Bulking Up Causes a Permanent Increase in Fat Cells, Making it Tough to Stay Lean

April 25, 2008

I am about ready to give my biggest argument against “bulking up”. Bulking up is the common practice of gaining muscle as quickly as possible by eating a ton of calories. The idea is that you can gain more muscle if you insure a large calorie surplus in your diet. Along with muscle, quite a bit of fat is gained. The idea is to then burn the fat in the spring, revealing the newly acquired muscle for summer time. This is a common bodybuilding practice, but it is a BAD idea!

[A Kylie Minogue commercial that didn’t get shown in many countries. Kylie has stayed in amazing shape for decades. She is flat out amazing!]

The Harsh Reality About Fat Cells

Once you gain a fat cell, you can never get rid of it. It is one of the harsh realities about weight loss. You can shrink the cells with diet, but you can’t lose the actual fat cell itself. The great news is that you can get just as lean as someone with less fat cells, but there is bad news. The bad news is that it is easier to gain weight back if you have a large number of fat cells…compared to someone with fewer fat cells.

Staying Lean Can Be A Challenge With More Fat Cells

An extremely obese person has up to three times as many fat cells as someone who has been slim all of their life. The obese person can slim down, but will have to work a bit harder to maintain that slimmer size than someone who has never put on a lot of excess body fat. The good news is that it can be done, but there just isn’t as large of a margin for error.

The Best Strategy is to Never Put on That Fat in the 1st Place

The number one reason I’m against the common practice of “bulking up” is that people are basically increasing their number of fat cells on purpose! They can certainly get as lean as people who didn’t bulk up, but they will put back on a lot of that excess fat if they slip up even a little. It isn’t uncommon for bodybuilders to gain 40-50 pounds within just 2-3 months after a contest. The best approach is to stay lean while gaining muscle (if gaining muscle is your goal)…it will be a slower process, but will make staying in maintenance mode an easier deal for you.

If You Have Been Overweight, Don’t Get Down on Yourself

You will have a tougher time maintaining a lower weight, but it certainly isn’t impossible. If you are following my recommendations and making “cardio workouts on an empty stomach” a way of life…this won’t be a big deal at all. You can use the excuse that it is too tough to stay lean, but then you won’t be lean. Do what it takes…you will feel and look better because of it.

If You Never Put on Excess Fat, Staying Lean Will Be Easy

This recommendation is aimed at the younger readers. Try your best to never put on excess fat and you will have an easier route to staying lean. People will accuse you of having an amazing metabolism, but just ask them how many hours they worked out last week…usually the answer is they didn’t workout last week or last month, etc. Just monitor yourself and never let yourself get more that 10 pounds out of top shape if possible.

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{ 57 comments… read them below or add one }

Jennifer April 25, 2008 at 7:25 pm

This is so true! I have some friends that were chubby when they were 12 years old, and they are in shape now, but have to really watch what they eat. I was a little on the chubby side when I was young and I do admit I can gain fat quickly if I don’t watch it. Fortunatly I have this website that keeps me motivated and the workouts recommended are challenging but fun, so I will stick with it for the long haul.

Jennifer April 25, 2008 at 7:28 pm

Based on looking at Kylie’s body, what do you think she does to stay in good shape (she’s not exactly young)?

Scott N April 25, 2008 at 8:08 pm

Hey Rusty I play football for my school. I’m a wide receiver so the good part is I do the most running and don’t have to bulk up. But on my select team I am part of, I am a Running Back I gotta do running but at the same time i have to be big. The coach basically paid for my month supply of mass gainer, 3700 calories per serving. I DID NOT WANT TO GET BIG! But at the same time didn’t want to let down the coach I took it for a week or two but it hasn’t really gotten me anywhere because I have two practices a day each practice is 4 hours. Nonstop working out and running so there might be a calorie deficit I’m not sure. But what it has done is now im seeing love handles that ive haven’t seen before. When I started on this team they gave us Physicals I had about 11% body fat. Dunno what i am now. So I lied to the coach and said im Still taking it. Now I want to get rid of the love handles. The weird thing is I do planks like crazy and have really defined pelvic muscle. Just these darn love handles. What do you suggest?

P.S. Thanx for reading all this, I didnt realize I typed this much.

