Anabolic Burst Cycling of Diet and Exercise (ABCDE) – Torbjorn Akerfeldt – Part 2

Part 2 of the Anabolic Burst Cycling System:


In the last issue of Muscle Media 2000, I had the pleasure of introducing you to an absolutely fascinating, new nutrition concept developed by a Swedish scientist and bodybuilder named Torbjorn Akerfeldt. That article revealed how going on acute calorie cycles–overfeeding for two weeks, followed by dieting for two weeks–may allow bodybuilders to pack on new muscle size and strength at a phenomenal rate, while not experiencing an increase in bodyfat (the almost unavoidable downside of “megacalorie” nutrition programs). Torbjorn explained the scientific rationale behind this exciting new program. In this article, we’ll explore more of Akerfeldt’s new theories about how to build muscle size and strength.


Bill Phillips: In Part 1 of this feature, we discussed how bodybuilders can increase gains by overfeeding for 14 days and then going on a low-calorie diet for a couple of weeks. Can you briefly review that theory?

Torbjorn Akerfeldt: First of all, I’d like to emphasize that anyone who wants to truly understand Part 2 of this article needs to thoroughly review Part 1. [Part 1 of this article can also be found on page 84 of the March 1997 issue of MM2K. Back issues are available by calling 1-800-297-9776.] Basically, my new program is based on the fundamental principle that the body is simply not very effective in building muscle and burning fat at the same time. There are only a few exceptions to this rule, such as if you’re on supra-physiological doses of anabolic/androgenic steroids or if you’re a beginning bodybuilder with less than a year of training. Beginners’ bodies adapt very efficiently. In experienced trainers, the body is more reluctant to change. There are several mechanisms behind this; i.e., enzymatic, hormonal, metabolic, switching of fiber types, etc.

To overcome this, I have developed the Anabolic Burst Cycling system where, during the first period, you deliberately induce a metabolic environment aimed for anabolic action, followed by a period where you stimulate anti-catabolic mechanisms while focusing on fat loss. One way of doing this is by cycling your calorie intake. Other ways are to cycle the macronutrient ratio of the diet, to apply a variety of training strategies, and to take nutritional supplements. For this to work, it must be done in a coordinated and precise manner. This is what my Anabolic Burst Cycling of Diet and Exercise (ABCDE) program is about. It’s really a way to “trick” the body into putting on muscle while not increasing fat mass over the long term.

BP: As I recall, this theory is backed by some pretty compelling science. Is this correct?

TA: Yes, it is. Scientific studies have shown a significant increase in lean body mass during overfeeding. This is mainly due to a boost in anabolic hormones during the first two weeks of a high-calorie diet. These hormones include testosterone, insulin, and IGF-1, which are released in a perfect ratio for muscle anabolism.7 Not even Dan Duchaine or Michael Mooney on smart drugs could create a more perfect muscle-building stack.

A recent study reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that when men who were consuming a maintenance-calorie diet went on a high-calorie diet (one providing approximately 1,500 calories more than maintenance), they gained, on average, 4.4 lbs of lean body mass in only 12 days!11 These studies and others support my theory that the body is very efficient at storing extra calories as actin and myosin [constituents of myocytes] in muscle fibers during short-term overfeeding. Some people may argue this increase does not necessarily consist of only skeletal muscle, but one study showed increases in LBM due to overfeeding indeed occurred in skeletal muscle but not in non-muscle LBM.5

BP: But we’re not necessarily talking about the old-fashioned “megacalorie madness” where you pig out for months at a time, right?

TA: No, not at all. High-calorie diets consumed over the long term increase fat as much or more than muscle. This is a mistake bodybuilders have been making for decades. They stay on high-calorie diets–what you refer to as “megacalorie madness”–for too long. The benefits of overfeeding are quickly realized. Prolonged overfeeding leads to a large and undesirable increase in bodyfat. My system is based on acute or “whiplash” calorie cycling. This is a breakthrough for athletes who have struggled to make gains in muscle size and strength–especially experienced trainers who have been stuck at plateaus for a long period of time.

I have experimented with this program myself and have tested it on some of my colleagues, and the results are literally “drug like.” Quite simply, you get big and strong fast! And you don’t get fat!

BP: So basically, when you pig out for two weeks, your body releases testosterone, insulin, and IGF-1 to help deposit or “store” those calories as muscle tissue. Are any other hormones in the body affected by calorie cycling?

TA: Yes, most definitely. One that your readers might recognize is called leptin. This hormone is by far the most interesting one for fat loss. Unfortunately, we develop resistance to this hormone very easily when it is present at chronically [long term] elevated levels.3 However, this will not happen with my system. The high-calorie phase “primes” the effects of leptin, so it’s very effective during the fat-loss/ dieting phase. There is also an increase in T3 [the “active” form of thyroid hormone], adrenaline, and noradrenaline-all help with fat loss.

Going back and forth between low- and high-calorie diets is a fantastic way to keep your anabolic hormones and your lipolytic [fat-burning] hormones and enzymes, as well as receptors primed at all times.

