Gym - Bulking while in IB - possible?

Hi Monkeys,

Current A1 in Analyst training hitting the desk in September. Throughout my studies I did not weight lifts and bulk.

Assuming that I am average built, do you think it is possible to build some quality muscle mass during the Analyst stint? Did you manage to do it during your Analyst years or anyone who managed to do so?

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Comments (56)

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Aug 2, 2021 - 12:35pm

That's exactly the polar opposite of what I would like to happen. LOL

Most Helpful
Aug 2, 2021 - 12:05pm

I wouldn't purposely bulk while in IB. You're going to have poor sleep quality, and days where you can't work out or can only get in a short workout. Given the time-consuming nature of the job, you'll probably be inadvertently bulking. This means you'll just spiral out of control while bulking and end up fat.

What worked for me during my rough schedule was eating lots of protein whenever I could and trying to eat clean. This worked for me and I made good progress during my crazy schedule!

My biggest tip is when ordering seamless at 8pm, don't give into the temptation to order something heavy to cope with a long and depressing day. Always order chicken salads with a cookie/brownie on the side. The chicken salad will be great for your body and keep you fresh while working on things late into the night, while the cookie will be great for your mind and serve as a morale booster! 

  • 16
  • VP in IB - Gen
Aug 2, 2021 - 12:07pm

No, it's actually part of your contract that you are only allowed to do calisthenics and get ripped as opposed to bulking.  Gotta read the fine print, bro.

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  • VP in IB - Gen
Aug 2, 2021 - 1:26pm

Yes, because you get a window when you send stuff over to turn and are waiting for the next iteration.  VP hours aren't necessarily better in terms of when you sign off, it's just that there's more downtime between individual tasks you have oversight for (unless it's a tight timeframe, in which case you become an associate again and get your hands dirty)

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Aug 2, 2021 - 10:51pm

used to be on that grind in uni, literally chicken/ground turkey/ground beef + white/brown rice + veggies every day. literally every day. ate 5 times a day with protein shakes in between, was a fuckin grind like i literally had to eat at 1 am once causes i wasnt getting my calories in lmao never again

Aug 2, 2021 - 3:18pm

My colleague tried bulking, although he is a bit more senior and has a tiny bit more time. He was bigger than before, but he gained muscle and a decent amount of fat as well.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Aug 2, 2021 - 10:53pm

its possible to bulk on the diet side (altho might not be clean bulk) but ur real problem will actually be finding time to workout CONSISTENTLY. i promise u waking up at 5/6 am to workout from going to sleep at 2 am cannot last everyday, and going to the gym at 10-11 pm after a day of work + sleep deprivation is not the same after a day at uni

  • Analyst 2 in IB-M&A
Aug 2, 2021 - 11:05pm

Imma keep it real with you - the answer is no its not possible as a 1st year analyst. Barely possible as a 2nd year checked out analyst.

A great goal is just to maintain / keep your body lean and more toned as the above ppl have mentioned how its easy to add fat in banking. If you didn't lift in College when you had all the spare time in the world, you certainly won't find the time 5-6x per week consistently. 

Aug 3, 2021 - 9:10am

So I'm a big lifter and during my IB days, it was frankly impossible to try and lift during the work week. That said, I found a good regiment that worked for my schedule. You essentially do your lifting splits Friday, Saturday, and Sunday...Friday in the evening (assuming you can get out at a decent time), Saturday morning, and Sunday morning. You need to make these splits unlike the traditional ones (push, pull, legs). Each lifting day has to be a mix of compound muscle movements so that you are getting enough frequency. I essentially took the 3-day split and mixed it all together, with the caveat that I never DL same day as squat. I really liked this because I didn't have to worry / get anxious about not being able to workout during the week. If I did have time during the week, I would go to an Orange Theory / Barry's, etc. or hop on a bike for some high frequency training. In addition, focus on eating high carb foods on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and then switch to high fat / low carb M-TH. You'll need to optimize for protein intake, but that can be supported by protein shakes (whey isolate) at lunch. Also, don't eat huge meals during lunch - you only need 300-500 calories + whey isolate. Leave big meals for the evening and try to just stay at maintenance weight unless you have are already suffered the IB first fifteen.

