How To Gain Muscle Without Fat: Cyclical Bulking

By

Vince Del Monte, WBFF Pro Fitness Model, Certified Fitness Trainer
and Nutritionist and author of No Nonsense Muscle
Building.

Every time I talk about gaining muscle without fat at a rapid rate, my Inbox gets slammed with criticism like this:

Gaining 12 lbs of muscle in 21 days is IMPOSSIBLE!” 

  “You can’t even make those kind of gains on steroids!

  “Do you think I’m going to fall for this marketing hype?!”

Ah, the Internet. How far we haven’t come!

Below is a QnA article I did for a fellow skeptic to clarify a number of his intelligent questions about Lee Hayward and I’s 21 Day Fast Mass Building System.

It’ll clarify all the misinterpretations of the claims and show you how over 6,000 users were extremely happy they opened their eyes to a new approach to building muscle.

Question: What is your definition of “muscle”?

Answer: FAT FREE MASS. The human body can manufacture (under optimal training, nutrition, supplements and recovery) anywhere from .25 to 1.0 pounds of dry muscle tissue a week. So we’re talking 2 to 4 pounds per month and this can be higher or lower based on the individual.

Understand, when you increase muscle size (Dry Muscle), you’ll also be able to increase glycogen AND water storage in those new muscles.  More muscle equals more water and glycogen.  This is all considered FAT FREE MASS and it’s weight that will make you look awesome.

So when we say you can gain “12 pounds of muscle”, we’re NOT referring to 12 pounds of dry muscle, we’re referring to 12 pounds of dry muscle AND glycogen AND water.  Fat free mass!

Question: So the premise of the 21-Day Fast Mass Building is to increase FAT FREE MASS (also known as “lean body mass”)?

Answer: Correct! That’s the problem, everyone perceives “muscle” as something different. You hear “rock-solid muscle”, “ripped muscle”, “lean muscle mass”, “lean body mass”, “shredded muscle” and when we reference muscle, it’s “fat free mass”.

Question: In No Nonsense Muscle Building you promote “bulking up” and then “cutting down” Do you still endorse this method?

Answer: Yes! It’s simply ANOTHER road map.  When I wrote NNMB in 2005, I was simply unaware of the concept or science behind cyclical bulking.  Just like actors sills evolve with time, my knowledge evolves too.  I
always caution NNMB users the DEGREE of the bulk. No where in NNMB do I tell users to bulk to the point of getting fat. I always recommend adding muscle while maintaining a four pack.

Question: So how is 21 Day Fast Mass Building different then NNMB?

Answer: Essentially, instead of bulking up for 16 to 48 weeks and then cutting for 8 to 16 weeks, the 21-Day FMB uses CYCLICAL BULKING which consists of shorter bouts (2 to 12 weeks) of bulking, mixed with shorter (1 to 4 weeks) of cutting.

Question: What the hell is the point of that?

Answer: By cycling your bulking, and cutting protocols into shorter bouts, you can take advantage of various metabolic swings that occur in response to bulking and cutting — and optimize your body’s response to each.

Question: Give us an example.

Answer: Okay. Recall the time you wrapped up a long bulking cycle and started cutting. Wasn’t it amazing how fast the fat was stripped off your body? It dropped away quickly, and with little effort. But after time, the rate of fat loss slows dramatically — and ends in some cases.

Question: What causes this to occur?

Answer: Adaptation is the cause. Once you start your cutting phase after the bulk phase, your body is in a prime state to strip of unwanted fat as there are several factors working in your favor.

Question: What are those factors?

Answer: Your metabolic rate is cranked as a result of the surplus of calories — your levels of T3, leptin, and other hormones which contribute to metabolic rate and fat oxidation, are all cranked as a result of the surplus of calories, in response to handling all the calories you’ve been crushing!

Once you drop calories during a cut phase, you quickly experience fat loss because of all these factors working in your favor. Your metabolic rate is higher than ever, and burning up calories like a wildfire tearing through a dry forest; however, as all good things must come to an end, the body begins to adapt to the drop in calories by reducing T3, leptin and other factors — which will, in turn, cause the metabolic rate to decline, and that’s when your fat loss comes to a screeching halt.

Question: What happens when you cut for a long time and then start bulking?

Answer: The opposite! Recall the time you wrapped up a cutting phase (or maybe you even did a photo shoot or competition) and started increasing your calories again. You rapidly put on size. Much of this is due to the fact that calorie restriction will increase insulin sensitivity. Increased insulin sensitivity in muscle tissue will help partition calories toward muscle and away from fat, thus making it easier and faster to gain muscle relative to fat.

Question: Any more info to gain muscle without fat?

Answer: It’s critical that when you transition from bulking to cutting (and vice versa), you will want to take advantage of the metabolic swings we discussed above — before your body is able to adapt to the change. So, when going from a bulking to a cutting phase, we’ll literally cut your calories in half, which will allow you to burn more fat than if you cut your calories slowly, as your body will simply lower your metabolic rate to match your slowly-dropping calorie intake…and vice versa.

When transitioning from a cutting phase to bulking phase, we’ll double your calories to take advantage of the increased insulin sensitivity.

