The Result of a Failed Bulk

Well, the results of my month-long bulk in Pensacola are in, and they are not pretty. However, if you’ve been following along, you know that things didn’t exactly go as planned. First and foremost, the day I flew into Pensacola, I tore my left trapezius muscle carrying my laptop gear through the abomination of an airport known as Houston International. Now, to be fair, the laptop carry was just the proverbial straw. I had strained the muscle two weeks prior doing an overload of pull-ups and chin-ups (roughly tripling my previous volume), and then strained it some more by stubbornly not taking it easy the following week and gutting through it. By the time I reached my gate in Houston, I couldn’t feel half of my hand and had shooting pains down my left arm in addition to what felt like a white hot machete in my back. Once I got to the hotel, this is what I saw:

See the red inflamed area? Yea, that’s my trap. Want to see worse? Here’s two days later:

See how much more swollen the left side (on the right in the picture) is?
Anyhow, the trap bugged me bad enough that my BodyMedia showed an average of 5 hours of sleep through the month, and not more than 2 hours at a time until the last week. Not only did sleeping not go well, lifting sucked. I could only work legs, and that was painful all on it’s own, as the bar crushed my trap during squats. Still, at least I got some work done.
So, did I slow down on eating? Hell no, lol. I rationalized it by saying I needed fuel to heal, which to be fair, is somewhat true, but the more honest answer is that I wanted to eat. I had been looking forward to it, I was at a place where good food and good company are some of the few benefits, and dammit, I was gonna partake! So I did. And, as expected, there is a price to be paid for that, and I found out just how steep it was with today’s DXA scan.
Without further ado, here are the scan results:



Region Fat Lean Bone Total Lean Total
Arms 1.87 20.35 1.16 21.51 23.38
Legs 7.99 54.45 2.62 57.06 65.05
Trunk 17.57 94.49 3.10 97.59 115.16
Total 28.46 179.94 8.07 188.01 216.47
Bodyfat 13.15%

Pics here


Region Fat Lean Bone Total Lean Total
Arms 3.45 21.63 1.24 22.88 26.33
Legs 8.88 53.23 2.62 55.85 64.73
Trunk 22.64 88.97 3.02 92.00 114.64
Total 36.19 174.37 8.07 182.44 218.63
Bodyfat 16.55%

Obligatory pic of smaller, weaker, softer me (please ignore the messy bed):

So, what to make of the numbers? To be honest, I’m completely baffled. The increase in bodyfat was expected, and in roughly the amounts I expected. I actually told my wife before I left that I expected to be at 15-16% BF, but possibly as high as 18%. What I did NOT expect was to lose muscle in my quads (which measure much larger than before and are the only things I trained) and actually gain muscle in my arms (which I did not train at all).
The first thought toward explaining this is that I am overtrained, and the time off allowed my arms to grow, but I’m not sure I buy it. More experimentation is required, I think.
Regardless, there are a few lessons that I think I can take from all of this, and they are listed below, in no particular order:

  • I can actually get sick of eating (I did towards the end). Who knew?
  • It takes almost as much discipline to overeat as it does to under eat, but it’s so much more fun.
  • Sometimes, you should just rest and quit trying to push.
  • If you actually tear something, you won’t mistake it for soreness.
  • One month worth of massive (and I mean MASSIVE) overeating, even when you don’t lift, still doesn’t really do that much damage. The eight pounds of fat I put on will come off in a month, no problem. 

Anyhow, now I am back to cutting, and will continue the cut from here until I hit roughly 8% BF, at which point I will post new pics, results, and my plans for several bulk/cut cycling experiments. See you then.

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  1. #1 by Anonymous on March 2, 2012 - 10:58 pm

    What are you going to do to treat the torn trapezius?

    • #2 by Brian Hill on March 2, 2012 - 11:08 pm

      So far, mostly RICE, though the doc is sending me to PT this week. She said full recovery will take 6-12 weeks, unfortunately.

    • #3 by Anonymous on March 3, 2012 - 12:18 am

      Yikes… that’s gotta be terrible for your exercise. Hope everything goes well Brian!

    • #4 by Brian Hill on March 3, 2012 - 1:12 am

      Thanks. Yea, luckily, muscle can be restored to a previous state much faster than it gets built the first time, so it shouldn’t be that bad, but it does put a damper on my goals.

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