Carb Cycling for Mass

Q: I saw your article on so I went to your site and got your workout, I’m 37, 6’1″ 189 and I’d estimate about 17-18% body fat based on photos online of body fat % pictures. Have been lifting weights recreationally for several years, but never really making good progress.

As far as diet, would you recommend using this calculator for body recomposition? If so, it’s recommending that I eat 182g protein, 70g carbs, 93g fat on rest days, and 182g protein, 381g carbs, 56g fat on training days. Or follow a different plan entirely? What do you think about that?

I don’t necessarily want to gain more weight, but want to add more visible muscle. I have some muscle, but long arms and legs. I have a definite chest that feels hard when I flex, but wish it to be more defined and visible. Unfortunately, other than the gym, I’m pretty sedentary due to work.

As far as your lifting program, how do you recommend determining what my six rep max is for a particular exercise?

Also, I see that you say it’s OK to pick a different exercise.  Do you mean per week, or alternate exercises throughout the workout week, like Workout 1 – Bench press, Workout 2- Incline bench press, Workout 3 – Dips. Or should it be all the same exercise, and then the next week change it up?



My Answer: With regards to the macro nutrient recommendations, yes that looks fine. Cycling your carbohydrate intake according to your training is a good way to eat to maximize muscle and minimize fat gain.

As far as determining your 6RM, simply pyramid your weight up to the 6 rep max:

First set: Weight for 10 reps
Second set: Add weight for 8 reps
Third set: Add weight for 6 reps

Your 10 rep set is your baseline weight and will determine the weight for your 8RM and your 6RM, since you are pyramiding up from that initial set. You should strive to increase your baseline weight little by little from workout to workout. So if you can do more than 10 reps on your first set, then you should increase the weight for your 10 rep set on your next workout. You should record your reps and pounds so that you know how much to increase or decrease.

It’s also OK to alternate exercises throughout the week. For hypertrophy, I prefer cycling through exercises as opposed to sticking to one exercise.


2 thoughts on “Carb Cycling for Mass

Add yours

  1. Thanks for the answer James, much appreciated.

    With the carb cycling, if anyone is curious how I got the macros in my question, I used this calculator: James, as far as carbs and fat – I find it much easier to control carbs than fat, so is it ok to change the carb and fat macros on both days, i.e, prefer to decrease carbs and increase fat to make eating a little easier? Or do I need the really high carbs, and really low fat on workout days?

    With regard to pyramid on the 10-8-6-15 routine, I read on another site that the 10 should be 50% of the 6RM, the 8 should be 75% of the 6RM, and the 15 should be 35% of the 6RM. Would you agree with those percentages for each set?


    1. The percentages are fine to start off with, but I don’t have much faith in percentage based lifting, because

      1) Your strength levels fluctuate from day to day, hour to hour.
      2) Percentages vary from individuals. So while one person might be able to do 20 reps with 60% of 1RM, another person might only be able to do 12 reps.

      To me it is much better to gauge your strength levels for the day by your starting weight.

      Perfectly fine to decrease carbs and increase fat to make eating a little easier. You’ll burn more fat with a lower carb intake

      Liked by 2 people

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