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Poke around the Internet for advice on gaining muscle as fast as possible, and you’ll find a lot of advice along the lines of “eat big to get big.”

You know, eat everything in sight, drink a gallon of milk per day, and so forth.

This will definitely help you gain muscle, but it also results in a lot of unnecessary fat gain. And while a YOLO bulk or two can be productive and fun when you’re a beginner, it becomes counterproductive as you move into your intermediate phase and beyond.

Luckily, though, there’s a better way to gain muscle and strength.

Instead, you can do what’s called a lean bulk, where you gain muscle a bit slower than you would gorging every day but with much less fat gain.

And in this interview, you’re going to learn how to best go about it from Dr. Eric Helms, and particularly, how to ensure your calories are in the right place—not too low, which hinders muscle gain, or too high, which accelerates fat gain.

And in case you’re not familiar with Eric, he’s not only is he an accomplished bodybuilder, powerlifter, coach, author, scientist, and member of the Legion Athletics Scientific Advisory Board, but he’s also one of my favorite guests for offering pragmatic advice you can apply to your diet and training.

Oh and if you like what Eric has to say, you should definitely check out his research review Monthly Applications in Strength Sport (MASS). Every month they put out interesting, practical information on the latest research.

Time Stamps:

7:23 – What’s the website for the events you’re putting on? 

8:31 – How much of a calorie surplus is enough for muscle gain? 

25:21 – What was the caloric intake between the slow and fast? 

29:24 – How big of a surplus are we looking at for each group?

32:48 – Is that more muscle gain than expected from experienced lifters? 

39:56 – How do the two studies we discussed compare to the story you’re working on?    

46:05 – What diet advice do you have for people lean bulking? 

49:57 – Where can people find you and your work? 

Mentioned on The Show:

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Eric’s Hong Kong Seminar ⇒

Eric’s Singapore Seminar ⇒

Eric Helm’s Instagram

Episode Transcript:

Mike : [00:00:03] Hello there and welcome to another episode of Muscle For Life, I am Mike Matthews. Now, if you go and poke around on the interwebs for advice on gaining muscle as quickly as possible, you are going to find a lot of people saying things along the line of: eat big to get big. You know, eat everything in sight, drink a gallon of milk per day on top of that, and so forth.

And while doing that, while putting yourself in a large calorie surplus every single day, will indeed help you gain muscle, it will also result in a lot of unnecessary fat gain. And if you’re new, if you’re in your first year or so proper weight lifting, that’s not a big deal. A YOLO bulk or two can be productive and fun if you are also enjoying the newbie gains.

But once that phase of your journey is over, once you are an intermediate lifter, it becomes counterproductive. You just gain too much fat too quickly, which then makes you have to cut your bulking phase short to get rid of fat. And oftentimes it takes longer than you want to get rid of the fat.

And it becomes hard to maintain strength and muscle depending on how long you have to cut for and what your life is generally like, and how much time and energy you have to give to your fitness. That means that you need to find a better way. And that’s what this episode is about. A better way to gain muscle and strength, especially for an intermediate weight lifter or even an advanced weightlifter.


Mike : [00:01:50] So instead, what you want to do is you want to – and really actually, I would say even for beginners, this is the smarter way to go about it – if eating four to five thousand calories a day, if you’re new and doing that sounds like a lot of fun, try it. I suspect that you’ll do it once.

You might do it for not as long as you anticipated going into it, because you will get sick of just eating all that food, and how full and just bloated you feel all the time, and you’re not going to particularly enjoy all the fat gains. So this really is the lean bulk approach. Really is, I think, the smarter approach for newbies as well. And that’s what this podcast is going to be about. 


Mike : [00:02:32] In this interview you’re going to learn how to best go about that from Dr. Eric Helms and particularly how to ensure your calories are in the right place because that is the key. The macros side of it is pretty simple, right? You’re going to eat somewhere around a gram of protein per pound of body weight per day and you’re probably going to end up eating somewhere around 30 percent of your calories from fat, and how many carbs you’re going to eat, of course, depends on your calories, right?

And that trips people up. You want to make sure that your calories are not too low because that’s going to hinder muscle gain. If the calorie surplus is too small, it may not be a surplus at all. Just because you think you are eating five percent more calories than you burn every day doesn’t mean you actually are because you might not be burning as many calories as you think you are, you may not be eating as many calories as you think you are.

So you don’t want to try to cut it too close on the low end. And then, of course, you also want to make sure that you are not eating way too many calories either, that you’re not going too high or unnecessarily high because that’s where all of the accelerated fat gain comes from. So that’s what we’re really talking about in today’s episode.


Mike : [00:03:40] And in case you are not familiar with Eric, he is not only an accomplished bodybuilder, powerlifter, coach, author and published scientist. He’s also a member of the scientific advisory board of my supplement company, Legion Athletics. And he’s also one of my favorite guests because he is great at making complicated things simple and sharing practical advice that you can immediately apply to your diet training and get results from.

And also, if you like what Eric has to say in this episode, then you should definitely check out the other episodes that I’ve recorded with him because I’ve done a number of them. And you should go check out his monthly research review called Monthly Applications in Strength Sport, MASS, which you can learn more about at This is my personal favorite research review. Every month he and Greg Nuckols, and Mike Saulteaux, and Eric Trexler put out interesting practical information on the latest research on getting more jacked.


Mike : [00:04:52] All right, let’s get to the episode. 


Mike : [00:06:13] Eric Helms has returned.


Eric: [00:06:15] Mike, thanks for having me back on, man.


Mike : [00:06:18] Mighty Mike sounds better, but Mighty Eric’s pretty cool, too.


Eric: [00:06:20] Mighty Mike sounds pretty awesome. I think you should go with that.


Mike : [00:06:22], let’s see what this is right now. [Typing] It’s gonna be porn watch. It’s definitely going to be porn.


Eric: [00:06:29] [Laughing] Or someone will just be sitting on that you are url to sell it because it’s a pretty good one. 


Mike : [00:06:34]  Oh, it forwards to Mighty Mike Schermer, the blues artist.


Eric: [00:06:38] Well, shout out to Mike Schermer. Great website.


Mike : [00:06:40] Great domain, website not so good, actually, but the domain, A+. 


Eric: [00:06:42] Great name, there you go.


Mike : [00:06:44] So what’s up with you? What’s new? I mean I know you’re just wrapping up your super shredded season, which has been impressive.


Eric: [00:06:51] [Laughing] Yes, I did competitive eating disorder starvation for the last 34 weeks, which was great.


Mike : [00:06:56] Somebody dysmorphia mixed in there, too? Just for good measure.


Eric: [00:06:59] Absolutely. Just to make sure I got all the different problems from this beautiful sport. But no, I’m actually just really grateful to have an awesome end to a good season. I competed in California at our kind of hometown show, Muscle Mayhem, end of July, July 20th. And then I just capped off the season just last weekend, here in New Zealand.