Tesa April 25, 2008 at 8:49 pm

Does this mean that someone who wants to lose weight can only lose a certain amount because they still have more fat cells? If that’s true then the only way you could get rid of the fat is by getting liposuction. Also, I usually have to have eaten something at least 2 1/2 before a workout or I get dizzy or don’t have energy. Does this mean that I won’t lose weight??

rayman April 25, 2008 at 10:12 pm

man this is some seriously depressing information to be honest.
all my friends eat like machines (eating machines) they eat whatever they want (mostly McDonalds and TacoBell) whenever they want and they have Always been that way
I was Exactly like that: I really didnt want to eat when I wasnt hungry, but when I was hungry I ate
ex: I would get hungry and beg my mom to take me to the grocery store she bought me a gallon of milk and a whole box of oreos and I would eat it all before dinner!
I had a serious six pack too
but keep in mind I would skateboard around with my friends ALL DAY – at least 8 hours
I was like that for a long time until I hit about 13 – 14 yrs old
my dad put me on a football team, we would have to make weight before games, I was like 90lbs but really really lean, the weight was 80lbs or something, so my dad would put me on a
“meatball-salad’ diet where I would only have a meatball and a salad in the afternoon and thats all I would eat for the whole day.
from then on I slowly, but surely got chubbier and chubbier until I became very obese at 15 years old; 5’3″ 180lbs
right now Im 17 going on 18 in 2 months and im back to a normal weight 5’5” 135-140lbs
but its such a struggle for me, Ive been dieting so hard since I was 15 I even became a vegan even a fruitarian at one point!
Im still a vegan now but its painful to watch my friends enjoy their lives and eat whatever while Im suffering to stay normal

right now my problems lies in the fact that you can see a ‘4pack’ on me
but the bottom abs are covered by a layer of fat along with the obliques
what the @#$% should I do because its seriously ruining my social life
I have taken off my shirt in public since I was 14!
I want to be able to go to the beach!!!!
ARRRGGHHH!

any help would be tremendous
your site is awesome though I must admit

Trevor April 26, 2008 at 12:02 am

I just have to make a point that The Hives are awesome….and Main Offender (the song in the video) is awesome music to get pumped up with….

Stacey April 26, 2008 at 1:13 am

I’ve heard that lifting light weights does not having any affect other than burning calories and that it would be better off just doing cardio, so why do many females lift light weights as well as cardio? I’m pretty sure they don’t want to build muscle but get toned and still look feminine. So why not only do cardio to get toned what’s the need for weights?

Thanks rusty

Jennifer April 26, 2008 at 8:06 am

Hi Stacey,

I know I’m not Rusty, but I have been combining light weights with heavy weights, and I find it is a really good balance for someone that doesn’t need to add too much tone, but just maintain what they have. I find it does work for me so I think everybody is different and you just have to experiment to see what works best for your body. I have friends that just do cardio and they still look really fit, and others that don’t do much cardio but hit the weights and they also look fit. The important thing is to move and keep your body active…but lets see what Rusty says!

Paul April 26, 2008 at 10:25 am

Wow, I never knew that. I guess its so easy to be ignorant to this kind of information, but once it sinks in….

I for one know I’ll never go back to my old training / diet habits!

admin April 26, 2008 at 2:12 pm

Jennifer,

I can tell by looking at her body that she does weight training. She has toned shoulders and arms. Her obliques look good. She looks like she does a lot of cardio to stay lean with some lifting. The important point is that I have never seen her let herself go, like so many others in her same position.

Scott N,

You just have a bit of excess body fat. If you have love handles while still being able to see your abs, you are going to have really amazing abs once you lean down. Don’t drink that mass gaining stuff! Eat a realistic diet while working out hard in football and you will get lean again.

Tesa,

Certain people do have to eat something before working out. I would suggest a fuji apple. Just stay away from the “sport drinks” and you will be fine. You will still burn a lot of fat.

Rayman,

I didn’t want this post to be depressing. The good news is that you are learning the skill of staying lean and healthy…your friends are not. At some point they will put on weight and become overweight while you lean down and continue to stay lean. My site is about staying fit your entire life…not about getting in shape and then getting out of shape.

If you have a “4-pack” you are probably just 5-10 pounds away from seeing a 6 pack. You are really close! Keep at it and you will get there!

Trevor,

Love the Hives…I like any of that alternative rock type of stuff. I’ve been really getting into Joy Division lately. I am going to buy the DVD that was just released called “Control”. It is a drama about the event that lead up to Ian Curtis killing himself the night before their first U.S tour. He was an amazing artist who had epilepsy…he would have seizures on-stage and it seriously depressed him. Too bad, because Joy Division became one of the most influential bands of all time.

Here is the “real” Joy Division from 1979. Watch how crazy Ian gets!

[Every alternative band cites these guys as an influence. Joy division went on to form New Order after Ian committed suicide]

Here is a clip from “Control”…2007. The actor does a good job!

Here is their most famous song. Love Will Tear Us Apart

[One of my all-time favorite songs]

admin April 26, 2008 at 2:23 pm

Stacey, Jennifer, and Paul,

I’m out of time…I’ll address your great comments next time I login.

Have a great one!

Rusty

Sandy April 26, 2008 at 7:45 pm

It burns me when people think getting older is an excuse not to make an effort to take care of their bodies. People can have fantastic bodies even when they are older.

