Should I Bulk Up? (#157)

Lawrence Neal
I took this photo ~2 weeks after I increased my calorie intake up to 3,000 calories per day with one cheat day per week. I’ve put on about 3lbs and due to higher carb intake, I think I’m retaining more water and thus look a little more bulky, at least for me. However, please note that this photo includes incredible lighting and a post-workout pump.

It’s been a while since I recorded a podcast on my own training and diet journey. In this episode, I talk about my own physical insecurities and new approach to diet to see if I can add more muscle mass whilst minimising fat gain. Since recording this, I was reminded that muscle gain, at my level, is a marathon, not a sprint. Therefore, I’m looking to continue this experiment for the rest of 2018 to see what happens. I will keep you posted!

This is my current A/B routine performed once every 3-5 days. The details of the protocol are provided in the podcast. For images and instruction for each exercise, please see Project Kratos and some links below:

A Routine:

  • Pushup
  • Pull up or chin up (alternated)
  • Single legged squat (alternate starting leg)
  • Neck extension
  • Neck flexion

B Routine:

Highlights:

  • How to think about optimising muscle hypertrophy over the long term
  • How to balance the pursuit of muscle gain with the preservation or improvement of health span
  • Why cultivating a healthy perspective toward your physical appearance is really important
  • …. and much, much more

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Selected Links from the Episode

People Mentioned

  • Matt Ely

    Great job as always, Lawrence! It’s good to hear from someone normal, based on the stats you give for height and weight v. the bro science junk we find everywhere else. It’ll be interested to hear how your experiments turn out. Your thinking is very much in line with that first chapter of Body by Science about keeping the balance between health, fitness, and exercise (except here you talk about health span v. muscle mass and body composition). Question: are you still getting all your calories in two meals, within a 6 or 8 hour window?
    My current stats: 6’0″, about 170 lbs. Before I found Body by Science a little over three years ago, I was 180 lbs. I was still lean, but upon starting the HIT protocols, lost 5 lbs easily. This January, I started intermittent fasting and dropped another 5 lbs. Still gaining strength, though slowly now. I’m perfectly happy with how I look / feel / function, but if the Lean Gains stuff will add a pound of muscle per year, and it will work with a good, whole foods diet, I’m all for it, so long as it’s done without the psychological angst many guys carry around with them about their physiques.
    And cold showers – awesome stuff. I started that this past November when a friend sent me the Wim Hof course. I’m actually almost looking forward to the winter when the water is brutally cold…
    Keep us posted on your progress!

    • http://www.15minutecorporatewarrior.com Lawrence Neal

      Thanks Matt. Glad you find this helpful. I still fast till lunch (usually) and get 80-90% of my calories in 2 meals. I may snack between the meals on dark chocolate (probably too much these days!), a protein shake, or another small meal like an omelette.

      That’s great process Matt. Good for you. Whilst, Lean Gains was a good read, in your case, it probably wouldn’t teach you anything you don’t already do. The basic tenants were IF, very high protein, and reverse pyramid training (RPT). I see no reason why RPT would produce greater results than most HIT protocols, especially if you throw in drop-sets or rest-pause. Same thing right?

      For me, this probably is more of a psychological problem than a physical one!

      Hahah yes cold showers rock! Similarly, the water is getting mighty cold here in Galway, so excited to test myself in the coming months. Might try a 10-minute jobby!

      I’ll keep you posted.

      • Rob H

        Hey Lawrence, Great episode – very thought provoking. Ahh yes those cold showers: I too do not feel like I’ve had a ‘proper’ shower without the 2-5 minutes of cold at the end!

        Not sure if you’ve read Martin Berkhan’s new ‘Leangains Method’ book yet? It is a fascinating read – well worth it. Please tell us you’ve lined him up as one of your upcoming guests?! In case you are interested, here in a nutshell are the main outakes from his book:

        1.) A VERY high % of protein (50-60% of daily calories from protein.) He recommends a typical male on a 2,000 calorie maintenance to consume 300g of protein/ day. Indeed he says he transformed his and others results when doubling his protein from 2g/ kg of body weight to 4g/ kg. Incidentally Mark Sisson mentions on one of his posts that he also massively increased his protein when he was bulking.

        2.) Of course the downside to this approach is that on top of the low carb approach he proposes; you would also need to be mindful to go easy on fat so as not to overshoot your calorie target. This means that one would need to focus on lean proteins at the expense of fattier ones eg low fat dairy (Greek yogurt, Quark, cottage cheese etc), tuna, chicken breasts etc or alternatively supplement meals with protein powder.

        3.) Daily 16-8 intermittent fasts are not strictly necessary – but he recommends everyone try it to see if they work for the individual.

