Bulking and cutting is a popular term in the bodybuilding world. The fact is that if you bulk and cut properly you can see impressive results, but few people do it properly. Even more importantly, is bulking and cutting even a good strategy for your body type?
Bulking and cutting to most people means that when you are bulking you are pretty much eating everything in sight, and when you are cutting you are drastically restricting your calories.
This theory is what could be referred to as “bro science” and if you want serious results you need to learn the details of how to properly bulk and cut for maximum muscle growth, and then maximum fat loss.
You have to first consider what is your end goal and when do you want to achieve it by? The other thing to consider is even more important. Should you even be bulking and cutting in the first place?
Step 1: Determine If You’re At An Acceptable Body Fat Level To Start Bulking
You have to really consider where you are at currently with your physique and what your body type is to consider if bulking and cutting is right for you. If you are an endomorph and naturally store body fat easily, I don’t recommend bulking and cutting unless you are currently at around 10 percent body fat.
(But if you’re on this website then I’m assuming you’re a naturally skinny guy, or a hardgainer, in which case you’re a perfect candidate, so keep reading!)
How do you know if you are around 10 percent body fat? You should start to see some visual abs if you are around 10 percent body fat. You don’t have to look super shredded, but at least some abdominal definition. If you are at 15-20 percent body fat, a 2 month bulk will likely push you over 20 percent body fat, meaning that it will literally take 6-8 months to trim down and see muscle definition again.
You see the problem with bulking and cutting if you have too much body fat? You have to get sort of lean to see what you are working with. Many guys think they possess more lean muscle mass than they really do.
The ideal candidates for a bulk and cut cycle are ectomorphs, or the naturally skinny guys. Most naturally skinny guys are hard gainers meaning that to really maximize muscle growth they need a 2-3 month period of bulking.
Since ectomorphs naturally lose body fat faster than other body types, a 2-month bulk followed by a 4 week cut will make for stunning results.
So the first major rule of thumb is if you are looking for a visually aesthetic and lean physique, don’t bulk and cut until you are near 10 percent body fat.
Step 2: Start Bulking Up And Putting More Muscle Mass On Your Body
So how do you go about bulking and cutting? Bulking should mean that you are increasing your calories anywhere from 500-1,000 extra calories per day depending on your metabolism and body type. How do you know if you are eating too less or too little? Weigh yourself once every 7 days in the morning before you drink water or eat. If you are steadily gaining 1-2 lbs a week during your bulk this means that you hit the sweet spot. Not gaining any weight at all? You need to up your calorie intake. Gaining 4-5 lbs a week? You are gaining too much body fat. Nobody gains 5 lbs of muscle per week so this is a huge indication that you need to cut your calories back.
Now just because you are bulking does not mean that you are eating everything in sight. Yes you are eating more calories but those calories need to be from quality, nutrient dense muscle building foods. Eating 5,000 calories of pizza and French fries does not have the same effect as 5,000 calories of chicken breasts, whole grain pasta and healthy nuts.
Make sure that the majority of your calories are coming from high protein, healthy fat, and complex carbohydrate food choices. This means that you will be consuming lots of chicken, lean grass fed beef, eggs, fish, black beans, whole grain pasta, lentils, quinoa, brown rice, almonds, peanuts, fruits, vegetables, olive oil, flaxseed oil, peanut butter, almond butter and cashew butter just to name a few of the best choices.
Of course protein is vital for maximum muscle growth, so make sure you are consuming at least 1.2 grams of protein for every lb you weigh. Carbohydrates should be over 2 grams per lb you weigh, and healthy fat intake around 1 gram per lb.
This should give you a pretty good idea on what to eat and how much to eat for your bulk phase. Your bulking phase will last from 2-3 months depending on how hard of a gainer you are.
Step 3: Start Cutting To Get That “Ripped” Look
During the cutting phase, you are reducing your calorie intake anywhere from 500-1,000 from your bulking phase.
Since you have hopefully raised your metabolic rate during the bulking phase, this is the perfect recipe for speedy fat loss. Your metabolism should be higher and your lean muscle mass should have gone up during your bulk phase. You may find yourself a little hungry the 1st week or two of the cutting phase, but your body will adapt and you will shred body fat during your cutting phase.
One of the important diet tips for bulking and cutting is to not only reduce your calorie intake, but pay careful attention to the timing of your food.
You should avoid consuming lots of carbohydrates within a few hours of bedtime. For one, the carbohydrates will likely be stored as fat if you consume them close to bedtime. The second important reason is that carbohydrate intake will spike your insulin levels, which will reduce your natural growth hormone levels when you sleep. Since this is when your fat loss and lean muscle growth occurs, you need to make sure you are maximizing your GH levels right before bedtime.
During the cutting phase it is vital to increase your intake of healthy fats and lean proteins. Consume the majority of your carbohydrates before your workouts and try to avoid carbohydrates within 3 hours of bedtime.
Depending on how lean you want to get, you should be cutting anywhere from 4-8 weeks. If you are an ectomorph, 2 months of bulking followed by 1 month of cutting should be the ideal formula.
There you have it guys – how to properly bulk and cut. Make sure you remember these crucial rules for bulking and cutting, and you will have some incredible results.