In my last article detailing yet another reason not to do cardio on a bulking cycle, I said the following…

“Are you getting fat when “bulking”? It certainly isn’t because of a lack of cardio. It’s because you’re eating too much. The often recommended 500 surplus calories per day is quite ridiculous.

See here for an estimate how many calories you really need. Use this as a starting point and adjust if necessary.

“If you believe that you can overeat to “fuel muscle growth” and burn any excess calories off with cardio, you’re shooting yourself in the foot. The extra calories make you fat, and the extra cardio is actually PREVENTING maximal gains in size and strength.”

Let me prove this, lest you think I’m mistaken.

We’d all agree that if an intermediate lifter gained 12 pounds of muscle this year, that would be a fantastic achievement! 12 pounds of lean muscle on your frame would make a MASSIVE, noticeable difference, especially if you’ve been into this game for a few years.

Now, how much do you think the scales would increase per week for this awesome transformation to take place?

It’s very simple…

12 / 52 = 0.23lbs – that’s less than a quarter of 1 pound per week.

So this astounding bodybuilding success is gained with an increase in body weight of just 1/4lb per week. That’s all.

But I’m not finished yet. Let’s have a closer look…

A pound of muscle is about 600 calories (compared to 3500 for a pound of fat). This is because muscle is mostly water, not protein as the bodybuilding establishment would have you believe.

A quarter pound is then 150 calories per week, which equates to around 38g of new protein for the body to synthesize per week.

This comes to 21.5 calories per day, which is about 5g protein/day to be synthesized.

How absurd it is to recommend 500 surplus calories every single day!

Many unenlightened bodybuilders get so frustrated if they’re not gaining 1 or 2 lbs of scale weight per week. Of course it’s not long before they become another lifter with a massive gut; another bodybuilder who’ll NEVER attain the type of body they set out to create when they first got into this game.

A habit that is particularly destructive is taking a daily bodyweight reading. This can only end in tears, my friend. It’s virtually impossible to see changes in body weight due to gains in lean mass on a daily basis.

Yet there are people out there who reinforce this form of discouragement every single day. Furthermore, there are so many fluctuations in body weight that it’s perfectly normal to get a decrease in weight from one day to the next, or even one week to the next.

If you gained a 1/4 lb of muscle next week, but had less water weight, or less umm….waste product….,you’d probably weigh less. STOP WEIGHING YOURSELF DAILY OR WEEKLY.

NOTE: Cutting is a different matter. Weekly readings are advised in Total Six Pack Abs, but daily readings are still a no-no.

So, what’s the solution?

Focus on your workouts and your strength progressions. The cross section of a muscle is directly proportional to its strength.

  • In a man it’s about 140 pounds per square inch
  • In a woman it’s about 105 pounds per square inch

So give all your attention to your THT workouts. It’s all about those progressions!  If you’re progressing, you’re going in the right direction. If you really want to take body weight readings, once a month is plenty.

Size Gains Can Be Cyclical In Nature

One phenomenon that has been noted by many including myself, is that increases in muscle size are cyclical for many people. What I mean by this is that many people continually make strength increases for a period of time with little increases in size. Then a few months later, they seem to start PACKING on new slabs of muscle in a rather short period of time.

They then maintain this new size while making further strength increases for another period of time. 2-3 months later – Blam! Another slab of meat! It’s just the way it is for some people.

By the way, what about those first participants on the Arms Blast Experiment. Gaining 1/2 to 7/8ths of an inch on their arms over 4-6 days; how much do you think the scales went up with that increase in size? I don’t have that answer, but I bet it barely registered.

You have to realize that the bodybuilding industry has an interest in keeping you going through endless bulking and cutting cycles.

Why?
When bulking, you’ll buy ridiculous amounts of whey protein, weight-gainers, and other supplements that don’t work (like tribulus terrestris).

Then you’ll get fed up of that gut and purchase fat burners and meal replacement bars to shift it. Of course you’ll buy bodybuilding catalogues magazines all year round too. The whole industry depends on you NOT figuring this thing out.

I get to sport a six-pack all year. Heck, there are people who aren’t even into bodybuilding that are quite muscular and lean all year round. They simply lift and eat whenever they’re hungry. They’ve no idea how many calories they’re consuming.

While this isn’t optimal for gains in muscle size, they can have a six-pack year-round because their minds were never poisoned by bodybuilding orthodoxy nonsense.

Speaking of the orthodoxy; they tell you to expect 3-5lbs of muscle gain a year. 3lbs a year is 0.05lbs per week, and 0.0082lbs per day. 0.05lbs comes to an extra ~30 Calories per WEEK and about 4-5 Calories per DAY. Yet you supposedly need 500 surplus calories every single day to fuel this minuscule growth!?

NOTE: If you’re thinking that you need extra calories to fuel the workouts themselves and the recovery, remember that this is already taken into account in first part of formula before you add any extra/growth calories.

Also, the anabolic process itself needs calories/energy, so I’m not advising you to eat 4 extra Calories per day! I’m suggesting you use this formula as a starting point and adjust if necessary i.e. if you add fat, reduce calories. If you don’t measure any gains over a couple of months, add calories. However, I think you’ll find it works out about right.

Take Home Message: Devote all your energy to your THT workouts and your progressions. That’s where all the fun is, anyway. At the most, take monthly weight readings. Eat sufficient calories, not excess calories, so you can stay lean and look good all year round.

Train With Intensity!

Mark McManus

image credit: Nutrition Council

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