Gaining muscle without bulking/cutting and staying below 9% body fat. My experiment.
Gaining muscle without bulking/cutting and staying below 9% body fat. My experiment to see if it is possible…
I have been thin my whole life. I just found some measurements from April 1985 - age 16:
Weight, 113 lbs.
Height, 5' 7.5.
Chest - 31"
Around 1998, I was 5’ 8.5” or so and 135 lbs. Everyone told me I was “too skinny” and underweight. I believed them, though my body mass index was 20.2, and I would have had to lose 12 lbs to be one of the 2% of the US population that is actually underweight. I could eat as much as I wanted all of the time and never gain weight. And I did. I would eat entire boxes of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese – “5 servings,” 3 or 4 cheeseburgers at a cookout, etc. I never liked milk, so maybe I should have had more of it. But of what I tried, nothing worked to gain weight, until I lifted weights. I will also add that I have Type-1 Diabetes since age 18, and have to take insulin.
I started lifting and did Creatine and protein shakes – I believe it was th Myoplex product. I had not yet heard of the deadlift, dips, squats, or presses. While I don’t have a training log from that period, I am pretty sure I used mostly machines and maybe for weights just did curls and bench press – if that. Well, it worked. After about 12 weeks, I gained 15 lbs. I am not sure of my body fat before or after, but I was very thin before, and after I did not have a belly, so I think I pretty much gained muscle. I gave up on going to the gym for whatever reason, and during that program I did no cardio. In fact, I did not do any cardio for 24 years between running a few times in high school until May 2011 when I started running. I was pleased with the results. I have a photo somewhere. I stopped doing it, and a few years later, I lost the muscle but still weighed about 150 – like this:
So why did I start running? Well sometime in my early 30s I ceased to be able to eat whatever I wanted and my belly started to grow – metabolism slowing perhaps. I quit caffeine (and am still off it), which did not help. Around 2011, I noticed I was up to 162 – and my belly was protruding. My waist to hip ratio was about 1.0, and I was within 8 lbs of being a BMI that the US Government would consider overweight. The best I can tell, I was at around 20% bodyfat. Being certifiably overweight was intolerable - it was not me, and was not an option. As far as I was concerned, I was already overweight. So I started running and eating less.
I worked up to about 30 miles a week, and did a bunch of races – 5K, 10K, ˝ Marathon, and in 2012 I even did the Boston Marathon (89 degree heat). After about 9 months, I got some calipers and was down to 144 lbs and 11% bodyfat, and eventually got down to 139 lbs and 7.5% body fat. I tracked calories, and ˝ of this weight loss was from cardio and ˝ was from eating less. I was still not eating healthy food – but eating less of what I did before. I use a FitBit and weigh all foods to the gram – and log everything in MyNetDiary. According to FitBit, I was running a 500 calorie per day deficit, but I was pretty stable at this weight, so in reality it was probably the correct amount of calories to maintain my weight. By the way, my cholesterol levels improved dramatically from the running.
Great, but I was sort of back to where I was before my first weight lifting plan – thin but no muscles. I then noticed a co-worker was eating well and lifting weights so I started to do it with him - some free weights and some machines. My diet changed 180 degrees. I was eating at McDonalds several times a week before, but now I primarily eat multigrain breads, egg whites, green vegetables, oatmeal, chicken, turkey, Fage 0% yogurt, skim milk, very little beef, etc. I cut saturated fats a lot to help control my cholesterol and all that. I keep my calories from fat in the 20-30% range, my calories from carbohydrate in the 40-55% range, and my calories from protein in the 30-40% range. I would prefer to keep my carb and protein at 40%, but it is so difficult to do, that I now give myself that range. I noticed that this strict diet, low on saturated fats, did not further improve my cholesterol – and so even with this high level of cardio and diet control did not keep me from having to be on Lipitor, which I found interesting.
After about three months, this made my weight about 140, and my body fat go down to about 6.6%.
That background being said, I now want to gain muscle mass but don’t want to lose my visible abs and make it harder to run fast and far. In other words, I don’t want to optimize myself for weight lifting, but want to use what I learned from Starting Strength, Bigger Leaner Stronger, Arnold’s Encyclopedia of Bodybuilding, and Stronglifts to gain mass. When I first heard about squats and deadlifts, I did not need to be told twice – I was immediately sold.
