12 Week Bulk to Gain Lean Mass Program - Phase 2 Results
I started my Bulking Program on February 25th, 2017. View the details of what my bulking plan consisted of in the first post here. The program is broken into 12 week phases. My original plan was to do 4 complete 12 week phases, for a total year of bulking.
Recently, I decided to not put top surgery (gender confirming masculinization of the chest) on hold and scheduled it for December of 2017. This alters my bulking plan quite a bit because I will not be bulking during recovery. I will not be able to train normally for at least 6-8 weeks post-op. This timeframe will be when I would have been doing Phase 4 of the bulk program. This means that I will only be completing 3 phases of the bulk program in 2017. The end of Phase 3 will be at the end of October, so I have a lot of hard work to put in during that phase in order to bulk up as much as possible before preparing my body for surgery.
My weight goal for the end of 2017 is to be sitting at around 170lb. I should be able to accomplish this with how Phase 1 and Phase 2 resulted. I am 5' 7", so this weight would be an amazing accomplishment. When I started bulking, I was at 133lb. My goal weight would be me at 37 lbs of lean mass gains over the coarse of 36 weeks.
Beyond my body weight and lean mass, I hope to keep achieving strength gains. I have continually made strength gains week by week over the last 28 weeks. I plan to keep pushing, especially lagging body parts so that everything is growing at an even pace. I also plan to finish out Phase 3 in better athletic condition than the other two phases. After Phase 3, I plan to be very comfortable with hard weight training and consistent cardio conditioning as part of my normal weekly routine.
The goals for Phase 2 (5/13/2017 - 7/29/2017) were the following...
- Gain 1/2lb - 1lb of lean mass per week (6lb - 12lb over the course of 12 weeks).
- Strength gains in either reps or weight every workout
- My only "cheat" items are in the form of alcoholic beverages
- Take caloric intake up by 50 calories a week (based on how I was gaining)
- Drink 1 gallon or more of water daily
- Train 1.5 hour sessions at least 5 days a week
- Eat a mostly plant based diet and get calories from whole foods
- Focus on Shoulder strength, the body part I wanted to grow the most
- Make Leg gains, a body part that was lagging
WHAT WAS ACCOMPLISHED
I accomplished ALL of my goals for Phase 2. I worked hard and lifted heavier than ever before.
- WEIGHT STATS: Starting Weight Week 1 was 145lb and End Weight at Week 12 was 156lb. My height is 5' 7". Total Weight Gained: 11lb (just about 1 lb a week).
- SIZE STATS: Flexed Biceps up 1 in (from 13in to 14in). Flexed Calves the same (14in). Shoulder Circumference up 1in (from 46in to 47in). Chest Circumference down (42in to 40in). Upper Leg Circumference up 1in (21in to 22in). Highlight is the growth of my arms and shoulders. I also wanted to increase leg size, that happened as well.
- STRENGTH GAINS: All gains are for working sets which I do at least 3 sets of during a workout. Chest: Incline Barbell Bench Press up 20lbs (from 60x10 to 80x12). Incline Dumbbell Fly up 5lbs (from 25x8 to 30x12). Back: Wide Grip Cable Row up 15lbs (from 120x12 to 135x12). Barbell Row up 20lbs (from 80x10 to 100x10). Shoulders: Single Arm Overhead Press up 5lbs (from 30x10 to 35x10). Upright Rows up 10lbs (from 50x12 to 60x10) Arms: Close Grip Bench Press up 10lbs (from 90x10 to 100x10). Alternating Dumbbell Curl up 5lbs (from 30x8ea to 35x8ea). Legs: Hip Thrust up 30lbs (from 110x12 to 140x12). Leg Press up 30lbs (from 190x10 to 220x10). Highlight is definitely my leg strength. I also increased my arm strength quite a bit, I am now able to curl 40lb dumbbells for my max weight set.