BP: I like what I hear. In Part 1 of our interview, one of the things you talked about that I, quite honestly, didn’t really understand but could tell you felt strongly about was the whole concept of the importance of intramuscular/ intracellular triglyceride levels. How could having fat inside your muscle cells help you gain size and strength?

TA: This is a technically difficult question to answer. But, it’s a very important subject–one you American bodybuilding experts have overlooked.

First of all, intracellular triglycerides are an important source of energy for athletes. A normal, 70-kg [154-lb] man with 15% bodyfat has close to 2 lbs of fat in his muscle cells; half of this is readily available as stored triglycerides. Athletes have an even larger amount of intracellular triglycerides and much more efficient utilization.10 If we extrapolate this for a 220-lb bodybuilder, we’ll come up with 2 lbs of triglycerides. This represents an energy reserve equal to approximately 8,000 calories-that’s more than twice the energy your body stores in glycogen, which virtually everyone believes is the major “muscle fuel” for athletes.

Next, an increase in intracellular triglycerides is a trigger of protein synthesis; i.e., muscle anabolism. In other words, it’s a signal that says, “Hey, we have a steady supply of calories-it’s time to build muscle!” Not to mention high levels of triglycerides within muscle cells increase your pump more than when the cells are full of glycogen alone!

In a nutshell, intracellular triglycerides play a very important role in weight-training-induced muscle growth. They help trigger anabolism, they supply energy for your workouts, they help construct muscle cell membranes, and they have a cell-hydrating/cell-volumizing effect by sparing glycogen. The downside is, high levels of intracellular triglycerides will eventually lead to insulin resistance.

BP: Another thing you mentioned in Part 1 of this interview was something called “bag enlargement,” which apparently has something to do with stretching the connective tissue around muscle fibers in order to enhance growth. How did you come up with this theory?

TA: The “bag theory” is not mine–it was developed by a scientist named D.J. Millward, a well-known researcher who has extensively studied the muscle-building process. His immense knowledge and research could help a lot of bodybuilders. Basically, Millward has observed three things: 1) the almost unlimited extent to which increased food intake can promote protein deposition during “catch-up growth” in malnourished patients, 2) both active and passive stretch will mediate anabolic and anti-catabolic influences, and 3) the cessation of normal muscle growth coincides with the cessation of bone growth.

There are “connective sheets” surrounding the individual muscle fiber [endomysium], bundles of muscle cells [perimysium], and the entire muscle [epimysium]. These sheets can be thought of as a series of “bags” acting to conduct the contractile force generated by actin and myosin in muscle fibers to the bone by the tendon.

Millward postulates that bag filling and enlargement may increase muscle development. You see, these bags have a minimum elasticity, at least compared to the cell membranes they enclose, so they’ll actually inhibit muscle growth–you might think of them as very tight “girdles” that prevent the expansion of tissue.

BP: Doesn’t “cell volumizing” help stretch these bags?

TA: Not really. The anabolic state of the muscle fiber does depend on its state of hydration, which is secondary to the amount of osmotic [the ability to attract water] substances in the cells, such as sodium, potassium, creatine, proteins, glycogen, and free amino acids like glutamine.9 The anabolic phase of my program is designed to maximize this cell-volumizing effect. Within a few days of starting a properly supplemented, high-calorie anabolic phase, your cells will be jam-packed with the aforementioned nutrients and intracellular triglycerides. They’ll be “volumized” to the max. A cell will literally swell to fill the entire space of its connective-tissue compartment or, as Millward calls it, “bag.” You’ll feel “pumped” even when you’re not training.

Interestingly, Millward believes that when this occurs, it will elicit a signal to reduce the appetite–this is just one of many regulatory feedback mechanisms that limit the rate of growth in mammals. This means that a few days into the anabolic/bulking phase of my program, you will probably not have a ferocious appetite, but you must keep eating if you want to grow!

Now, to build extraordinary muscle mass, you need to somehow stretch this “girdle” that confines your muscle tissue. The osmotic gradient over the cell membrane is not strong enough to stretch this tissue all that much; however, the blood rushing into the muscle during resistance training [i.e., the pump] is strong enough to stretch these bags to some extent. This is how “the pump” contributes to muscle growth. It seems, as Arnold and many other famous bodybuilders have reported, the pump is associated with muscle growth. This is very likely due to the compartmental stretching or expansion that is induced by this swelling of muscles while they’re trained and full of blood.

Millward confirms “…a key feature of skeletal muscle growth appears to be that it is limited by connective-tissue growth, which controls myofiber diameter and length.” Somehow you must stretch this connective tissue–this tight girdle around muscle tissue–to experience dramatic muscle growth. This is very important. All bodybuilders must do this.

Show me a “natural” bodybuilder who is big, muscular, and cut, and you will show me a bodybuilder who has either used steroids in the past and/or has been overeating in the past; thus, he increased his potential for muscle growth by stretching the space for myofibers at one time. Once you have already expanded the connective tissue around muscles, you can be natural with a more normal calorie intake while still being relatively big.