        4.) Only 2-3 relatively large meals each day – and no snacking.

        5.) Loads of green veggies to boost fibre and prevent constipation on high protein diet. Also to slow digestion of protein and boost satiety.

        6.) Choose whole foods over processed – but not purely for nutrient density/ satiety – but because they have a significantly higher thermic effect of digestion than the same calories/ macros of processed food.

        7.) Ideally consume 100-200mg of caffeine every 2 hours until the point that it effects sleep – by either coffee or caffeine tablets. This increases metabolism in addition to increasing the thermal effect of digestion, as well as improving satiety/ decreasing appetite.

        8.) Eat no more than 100g of carbs per day, ideally much lower. But time carbs around the thrice weekly resistance training routine. Eg a piece of fruit before and after training to help boost performance and improve recovery. Plus carbs consumed around the workout have a much higher thermic effect.

        9.) He touches on his chosen workout protocol too, ie ‘Reverse Pyramid Training’, to be honest most of that was already on the ‘RPT Revisited’ article on leangains.com which I know you are already familiar with. I do like this though, since it certainly falls under the definition of ‘HIT’: every set is taken to failure and workouts are no more than 30-40 minutes, often less.

        Those are the main outtakes I took from the book. I’m still not totally reconciled to focussing more on lean proteins though – but his rationale does make a lot of sense, ie that protein is the most anabolic of nutrients, most satiating and also has a much higher thermic effect than other macros. It also ties in very well with Ted Naiman’s views on protein too.. I’ve taken a month long break from training (and incidentally didn’t seem to lose anything :)), but when I restart this week I am going to give Martin’s RPT training an honest go for 3 months – mainly just to change things up a bit. I have also put in place daily IF of around 18-19 hours (7pm – 2pm next day). I then have a double sized ‘breakfast’ at 2pm ( 4 eggs, can of salmon, greek yogurt etc) followed by steak/ chicken for dinner at 7pm followed by whey protein to further up the protein. It’s very do-able and saves me loads of time in the morning (with the odd teaspoon of coconut oil in the morning to stave off hunger).

        I’ll let you know how it goes. But I would recommend anyone interested in this area read Martin’s book – it is backed up by plenty of references and he makes a very strong argument based on the science (it’s been vetted by Alan Aragon of ‘Alan Aragon’s Research Review’ fame). I was unaware quite how much protein he was referring to when he mentioned a ‘very high protein diet’ on his blog though! Oh, and he does go over his background/ journey in a LOT of detail (with photos): and it appears he is not at all genetically blessed: he was actually quite a fat kid growing up… As far as he is concerned the very high protein % coupled with IF and RPT training is what made all the difference to him – including the ability to move past many plateaus on his journey. I’m sure you are sceptical – but get him on the show and give him a good grilling!

        • enlite

          These high level protein recommendations are very high and unnecessary .

        • http://www.15minutecorporatewarrior.com Lawrence Neal

          Thanks for this insightful comment Rob! And for breaking down the book!

          Yes, I read Lean Gains. It was a good read. Not too many surprises, but loved the stuff on dietary induced thermogenesis, etc.

          Martin has not yet confirmed. He doesn’t do many podcasts! He’s probably too busy cleaning up the shit show following Alan Aragon’s demise.

          1) He doesn’t cover bulking in his book. Not that I saw? It was all focused on leaning down.I probably consume ~200g a day. 300g is ALOT!

          Whilst I liked the book, I was a little disappointed that he spent a good amount of time jut repurposing a load of articles from LeanGains.com. To a new reader this is fine, but I imagine his existing fans wouldn’t be too impressed with that. It’s lazy IMO.

          Your new experiment sounds good. I don’t understand how RPT can be more effective that HIT with a bit more volume (drop-sets, pre-exhaust, etc) and it’s probably not. Physiologically and logically, it does not make sense to me. Also, not a huge fan of the squat and deadlift in terms of training over a lifetime.

          I would argue that he IS genetically blessed in terms of his RESPONSE to training. Interestingly, when I was his age in his before pic when he was fat, I could eat like him and would not gain weight. Just speculation.

          Skeptical as hell Rob lol. You know me. Honestly, I’ve read a lot of his work and his book, and I still reckon he’d get to where he is with basic SSTF (perhaps with some advanced techniques thrown in – it’s the same thing! ;-).