I competed at the ends at IFBB Natural Championships. And I was fortunate enough to place second in both the classic and bodybuilding division to the eventual overall winners. So that’s like the best second-place you can get, you know. [Laughing]


Mike : [00:07:31] And the guys who won first: fake natties, of course, right?


Eric: [00:07:33] Oh, yeah, anyone who beats me or looks better in any way must be fake natties. No, but in all seriousness they were just really, really great physiques, great guys, the camaraderie was awesome, very well done show so it was a huge honor. Now I’m kind of back to the grind. Not that it’s a grind, I’m very fortunate to do what I do, and reflecting on the body …


Mike : [00:07:51] That’s just what the cool kids say, you know what I mean? Hashtag hussle, hashtag grind, that kind of stuff. 


Eric: [00:07:55] I’m 36, I’m just trying to relate to the Millennials so I don’t know.[Laughing]


Mike : [00:07:58] [Laughing] You’re right on the cusp because I’m 35 and I’m like, “Maybe I am the cutoff,” or you are. But you can still say you’re a millennial.


Eric: [00:08:05] Okay, cool.


Mike : [00:08:06] If you want to integrate yourself, sure you can join us.


Eric: [00:08:09] Yeah, it depends on whether I’m feeling salty or whether I’m feeling old and then I can switch either that way, that’s good. [Laughing]


Mike : [00:08:13] [Laughing] Although if you’re not Millennial, you’re what, it’s Gen X, right?


Eric: [00:08:18] Yeah, I think it’s either Gen X or Gen Y, I don’t remember. But anyway, so yeah, I’ve got good stuff going on. You know, reflecting on the bodybuilding season. I’ve got a good opportunity, I’m gonna be in Southeast Asia and then Hong Kong doing some bodybuilding seminars. So Alberto and I are gonna be in Hong Kong on the 14th and 15th doing a two-day seminar on bodybuilding.

Everything, all about it, offseason, in season. And then we’re joined by Laurin Conlin, Masters, IFBB, bikini pro, great coach. Cliff Wilson, a really prominent coach in the bodybuilding scene, and also Ryan Doris for another two-day seminar in Singapore on the 21st and 22nd.

So anyone who wants an excuse to check out Southeast Asia or Hong Kong just for an awesome vacation, or who’s in the area, make sure you stop by because we’re gonna be talking all about how to optimize body composition and also avoid stuff like eating disorders and body composition. Miss Illusions where you look in the mirror and think you’re fat even though you’re shredded. Yes, exactly.


Mike : [00:09:12] That’s the curse of being shredded, right? I mean, I remember – I don’t know if I ever got as lean as you got, probably not quite there, but I got pretty close for photoshoots. And, you know, ab veins and where you can’t really grab much fat anywhere, where I was like, okay, I’m done. I just need pictures.

I don’t think I need to go any further than this. I actually started as lean because I didn’t get into the striated glutes territory, but Instagram shredded. And I remember like, thinking like, “yeah, I look pretty good, that looks all right. And then looking back now and being like – I just feel like I look back now and have more appreciation, I guess, of how I looked right at the time. It was always just not good enough. That’s how it feels.


Eric: [00:09:49] That’s super common. I can’t tell you how common that is. Even though I’ve helped like 300 people through that process, I’m still the same way. On the way back up now and I’ve still got great shape, bicep veins, and fading striated glutes and I’m like, “wow, you’ve really let yourself go,” you know? [Laughter] It’s ridiculous, you know?


Mike : [00:10:06] I think if you know it’s ridiculous, then you’re okay, right?


Eric: [00:10:09] Yeah, you know, I think if you can keep that perspective on what your body composition really is relative to where you’ve been and what’s normal. Focus on other things like, “hey, I slept through the night last night that was amazing. I didn’t get lethargic in the middle of my workout,” and, “I actually had, like, some libido. I’m like, I’m like a real boy,” you know?


Mike : [00:10:27] [Laughing] The little guy still works!


Eric: [00:10:28] Yes, exactly.


Mike : [00:10:30] [Laughing] You may have mentioned this, but is there a website where people, if they want to attend the events that you are putting on, is there somewhere online they can go to check that out?


Eric: [00:10:38] Yeah, there’s an Eventbrite site for both. Probably the easiest way to get it though, is just go to my Instagram @hemls3dmj, click on my bio link, that’s the link tree, and then the first two will be the signup pages. That’s probably the fastest way to get there. So shameless plug for my own Instagram @hemls3dmj, that’s the number 3 D M J.


Mike : [00:10:56] And follow him while you’re there, come on. Don’t be rude.


Eric: [00:10:59] You don’t have to, but I won’t stop you.


Mike : [00:11:02] [Laughing] All right, talking about bodybuilding today of course, and specifically, I guess we could say lean bulking. And this is something that I have spoken a little bit about and written a little bit about but there hasn’t been much research, at least that I was aware of, that I could point to to give great insights.

So we can talk about a study that you’re gonna go into and then also the study that you are conducting as well. And I’d be curious just to hear your take on the difference between the study that just recently came out and the one that you’re doing and just your thoughts in general.

And specifically on just for everybody listening so you what you’re getting into here is: okay we all know that a calorie surplus is conducive to muscle and strength gain, there’s no question, but how much of a calorie surplus, and is a much larger surplus better than a smaller one, and what we take from that to optimize our lean bulking or bulking phases, right?


Eric: [00:11:57] Yeah, Mike, that’s a great setup to the question because I think we really need to get into a phase and hashtag evidence-based community where we have a little more nuance around this topic. You know, it wasn’t too long ago where you’d hear voices in our community say something like, “if you want to gain muscle, you have to be in a calorie surplus,” or, “if you want to lose fat, you have to be in a calorie deficit.” And especially that latter statement as it’s largely true.

But it’s much more complicated. I mean, we’ve all seen, like The Biggest Loser, where you see someone who, by the time they’ve lost a lot of body fat, they’ve clearly built muscle or we see those kind of transformations as trainers, or we have someone who’s novice off the street comes in with a higher body fat percentage and by the time they’ve lost the fair amount of body fat, they’ve also gained a ton of strength and muscle mass.

So then, you know, the conversation progressed, “it’s okay, well if you’re overweight, it can happen.” But an interesting thing that we see in the broader literature is that anytime you take relatively untrained individuals, which is most people in studies, even the “trained” folks are relatively low training age for how we kind of see things in the bodybuilding and strength training community.

If you just put them on a resistance training program and do nothing with their nutrition, no intentional manipulation of it, just they kind of eat ad libitum or do their thing. People tend to maintain body fat and increase muscle mass or decreased body fat percentage by their lean body mass going up and body fat going down at the same time.


Mike : [00:13:17] I just want to make sure I did say that correctly, that you don’t need to be in a surplus to gain muscle, but it’s conducive, right? I mean, you’re probably going to do better in a surplus. I just want to make sure I said that correctly because I completely agree with what you’re saying, of course.