Tom Parker April 26, 2008 at 8:02 pm

Great video for the boys Rusty. Can’t believe I’ve not seen this one before. I saw an interview with Kylie a few years back on an MTV program called ‘The Hottest Bodies in Pop’ or something similar. She said that she doesn’t actually workout that much. She just tries to eat right and all the dancing on stage shapes her body. Looking at some of the routines I can see why. They are intense!

I’m glad I have always been naturally skinny and never put on lots and lots of fat. I never knew about fat cells remaining for life until a few months ago when I read ‘The Stubborn Fat Solution’. Since reading this I’ve really began to watch what I eat and started to do more cardio. I don’t want those stubborn fat cells creeping up on me.

David April 27, 2008 at 10:54 am

This is true Rusty. I’m living proof. I have never been over weight. I never really played any sports as a kid. When I was a teenager I started getting bad skin so my Dad put me on a “clean” diet. No sugar, processed foods, fast food etc. I was also growing alot at that time and I got really skinny. Alot of my friends started putting on weight through their teens and early twenties, I never have. So I have no trouble with gaining fat, plus I workout. My bodyfat is 5%. Even when I eat junk food I have no problem. My diet is really healthy 99% of the time and I workout five times a week. So the combination works for me.

John Fit April 27, 2008 at 11:02 am

Rusty,
Staying Lean is a great idea as well because it will play an important part in the elasticity of your skin.. Your skin will mold & adapt to your shape, and if that shape is “rounder” and not toned, then the skin will sag when you do lose the weight. The quicker you get that fat off and longer you can keep it off, your skin will improve the touch & will remain tight.. Plus, have you ever seen someone that has bulked so hard they have the “tear” stretch marks around their pecs & armpit area.. Its really tough to get rid of that stuff and this probably is the aesthetics you want to present for the lean & trim look.. Yet again, solid post Rusty..

John Fit.. (Stretching for a little Beach Run.. Beautiful Day today!)

Leo April 27, 2008 at 1:04 pm

Rusty,

Wow, I just started reading about a book on bulking chapter, and your article has now confused me again. Maybe the term of bulking for me *as a recreational bodybuilder (to get lean a.k.a menshealth cover body) is to get enough muscle mass, not fat, but apparently you’ll get along with the process. Your blog has always been educating, cause I’m not aiming for huge hulk-y body. I just cut down my body fat and thinking of starting to bulk. Eat a lot doesnt mean eat junk, but I’m trying to get a clean bulk, means excessive clean calories. CMIIW

DownSouth April 27, 2008 at 2:14 pm

What you need to think about is how serious you are about football. If you need to gain weight then gain weight. If you’re gonna play give it 100% commitment. What you really need to be focusing on is performance and not how you look. That doesn’t mean you can’t look good while playing but you have to do whatever it takes to play at a high level. If your coach says you need to gain weight then you need to. Being too light highly increases your risk of injury and you aren’t gonna bring any pop on contact. And those excess calories from those shakes should do you good. Two 4 hour practices is a whole lot of damn work and you need to make sure you’re consuming enough calories to perform at a high level. Rusty is a great source of information when it comes to achieving the kind of look he talks about, and all his information is correct, but if you’re playing ball you need to focus on the field and not your abs.

LUCKY April 27, 2008 at 3:26 pm

I am grateful for the information on this site. It was an unexpected surprise. To be honest, i approached getting in shape with being more delicious to the ladies in mind. I was all about growth and size . Lucky for me it didnt take long and i didnt get far before i started to consider my own health and well being. Conditioning, strength, health, and endurance has become my focus . I am still a beginner so i hope to just keep learning and improving over time.

Josh April 27, 2008 at 4:16 pm

Thanks Rusty for the advice you have helped me enhance my fitness a lot. When your book comes out i’m getting it.

Anyways I was out for about a week because i hurt my hip but i got up today and it felt really good and it is probably healed now. What i noticed is that because i have been going so hard with my training for basketball my skin has finally adapted and is tightened now. Even though i didn’t eat very well when my hip was hurting. Since my skin was so tight it looks like I haven’t missed a day.

On a side note you should have a before and after page on this site so you can see how much you have helped me and people like me who on have excellent physical appearances thanks to you.

benjie April 27, 2008 at 6:09 pm

hey rusty quick question. i too made the big mistake of gaining too much bulk in one year, going from 130 to 170 in a little over a year, taking in loads of creatine in the process. of course i got a bloated look. that was when i was 20, now i am 25 and have been leaning up over the last few years. i am currently at 146 and have sharpened up a great deal. i have a 6 pack and am very lean, but i still have a great deal of fat that i cant get rid of in my triceps. it makes my arms look huge (like a football lineman) and makes my body look very out of proportion. my biceps are very lean with peaks and veins easy visible. its just my damn triceps that i cant seem to sharpen up. this is the main reason i bought The Stubborn Fat Solution by Lyle McDonald. I don’t want to lose any lean mass, just get rid of that last bit of fat that wont seem to budge. I am following one of his protocols and performing it 3 times a week. I was wondering if I can eat at maintenance level to get rid of that fat, or do I need to go into a calorie deficit in order to lose body fat? I would estimate I am at 10% body fat right now, and the only bit of fat in my body seems to be on my triceps and upper back. Sorry I made this so long. Basically I want to know if I can still eat at maintenance at lose the body fat using one of Lyle’s protocols, or do I have to go into a calorie deficit for awhile? Thakns as always rusty!

