It’s been a month now since we at NLU embarked on the Winter Bulk Up, let’s talk progress.
All I can say is… “Why have I never bulked before????” Seriously, my results have been the shit. I’ve never been more excited to be working out than I am every day of these past 4 weeks.
Starting out on this journey I had two metrics that I was going to judge bulk up efficacy on- Weight/Size Gains and Lifting Totals. Weight and size gain is important and the overall goal, but the way I see it those gains are hollow if they aren’t corresponding to improvements in how much I’m putting up every week. If I was going to lose my abs, there had better be a damn good reason. Let us examine these benchmarks-
At the beginning (pics & stats on this post) I clocked in at 182 on my 6’3″ frame. I was just coming off over a half year of Intermittent Fasting and I would put my body fat percentage around 8-9% or so. At the time of this writing I am thankfully still 6’3″, but am tipping the scale to the measure of 193 lbs. My abs are still a little visible, but the leanness is mostly gone. However, this weight gain is far from all fat- I am solid as fuck. Hulking out of my extra-medium v-necks. I feel powerful as fuck. Now, I’m not going to delude myself into thinking all of that gain is muscle, which would be impossible. But, starting from a very lean base allowed my body to utilize the excess calories more effectively and I have no doubt at least a pound or two of that is muscle. It helps that I’ve been on a full of good carbs, essential fats, and tons of good protein- and a mass gainer. Let me tell you, getting on that mass gainer took everything up a notch. I can’t say enough about it, and if you are bulking along with us you gotta get that stuff.
Before you think I’m vastly overstating, consider that I am also now doing volume training (which I’ll talk more about in a bit) compared to the strength training I was doing before. Strength training (low reps, high weight) will build size, but not as fast as volume training (medium to high reps, medium weight). So, not only have I started by overloading a lean base with carbs and protein, but I also took a hard 180 from the way I had been training before, no doubt shocking my muscles into serious growth. We’re going to share pictures at the end of the Winter Bulk Up, so you’ll just have to take my word now and judge then.
Like I said before, all this size gain would be for nothing if it wasn’t translating to success in the gym. Thankfully, it has. My gains have been mind boggling, though before I share them allow me to explain a few things. I started off on the lighter side of what I thought I was capable of, knowing that a) I really had no idea how much I can do at 12-10-8-6 reps, b) if I start lighter I can always go heavier, c) reps are more important than weight with volume training, and d) I would need to get used to the higher volume and was likely to face fatigue for weights that I wouldn’t even blink at with lower reps. Thus, when looking at how my numbers climbed so fast keep in mind that a lot of the gains were me getting my muscles used to volumes that are otherwise easy at lower reps.
Also, before we talk numbers I’ll explain my methodology a little in how I moved up: The first set is the most important, full stop. If I can hit my target of over 12 reps for the first set, I’m moving that up next week. Those familiar with volume training know that as you climb weight, your third and fourth sets will go to shit due to fatigue. Often there isn’t *that* much weight separating your first and last set, which means that on some exercises if I moved up the first set all the rest of the sets were getting moved up even if I didn’t hit that set’s rep target the previous week.
One more thing- for isolation exercises I had to ditch 12-10-8, moving up weight every set, and go 8-8-8 same weight, moving up when I hit 8 for all 3 sets. For stuff like curls, even a five pound difference in dumbbells makes a huge difference, making 12-10-8 impractical.
So as to not make this TL;DR, I’ll stick to Week 1 vs Week 4 totals:
- Squat (12,10,8,6): Week 1 205-12, 235-10, 255-7, 270-5. Week 4 230-11, 245-9, 260-8, 275-5.
- Weighted Chin Ups (12, 10, 8, 6): Week 1 20-12, 25-9, 30-7, 35-6. Week 4 30-12, 35-9, 40-7, 45-5.