Eric: [00:13:28] Yeah, totally. You did, yeah. And I think there’s a point at which the difficulties of either being at a very low body fat percentage or being just at such a high training age and a low body fat percentage that it’s going to be difficult without being a surplus, is really what we care about. Because I think a lot of the people who follow your stuff follow my stuff, they’ve hit some plateaus.

You know, in my case, a lot of them are competitive bodybuilders. And they’re not represented by what’s in the research. So the study that you kind of teed me up on that we reviewed in MASS a couple issues back, by Ribeiro and colleagues, is a really interesting one because they specifically use competitive bodybuilders.

And more so than that, they use competitive bodybuilders who been, the inclusion criteria if you look at it, they’ve been drug-free for X amount of time and have to be for this study. And when you look at the amount of time they’ve been drug-free for, and the fact that they’re letting the researchers manipulate their nutrition and training, you can pretty much bet that they’re natural bodybuilders period or might as well fit into that category.

So it’s a really, really useful sample that we’re looking at: highly trained individuals doing everything they can to get bigger, who are not using antibiotics. And the only downside to it is that we’ve only got 11 folks in this study. So, you know, we’re really just starting to get into the early stages of being able to state with any kind of confidence much about what kind of surplus is appropriate for whom and when. But this is an important study in that area.

Before, we really only had a study by Garthe and colleagues that came out about six years ago and I think 2011 or 2013. It was on elite athletes but we’re talking like handball players. So not necessarily elite athletes from the perspective of a lifter. Just to briefly kind of cap what we thought up until now – data on Garthe was basically, they had two groups: fast gain group and a kind of ad libitum, slow gain group.

The fast game group was instructed by dietitians to eat about 600 calories more per day than the slow gain group. The slow gain group was just told, “Hey, eat to gain muscle.” Which when you’re talking to like handball players and soccer players, not bodybuilders, just means a very slight surplus is what it ended up being.

And there was no significant difference in how much muscle they gained. No significant difference in how much strength they gained. And then the fast gain group gained five times the body fat [laughing], a lot more bodyweight, got slower, and couldn’t jump as high. So essentially they just put on a heap of body fat.

And the resistance training protocol they added on to what they were doing is pretty robust. They basically took their sports specific training and then tacked on a four day per week upper-lower split kind of strength hypertrophy style. So you would think like that should have worked, but it really didn’t. But that’s still a very, very limited study. That’s only one, it wasn’t tightly controlled. So this is an important one that just came out just this year by Ribeiro that I was referencing initially with the bodybuilders.


Mike : [00:16:05] And just so people understand, why is 11 subjects a disadvantage? Just for people not familiar with research.


Eric: [00:16:13] Absolutely, that’s a fantastic question. So anytime we do research, the goal is to make some kind of generalization about the population that’s representing. So if I want to be able to state confidently to all my brothers and sisters in iron, “Hey, here’s what probably makes sense for you to do,” but I’m extrapolating from only 11 males, there’s a certain amount of uncertainty of whether or not that’s a representative sample.

So, for example, you’ve got 11 people. That means you’ve actually got a group of six and a group of five. And if you think about, “okay, I’ve got five people who I selected at random from bodybuilder’s, what if one of them is a hyper responder to the protocol?” Or, “what if one of them got sick during the study and didn’t tell me?” Or, “what if one of them didn’t follow the protocol?” Now, 20 percent of my data is off, you know, and that can really quite easily skew the group average.


Mike : [00:16:58] Or what if one of them lied about drug use?


Eric: [00:17:00] Sure, yeah. I think that’s really unlikely just because why would you volunteer for a study? But it certainly is not out of the realm – like people do weird shit, so… [laughter] So yeah, I tend to think someone’s like, “hey, we’re doing a study on natural bodybuilders,” you wouldn’t be like, “I’d like to join that study and ruined knowledge,” you know?


Mike : [00:17:17] [Laughing] You know, I don’t know. If your Instagram bio has, “lifetime natural,” or “lifetime drug-free,” you know, there’s something wrong with you and it’s that plus an FFMI of like 29 you never know I’d be like, “oh, I’m absolutely a natural bodybuilder who wants to further prove this by being included in a natural bodybuilding study.”


Eric: [00:17:34] Well yeah but the thing is, you’re identified. You don’t get a trophy, you don’t get likes. All the reasons why someone does it on social media for fame, money, self-gratification, external reward, winning a trophy, athletic prowess. That all makes sense to me. But being like, “I can’t wait to be part of a mean and obscure study that no one’s gonna read.”


Mike : [00:17:53] “I can’t wait to be a data point.” [Laughing] It’s totally true, just immediately what popped into my mind. Because well take, for example, even past drug use would matter, right? Depending on what drugs were used and how much and for how long. Even if they’re not currently using drugs because – and this is just my understanding.

Because if you do enough for long enough, you can create what are likely permanent changes to your muscles that basically just allow you to – you’re not going to be able to stay as big and strong as, you know when you’re off as when you’re on, but you will be able to stay bigger and stronger than you would be able to if you had never done drugs in the first place, if you are doing the most important things still correctly in terms of your diet and training.


Eric: [00:18:41] Hypothetically. But we actually don’t have any long term actual comparative data on that. We know there are changes to the kind of like the muscle memory stuff. So basically what’s happening is: you have a greater ability to have more myonuclear domain, maybe. We don’t know how long that lasts, we don’t know what level of drug use, also, maybe the level of drug use that’s required to do that creates this semi-permanent shutdown of your HPTA axis so that your baseline testosterone levels are lower so it kind of self corrects.

So that’s another thing you see, it’s like all these IFBB pros are forever advantaged, and I’m like, “actually those guys have to stay on TRT for the rest of life,” you know? [Laughing] So maybe if they weren’t taking TRT, would they be even smaller? Yeah, most of that is animal data, cross-sectional data. I would not be confident to say that is the case.

I think there’s certainly evidence pointing that that is a very real possibility. The next step is, is to actually start comparing prior users to the nonusers and longitudinally those who are still weight training, not using gear, currently using gear, etcetera. So I think we’ve got some studies going on currently to check that, but I think it’s premature for us to state that with any confidence. Certainly possible. That’s just the scientist in me.


Mike : [00:19:49] Yeah. And then that’s something that I always like to hear your thoughts on because – what I’m saying is this is just my understanding, but it’s a limited understanding, something you understand more about, when you explain I’m like, “I just learned something, cool.”


Eric: [00:20:01] Yeah. I mean, that’s like the hardcore scientist kind of perspective on it where we don’t have the necessary data to confidently state that. What I would say is: it’s very possible that prior drug use, to a certain extent obviously it’s going to be on a continuum, not like did a prohormone 10 years ago, and now you’re Ronnie Coleman forever – there’s going to be some potential likelihood that could have an influence depending on the dose magnitude and how long term it was, and whether or not that actually took you past where you could be naturally or not.

