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How Long to Stay at Weight After Bulk?
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DaBeard
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Join date: Feb 2008
Posts: 219

Let us say someone has just gained about 40 pounds of muscle and fat in about 3-4 years. Is there any merit in trying to maintain that weight for any given amount of time for the sake of preserving muscle and "setting a new biological baseline", (if that even means anything in real life.)

I was wondering because in about that amount with unfortunately on and off training, I've gained about that much and want to shed the fat that came with it. I've heard a few guys here mentioning things like keeping the weight for a while (Prof X comes to mind (if you don't mind I'd like to know why)). Thanks for the input guys, would be especially helpful if some of you vets chime in.

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The Mighty Stu
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Join date: Oct 2002
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My thinking is that if you have been ingesting enough nutrients to pack on fat along with some muscle, then you've been eating more than you really needed to begin with.

In the absence of any actual scientific data that I know of supporting an actual 'set point', I've always thought that it's not that holding a weight has any real effect, but simply that you've learned how much food you need to eat to maintain that bodyweight, and so now you know how to eat for a higher scale reading. It becomes simpler after a time, so you're not really 'set' at that bodyweight, you're simply used to eating that amount after a prolonged 'bulk'. Obviously any period of prolonging a surplus in calories (and it doesn't need to be an excessive surplus!) will guarantee a better situation for LBM gains than a daily hit or miss approach.

Slowly cutting back the excess calories that you were ingesting that allowed you to reach a somewhat soft state in the first place shouldn't need any special amount of time before implementation.

(let the arguing..uh, I mean discussion begin -lol)

S

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GrindOverMatter
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The Mighty Stu wrote:
My thinking is that if you have been ingesting enough nutrients to pack on fat along with some muscle, then you've been eating more than you really needed to begin with.

In the absence of any actual scientific data that I know of supporting an actual 'set point', I've always thought that it's not that holding a weight has any real effect, but simply that you've learned how much food you need to eat to maintain that bodyweight, and so now you know how to eat for a higher scale reading. It becomes simpler after a time, so you're not really 'set' at that bodyweight, you're simply used to eating that amount after a prolonged 'bulk'. Obviously any period of prolonging a surplus in calories (and it doesn't need to be an excessive surplus!) will guarantee a better situation for LBM gains than a daily hit or miss approach.

Slowly cutting back the excess calories that you were ingesting that allowed you to reach a somewhat soft state in the first place shouldn't need any special amount of time before implementation.

(let the arguing..uh, I mean discussion begin -lol)

S


stu ive been meaning to ask you...how much over competition weight do you go up by the end of your off season?

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DaBeard
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Fantastic post Stu, not that anyone expected anything less. You make a great point about just getting used to eating for a certain bodyweight, I completely never even thought of it from that POV. I think I will start cutting back the calories slowly and try to find the sweet spot of fat loss and muscle retention until I am at a "normal" level of bodyfat. I'm certainly not doing contest prep or anything but the fat must go.

I really hope if others lend their views that it stays civil, I really don't like when the threads turn into sword waving. Then all the good info and help just gets lost in between.

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browndisaster
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I think this is a good discussion. OP bulked up well, gaining muscle and strength along with the fat. I went through a similar bulk, from January 1 2012 to January 1 2013 I gained 70 lbs. I started cutting on the first of this year and am down to 206 pounds right now, which would be a loss of 14 pounds. Once I get to 200 I will go back to gaining. OP wants to wait till June or after to cut, then do so very slowly, with the thinking that his body will get accustomed to his current weight and want to stay there.

From what I learned in class and through personal experience, the body mostly worries mostly about the daily demands we put upon it - i.e. training, diet, sleep - rather than what it is accustomed to.

I think a cut is successful or not based upon the person's ability to keep their training at or near the levels they reached when they bulked. For me, I haven't lost muscle because the cut has been short, and I've been able to stay at or increase the weights, volume, frequency, etc in every session. I did this by dieting strictly for a week, then increasing carbs for a week and eating near maintenance. When I'm more advanced I'll look into better methods like macro counting and carb cycling. If my cut fails, I really doubt it's because I haven't given my body enough time to get used to this amount of muscle/fat mass I've put on.

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MickyGee
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So, Professor X catches a lot of flak for his approach lately. How about Dante, a respected coach (with a respected training system) who has advocated very similar approaches to building beastly 250lb lean physiques?

Just felt like playing Devil's advocate, because I feel like this particular point has never come up..