Brad April 27, 2008 at 9:53 pm

Hey Rusty,

I thought I’d comment on something I swear I’ve seen you mention before, that some people underestimate how much weight they think they want to lose. My goal all along is to get down to 175 as I’ve told you probably a thousand times! Sorry about that! Anyways, I’m thinking once I get there I might even try and get a few pounds lower then that so long as I have the fat loss momemtum on my side.

Anwyays, I have a question. Once I get to my goal weight, whatever that ends up being, how long do you think it will take for my skin to start tightening up a bit and adjust to my new, smaller physique? I definitely plan on just maintaining that weight once I get there.

Also, I think these last 5-8 pounds are going to be extremely challenging, maybe even more so mentally then physically, cause I have never really been lower then 180 for more then a day or two. I think I’m really close, I just need to go for it.

Do you think if I drop my calories to even as low as 1500 calories on some days that I will lose to much muscle? I weigh 180 pounds right now. I don’t want to totally screw up my metabolism. If I cycle calories with some low and moderate days for the next 3-4 weeks I’m hoping I can get leaner then ever without losing muscle.

One last question, should I take more vitamins when I’m eating low calories.

Thanks man, I’m closer then ever, I’m just looking for a little guidance in these next few weeks.

Brad

Jen April 27, 2008 at 11:57 pm

Rusty, you mention that you think Kylie looks like she does a lot of cardio. However, training for a marathon is also a lot of cardio, and you previously said you don’t advocate that *much* cardio. How much cardio do you advocate?

Josh April 28, 2008 at 12:02 am

benjie if you haven’t incorporated dips into your workout they really tone your triceps. lol my triceps actually look a bit to big for my biceps lol. So i guess i have to opposite problem.

admin April 28, 2008 at 2:58 am

Stacey,

I would still lift weights to retain the muscle you do have when you lean down. You want to have something there when all of the fat is gone.

Jennifer,

I couldn’t have said it better myself. Great advice!

Paul,

Yeah…I didn’t know a whole lot about this for a long time. I just try my best to research the heck out of this stuff and learn what really works.

Sandy,

I know I will have a great body even when I’m older…sounds like you will too. It is all about being too stubborn to get out of shape!

Tom,

Yet another reason to never let yourself get overweight. I like looking fit year round, so another reason to avoid the whole “bulking approach”.

David,

A lot of young guys who hate being skinny now, will have the last laugh when they are in their late 20’s and their friends start gaining weight. The skinny guys typically fill out nicely in their mid to late 20’s.

John Fit,

I have a post about skin’s role in displaying maximum muscle definition. I totally agree. If someone maintains a lower body fat percentage over a period of 6+ months, they will look more defined than when they first reached that body fat percentage.

Leo,

You can gain muscle, but don’t go more than 10 pounds out from your target weight. So if you wanted to get to 190 at 6% body fat, don’t go over 200 with the slightly higher body fat. Staying within 5 pounds would be even better. It will take you longer to add the mass, but you will be better for it in the long term…plus your face will look better the whole time. Have you ever seen the faces of bodybuilders in the off season? Scary stuff!

DownSouth,

You always throw in a good counterpoint and I normally end up agreeing with you. If Scott N wants to be a running back, he will need some size. God knows I’d be crushed if I tried to play that position!

Lucky,

The overall healthy look is becoming more in style than the overly muscular look. I’m glad people are coming to their senses! It is a win-win situation to aim for overall fitness.

Josh,

I hope some of you guys are keeping photos. Sometimes it is hard to see progress day to day, but over a month the transformation can be huge. Even a simple cell phone shot in your bathroom mirror is better than nothing. I have a decent outline for a few books, but I’ll probably have to back off on my blog substantially to put in the quality time to write it. I have mixed ideas of how I want to do this. I may turn off comments for a while to create the time necessary to write a major book and several small reports. I may hold off for a bit, because I love interacting with you guys!

benjie,

Try going into a calorie deficit for sure. This is the only way you will lose that fat. It actually sounds like you are in great shape. Why don’t you go into a calorie deficit until summer (just 7 weeks away)? You will probably get a little bit skinnier than you want, but you will gain that bit of muscle back quickly once you go back to maintenance mode for the entire summer. You can also workout less and enjoy outdoor activities more if you are already super-lean. You would have more room for error and still look lean all summer if you did this properly.

Brad,

First of all, vitamins are a great idea. This is one of the supplements I recommend, because it is so easy to miss vital nutrients these days with diet alone.

