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.


Related guides:


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Hi Andy,
I posted this on your Facebook page back in September, but looks like it might be useful to share on here too:

“Dr Casey Butt Phd, author of “Your Muscular Potential”, has analyzed anthropometric measurements of more than 300 drug-free champion bodybuilders and strength athletes from 1947 to 2007. After 6 years of research he has come up with a set of equations to measure your genetic potential based on your height. For a guy with 7” wrists and 9” ankles who wants to achieve a muscular body with 10% body fat, this is the maximum body-weight you can achieve naturally according to his data…

· 5’8” => max 190lbs (173cm => 86.2kg)
· 5’10” => max 199lbs (178cm => 90.3kg)
· 6’0” => max 207lbs (183cm => 93.9kg)
· 6’2” => max 216lbs (188cm => 98.0kg)

This is NOT your lean body mass, this is your total body-weight when you step on the scale for your given height and at 10% body-fat.”

According to this I should be able to gain around another 20kg of muscle! However, his calculations were based on champion bodybuilders and athletes, who we can guess were all probably genetically gifted individuals. I think Martin’s calculations are more realistic, albeit disappointingly:-( Still, I won’t grumble at an 8kg muscle increase if it ever happens!



Here’s the full article related to the above comment


Dear Andy, gracious and fair Prince of LeanGains,

I hate to disagree with you, Martin, and Lyle, but I’m just finishing up my dream bulk, and at 175cm I’ve reached a healthy 90kg. I estimate that I’m carrying maybe 3kg of fat maximum, so I’m looking to cut down to a ripped all natural 88kg. My question for you is:

What will happen to Martin’s formula now you have my compelling new evidence?
What are my macros?

Only joking. But seriously, I know how you feel about this so you don’t have to answer if you don’t want to. After my dream bulk would you say that it’s safe to assume that my LM is approaching my genetic max, ie. about 75kg at 6% body fat? I’d rather guess my LM using that than looking at pictures of my lard-ass and thinking up bodyfat percentages, but I don’t wanna make the schoolboy error of thinking I’m more developed than I am.

Now I’m off to buy a new suit.

Ever lovingly,

The Duke


Dear Andy, great and benevolent Prince,

Thanks for your detailed reply. I am humbled by your praise. And also blushing just a little bit.

As you know, I am now embarking merrily on my cut. Which after your sage advice would appear to mean that I have a good 15kg to lose. Yikes! This one’s for you. If I do a good job I hope I get a chance at the results wall. Detailed data coming your way in a few months time with regard to that one.

I’m already looking forward to going for that fabled 73kg LBM on my next dream bulk. Or maybe I’ll just make it a slow bulk and save all the cutting afterwards. It all depends if I can stay off the buffet steak and chocolate fondued icecream.

Looking forward to your next kick-ass article, whether it flabby and funny, or shredded-lean and technical.

Appreciatively yours,

The Duke

Neil C
Neil C

Off topic, but interesting 3 part article on BBC website on IF



BTW, I did not state “that why Martin’s failed” – I stated/implied that he failed to release his “book”, which he often talked about on Leangains.

He even “sincerely apologised” to his many readers for not releasing the “book” in one of his last posts “Consequence & Clarity” on 8th January, 2013.

I’m a follower of Martin Berkhans’ Leangains concepts, but I’ve found that RippedBody presents the information in a more digestible context.


Paul Fisher
Paul Fisher

Thumbs up


Great article Andy!


Great article Andy, and I’ll agree that you should take credit for organizing the information on Leangains in such a pedagogical manner. I’ll especially like these more ambitious series of articles.

Anyway, any pics on your own progress coming up soon? Would be fun to see and read, haven’t seen any in a while. 🙂


This logic and patience stuff is hurting my brain. 😉

Good article, and a timely reminder of what a trainee can, and cannot achieve.

One question: you only ever describe cutting or slow bulking. In your opinion (research supported?), is there ever any point to bulking, and then cutting? In other words, is it any faster to gain muscle while you’re gaining fat, or do you gain the same amount of muscle with training plus protein intake, whether or not you’re losing or gaining fat? Does that question even make sense?

eg: Your 155lb/20%BF snowboarder friend. You’re saying he’s 124lbs lean mass now, and at the end of 12 months, his maximum lean mass after 2lbs/mo of muscle gain, will be ~148lbs, ideally with 10% BF bringing his ideal body weight to 163lbs by the end of 12/31/2014. (assuming my math is correct lol)

Are you saying, at the end of that 12 months, he’ll get to exactly the same 163lbs/10%BF, whether or not he chooses to either bulk up to 190/22%BF first, and then cut to 163/10%BF, or cut to 136lbs/10%BF first and then slow-bulk up to 163/10%?

His 2lbs max muscle/mo gain is the same, and his predicted strength gains will be identical, regardless of whether he cuts first then slow bulks, or bulks first then cuts?


Lyle doesn’t specifically address my question, in that article, as I’m talking absolute muscle gain, not relative gain. I totally get that fat guys lose fat faster than skinny guys.

Nowhere in there, however, does it say a fat guy who diets to lean, then starts his slow bulk, will gain more absolute muscle mass, in the same amount of time, than that same fat guy would gain if he’d bulked first and then cut. Or did I miss that paragraph?


Can’t wait to forward this article to a few of my friends. They are in the middle of their “winter bulk”. =)


Nice post… Keep it up 😉


Another article that will work for few “fanboys”. The recipe is easy: look at someone of the size/weight you want to become. Check out his lifts, are you there? Most likely no, so do whatever it takes to get there and then do worry about these being fat nuances.

Brad Collins
Brad Collins

Do you mean to tell me the four pounds I increased from last week wasn’t muscle and was in fact only water weight from Christmas indulgences? Damn you!


This is pleasantly reassuring.

For my first slow bulk I gained about 5 lbs over the course of six months. Being somewhere between intermediate and advanced, it seems my gains were right on target.


Wow, impressive start of the article. The rant-type introduction is great. This one goes right next to the infamous Fuckarounditis article we all know so well…..

Thanks Andy 😀


Don’t sell yourself short Andy – your website encapsulates the whole Leangains concept in a more structured manner than the original website – I believe Mr. Berkhan’s failure revolves around him not coming up with his “book”, one that consolidates everything on his website to become a reference manual for all those interested in this style of diet/exercise management.


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