But I suspect there’s probably some feedback mechanism at the highest level and if you take someone who’s three, five, seven, etcetera, years drug-free, they’re not going to have as much of an advantage as a lot of people think they do. But, we shall see. You know, that’s the beauty of research. So, anyway, circling back to the study. Pretty cool.

So they put these folks on a standardized resistance training program. Pretty advanced, you know, like six days a week, kind of like a, I think a push-pull leg split. And then they put them either into a fast gaining group or a slow gaining group. And if you look just kind of at the abstract of the study, it makes it look like, “Hey, there’s a bit of a tradeoff here.”

If you’re in the fast gaining group, you’re going to gain more muscle and more body fat. That may be worth it for you, but if in the slow gaining group, you’ll be a lot leaner and gain muscle as well, but not as much. The problem, though, and this is why it’s so important to read the full text, is that the way that they estimated body fat was totally fine. They had, you know, skinfold calipers, which, you know, they have a certain level of air.


Mike : [00:21:25] But so does everything, right? I mean, unless you’re going to do a four-compartment and you’re going to go all in.


Eric: [00:21:30] You know the messed up thing is even four-compartment has a fair amount of error because now you’re using four different, you know, you’re using a DEXA, you’re using Elektro, you’re using BIA to get body water, and then you’re also doing, you know, air plethysmography, or a dunk tank to get the body density. So there’s like three different errors you’re compounding so sometimes it’s just better just to dunk tank or just DEXA. But you’re a hundred percent right.


Mike : [00:21:51] Each of those modalities chosen because their chances of error for what they are measuring for specifically are lower than just trying to use just one of them to extrapolate body fat percentage?


Eric: [00:22:03] Yes, but they’re interacting variables.


Mike : [00:22:05] Yeah, of course, of course. The only real way to know, right, is to take all of the fat off of your body and weigh it and then [laughing] that would be the real way to know.


Eric: [00:22:13] Yeah, if you want to donate your life to science, correct. If you want dissection, you can get the actual answer. But yeah, to answer your question, the reason why the four-compartment model does have a little extra error is because each one of those compartments interacts with the other. And then when you are throwing it all together, you’ve got some compounding errors.

But I would say, like if you had the same person in the same day and then three days in a row did the four-compartment model and you took an average of all of that, that would probably be as close to accurate as you could get. But as far as actually getting good numbers on a group, I would probably say either DEXA or just a dunk tank and then just accept that you’re dealing with a two-compartment, and then you’ll have kind of a good group-level data.

But for the individual, you’d need to do like repeated measures testing and really high degree of precision, etcetera, etcetera. But anyway, I’m pretty confident that the skin folds were reasonably accurate when you read the methods. There is some error, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not acceptably precise.

We’ll say that. The problem, though, is when you look at the way they actually calculated the lean body mass changes, they used an equation. Now, there’s nothing wrong with equations. Equations are built into every type of body composition assessment. But it takes a little bit of nuance to look at what is in this actual equation.

This is an equation and they said, “hey, we’ve validated it against an MRI and ultrasound, so it’s all good,” and you go, “sure, fair enough.” And if you don’t read the methods, you think that’s fine. But when you look really closely at it, the equation only has a few inputs. The variables are height, weight, sex, and race. That’s it. So that means that whichever group gains more weight is going to be shown to be gaining more lean body mass.


Mike : [00:23:44] That’s odd, that’s almost like a BMI approach.


Eric: [00:23:48] Absolutely. So the thing is, is that when you’re validating an equation based on other research, and this is non resistance training research in untrained people that it’s validated against, yeah like you’re gonna get a lot of homogeneity in someone just gaining weight. Sorry, this isn’t resistance training study, but it’s on untrained individuals.

So yeah, you gain weight in the resistance training study with untrained people, then yeah, it’s going to scale really well with whether you gain weight or not, very strongly. But we’re now applying this to competitive bodybuilders. You know, gaining weight is very easy just look at post-comp, but I guarantee at post-comp they’re not putting on muscle, that’s donuts. So that’s the problem.


Mike : [00:24:26] Why would that be chosen? I mean, I want to derail us with my random commentary too much, but I’m just curious, that seems like such an obvious mistake.


Eric: [00:24:34] Yeah. It’s possible that a peer reviewer asked for it. It’s possible that it was, you know, an oversight that someone involved in the study wasn’t necessarily an exercise scientist and didn’t think about it and the other people involved weren’t in a position where they got to dictate what the methods were. I don’t know, but I do think it is a very significant limitation.

The good news is that because we do have a body fat percentage derived from skin folds, we can simply just take their weight and then calculate what is the remaining compartment. It took a little bit of mathematical work, but that’s why we got Greg Nuckols as a part of MASS, whose main purpose is to be a human-computer. 


Mike : [00:25:13]


Eric: [00:25:14] Absolutely. So anyway, so when I wrote this review, a couple issues back, Greg stepped in and said, “Hey, I can actually back-calculate this with some of the stuff and figure out what’s going on.” And basically, the picture is similar, it becomes a little bit less favorable towards the fast scanning group.

So when you back-calculate and you look at how much actual tissue was put on based on just the skin folds alone, so now two-compartment lean body mass versus not, now it starts to shake out a little differently. So the slow gain group gained about 1.2 kilograms of lean mass over the eight week period and the fast gain group gained about 2.4, so twice as much, that’s awesome.

However, there was a 2.5 percent increase in fat mass in the slow gain group and a 12.4 percent increase in the fast gain groups. And now the tradeoff becomes a little more like, “oh, I’m not sure about that.” So essentially you’re dealing with a four to one ratio of lean to fat mass in the slow gain group and a four to three ratio of lean to fat mass in the fast gain group.

In a practical sense, yeah, an eight week period, if you had eight weeks to get as big as possible before the world ended. Aliens were gonna decide whoever had the most lean body mass is gonna live. Yeah, you do that dreamer bulk.


Mike : [00:26:20] There’s some fanfiction right there, some bodybuilder fanfiction.


Eric: [00:26:23] Absolutely. The bodybuilder aliens take over the planet [laughter]. Only the biggest will survive, literally.


Mike : [00:26:28] The ripped rapture or something.


Eric: [00:26:31] I like that. That’s good, a little alliteration there.


Mike : [00:26:33], checking it.


Eric: [00:26:36] You buy that domain. So if you think about it from a practical perspective, you know, the person who’s gaining fat mass at three times the rate of the other, they’re gonna have to do a mini cut constantly, you know, like every couple mesocycles. And they’re going to end up being in that hare vs the tortoise scenario where they end up gaining less muscle mass over time because they have to come out of that surplus constantly.

So I think it maybe makes sense for someone who is, just doesn’t care, or has a very, very low body fat percentage already and is just like, “you know what? Whatever, I need to put on a lot of muscle mass.” Some young teenage males, perhaps early 20s, novices. But if you think about a competitive powerlifter who’s trying to fill out their weight class or a competitive bodybuilder who has to get down to those mind effing levels of leanness we talked about at the beginning of our podcast, it’s all gonna come off, you know?

