My Bulking Before And After (3 Amazing Tips That Helped Me Start Gaining Weight)

bulking before and after

Ok, kids, time for a quick story time. I used to be skinny, like athlean X fan skinny. I’m talking 135 lbs, soaking wet, at the height of 6 ft. Like I didn’t even have the luxury of starting at 160, 150, or even 140!

If you’ve read the article, I wrote about my own personal fitness journey, which, if you haven’t, you totally should go do after you’re done reading this one (shameless plug); you would know that I made a pretty drastic transformation over the past couple of years(in terms of weight gain).

I went from being stuck in the never-ending hell that is the 155 lb weight class to bulking up all the way to 185 lbs, now 190.

I went from thinking I was a quote, on quote hard-gainer who couldn’t gain weight whatsoever because “genetics” to realizing I just had to be in a caloric surplus.

I’ve been in my bulking phase for just over a full year now, and I believe I have enough experience and know-how to give you a fairly in-depth and accurate explanation of the subject.

I’ll be using my own bulking journey to show you what and what not to do. Although I think I had a very successful year in terms of gains, I still did make a lot of mistakes.

Alright, with the introduction out of the way, let’s get into the article.

My Bulking Before And After

bulking before and after

So just like in the aforementioned my personal fitness journey article, I would like to start off with this high school basketball photo.

This is the photo that I like to use when showing off my baseline.

Although it was taken when I was 15, it’s a pretty accurate depiction of what I would’ve looked like if I decided to stay a non-lifting normie.

Small Rant About Somatotypes

Pretty ecto, as you can see. Now I don’t fully believe in the somatotypes theory, but I do think that it is partially true.

Some people are naturally skinny, some people are naturally husky, and some people are just genetically blessed.

However, somatotypes are just starting points. They don’t totally predetermine your physique for the rest of your life like some blacked-pilled somatocels would like you to believe.

Most people can eventually look like mesomorphs; however, the amount of time it will take to do so is very genetically based. I would have to say that my genetics are pretty average; I mean, I’m 18 now and 190 lbs at the height of 6 ft, which is pretty normal for a late novice lifter with my height, and frame.

This is me at 185, 50 lbs heavier, and 3 years older than the first photo. I took this picture about 2 months ago. I’m 5 lbs heavier now and much stronger, but a lot less aesthetic.

5 lbs can sure make a hell of a difference, as I haven’t been able to recreate the V-taper effect of this photo since it was taken, even though I have more size and strength now.

It just goes to show how a little bit of fat in the wrong place can totally alter your physique.

Oh yeah, side note – that little line at the bottom of my stomach is from surgery. God gave me W shoulder genetics and absolutely terrible ab aesthetics, which is why I’m team cut off for life.

Anyhoo, let’s break down the details of this threeish year bulking before and after. I’ll be sharing my diet, training, recovery, and overall lifting mindset from each stage in the journey (so far…).

bulking before and after

Stage 1: 135-145 lbs (Beginner Gains)

So this is from Sept 2019 to July 2020. Pretty tits for being in the gym for almost a whole year, but progress is progress, no matter how slow it may be. Being my first year in the gym, my training, diet, and recovery were absolute garbage.

Like most teenagers in the gym, I was learning as I went. Hopping from program to program, constantly switching my goals from wanting to build muscle to wanting to get leaner, and trying to do all this while only sleeping 6-4 hours per night.

I was also a high school basketball player, which heavily affected my recovery and overall performance in the gym. I wasn’t a bum, either. I still had an incentive to take basketball seriously, as I was averaging 17 ppg(points per game), 6 rebounds, and 4 assists that season.

Yeah, it was against complete cans, BC basketball was going through its dark ages back then, but hey, I had fun, for whatever that’s worth.

I actually started lifting to become a better basketball player, so in the beginning, lifting wasn’t the sole focus of my training and was just something I would use to help me run faster and jump higher.

