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If you’ve been reading fitness information for the past several decades, then surely you’ve been informed that bulking and cutting leads to better progress over the long run than staying the same weight or making gradual changes. But is this really the best strategy? Should every lifter therefore always be in either a bulking or cutting phase? In this article, I hope to convince you that many lifters should avoid bulking and cutting cycling and be content to stay the same weight while improving body composition, or be content to make very gradual changes over time.

Chris Hemsworth bulked up right

Chris Hemsworth bulked up properly

Here’s a short course on bulking and cutting. The theory is that you first spend a few months eating copious amounts of food while training hard and lifting heavy. Say you pack on 20 lbs during this time, and 12 lbs of it is muscle while the other 8 lbs is fat. For the next several months, you then clean up your diet and continue to train hard, possibly adding in higher reps and cardio. The goal is to cut 8 lbs of fat while keeping the 12 lbs of muscle you gained during the bulking period. Ladies and gentlemen, I’m here to tell you that it rarely ever happens this way unless you just started training or unless you use anabolic steroids and other drugs.

Usually, you end up right back where you left off, or slightly heavier but with a higher bodyfat percentage than before. You could have simply progressed gradually during this entire time and avoided 1) spending excessive money on food while bulking, 2) getting fat and out of shape during the bulking phase, and 3) pain and suffering that accompanies the cutting phase.

Hugh Jackman bulked up right too

Hugh Jackman bulked up right too

Before we delve into things, I think it’s important to mention that there is no current accepted definition of bulking and cutting. Bulking means that you’re purposely trying to gain weight (preferably muscle) and are therefore eating at a caloric surplus. Cutting means that you’re purposely trying to lose weight (preferably fat) and are therefore eating at a caloric deficit (and probably doing more cardio). But the rate at which you bulk and cut, or how far you let yourself go in terms of increased or decreased bodyweight or bodyfat, are not yet standardized. For example, “bulking” to one lifter might mean gaining 30 lbs in 6 weeks, whereas to another lifter it might mean gaining 6 pounds in 6 weeks. There are also various terms that have been created, such as clean bulk (bulking with “clean” foods), lean bulk (bulking while trying to stay lean), dirty bulk (bulking while eating whatever you want including junk food), slow bulk (taking your time to gain mass), fast bulk (gaining weight rapidly), permabulk (being on a permanent bulking phase), fulking (fat bulking – thinking you’re gaining muscle but really gaining lots of fat too), and recomping (staying the same weight while improving body composition by slightly increasing muscle and simultaneously decreasing fat), but it’s not necessary to go into these in detail.

The Physiological Pros and Cons of Bulking

Here is the main reason why you should consider bulking – increased myonuclei. When you’re lifting heavy and consuming plenty of calories and protein, you’ll be in an anabolic state. When you’re in an anabolic state, it’s much easier to grow muscle. And when you’re growing muscle, satellite cells will “do their thang.” Satellite cells surrounding the muscle cells will donate their nuclei to the muscle cells so that they increase their total number of nuclei (if you want to read up on the science of , please read HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HEREHERE, and HERE). This translates into greater potential muscle mass. In fact, there’s a “myonuclear domain” theory that postulates that the growth of a muscle cell is limited by the number of nuclei it contains. When you diet back down, you will retain these myonuclei, which will be useful in maintaining muscle mass and improving body composition.

Unfortunately, fat cells can grow as well, and they can also undergo hyperplasia (if you want to read up on the science, please read HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE). When you lose weight, you will retain this increased number of fat cells (see HERE). Furthermore, when bulking, you can easily decrease your insulin sensitivity (see HERE, HERE, and HERE for some literature on this phenomenon), and the binging can become habitual and somewhat addictive, causing some folks to struggle when attempting to diet back down.

The Physiological Pros and Cons of Cutting

Cutting will definitely help you shed fat quickly. Bodybuilders cut down in weight prior to competition in order to decrease bodyfat and improve body composition (see HERE and HERE). Cutting will also improve your insulin sensitivity (see HERE).

Unfortunately, cutting rapidly will alter your hormonal system. It can markedly decrease testosterone (see HERE), increase myostatin and decrease IGF-1 (see HERE), increase cortisol (see HERE), and in general tamper with your metabolism (see HERE and HERE).