- DIET / NUTRITION: I kept very consistent with my diet. My main cheat is beer, I love craft beer and allowed myself it throughout this bulk. Even when I have it though, I track it and it fits into my macros. My nutrition plan is 90% plant based. The only dairy I eat is Greek Yogurt and some whey protein (this is very minimal). My macros ended up being best a 20/60/20 (20% Protein, 60% Carbs, and 20% Fats). This is the ratio that I performed and felt best at.
- CALORIC INTAKE: This phase, eating became harder than phase 1. I was exhausted from all the eating and digesting, it was a LOT of food. Starting caloric intake was 2,100 daily and at week 12 I had it up to 2,500 daily. This is a 400 calories daily increase and I was able to increase this in slow increments so that my body could properly adjust. I'm not sure if I will ramp it up much higher than this, I'm starting to feel a little sluggish at this number. I think my body needs a few weeks to adjust and then I may increase again.
OUTCOME AND LESSONS
Phase 2 taught me that my body gets tired... of eating. I had multiple day spans where my appetite was almost non existent. I had to force myself to eat my meals. I've never been training and in a caloric surplus this long and it started to really change the way I was seeing food. I honestly don't remember what it feels like to really "crave" a food. I've been full for 28 weeks straight and it changes the way the mind thinks about food. This was the biggest lesson and was an eye opener for me. To keep bodybuilding and gaining, I'm going to feel full a lot and have to get used to it. I started incorporating more cardio towards the end of this phase because I needed to move and get some of that food moving. I think this will be the biggest change moving forward... an urge for movement.
- STRENGTH: My strength gains are still there and are best when I go in and just give it my all. I was often scared that I wouldn't be able to push more weight. There were days during this phase where I doubted my strength, but throughout every workout I found a way to improve upon last weeks. That's a lesson right there, some improvement is better than none... push yourself.
- NO HUNGER: My hunger was non existent most days. This was a weird mental shift, I became uninterested in eating. Eating became work and it was an eye opener.
- DEFINITION: During this phase, I started to see glimpses of the sculpted look that I plan to one day achieve. I saw new veins pop in my arms. I saw definition in my triceps that was very motivating. My calves now show a distinct shape. My delts keep rising and my shoulders are carving out their own place. These visual cues are very promising to my progress.
- MENTAL POWER: I focused a lot on getting deep within myself for motivation to achieve things that I thought I might not be capable of. I proved the voice in my head wrong over and over. During this phase, I really pushed my one rep max sets and I did numerous drop sets at the end of workouts. When I was done with my workout, I did more... just to prove my mind that I could.
- THE PUMP WAS UNREAL: During this phase I experienced a pump on certain workouts that was amazing. There were certain days that I was so pumped it hurt. I needed to flex out my muscles just to be able to use them more. I experienced this the most on Arm Day, Shoulder Day, and Leg Day. I'm even starting to feel a chest pump which is really exciting.
MOTIVATION & MOVING FORWARD
Phase 2 was all about digging for deep motivation. The thrill of Phase 1 wore off and this became work, but by focusing on strengthening my mind more than anything... I was able to achieve all my goals. During this Phase I also received a lot of positivity, motivation, and encouragement from people on social media. This was a great motivator and made me realize that I can inspire and give back to others. These interactions reignited my fire to show others what is possible when you commit to something and give it your all.
I'm taking a week to de-load and recover my muscles. I'll still be in the gym, but doing lighter weight workouts. I'll also be doing more cardio during this week and working of getting a lot of blood flow through my muscles. I've been staring to feel pretty stiff, so I think a little recovery time will be beneficial moving forward. Phase 3 is my last bulking phase before surgery and recovery. I intend to go really hard and soak up every minute of training that I have before I need to break from it.
This post is an informational update to my intro bulking program. I will be posting at the end of each 12 week phase to share if I've met my goal, what was the overall outcome, and also what lessons I learned. It will be a valuable check in point to establish what methods should be implemented in the future.
This is not intended to be instructional but rather a way to share my experience with this method. For more in depth information on developing your fitness and nutrition plan, click here. Also, this post was created during my first two months of hormone replacement therapy. All images are from my first two months on testosterone.