At this time, I wasn’t really paying attention to my lifting numbers or weight gain and was more concerned with my PPG, vertical jump, and how I looked in the mirror. However, those goals slowly shifted over time, and by the time I took that photo in July, lifting had overtaken basketball in terms of importance.

Training And Diet

My diet and training at the time, as I mentioned earlier, were pitiful. I was trying to eat completely clean, which resulted in my caloric intake being a lot lower than it should have been.

I would have to guess that I was eating about 2500-3000 calories a day, maybe 3500 on some days.

All I know is that it wasn’t nearly enough to build any real size or strength. My training split actually started out pretty solid, as I was doing a 4-day pre-week upper, lower split.

However, it slowly degraded into a 6-day per-week PPL split. I think I got the idea to make the switch after watching a C-bum video.

I have no idea what my lifting numbers were at the time, as I didn’t keep a training log. I can roughly remember having a 115 lb bench, a cat back 225 lb deadlift, and a 185 lb quarter squat.

I actually had my friend take a video of me deadlifting 225 and decided to show my dad after. He told me never to deadlift unsupervised again. (I promptly deleted the video right after as well)

I think the 115 bench was the only legit lift out of the 3. And yeah, that’s pretty much it for my diet and training.

Now, before we move on to the next stage, I want to talk about one more thing.

How C19 Affected My Progress

Although the sub-par training, diet, and recovery were the main factors that caused my lack of gains, the pandemic did play a pretty big role in slowing down my progress.

My training got even worse, as I could only do callisthenics and use a pair of adjustable dumbbells that only went up to 25 lbs at the time.

My diet and sleep improved, though, as I had a lot of free time due to school being cancelled.

I was around 140 lbs at the Covid outbreak, and by the time the gyms reopened, I was 145 lbs.

My guess was that I would’ve been 155 lbs if the gyms stayed open throughout that whole 4 month period.

bulking before and after

So I would have to say that Covid didn’t affect my gains too much, or at least for now, anyways.

Stage 2: 145-155 lbs (Novice Purgatory)

The first photo was taken on January 24, 2021, just over 2 years ago now. The second photo was taken July 13, 2021, and the last photo was taken January 5, 2022, almost a year apart from the first photo.

This is what is known as novice purgatory, a term coined by the YouTuber Revival fitness. Novice purgatory is a state in which you’re not building muscle nor losing fat. You’re just there.

*Hence the name novice “purgatory.”

It’s basically just maintenance calories.

I hit 155 lbs in December 2021 and was stuck there for over a year.

I was gaining no size and very little strength. My lifts were pitiful. I don’t have exact numbers, but I remember being plateaued at around a 125 lb bench and 245 lb deadlift.

I stopped back squatting due to knee issues, and switched over to machines, and split squats, which looking back now, was a mistake, as I’ve been having to play catch up on my squat this whole year, only having an estimated 1 rep max of 240 on back squats at the moment of me writing this.

Now my gym access varied heavily during this time due to the pandemic, which really screwed with my training. Sometimes I would have solid gym access for weeks, then boom! I can’t use the equipment for a week or 2.

However, as time progressed, my gym access became more and more consistent until, eventually, I had solid, consistent access to equipment.

My diet remained similar to how it was the year before, fairly clean, just too low of a calorie count. I would occasionally go through periods where I did track my calories by using my fitness pal, but I would usually get lazy and stop tracking after a week or 2 of no progress.

The Turning Point

The lack of gains was extremely frustrating, especially since lifting had become my number 1 priority, with basketball becoming less and less appealing by the day due to a number of factors that I won’t discuss here but that I would like to discuss in a future article.

After 1 year of being stuck at 155 lbs, I finally had enough and decided that I will make it my mission to find a way to start making progress again.

My prayers were answered in late December of 2021, with a little video called, 5 signs you’re in Novice Purgatory.

*Spoiler alert- all 5 of the signs described me perfectly. (and will probably describe you as well)

This channel saved my gains and gave me the answers I needed to start making some real progress.