Consensus

As you can see, there are pros and cons of both bulking and cutting. Many of the cons can be mitigated simply by progressing gradually and avoiding crash dieting and excessive exercise. However, as I previously mentioned, bulking and cutting likely involves more inherent financial and psychological costs than just coasting and making gradual gains.

Gerard Butler probably stayed the same weight during this transformation

Gerard Butler probably lost weight during this transformation

In the strength & conditioning community, we’re lead to believe that we always have to be in either a bulking phase or a cutting phase in order to see results. But what about just staying the same weight while training hard to increase your strength and fitness?

* Read: The Ten Rules of Progressive Overload to learn how to gradually increase strength

The vast majority of my clients show up to me already looking pretty good. My job is to simply make them look better by helping them increase their glute shape and decrease their bodyfat. In the past, I trained dozens of obese clients as well as dozens of skinny individuals who sought to gain weight. A proper eating plan to support differing clients’ goals is equally as important as the training itself. Overweight and obese individuals should adhere to a caloric deficit, while underweight individuals should adhere to a caloric surplus.

So it’s not rocket science to say the following:

Obese/overweight people should cut (not bulk)

Skinny/underweight people should bulk (not cut)

But what about those who are at their ideal weight? Should they bulk and cut, or stay the same weight while “recomping”? Does it make a difference if they’re male or female?

As I mentioned previously, many of my female clients nowadays show up to me weighing the appropriate amount – they’re already at their ideal bodyweight. Their caloric intake is appropriate for their goals, and therefore I don’t address their nutrition much, except to verify that they are consuming ample amounts of protein. I don’t have them bulk or cut, all I do is help them get stronger each week. We hammer our hip thrusts, back squats and front squats, deadlifts and sumo deadlifts, back extensions, Bulgarian split squats, chin ups, bench presses, military presses, and rows. In 6 months, voila, they’re looking so much better despite having not changed much in terms of bodyweight (see many of these transformations HERE at my testimonials page). As you can see, it’s indeed possible to make incredible improvements without dramatically altering caloric intake.

Gender Specific Psychological Effects of Bulking

This portion of the article is going to be entirely opinion based on my personal anecdotes. I don’t have any research to support this claim, but in my opinion, bulking effects males and females uniquely. Of course there are exceptions, but in general, males handle the psychological effects of bulking better than women.

Allow me to explain. A couple of months ago, I was eating like a crazed wolverine. I let my weight skyrocket to 255 lbs. I have to admit, my gut was out of control. But my quads, pecs, shoulders, and upper back were jacked as all hell! One night, I went out with my guy friends. When they saw me, they were like, “Holy shit Bret, you’re freakin’ yoked!” I could get past the increased abdominal fat by focusing on the increased muscle mass I accrued. I found myself doing the pec dance at every possible opportunity imaginable.

giphy

The Pec Dance

Okay, now let me ask you a question. How many women have you heard speak like I did in the previous paragraph? Have you ever heard a woman say to another woman, “I know, I know, my gut, thighs, and butt have gotten pretty fat, but at least my pecs, lats, and traps are ginormous!” When a woman bulks up, do her friends say to her, “Hot damn, you’re looking swole as all hell sister!”? In my experience, this doesn’t happen very often. Maybe in certain fitness circles, but it’s definitely uncommon.

More times than not, the woman feels insecure during her bulk. She doesn’t like the way she looks, she feels uncomfortable about the whole ordeal, and she can’t wait to get back to normal. She spends the latter part of the bulking phase and the initial part of the cutting phase feeling depressed and unconfident. Her jeans get tight (or she has to buy new jeans), the upper back region of her shirts feel tight (or she has to buy new shirts), and she gets very frustrated and disillusioned. In contrast, a man’s jeans start feeling tight and we start referring to ourselves as, “Quadzilla” and refusing to answer to our normal name.

body-image-cartoon

Most men look better (this is subjective…most men would like the way they looked) if they slap an extra 10 pounds of muscle onto their bodies. However, this isn’t necessarily the case with women, many just want to add 3-5 lbs of muscle in crucial areas (glutes, sometimes arms and legs, etc.) while losing 3-5 lbs of fat in crucial areas (belly, thighs, buttocks, back of arms, etc.). Therefore, bulking makes more sense for men than it does for women.