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SSC
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The Mighty Stu wrote:
Slowly cutting back the excess calories that you were ingesting that allowed you to reach a somewhat soft state in the first place shouldn't need any special amount of time before implementation.


I definitely believe in this. After you've been holding weight for some time, you can slightly drop calories and feel little to no difference in your day-to-day dealings and lifting sessions. Your body should be essentially primed to strip off fat fairly easily, and you should be able to get quite lean without more than a slight caloric restriction and some added cardio. Then, hold that for a while. Boom, new set point!

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anonym
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Join date: Jan 2008
Posts: 4567

MickyGee wrote:
So, Professor X catches a lot of flak for his approach lately. How about Dante, a respected coach (with a respected training system) who has advocated very similar approaches to building beastly 250lb lean physiques?

Just felt like playing Devil's advocate, because I feel like this particular point has never come up..


Well, most people here have mentioned a slow or slight drop in the calories. Typically when the whole "set point" thing gets brought up, it's in the context of rationalizing why one should not make an immediate transition between a bulk and a traditional "cut" (i.e., with the purpose of getting beach-ready or whatever rather than basic damage control).

If that's an incorrect assumption, I'd love to hear someone argue about the "set point" benefits of "maintaining" a 20+ pounds from blurry abs physique.

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The Mighty Stu
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MickyGee wrote:
So, Professor X catches a lot of flak for his approach lately. How about Dante, a respected coach (with a respected training system) who has advocated very similar approaches to building beastly 250lb lean physiques?


Just like any other aspect of training or diet, you're going to have people on both sides. Some will cite science and top athletes as examples, others will simply cite top athletes as examples. While I've personally never read much about Dante's take on diet, the 'top' Pro I can think of who is a DC advocate is Dave Henry, and I've never seen him hold any excessively sloppy weight during his pro career. Please note though, I'm not bashing Dante at all, because I'm certainly no expert on his theories. All I can do is cite my own knowledge and experiences.

In this game, you must learn to put on LBM, and if you plan to present a bodybuilder-eque physique (as opposed to just being a 'big dude') you must learn to strip fat. The number of folks, competitors and non-competitors alike, who have done this over the years must be uncountable. However, as science has caught up with 'gym-science', I think it's safe to say that the old school approach of bulk-then-cut has been cast aside by most as unnecessary.

S

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thefreshmanverve
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"I'd love to hear someone argue about the "set point" benefits of "maintaining" a 20+ pounds from blurry abs physique."

I think the idea that "makes sense" (because we all have to do what we believe in and to not think
that by reading a bunch of pubmed articles we're going to reach any concrete determinations on how to intelligently purse muscle) is that while maintaining a caloric surplus for quite some time we were able to host an anabolic environment leading to muscle gain and that if soon after we were to restrict the calories the muscle that we have just recently gained which comes at a great metabolic cost to maintain will be at risk of being broken down and that if we were to let this newfound muscle "settle in" for a period of a month or whatever while eating at maintenance or close to it and than slowly restricting calories the risk of losing said muscle will be less.
Noone really knows just do what makes sense to you even hopefully you at least can entertain that school of thought on said topic while not neccessarily agreeing with it.

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anonym
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Join date: Jan 2008
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thefreshmanverve wrote:
"I'd love to hear someone argue about the "set point" benefits of "maintaining" a 20+ pounds from blurry abs physique."

I think the idea that "makes sense" (because we all have to do what we believe in and to not think
that by reading a bunch of pubmed articles we're going to reach any concrete determinations on how to intelligently purse muscle) is that while maintaining a caloric surplus for quite some time we were able to host an anabolic environment leading to muscle gain and that if soon after we were to restrict the calories the muscle that we have just recently gained which comes at a great metabolic cost to maintain will be at risk of being broken down and that if we were to let this newfound muscle "settle in" for a period of a month or whatever while eating at maintenance or close to it and than slowly restricting calories the risk of losing said muscle will be less.
Noone really knows just do what makes sense to you even hopefully you at least can entertain that school of thought on said topic while not neccessarily agreeing with it.


But, again, this will depend on the severity of the caloric deficit, the degree of leanness one is currently at before attempting to drop some weight and just plan ole individual variation.

Any time you put yourself in a caloric deficit, the muscle tissue you have will be at risk of being broken down regardless of how long you've had it for... that's precisely why there is a distinction between a *slight* decrease in calories and abruptly moving to a traditional 12 week cut. If you are eating enough to fuel a significant amount of extra fat gain along with your muscle, you can absolutely decrease your intake slightly (or perhaps increase activity if you'd prefer) without compromising the intensity needed in the gym to give your body a reason to hold onto that new muscle whilst slowly leaning out.

