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  1. #1
    Registered User gipper53's Avatar
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    Advice on bulking after a year of cutting

    Sorry in advance for the somewhat long post!

    Hard for me to believe it's been almost a year since I started this journey of getting in shape! I've been on a cut since mid January, and dropped almost 60lbs (235 down to 177@ 5'-10"). Went from size 38" pants to 31". Added a small amount of lean mass in the process. Been diligent on my calories and nutrition, dedicated lifting with Fierce Five novice routine and doing various cardio (running, biking). I hit the weights religiously but sometimes slack on the cardio. It's been a success. It's now a lifestyle and easy for me to sustain the training and nutrition. People who haven't seen me 4+ months barely recognize me. I posted this thread in early October, I'm 6 pounds leaner since then.

    https://forum.bodybuilding.com/showt...post1563121531

    I'm making my final push in December to drop a few more pounds of fat, I would love to get under 175lbs. Take a week off to rest then start my first 'real bulk' cycle come New Year. Based off wisdom here, I would like to do a slow, clean bulk (2-3lbs a month) until June, then evaluate next steps. The questions/comments I have on how to approach this:

    1. I've been doing Fierce 5 novice routine the entire year while cutting. I've made some variations to keep it fresh (different rep ranges, switch from pendlay rows to t-bar rows, that sorta stuff), but decent strength gains stalled out months ago. After a year will I still see gains on this program when I start eating at surplus?

    2. From question 1, after a year am I ready for Fierce Five intermediate routine? Or stick to the novice and see how far it takes me?

    3. Or...should I look into a different novice level routine?

    Appreciate any advice. Damn I'm looking forward to January!
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  2. #2
    Harsh Truth Distributor xsquid99's Avatar
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    How do you feel about your major lifts, do you think you've fully exhausted your noob gains? Programs are really up to you to decide and sometimes a change in program after running the same thing for a long time can bring some new life to your workouts and reinvigorate your love for the gym. I ran SL 5x5 for a long time when I first started, I'm just finishing my second full year of lifting and about 7-8 months ago I stumbled across Coolcicada's PPL while browsing the forums and decided to give it a try. I really love it and plan on continuing it for at least another 3-4 months. I occasionally add variations as required based on equipment availability in my gym during certain hours, but for the most part I follow it as written. I love that it allows me to hit everything twice a week, which has resulted in some better than expected gains for me.

    https://forum.bodybuilding.com/showt...ght=coolcicada
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    Omega Weapon EjnarKolinkar's Avatar
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    Most folks gain weight too fast after a year long diet. I'd quit worrying about losing 2 pounds and spend a while getting used to maintaining. Once you get good at maintaining, which takes many folks a while, you can push into gains.

    In the 1-2 pounds a month range works really well for most folks and tends to avoid wasting time on long diets. 15-20 pounds of gains over the next year is nothing to sneeze at. Training drives muscle growth. Creating a long period where you are focused on training and not gaining fast or dieting is likely a wise plan.
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    I'll Mod 'til I'm dead. ironwill2008's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by gipper53 View Post
    1. I've been doing Fierce 5 novice routine the entire year while cutting. I've made some variations to keep it fresh (different rep ranges, switch from pendlay rows to t-bar rows, that sorta stuff), but decent strength gains stalled out months ago. After a year will I still see gains on this program when I start eating at surplus?
    That's a long time to remain on basically the same program.


    2. From question 1, after a year am I ready for Fierce Five intermediate routine? Or stick to the novice and see how far it takes me?
    Apply the old adage; If it ain't broke, don't fix it. IOW, if you're still adding weight to the bar on a reasonably consistent basis while maintaining good exercise form, stick with what's still working. Don't change anything until that's no longer the case.