What if Bulking and Cutting is Better? Is it Still Worth it?

I’ve already established that I have not seen any research showing that bulking and cutting is more effective in terms of body composition improvements, muscle mass gains, and fat loss compared to coasting (making gradual improvements or just staying the same weight and recomposing). However, it’s really important to consider what bodybuilders do to get into peak shape. Nearly all of them bulk and cut. Ignoring bodybuilding practices would be foolish, as they’re the masters of physique enhancement.

The question is, assuming it is more effective, how much more effective is it? Let’s say that a lifter bulks for 12 weeks, putting on 30 lbs, and then cuts for 8 weeks, losing 20 lbs, and ends up with a net 10 lb gain, with 7 of it being muscle and 3 of it being fat. Could he have just gained 10 lbs over the 20 weeks without fluctuating much in bodyweight, with 7 of the lbs being muscle and 3 of the lbs being fat? I think so. But let’s say that bulking and cutting is better. Let’s say that it’s 10% more effective. This would mean that instead of a 7 lb gain in lean muscle mass, a bulking/cutting cycle would produce an 7.7 lb gain in lean mass over the same time period. Would it be worth it to go through the ordeal of bulking and cutting, or would you prefer to look good round the clock?

Looking Good Around the Clock

There’s something to be said for always loving the way you look. When you’re at your ideal bodyweight and bodyfat (or at least close to it) and you’ve been training hard and eating well, you feel on top of the world. Your confidence is up, your positivity is up, and your productivity is up. You put out good vibes, people want to be around you, and things tend to fall into your lap and swing your way. Overall, life is better.

Many of us lifters tend to be obsessive/compulsive. When we’re storing some extra bodyfat, we feel it, we focus on it, and we have trouble ignoring it. Positivity, productivity, and confidence can diminish when we’re in this state.

The way I see it, we lift weights and eat properly to look and feel great. Why not look and feel our best around the clock? Why purposely allow ourselves to slide down a slippery slope by bulking? I know of at least three female competitors who bulked up and were never able to recover and get back down to their pre-bulking bodyweight or bodyfat levels. Caution is advised.

Checks and Balances

I hope that this article has convinced you that bulking and cutting isn’t necessary to see improvements. If you do decide to bulk and cut, I recommend implementing a system of checks and balances. This needs to be determined on an individual basis, as some people feel more comfortable and can still look very good while carrying more mass and bodyfat, while others don’t have as much leeway. For example, you might choose to not let yourself gain more than 10 lbs during your bulk, or not let yourself increase your bodyfat more than 5% during your bulk, etc. I recommend focusing more on the bodyfat component than the weight component. Keep a tight leash on your bulking and then the cutting isn’t as harsh.

And just so you know, even some of my bikini competitor clients including Kellie, Katie, Erin, Sammie, Megan, Anne, Chelsea, and Molly (see Testimonials page), refrained from bulking and cutting during their contest prep. Their weight might have fluctuated several pounds during the week prior to competition, but they did not adhere to traditional cutting schemes.

Jelena

Jelena Abbou

44 Comments

  • ryan says:

    Great article Bret! I’m always amazed how you’re able to churn out content. Not just any content, quality content. How do you do it, what’s your secret?

  • Dana says:

    Thanks! I love your articles and you explain it so I don’t feel like I need a degree in science! Simple and to the point with making it clear. Same as with your books!

  • I agree with Ryan. Good article and you do have a high volume of high quality articles. One thing you don’t address is age. A fifty year old guy is not likely to be able to bulk and cut as easily as a 30 year old guy. I agree that for most people, including me, the idea of progressive overload w/o a bulking-cutting cycle is better and easier.

    • Bret says:

      Much appreciated Galen! And good call, I should have discussed age. I agree with you, older folks shouldn’t bulk and cut to much degree, it’s harder to lose the fat as you get older.