          • Rob H

            Sounds good Lawrence. I agree not too many surprises in terms of the exercise component, but I did like his insights in terms of nutrition, especially the ‘thermic effect of feeding’ of protein, and the way it was all back up by research studies, which was definitely news to me. As I understand it, rather than rapid bulking, the purpose of his ‘leangains’ book seems to be slow and steady muscle building over the longer term, synched with slow and steady fat-loss – but not necessarily in a calorie deficit – depending on the individual’s goals. I agree though that for anyone like you or I who have been doing IF for a while now, we are already getting comments from those who know us that we have got too thin – so I am focusing more on the slow and steady ‘gaining’ – eg by upping my protein to see how that fares. To take up Enlite’s point below, I know that 4g/Kg does seem like a crazy % of protein – however in his book he does spell out a very solid scientific case backing up that POV, complete with references, and then he has his 20 year experience both for himself and his clients where he has come to believe that doubling his protein from 2g/ Kg to 4g/Kg makes all the difference when trying to break through plateaus. I’m not sure whether I believe him but I’m willing to give it a try! Since I only eat twice per day now (lunch & dinner), I am not getting in as much protein as he recommends (if I eat too much at mealtimes I just feel bloated so don’t like to over-stuff myself), but supplementing with 40g of whey protein every evening which helps.

            And yes, the way I interpret his ‘Reverse Pyramid Training’ for me is simply HIT with 1 or 2 drop-sets thrown in. Although he definitely advocates deadlifts and squats, he doesn’t appear dogmatic that they are the only compound leg exercises. So, like you, I do bodyweight single leg pistol squats these days. I don’t think the individual exercise choices are so important as long as they hit the target muscle groups to failure each time. I work-out alone from home, so would definitely not feel confident doing squats/ deadlifts to failure! Also, I had a herniated disc about 15 years ago, so always try to choose exercises with the absolute minimum risk of injury. As you say – the main component with any exercise programme is compliance over the long term, and if you are out injured that becomes a big problem!

            PS : Had not heard about Alan Aragon until you flagged it! Bet Berkhan is cursing the day he asked him to do the intro to his book now!

  • Thomas

    Lawrence, I think we all (hardgainer types) tend to get psychologically duped by the great responders who’s images become imprinted in our brains as “what could be” if we just did the right things. When we go looking for it, we either get hurt, get fat, or give up (or a combo). We’d be far better off jettisoning the bodybuilder as any part of the ideal look. In fact, we’d be better off throwing out the gym mirror all together.

    • http://www.15minutecorporatewarrior.com Lawrence Neal

      Well said sir.

  • Kbm

    Good luck Lawrence! I am a hard gainer who has also tried to add more muscle. But….gain a bit of cushion too. I am 195cm and at 93-95kgs I am good. Anything higher and i look a little bit heavy. I have come to the realization that I am what I am and genetics are stubborn. I am just focussing on eating healthy, lifting the HIT way and not worrying about my size or body fat too much. I am much happier this way. I remember Drew Baye saying if you can see your abs you’re doing ok, you dont need to be ripped. I have mucked around with my diet in the past and have settled on fresh unprocessed food. Thanks for the great site!

    • http://www.15minutecorporatewarrior.com Lawrence Neal

      Hey Kbm, appreciate the support, and I envy you! I wish I could just stop being a fool sometimes and be content with my physique and not worry about what others think! Thanks for the good advice.

  • Kamen Stranchevski

    Hi Lawrence, very nice stuff! I like those episodes a lot. Very nice of you to do these periodically. I listened to the thigns you’ve planned and do very closely. There is one point, that I have problem with though. You say it is a bulk up experiment and the general change is eating more calories basically. Let’s see how this will turn out, But if the goal is absolute muscle add on, then how about you limit the volume of exercise even further. There are two things about exercise, one good and one bad – Intensity is good and the Amount is bad remember A.J.? As I heared, you are still doing these 60-90 second sets. Would you consider dropping this to like 25-45 sec of TUL(at least for the big compound movements)?! All the same being equal like form etc. that will be a dramatic decrease in actual volume of exercise. According to logic, it should provide you with enough reserve of “recuperating” energy. Instead of normal 5-6 slow reps do 3 or 2 to failure. As far as HIT whisdom is concerned what you will compromise (perhaps) is your cardiovascular and metabolic training a bit…but hey we can’t focuse on ALL and GET great results on ALL right?! Or may be we can, I don’t know. I myself love to experiment and this idea is something, that I am planing to explore in my personal next experiment. I have not found forcefeeding to be helpful so far. The calorie intake has only established the weight and level of leanness, that I am able to attain. But that’s me. I’ve suggested that to you in the past, but in that time you were unsure if 30 second set will be stimulus enough. Remember? I guess that currently you’ve come to a point to understand that it is enough stimulus for growth of strenght and size and may not be enough for other things. But in any case it is undisputedly much, much less of a fatigue and volume to recover from. What do you think about that?