    3. Or...should I look into a different novice level routine?
    Beginner/Novice programs all exploit the same basic factor that moves beginners forward most efficiently---frequency of body part training (working all muscle groups usually three times per week). But that only produces gains for a finite amount of time; when progress eventually slows, and all means have been brought to bear to force it to keep moving forward, a different tactic is required. This usually involves more training volume---multiple exercises for the same muscle group(s), different rep counts, etc. I


    Of course, it's not physically possible to keep up with just adding more and more exercises to a FB program; when one of the three training parameters (volume/frequency/intensity as expressed as a % of 1-rep max) increases, one or both of the others must decrease proportionately. The usual way to do this is by incorporating a split program such as Push/Pull/Legs.
    Last edited by ironwill2008; 12-07-2018 at 08:50 AM.
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  5. #5
    Registered User gipper53's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by xsquid99 View Post
    How do you feel about your major lifts, do you think you've fully exhausted your noob gains?
    This is what I'm not sure of. While cutting I've basically been stagnant on strength gains for a while. But...what will eating at a surplus do? I don't know if I still have noob gains that can be had because I've not been eating for gains.

    I do feel I've used this time go get a decent handle on form and a 'feel' for how to lift. I've not injured myself, so that's a start!
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    Registered User gipper53's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by EjnarKolinkar View Post
    Most folks gain weight too fast after a year long diet. I'd quit worrying about losing 2 pounds and spend a while getting used to maintaining. Once you get good at maintaining, which takes many folks a while, you can push into gains.

    In the 1-2 pounds a month range works really well for most folks and tends to avoid wasting time on long diets. 15-20 pounds of gains over the next year is nothing to sneeze at. Training drives muscle growth. Creating a long period where you are focused on training and not gaining fast or dieting is likely a wise plan.
    Thanks for the reply. My weight loss has been pretty slow the last few months, I think it's been 8lbs over the last three months that I've lost. So I'm not too far away from maintenance eating as it is. My plan is to slowly start adding calories and see what happens. Likeley start with about +250 a day and see what happens over a month. Add 100 more if needed.

    The 175lbs is more of a mental thing and hitting another goal than actually making much real world difference.
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    Registered User gipper53's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by ironwill2008 View Post
    That's a long time to remain on basically the same program.




    Apply the old adage; If it ain't broke, don't fix it. IOW, if you're still adding weight to the bar on a reasonably consistent basis while maintaining good exercise form, stick with what's still working. Don't change anything until that's no longer the case.




    Beginner/Novice programs all exploit the same basic factor that moves beginners forward most efficiently---frequency of body part training (working all muscle groups usually three times per week). But that only produces gains for a finite amount of time; when progress eventually slows, and all means have been brought to bear to force it to keep moving forward, a different tactic is required. This usually involves more training volume---multiple exercises for the same muscle group(s), different rep counts, etc. I


    Of course, it's not physically possible to keep up with just adding more and more exercises to a FB program; when one of the three training parameters (volume/frequency/intensity as expressed as a % of 1-rep max) increases, one or both of the others must decrease proportionately. The usual way to do this is by incorporating a split program such as Push/Pull/Legs.
    Thanks for the reply, solid advice. So does it make sense to stick with my current program and see if I make progress for a month or two. If not, time to change it up? Seems like a sensible approach.
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    I'll Mod 'til I'm dead. ironwill2008's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by gipper53 View Post
    Thanks for the reply, solid advice. So does it make sense to stick with my current program and see if I make progress for a month or two. If not, time to change it up? Seems like a sensible approach.
    Yes; give it another month or so. If you haven't been able to progress most of your lifts by then, it's likely to be time to move on to something else.


    IMO, it's always a good idea to not be in a big hurry to change stuff in one's training. Towards the end of one's ability to realize 'noob' gains, progression is no longer linear; you might bail on an exercise/rep scheme/program/whatever just before you would have made a break through if you'd have stuck it out another week.
    No brain, no gain.

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  9. #9
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    If you want to gain true muscle it will be a slow process and everyone will be different.
    I would stay on the diet your on with just adding 200 or 300 more calories in your macros.
    Dieting down and then bulking up is what is called yoyo dieting to where eventually you'll be back cutting again.
    Why?
    Why not take it methodically over the long run and gain as much muscle as possible?
    It may only be 3-5 pounds over the year.
    If you just want to gain weight for weight gaining sake then go ahead but it won't be a mostly muscle gain you'll just fill out with some fat storage as well.
    If your bodybuilding it's not really the way to go IMO.
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    My weight has remained pretty much the same for the past 6 months, got pretty fat last winter but lost it fast due to work...setting a bridge in the summer is great cardio, lol.

    But anyways, try to spend some time getting ised to eating at maintence level. Like others jave said, and try to add weight to the bar when you can.