Secondly, it sounds like you have a great understanding of the strategy it will take to lose those last 5-8 pounds! You will get there for sure.

Last but not least…if you can hold a low body fat level for 6 months, your look will transform. Your muscles will look better than ever. If you can hold a low body fat level for 12 months, you will never want to go back to gaining extra body fat. Very few people have ever experienced this. Your face will take on a better appearance, you will have definition in places that you have never seen definition before. Jut do it…you will love the result!

Jen,

I guess my definition of a lot of cardio is 4-5 times per week for 30-60 minutes. Marathon training is excessive cardio in my opinion. It is more than the body was meant to handle.

Josh,

Dips are great. They are great for tone as well as functional strength. Good call.

Great comments,

Rusty

Mahendra April 28, 2008 at 1:43 pm

Hey Rusty..
great article…

During 2007 I lost about 25 lbs… and went from a 36 inch waist down to about 31 inches…
i now weigh in around 130… and i feel i am defined…
yet there is still some stubborn fat around my lower abs!

I’ve lifted weights the entire time… and trained Muay Thai… my strength has consistently gone up… i’ve managed to deadlift 200 lbs 5×5 at my weight…

i have a solid 2-pack.. but below that.. right around my belly button.. it just wont’ go away..
the reason i’m concerned is that… I am at 130 lbs, and Im about 5’5… ho wmuch more weight can I really afford to lose?

Any insight would be great appreciated!

Or could this be skin that was stretched.. or water retention… or some other problem?
when i was younger (around 15) i had once weighed in at 175 lbs… i’m now 24 and i weigh aroudn 130 lbs…..
could that have anything to do with it? the fact that my stomach was so much bigger before?

Helder April 28, 2008 at 6:52 pm

It’s so true, bulking is one of the most stupid things anyone can do, i did it myself a few years ago. Then it gets hard to be lean again, the fat cells remain forever. It’s also stupid to look fat almost all year long, only to get cut for the summer. What someone who’s bulking doesn’t understand is that he will get the same muscle muss as if he would eat clean, because most of those extra kilos/pounds are just fat, so when he cuts, the muscle will be just about the same. Someone who eats clean will have 3 big advantages, he/she will look good all year, will be healthier because bulking raises cholesterol, and finally someone who eats clean won’t have those extra fat cells. Luckily for me i only bulked for a very short while, i woke up on time.

Jen April 28, 2008 at 7:29 pm

I hate to be a pain in the ass (well maybe not that much) but have you seen Dean Karnazes body? He’s built like David, and he runs marathons back to back and ultra marathons, while still maintaining a muscular physique. I guess my point is the human body is only limited by imagination. If Dean Karnaze can run 200+ miles non-stop than it has to be possible for average people to run marathons and still retain muscle. I just haven’t figured out the trick yet….

admin April 29, 2008 at 12:53 pm

Mahendra,

It could partially be water retention, so to get rid of that drink a lot of water (I know it sounds counterintuitive). What you will also want to do is workout without any carbs in your system. Try to go really low carb leading up to your workouts…and make sure to not eat anything at all 3-4 hours before your workout. You can eat carbs after your workout. Believe it or not, this will help get rid of that last little bit of fat while sparing the muscle.

Helder,

Yeah…I bulked up a LONG time ago and it was retarded. I gained 20 pounds and once I leaned back down I only gained 5 pounds of muscle. I was “bulked up” looking for 9 months. I could have stayed lean the whole time and gained the same amount of muscle. Of course now I just like to stay lean with a “natural” amount of muscle to create a much more appealing and healthy look. Good comments. You have a captivating writing style…you should consider your own blog at some point.

Jen,

I think most people lose most of their muscle when they run marathons. My guess is that this guy would be really, really muscular if he didn’t run marathons. Since he is naturally big, he probably still has a decent amount left even though he runs like crazy.

Rusty

Brad April 29, 2008 at 9:51 pm

Hey Rusty, I’m going to eventually do low calorie/low carb days cycled with moderate calorie/carb days. I’ll probably eat my moderate calorie/carb days on Wednesdays and Sunday’s. So 5 low calorie/carb days per week with 2 moderate days mixed in.

My question is this. I weigh 180 pounds right now, if I eat 1500 calories and 100 carbs on my low days, cycled with 2200-2500 calories and 200 carbs on my moderate days, do you think I risk losing to much muscle, or even messing up my metabolism? Keep in mind I will be doing cardio 7 days per week and HIIT cardio on 5 of those days.

What do you think of this plan?

Thanks!

Undertow April 30, 2008 at 12:36 pm

Hey!
I am currently bulking now, and using whey and a gainer product. I have gained 12 pounds in about 3months (184lbs to 196lbs). And there is definitely added muscle, but more fat then I would like to have gained in the process. So was looking for more info about gaining and found this post, and glad I did! I think I have a solid routine, keeping to compound lifts (chest press, chin ups, squats). Also believe I am in the hardgainer category, as it seems hard to make progress without adding all those extra calories, right now I am adding about 1500 extra per day via a gainer product.