  • Deborah in Australua says:

    Thank you so much for this article Bret! You have just nailed a really confusing topic for me. Although I would really like your advice- I am 7 weeks down the track of your Gorgeous Glutes program and working at eating clean with a moderate calorie deficit. My shape is changing for the better but I have outgrown my skinny jeans in the thighs and booty- is this to be expected sometimes? I love my new shape but like the women you mention in your article, I am challenged by ‘filling out’ my jeans:)))

    • Bret says:

      Hi Deb, think about it…if you’re building shape in your butt and legs, then you’re putting on muscle. If you’re not gaining weight but you’re gaining muscle, this means that you HAVE to be losing fat simultaneously. So your shape is gradually improving and your metabolism will stay revved. Just stick with the plan and eventually you’ll love the way your body is looking.

      • Deborah in Australua says:

        Thanks Bret, working out at home can send me a little loopy at times- I really appreciate the reassurance! It’s a new way of looking at my body and at 42, I am so excited about the results. Love your book:)

  • Azzy says:

    Great article. I love how you combined anecdotal experiences with scientific info. This is helpful!
    I’m on my third week of your program. I love the way my booty is changing. I think I’m one of those persons with really lazy glutes. The other day for the very first time I felt the cramps you mention on you book on my glutes. I thought…they are alive! I loved it. It wasn’t bad. Just for a little bit and went away without pain. I’m really glad it happened. I’ll keep practicing mind muscle connection and paying attention to the form.
    I have also notice that I might need to increased my calorie intake, I think my metabolism is on fire. I don’t want to lose weight I want to keep it and increased my muscle mass. I’m in my 40’s and I don’t want my skin to get too saggy. Could you write something along those lines? Is it really possible to increased muscle mass to filled up a little bit skin that is getting a little saggy (underarms, inner tights, even in the belly). I’ve lost about 14 pounds in the last 18 months, have decreased between 5-6% body fat and have increased muscle. Not sure if surgery is the only hope in those cases.

  • Ad says:

    Hey Bret love the article. I don’t think the first two actors did a proper bulking phase without any “hollywood supplements”. I know for a fact that that was not Gerard Butler’s body in the movie 300 as I have a friend that worked on the movie as an extra.

  • Erin Deutsch says:

    Good read! How may this topic apply for powerlifters looking to increase strength? I am 31 yo female bodybuilding for the past year with great physique results. I started powerlifting a few months ago and quickly stalled in strength and energy. Two weeks of calorie surplus dramatically enhanced my energy levels and strength gains but i am a bit concerned about increasing bodyfat. Should I be concerned with macros other than protein here?

  • Adam says:

    So, you’re saying “bulk slowly” as opposed to “don’t bulk”…

    I certainly see where you are coming from but in the end it’s semantics.

    If you’re gaining mass, you’re in a caloric surplus, therefore (however slowly) you are bulking.

    As I said, semantics, but “gaining” is “bulking” regardless of the degree and/or speed in which you gain.

    • Adam (also) says:

      It’s partially semantics, but also physiologically different. There is obviously an upper limit to protein synthesis (and therefore the rate of hypertrophy) and much less of one, if there is even a practical one, for fat accumulation. “Bulking slowly” would aim for maximizing hypertrophy while minimizing fat gain, rather than ignoring how much fat you gain.

  • Maria says:

    I’m really confused as to if I should bulk or not. I was underweight this summer and bulked up to 132 lbs (this was hard, my maintenance is 2650 kcal and I keep track of my macros to make sure I eat enough) – I’m 5’9″ and 37 years old. This while still shrinking around the waist. I hear a lot of “you’re too skinny” and “you need to eat more, otherwise you won’t be able to build”. I did gain two inches around my back this past 8 months I’ve been working out, but my legs and ass are smaller than when I started. They look a lot more shapely, but I kind of wanted to add a little more curves below waist…

  • Rebecca says:

    Thank you for this article, I forwarded it to my husband who is currently in a sort of a bulking phase and in my opinion is looking a little fat. I hope he takes it to heart, because he is of old-school bodybuilder mentality who believes in the bulking and the cutting and I don’t think it’s the healthy way to do it.

  • Ryan says:

    I have been experimenting with this recently. I am trying to bulk but by very small increments whilst keeping my body fat between 5 and 7%. So far it is working. I hate cutting and want something I can maintain all year round.

  • Chris V says:

    Bret, this article resonates so much with me! Undergoing constant body-weight fluctuations has never made sense to me. You are a great influence on the health and fitness industry.

  • I’m really happy to see you clear up some of the confusion about this. And very happy to see the tendency to bulk not as popular as it used to be.