    Tbh...the best gains ive had with strength and physique came after I stopped worrying about what weight I was pushing and my body weight...just ate 3 meals a day, nothinf like stuffing my face, and just enjoyed lifting.
    Measurements
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    Chest 41"
    Waist 32"
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    Maxes..

    Bodyweight 163
    Squat 285 1 1.75×BW
    Bench 195 1 1.2×BW
    RDL 330 2.02×BW
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    Originally Posted by Garage Rat View Post
    If you want to gain true muscle it will be a slow process and everyone will be different.
    I would stay on the diet your on with just adding 200 or 300 more calories in your macros.
    Dieting down and then bulking up is what is called yoyo dieting to where eventually you'll be back cutting again.
    Why?
    I certainly want to avoid that. I'm very conscience about not putting much fat back on with this bulk, and would rather take it slow and stay leaner through the process.

    Originally Posted by Garage Rat View Post
    Why not take it methodically over the long run and gain as much muscle as possible?
    It may only be 3-5 pounds over the year.
    If you just want to gain weight for weight gaining sake then go ahead but it won't be a mostly muscle gain you'll just fill out with some fat storage as well.
    If your bodybuilding it's not really the way to go IMO.
    Maybe I'm off base a bit, but I'm lumping myself into the "noob" category. Even though I've been lifting for nearly a year, it's been largely with the goal of maintaining the muscle I had during a long term cut. While I've made modest gains they've been just that...modest. Now with going to a calorie surplus, can I expect to gain a decent amount of 'noob' muscle in 5 months or is that wishful thinking at this point? 5 lbs in the first year of lifting and eating for muscle gains seems low to me, but I honestly don't know. This will be a whole new experience for me.
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    Registered User gipper53's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Gaston40 View Post
    My weight has remained pretty much the same for the past 6 months, got pretty fat last winter but lost it fast due to work...setting a bridge in the summer is great cardio, lol.

    But anyways, try to spend some time getting ised to eating at maintence level. Like others jave said, and try to add weight to the bar when you can.

    Tbh...the best gains ive had with strength and physique came after I stopped worrying about what weight I was pushing and my body weight...just ate 3 meals a day, nothinf like stuffing my face, and just enjoyed lifting.
    Thanks for the info, that's encouraging. I'm approaching this with the mindset that this will take time and to enjoy the process. I'm not looking for any shortcuts, but I also like to do things efficiently where possible. I'd rather not remain stagnant for months if I can avoid it, and not sure if eating at maintenance for several months is going to do for me? Not being a wise a$$, just asking honestly what benefit several months at maintenance will achieve? Can I start with +200 calories a day and take it month by month and evaluate results? One month blocks seem like reasonable time frames to gauge progress and adjust accordingly.

    One thing I have not done at all so far is take any body measurements. Other than my waistline every time I've needed new pants, I have never measured and just gone by the mirror. I will start measuring once the bulk starts.
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    Everyone is different, but I saw consistent gains for about a year and a half even while cutting 55 lbs over the first 7 months of that period. When bulking, some people will tell you to just limit yourself to about 2 lbs per month to minimize fat gains, but another way to look at it would be to "eat for gains only", meaning keep lifting and if your lifts stall out for a few weeks then slowly add more calories until they pick up again. This is a way of keeping yourself in check as not to put on an unnecessary amount of weight/fat. Regardless, I would still look into a routine that has you hitting each muscle group twice per week.
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    Originally Posted by gipper53 View Post

    I've been on a cut since mid January, and dropped almost 60lbs (235 down to 177@ 5'-10"). Went from size 38" pants to 31".
    Congratulations on the great progress!!! You and I have commented before how we had similar progress as I ended up losing 65 lbs total and went from size 38 pants to size 30 now. BUT you may not have realized that I started in Jan 2017 so it took me a whole year longer than you so that is an amazing accomplishment.