So if you end up getting 20 percent over stage weight, you know, whatever extra kilo or two of muscle mass you put on, you’re going to lose in the process of having to diet twice as long or twice as hard. So it’s just not a worthwhile tradeoff in most cases. And the visual change for someone who is putting on 0.3 kg of fat mass and, you know, 1.2 kg of lean mass, you’ll actually look better if you do that, you know?


Mike : [00:27:46] Yeah.


Eric: [00:27:46] However, if you’re putting on 2.4 Kilograms of lean mass and then also 1.8 grams of fat, you’re going to look basically the same, maybe a little worse, you know, because of the area each one of those tissues takes up. So, you know, I think that’s something to consider, is the whole reason you’re doing this is probably for changing the way your body looks.

You know, not in all cases, sometimes it is just raw performance. Like, if you’re a strength athlete in a non-weight class restricted sport, like if you’re a shot putter, or if you’re in the over one of five strong men division, or if you’re, you know, like I said, a super heavy weight lifter, a powerlifter, and you’re gonna be like, “whatever, bro,” you know, “I don’t care, whatever is going to make me strongest.” But I think it’s worth considering that if you are in any other situation than those it just doesn’t really pan out.


Mike : [00:28:29] And what was the caloric intake? You may have said this, but if you did, I don’t remember. On average between the slow and fast, just so people – and how does that compare to, maybe they had RMR, right? We wouldn’t know, maybe they’re TDEE?


Eric: [00:28:44] That’s another crazy thing. These dudes are eating a lot of food, like a lot. I mean, these were very high carb, low fat bulking diets. So the group that was in the fast gain, on average was eating 1,100 grams of carbs in the day. Yeah. Yeah. 162 grams of protein and 84 grams of fat. And then the slower gain group was eating, on average 726 grams of carbs, 185 grams of protein and 95 grams of fat.


Mike : [00:29:16] So you’re looking at like 4,000 to like 6,000-ish with the fast gain and 4,000 something for the … 


Eric: [00:29:22] Exactly. So the fast gain group was eating 6,000 calories per day, the slow gain group was eating 4,500 calories a day. So it’s basically a massive bulk versus a dreamer bulk. If anything, I’m really surprised that the group that was eating 4,500 calories a day, only gains like 0.3 grams of kg fat.


Mike : [00:29:39] So I’m trying to look, I’m pulling up on the MASS forum where you’re breaking this down. Yeah, above RMR here. So that was 4,000 in the fast gain, 4,000 calories above RMR, resting metabolic rate, for people listening. How many calories do you burn just kind of hanging out, basically, not really doing much? A super lazy Sunday.

And then the slow gain was 2,500 calories over RMR. So RMR around 2,000 calories in each group. I’m surprised as well with the 4,500. Just thinking to my experiences, I haven’t done a true lean bulk phase in a while, to be honest, I’ve kind of just maintained the same body composition for probably like four years now. My Instagram, I look literally the same for the last four years.

But last time I did I ended around 4,100 or 4,200 calories a day and I was there for only maybe a month and I was so sick of eating by the end of that. I guess if I think about it in terms of fat gain, pretty minimal considering that I was able to stay in a surplus for, I want to say four, five months, something like that, and go from probably 10-ish to like 14-ish, if I remember correctly. Oh no, sorry, I started leaner than that because I’d finished – so I was probably a little bit below 10, maybe 8, and ended 14-ish or so, but still that’s a lot of calories.


Eric: [00:30:54] Yeah. And I think it’s just important to point out these are pretty hardcore bodybuilders. I mean, these are folks who are, you know, they’re under six foot. They’re between like 5’8 to 5’10. They’re weighing right around 200 pounds. The reasonably low body fat percentage to start.

They had to be currently registered with the Regional Bodybuilding Federation and had been competing for at least one year. So there are all folks who’ve – at the point where they’ve gotten on stage, they were training six days per week prior to the study’s start and they kept training six days per week.

So they had like a training schedule that was basically like chest, shoulders, triceps, abs – day one. Back, biceps, forearms – day two. Legs – day three. And then they repeated that and took Sunday off. And they did a fair amount of volume. You know, we’re looking at four sets of eight to twelve rep range on a smattering of exercises each day.

So, I mean, we’re talking about people who are clocking close to 10 hours of training per week, clearly genetically gifted, competitive bodybuilders, and are dedicating a lot of their life to the game, if you will.


Mike : [00:33:24] I’m sure, you’ve already thought about this, but what would you approximate there? Like, how big of a surplus are we looking at? I mean, it’s just an approximation, obviously, but what are your thoughts on that?


Eric : [00:33:33] Yeah, so we think about the total amount of tissue gained, so in the group that was in the “slow gain”, right? You know, they put on 1.2 kilograms of lean mass and they put on 0.3 Kilograms of fat mass. So, you know, all up we’re looking – at that’s over eight weeks, so they’re in a relatively small surplus, believe it or not.

So the activity and the NEET is pretty high on these guys. On the other group, substantially more than that, you know, 2.4 Kilograms of lean mass and then 1.8 kilograms of fat mass. So if you wanted to calculate that out, I’ll do some quick math for you.


Mike : [00:34:08] Quick math.


Eric : [00:34:09] So 1.8 kilograms of fat mass. Multiply that by 2.205, we got about four pounds of fat. So that’s four pounds by 3,500. So that’s like a 14,000 calorie surplus just from the fat mass alone. Divide that by 8 and then divide that by 7 and add a little bit. So we’re looking at basically like a 400 calorie surplus in the fasting group. And probably like a 100, 200 calorie surplus in the slow gain group. If I did my math right. And they’re building muscle, which means that actually is increasing their expenditure a fair bit.


Mike : [00:34:42] And that’s a per day surplus, right? For people in case they’re wondering.


Eric : [00:34:46] Correct, per day. We’re looking at the fast gain group is gaining close to a pound a week, or attempting, or in a surplus to gain that. So 400 calorie surplus per day versus, say, 100 to 200 calorie surplus per day, with my quick off the top math. That may be wrong.


Mike : [00:35:00] I think it’s worth, though, just so people can put some numbers at least to like, “oh, okay.” So it would be for most people then, something around the, I guess, 7 to 10 percent surplus versus, you know, double that. 


Eric : [00:35:14] Right. Exactly. That’s exactly it. So it actually lines up pretty well with what was found at Garthe. Some people will be like, “All right, look, you’ve got a five versus six sample size of, you know, folks using skin folds and you’re back calculating lean body mass. Why should I trust this data at all?” And the reason why I would say we should trust it is because it actually goes really well with the same findings that Garthe found.

I think now we’re looking at two studies pointing to the same kind of thing. In my experience as a natural bodybuilding coach it largely follows that as well. That, you know, you can definitely do more aggressive bulks and you may get a little bit, but the tradeoff is often not worth it.