What are are some top tips to gain slowly over the year without the added fat?

-How much protein per day should I get?
-Is using a small amount of ‘weight gainer’ useful to add some extra calories?
-Should I just eat my normal meals and add extra protein?
-Or eat 500 calories over normal and add extra protein?
-Should I diet off the excess now, then start trying to gain again?
-Can gaining progress be done for a full year straight, or should there be rest periods / diet periods?

I know many questions, this article got me thinking and worried I am going about getting stronger and leaner all wrong!

Many thanks for any further help!

Undertow April 30, 2008 at 1:05 pm

Actually found lots of info in the site after I posted! Lots of good info and answered all my questions.

Many thanks again!

GarthFader April 30, 2008 at 6:06 pm

Retarded is right! … I’ve just made this exact mistake!
I’ve been bulking up the last 6 months after being harassed by everyone I knew when I was FAT!’ “Garth.. You’re Waaay too thin!” “Are you ok?” Are you on drugs?” “Do you have cancer?”

GarthFader April 30, 2008 at 6:07 pm

Now.. Bulky, pretty strong & soft in the middle, I’m ready to restart! I’m tired of feeling like crap! Yes, under all of this flab is a pretty sold structure, but I still ‘feel’ terrible. Does that make sense?

My diet is super clean as I type this, but consuming too many cals to lose fat. I know fist hand *I* must be cal deficient to lose the *butter*.

The first time I did this I was super out of shape and ate like crap! By trial and error, and decent advice from a trainer, It took awhile to get my diet and fitness dialed in, but once it started to go… WoW! The weight would not stop coming off!

I felt fantastic when I was lean, and I really miss it! (I’d post a pic of my leanest EVER if I knew how) I was sooo proud of my accomplishments! Sigh!!

I just need to re-program myself to a different diet and ‘freak-out’ my body again. I’m currently eating 5-6 times a day, and it’s not working for me!

Any help getting back on the right rail would be appreciated!
Current Stats
5’7
160ish
I want to be in the single digit BF wise. (I don’t need calipers; I’ll know when I get [back] there)
Maintain Lean muscle (as much as possible)

Let’s see how this plays out!

Killer site! Great find…
-GarthFader- , Washington

Helder May 1, 2008 at 3:36 pm

Thanks Rusty i will do that, i’ve been thinking about it, sharing experiences is something that i really like and we can learn from each others.

admin May 1, 2008 at 4:04 pm

Brad,

That plan as looks good. You are cycling a strong calorie deficit with maintenance. The only thing I would change is to maybe go even a bit lower on carbs from time to time on your low calorie days. You wouldn’t have to do this all 5 days, but maybe have very little carbs 1-2 times per week.

Undertow,

I’m glad you found the answers to your questions. I’m trying to build this up into a focused resource for people. If I was in your position and wanted to add muscle, just add a bit of extra protein and do a high volume of lifting for a while to build muscle mass. Once you gain the natural amount of muscle for your frame…which only takes 1-2 years max…then you can focus the rest of your life to getting in better shape, getting stronger, lean, and bad-ass. It is fun to get really defined…especially nice having a great set of abs, because that is very rare these days.

GarthFader,

I’m working on 3 different “special reports”, which basically puts a lot of the info on this site into an organized document. Anyway…I have been in your exact position! When I used to bulk up…many, many years ago…I would look alright when I was standing, but then the fat would bunch up around my belly when I sat down. I hated that! It feels so much better to be light and lean…it is easier to move and run…plus you look great no matter what the angle or lighting. When you are bulky, you can look good with overhead lighting or in certain clothes, but look terrible at other times.

Ayway…my advice. Read my posts in the “dieting for fat loss” section:

http://fitnessblackbook.com/category/dieting_for_fat_loss/

Read all of them, since it sounds like your diet is the biggest issue here. I actually think 1-3 meals per day is the best strategy for eating. You have to allow yourself to get hungry to lose fat (I’m going to do a post on that…what a great title!).

Helder,

If you ever do want to create your own blog, I’ll answer any questions you have. I’ve learned a bunch in the past year (not just creating posts, but building up large amounts of search engine traffic). It is actually really fun.

Rusty

GarthFader May 1, 2008 at 9:48 pm

Rusty,

I’m going to DO this starting tomorrow.. there is no TRY! hahaha

My deal is I like to go to the gym in the morning mainly to avoid the evening ‘gym drones’. I prefer the morning & in doing so I’ve always worked out in a fasted state (including lifting) eeek! going against the norm here!

Besides the usual, more stretching, a bit longer warm up.. any pitfalls here?

Any nutritional advise you can give me?