- Calf Raises (switched to 8, 8, 8 after first week): Week 1 135-12, 155-10, 165-8. Week 4 180 8,8, 7
- Hammer Curls (switched to 8, 8, 8): Week 1 35- 15, 45-10, 50-7. Week 4 55-8, 8, 8
- Dumbbell Bench (12, 10, 8, 6): Week 1 70-13, 80-10, 85-8, 90-5. Week 4 90-12, 95-9, 100-6, 105-5
- Shrugs (12, 10, 8, 6): Week 1 265-13, 285-10, 295-8, 305-6. Week 4 285-12, 295-10, 305-9, 315-6
- Overhead Press (8, 8, 8): Week 1 105-8,8,8. Week 4 115 8, 8, 8
- Machine Flies (8, 8, 8): Added week 3 130- 8, 7, 6. Week 4 130- 8, 8, 8
- Rope pull down (8, 8, 8): Week 1 90-10, 9, 8. Week 4 110-8, 8, 8
- Deadlift (10, 8, 6): Week 1 295-12, 300-8, 310-6. Week 3 315-9, 330-7, 345-6
- Seated Rows (12, 10, 8, 6): Week 1 130-13, 150-10, 170-7, 180-6. Week 3 150-12, 160-10, 170-8, 180-6
- Leg Curl (10, 10, 10): Week 1 30-10, 10, 8. Week 3 40-10, 9, 8
- Regular Curl (8, 8, 8): Week 1 45 10, 9, 8. Week 3 55-8, 8, 8
- Incline Dumbbell Bench (12, 10, 8, 6): Week 1 65-12, 70-10, 75-9, 80-6. Week 3 80-12, 85-9, 90-7, 90-6
- Upright Rows (12, 10 8, 6): Added week 2 90-14, 100-10, 115-8, 125-5. Week 3 95-12, 105-10, 115-8 125-6
- Close Grip Bench (8, 8, 8): Week 1 165- 8, 8, 7. Week 3 170- 8, 8, 7
- Rope Pull downs (again, I love those things, same stats as earlier)
Unlike Nate this is my third year bulking up so I knew exactly what to expect. To show you the difference in size and even metabolism between the two of us at 5’10 169lbs the first month I went up to 173lbs. There’s no way to prove it without a medical physician on hand but I’m 90% sure my metabolism at 32 is still a lot fast than Nate’s therefore my end goal of 183 (most I’ve ever weighed) to 190 will look more pronounced on my smaller frame.
So for guys like me where gaining is hard, the first month is the hardest and will always be the hardest. You are physically fighting and force feeding your body to consume more food and more calories. I will right more about this later but if you survive the first month, if you take the Masstech as advised then it’s all downhill after the first month. Feeling yourself get bigger and stronger every week is one of the most beneficial outcomes of getting swole. When you’re out at night it really feels like you’re prowling for women, you’re testosterone levels are high, you have more confidence and eye contact when you speak to women and for the most part the girls you talk to can pick up on those good vibes.
You’re first month it’s also important not to skip a day or workout in the gym. Basically if you’re skipping a workout in the first month you’re throwing away money. Now when you get into your second month never ever take a whole week off from the gym for rest. What you want to do is skip certain body parts once a week. You’re gaining and feeling invincible but it’s still possible to over train. So what you’ll do (if you’re following something similar to my program) after your first month is skip a body part a week. So you’d skip back on Monday go through the whole week, then the next week you’ll skip chest on Tuesday then go through the whole week. Continue this for the rest of you bulking up phase even skipping two days in later months.
Finally we need to talk about clothes. For a guy like me who has tailored suits and everything down to the right size just so gaining ten to fifteen pounds of muscle fucks up your wardrobe game. Immediately the doing heavier weights on legs will blow up your thighs. Get ready to invest in new jeans. Thankfully it’s the holiday season so you can fiind deals all over the place. But when it comes to suits that shit can get EXPENSIVE. Might I suggest the JoS.A.Banks crazy sale you see the annoying commercials for on TV. Buy one suit get five free. Yeah J.A.B suits aren’t the most high quality suits but if you have a job that requires you where one daily this is a life savor.
Honestly I love bulking, its hard work and almost a full time job but then again it’s fun as hell. Eating whatever I want the power I feel. You ever throw 365 off your chest like it’s nothing (weighing 175)? We talking big boy weight , crushing personal bests weekly. But like I said you have to pay your dues and make it through the first month. Month two get’s really interesting.
Later this week I’ll give you another supplement to take your bulking to the NLU and also share how I’m eating.