I will be a YNDTP person as there will be no gallon of milk a day for me. I do not want to gain 55 lbs in 11 weeks if it means that 24 lbs of that would be fat. My hypothesis is that – if 24 lbs in 11 weeks is fat, then one ate 1090 extra calories a day more than optimal. Yes, in this article, I think that 5000 calories a day rather than 6000 would have resulted in just as much muscle gain without the fat:
Two weeks ago, I came up with a new training plan. I increased my calories by 1000 per day from where I was before – and did this by eating 500 calories more than what my FitBit said I need to maintain 140 lbs. The only supplement I am doing is Creatine and once in a while I will put a scoop of Whey protein powder into a smoothie.
Chin Ups, close grip, biceps.
Barbell Deadlift, back, lower legs, upper legs.
Barbell Squat, upper legs, glutes, back.
Decline Crunch, abs.
Barbell Bench Press, chest, triceps.
Dip, triceps, chest, shoulder.
Dumbbell Fly, chest.
Dumbbell Bent Over Deltoid Raises, shoulder, deltoid.
Cable Triceps Pushdown, triceps.
Standing Military Press, shoulder, triceps.
Barbell Reverse Curl, forearm.
Barbell Full Squat, upper legs, lower legs, glutes.
Bent Over Barbell Row, back, biceps.
Barbell Deadlift, back, lower legs, upper legs.
Pull Ups, back
Back Extension, back.
Barbell Incline Bench Press, chest, shoulder, triceps.
Decline Oblique Crunch, abs.
Pushups, feet on exercise ball.
I believe the keys to taking me farther this time are the squats and deadlifts. So far over the last 10 days, I have gained 3.5 lbs while my body fat and waist to hip ratio (6.6% / 0.85) has not changed. This leads me to believe that more than 90% of my gain was muscle. I am predicting I can ride this wave just right and get up into the 160 lbs range while still staying below 9% bodyfat rather than doing the bulk/cut program that I predict is not worth the negatives.
I am not saying this is the way to gain the most strength and not saying that a strength trainer should do it this way. I do think that a bodybuilder could do it this way – that is if it ends up working. If it does not work I will say so.
Some photos – note these were before I started doing squats, deadlifts, and upping my calories another 1000 per day. I am a 3-4 lbs heavier now.
Last edited by trebor; 06-30-2012 at 09:49 PM.
What are you squatting? I guess you're doing high bar.
I intend to do low bar full squats, but I am still learning the form - and I sometimes slip up and am more at the high-bar. I want to do these right and it is not something that I can just do intuitively.
It is funny as I was just at the gym watching guys do squats. I have never yet seen anyone do full squats. I also had some kid correct me and tell me to point my feet straight forward rather than the 30 degrees outward that I had them. Then I had a trainer at the gym say the same thing to me. I replied that I am certain that 30 degrees outward is correct. He backed down.
I saw some guy much larger than me doing 215 lb 1/4 squats and I was thinking "Yeah, I can do that also as 1/4 squats." In fact I was doing 205 lbs before I knew to do full squats.
So to answer the question what am I squatting - I am still learning form. My 1 RM max is 180, but I practice with 100 sometimes until I learn how to do them properly.
I am much more concerned about my deadlift form as that seems more difficult for me to do without curving my lumbar, which is probably just a flexibility issue for me (I am not very flexible). I was at 125 lbs for those but went down to 85 lbs to concentrate on form.
Last edited by trebor; 07-14-2012 at 07:07 PM.
Ok. I won't give you any advice (or mockery), I've been skinny all my life too but now that I'm around 15-20% bodyfat I like it...
Last edited by Jsutt; 06-30-2012 at 08:48 PM.
Bit detailed for trolling isn't it?
Originally Posted by melody
Holy cow! I bet you could randomly cross off half of everything that's not squatting from your program and get the exact same results with less risk of injury and mental burnout.
I will admit I'm biased. My current program looks like:
A Day: Squat
B Day: Squat
I don't alternate A/B days, I actually flip a coin
Trolling or nuts. Gaining 3 lbs of muscle in 10 days? Weird semi-naked posed pictures for all to see? Abnormal at the very very least.
Originally Posted by Jsutt
What about the 3 lbs of muscle in 10 days?