This is what “muscle memory” is really all about. People have talked about this for decades in bodybuilding circles. They make the observation that a bodybuilder who was big in the past is able to gain a significant amount of muscle size–let’s say he builds up some muscular 19-inch arms, then he stops training for a few months and loses a lot of mass, and his arms atrophy to 161/2 inches. Whereas the first time it took him years to gain 2 1/2 inches of muscular mass on his arms, this time he’ll be able to add that bulk back in only a couple of months with proper training, nutrition, and supplementation. The explanation for this “muscle-memory phenomenon” is that the connective tissue around the muscle fibers has been previously stretched; thus, rapid growth is possible.

BP: This makes sense. But, if you’ve never had 19-inch arms, how do you get this tissue to stretch?

TA: You have to bulk up at some point. In the past, as we’ve discussed, this usually meant going on prolonged periods of overfeeding, basically turning yourself into a blimp, and then cutting up–going on a brutal diet for months and months. Usually, these long, painful diets caused the loss of almost all the muscle mass you gained during the bulking phase, but they did serve one purpose–they stretched the connective tissue around the muscles.

We know that to maximize muscle growth we need to make sure the cell is properly hydrated and volumized. This is accomplished during the overfeeding phase of my Anabolic Burst Cycling program. Next, you need to get a good, solid pump during the workout and, beyond that, if you’re looking for greater growth, you can now apply extreme stretching while being pumped.

The American bodybuilding coach John Parillo has made the same observation I have–that extreme stretching when the muscle is pumped, which he refers to as “fascia stretching,” results in increased muscular growth. Research at Ohio State University also demonstrates that the amount of myosin heavy chains–a very important contractile protein in skeletal muscle–is increased by stretching.1 The result is obvious within a short period of time. Parillo’s theory is that you stretch the fascia around the muscle which, according to him, is limiting muscle growth. However, research supports the idea that the endomysium and perimysium are involved in this limitation of growth–not necessarily the fascia.

What we are basically trying to do is further remodel that encumbering girdle around muscle tissue by stretching. This theory beautifully explains the perfect coordination between the lengthening of the skeleton–and thus a passive stretch of the connective tissue in muscle–and the increased muscle bulk in fast-growing teenagers. This is something few people think about, but when a teenager goes through rapid bone growth and experiences a dramatic increase in muscle mass during puberty, the muscle hypertrophy usually ends when the bones stop growing. Millward has documented that lean body mass increases in direct proportion to height in normal human beings.

Some “old-time” body-builders performed exercises with extreme stretching while they were pumped. I’m not sure how they figured out this was important, but some did. One of them was Arnold. He would perform dumbbell flyes on a flat bench in a relatively slow, high-rep manner after completely pumping up his chest. He could lower the dumbbells until they almost touched the floor! That’s a brutal stretch. Was it a coincidence that Arnold built what was unarguably one of the most well-developed pair of pecs ever, in a day and age when steroid use was “minuscule” compared to what today’s champs are using? I think not. Arnold used to really stretch out his lats while doing low rowing and high-cable pulldowns, too. And, he did pullovers which are an amazingly effective stretching exercise that you American lifters seem to have forgotten about.

You can stretch during your lifts and between them. But, I only recommend extreme stretching during the second week of the bulking phase of my system. This is when the muscles will get incredibly pumped, and recuperation will be maximal. The stretch-induced fusion and increased nuclei number peak within a week.15 This is one of the reasons to limit the use of extreme stretching to one week.

Another stimulus for remodeling is the breakdown of connective tissue during eccentric training. I recommend your readers review Charles Poliquin’s article on this subject in the January 1996 issue of MM2K ( The Science of Eccentric Training) and your article on this topic in the April 1996 issue ( A Sure Thing in a World of Confusion).

IndentationBy the way, to support the formation of new connective tissue after you’ve damaged it by pumping up and stretching, I would recommend that you take at least one gram of Vitamin C before your workouts and make sure your total daily intake is at least three grams. There is evidence that Vitamin C not only supports hydroxylation in collagen synthesis but also works almost as a growth factor in the synthesis of connective tissue.8

IndentationAnyway, through proper eccentric training and stretching while being pumped, you will damage the connective tissue and force it to further remodel into a “larger bag.” The stretching of the fiber will stimulate membrane-bound enzyme complexes which will trigger a release of growth factors such as TGF-beta, FGF, and IGF-1 from the muscle.13 These growth factors are all important for remodeling and synthesis of connective tissue. As I mentioned in Part 1 of this interview, IGF-1 and FGF stimulate the development of satellite cells and their fusion with muscle fibers to deliver nuclei, thus, new muscle mass, so long as the inner environment is optimal, which it is during the end of the anabolic phase.