I believe it's been mentioned around here before as "damage control", "pumping the brakes", etc.

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MickyGee
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Thank you for the insight. I don't think the question is whether somebody should remain permanently fat (obviously dieting must happen sooner, rather than later), but I believe Dante's views were in reference to achieving the most muscle in the shortest period of time.

This runs completely contrary to the current trend on the forums, which is to lean bulk (I personally am stripping away unnecessary fat and have cleaned up my diet a bunch, and I am very happy with the results; though, I am also not sure if my goals are in line with those who wish to be the absolute biggest they can be anymore). austin_bicep has even posted that he is glad that he got very strong first, before attempting to focus more on the muscle, but I know a lot of people regret that initial bulk that got them very fat. Dante argues, however, that this bulk is necessary in order for one to reach their full potential ASAP.

Again, I am personally leaning out while focusing on strength on a bodybuilding split, and it has served me well so far. I will probably re-introduce calories when I am leaner, seeing as I fell for the dogma that was present around when I joined in 2010, and I don't think my physique was in a place where nutrients were being partitioned properly (basically, I was too fat and proceeded to get fatter.. I made progress, but I am not sure being overweight helped me and, also, I was never really fat.. just on the slightly overweight side to begin with).

The Mighty Stu wrote:
MickyGee wrote:
So, Professor X catches a lot of flak for his approach lately. How about Dante, a respected coach (with a respected training system) who has advocated very similar approaches to building beastly 250lb lean physiques?


Just like any other aspect of training or diet, you're going to have people on both sides. Some will cite science and top athletes as examples, others will simply cite top athletes as examples. While I've personally never read much about Dante's take on diet, the 'top' Pro I can think of who is a DC advocate is Dave Henry, and I've never seen him hold any excessively sloppy weight during his pro career. Please note though, I'm not bashing Dante at all, because I'm certainly no expert on his theories. All I can do is cite my own knowledge and experiences.

In this game, you must learn to put on LBM, and if you plan to present a bodybuilder-eque physique (as opposed to just being a 'big dude') you must learn to strip fat. The number of folks, competitors and non-competitors alike, who have done this over the years must be uncountable. However, as science has caught up with 'gym-science', I think it's safe to say that the old school approach of bulk-then-cut has been cast aside by most as unnecessary.

S

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thefreshmanverve
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"But, again, this will depend on the severity of the caloric deficit, the degree of leanness one is currently at before attempting to drop some weight and just plan ole individual variation."

FO SHO

"Any time you put yourself in a caloric deficit, the muscle tissue you have will be at risk of being broken down REGARDLESS OF HOW LONG YOU'VE HAD IT FOR..."

Is the latter part of that statement fact or opinion (either way please elaborate so that I may be able to entertain that thought or possibly change the way I think about that)



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DaBeard
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I think the responses in this thread are what made T-Nation a great place when I first started lurking around here in 2008. That being said, I think I will never allow myself to get as fat as I did with this extended bulk. I'm not downright obese or anything but I just want to look muscular, not muscular with a winter coat of fat. Again, really appreciate the responses.

Also, Mickeygee, I wasn't giving Prof X any flack at all. In fact I've been following his opinion for the last couple of years. I just wanted other guys who've been at this for a long time to spill some wisdom. We really need to utilize their experience and run with it.

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DaBeard
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One more thing, I really wanted real life anecdotal information. I have a major in biomedical sciences with a double minor in exercise physiology and pharmacology and trust me, science wise there really isn't much info about this topic. Honestly, it wouldn't really be feasible to even answer it that way.

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MickyGee
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Not saying you were.. I just think anybody who has lurked here long enough knows that there has been a dramatic turn from the days of FattyFat, megan3wb, and unfortunately Artem (not to discredit the first two - for whom the approach seemed to work quite well)..

Thought I would bring up Dante because he specifically endorses X's approach of getting strong and fat (edit: and before I get pounced on for advocating fat gain.. his exact example, I think, is linebackers who then diet down and their frame is dramatically restructured.. think synergy.. not sure if he believes any of his heavier weight holding days has anything to do with how far he has come now..) and holding it..

DaBeard wrote:
I think the responses in this thread are what made T-Nation a great place when I first started lurking around here in 2008. That being said, I think I will never allow myself to get as fat as I did with this extended bulk. I'm not downright obese or anything but I just want to look muscular, not muscular with a winter coat of fat. Again, really appreciate the responses.