    • http://www.15minutecorporatewarrior.com Lawrence Neal

      Thanks Kamen. My volume and frequency is already fairly low and as per my note to Ad, I feel like I’ve experimented with the other side of the spectrum with no change. I may try more split style routines. 25-45s TUL doesn’t sound like it would really get at and fatigue the full spectrum of muscle fibers? Not sure on research on this. I see…. more trade-offs in terms of cardiovascular / metabolic training. As said, not prepared to compromise health span, so not interested in amending protocol to the detriment of these outcomes. Just to be clear, I’m not force feeding. I find 3,000 calories to be pretty easy to achieve. In the past, I’ve done 4-5,000 calories a day, and that was REALLY hard and I just got fat. I gained 14lb in a month…. However, before now, I have never done a reasonable calorie surplus beyond a month, which is what makes this very interesting to me. Regarding your list question, I’m skeptical that the reduced TUL would provide any improvement. For now, the only variable I’m changing really is the diet. I want to see what, if anything, makes the difference so controlling other variables like training volume and frequency. I’ve already potentially seen a small improvement in lean mass. I say “potentially” because my measurement method is 3-point caliper and scales so take that with a pinch of salt.

      • Kamen Stranchevski

        Dear Lawrence, I’d just like to clarify my terms. I used “force-feeding” only to illustrate My personal belief, that adding pure muscle just by increasing the calories consumed is rather improbable. The shorter TUL is absolutely valid suggestion. Order and degree of reqruitmenrof muscle is dependent on the task and the persistancy of the brain stimulation in order to complete it. Based on these, it can be achieved within different time frames, which determines the overall fatigue. That is why, please consider TUL solely as volume of exercise, as in your case, form etc. is quite correct. There are plenty real life examples of protocols and training styles, that support the “very limited time under load, being sufficient stimulus premises” and I mean much less than 30 sec. I can elaborate on such if you would like. Simply remember the static protocols out there, the typical performance of sets you see around and even among prominent HIT figures. Although the main message is that we should not discard the logic even if it seems very impossible. You mention may variables in life, individuality etc. quite accurately and you consider your volume to be already too low. Lowering it looks like no exercise at all. Right, But this does not null the logic behind HIT and it should be valid no matter what. And in addition, going from 90 sec to 30 sec on a compound movement is pretty big chunk of volume right there 😁

        • http://www.15minutecorporatewarrior.com Lawrence Neal

          Re calories, I think you might be right. We shall see! I think it’s important for me to clarify, that my original intake made me very lean, like 8% body fat, so one might argue that’s not an optimal state to grow muscle tissue. From what I hear most get up to 10-15% body fat and gain from there. Hell, it might make no difference and I’m not really prepared to go beyond ~12% but so far I’m ~10% and just over a month in.

          I have no doubt that a shorter TUL is still potentially just as effective but as per the previous message if there is a trade off for less cardiovascular / metabolic benefit, then not sure I want to reduce. If anything, I’ve gone the opposite direction and experimenting with Drew’s specialization routines in Project Kratos. See my reply to K at the top. You’ve lost me a little bit, why would I want to reduce volume further? Perhaps I misunderstood.

          • Kamen Stranchevski

            Hey Lawrence, I’m ok with upping the calories in moderation. But I also second “enlite” on his comment above, that you should reconsider carb intake and changing the calories mixture. I do believe that will make a change when bulking/muscle gaining is the goal. The volume Change e.g. going on reduced TULs, especially on the compound movements is another way to get out of the current equilibrium that you were in, saving your energy. Ad seems to advise you on something in this direction in his comment as well. I wrote that sometimes the option to reduce volume is not even considered as it would seem as doing super little, close to no exercise at all. But this does not discard the option.

  • ad ligtvoet

    Lawrence,
    great to tell this all. What I sense is still a urge to base self esteem on muscle mass/looks and then the thought of serving this by pushing with a rope. And oh, your calves are telling. But, that’s my opinion.
    You tell that you want to see where you can end regarding muscle mass but still don”t want to do things that could conflict with healthspan (logic) and being able to do things like moving quickly etc. I think you here haven”t made up your mind on priority. Gaining 1 kg a year sounds reasonable but I think that these numbers are calculated after the fact, 10 kg over 10 years. But more likely is 7-8 kg in the first 2 years and then….
    Gaining more mass will be difficult for you as well for most others. I don’t look to a minority group that can gain reasonable easy(I dont mean only the stage BB) but at the majority of people. And sustainability is a issue here too. You mentioned it but I think if you want to explore more the outer limit you must compromise here too.
    Maybe it is not even the amount of food and cal that need to change but the workout volume/frequency for getting out of the “normal” status quo. Here again, how much more gain will it deliver and is it sustainable from where you are now??
    Just some quick random thoughts after listening to the episode. Yet, this is not meant to discourage, you know that. And, never workout to maintain…..strive for progression regardless it”s possibility. LATER in life you look so much better and muscular compared to the rest around you.
    Good luck!!