Millward’s theory, combined with my Anabolic Burst Cycling theory, beautifully explains what happens during puberty. To start with, there is an increase in testosterone and growth hormone. This, together with intracellular triglycerides, as mentioned earlier, will increase the amount of insulin the body releases. Insulin is the main factor responsible for transporting osmotic substances, such as glucose, amino acids, and creatine, into muscle fibers, which is why people are seeing such great results while taking creatine monohydrate with an insulin-releasing carbohydrate. Hence, the muscle will swell. At the same time, growth hormone is contributing to an increase in bone length; thus, a passive stretch is placed on the muscle with local IGF-1 being released. Since both GH and its insulin levels are elevated, IGF-1 production in the liver is stimulated, which adds further growth to the whole body. Are you beginning to get the picture?

During the anabolic phase of my ABCDE system, we mimic the mechanisms of pubescent metabolism. You may think I’m nagging about puberty, but I cannot emphasize enough the importance of trying to replicate this natural phenomenon. During puberty, you put on muscle, even without training, and on top of that, you keep this muscle for virtually your whole life. That’s the type of quality growth that’s possible with my new system.

BP: So when I’m on the bulking phase of your program, my muscles are being pumped full of nutrients and fluid, so when I work out, I’ll get pumped up like I’m on ‘roids. And, to maximize growth during this phase, I should stretch a lot during my exercises and between them, while I’m pumped. During the second week of the bulking phase, days 7-14, I should really stretch hard and do very intense eccentric reps [negatives]. And, during this time, I might benefit from taking a gram of Vitamin C before I work out and taking a total of three grams a day.

TA: Yes. Very good, Bill.

BP: Do I need to stretch and do negatives or take Vitamin C during the cutting phase?

TA: No. During the low-calorie phase, we are not trying to remodel connective tissue. The emphasis is on fat burning. Of course–for other reasons–one gram of Vitamin C daily or moderate stretching could be useful during the “non-remodeling” phase. Intense negatives, on the other hand, must be avoided.

BP: Let’s talk more about some of the specific details of your program. It seems that alternating between low- and high-calorie diet phases is basically the cornerstone of this system. How many calories are we talking about during each phase?

TA: In my upcoming book, I will go into great detail about this. But as a guideline, a place to start, for the high-calorie phase, someone like you, who has relatively low bodyfat and weighs around 200 lbs, will probably need to eat around 4,000 to 5,000 calories a day. You eat like this for 14 days in a row. Each person will need some adjustments to this number. Since I understand you sit at a desk 12 hours a day, you may need only 4,000. During the dieting/fat-loss phase, you would eat about half this much.

This is just a rough place to start–a person’s activity level [whether someone has a desk job or is a construction worker could make a big difference] and a person’s muscle mass and metabolism also come into play. If a bodybuilder is following this recommendation and not gaining weight during the bulking phase, I would recommend increasing calorie intake by 500 calories a day, for a week, and if a substantial weight gain is not realized, I would take it up another 500 calories the next week. If you’re working out hard, you should be gaining three pounds a week on the bulking phase.

Likewise, if someone is not losing bodyweight on the low-calorie phase, I would recommend decreasing calorie intake by 300 calories a day, per week.

Remember that each time you start an anabolic phase, you may need to increase your calorie intake, as long as you’re gaining lean body mass. For example, if you go from 190 to 195 lbs during your first anabolic and fat-burning cycle, you should add about 100 more calories to your diet per day for the next cycle.

BP: Now I understand that supplements like creatine, chromium, and HMB are some of the other supplements you’ve experimented with. What types of supplements should someone use, and how should they use them, when following your Anabolic Burst Cycling program?

TA: Because this area has not been extensively studied, there’s really no concrete data available that tells us exactly how various supplements such as creatine monohydrate, chromium, vanadyl sulfate, etc. work while a person is on a high- or low-calorie diet. The literature offers very little to the scientist who is interested in what type of additive effects and/or synergy might be created by using supplements in a “stacking” manner. Of course, the science of supplements which enhance performance, muscle metabolism, and fat oxidation is in its infancy. I want to make sure I preface any discussion about supplements with this information because we are largely speculating. Dan Duchaine, Dr. Mauro DiPasquale, and you, Bill, are all familiar with the various supplements bodybuilders might benefit from, but you all have different theories on how those compounds should be taken. Some of these ideas come from your own personal experiences, some come from empirical [word of mouth] data, and some come from extrapolations of scientific literature. Suffice it to say, at this point we have no “proof” there is a completely right or wrong way to use supplements. What I will touch on here and discuss in more detail in future MM2K articles is an outline of my own theories of how the use of various supplements may enhance the effects of the Anabolic Burst Cycling system.

As you might have already guessed, my theory on supplement use is somewhat parallel to my theory on nutrition–variety is paramount. However, “random shotgunning” or taking supplements with no rhyme or reason is not the best plan either.

I believe a person can maximize the effects of supplements as well as save money by cycling supplements.

In Sweden, a bottle of 120 capsules of HMB costs $65! You Americans should feel lucky! I have to “ration” my supplement use as I am not made of money.