Also, Mickeygee, I wasn't giving Prof X any flack at all. In fact I've been following his opinion for the last couple of years. I just wanted other guys who've been at this for a long time to spill some wisdom. We really need to utilize their experience and run with it.

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anonym
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thefreshmanverve wrote:
"Any time you put yourself in a caloric deficit, the muscle tissue you have will be at risk of being broken down REGARDLESS OF HOW LONG YOU'VE HAD IT FOR..."

Is the latter part of that statement fact or opinion (either way please elaborate so that I may be able to entertain that thought or possibly change the way I think about that)


It's a fact.

Muscle isn't permanent, and while staying big for an extended period makes your body comfortable with that degree of mass, you're kidding yourself if you are under the impression your body won't want to ditch that tissue hella quick once it perceives itself to be in danger of starving.

That's why people still lift hard and heavy when dieting regardless of how long they've been big for... to give their bodies a reason to want to keep all that muscle around.

Please note though that this is simply a response to the idea that letting muscle "settle in" obviates the risk of it being broken down when subjected to a caloric deficit. How significant that "risk" is is dependent on a whole buncha stuff.

I DO feel that there might be something to that concept when speaking of traditional "yo-yo" bulking and cutting cycles, particularly for those who are prone to panic when their abs start to blur a little... I just don't think it's a huge issue in the context of moderate damage control.

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ghost87
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I competed in 2 contests last fall at around 180lbs. I'm now at 220 after several weeks at this weight. I obviously have some fat but not a gut.

I wanted to maximize my gains before my pre contest prep starting this week. I have a contest in May.

Eating all this calories day in, day out has been challenging. I'm ready to diet, mentally and physically.

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infinite_shore
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I think you can make a good case for "maintaining" a particular bw at the tail end of a bulking phase for some time (a couple weeks) without the need to justify it with shady concepts such as "set points".

"Maintaining" a particular bw doesn't mean you are not trying to change your body composition. It basically just means you are intentionally slowing done the rate of weight gain. Think recomp.

At least that is I think why Shelby had me do it. But that phase was never very long.

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paulieserafini
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@ Dabeard:
SO I...
Noticed though a few of your posts I've seen recently that your big concern is losing mass through a cut.
I'm here to tell you any horror story you've heard about guy losing a shit ton of mass on a cut either are extremely exaggerated or they just simply ran their diet like a complete idiot.

When I first started dieting everyone was saying "Fuark, man you gotta take a break every 8 weeks don't want to lose any mass." or "you have to drop atleast 100 calories every time weightloss stalls so that you can continue weightloss because we all know a pound is 3,500 calories."

Dude if you don't cut like a chode and you start off eating a decent amount of food and take your time with reductions, muscle loss will be at a minimum and by minimum I mean not even noticeable when you compare before and after pictures.

I have been cutting for 7 days shy of 1 year. I started around 250 and weighed in this morning at 205.4. Sure I might have lost some muscle and some strength. But by my T-Nation pictures you would never guess and I look a trillion times better even though I can no longer fill out an XL shirt.


So if you want chill at your weight for a month or two. You've already spent this much time getting to this weight, what is an extra month or two? or start cutting now. But I wouldn't be overly concerned about your mass running away on you. (Assuming you don't cut like a jackass)

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The Mighty Stu
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GrindOverMatter wrote:
stu ive been meaning to ask you...how much over competition weight do you go up by the end of your off season?


I usually keep it to about 25-30 lbs. My 'stageweight' is around 176-180 (I deplete a bit to make the <176 lb weigh in), but I usually weigh around 205. Yes, I had been around 215-220 for a bit before I ever thought about competing, BUT I can honestly admit that it didn't really contribute to my size, and I achieved that due to following a lot of what I would now consider incorrect advice for a physique conscious trainer.

Once I stayed closer to 2 bills in my offseason (with abs mind you) I put on muscle at a very respectable rate, even though my weight fairly constant.

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BlueCollarTr8n
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The Mighty Stu wrote:
GrindOverMatter wrote:
stu ive been meaning to ask you...how much over competition weight do you go up by the end of your off season?


I usually keep it to about 25-30 lbs. My 'stageweight' is around 176-180 (I deplete a bit to make the <176 lb weigh in), but I usually weigh around 205.


