Bodybuilding: The Myth Of Lean Bulking

Go to any forum on the Internet and you will see at least one or two threads started by someone asking for advice or a critique of a lean bulking cycle.
The first thing that needs to be realized is that the AAS you use have a very small part in how lean your gains will be.
Yes, I have heard the proposed tren/prop/masteron with var or winny type cycles. Yes, those will deliver a harder physique with a dieting athlete, but not when one is truly bulking. And yes AAS that promote more estrogenic kick back tend to make one gain a bit more bodyfat, but in the big scheme of things your not going to notice a big difference either way.
In fact the best thing AAS do so far as increasing ones ability to stay leaner, is 2 fold. One, the body grows more muscle tissue and this new tissue increases the metabolic rate and the tissue now adds a calorie burning effect, but this also means gains can halt if more of the proper macros are not added back into the diet. Two, some AAS promote a bit more secretion of IGF-1 from the liver and its effect on nutrient partitioning and body composition are well noted as promoting a leaner physique…however remember the standard life of your bodies natural IGF is 12 minutes or so, once again a negligible difference in the big picture.
The sad reality for any of us is, in order to gain size, we must gain some bodyfat…and to lose bodyfat we must lose some muscle.
But, there are some strategies we can employ and some guidelines we can use when attempting to gain offseason mass with out making it look like we are some sumo wrestler in training.
These strategies are centered around our diet, not our cycle. Quite honestly the AAS I use make only a slight difference in the types of fat loss, or muscle gains that I make.
What makes the biggest impact is how we eat, and secondly how we train.
In the past 3 years for diets and contest I have used a carb cycling approach.
Its actually very simple and its predicated on a system that our bodies use all the time anyway.

The two types of weekly cycles I have personally employed and had good success with are a 5 low and 2 high or 4 low and 3 high on a low carb system…alas this can be used in reverse when we bulk.
Lets look at a 4 high day 3 low day system for the purpose of keeping this simple.
With this type of carb cycling we will eat higher carbs and calories for 4 days of the week with another 3 being much lower.

So for example the first 4 days you would eat 1.5 grams per lb of protein based on your body weight, and 3.5-4.5 grams of mostly complex carbs on your high days, fats will come from your naturally occurring food sources (trust me there’s more than enough) and EFA’s.
Then comes the low days where protein will stay at 1.5 grams per lb and carbs will drop to 65% less. On these days we will eat more red meat and take in extra EFA’s, this will be done mostly with the last 2 meals.
Now you may be scratching your head and thinking AJ has lost his shit, YES maybe, maybe a long time ago in fact, but this is science.
Those of you who have done hard contest diets know from experience what happens after a show? REBOUND. Most bodybuilders make fantastic gains after a show eating JUNK, and still look good for a good amount of time.
WHY? Well its all about insulin sensitivity…when doing a lower carb diet and cardio for that amount of time insulin sensitivity increases up to 3 times its previous mark, making the muscle cells have the ability to soak up glycogen and really kick start the growth process, while the body fat stores are low the body has a bit harder time storing excess calories as fat, it still does it but at a much lower rate than someone who has higher body fat concentrations.
So, when we apply this rationale to the off season we can see that on a much smaller micro scale if weekly we prime the body with lower carb days then flood the system again with higher carbs and macros we get a much sharper anabolic response to food intake that is independent of any AAS we are taking.
Its a simple cycle to follow, and it will work for most people, there are some nanomoles out there and there is no 100% sure fire one size fits all diet for everyone, but the strategy can be manipulated in to weekly cycles as well 2 weeks high one week low, be creative and experiment.
The other side of the cycle is during your lower carb days you get a bit of fat loss but since your 4 days of higher outweigh the low days in frequency you should see positive weight gains every week.
There is also the fact that when we attempt to straight diet (eat the same or more day after day) that our bodies lose the sensitivity to insulin and the carbs are easier and easier to be converted into body fat…not what we want here.
The cycle keeps the bodies homeostatic mechanism off balance allowing for increasing glycogen uptake and some slight body fat reduction all in one weeks micro cycle.
The days you are high on carbs the body is being primed for the low days by increasing leptin.
What is leptin- well heres wiki’s definition:

Leptin (Greek leptos meaning thin) is a 16 kDa protein hormone that plays a key role in regulating energy intake and energy expenditure, including appetite and metabolism. Leptin is one of the most important adipose derived hormones.[1] The Ob(Lep) gene (Ob for obese, Lep for leptin) is located on chromosome 7 in humans.[2]

Basically its a hormone that can really determine alot of how are bodies utilize fat for energy, low leptin levels mean somewhat inhibited fat burning and conversely higher levels lead to better fat burning.
When the body is thrown into a fasting state or heavily reduced calories leptin production drops off sharply, when food intake is re-introduced the levels return to normal and in the on set become a bit higher than they were at baseline.
So, with your immediate return to higher carb days that were pre-empted with those 3 low ones your bodies leptin production is greatly increased and this carries through the next 4 days of high calorie and high carb intake.
As you can imagine this means greater uptake of nutrients but also less bodyfat being deposed, subsequently the 3 low days leptin is still remaining high into the second low day or so (individual genetics allowing) that there is more fat burning taking place on those 3 low days.
So in short by keeping the body in this un-balanced state we can allow for muscle gains and fat loss simultaneously.
But don’t be fooled, mother nature isn’t…YOU WILL STILL BE IN MORE POSITIVE SURPLUS CALORIE DAYS PER WEEK, AND YOU WILL STILL GAIN BODYFAT. The idea here is to gain LESS fat than someone who just goes about this in a linear fashion eating more and more as each day goes by.
I have some simple guidelines that I follow during this phase:
1)cardio- I still do 45 min of cardio about 4-5 times a week- try not doing it and when you start to get really heavy and find breathing to be harder see how it negatively effects your training, especially on leg days…great to be strong as an ox, but if you cant take the set to the max point without giving out from 02 deprivation you will never see peak gains.
2)You MUST eat clean- eating junk food will only throw a wrench in the program. Allow yourself a meal a week but nothing more than that.
3)Like rule #2 as much as possible- DO NOT MIX FATS AND CARBS IN THE SAME MEAL. Carbs, and especially higher carbs will promote the release of insulin, insulin has two functions, push glucose and nutrients into muscle cells, and push fat into fat stores, its very easy for insulin to do this with a lot of fat from a meal present in a high glucose environment.
Carbs+Protein=good…fat+protein good…carbs and fat BLEH!
4)You should approach your training in a cyclic fashion as well, just because week in and week out you feel the need to push heavier and heavier weights doesn’t mean your connective tissues will. Allow for some weeks of joint recovery with lower weights, if you end up injured or in too much pain to train properly it will defeat the whole purpose of the diet.

The AAS I chose for this type of diet are a base of Test enanthate+test prop+deca…from their I may add 2 other ancillary compounds that I will switch during the bulk phase.
IGF can be used effectively during the bulk, along with GH.
If you use insulin it will enhance the gains but I recommend using the slin on your high days and then on the low days supplementing with 2-400 mg of r-ALA, Apple cider vinegar, and cinnamon. These supplements help enhance insulin sensitivity and prime your body for the higher carb days when insulin is re-introduced.

As you gain size your caloric needs WILL change-so from a weekly basis keep an eye on the scale and the mirror to see if you are gaining properly, as you gain each 1 lb of muscle it basically adds another 500 or so calories to the thermic effect, so that has to be accounted for as each passing week increases body mass…1lb of muscle gain not gross weight gain…1lb on the scale is nothing, I usually look and see 4-5 lb changes I can assume about 2lbs of muscle…if I’m lucky.
Try to eat as much whole food as possible, I know from my personal experience as the high calorie days go up you have to really be able to pound down the food and a gainer is just about a necessity…but if you can on your low days eat all whole foods. The therm effect of whole food vs supplement powders is close to a 5 fold increase in BMR- that’s more calories you can burn as fat on those days so try, I know its not possible every day, but if you can do it most of the time this will really work in your favor.
That is about my cycle diet for gaining.
Try it or not, it gives us something to think about and possibly apply to our own off season goals, remember the holidays are right around the corner so GET HUUUGGE!

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