Nutritional supplements may act in a manner similar to drugs in that the body might adapt and eventually “override” their effects, just as it would to certain drugs. The body adapts to virtually everything, which is why, if you don’t want to stay the same–if you want to grow–you have to constantly change things. An analogy between supplements and drugs can be made. For example, taking an antibiotic for two weeks to treat an infection is often effective. However, you cannot prevent infections by taking an antibiotic every single day for months and months. The compound would become ineffective. The same can be said of many drugs, and this may be true of supplements, too.

Now, as far as supplements go, I would say creatine monohydrate is the most important supplement during my Anabolic Burst Cycling program. It is virtually impossible to consume the optimal amounts of creatine through whole foods; thus, a supplement is required. My experiments lead me to theorize that creatine can be cycled. I use 20 to 30 grams per day during the first 6 days of a bulking phase, and then I repeat this at a lower dose of 10 grams a day for the first week of the dieting phase. By taking creatine, you fill up the myocyte, which is also known as a muscle fiber or a muscle cell, with creatine phosphate and potentiate cell volumizing. At the same time, new studies show creatine might improve insulin sensitivity and blood lipid profiles.6

As I mentioned, insulin sensitivity is a crucial factor for bodybuilders–both for improving body composition and maintaining proper health. Several supplements may be effective for increasing insulin sensitivity and glycogen storage. These include chromium, vanadyl sulfate, and certain fatty acids. Studies with diabetic patients involving vanadyl sulfate show that the compound continues to exert a positive effect for at least two weeks after its use has been discontinued.4 Having this in mind, I recommend using vanadyl sulfate and chromium in a cycling pattern.

One supplement that you don’t hear much about, but which I think could be valuable to bodybuilders, is sodium phosphate–the mineral form is called phosphorus. It is inexpensive but sometimes difficult to find. I suggest giving it a try, in a loading manner, for four days, consuming three or four grams a day. Several studies have shown that phosphate used this way increases both anaerobic and aerobic performance.2,12,14 How-ever, I recommend phosphate in my program because if you are deficient in intracellular phosphate during the heavy eccentric-training portion and extreme stretching–which should be conducted during the second week of the bulking phase–you may have inefficient recovery. [By the way, Phosphagen HP is fortified with phosphates.]

Furthermore, intracellular phosphate is used to create creatine phosphate and for the formation of phospholipids to meet the need for substrates of the plasma membrane of expanding muscle fibers. Another important property of phosphate is that it is the most important intracellular buffer; i.e., it will reduce the metabolic acidosis caused by intense exercise. Acidosis enhances protein breakdown and suppresses the effectiveness of growth hormone and IGF-1. In contrast, reducing the acidosis in the blood–some experts propose with bicarbonate–is probably not a good idea since there are indications that a low pH extracellularly interferes with the anabolic signal for rebuilding the damaged myocyte.

Conjugated linoleic acid [CLA], a supplement which I have experimented with, may be incorporated into a cell membrane, thereby increasing the inflow of nutrients. I’ll discuss this interesting area in our next article. There is also evidence that HMB has a similar ability. Both CLA and HMB may increase the amount of intracellular triglycerides, which is good so long as you can keep insulin sensitivity high. Glutamine may also play an important role in my program. Alpha-lipoic acid may have some interesting bodybuilding applications, too. HCA could also elicit a nice response in some individuals. The reason behind this is that the hypercaloric diet will eventually increase the activity of fat-storing enzymes making the conversion of carbohydrates to fat very effective. This could partly be blocked by using HCA during the last days of the anabolic phase. If you’re over 35, you may also need to supplement with selenium since it’s been shown that the age- related decrease in thyroid function is attenuated by selenium. I’ll talk more about these topics in Part 3 of this feature.

Conclusion

Wow! This really is fascinating stuff–I’ve been following bodybuilding for 16 years, and to be honest, I’ve never found bodybuilding nutrition to be that exciting of a topic; that is, until now. Torbjorn Akerfeldt’s revolutionary theories in this area have convinced me there is more to optimal nutrition than meets the eye–more to it than simply eating a high-protein diet and consuming more calories for a period of months if you want to bulk up and dieting for weeks and weeks if you want to get cut. This is exciting news for all bodybuilders–especially those of us who are training drug free and are looking for any advantage we can get–especially one that’s safe and legal!

If you give this program a try, keep track of exactly how it works for you–chart your bodyweight, bodyfat percentage, strength, etc., and write to me and let me know how much muscle you gain. I’ll pass your feedback, and mine, along in Part 3 of this feature, which will appear in the next issue of Muscle Media 2000! In this upcoming article, we’ll talk more about nutrition, supplements, exercise, and Torbjorn’s theory on “protein cycling,” which I guarantee you’ll find fascinating!


Taking the Anabolic Burst Cycling
System for a Test Drive

By Bill Phillips


Like many of you, I found Torbjorn Akerfeldt’s theories very exciting, and I’ve been eager to give them a try. I’ve carefully analyzed his ideas and the science which supports them, and I’ve proceeded to custom design a nutrition, training, and supplementation program for my first “trial run” of the Anabolic Burst Cycling system.

