If you have spent any time in the fitness world you may have heard the terms bulking and cutting thrown around. In this article I will break down what these terms mean and how you can effectively use these methods to help develop your physique.
The reason why we do bulking and cutting phases is because it is near impossible to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time. Forget those magazines you have seen or those hollywood stars where they gain 20 pounds of muscle and decrease their body fat a the same time in 1 month. The only reason they are able to accomplish this is through performance enhancing drugs. For us naturals, it is better to go in phases of gaining muscle and phases of losing fat.
These are two opposite goals that require two completely different approaches to your diet and training.
The bulking phase is where you will be eating at a caloric surplus. The goal of this phase is to put on some high quality muscle mass. With that said, a lot of people take this a bit too far. They think just because it’s a bulking phase they can eat whatever they want. They end up gaining too much fat which will make the cutting phase a lot harder.
Depending on how long you have been training it can be quite difficult to put on some muscle. People tend to overestimate how much they can put on. So when they see the scale going up they think they are gaining muscle, when in fact a lot of it is fat.
Your goal should be to gradually put on some high quality muscle and increase strength during this phase. Keeping fat gain to a minimum.
As you can imagine, the cutting phase is where you work on losing fat. You will be at a caloric deficit. Much like bulking, a lot of people make the mistake of losing weight too quickly. If you do this you risk losing a lot of the muscle that you worked so hard to build in your bulking phase.
So how should you run your bulking and cutting phases? This is how I and a lot of other people personally do it. I like running these phases based off the time of year. During the winter I like to be a little bigger and work on putting on some mass. In the summer I like to be ripped for the beach and outdoor activities. It can look something like this.
- January-March: Maintenance
- April-June: Cutting
- July-August: Maintenance
- September-December: Bulking
During maintenance phases I stay at around the same body fat and get my body used to whatever weight I am.
By doing these phases I don’t burnout and I can slowly put on some muscle. I have been training for a while which makes it difficult to increase muscle mass. I have to be very methodical in my methods now and plan it all out perfectly.
The optimal schedule can vary from person to person. A highschool male will differ from a 40 year old female.
Whatever you do, be smart about each phase and be patient!