would need a surplus to get that positive muscle protein balance no?
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    Originally Posted by EjnarKolinkar View Post
    Are you asking questions or giving advice?

    Most advanced lifters don't need a big surplus, there isn't much to gain so they focus on lifting progress primarily. Most advanced lifters who gained 25-35 pounds in a year would just get fat and waste a bunch of time dieting after.
    Just wondering based off of what I know and what research has shown
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    Originally Posted by Animal2692 View Post
    Well for those who are already fairly lean, they would need a surplus to get that positive muscle protein balance no?
    Not necessarily as a caloric surplus doesn't increase muscle protein balance vs. eating at TDEE.

    A surplus may be necessary to achieve increases in training volume, the main factor that drives muscle growth. But whether it is depends on many factors: genetics, hormones, training program, rest, stress, etc.

    It is common though for people to arrive at a place where they need a surplus in order to make progress. How large the surplus needed is can only be found out by trial and error.
    Last edited by Mrpb; 12-06-2018 at 08:02 AM.
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    Originally Posted by Mrpb View Post
    Not necessarily as a caloric surplus doesn't increase muscle protein balance vs. eating at TDEE.

    A surplus may be necessary to achieve increases in training volume, the main factor that drives muscle growth. But whether it is depends on many factors: genetics, hormones, training program, rest, stress, etc.

    It is common though for people to arrive at a place where they need a surplus in order to make progress. How large the surplus needed is can only be found out by trial and error.
    Reason I mentioned surplus is because I’m definitely around the beginning of gaining muscle. I weigh 145 now at 5’8”, 26 years old..fairly lean. That is FEMALE bodyweight at my height haha. With most of my muscle gains tapped out, or close to my genetic ceiling, I should be around mid to high 170s...fairly lean. So I already got at least 30 more pounds of mass to add to my frame no matter what. It’s not gonna happen any other way without a surplus
    Last edited by Animal2692; 12-06-2018 at 08:27 AM.
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    Originally Posted by Animal2692 View Post
    Reason I mentioned surplus is because I’m definitely around the beginning of gaining muscle. I weigh 145 now at 5’8”, 26 years old..fairly lean. That is FEMALE bodyweight at my height haha. With most of my muscle gains tapped out, I should be around mid to high 170s...fairly lean. So I already got at least 30 more pounds of mass to add to my frame no matter what
    Well given that you're 145 pounds and just started it's best to gain about 2 pounds per month. Over time you'll want to slow that down to about 1 pound per month.

    Here's a study that compared bulking rates: https://forum.bodybuilding.com/showt...9122713&page=1
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    Originally Posted by Mrpb View Post
    Well given that you're 145 pounds and just started it's best to gain about 2 pounds per month. Over time you'll want to slow that down to about 1 pound per month.

    Here's a study that compared bulking rates: https://forum.bodybuilding.com/showt...9122713&page=1
    Right, and thanks. I just started doing that a week ago too, I just posted a thread on it just now if you want to check it out:

    https://forum.bodybuilding.com/showt...hp?t=176532771

    Let me know if the diet is shaping up to be effective
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    Originally Posted by Animal2692 View Post
    Right, and thanks. I just started doing that a week ago too, I just posted a thread on it just now if you want to check it out:

    https://forum.bodybuilding.com/showt...hp?t=176532771

    Let me know if the diet is shaping up to be effective
    I recommend gaining only 2 pounds per month for someone your size. When gaining 3 pounds per month it's likely you can only bulk for a couple of months.

    Here's my general advice: https://forum.bodybuilding.com/showt...3439001&page=1
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    Originally Posted by Mrpb View Post
    I recommend gaining only 2 pounds per month for someone your size. When gaining 3 pounds per month it's likely you can only bulk for a couple of months.

    Here's my general advice: https://forum.bodybuilding.com/showt...3439001&page=1
    I used the calculator you posted in that thread you made and it was one of the calculators I already used. It gave me 2200 maintenance and I'm at 2400 a day now so I'm spot on.

    So you'd say for my size...2lbs a month is best. A year after that provided I do everything else right, shoot for 1lb a month and then .5lb a month the year after that too?
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    Originally Posted by Animal2692 View Post
    I used the calculator you posted in that thread you made and it was one of the calculators I already used. It gave me 2200 maintenance and I'm at 2400 a day now so I'm spot on.