And the most obvious thing for an advanced lifter who goes into that, you know, over 4,000 calorie range for a 200-pound male or more is a lot of food, are you see a lot of body fat gain. You know, we’ve got the anecdote, we’ve got the prior study that wasn’t on the ideal population, but with good metrics they used DEXA, and we had, you know, a decent sample size, and now we have a low sample size, not great metrics, but an ideal population, that’s all pointing in the same direction. I think we can be relatively confident that at least for drug-free lifters who have a fair amount of their base built – faster is not better. It largely just results in tears.


Mike : [00:36:30] [Laughing] Unless you just really like your calories more than your abs, then you’re okay.


Eric : [00:36:34] Yeah. I mean, hey, super heavyweight powerlifters, strongmen, shot putters, super heavyweight weightlifters – go to town. Ben and Jerry’s. I’m telling you, just get your blood work done to make sure you’re not going to freaking die. Enjoy the food and enjoy the PRs.


Mike : [00:36:47] [Laughing] Is that not more muscle gain than you would expect from people who – I don’t think you had mentioned yet how experienced these guys were, but for what I’m assuming these are people who are well into their intermediate or maybe even their advanced phases in a relatively short period time when they’re already training six days a week so on and so forth?


Eric : [00:37:06] You know, it may or may not be. You know, if you think about it, you know, 1.2 kg of lean body mass in two months, that’s good but it’s certainly not unreasonable. Then 2.4, that’s twice as much. But we also have to remember that: what are we counting as lean body mass here, and how much of it is muscle tissue, how much of it’s dry muscle weight?


Mike : [00:37:25] I just ask these leading questions and you just know everything. So you just know exactly what to say. Perfect [laughing].


Eric : [00:37:30] I got you bro.


Mike : [00:37:31] Make me look good, come on.


Eric : [00:37:32] There was a study that came out not too long ago that showed that there is an obligatory loss of lean body mass when you lose body fat. And it is not skeletal muscle tissue. So something like around 15 percent of adipose tissue, of fat tissue, is actually lean mass. So it has some structural components to it. That is not triglycerides. It’s not just a bag of stored triglyceride that’s on you.

That’s only about, you know, 80, 85 percent of fat tissue. So when you lose fat, you have to lose lean mass, it’s a component of it. You might be gaining muscle at the same time. You might see a positive change. But any time you see someone gain fat or lose fat, there’s going to be a slight over-representation of how much lean mass they’re losing or how much lean mass they’re gaining.

Likewise, if you have someone pound this much food, you’re invariably going to change their sodium content and therefore their body water and a lot of that does become, you know, hyper hydrated muscle tissue. Some of that also becomes subcutaneous water retention. And how much of that is going to get represented in one of these equations, is going to be unclear.

So with the skin fold, you are supposed to, if you’re doing it properly, you know, you hold the skin fold out, you clip the caliper, and then you wait for the reading to stabilize, you give it a few seconds. And that should press any subcutaneous water out from underneath the calipers so you’re actually just getting a true skinful measurement.

But that’s assuming you’ve got someone who really knows what they’re doing, you know? But what you can’t do is know how much additional, you know, hypohydration there is on the tissue. So if someone’s just heavier but has lower skin folds, an equation is going to spit out, a greater lean body mass gain.

So it’s very possible that 2.4 kilograms of additional lean mass is, you know, let’s say, 0.1, 0.2 of that is lean body mass gain from fat tissue gain. And then another, you know, maybe as much of a full pound, you know, 0.4 kilograms, could be additional water retention, more than the other group.

So I’m quite skeptical that it was actually twice as much muscle gain. But there’s going to be some of that going on in a slow game group to just proportionately less. I think best-case scenario, we’re looking at a four to one versus a four to three ratio, probably more realistically looking more like a four to four, to four to one ratio if I had to guess. So I think it’s almost misleading to see how well the fast gain group did. I think it’s probably kind of a best-case scenario, to be honest.


Mike : [00:39:52] Yeah, that makes sense, I actually had written about the fat mass connective tissue water, the components of fat cells, an article on how much muscle you can gain naturally, in the context of FFMI, because people will often say, I’ll hear from people often when I talk about FFMI, likely ceilings for natural muscle gain will be like, “I just calculated my FFMI, it’s 26.

And I’ve been lifting for two years,” and I’m like, “what’s your body fat percentage?” “30 percent.” “Yeah, get down to 10 percent, and let’s see what your FFMI is. It’s not gonna be 26 after two years, my friend.” So if I remember correctly, there was one study, according to some estimates, that up to 25 percent of the weight that you gain as you get fatter can be this nonessential fat-free mass.


Eric : [00:40:35] Yeah, I have not seen that study, but that’s certainly the case. That would not surprise me, given the athletes with the highest amount of lean body mass on the planet are sumo wrestlers. So they’re also the individuals with the highest amount of body fat.


Mike : [00:40:47] Yeah, I talk about that.


Eric : [00:40:48] So yeah, I think there’s something to be said too, like you’re literally carrying around 24/7, a huge amount of actual more weight. And just like the fastest way to lose lean body mass is to leave our gravity will become an astronaut. I would suspect that the fastest way to gain lean body mass is to be under a constant state of higher gravity, evenly distributed like through body fat.

And some of that’s going to be skeletal muscle mass, yes. But a lot of that will be connective tissue, a lot of that will be the vascularization of body fat and the ability to deliver tissue to itm which is not inert. You know, a lot of that will be bone density changes. You know, there’s an interesting thing when you look at bone mineral density that as you gain adiposity.

It starts to go up and then it starts to go down once you get to the point where it’s actually hard to be active and you are more sedentary. But that’s not the case in these big athletes. Sumo wrestler’s not getting more sedentary, he’s eating for sport. So now we’ve got someone who’s not only training while weighing 400 pounds but walking around life as a 400 pounder, so the kind of bone mineral density that they’ve got and the skeletal structure and all the support tissue for, that, it’s going to be pretty robust, you know? 


Mike : [00:41:52] There’s no question that being overweight is the secret to having great calves.


Eric : [00:41:57] One hundred percent. You know, so the trick is that as you lose weight, you tend to replace it with the weighted vest. Which, only half-joking about, is I’ve seen some pretty successful experiments with that recently in the bodybuilding world. If people are interested, they got to check out James Krieger’s Weightology and what he did in collaboration with Eric Salazar.

Who was a recent successful natural bodybuilder who used a weighted vest as he dieted down and barely had to drop calories at all and maintained a lot of muscle mass. So it’s something to be said for just having more weight on your body all the time.


Mike : [00:42:23] Yeah, that’s cool. I don’t think I saw that. Now I’m having conflicting, I’m having deja vu, but my logical side is saying, “no, I don’t think I saw that,” but I feel like I’ve seen research specifically on that point alone, that how bodyweight alone can influence metabolism in ways that are not just explained by active metabolic tissue.


Eric : [00:42:43] Yeah, there’s some wacky stuff out there, man. There are some rodent model studies where they put metal pellets, that’s kind of messed up if you think that from the rat’s perspective. But they implanted metal pellets in them and they gain lean mass and lose fat mass just as a function of having it.