I started training in 1986 and when the issue of 'traditional' bulks comes up I'm always confused. Early on I was taught guidelines to use....a bulk meant a 10-15% increase in bodyweight over a lifters known lean weight. In Stu's example he's right in the sweet spot of a traditional off-season bulk. For beginner and intermediate lifters weight is held for 18-24 months while trying to become as strong as possible in a 'given' rep range. From this point the period of gradual restriction/increase workload should last no longer than 8-12 weeks.
No serious coach or trainer I have ever known advocated adding scale weight for it's own sake!

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ESX
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The Mighty Stu wrote:
GrindOverMatter wrote:
stu ive been meaning to ask you...how much over competition weight do you go up by the end of your off season?


I usually keep it to about 25-30 lbs. My 'stageweight' is around 176-180 (I deplete a bit to make the <176 lb weigh in), but I usually weigh around 205. Yes, I had been around 215-220 for a bit before I ever thought about competing, BUT I can honestly admit that it didn't really contribute to my size, and I achieved that due to following a lot of what I would now consider incorrect advice for a physique conscious trainer.

Once I stayed closer to 2 bills in my offseason (with abs mind you) I put on muscle at a very respectable rate, even though my weight fairly constant.


Stu. Do you not think that adding 25-30lbs i actually quite a lot seeing as you would probably only be gaining for 8 or so months between comps? Thats a lot of room to grow. More than you would ever build in muscle, which as a non competing bodybuilder who isn't cutting down every year to contest standard is probably going to lead to excess fat gain.

Obviously you can afford to go a bit OTT with calories as you will be competing a year later. But now you will sort of be starting from scratch after your injury (in a way), how will it effect the quantity in which you eat to gain lean mass?

Sorry for the hijack!

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Waittz
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I think most arguments for or against are really just 'bro science'.

My opinion at least, i try to view it like a car.

I start off parked(maintanence cals) then shift in to first gear upping my my cals/carbs slightly.

After a week or so I shift in to 2nd gear, again upping my carbs and cals.

I go through this until I hit 5th/6th gear and then run it on the highway pulling my foot off the gass a bit if I start redlining(gaining fat too fast) until i hit my desitination(size or weight gain). When I am ready to start dieting, I down shift and break(start reducing my cals/carbs) in the reverse fashion I did to get to top speed gradually going down the gears(my last month of a bulk). If I just slam my transmission into reverse when I am 5th gear, aside from stalling out I might break something(throw my hormones out of whack, or have my body think its starving and start shedding LBM instead of fat). Once I slow down and coast in nuetral for a bit(maintanence cals for a week), i break to a stop, then go in reverse(calorie defecit) and gradually put my foot on the pedal more picking up speed in the opposite direction.

Anyone who has tried to drive in reverse to fast for a long time, probably crashed(messed up the diet).

Anyways, this is my unscientific opion and personal strategy.

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GrindOverMatter
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ESX wrote:
The Mighty Stu wrote:
GrindOverMatter wrote:
stu ive been meaning to ask you...how much over competition weight do you go up by the end of your off season?


I usually keep it to about 25-30 lbs. My 'stageweight' is around 176-180 (I deplete a bit to make the <176 lb weigh in), but I usually weigh around 205. Yes, I had been around 215-220 for a bit before I ever thought about competing, BUT I can honestly admit that it didn't really contribute to my size, and I achieved that due to following a lot of what I would now consider incorrect advice for a physique conscious trainer.

Once I stayed closer to 2 bills in my offseason (with abs mind you) I put on muscle at a very respectable rate, even though my weight fairly constant.


Stu. Do you not think that adding 25-30lbs i actually quite a lot seeing as you would probably only be gaining for 8 or so months between comps? Thats a lot of room to grow. More than you would ever build in muscle, which as a non competing bodybuilder who isn't cutting down every year to contest standard is probably going to lead to excess fat gain.

Obviously you can afford to go a bit OTT with calories as you will be competing a year later. But now you will sort of be starting from scratch after your injury (in a way), how will it effect the quantity in which you eat to gain lean mass?

Sorry for the hijack!

Ok im not stu--but my take on this is that the 25-30 lb margin is defintely something COMPETITORS would want to adhear to--normal non competing folks who dont get sub 6 percent bodyfat every year the reccomendation should be different...why? well its just not practical/possible to stay stage lean all year without killing your self dieting--most people gain an easy 10 lbs after a show. so really the other 15-20 lbs was just them putting on some moderate weight in the off season. also consider its important for a competitor to ramp up calories during an off season so they have the metabolic capacity to diet down.

competing is a strange thing---after my hellish prep its fairly easy for me to put on weight--im gaining easily at around 3000cals/day- however it would be best if i can ramp up this number of calories so i can diet with more food next time around

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