Dreams in a tub – “ONE THOUSAND CALORIES, 50g PROTEIN” – …

Dream-bulker-itis | drēmˈbʌlkərˈʌɪtɪs | slang 


Disease where an individual (usually male) suffers deluded notions that the enormous amounts of  weight gained due to purposeful overeating combined with weight training in the winter months is actually mostly muscle, that they can remove the ‘few pounds’ of fat gained with a quick cut in the spring, and that this will reveal a chiselled, cover-model like physique in time for the beach season.

"Looks like he's suffering from a bad case of dreambulkeritis."

Infected persons, known as dream bulkers, ignore (or are oblivious to) the generally accepted maximum rates of muscle growth potential, believing that they are the exception, because they have been, or will, train extra hard, or because they are going to take latest supplement X.

"Hey buddy, how’s the dream-bulk going?"

Symptoms include, but are not limited to:

  • Owning a normal suit, skinny suit, and a fat suit, which all fit perfectly at least some time during the year.
  • Bulk-cut cycles with proposed body-weight finishing points well above elite natural bodybuilders of the same height.
  • Obsession with bicep circumference, ignoring development of jiggling bingo wings, use  of arm bands to create appearance of (lost) definition.

Typhoon Earthquake - WWE legends

Typhoon Earthquake – WWE legends

Warning: Those infected will not react well to this being pointed out. Exposure to years of fitness magazine and supplement ad nonsense, combined with the recent explosion of ‘roid users claiming natural on youtube, mean your comments will be hard to take. Denial and blind perpetuation are to be expected. Un-friending on Facebook likely.

Confession: I admit to having been on a dream bulk once myself.

Have a think. Can you honestly tell me that you:

  1. Haven’t suffered once from dreambulkeritis yourself,
  2. Aren’t currently thinking like this, or
  3. Don’t know a friend on (or planning) his dream-bulk at the moment?

Tell me in the comments.

Reasonable Muscle Growth Expectations and Genetic Muscular Potential

Unfortunately it seems that the majority of folks don’t have any idea of sensible muscle growth targets or maximum muscle growth potential. I’m not blaming them, I think it’s natural given the sad state of the industry at the moment.

The problem is that this leads to unnecessary fat gain, disappointment and years of bulk and cut cycles leading nowhere.

Expectations are important, make sure that your goals are realistic you aren’t dream-bulking.

Reasonable Muscle Growth Expectations:

Recall from the previous article that muscle growth potential is determined by training status. Here were the guidelines, based in reality, not hype:

Training Status  |  Gains/month  |  Energy Surplus/day

Beginner  |  2-3lbs  |  ~200-300kCal

Intermediate  |  1-2lbs  |  ~100-200kCal

Advanced  |  0.5lbs  |  slight surplus

Explanations of the above and how to determine your training status here, section ‘Slow Bulking: Muscle Growth Expectations and Setting Calorie Intake’.

Genetic Muscular Potential:

Everybody has a genetic limit for muscle mass. This will be greater for some than others, regardless of how much effort is put into diet and training.

Though there are outliers, there is a formula that helps us to calculate the average of what most reasonably blessed (genetically) people can achieve. The math is easy, and it’s useful for keeping our dreams in check, and as having a positive mindset is essential, it’s best for us to assume that we are in this “reasonably blessed” camp, rather than under it, but probably not prudent to assume we are one of the genetically elite and thus well over it.

Martin Berkhan’s Maximum Muscular Potential of Drug-Free Athletes formula. The maximum that a drug-free trainee will weigh when in “stage-shredded” condition (i.e. 5-6% body fat) is as follows:

(Height in centimetres – 98-102) = Body weight in kilos.

Though there are some fine-tune adjustments mentioned in his article, it works as a good rule of thumb, and also makes pointing out inflated expectations fairly easy. The caveat of course is that it requires you (and/or they) to have an accurate idea of body fat, which is a big if given the inaccuracies of body fat testing devices commercially available.

Related: Maximum Genetic Muscular Potential – The Models And Their Limitations

A Chat With a Friend In the Onsen

Laughing Monkey in Snowy Onsen

After a good day of snowboarding, a friend turned to me (currently 15-20% body fat, 5’9/175cm, 155lbs/~70kg) and said that he plans to bulk to 190lbs/~85kg this year and then cut down to a ripped 175lbs/~78kg).

Considering the two sections above, it’s easy to see that even if we’re taking ‘ripped’ to be 10% body fat this is not going to happen.

Don’t kid yourself this bulking season, make sure your expectations are reasonable.


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About the Author

Andy Morgan

I am the founder of RippedBody.com, this is my sincere effort to build the best nutrition and training guides on the internet. Some readers hire me to coach them, which I've been doing online, via email, for the last seven years. If you're interested in individualized, one-on-one nutrition and training coaching to help you crush your physique goals, let's start the conversation.