By my math, I need to be in the 1300ish cal. range to be deficient

Now if I could just get rid of this headache! I’m sure its from all the stupid sups! haha (adrenal burnout perhaps)

Thanks Rusty!

Coming across your site was a wake up call for me!

Brad May 1, 2008 at 10:26 pm

Hey, thanks Rusty, when you say very little carbs, approximately how low do you think I should go, 0,50,100?

admin May 5, 2008 at 12:03 am

Garthfader,

Aim for the 1,300 calorie range, but go higher every so often for a few days without going overboard. A strategy that works well is to diet hard for 3-4 weeks then up the calories for a week to “reset” the metabolism. Think “3 steps forward and one step back” to get to really low body fat percentages.

Brad,

Really low carbs is less than 50 per day. It sounds easy in theory but can be tough since so many snacks are carb-based. Around 50-100 would still be alright, but try to throw in those days where you get less that 50 every now and then.

Rusty

Helder May 5, 2008 at 6:38 am

Thanks Rusty

Brad May 6, 2008 at 1:04 pm

Wow, I’m only a few days into this low carb cycling thing and man does it work quick. My stomach flatter and becoming tighter then ever. I’m due for a refuel day here soon, I need to get some more calories and carbs back in my system. Thanks for the tip!

admin May 7, 2008 at 1:29 pm

Brad,

You can fine tune this process to get as lean as you want. It is a great feeling to know that!

Rusty

Mike OD - Fitness Spotlight May 8, 2008 at 2:03 pm

Great Article!…and the video isn’t too bad either! Gold star! (oh yeah…made the spotlight!…drop me an email sometime, would like to make you premier on FS) Keep up the great posts!

admin May 8, 2008 at 9:05 pm

Mike,

I’ll send you an e-mail. I love your site and I’m excited that you featured this post. I’m sure the article was closer to a 4 out of 5 rating, but the video of Kylie added a “bonus” star. Thanks…I’ll contact you soon.

Rusty

Brad May 10, 2008 at 11:11 am

Hey Rusty,

thought I would give you an update to my progress since I’ve been using a lot of your tips . I started this lean out process back in late February and planned to attack it 4-6 weeks at a time.

First 6 weeks, I went from 194 to 182.75.

Then I took a week to re-fuel and recharge my metabolism. I upped the calories and the carbs a bit, I backed way off on the cardio and cut out HIIT completely that week, I lifted weights for 4 days but only 20-30 minutes each session.
I weighed 184 at the end of that week but felt better, recharged, and ready to attack another 4-6 weeks.

Well, I just got done with my 4th week and I went from 184 to 178! This is the leanest I have ever been! I feel great at this weight. My goal now is to maintain this weight for at least a couple weeks. My body is absolutely drained right now, but it was worth it to get to this point. The carb cycling method you helped me with this past week worked great. I had been stuck at 180 for a couple weeks, but lost 2 pounds in one week using this method!

After I maintain my new lean body for a couple of weeks and recharge my metabolism, I will do another 2-3 carb cycling weeks and hopefully drop these last 2-3 pounds. Thats really all I have left that I could lose at this point! After that, I’m finally in maintenance mode!!!!!!!!!! Thank goodness.

Thanks so much man for all your help and supportive comments, I appreciate it!

Brad

admin May 10, 2008 at 8:51 pm

Brad,

Thank you for posting this update. These methods work really well, but it helps others to see actual results. I’m pumped for you! The cool thing is that now you have the knowledge to get as lean as you want whenever you want.

Isn’t it nice to have “the mystery” taken out of the equation? So many people are baffled at what it takes to get ripped. You now know exactly what to do.

Very inspiring!

Rusty

Brad May 10, 2008 at 10:41 pm

Definitely, it is great knowing that I can get as lean as I want from now on! I’m in need of a good 10 days of maintenance and a break from HIIT, but once I’m re-charged, I can’t wait to carb cycle until I drop these last few pounds! I’m already super lean but it will be cool to see how ripped I can get!
You know what the exciting part is? I can’t wait to just maintain my new weight. The only time I’ve ever been in maintenance mode is when I was under the wrong impression that I had to eat 6 small meals per day. MAN DID THAT SUCK! Whenever I wanted to have some fun foods I would always gain a bunch of weight back, then have to eat absolutely perfect for 6 days just to get back to that previous weight, then I would splurge again and start the process over again. So stupid too.
Now, I have so many tricks I can use to stay lean and still have a life and eat fun foods. I used to get stressed about going out to eat or going to a party because I would have to try to say no to the temptation of good foods.
Now I can eat low carb and low calorie for a couple days leading up to that point, HIIT the cardio hard and then enjoy a party or a night out to eat. The funny thing is, now when I have the freedom to eat these other foods I don’t splurge like I used too cause there is no pressure. I love it!
Plus another trick that works, another idea you gave me, I just eat an apple and drink a couple cups of green tea before I have cheat foods. It works wonders at curbing my appetite.
Dude, I cannot thank you enough for you’re help, the stuff I get from this site has literally changed my whole fitness and nutrition approach. It has allowed me to reach my goals, maintain my goals, and more importantly still have a life without the stress of eating perfectly and not enjoying life!
Gotta go, have a great weekend!

admin May 11, 2008 at 3:20 pm

Brad,

You nailed it! I like it that you pointed out that you now know how to stay lean while still eating “fun” foods. Anyone can stay lean if they eat like a rabbit. I teach the concept of staying lean while “living” life and not depriving yourself.