Now it did take me a little bit of time to adjust to the new diet, but once I started consistently hitting 4000 calories a day, my gains exploded!

Stage 3: 165-185 lbs (Novice Gains)

After about a year of being stuck at 155 lbs, I had finally broken through.

After starting the bulk in late December, by around the end of January, I was hovering in the high 160s. By the beginning of April, I was 175, and about 2 weeks after graduation; I hit 185lbs. Now how the hell did I gain all of this weight?

Simple, I just started eating more.

I ate like a horse and trained almost exclusively for strength. Now I did make lots of mistakes. My bulk got pretty dirty, especially towards the end, with me having to rely on highly processed junk food to consistently hit my caloric goals, which I don’t recommend.

My training was also far from optimal, at least in the beginning. However, by march, I was on a solid upper-lower power-building split and stuck to a consistent training plan.

Also, I was still playing basketball competitively up until February, when I decided to quit the team to fully focus on gains and get the most out of my bulk.

Once I quit competitive sports, my gains exploded.

I had all of the time in the world to just focus on my diet, recovery, and training. And before I knew it, boom, I was 185 and fat as shit. Well, not fat, fat, but fat compared to what I was used to.

*I actually had a little bit of a belly from the bloating and had to make a conscious effort to suck in my stomach. I was a waiter at the time, so I had to keep up appearances, which is why I made the decision to go on a mini-cut.

Now, what caused this switch? How did I go from not being able to gain weight whatsoever, to having to go on a mini-cut? Well, here are the 3 tips that helped me achieve my bulking before and after.

My 3 Bulking Tips

Ok, so I will share with you the 3 most important tips that helped me make this drastic transformation.


I cannot stress this enough, but in order to gain size and strength, you must be in a caloric surplus! The moment I increased my food intake was the moment that my gains exploded.

I did go a little overboard with this and eventually spilled over into a dirty bulk, which resulted in me having to spend 3-weeks in a mini cut.

However, the extra fat I gained was a small price to pay for the amount of size and strength I built during that time. My biggest hurdle starting out was getting over my small appetite. I did have to force feed, and you’ll probably have to, too.

Tracking my calories and calorically dense foods such as peanut butter, olive oil, and granola helped tremendously during this time. The tracking let me have complete control over my weight gain, and the calorically dense foods made it easier to get my cals in.


Ok, now that you’re in a surplus, you must now stay in the surplus. This isn’t a 1 foot-in, 1 foot-out situation. You’re going to have to commit to the bulk long-term if you want to make real size and strength gains.

The most common cause of falling off the bulk is usually body dysmorphia (or at least for me, it was).

At the start of your bulk, you will feel and look your best. You will be lean, full, and strong. However, after about a month or 2 of being in a surplus, you may start to look a little puffy.

Your abs may become a little bit blurry; your arms start to become less vascular, and, god forbid, you may start to gain a little bit of face fat. Now I know this will suck at first, especially if you used to be overweight in the past, but you’ll get over it.

Personally- I just wore fitted T-shirts, cut-offs, and hoodies during this time to help cover up my less favourable areas. for my slightly puffier face, well I just accepted it in the name gains.


This next tip is a big one that a lot of people mess up. In order to execute a successful bulk, your training must be conducive to muscle growth. What does that mean? It essentially means don’t train like a pussy.

Your going to have to lift big in order to get big, which means your actually gonna have to start caring about strength—no more chasing the pump, playing on the machines, or using PubMed as your primary source of training information.

You will primarily be using barbells, dumbbells, and body weight from now on. 80% of your exercises will be heavy, multi-joint, free-weight movements.

Machines are for pussies, anyone who does a compound lift for more than 10 reps is an idiot, and anyone who doesn’t train for strength and just “trains for hypertrophy, bro” is a dickless virgin.

That is your new training mindset (ok maybe not that extreme but you get the picture).