And there is some sensors in the body, I think they’re called gravitostat, that we have yet to identify that have something to do with that. So you heard it here. 10 years from now, there’s gonna be people going to South America or obscure parts of Eastern Europe and getting metal pellets like implanted in body cavities to stay leaner year-round.


Mike : [00:43:17] Or when the bodybuilding aliens come.


Eric : [00:43:20] Yes.


Mike : [00:43:20] That’s gonna be one of the advanced bodybuilding techniques they’re going to bestow upon us.


Eric : [00:43:25] Absolutely, I’ll be eating 6,000 calories a day just like the guys in this study and getting a medal – replace my appendix with the lead weight. Maybe not lead, that probably isn’t a good idea [laughing]. 


Mike : [00:43:34] [Laughing] No, no, no. It will be, what is the adamantium. They’re going to give us the adamantium. Not your appendix, your skeleton, dude.


Eric : [00:43:42] Oh, I just need to go straight Wolverine on them, I like that.


Mike : [00:43:44] Yeah. 


Eric : [00:43:44] That’s why Wolverine’s so jacked. He didn’t even lift, he just weighs a lot.


Mike : [00:43:50] [Laughing] You just figured it out.


Eric : [00:43:52] Hugh Jackman, I know your secret.


Mike : [00:43:54] [Laughing] And so how does all of this that you have just discussed, these two studies in particularly, compare to the study that you are conducting on this? I think it’s a good plug for it because I’m excited to see the outcome.


Eric : [00:44:07] Yeah, absolutely. So if you live in the Greater Auckland, New Zealand region and you have been resistance training for a while and you are a male – soon we’ll do the female study as well – and you want to get jacked, please contact me. Realistically, there’s probably not a whole lot of people, but we’ve got to get the word out.

But anyway, we’re running a study currently where we are looking at three different groups of 5 percent surplus, a 15 percent surplus, and then a group eating and at maintenance. So we can compare the effects of fast gain, lean gain, and then body recomp in trained males. And we’re also going to do a trained females study.

And depending on how recruitment goes, we may collapse the data together and do a subgroup analysis. We’re just having trouble recruiting. So we’re trying to figure out what’s the best way to do that. But nonetheless, training three days per week paradise program for the squat and the bench, and then a circuit of accessory movements, including things like rows, shoulder press, lat pulldowns, curl’s, fair amount of volume, you know, hitting that 10 sets per muscle group mark, at least for everybody.


Mike : [00:45:02] Which I like, because that’s how a lot of people, just everyday, normal people train. A lot of them don’t have much time or the inclination to train all that much more. A lot of normal people out there just want to get fit, are not going to be in the gym six days a week. Even people who take their fitness bit more seriously are not necessarily in the gym six days a week doing basically a push, pull legs, rest, repeat.


Eric : [00:45:24] Yeah. So this is going to be that nice middle ground between Garth, who even though they are elite athletes, they’re essentially novice lifters. And then the current one, where we’re looking at genetically gifted bodybuilders training six days per week, willing to eat 6,000 calories, but keeping under 100 grams of fat. You know, like, those are kind of the extreme ends.


Mike : [00:45:43] If that doesn’t immediately kind of turn your stomach a little bit, just go play around on whatever calorie counting website you use and try to make a meal plan for that and then fathom what it would be like. You know, somebody who works with me actually did, he got this from Greg, Greg Nuckols, Stronger by Science, and it was an over the top super high volume bulk. He was eating about 1,000 to 1,100 grams of carbs a day. I believe the protein was high as well. He probably weighed about 180-ish when he started and he was eating over 200 grams of protein per day.


Eric : [00:46:15] It’s hard not to. If you eat 1,000 grams of carbs, unless it’s freaking Gatorade, you’re gonna be getting like a hundred grams of protein just right there [laughing].


Mike : [00:46:22] That’s true. That’s true. But he was keeping his fat at like 50 to 60.


Eric : [00:46:26] Man, that’s basically – one of your meals is the rice cooker and another one your meals is a loaf of bread.


Mike : [00:46:35] [Laughing] He ate a loaf of bread every day.


Eric : [00:46:36] That’s what I’m saying. That’s the life that no one wants to live. So these two studies that we have are –


Mike : [00:46:41] Yeah, it sounded fun at first. He did it for six weeks, though. And he was doing two a days as well. The volume was absurd. I mean, he calculated it, I want to say, at least for the major muscle group, maybe not biceps necessarily, but it was probably 30 to 40 hard sets per week [laughing].


Eric : [00:46:58] Well, good on him. I hope he got gains for all that hard work and not just like a hernia from being bloated while training [laughing].


Mike : [00:47:05] Yeah. No, no, he actually did. I mean, at the end – he’s 23 too so he’s invincible and, you know, and he knows that, he’s like, “I can do this. This is my window of opportunity to do something like this.” Because if I were to try this, I’m 35, it would break me in half, so he had that going for him, too.


Eric : [00:47:23] Well, good on him. This study that we’re doing is probably, it’s like the quintessential intermediate study. People who have been lifting for at least a year who can at least bench their body weight, at least squat one and a half times their body weight, and who commit to three full-body hard training sessions getting to that kind of that volume we talked about, that’s reasonable for most intermediates.

And then we’re looking at changes in ultrasound, muscle thickness of the tricep and quadricep, and we’re also looking at obviously skin folds, skinfold changes, through high-quality anthropometry. So we’re looking at subcutaneous fat, muscle mass changes, and then also looking at strength gain in the squat and the bench.

And then we’re looking at, like rate of weight gain, rate of fat gain, compliance, adherence, etcetera. Few different ways we can analyze it so it’s going to be an interesting study to bridge the gap between Garthe and Ribeiro. Also just recently published, if someone is interested in really getting into the weeds, this review paper led by Gary Slater out of Australia – shutout – It’s called the “Anabolic Stimulus Provided by a Surplus” I’m getting that title slightly off, but it was recently published.

That’s gonna be coming out, I’ll be sharing that that on my Instagram and Facebook and stuff like that pretty soon when the full text drops, but basically it’s all the speculation as to how and why a surplus may or may not be beneficial for muscle gain. How much is needed, when and what cases, and what’s a reasonable rate of weight gain based on all the studies we have.

So I think between this study, the one I’m working on, the review that just came out and Garthe, we kind of all have the same conclusion. Like, when everything kind of comes together, we’re still teasing around the edges that basically, you know, a good, reasonable suggested rate of weight gain for someone who has been in the gym a while is probably around like one percent of your body weight per month.

That’s probably like an on average, you know, can be a little faster, a little slower, etcetera. And if you’re doing that, you’re probably not eating too much and you’re probably not eating too little. But then again, like also if you’re the 23-year-old who’s got the window and doesn’t do much except train and eat, you can push that up to 1.5, 2 percent maybe. And if you’re a seasoned bodybuilder, really trying to gain lean mass between seasons, maybe you half that. You know, it’s more about focusing on gym progress and slow weight gain.