    Love your analogy about the differences between how men and women look at each other. The only time I really looked “swole” (I was on creatine. NEVER doing that again!), I felt like a blimp. I remember thinking at the time that a guy would have been thrilled to have blown up the way I did.

  • Jeff says:

    I’m becoming more and more convinced that a slow bulk or recomp (if possible) is the best way to go. I’d like to see further information on how to go about doing a recomp or very slow bulk.

    If I may, I’d suggest avoiding what us web designers call the “click here” (or HERE) syndrome. It’s good to use titles and include the links in a sentence, like ‘Acme Science has a good article on protons in the muscle’ as a link. Otherwise you could use footnotes so you don’t have HERE and HERE and also HERE spread out in the article HERE.

    Also, to be more of a jerk, around the clock refers to a 24 hour period while all year long would apply to the length of time you’re writing about.

    But enough of that. I appreciate the time you spend to write in-depth articles instead of just rehashing really basic information, and providing real world examples (meaning your clients) and your own experience.
    Jeff

  • Cass says:

    Bret-

    As usual, great article! I love how you took a topic, typically discussed in Men’s Fitness Forums, and applied it to women. This just makes sense. Women, as much as men, are interested in building muscle and leaning out, though we might not be as likely to call it “bulking and cutting” 😉

    So, in regards to women, do you find that if a woman comes to you to train and she is roughly close to her ideal shape but is looking to maybe lose a bit more body fat and add a bit more muscle, that working on her just getting stronger on all her major lifts can do the trick? How often, in these situations, will you adjust her nutrition or talk about (eekkk!) adding cardio?

    Again, I’m talking about someone who, on the scale, might be close to ideal body weight, but would probably benefit aesthetically from losing 3-4 lbs of fat and adding about 3-4 lbs of muscle.

    Thanks, Bret!

  • Leo says:

    Nice articcle Bret!

    I would like to add that for many men as long as a girl stays within a healthy body fat level and retains a low waist to hip ratio (you know around 0.7) she can allow her weight to get a bit higher and still look super hot. Wich is even easier to do with bigger/more muscular glutes.

    Just one question, Wich is the most important factor involved in the process of increasing myionuclei content in a muscle cell? intramuscular tension, tissue damage, metabolic stress, total volume???

    Thanks in advance!

  • Kim says:

    Hi Bret,
    What a timely article ! This topic has been on my mind. I’d love to know your thoughts on how age and training experience factor into body recomposition. Can an experienced lifter (say more than 5 yrs) with a good muscle base and solid training knowledge still expect results with recomping?

    I think your points on the psychological effects of bulking for women is spot on. I’m did a 18 month bulk and a 6 month cut ending this summer. I’m happy with the results, but I felt horrible towards the end of my bulk and the first few months of cutting were demoralizing. Now I’m deciding how to proceed and fearful of getting “fat” again even though I’m happy with the progress I made and taking the fat off was easy ( though slow). Still, at 45 with almost a decade of lifting under my belt I wonder if recomping is right for me or a waste of time.

    Got any cool science to help me out?!

  • Alyssa says:

    Hi Bret, thanks!
    A very insightful post, and it definitely makes sense! As a woman lifting for health and fitness, I certainly agree with you that I don’t mind giving up the 10% increase in muscle to like the way I look and feel all the time. I would prefer to just lift for a couple extra weeks to get that 10% (I’m going to lift forever anyways!)

    Alyssa

  • Karyn Silenzi says:

    Hey Bret, thanks for this. I did an eighteen week comp prep which included 3 shows. I started at 160, lowest stage weight was 133 and four months post show am back at 160 with a significant difference in body comp. I tried really hard to do a reverse, then maintenance but psychologically (and perhaps physically) I needed more food so I went to a bulk. I’m now back to maintenance knowing I’ll have to do 12-14 week cut all over again. What do you suggest to athletes in this situation? I often wonder if I could have just done maintenance and stayed around 148 but in my heart of hearts I just needed the freedom to eat. I loved my body at 148….perfect balance of body fat, strength and mental health.

