Shit or Get Off The Pot Part III - Putting It All Together
By: Kelly Baggett
Monitor Your Progress and Your Body-fat
Now, after reading the previous articles a lot of people might think I’m recommending “bulking up”, or eating yourself up to a predetermined scale weight, to hell if you’re fatter then the typical superheavyweight powerlifter when you get there. That would work, as you can see from looking at Dave Gulledge's pics here - but that’s not the approach I would take and that’s not the approach most people are gonna feel comfortable with. No, this is not an excuse to go out and get as big and wide as an oversized brick shithouse. I want you to stay somewhat lean or at least in striking distance of “lean” as you gain weight. I recommend you use the tape measure to assess bodyfat gain or loss while your weight is going up. I’ve actually found skinfolds are more succeptible to water gain or loss then the waist measurement plus they don’t measure visceral fat. Additionally, using the tape is a no-brainer and doesn’t require an idiot certified trainer or whatever.
Using The Tape
Simply get up in the morning, take a piss, get our your measuring tape, wrap it around your belly button, let your gut relax out naturally and get a measurement. (Relaxing your gut keeps you from cheating –
DON’T SUCK YOUR GUT IN AND CHEAT!). Next, get on the scale and get a bodyweight. Do this once a week and see how your bodyweight and waist measurement relate. Write them down in your food and training log. (You do have one don’t you?) For a well-hydrated man between 8 and 15% body-fat with full glycogen stores, each whole inch gained or lost on the waist will be worth about an average of around 3-5 lbs of body-fat. (note: this will only work for a man).
A near perfect scenario is 1/4 an inch increase on the waist for every 3-5 pounds of scale weight you gain. If you can do that you’re awesome. An acceptable scenario is 1 inch for every 6-8 lbs scale weight or about ¼ inch per 1.5 pounds. Any worse then that and you’re putting on too much fat. Here’s a handy calculator you can use to keep track of your bodyfat as your taking your bodyweight and muscle mass gains up into the stratosphere:
That calculator is amazingly accurate for bodyfat. Spend some time and play around with it. Keep in mind the first week or so that you start eating big your waist will immediately go up an inch or so just from water retention so expect that and don’t pay it much attention. Also keep in mind sometimes your waist and your bodyweight will fluctuate from water gains or losses so make sure you see consistent measurements from both before you make any changes.
Putting It All Together
Now, here’s a very simple way to plan out a muscle gain phase that will allow you to pack on a lot of muscle without letting your body-fat get out of control. There are many options available such as hybrid calorie cycling plans but here is a very direct and basic method. First, find a routine and devote yourself to it for the next 6 months. I don’t care what routine it is. As long as you’re working your entire body and trying to add weight to the bar on basic movements the rest is just details. Whatever training you decide on commit to it and make it work. There are several sample splits on Iron Addicts site
Find a Good Starting Point
Ok. Let’s assume you’re between 8 and 17% body-fat. If you’re fatter then that you’re too damn fat to start a muscle gain phase so get your body-fat down around 10 first. If you’re below 8% body-fat and you have to "work" (a.k.a. - watch your diet closely and do cardio) to maintain that leanness, your anabolic hormones are probably shot to hell from being too lean and you aren’t gonna gain much muscle anyway so you might as well fatten yourself up until you hit 8% and start your lean bulk up from there. Ok. Now, once you’re at your starting point, what you’ll want to do is pick an “upper” limit on your waist measurement that you’re comfortable with will give you a level of “fatness” that you do not want to surpass.
Now, slowly gain muscle and bodyweight at an average rate of around 1 lb or so per week (during your gaining weeks), until you hit that mark. Let’s say right now your morning waist measurement when well-fed is 32 and you’re willing to accept pushing it up to 35. That might mean the biggest pair of pants you have is 35 in the waist and you're too damn broke to by new ones, or it might just mean that you start feeling "unattractive and fat" when your gut gets any bigger then 35. Regardless of the specific reason, you’d slowly eat and train yourself up to however much muscle mass you carried with a 35 inch waist, maintain for a while, and then come back down to 32 and repeat. It’s as simple as that. Let’s say you weigh 160 lbs with a 32-inch waist at 10% body-fat and you take the next year and build yourself up to 200 lbs with a 35-inch waist. That’s a damn good muscle mass gain right there. Thirty pounds of muscle and roughly ~12 lbs of fat. From there you’d spend a little bit of time shedding that 12 lbs of fat and build back up from there.
If you’re putting on too much fat you can do one of these things:
- Keep your diet cleaner and/or increase cardiovascular activity- add 2-3 days per week of low intensity cardio such as found in the
Cardio Confusion article. My favorite for this purpose is something easy like walking on the treadmill or elliptical.
- Move more of your energy yielding calories (carbs and fats) to earlier in the day and less of them towards late in the day. Most people wanna pig out at night but try to cut down on the amount of energy you take in at night from either carbs or fats and stick to mostly protein. (The real magic in this is that you tend to lower your total calorie intake while boosting your protein to carb/fat ratio).
- Make sure you're in your optimal "gaining" range. For most people the magical muscle gains start showing up when they're up around 12% body-fat. If you're at 6 or 8% and bitching about putting on fat every time you increase your calories, you really have nothing to whine about unless you've taken your bodyweight up a bit and proven to yourself what happens when you do. I knew a guy who stayed at 6% bodyfat for about 3 years who was afraid to eat for fear of putting fat back on. He trained hard yet never made a single muscle or strength gain during that time span. Finally, someone talked him into letting his body-fat slide up to 10-12% and, without changing a single aspect of his training, he packed on about 35 lbs of pure muscle completely natural in about 9 months.
- Get Diligent- Some people (Many women, older men, and guys with fatty or skinny-fatty genetics) just need to be
EXTREMELY diligent with their diet and do cardio 3-5 days per week
ALL of the time. By diligent diet, I mean some people can’t consume more then 1 gram of carbohydrate per pound of bodyweight per day in a caloric excess without putting on more fat then muscle. Same goes for cardio activity. Some people have such crappy natural partitioning they need it. Generally, a combination of more cardio, less carbohydrate in the diet, and slower gaining (eg. ½ lb per week instead of 1 lb) will solve most problems. If a person has to reduce their carb intake all the way down to 1 gram per pound and add more then 3 sessions of cardio per week and still can’t gain more muscle then fat, they have bigger problems then can be solved by this particular rant.
- If all else fails you can always say to hell with it and take up competitive eating.
- You can always say screw it and become a heavyweight powerlifter, where that big gut will give you some “leverage” out of the hole on your bench and squat.
Now go out and get to it.