I DO NOT recommend doing this after a really, really long cutting phase (12 to16 weeks) because your metabolic rate will be so depressed that you will be primed to store more body fat. Short cutting cycles, as prescribed in the 21-Day Fast Mass Building, will not depress one’s metabolic rate enough to cause any fat gain.

Question: What is the optimal cutting and bulking cycle in your system?

Answer: We’ve named our brief “cutting phase” the primer phase, and it lasts 7 days. We have named our brief “bulking phase” the overload phase and it lasts 14 days. This is the nutritional premise of the 21-Day
Fast Mass Building and then we have a specific workout protocol to accompany the nutrition.

Question: Do you recommend experimenting with the length of the cycles? 

Answer: We give our users permission to experiment with the length of each phase AFTER they have done one 21-day phase as we prescribe. Pay close attention to how your body responds.

Question: How many 21-day cycles do you recommend?

Answer: I strongly believe that MULTIPLE cycles back to back will produce better results than just once through.  At least 2-3 cycles (42-63 days) will make your body more responsive to the metabolic swings.

END OF INTERVIEW

To read more about cyclical bulking as it’s prescribed in 21 Day Fast mass Building Click Here

And as always, LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW.

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Comments

30 thoughts on “How To Gain Muscle Without Fat: Cyclical Bulking

  1. I am the best SEO and Adwords|Ad Word|Google Advertising} person in the world. Google can’t stop me as I am the best. Hire me, {I am good and never spam you again. Do not hire me an I will spam you all the time |.

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  2. Hi Vince,

    I am new to this. I am currently 35 years old, 6’1″ and 175 lbs. I consider myself to be a “hardgainer”. I am trying to decide between the 21 day FMBS or the NNMB program. I like the sounds of the 21 day program but would like to know if you think this is a good one for me to start with. Also, are the exercises included good for use at home? I have a set of dumbells up to 70lbs and 300lbs in plates. Thanks in advance,

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  3. so much shit in this internet i am so confused dont now how to belive to gain some wighet thanks

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  4. Hey Vince, I am 14 and a freshman at high school. The diets given are complex to me because I don’t cook yet, and I don’t have a gym membership either. I’m planning to get buff by summer. Its about 5 months away. i have a local gym that is part of my apartment complex, but it doesn’t have much equipment. Please reply and tell me how to get that ripped body.

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  5. Hey vince!
    help me!
    im 17 and my current weight is 62 kilos.
    i’ve been in the gym(on and off) for about 3years.
    but what was sad, i still dont gain any muscle.
    i’ve read many article on bodybuiding and i even consume the protein blend, but still, i cant see the results.
    Please vince..
    I really really need your help here.

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  6. Hi Vince
    I just have one question about this. Are you trying to achieve anything during your primer phase apart from fat loss? I would normally train for increased strength with low reps during a fat loss phase, but if it’s only one week I can’t see how you can get anywhere. Maybe a little if you do the same workout three times that week, but still not much.

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  7. Hey Vince! I’m about to start 21 Day Fast Mass, I’m really excited and motivated
    I want to ask you this
    What does exactly mean this?
    * Add a 15% drop set on your last 2 sets until failure

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  8. Hey Vince,
    Background: My brother and I had purchased a copy of NNMB a about year ago, but we overlooked a crucial point. His metabolism was that of an ectomorph (‘Skinny Vinny’ variety)while mine was endomorphic. I did pay attention to your warning regarding excessive bulking while following the prescribed diet. Still, I managed to become a little chubby within 3 months. I took about another 2 months to cut the flab, which made me question the logic of such a workout plan.

    Question: Would it now be accurate to infer that NNMB is oriented more towards ectomorphs who can’t pack on mass, while the FMB is aimed at more fat-prone folks like me? If so, could you please state this explicitly for new customers of the NNMB method from here onwards? Thank you so much!

    Congratulations on your new product and ever-evolving knowledge on fitness. It’s great to see that you never rest on your laurels. Good luck with the launch!
    Cheers
    Abhishek (India)

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    • Hi Abishek,

      You’re correct, kind’ve!

      NNMB works better with extreme ecotomorphs and really lean individuals who benefit from a more aggressive bulking strategy as prescribed in NNMB.

      21 Day FMB or any form of CYCLICAL BULKING is more ideal for endomorphs or those who gain fat easily when they attempt to build muscle. The mini cycles will work even better when you do multiple cycles back to back.

      Thank you!

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  9. Hi Vince I have a question. Do you also have veggie meal plans and cheap meal plans in this program? Just like the ones for NNMB.

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    • Hi Maurizio.

      Actually, no. You’ll do great with the ones from NNMB though.

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  10. Hi Vince, thanks for the quick response. I’m a little confused as in the article you say:

    “I DO NOT recommend doing this after a really, really long cutting phase (12 to16 weeks) because your metabolic rate will be so depressed that you will be primed to store more body fat. Short cutting cycles, as prescribed in the 21-Day Fast Mass Building, will not depress one’s metabolic rate enough to cause any fat gain.”

    ??

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    • Hi Al.