    • http://www.15minutecorporatewarrior.com Lawrence Neal

      Thank you Ad. So wise! However if I was eating maintenance or below before, perhaps this was an preventing muscle growth? I agree with your logic regarding long term gains.
      I’ve always struggled modulating volume and frequency as an “advanced trainee”. Know thyself right? I tend to prefer abbreviated workouts (4-6 exercises) since I know I will give a true effort to MMF for all exercises. In terms of frequency, I’ve tried recovery periods from 3 -14 days and find it very hard, at least for me, to figure out my optimal recovery requirement since there is so many variables that affect performance, so I don’t see how anyone can figure out their “perfect” frequency, so I just go on feel. If I feel like training, I’ll train, but I always ensure I have at least 3 days between workouts, and it’s typically 4-5 days. I’m also not yet convinced that there is much evidence that most people do better with once a week when they are at an advanced level, but I could be wrong. Again, individual variability combined with life stressors = desired recovery.
      I don’t find this discouraging at all sir! Thank you for sharing!

      • ad ligtvoet

        Understand it all. Yet, your calves are telling. They are bigger even with less Cal. and with the more or less same training stress. See it as a hint……….

    • Scott

      Powerful words from a very smart man Lawrence – don’t take this lightly!!!

  • K McKenzie

    A bit off topic Lawrence but I have been meaning to ask for a while, its in regards to previous podcasts. Drew Baye advises that you should mix up the order of exercises from time to time so each muscle group has a turn at the first set, therefore being fresh and able to lift heavier/longer tul. However, I forget the guest, but research suggests that as long as you are getting to MMF it shouldnt really matter whether you hit MMF with a lower weight on set 5 or with the higher weight on set one. For example, if your row is always the last set you perform your body is already fatigued from the previous chest/shoulder/ other sets, therefore you cant lift as heavey weight for the desired tul as you could if you did it first. But does this really make a diffence if you hit MMF? I have found it doesn’t but would like to hear your thoughts or experience.

    • http://www.15minutecorporatewarrior.com Lawrence Neal

      Hey K – good question! I don’t know of any research that looks into this so can just tell you from personal experience that when I changed the order, whilst it improved my performance on said exercise because I was less fatigued, I saw no improvement in muscle gain. I did this with the push-up and chin-up in my routine. I wanted more chest development so I moved my pushup in front. No change to chest. I think you’re probably referring to Dr James Steele, but I could be wrong.

      Yesterday, I decided to change my workout routine, since I’ve been on the abbreviated Project Kratos for a long time. I decided to start the Body Part Specialization workouts in PK. This is 5 full-body workouts, but each workout provides more volume for specific muscle groups: arms and shoulders, chest and back, legs, glutes and thighs, and abs. e.g. the arms and shoulders workout will pre-exhaust chin-ups with an inverted curl, and the push-up is pre-exhausted by a tricep push-up, and finished off with a TSC lateral raise (… it burns).

      Whether or not this additional volume will make any difference is too early to tell. I had the biggest workout pump I’ve ever had, but this doesn’t mean much. I’ll probably have ~3-5 days between workouts depending on how I FEEL. I may even need to find a way to abbreviate these specialization routines, because I still struggle to go to MMF on the last few exercises.

  • Reg

    Hi Lawrence, loved this podcast! I was curious, and maybe a bit nitpicky; you mentioned TUL of 60-90 seconds. I might be pedantic but I was always under the impression that the optimal time was 45-90 secs (as advocated in Body By Science). Why the 15 second discrepancy?

    Thanks a lot.

    Reg

    • http://www.15minutecorporatewarrior.com Lawrence Neal

      Hey Reg – I don’t think it really matters. Dr Ben Bo advocates minimum of 30s TUL. I think so long as you’re going to failure in a window of time that is between 30-90s (although I would errr closer to 45s as a minimum) you will stimulate the same outcomes. In fact, you could overshoot to 120s+ but then training starts becoming a real sufferfest 😉

  • Scott

    Hey Lawrence! Loved the episode and thank you for the shoutout to me and link to Carnivore Cast. Very interesting topic.

    I think you’re thinking about a lot of the right things, but a few more I’d add based on the science for gainz:

    1) Fasted training has been shown to be sub-optimal for protein synthesis. I think you’re missing out here and a whey protein shake ~30 min before training or a small whole-food meal ~2 hours before would be best. See more here from Menno and Ketogains (they’ve both reversed their stance on this): https://www.facebook.com/331518806905961/posts/1779790492078778/

    2) In a similar vein, I think 2 meals a day is sub-optimal for protein synthesis and hypertrophy. Here’s a great article on that: https://bayesianbodybuilding.com/meal-frequency-science/

    3) Cold showers, while I know you’re doing them for the mental benefits as well, may be detrimental to testosterone and gains. Alessandro Ferretti has talked about this on numerous podcasts in his work with athletes, particularly when combined with low(er) carb diets and fasting.