    I am just a little bit ahead of you starting my first ever bulking phase 7 weeks ago. I will know for sure when I test in another 6 weeks but it seems that my strength on bench and squat is increasing faster since I came out of the deficit. I never stalled completely but strength progress was real slow. These are estimates since I don't max out and wasn't training for strength but my bench press only increased about 20 lbs in the whole first year and about another 15 lbs in my 2nd year of lifting for about 35 lbs total in 2 years. That progress seems real slow but I was 50 years old, in a calorie deficit losing 65 lbs in that time frame, and I started off benching more than a typical beginner due to my stocky build and lifting when I was younger and could bench about 225 the day I started. My RPE is going down so I can feel that I am getting stronger in a surplus but I am not expecting noob types of gains where guys can gain 10 or 20 lbs of bench strength in just a month or two. I consider myself an intermediate and will be happy if I can add another 20 lbs to my bench over the next year lifting in a surplus.

    As far as programs I would suggest you try the F5 upper-lower intermediate routine if you have been running novice for almost a full year. A lot of guys love the full body routines but I personally like a split a lot better and you could possibly see more progress by changing things up.

    I know what you mean by looking forward to January! I hope you notice a big difference coming off the deficit but for me it has not been drastic. But I am still upping my calories and just went up another 100 per day because my weight gain stalled and I actually lost a little over the last 2 to 3 weeks. One big difference is that I am constantly full now and some days I almost have to force myself to eat enough to stay in the surplus.
    Last edited by tblodg15; 12-14-2018 at 06:23 AM. Reason: typos
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    Registered User gipper53's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by xsquid99 View Post
    Everyone is different, but I saw consistent gains for about a year and a half even while cutting 55 lbs over the first 7 months of that period. When bulking, some people will tell you to just limit yourself to about 2 lbs per month to minimize fat gains, but another way to look at it would be to "eat for gains only", meaning keep lifting and if your lifts stall out for a few weeks then slowly add more calories until they pick up again. This is a way of keeping yourself in check as not to put on an unnecessary amount of weight/fat. Regardless, I would still look into a routine that has you hitting each muscle group twice per week.
    Sounds like a good approach. I like that concept of "eat for gains only" and judge it by how the weight on the bar is progressing. Much appreciated.

    Maybe it's a thought process I should abandon at some point, but I like the full body approach and working legs in with upper body each workout. Dedicated leg days just don't sound appealing. Not that I don't enjoy squats and other leg exercises, just a day of nothing but that sounds like the workout I won't look forward to. I really enjoy the F5 novice routine for this reason.
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    Registered User gipper53's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by tblodg15 View Post
    Congratulations on the great progress!!! You and I have commented before how we had similar progress as I ended up losing 65 lbs total and went from size 38 pants to size 30 now. BUT you may not have realized that I started in Jan 2017 so it took me a whole year longer than you so that an amazing accomplishment.
    Thank you. You've made quite the transformation yourself. Regardless of the time, it's the past now and where you're at is quite an achievement. You carry far more muscle mass than I do, so kudos on building a solid physique during the weight loss.

    Originally Posted by tblodg15 View Post
    I am just a little bit ahead of you starting my first ever bulking phase 7 weeks ago. I will know for sure when I test in another 6 weeks but it seems that my strength on bench and squat is increasing faster since I came out of the deficit. I never stalled completely but strength progress was real slow. These are estimates since I don't max out and wasn't training for strength but my bench press only increased about 20 lbs in the whole first year and about another 15 lbs in my 2nd year of lifting for about 35 lbs total in 2 years. That progress seems real slow but I was 50 years old, in a calorie deficit losing 65 lbs in that time frame, and I started off benching more than a typical beginner due to my stocky build and lifting when I was younger and could bench about 225 the day I started. My RPE is going down so I can feel that I am getting stronger in a surplus but I am not expecting noob types of gains where guys can gain 10 or 20 lbs of bench strength in just a month or two. I consider myself an intermediate and will be happy if I can add another 20 lbs to my bench over the next year lifting in a surplus.
    Yeah you're far ahead of me on the weight levels. I'm currently only doing about 3 sets of 135x5 on bench. It basically stalled there. The last few weeks I swapped exercises and went from flat bench/tricep pulldowns to incline bench/ dips for some variety.

    Did you change your routine at all when you started the bulk? Or just add calories and see if the weights went up?


    Originally Posted by tblodg15 View Post
    As far as programs I would suggest you try the F5 upper-lower intermediate routine if you have been running novice for almost a full year. A lot of guys love the full body routines but I personally like a split a lot better and you could possibly see more progress by changing things up.
    I'll certainly look into that one. Thinking I'll stick with the current routine at least a month or so and see if lifts progress OK on the calorie surplus. If they flatline quickly, a program change will be in order.