Just hop on one of these novice programs if you have no idea how to actually train:


Stage 4: 170-190 (1 Step Back 2 Steps Forward)

So as mentioned before, my bulk did get a little dirty, which resulted in me having to go on a cleanse.

I went on a 3-week mini-cut and got down to just above 170. It was an extremely aggressive cut, which had me only eating 2000 calories per day.

Why did I do such an aggressive cut? Well, I wanted to see how lean I could get in 3 weeks. I mainly did this to give myself a break from the bulk and to let my appetite reset.

It was essentially voluntarily going on a crash diet. I wanted to crash for 3-weeks, then refeed and regain all the weight, which worked, well, kind’ve.

I definitely cut my calories too low, losing quite a bit of strength and performance in the process.

The worst part was that I didn’t even get that lean either, which was expected, as you can’t really make too much progress on your physique in just 3 weeks.

Anyways after the mini-cut was over, I slowly regained the weight. Starting off in a maintenance phase and slowly building up from there.

I decided to take this bulk slower and to only add calories when absolutely necessary, as I was no longer in a rush to gain weight.

My starting point this time was 170 instead of 155, so the situation felt less urgent. Eventually, by around October, I was back in the low 180s, and by Dec, I had surpassed my previous weight.

Here is my bulking before and after. I’m 190 now, 185 in the photo because, well, I’m approaching the same problem I just talked about in the previous paragraph, which is gaining too much fluff.

I really, really want to cut, even though I’m not even fat. I just want to see all of the muscle I’ve built, but I want to hold off until I hit the intermediate lifting numbers, which should be sometime in the summer.

The only reason I’m holding out is because I know I need more size to justify a cut. If I cashed out now and started cutting down, by the end, I would probably be pretty disappointed with the results, as I don’t have much to cut down to right now.

Other than that little tangent, I’m pretty happy with the results so far. 55 lbs in 3ish years is pretty good.

Bulking FAQs

1) How long does it take to see results from a bulk?

It depends. Within the first few weeks, you’ll look fuller, rounder, and just much bigger. After that, about every month, you’ll probably notice changes in your physique, whether it be for better or for worse.

In terms of strength, your performance will be much better with you gaining strength almost every week(if you’re still a novice).

Safe to say you will get results fast.

2) Is bulking for 3 months enough?

In most cases, no. Your bulking phases should last at least 8 months to a year. Building muscle is a slow process that takes time. Your first bulk could last well over 2 years, depending on how well you manage fat gain.

3) How long should a bulk last?

At least 8 months, maybe 6 if you have really good genetics. Realistically your bulking phases will be year-long endeavours, with your first bulk potentially taking 2-4.

4) Does bulking make you bigger?

Yes, bulking will indeed make you bigger, both in terms of muscle and body fat.

5) How long should you bulk before you cut?

This will vary heavily for each of you. I would say you should bulk for at least 6-8 months before you even consider cutting.

6) Can you cut and bulk at the same time?

If by bulk and cut at the same time you mean losing fat and building muscle simultaneously, my answer would be yes, it is possible. However, only a very small percentage of you will actually be able to pull it off.

If you fall under any of the following categories, you can indeed lose fat and build muscle at the same time:

  • On steroids
  • In your first month or 2 of training
  • Obese
  • Are a genetic freak

If any of these don’t apply to you, well stick to cutting and bulking.


Well, thanks for reading! I hope you found that last piece helpful and inspiring. I’m hoping to flood the internet with my fitness articles and content.

Maybe even start a YouTube channel. Who knows? All I know is that I want to do something with fitness and content creation.

Alright, guys, I’m gonna peace it, catch you in the next one (: .

2 responses to “My Bulking Before And After (3 Amazing Tips That Helped Me Start Gaining Weight)”

  1. […] if you couldn’t tell by now, I know my fair share about bulking. I mention the topic at least once in almost all of my articles and even have multiple articles […]

  2. […] is dirty bulking, why do people do it, and is it even bad? Well, if you want the answers to those questions, my fine […]

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