    Looking forward to hearing your progress! Make sure you eat up on calories too!

    • http://www.15minutecorporatewarrior.com Lawrence Neal

      Thanks Scott. You’re welcome.

      1) Couldn’t see the specific reference(s) supporting this claim. Can you send? Is there a meta-analyses?

      2) It may be sub-optimal, but by how much? Doesn’t read like there is much in it. I guess one has to ask the question: “what is the percentage change in benefit (if it can be quantified) and what change necessitates that” e.g. if eating 3 rather than 2 meals yields 0.2% hypertrophy, is it worth the inconvenience?

      3) Interesting. I thought cold showers were inadvisable if done on day post-training. I’ll look this up.

      As you you know, I’ve since reflected on my calorie intake and considered that I wasn’t completely accurate, and feel like I could be eating 2,200 a day or more based on natural satiety e.g. I throw chunks of coconut oil in the pan when I cook, how many tbsp is that?!

      You may be disappointed to learn that I will be cutting the experiment short since my latest discussion with Dr Doug McGuff (pending) which was very profound and made more sense to me than anything else I have experienced or read.

      • Scott

        Thanks Lawrence! Very interesting.

        Here are are some more studies on protein balance and eating pre-workout:

        https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23703835

        https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11440894

        https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12970-018-0215-1

        I would also suggest you look at the recommendations of Luke Carlson, James Fisher, and Stuart Philips. I don’t want to speak for them, but I believe I’ve heard them all say on your podcast or elsewhere that they don’t advise fasted resistance training.

        • http://www.15minutecorporatewarrior.com Lawrence Neal

          Cheers Scott

          • Scott

            Hey Lawrence – thanks for reading! I’m glad you enjoyed them.

            I think your question is probably impossible to answer from the available research literature. I’d encourage you to ask these questions to Luke, James F, and Stuart Phillips. I’d be extremely curious to hear their answers on meal frequency and fasted training for building LBM.

            Thanks! Scott

  • enlite

    Looking great Lawrence . I think that perhaps you should consider upping your carb intake . Carbs & hydration are your best friends when it comes to building & maintaining muscle mass . Your body will actually start to devour itself without sufficient carb intake by converting protein into glucose & this is something that paleo/primal fail to consider in their muscle building pursuits . Also the nutrients/vitamins/minerals you get from e.g. fruit & veg is vital to health .

    • Kamen Stranchevski

      Absolutely agree!

      • ad ligtvoet

        Well, I don’t. And, all I will say is take a good look at Lawrence……..he could become a TOFI.

        • http://www.15minutecorporatewarrior.com Lawrence Neal

          What is a TOFI?

          • ad ligtvoet

            TOFI stands for thin outside fat inside. You might think that my conclusion could be overconcerned but I don’t think so. To gain via more carbs and thus more Insuline production it is very well possible that you gain fat. I don’t think it helps much if you only eat a bit more carbs and just twice a day. So if you eat more and more frequently carbs and have insuline spikes the risk for fat accumulation increases and in your case I think the liver couls get fatter first. Worth the gains you are after?? I think getting softer/waterlogged, also possible, istn’t what you want. Just saying.

          • Kamen Stranchevski

            Hi Ad, TOFI sounds a bit extreme here. My suggestion was to change the ratio protein/carbs within the modest caloric surplus. If food is the only energy and protein provider, e.g. no powders, and in the same time bulking is the goal, I’ve seen this strategy work safely. Surely if one is not solely eating sugars and his calories are modestly increased, should not be on the TOFI path. I do believe that the carbs being the easiest energy places a role when one is actually yrytry to save some. And in the same time am not convinced myself that protein is needed even in the 1,6 kg “moderate” dosage.

          • ad ligtvoet

            Hi Kamen. I know. But IMO (and that’s what it is. Nothing more) I think that Lawrence will have no results with a moderate inrease of intake. And with a greater increase needed there comes the TOFI warning . But, even without the TOFI do I see that he will gain more fat, even if he gains some muscle mass. And this fat increase, as far as I can Judge, is something Lawrence won’t be happy with. After 7 years, if he keeps that long experimenting, he can write a article like Skyler Tanner once did. But he, the more different opinions he gets the better his choice will be. Thanks for sharing your knowledge in the field.