In Torbjorn’s forthcoming book, he’ll go into great detail about micro-nutrition and supplement cycles that he is designing to maximize the effects of this program. All these intricacies will be spelled out in his book, but for now, based on my knowledge of his theories, I have put together a program which I think will help me gain new size and strength, without getting fat. Here’s my plan:

The Bulking Phase

Calories:

I’m going to start this system by consuming 1,500 more calories per day than my maintenance energy requirements. My body burns only around 2,400-2,800 calories a day because I’m not very active. I basically sit behind a desk all day and then work out for an hour. I probably burn fewer calories each day than those of you who take part in a lot of recreational sports, have physically demanding jobs, etc. Anyway, for me, 2,400-2,800 calories a day is my maintenance intake. So, I’m going to consume around 4,000-4,200 calories per day to start with. If I don’t put on at least three pounds the first week, I’ll go up to about 4,700 calories a day the second week. My plan is to consume 6 meals every day, each with about 500 to 800 calories.

Protein, Carbs, and Fat:

Torbjorn believes that on the bulking phase, a 20% protein, 50% carb, and 30% fat macronutrient profile will work well. I think I’ll go with a bit more protein, but Torbjorn emphasizes that a relatively high level of carbs consumed while bulking will maximize insulin output and help promote anabolism. An example of what I’m planning for an average day on my bulking diet is indicated in the chart below.

Example of My Daily Nutrition Program

During the Bulking Phase

&nbsp &nbsp Protein
Grams
Carb
Grams
Fat
Grams
Cal
7:30 a.m. One bowl of oatmeal
16 oz skim milk
Omelet with 2 whole eggs plus 8 egg whites
One whole grapefruit
One gram of Vitamin C
6
16
55
1
25
24
10
19
2
1
20
0
144
169
440
80
10:00 a.m. Myoplex Plus Deluxe mixed
with 16 oz skim milk
One serving of Phosphagen HP

58

49
35

3

469
140
Noon Cheeseburger with 6 oz of lean ground beef,
lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise.
16 oz of water

58

20

54

798
3:30 p.m. Myoplex Plus Deluxe with 16 oz skim milk 58 49 3 469
5:00 p.m. PR Bar
One gram of Vitamin C
14
19
6
190
6:00 p.m. Workout
7:00 p.m. Two servings of Phosphagen HP 70 280
8:30 p.m. Four chicken enchiladas with rice
16 oz of water
35
128
18
808
10:30 p.m. Two bowls of frosted Cheerios,
12 oz of skim milk
One gram of Vitamin C
4
12
50
18
2
1
240
128
&nbsp TOTALS 317 516 110 4355

Training:

As far as workouts go, I plan to do only weightlifting during the bulking phase–no aerobics. I’m going to train four times a week, lifting as much weight as possible for relatively low reps. For example, for chest, after a few warm-up sets on the flat barbell bench, I’m going to do 5 sets of between 3 and 8 repetitions with 275 to 325 lbs. Then I’m going to do dumbbell flyes–four sets of five to eight reps, using as much weight as I possibly can yet incorporating a deep stretch into the movement. And I’m going to hit the eccentric (negative) hard, especially during the second week of each bulking phase. I’ll finish my chest work with 2 sets of pullovers, using moderate weight for 10 to 12 reps. I plan to rest a full three minutes between sets, so I’ll recover my strength and can lift heavy.

As Torbjorn explained in this article, it is important to stretch the connective tissue around muscle cells as much as possible while bulking up. I’ll do this by stretching between exercises and actually doing as much stretching as I can during exercises. For example, on the lat pulldown and the low-pulley row, I’ll really stretch out the lats. On exercises like the dumbbell triceps extension, I’ll lower the weight as far as I can behind my head and really extend those muscles, and on exercises like the dumbbell preacher curl, I’ll extend the biceps muscles and stretch them out, all the way.

Supplements:

As far as supplements go, during the anabolic phase, I’m going to have three or four servings of Phosphagen HP a day (I’ll drink two right after I work out) to increase insulin output and creatine uptake by my muscle cells. I’m also going to use chromium and vanadyl sulfate in an effort to maximize insulin’s anabolic actions.
Insulin is one of the main anabolic agents in this “hormone cocktail” that is elevated when you start overfeeding. I’ll get the chromium and the vanadyl from the total-nutrition supplement I’ll be using, which is Myoplex Plus Deluxe. I’m also going to supplement with three grams of Vitamin C a day during this bulking phase.

The Cutting Phase

Calories:

After two weeks of overfeeding, I’m going to “shift gears” and go on a low-calorie diet. Because I’ll be trying to lose fat at a very rapid pace during this two-week cutting period, I’ll need to create a significant energy deficit. I think I’ll have to go down to around 1,600-1,800 calories a day for 14 days in order to accomplish my objective. Basically, I’m going to starve my ass off. I plan to eat small meals often throughout the day.

Protein, Carbs, and Fat:

During the cutting phase, I’m going to reduce my carbohydrate intake substantially. I’ll be consuming a diet that will be around 40-45% protein, 40-45% carbs, and 10-20% fat.

An example of what an average day’s food intake might be on the low-calorie phase is shown below.