  • Gina says:

    Hi Bret,

    I respectfully disagree on your bulk/cutting position, especially for women. It is extremely hard for women to put on muscle. Even after newbie gains have been exhaused, women can only hope to gain .25 lbs of muscle per week and this is under the best circumstances while eating a calorie surplus and lifting hard. Recomping is a painfully slow process. We’re talking years. The most efficient way for a woman to actively build muscle is to bulk/cut.

    Yes bulking is hard mentally. But is that really a reason not do it? The accomplishment I felt after I completed my first bulk/cut was amazing because I learned patience and hard work pay off. I learned that putting aside asthetics for the larger goal of building muscle was worth it. And really, so I gained a few pounds of water weight and fat? It was gone after cutting for a few weeks.

    Bulking, as a woman, also takes courage because everyone around you will tell you you’re crazy and very few people will understand the process. But nothing worth having comes easy.

    I get it, most women don’t want to bulk. But I find it insulting that you discourage it and aim your discouragement towards women.

    • Bret says:

      Gina, if there was research showing that bulk/cut was more effective than slow growth, then I might be inclined to lean your way. But there isn’t. I personally don’t believe that you end up with significantly more muscle after a bulk/cut compared to if you just gained gradually. But I’m open to being wrong – if so, I’ll change my views. I commend you for speaking your mind while being very respectful. Thanks!

    • Gabriela says:

      Hi Gina,

      I love your comment. I am doing the same. I am seeing improvements in my body composition. I don’t mind the fat, because I had a higher % of fat as an endurance athlete at 115 pounds. Skinny Fat chick syndrom.

      My confidence is not in my weight but in the things I know I can accomplish. Who said life was fair to girls, and yes, people may think you are crazy when you say you are bulking…what woman wants to gain weight right? Only the ones who know it takes hard work to get the figure and strenght we want along with patience.

      Kuddos to you.
      GG

  • David says:

    Excellent and really detailed article. I tried bulking and cutting and it just doesn’t work for me, so I prefer a more gradual recomping approach, using a carb cycling strategy.

  • Gabriela says:

    Great article!

    I am confortable with bulking because I am small current weight 113 lb. 3 months 10 pounds up. I can be skinny, but I don’t want to be skinny, but strong. I am eating right, and very healhty and lifting 6x per week. This will be the first time I attempt to do this, and I will try to lean slowly. I am hoping it will work out, but I will come back and let you know.

    Gabriela

  • Meeper says:

    I reached an awesome lean weight by December but took my friend’s advice to bulk just to improve performance and overall body comp over time. I trust her immensely but I’ve definitely been feeling the depression just like you’ve described it. Everything you wrote about women and bulking, I was like, yup. Well… Good to know I’m not crazy. And that maybe, in the future, I should just coast instead, for my sanity.

  • Ben says:

    Thanks man, great article, but I am still deciding weather to bulk and cut or not?, Im of 15 years of age, 5ft flat and weigh 57kgs, i’m not fat and i’m kinda muscular, i’ve been working out 4 about 7 months, i saw a lot of changes in the 1st 5-6 months, but in the last month or so i haven’t seen as much change and i was considering bulking and cutting, but i don’t know if it will help any help is appreciated thanks 🙂

  • alex says:

    Hi Bret!
    Im a little confused as to what you’re saying still. Im female and with five pounds of my fat loss goals but ive lost a few inches from my hips in the process of leaning out which I do NOT want! so if i want to put on size on my lower half how do i achieve that without bulking? Or are you referring to just “slowly” bulking?
    Thanks!

  • Carolyn kelly says:

    I am doing a Beachbody program called Body Beast. It calls for you to bulk and then cut. I chose not to bulk because I was afraid I wouldn’t lose the fat during!? Slot of people doing the program are eating Swedish fish and gummy bears just to get in their carbs?? Wth! I thought we needed to eat clean?

  • Karen H says:

    I’m wondering if you have a general “equation” for calories that should be eaten?