          • Kamen Stranchevski

            Same here Ad! My initial comment was that caloric increase, solely, given his “training age” and natural state is not the best option. First thing I advised, similarly to you, was changing the current equilibrium by other parameters for beginning.But in order to elaborate on all options there are in the natural trainee’s arsenal…here we went.

          • http://www.15minutecorporatewarrior.com Lawrence Neal

            This is a fun debate and I appreciate you all weighing in with advice for me. I feel very lucky. At this stage, I agree mostly with Ad, which also aligns with my conversation with Doug, which will be published soon (it was awesome!). I really don’t think “adding carbs” will have any beneficial effect. Equally, I know, from experience, that I can eat 1-200g of carbs a day and see no negative effect on body composition.

            As per Skyler’s Article (https://skylertanner.com/2011/04/02/the-six-year-itch-or-was-it-all-a-waste-of-time/), I’m in 1.5-1.8lb a year territory and contrary to my previous podcast comments when said “I don’t care about a pound a year”. I wasn’t being honest, I actually do. And not as much because I want to actualize it but because it gives me something to strive for, which helps with motivation.

            At the end of the day, I need to be happy with what I have achieved. I have a good physique and I shouldn’t let others make me doubt that.

          • enlite

            I agree Kamen !

          • enlite

            You get over fat by over consuming . Carbs do not make a person fat .

          • ad ligtvoet

            OK. But carbs make the control to not overconsume, well, a task. And from what come the gains without overconsumimg? And here was my comment TOFI directed. You don’t know where the fat builds up if you have a certain structure.
            Regarding the John Little comment I can counteract with the fact that his Bodpod conclusions also showed that a workout once every 10 days showed results. So? Lawrence should reduce his frequency maybe? Yes, maybe this , maybe that. Good luck Lawrence with all the conflicting data that runs through the exercise?fitness field for decades.
            Maybe Steroids?? Then you know the gains come and you can eat a lot more to satisfy the growth mechanism!!
            Anyway, IF you really want to push the envelope you have to experiment.Is it worth the struggle in the end. p to you mate.
            Let me state that I only gave my opinion and a counter thought. I’m not interested to get involved in a discussion on a forum. By giving ideas we all give Lawrence food for thought……so he can make up HIS mind.

          • enlite

            I’m not trying to tell Lawrence what he should or shouldn’t do as he’s obviously a grown man and can as you say make his own decisions . You also don’t necessarily require excess calories in order to gain muscle mass . As a matter of fact there are studies that indicate that muscle has been gained even in a starvation mode . I’m not saying that people should starve themselves in order to gain muscle but it’s interesting none the less . As for John Little’s Bodpod readings which i’ve also read & heard about they are very interesting indeed and seem to indicate , that we may not require nearly as much exercise to produce results which is a good thing .

          • Kamen Stranchevski

            He he, since Steroids got mentioned, they seem to be the Only thing, that surely bullks people up with or without calories, abundance of protein etc. They are a part of real life and on many occasions I wander aren’t their profound effects a proof, that what the body really needs to make a change above all is serious drive, a shake up of homeostasis and all the rest is just…being provided by it Anyhow. Pardon me!

          • Andrew May

            That ffs, also insulin is a completely normal and required hormone. A fit, muscular, lean individual shouldn’t feel like they can’t eat carbohydrates.

          • enlite

            Exactly !

    • http://www.15minutecorporatewarrior.com Lawrence Neal

      Thanks Enlite, but I’m skeptical carbs make any different if one consumes enough protein. Happy to review any evidence you can provide.

      • Kamen Stranchevski

        The same reasons by which, their limiting, may provide benefit when cutting are the ones, that matter when bulking up. How’s that for review

      • enlite

        John Little made an interesting comment in one of your podcasts that he had a client that went on a very low carb diet that resulted in the client losing 20 lbs of muscle , and that makes sense because the body will sacrifice muscle tissue due to the protein to glucose conversion that will occur as a result of the lack of carbs . I understand that you enjoy your steaks & eggs and so forth and i do as well however carbs are absolutely vital for muscle building & maintenance as well . I’ve been bodybuilding for over twenty years and i know that carbs are very important for reasons previously stated and others as well .

  • enlite

    Sodium intake is also vital for muscle performance & maintaining good hydration as well .

    • http://www.15minutecorporatewarrior.com Lawrence Neal

      I eat a ton of salt on my steaks. Box tick! My hydration could be better. I always think of Doug’s diagrams in BBS of the plump well hydrated cell layer.

  • Greg P.

    Interesting to hear about what you are trying lately. Some thoughts…

    People always seem to want what they can’t have. You seem to be a naturally lean guy, meaning you can get to that state pretty easily. I’d love to be in that boat, but I’m not. So maybe just learn to appreciate that gift.