Example of My Daily Nutrition Program

During the Cutting Phase

&nbsp &nbsp Protein
Grams
Carb
Grams
Fat
Grams
Cal
7:00 a.m. 200 mg caffeine, 25 mg ephedrine,
300 mg aspirin
(on aerobic training days only)
7:30 a.m. 30 minutes aerobics on stationary bike
9:00 a.m. Myoplex Plus with 16 oz of water
mixed with one serving of BetaGen
42
24
2
2
280
10
11:00 a.m. Fat-free yogurt
Apple
16 oz of water
7

13
21


82
84
12:00 p.m. One grilled, skinless chicken breast
One medium-sized baked potato
with 2 Tbsp ketchup
16 oz of water
53
5
1

51
7
6


266
224
32
3:00 p.m. Myoplex Plus with 16 oz of water
mixed with one serving of BetaGen
42
24
2
2
280
10
6:30 p.m. Weight-training workout
7:30 p.m. One serving of BetaGen mixed with
one serving of CytoVol

2
4

10
45
8:00 p.m. 4 oz grilled salmon
Salad with fat-free dressing
Steamed vegetables
16 oz of water
29
5
3

3
6
7


179
32
36
10:30 p.m. Fat-free yogurt
One serving of BetaGen mixed with
one serving of CytoVol
7

13
2
4


82
10
45
&nbsp TOTALS 194 178 17 1707

Training:

Four days a week I’m going to try to do a minimum of 20 minutes (but hopefully as much as 30 or 40 minutes) of aerobic exercise, on an empty stomach in the morning, to accelerate fat loss. After I work out, I’ll wait about an hour before I eat (my body will continue to burn fat for fuel at an accelerated rate after exercise). By then, I’ll probably have to eat–I’ll be starving.

During this phase, I’m going to train with weights only three days a week, doing moderate weight, relatively high reps, and relatively low intensity.

My goal during this two-week period is to get rid of bodyfat while maintaining muscle mass. This phase is not about stretching the connective tissue or gaining muscle, so I’m not going to exaggerate the stretching components on my exercises, nor am I going to work very hard on the eccentric reps. This is not the time for beating up my muscles–protein synthesis will probably be down during this phase, and recovery will be difficult. I plan to work out Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for about 45 minutes with weights and do completely different exercises than I did during the bulking phase. And, like I said, I don’t plan to really push it that hard.

Supplements:

Because I know caffeine can stimulate the release of fatty acids for use as fuel, especially in a fasted state, as soon as I get out of bed on the mornings I’m going to be doing aerobic exercise, I plan to take 200 mg of caffeine, 25 mg of ephedrine, and one aspirin. (This is a potent fat-burning stack which works well for a lot of lifters but one which Torbjorn does not “endorse” because these are considered serious drugs in Sweden. And as a medical professional, he does not believe in the self-administration of any drugs. I have used caffeine and ephedrine before, and I tolerate them well.)

I also plan to use BetaGen (EAS’ new creatine and HMB formula) and CytoVol (EAS’ new Glutamine Preservation System). Because my primary goal during the dieting phase is to lose fat while attempting to minimize the loss of muscle tissue, the use of anti-catabolic supplements like glutamine and HMB is important. I’m going to use BetaGen instead of Phosphagen HP during the dieting phase because I’ll be trying to keep my insulin levels relatively low and stable. (Phosphagen HP contains a good dose of carbs. BetaGen is virtually carb free.) After two straight weeks of consuming Phosphagen HP, my muscles are going to be jam-packed with creatine. I don’t think they’ll be able to hold any more, and consuming a maintenance dose during the fat-loss phase will ensure that my muscles don’t start losing stored creatine and suffer a loss of cell volume during the dieting period.

Creatine is one supplement I would not discontinue–I just don’t see any reason for it. Dr. Paul Greenhaff’s data from Nottingham University clearly shows that when you stop taking creatine, your muscle cells’ creatine concentrations return to normal–you lose the advantage it offers. I would no sooner cut creatine out of my diet than I would protein, vitamins and minerals, etc. However, I think there is some justification for cycling other supplements, and I think it makes sense to use more creatine when your cells are really starting to swell, like during the bulking phase. And, I don’t necessarily think it’s a must to use HMB during the bulking phase–but I do think it can be a huge benefit during the cutting cycle. Dr. Steve Nissen’s research on HMB shows it has significant protein-sparing/ anti-catabolic effects, and it may accelerate fat loss.

Throughout the program, I’m going to drink ample amounts of water–at least 80 to 100 oz a day.

The Goal: Get Bigger!

My goal is to put on six or seven pounds of bodyweight during the bulking phase which is a lot for me, considering I’ve been training for many years. According to the Anabolic Burst Cycling theory, if I do everything right, two-thirds of the weight I gain should be lean mass. During the cutting phase, I’m going to try to lose all of the fat mass I gained during the bulking phase, while hopefully retaining most of the muscle. Then, I’m going to immediately go back on another bulking phase. From what I hear, the second bulking cycle, after your body has been “primed” by a strict two-week dieting period, is when it really hits you–you notice your muscles getting drastically bigger and stronger. I’m looking forward to that!