Aug 3, 2021 - 1:47pm


If I did have time during the week, I would go to an Orange Theory / Barry's, etc. or hop on a bike for some high frequency training. 

This doesn't sound like high frequency training. High frequency training is 6 - 7+ times per week.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

  • 1
Aug 3, 2021 - 9:14am

You can def bulk if you manage to squish in a quick heavy set workout. You just would still be eating a little above your maintaince calories since you're not moving around so much. So in reality, you cant really bulk unless you can squeeze a heavy set everyday or else you'll just gain fat. And your calorie intake wouldn't be much different than what you're eating rn.

Aug 3, 2021 - 12:32pm

Nope sorry man - name of the game is survival. I'd try to eat as healthy as possible and workout to destress. This job will take up your life. 

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Aug 3, 2021 - 2:08pm

I am in a similar position and aim for the following:

Monday through Thursday I aim to do pushups on at least two occasions. These can be done at home anytime you have downtime for like 15-30 min, and it is possible to make them challenging enough for most people. Focus on using full range of motion (lockout in top position, touch the ground with the chest in the bottom position), on lowering yourself in a controlled fashion (2-3 second lowering/eccentric phase) and on 'pushing' your hands towards the center of your chest while doing reps - this enhances stress on the chest and makes reps more challenging. You can also elevate your feet on your bed or whatever to make it even more challenging.

Then on Friday through Sunday you can aim for a couple of workouts at the gym focusing on the remainder of your body. Eg. on Friday and Sunday nights you can do squats, Romanian deadlifts, pullups, rows and curls. Should take like 1-1.5 hours for a really good workout, and you should be able to find time for this on these days.

  • Intern in IB - Cov
Aug 5, 2021 - 12:31pm

Not to knock anyone's starting point and anythings good as long as you're making progress, but I would not bulk if the majority of your exercise is from just sets of pushups. All the mass you're gaining will be fat. Probably maintaining your weight/recomping to get a bit stronger while staying at a steady weight is better in this case.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Aug 5, 2021 - 12:40pm

In any case, if you are natrual and not a complete noob, you should probably not do a 'traditional' bulk of putting on 500-1000 grams a month.

Most young men should probably aim for 200-300 grams a week. Assuming you do as I said, working out Friday and Sunday evening, and noting that muscle protein synthesis is hightened for 48-72 hours post-workout, excess calories consumed Friday-Tuesday should go towards building muscle on most of your body. Then Tuesday-Thursday would be "only" be triceps and chest from pushups, but that is still not terrible. You can add a lot of mass on those muscles, not to mention the ancillary effects on your core and shoulders.

  • Intern in IB - Cov
Aug 5, 2021 - 12:48pm

Yeah aim for about 1-2lbs per month but pretty quickly doing mostly body weight pushups won't be enough progressive overload to keep building muscle. Someone starting benching just the bar will be able to add 5lbs to their sets nearly every workout in the very beginning. There's not really an equivalent to that type of progress with just pushups.  Its even worse if assuming not a complete noob who has some decent foundation in push type exercises and telling them that just pushups is enough volume.

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Aug 3, 2021 - 4:41pm

Not a *true* bulk but you'll be able to put on some muscle, especially since you're a beginner. Every single workout (MAX 3x a week, more likely 1x on Saturdays), you should squat, bench, and deadlift. That's it. Until you're repping 225 on all these lifts don't even think about doing bicep curls or any other ancillary exercise that doesn't activate a ton of your body and your CNS.

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Aug 10, 2021 - 8:39pm

Once you actually start lifting, you'll realize how little 225 actually is. Someone who doesn't lift doesn't need to worry about imbalances - they need to worry about having absolutely zero muscle 

Aug 3, 2021 - 8:30pm

People saying they didn't have time to build muscle in IB are just lying to themselves/aren't motivated enough. Putting on real muscle is more diet than lifting 10x a week. Putting in 5x at gym a week at 1 hour a gym session (including weekends) is doable. Controlling your diet is more self discipline than anything - you have the benefit of a large seamless budget...use it wisely on protein and lower carbs...Buy for lunch on your seamless budget too if you want to save money / eat healthy.