    There have been some in the field of nutrition who speculate that protein + carbohydrate is more anabolic than protein alone or with fat. This brief review suggests that more evidence is needed before any conclusions can be drawn:

    https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1550-2783-10-42

    Ad’s concern is that even a little bit of carbohydrate will make you fat. But that isn’t consistent with the classic bodybuilder’s diet, which includes a lot of lean protein, controlled amounts of carbohydrate, and relatively little fat. Ad also admits that the real issue is if carbs cause you to lose control of your calorie intake. So I guess it might depend on how you personally respond, and how tasty the carbs are. Plain potatoes or unseasoned rice are probably a lot less risky that carbs combined with salt, fat, and seasonings.

    Protein intake does seem to facilitate muscle synthesis, and since loss of muscle mass becomes an issue for function as we age, that suggests you need to pay attention to this, particularly as you get older. But does that mean that high protein intake, particularly when young, has no downside? One of the big names in longevity research, Valter Longo, thinks it is an issue. He believes that high levels of protein intake, especially when young, increase the risk for dying of other causes, thus shortening life span on average. Is he right or wrong? Heck if I know, but he has a case worth reading and understanding. Perhaps a high protein intake is what you should have if you want a high performance body. But does high performance correlate with longevity? Or is it the case that the candle that burns hotter burns out faster?

    • http://www.15minutecorporatewarrior.com Lawrence Neal

      Thank you Greg. I am naturally lean, you should see my Dad! Although I have been “fatter”. I currently weigh ~11st @ 8-10% BF but when I was ~21 and graduated from University I had a belly and weighed 13st @ >20% BF. It was all that beer and pizza!

      I need to review Longo’s work and get him on the podcast. Thanks again for this great comment.

  • ad ligtvoet

    To All,
    I like the manner of posting the opinions here and see some overlapping thoughts and some differences. mayor theme is that Lawrence isn’t our client and we don’t know enough specific of him to give the best advice. So we are left with our general points of view. And that is how it Always will be. Another theme that I also mentioned and a few of you to is the question of longterm health versus shortterm more gains for Lawrence. And/or accepting his physique as it is( with calves others would ask for the magic routine to HIM!!!)..
    So Lawrence, did you made up your mind. Let us know your thoughts and plan of action. But remember, IS IT WORTH IT??
    All have a great day.

    • http://www.15minutecorporatewarrior.com Lawrence Neal

      Hey Ad – as you know, I recorded Dr Doug McGuff’s answer to this, and it was VERY profound (Coming soon!). It was the most logical and convincing argument I’ve heard for why bulking is an unproductive attempt to gain muscle mass.

      So with that, I decided to stop counting calories to hit 3,000 a day. Over a month, I put on ~5lbs but I believe it was all body fat. Even if my calipers say different (how accurate are they?!).

      Plan of action is really just to continue what I have always been doing but making subtle changes to attempt to enhance results / health, and keep it fun. For example, started Drew Baye’s specialized routines in Project Kratos, which is a cycle of 5 routines that emphasize specific muscle groups (train once every 4-6 days). Diet will remain high protein, 2 or 3 meals per day with IF.

      I’m actually going to be focusing more on health. For example, there is much about my home which needs improving like non-native EMF, potential mould spots, water filtration, etc. Can’t become superhuman unless you realise you’re only human right?! 😉 Also been coming down with some colds / flu like symptoms and I wonder if it’s work stress or other, so trying to figure this out.

      Also, I checked some Bod Pod results from 2014 v 2016. I had a lean mass gain of 1.5lb lol. 0.7lb per year! But I was farting around with different protocols and diets at this time, so more discipline may have resulted in better gains. Furthermore, the Bod Pod’s were different and thus may not have been calibrated the same / all variables same.

  • Andrew May

    Remember, Lawrence…you can’t push with a rope.

    Have a good read through Lyle McDonald’s articles about fat loss/muscle gain, metabolism and dieting. As I’ve said before TLDR is that for an individual at or close to their genetic potential fat and muscle is gained/lost proportionally (as a fairly hard rule) you can gain muscle as long as you don’t mind adding fat. If you want to cut the fat again the LBM with decrease in tandem. Obviously there exists the theoretical ability to get those very marginal gains over years especially in a genetically gifted individual but eating hundreds of calories over maintenance is only leading one way. Realising this and accepting realistic outcomes was what allowed me to reach my current BMI after 2.5 years.

    • http://www.15minutecorporatewarrior.com Lawrence Neal

      Thanks Andrew. I largely agree. I recorded Dr Doug McGuff’s answer to this (coming soon) which was one of my favourite podcasts ever! Doug noticed that he actually lost muscle when “bulking”. And this may have something to do with fat cells competing for resources.