Great stuff!

Rusty

Sandy May 12, 2008 at 11:41 pm

Im not one to make fun of people but I saw this guy today that fit what you were talking about in this article. He looked like a blowed up Michellen Man. Im not sure if I spelled that correctly. He was so blowed up in his upper body that it made him walk funny. Everytime Ive seen him working out, he was lifting weights. He works out with a group of guys and Ive never seen any of them on cardio machines. Thanks again for all of the great articles! (:

admin May 14, 2008 at 1:49 pm

Sandy,

I love making fun of the type of guys you mentioned. Common…you know they deserve it. Mainly because they mistakenly think they are looking good…when in reality they have a high level of “boofiness” (not a word, but it describes it sooo well). That excessively muscular look is so outdated. It was cool (not really) for like 4-5 years from 1985 to 1990. Nice comment!

Rusty

Brad May 18, 2008 at 10:39 pm

Crazy! I was planning on taking the past week to refuel and recharge my metabolism, being how I had gotten down to a new low of 178 pounds. But I had kind of a junky day on Sunday, I usually have a cheat meal on Sunday but I had more then normal. So I decided to take the next two days and go low carb/low calorie to make up for that damage. Well once I got past those two days, I decided what the heck, I might as well finish this week out on another low carb cycle with one moderate calorie day mixed it on Thursday. Well, I weighed in at the end of the week on Saturday morning like I always do and I was down to 176!!!!! This carb cycling stuff is so effective. I may have to do it for one more week since I have all this momemtum. Then I will definitely have to go to maintenance calories and cut back on the HIIT for a week or two. But man does this stuff work.
I’m getting so many comments and compliments from people about how lean I am, especially people I haven’t seen in a few months.
I think I may try and get down a few more pounds and then just hold that bodyweight for a long period of time, to get that sharper look.
How long do you normally say it takes to look sharper and more cut when you hold a low bodyfat for a period of time? Anyways, just wanted to let you know about the continued progress, thanks!

admin May 20, 2008 at 3:14 am

Brad,

Way to kick butt buddy! You think you look great now…Wait until you have been doing this for a year! You will look better and better each month, but you will have a striking level of definition a year from now. you will most likely have a higher degree of muscle definition than anybody you know.

Rusty

Brad May 20, 2008 at 9:19 am

Thanks Rusty! This is incredible. I never realized I could get this lean. It is such a good feeling to know that the hard work pays off. It just takes time. All of your posts and comments have made a big difference! I hope others out there will find this site and follow your advice. I will direct people I know to this site, and encourage them to buy your reports and/or ebooks when they come out! I wouldn’t recommend anyone do that unless I completely trused the advice they would be given, I know your stuff works!
Thanks for the help, I’ll keep you posted with continued progress.

ken June 11, 2008 at 10:56 am

Rusty,

I stumbled across this site and I feel it is important to correct you on some misinformation.

As human beings we are born with a predetermined number of fat and muscle cells. There is nothing you can do to increase or decrease this number. That is why some people are naturally leaner than others – they were born with fewer fat cells. Diet and exercise serves to shrink the size of fat cells (and increase muscle cell size).

admin June 11, 2008 at 9:51 pm

ken,

I have found conflicting studies. One study says that the number of fat cells does not increase after around the age of 20…unless a someone gains fat too quickly.

Another study stays the number of fat cells stops around puberty to late teens and does not increase at ll.

One thing all studies I have read is that you can not lose fat cells at all.

Rusty

johnd July 5, 2008 at 12:41 am

genetics mean a lot

you’re genes don’t dictate things but predispose you to a certain look

Rob February 20, 2009 at 12:08 pm

Rusty:

I can understand what you are saying about bulking up by increasing overall caloric intake, however what about increasing lean protein intake in order to increase muscle mass? Do you have any guidance on this? I am to understand that increasing lean muscle helps to burn calories, and can significanly aid in fat loss. What do you recommend?

R,

Rob

Ganio May 28, 2009 at 12:36 am

I recently started playing indoor soccer with a local team and was researching how to get a more powerful shot. A lot of articles recommended doing a lot of leg workouts, but my inner thighs already rub together from doing squats, etc…in the past, is there a better way to get a more powerful shot, while still reaping the benefits of getting leaner from playing soccer? And what is the best way to up my endurance/stamina for the game?

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