At the end of the day, being an analyst is stressful but it's your own self-discipline that will either screw you or benefit you.    

Aug 5, 2021 - 10:36am

OP, ignore people telling you it's not possible to make gains as an analyst. Your routine won't be optimal due to work demands, but don't let perfect get in the way of good. I would recommend eating at maintenance and trying to get in the gym 3x a week or whenever you feel adequately rested. The feeling of watching your body deteriorate takes a significant toll on your psyche, and inversely making small gains feels like a huge win. I went through a dark period for a few months and one of the things that saved me was getting back in the gym. 

  • Associate 3 in IB-M&A
Aug 5, 2021 - 11:00am

First thing to address is that weight lifting generally does not always equal bulking. If this is your first foray into weight training or its been a while since you've tossed around a weight bar then it should actually be fairly easy for you to put on some quality muscle is a short period of time. Additionally, seems like there are a lot of people on here projecting their own inadequacies telling you that such a feat is not possible, well it's possible as long as you are dedicated and willing to put in the work. In my experience the only way to stay on a consistent schedule is to workout in the morning (6 or 7am), too many variable trying to workout in the evening. I've been on a consistent workout schedule my entire time in banking and have only had to ever skip a handful of workouts to date so it's possible if you stay disciplined. It's also helpful to have a few short workouts in you back pocket in the event of an early morning meeting or something and you only have time for a short workout, skipping your morning workout and telling yourself you'll be able to make up for it in the evening almost never works out. For context, I'm 6'2" 200lbs, just so there is no confusion that I'm some cardio bunny who only has time for a run or spin class.

Edit: Also, if you haven't already, start working out. Start waking up early and get you body on a schedule before hitting the desk, it will be a lot easier to roll into the schedule that way.

Aug 5, 2021 - 12:51pm

So if I am reading your OP correctly, you've not lifted weights for years and are planning to essentially pick up a new hobby as you start your IB analyst stint? Even if you start now, it's unlikely you'll have the motivation to maintain a regular lifting schedule once you're fully ramped up with work. Even for those of us who are highly motivated it is extremely challenging - when I was an IB analyst, I was able to commit to 3x/week during IB, and I was getting up fairly early to go to the gym prior to work. It's certainly doable for people for whom lifting was a large part of their life for a long time leading up to IB and who know how to prioritize it, but for a newbie and freshly minted IB analyst, I think this will be one of the first things you choose to forego in favor of extra sleep. That said hopefully you prove me wrong and take it up and stay committed. However, my answer is entirely different than the typical response I'd give to someone who's been lifting since freshman year of high school. What I think would be best if you are simply generally interested in improving your overall physical wellness while also driving some positive changes in your physique, is to join some workout classes like Barry's or equivalent and try to go 1-2x a week with other members of your analyst class. This will add a social aspect so you can hold each other accountable to go plus these classes are typically brief enough where it shouldn't interfere with sleep too much. If you do decide to begin a weightlifting regimen, focus on 3x/week full-body workout based mostly on barbell movements. I'd recommend a basic linear progression such as StrongLifts 5x5. Do not listen to anyone who tells you to do some bro split as a complete beginner. If you're eating & sleeping enough (lol) and focusing on compound movements, you'll gain quite some mass from noob gains but it'll slow down dramatically after the first few months. Good luck!

Aug 5, 2021 - 2:17pm

Perfect time to bulk honestly and put on size. You can use your meal allowance to get high-calorie foods and there are usually always snacks in the office to hit a calorie surplus, which is harder than you'd think. Just need to make sure you are lifting heavy and building muscle, not just fat. 

Aug 6, 2021 - 1:51pm

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  • Associate 3 in PE - Other
Aug 7, 2021 - 8:25pm

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