I’ll check my bodyfat and scale weight each week to gauge my body composition alterations and develop a chart like Torbjorn’s in Part 1 of this series.

Conclusion

This particular program is my personal version of the Anabolic Burst Cycling system. It is not Torbjorn Akerfeldt’s exact recommendation. He has a few things he does differently–things he’ll discuss in his upcoming book on this topic. But, I know many of you, like myself, are ready to take this system for a “test drive,” so I thought I’d share my plan with you. I’m excited about it, and I think it’s going to work great. But, who knows, I might be wrong. I’m going to give it my best shot and fill you in on all the details. It might take a little trial and error to get things fine-tuned, but I’ve got a logical starting point and a system I think I can live (and grow!) with. And, it’s a system I would recommend you try also.

By the time you read this, my first Anabolic Burst Cycle will be well underway. In the next issue of Muscle Media 2000, I’ll give you the exact details on how it’s working for me, and I’ll pass along specific feedback from other Muscle Media 2000 readers who have already started this program.

References Cited


1 E.R. Blough, et al., “Developmental Myosin Expression in Fast Quail Muscle After Wing Weighting and Unweighting,” Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 27.5 (1995) : S142.

2 R. Cade, et al., “Effects of Phosphate Loading on 2,3-Diphosphoglycerate and Maximal Oxygen Uptake,” Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 16.3 (1984) : 263-268.

3 J.K. Caro, et al., “Decreased Cerebrospinal-Fluid/Serum Leptin Ratio in Obesity: A Possible Mechanism for Leptin Resistance,” Lancet 348.9021 (1996) : 159-161.

4 N. Cohen, et al., “Oral Vanadyl Sulfate Improves Hepatic and Peripheral Insulin Sensitivity in Patients with Non-Insulin-Dependent Diabetes Mellitus,” Journal of Clinical Investigation 95.6 (1995) : 2501-2509.

5 O. Dériaz, et al., “Lean-Body-Mass Composition and Resting Energy Expenditure Before and After Long-Term Overfeeding,” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 56.1 (1992) : 840-847.

6 C.P. Earnest, et al., “High-Performance Capillary Electrophoresis-Pure Creatine Monohydrate Reduces Blood Lipids in Men and Women,” Clinical Science 91 (1996) : 113-118.

7 G.B. Forbes, et al., “Hormonal Response to Overfeeding,” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 49.4 (1989) : 608-611.

8 J.C. Gessin, “Regulation of Collagen Synthesis in Human Dermal Fibroblasts in Contracted Collagen Gels by Ascorbic Acid, Growth Factors, and Inhibit of Lipid Peroxidation,” Experimental Cell Research 206.2 (1996) : 283-290.

9 D. Häussinger, “The Role of Cellular Hydration in the Regulation of Cell Function,” Journal of Biochemistry 313 (1996) : 697-710.

10 H. Hoppeler, et al., “The Ultrastructure of the Normal Human Skeletal Muscle: A Morphometric Analysis on Untrained Men, Women and Well Trained Orienteers,” European Journal of Applied Physiology (Germany, West) 344.3 (1973) : 217-232.

11 S.A. Jebb, et al., “Changes in Macronutrient Balance During Over- and Underfeeding Assessed by 12-Day Continuous Whole-Body Calorimetry,” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 64.3 (1996) : 259-266.

12 R.B. Kreider, et al., “Effects of Phosphate Loading on Metabolic and Myocardial Responses to Maximal and Endurance Exercise,” International Journal of Sports Nutrition 2.1 (1992) : 20-47.

13 D.J. Millward, et al., “A Protein-stat Mechanism for Regulation of Growth and Maintenance of the Lean Body Mass,” Nutrition Research Review 8 (1995) : 93-120.

14 L. Stewart, et al., “Phosphate Loading and Effects on VO2max in Trained Cyclists,” Research Quarterly 61 (1990) : 80-84.

15 P.K. Winchester, et al., “Satellite Cell Activation in the Stretch-Enlarged Anterior Latissimus Dorsi Muscle of the Adult Quail,” American Journal of Physiology 260.2 (1991) : C206-212.

Related links:
– Anabolic Burst Cycling of Diet and Exercise Part I:
http://wp.me/pN5Iq-78

or http://www.4web.dk/training/part1.htm
– Anabolic Burst Cycling of Diet and Exercise Part II:
http://wp.me/pN5Iq-eS

or http://www.4web.dk/training/part2.htm
– Anabolic Burst Cycling of Diet and Exercise Part III:
http://wp.me/pN5Iq-eZ

or http://www.4web.dk/training/part3.htm
– Anabolic Burst Cycling of Diet and Exercise Part IV :
http://wp.me/pN5Iq-f6

or http://www.4web.dk/training/part4.htm

– How to BULK UP Fast! (TRUTH about “Bulking and Cutting”) – Athlean-X

– Coach Charles Poliquin’s Take on Bulking Myths

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