Mike : [00:49:32] Awesome. Well, I think that covers pretty much everything. That’s at least as far as what we’ve got in front of us, right?


Eric : [00:49:39] Yeah, I mean, we will know more in the future. I know we’re also not the only research group looking at this. So I’m always just very fortunate and thankful that we’ve got a lot of people who are, you know, nerdy muscle heads like myself who are trying to answer these questions. So I think in the future we’ll have a more nuanced answer to this and be able to confirm if kind of some of the logical jumps we’re making are accurate.


Mike : [00:49:57] And as far as, I guess, practical recommendations based on the current best evidence, what does that look like for, let’s say, people who now are like, “all right, so I’m about to go into a lean bulking phase, Dr. Helms program tell me, what should I do as far as the diet goes and the surplus?”


Eric : [00:50:12] On the diet side of it, you know, I can tell you to gain a certain percentage of your body weight per month, but you’re probably scratching your head like, “how much should I eat, bro?” So I’d say if you’re over 200 pounds and you’re not high in body fat, then that’s an appropriate time to go on a bulking phase, maybe a super heavyweight, you know, carry their high body fat.

You can look at maybe being in like a 300 calorie surplus if you’re an experienced lifter. If you’re, say, between 170 to 200 pounds, you probably want more like a 200 calorie surplus. And then if you are, say, 150 up to the bottom of that last class, maybe 150 calories. And then if you’re a smaller person, this is going to be like very short men and also women, probably more like 100 calorie surplus and that’ll put you at the right rate of weight gain on average for typically, you know, what kind of is an appropriate rate of weight gain for you.


Mike : [00:50:57] Cool. And those are dandy surpluses, of course?


Eric : [00:51:00] Daily surpluses, yeah.


Mike : [00:51:01] And just out of curiosity, the weight point of weighing 200 pounds, is that because up to that point, you’d rather have people just kind of eat around maintenance?


Mike : [00:51:08] No, it’s to achieve the same percentage rate. So the guideline is a try to gain one percent of your body weight per month. And this is interesting, so think about it. The tissue that you’re trying to build, muscle tissue, Is built by muscle tissue. There’s an interesting aspect. You know, we often use analogies to think about things. We think of like, “oh, I’ve got my body and then there’s like these workers who are stacking muscle on top of me.”

Well the workers actually are the muscle, you know, the muscle itself is growing. So the amount of muscle that you can gain in a reasonable time frame is proportionate to what you have. So both a 60 kilo or a 130-pound woman versus a 90 kilo or 200-pound male who are of the same training age, let’s say they’re twins, but one’s male, one’s female, they’re gonna both be able to gain reasonably on the same weight training program, say, you know, one percent of the body weight per month and have it be mostly muscle.

So the proportion of gains will be the same. But one personal gain, you know, at one point three pounds of tissue, most of being muscle, hopefully, and then the gentleman will gain two pounds and most of that will be muscle and more of a fat because it’s the actual process of initiating muscle protein synthesis, which occurs in the muscle so itself to then, you know, hypertrophy the fibers. It’s kind of an interesting thing where we’re looking at gain is proportionate.

And if we look at studies on individual differences in large swaths of people, there’s a 2005 study by Hubble showing that, well there’s a huge variance in how much muscle someone can gain over eight weeks. Anywhere from gaining like 0 to 60 percent increase in muscle mass over eight weeks.

For like nonresponders all the way up to ubermensch responders. The proportions are the same for men, women – very, very similar amounts. And, you know, the average weight of women is a lot lower and the average weight of a man. So it should be scaled proportionately to how much you weigh. So that means that someone who weighs less should be in a smaller surplus versus someone who weighs more.


Mike : [00:52:51] Yeah, absolutely. Ironically, I just misheard what you said originally, but that was all really good [laughing]. I realized as you started to answer, I was like, “oh, no, no. I misheard what he said. Okay, I get it.” [Laughing]


Eric : [00:53:02] [Laughing] Yeah, my bad.


Mike : [00:53:04] ZenCastr, it was cutting out a little bit. I misunderstood what you had said. Hence the nonsensical question with a great answer that had some extra useful information [laughing].


Eric : [00:53:14] Well, hey, we got to drop a little extra science, thank you ZenCastr, hopefully, it didn’t cut out for the listeners, and if not, then they heard some cool shit.


Mike : [00:53:20] What’s the cool thing about ZenCastr is: because it’s recording on your end – it’s been pretty good, but sometimes it’ll be like a Skype call, right, so it artifacts and just because I’m hearing it cutting out, it doesn’t matter because it’s recording an audio track on your computer. So we’re good.


Eric : [00:53:35] Because it’s recorded locally and neither one of us is paid by ZenCastr. Shoutout ZenCastr.


Mike : [00:53:40] Yeah, until something better comes along. They need to keep improving because … 


Eric : [00:53:44] [Laughing] There goes our sponsorship, Mike.


Mike : [00:53:47] Oh well. I’ll just keep shilling books and supplements and I’ll be fine.


Eric : [00:53:52] Yeah, you’ll be good to go.


Mike : [00:53:53] No, this has been great, though. And I think before we wrap up, let’s just tell everybody one more time in case they skipped through it in the beginning about your upcoming events and where they can go to learn more and sign up if they want to attend.


Eric : [00:54:07] Yeah, absolutely. So, anyone who wants an excuse to go to Hong Kong or Singapore, or who lives in those areas, Southeast Asia or Asia in general, I’m really excited to be in Hong Kong on the 14th and 15th of September. Just next month with Alberto Nuñez.

We have a two-day seminar in Hong Kong we’re going to be talking everything about bodybuilding and then the following weekend, 21st to 22nd September in Singapore, we’ll be joined by Cliff Wilson, Lauren Conlin, and Ryan Doris for another two-day seminar. So all the stuff we talked about, nerding out on all the practical implications from coaches, pro athletes, and just really, really getting you everything you could want to know.

And everyone who attends is going to get free copies of the “Muscle and Strength Pyramids”. If you want to find out more or sign up, just please go to my Instagram profile @Helmes3DMJ and then if you go to my bio link, it’s the first two links to the top.


Mike : [00:55:01] And you get to satisfy some hashtag wanderlust, right?


Eric : [00:55:05] Absolutely.


Mike : [00:55:05] An exotic trip to the end of the earth.


Eric : [00:55:08] Absolutely. It’s a beautiful place. I haven’t been to Hong Kong yet, but I have been to Singapore and it’s a pretty cool spot. And the convergence of different ethnic backgrounds in that country makes for some awesome food. You can get, you know, Chinese, Indian on the same night and it’s amazing. So good times.


Eric : [00:55:24] Thanks as always, Eric. This was great. I look forward to the next one.


Eric : [00:55:27] My pleasure, man. Thanks for having me on.

What did you think of this episode? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!