    A little background: I am a 5’5″ woman…in the past 2 1/2 years I’ve lost 110 lbs by healthy eating and exercise. I’ve followed different beachbody programs that told me how much and what to eat…that worked great. I’ve begun to do a body building program that has me following a building/bulking/cutting diet plan. Just like your article pointed out…it’s not really working for me. My weight is a little higher than I’d like it to be…but I also realize that it’s a number on a scale so I try not to put too much weight on that (haha). I weigh 148. I’m a size 4 to 6. I did one of those bodpod tests to see my % of body fat before I started this program 12 weeks ago and my body fat was 25.1%. I would ultimately like to see what I look like/feel like with my body fat at 20% and I’d like the scale to be in the 125 to 135 range (if those two goals don’t coincide with each other than I’d choose bodyfat % over scale number). Anyway…..in this bodpod test I was given a number of 1356 kcal/day for my resting metabolic rate (that was 12 weeks ago). I exercise everyday but sit at a desk all day long so I probably live a more sedentary lifestyle. Can you give me a calorie range I should be eating in? And the approximate macro amounts? Or is this way more complex than that?

    Thanks in advance for reading.

  • seekay says:

    Great article!

    A few thoughts-

    At my 40s bulking-cutting does NOT work and if it does is not worth and not healthy.

    Counting calories and macros is the best tool to do it.

    I’m more worried about the fat because building muscle at this stage after working out since 1990 is not going to happen unless I try steroids. Reached your limit go for flexibility, strength instead of hypertrophy.

    Those hollywood actors are not an example of anything but cheating! Its the only thing I think should not be in this article. Clem, win, T3, etc make miracles to the unfittest actors, celebrities, singers etc.

    Once again, great article.

  • Chetan says:

    So the only main decision point is whether one wants to look good throughout the year or not. Apart from that, I did not see any new useful content (other than what we already know about bulking and cutting).

    One other point to consider : Bulking and cutting phases put the body in anabolic and catabolic states in a steady manner for the bulking/cutting period. This is supposed to be good as against making the body rapidly switch between anabolic/catabolic states if one wants to look good throughout the year.

  • Jake says:

    So in a nutshell, for people are lean and at their ideal bodyweight but still want to gain strength and muscle mass just focus on eating at maintenance calories while increasing performance in the gym and we’ll effectively make lean gains at a slow but steady pace? I hope so, because that sounds so much better than bulking and cutting.

  • Devan Long says:

    Hey Bret, do mean eating at maintenance kcals or doing whats called “lean bulking” which is a very small surplus of calories aim for a weight gain of;
    Beginners: 2-3 lbs/month
    Intermediates: 1-2 lbs/month
    Advanced: Eat maintenance and focus on progressive overload.

    I’m just looking for a specific implementation you suggest because at some places in the article you seem to saying eat a small surplus for maximum muscle and minimal fat, and other places staying eat maintenance and make slow steady gains while not increasing body fat in any significant amount.

  • Vicky says:

    Thanks for the article, did my first (possibly last) bulk at the end of last year, start of this year. Trying to cut arm. I would love to try and simply recompile but I’m actually not sure what my goal weight is! I would love to lose about 3% body fat but not clear on whether this is cutting or recomp land!

  • Kristina says:

    Hey Brett, great article. I have not been bulking per say but have been lifting and definitely eating more to see gains. I’m 5’0, petite and am am no longer able to wear clothes I bought a year ago even half a year ago. My butt looks look beyonces and my parents keep telling me how I look stalky and should stop whatever I’m doing. I went from 106 LBS lean with a cute figure( i did mostly plyo/bodyweight/yoga some kettle bells and squats to 115 lifting and squatting heavy. This may not seem like a lot but for my tiny frame it’s very obvious. I was fit and looked very good before all the heavy lifting. Ide like advice on how to return to my old figure. I imagine eating at a deffecit should be part of that plan. Help! – ripped and thick Norwegian chick

  • Carrie says:

    Please help… Im so confused. Im following Strong curves. Every workout works your glutes, hamstring and quads, but the book recommends doing two workouts on back to back days. I though you should not train the same muscle two days in a row?

  • May says:

    This so helpful! I’ve been wanting to put on some muscle and I was wondering if bulk and cut cycles were absolutely necessary, because they just don’t sound healthy to me and because of some of the woman-specific body image issues you’ve addressed. Also, I eat mostly plant-based, and I’m betting that bulking and cutting get very tricky when most of your protein sources are also very high in carbs. Glad to hear I can work on bulking up my lats and delts while still eating my beans and rice and still staying at the same weight.

  • Electra Japonas says:

    Great to see the psychological side of things and the sociological differences between men and women considered. Thank you. That answers all my questions. No cut and bulk for me!

    Electra

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