    Originally Posted by tblodg15 View Post
    I know what you mean by looking forward to January! I hope you notice a big difference coming off the deficit but for me the it has not been drastic. But I am still upping my calories and just went up another 100 per day because my weight gain stalled and I actually lost a little over the last 2 to 3 weeks. One big difference is that I constantly full now and some days I almost have to force myself to eat enough to stay in the surplus.
    Interesting that weight was still coming off even eating more than before. I won't mind getting to the point where I can tell myself "yeah you need to eat that" instead of passing it up!
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    Originally Posted by gipper53 View Post
    Interesting that weight was still coming off even eating more than before.
    Yes this has been strange. Over the last year of weight loss I averaged about 2,070 calories per day but it slowed down and near the end I was down to 1,800 to 1,900 average calories per day to only lose a half pound a week. After two years of focusing on losing weight I was being real cautious to not gain it back too fast so am adding calories slowly. But getting the target calories for a slow weight gain is interesting because my metabolism is going up since I came out of the deficit. The last 3 weeks I have averaged 2,350 calories which should have been near maintenance or slight surplus and I lost weight! And of course I am using a weekly average and it went down 2 weeks in a row so I now bumped my daily calories up to 2,500. It just seems crazy that I would lose weight at 2,350 calories when I was barely losing any at 1,850 two months ago! And to add to my surprise I am doing almost no cardio now where I was doing 2 to 3 days per week before! Like you said I am not complaining I just wasn't expecting my metabolism to go back up so fast.
    Bodybuilding is much more than an hour in the gym a few days a week---it's a lifestyle that changes all your perceptions about how to live, eat, and rest. It feeds the mind as much (and sometimes more so) than the body.
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    Originally Posted by gipper53 View Post
    Thanks for the info, that's encouraging. I'm approaching this with the mindset that this will take time and to enjoy the process. I'm not looking for any shortcuts, but I also like to do things efficiently where possible. I'd rather not remain stagnant for months if I can avoid it, and not sure if eating at maintenance for several months is going to do for me? Not being a wise a$$, just asking honestly what benefit several months at maintenance will achieve? Can I start with +200 calories a day and take it month by month and evaluate results? One month blocks seem like reasonable time frames to gauge progress and adjust accordingly.

    One thing I have not done at all so far is take any body measurements. Other than my waistline every time I've needed new pants, I have never measured and just gone by the mirror. I will start measuring once the bulk starts.
    I doubt you'll be stagnant while eating at maintence. Your lifts might go up a bit. However its a catch 22.

    If you want to stay lean, your lifts wont progress as fast or at all, but you'll remain lean and even recomp as well.
    If you want to gain size and strength, youre lifts will go up as well as body weight.

    You're gonna have to decide which one is your priority.
    Measurements
    Weight 163
    Chest 41"
    Waist 32"
    Quads 23"
    Arms 14"

    Maxes..

    Bodyweight 163
    Squat 285 1 1.75×BW
    Bench 195 1 1.2×BW
    RDL 330 2.02×BW
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    Originally Posted by gipper53 View Post
    Did you change your routine at all when you started the bulk? Or just add calories and see if the weights went up?
    Same routine but the last month or so of my cut I did start going heavier on some of the compound lifts and doing sets of 5 where before that everything was 8 - 12 reps.

    Hopefully you will notice a bigger difference when you come out of the deficit because you are more of a novice than I am and should be able to add weight to the bar more frequently than you are. If you are still stalling a month after going to a surplus then it probably means you need more volume or you are doing too much and not recovering? I am curious with your current program how often do you go to failure? How often do you take deloads? And do you feel stronger after a deload? When you stall and reset the weight how long does it take to get back to the stalled weight again? Something doesn't seem right but it may very well be the calorie deficit because you have lost a lot of weight fast where I took mine a lot slower.

    Anyway finish the last few pounds off, maintain that weight for at least a few weeks to a month, and then I am looking forward to hear how your bulk goes and we can compare notes.
    Bodybuilding is much more than an hour in the gym a few days a week---it's a lifestyle that changes all your perceptions about how to live, eat, and rest. It feeds the mind as much (and sometimes more so) than the body.
    ~Originally posted by ironwill2008
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