      That’s correct. The longer your bulking cycle, the fatter your abdominal wall becomes and the less conversion there will be of T4 to T3, the metabolically active form of thyroid. Basically you’re thyroid becomes less productive at burning fat for you.

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  11. Vince, with all the bonuses today which are all the specialization 21 day workout programs, does that mean all of them or do you choose the one you want and if so how do you get them? And if you can tell me, what are the bonuses tomorrow? if not, no worries. cheers

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    • Hi Fred.

      That means you get ALL of them. Everything you see on http://www.21DayFastMassBuilding.com is yours until Sunday midnight. Whether you bought any time this week.

      For customers who bought before this weeks promo, we’ll announce an easy way to get the bonuses for free next week!

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  12. Vince I don’t understand that you say you can gain muscle without fat when in fact you gained something like 27 lbs then spent 16 weeks busting your ass to get skinny? Something is not jiving with what you are suggesting here? Will you clarify this? Jason

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    • Hey Jason,

      I went from 214 to 227 last winter. Remember, i was not lean to begin with which is why I had to travel down so far to achieve 195 which is not my “normal” weight but my contest weight. Big difference.

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  13. This sounds a lot like the old Torbjorn Akerfeldt ABCDE diet from the early diet, though he recommended 2 week bulking and 2 weeks cutting whereas your approach seems to emphasize 2 weeks bulking and then 1 week cutting. Lyle’s UD2.0 (which I,ve used with some success in the past) also cyclically bulks/cuts, though it’s every week. You could say that Martin Berkhan’s intermittent fasting does the same on a daily cycle. Both their recommendations are pretty well backed up by scientific rationales. Is your approach different from theirs?

    Thanks!

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    • Hi Jonathan

      We were inspired to “finesse” the approach after reading the ABCDE diet. We found that 1 week cutting and 2 weeks of bulking to be the optimal time to capitalize on the anabolic hormones produced after the 1 week of cutting. After 2 weeks, anabolic levels (test, igf-1 etc), peak so it’s harder to continue gaining the lean gains.

      However, I think to really benefit from the program, the more cycles you do back to back, the better your body will respond.

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  14. Vince,

    I’m 41 and have been training for about a year now. I’m 5’10” and used to weight 220 and was able to diet and train down to 160. I have a 4-pack and some decent defenition. My question is: Which one of your programs would you recommend for someone at my point in the game? Diet wise, I’ve pretty much elimintated all sugar and bad carbs except on a “cheat” day each week. I eat lots of veggies, beans and fish and take a protein sup. Your help is always appreciated.

    Dustin

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    • HI Dustin. What are your goals now? What options were you considering?

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      • Currently, I’m using a 3-day split for an hour each day. I follow the Slow Carb diet approach from the 4HB. However, I do eat oatmeal in the morning and I drink gatorade before I lift.

        My progress has slowed so now my goal is to continue to grow. I’m wondering which one of your programs would be a good for me at my age and training level to get to the next level? They’re all good, but I’m not sure which one is right for me. It is so confusing with all the options out there today. I trust your opinion.

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        • Hi Dustin. What are your goals right now?

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  15. I noticed you said you don’t recommend this after a long cutting cycle. I’ve been cutting for the last 12 weeks and have dropped 6kg fat. Luckily I have just hit my weight target and am ready to change things up.
    I want to give this a try. How long do you recommend that I stay at a maintenance level of calories before starting your plan?
    For info, I was having 1800 calories/day during my slow cutting phase. I am now 80kg at about 12% fat and 5ft 11″ tall.

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    • I would not stay at a maintenance at all! After a long cutting cycle, your body is PRIMED for growth the next TWO weeks precisely. We prescribe doubling your calories and after a long cutting cycle, if you do that with clean calories, I believe you’ll be a PRIME candidate for some serious gains! I wish I was you right now.

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  16. Hey man i have a question. I started weightlifting 4 years ago, i wish i knew then what i know now. I went through the whole see food an eat it diet in an effort to bulk up an i literal ate anything. Well im now at the stage where im at approx 29% body fat. Hey shud i just give up weight training all together? Or do you hav a program to recommend

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    • Hey Rob.

      I know the feeling. Last winter I was my heaviest and had 30 lbs to get rid of to get contest shape ready. Guess what? I put a date on the calendar – April 16 – and went to town. And I ended up getting my Pro Card, a cover and my best body ever. I always say, “It’s NEVER too late.” Imagine who shitty you’ll look and feel next year at this time if you don’t take action today!

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  17. how do I find out my body fat% at home?

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    • You can’t… unless you have a body fat measuring device. You can buy cheap calipers online.

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  18. In the past I would have always believed that it was impossible to add 12 pounds of muscle in 21 days – unless you were an absolute beginner doing everything just right, or on steroids.

    But I’ll happily be proved wrong of course. Certainly your argument about manipulating the metabolism with a 7 day calorie deficit ‘primer’ makes sense. And then packing in the calories for 14 days after that should trigger growth in lean mass.

    However, I really think this could only work if you were lean in the first place. If you are 30% body fat, the 7 day primer would not bring that down enough, and I think you would need to be under 15% body fat to benefit properly from the bulking phase.

    Very interesting post anyway.

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