So here is the lowdown on bulking. The purpose of bulking is to add muscle size to your frame. Notice how I said “muscle” and not “fat”. You do this by taking in slightly more calories than you burn in a normal day. This is going to be different for everyone based on their goals, metabolism, energy expenditure, and age.
I am no fan of the dirty bulk that includes shoving obnoxious amounts of unhealthy calories down your throat in your quest for size. I emphasize clean bulking that is focused on taking in extra calories from clean sources of food.
No, not that thing suicidal people do to get a rush of death in their lives. The purpose of cutting is to rid your body of the excess fat that hides your beautiful muscle that you have worked so hard for in the gym. This is usually done leading up to the warmer months by the bros and ladies for the beach/pool weather. Or 12-16 weeks out from a bodybuilding competition for the competitive bodybuilder.
Cutting is accomplished by burning more calories than you need to maintain your weight. This can be accomplished by cutting calories, increasing activity (cardio), or a combination of both.
A word to the wise: The quicker you lose the weight the more muscle you will lose and the higher the chance you will gain the weight back quickly. Since the goal is to cut fat and not muscle, I believe in cutting slowly and intelligently.
Maintenance is purgatory or should I say “a slow death for someone who wants to look awesome”. Maintaining is eating enough to neither gain weight or lose weight. If you are 5% body fat and you have no desire to get bigger or improve your physique…go ahead and maintain. However, 99.9% of the people reading this want to constantly improve their bodies. I don’t know about you, but I have never looked in the mirror and said “you know what I am absolutely perfect”. Point being maintenance is boring and leads to complacency.
SHOULD I BULK OR SHOULD I CUT?
To be or not to be that is the question. Deciding on bulking or cutting is going to be based on your goals. If you are a skinny dude or gal who becomes invisible in the mirror when you turn sideways…..I think bulking might be a good option. If you can’t see your abs, cutting is probably the right choice for you.
What if I am skinny-fat? Ah, the worst of both worlds. Head to the nearest gym, sign up, and start attacking the weights.
A PAIR AS SWEET AS PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY
Bulking and cutting are soulmates. They go together like brown rice and chicken breast. Like CrossFit and kipping pullups. Like big, bald, bearded men and powerlifting.
You see bulking and cutting compliment each other. After a cut your body is primed for muscle growth. Get you body fat down to single digits and watch how fast you add muscle on your next bulk.
On the flip side, bulking adds the muscle you need to look your best when you decide to cut. If in year one you are 170 lbs with 7% body fat at your peak and in year two you are 180 lbs with 7% body fat at your peak…..are you not bigger and more muscular than you were the first year? Chances are you are stronger and better at life too!
I JUST WANT TO BE TONED
Stop! Stop! Stop! I cringe anytime someone says this. If you want to be toned…go tanning or go take singing lessons.
If you want to improve, you have to continuously do things to improve. Doing the same weights, cardio, diet over and over again will not lead to results. At best it will lead to a plateau of nothingness. At worst, you will go backwards.
DON’T BE AN EXTREMIST
On the interwebs, I have seen memes and quotes such as “forever bulk” or “bulk till I die”. That is a great recipe to be a fat ass who looks like he doesn’t even lift. On the other side, you have the “I don’t want to lose my abs” crowd. If that six pack turns into a four pack they will just die.
Believe me, I know nobody wants to lose some size on their arms or lose the abs they worked so hard to get. But, if you are losing size on your arms chances are it was just water weight and fat. A 17-inch muscular arm looks better than a 18-inch semi-muscular arm. As for the abdominals, you are just going to have to stop lifting your shirt up in front of every mirror you see for a few weeks of bulking. I know, a tough price to pay for progress.
The next article will discuss strategies for succeeding during a cutting phase and how I recommend to cut.