    So you'd say for my size...2lbs a month is best. A year after that provided I do everything else right, shoot for 1lb a month and then .5lb a month the year after that too?
    Play it by ear. You may have to slow down your bulk sooner than that.
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    Originally Posted by Mrpb View Post
    Play it by ear. You may have to slow down your bulk sooner than that.
    So that means eating a 100 calorie surplus? It's not that it's hard to track 1-2lbs a month weight gain, it's that it's hard to track daily calorie intake if my surplus goes as low as 100 calories above maintenance. To only gain 1lb a month I would need a pretty small surplus. At that point, a table spoon extra of olive oil added to something makes all the difference. Not to mention that when you cook your own food it gets even harder to be completely accurate with calories. Spices and oil or butter can add an easy 100-200 calories

    I'm probably just going to have to suck it up at those higher levels and go through a cutting phase gaining a lot more fat just to eek out a few more pounds of muscle.
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    Originally Posted by Animal2692 View Post
    So that means eating a 100 calorie surplus? .
    Don't think of a surplus of 100 or 200. Just look at your weight gain per month. In the beginning you may be able to stay lean at 2 pounds per month. After a while you may want to slow it down. Your TDEE will also go up (more LBM, more training volume etc).

    And stop trying to figure out now what you'll need to do in 6 months. It's not possible.

    Here's something more important to consider: what is your training program?
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    Originally Posted by Mrpb View Post
    Don't think of a surplus of 100 or 200. Just look at your weight gain per month. In the beginning you may be able to stay lean at 2 pounds per month. After a while you may want to slow it down. Your TDEE will also go up (more LBM, more training volume etc).

    And stop trying to figure out now what you'll need to do in 6 months. It's not possible.

    Here's something more important to consider: what is your training program?
    Full body ~3x a week, 2 days rest between workouts, all sets shy of failure.

    Weighted Dip 2x5-7 with 65lbs
    Underhand Barbell Row 2x5-7 with 165lbs
    ATG Pause Squat 2x5-7 with 200lbs
    Military Press 2x5-7 with 125lbs
    Weighted Chin Up 2x5-7 with 65lbs
    Deadlift 2x5-7 with 280lbs

    12 sets pulling, 12 sets pushing, 12 sets lower body weekly volume

    I try to add a rep until I can get 7 reps on all sets and then I add weight. I add a rep every other workout so it takes me 3 workouts to finally add weight which is 5lbs a week.
    Last edited by Animal2692; 12-06-2018 at 11:38 AM.
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    So you're not a beginner. You'll be hard pressed to keep 2 lb per month lean. Did you read that thread I linked you to?

    It compares 0.2% per week vs 0.4% per week weight gain. The 0.4% group gained 5x more fat. Good to keep in mind.
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    Originally Posted by Mrpb View Post
    So you're not a beginner. You'll be hard pressed to keep 2 lb per month lean. Did you read that thread I linked you to?

    It compares 0.2% per week vs 0.4% per week weight gain. The 0.4% group gained 5x more fat. Good to keep in mind.
    I'm going for the bear mode look too. So I'll take a bit higher body fat, no more than 18% if I gain a bit too fast.
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    Originally Posted by Animal2692 View Post
    I'm going for the bear mode look too. So I'll take a bit higher body fat, no more than 18% if I gain a bit too fast.
    Going by that study, 145 pounds ~0.2% per week would be ~0.3 pounds per week, ~1.2 pounds per month. That's probably ideal.

    If you don't mind gaining fat you can sure gain a lot faster.
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    Originally Posted by Mrpb View Post
    Going by that study, 145 pounds ~0.2% per week would be ~0.3 pounds per week, ~1.2 pounds per month. That's probably ideal.

    If you don't mind gaining fat you can sure gain a lot faster.
    I'm new to lean bulking, but not dirty bulking. It's crazy how you only need to gain a pound or two a month at most. One time I dirty bulked and gained 10 pounds a month for 3 months. I realized that was really bad, so then I thought 4 pounds a month is a lean bulk but damn...not even that, 4lbs still too much.
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    Originally Posted by Animal2692 View Post
    I'm new to lean bulking, but not dirty bulking. It's crazy how you only need to gain a pound or two a month at most. One time I dirty bulked and gained 10 pounds a month for 3 months. I realized that was really bad, so then I thought 4 pounds a month is a lean bulk but damn...not even that, 4lbs still too much.
    yeah I had to learn that the hard way too.

    btw, about your program. It's decent volume. Great as a starting point.

    But if you're recovering well and you would want to maximise hypertrophy, a bit more sets per week per muscle group would probably be a good idea.

    Also, for achieving more sets, the ~8-12 rep ranges tends to be easier on the joints than the ~5 rep range.
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    Originally Posted by Mrpb View Post
    yeah I had to learn that the hard way too.

    btw, about your program. It's decent volume. Great as a starting point.

    But if you're recovering well and you would want to maximise hypertrophy, a bit more sets per week per muscle group would probably be a good idea.

    Also, for achieving more sets, the ~8-12 rep ranges tends to be easier on the joints than the ~5 rep range.
    I've been thinking about more volume but it's just that I'm so adamant about full body workouts and with full body workouts, you can only do so much especially if you're doing all compounds, going heavy, and close to failure.
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    well, if you're 145 pounds and just started it's best to gain about 2 pounds per month. Over time you'll want to slow that down to about 1 pound per month.
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    Originally Posted by malikabdulwahab View Post
    well, if you're 145 pounds and just started it's best to gain about 2 pounds per month.
    I agree but OP didn't just start. Check his lifts in post #17.
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    Originally Posted by Mrpb View Post
    I agree but OP didn't just start. Check his lifts in post #17.
    Hey one more question regarding macros. My calorie surplus is in check and everything. However, I get in around 160g+ of protein each day, sometimes up to 180g. I eat a lot of eggs, meat, cheese, nuts, I take whey, and I drink a lot of milk. With those foods, a lot of fat naturally comes with them which puts my carbs in the mid to low range. So I'm basically closer keto bulking. Now I've read that enough protein and enough calories with enough fat to keep hormone levels in check and survive, is what is going to build muscle. But what if that fat intake is much higher than your carb intake? My carbs are more in the mid range, but definitely not the 60% that is usually suggested for bulking.

    I don't know, I just love my fats and protein. I've heard that you don't need carbs to power through workouts once you're mostly in ketosis because your body becomes really good at using fat for energy too. Apparently carbs make it easier to gain fat and you also have to eat more often because carbs aren't satiating. And also that glucose oxidation is more taxing metabolically
    Last edited by Animal2692; 12-08-2018 at 08:08 AM.
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    Originally Posted by Animal2692 View Post
    Apparently carbs make it easier to gain fat and you also have to eat more often because carbs aren't satiating. And also that glucose oxidation is more taxing metabolically
    That's not necessarily true. Macros is not the only thing that determines satiation - that's more determined by calorie density, flavour, palatability, texture, digestion speed etc.

    Compare boiled potatos (carb) to whipping cream (mostly fat). Which do you think is more filling for a 200 calorie portion?

    And I'm not sure what the last part means - usually it uses more calories when something is more metabolically taxing.
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    Originally Posted by Animal2692 View Post
    Hey one more question regarding macros. My calorie surplus is in check and everything. However, I get in around 160g+ of protein each day, sometimes up to 180g. I eat a lot of eggs, meat, cheese, nuts, I take whey, and I drink a lot of milk. With those foods, a lot of fat naturally comes with them which puts my carbs in the mid to low range. So I'm basically closer keto bulking. Now I've read that enough protein and enough calories with enough fat to keep hormone levels in check and survive, is what is going to build muscle. But what if that fat intake is much higher than your carb intake? My carbs are more in the mid range, but definitely not the 60% that is usually suggested for bulking.

    I don't know, I just love my fats and protein. I've heard that you don't need carbs to power through workouts once you're mostly in ketosis because your body becomes really good at using fat for energy too. Apparently carbs make it easier to gain fat and you also have to eat more often because carbs aren't satiating. And also that glucose oxidation is more taxing metabolically
    If you drink a lot of milk you'll be getting plenty of sugars, so you're probably never in ketosis.

    There's a few other things in your post that don't really make sense.

    There are a lot of macros that can work for bulking. If you're eating carbs I wouldn't go too high in saturated fat, as they seem to be easier stored as body fat than unsaturated fats.
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    Originally Posted by Mrpb View Post
    If you drink a lot of milk you'll be getting plenty of sugars, so you're probably never in ketosis.

    There's a few other things in your post that don't really make sense.

    There are a lot of macros that can work for bulking. If you're eating carbs I wouldn't go too high in saturated fat, as they seem to be easier stored as body fat than unsaturated fats.
    Is ketosis like an on/off switch or are there gradual levels of ketosis? For example if I’m still getting in carbs but they’re low to moderate, does my body still become better at using fat for energy as opposed to having a high intake of carbs?

    I guess when it comes to bulking any macros work as long as you got the surplus and the protein intake with enough fat to survive
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    Originally Posted by SuffolkPunch View Post
    That's not necessarily true. Macros is not the only thing that determines satiation - that's more determined by calorie density, flavour, palatability, texture, digestion speed etc.

    Compare boiled potatos (carb) to whipping cream (mostly fat). Which do you think is more filling for a 200 calorie portion?

    And I'm not sure what the last part means - usually it uses more calories when something is more metabolically taxing.
    Ah yeah you’re right, total volume of food matters too. You usually hear fats and protein are very filling but I myself for example, still find myself very hungry after getting in a lot of fat and protein.
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