Bulk First Then Cut?
A lot of people ‘bulk up’ first and then have the idea of ‘cutting’. This is absolute bro science. I have to admit that I once was a victim. I became ‘skinny fat’ due to the huge amount of junk food I ate. My tummy was bigger than my muscles. It took many years of trial and error for me to get out of that cycle. Today, let’s discuss the terms which may have misled you or you have misinterpreted. What Is ‘Bulking’? I am sure you know this term. Bulking is commonly used in the bodybuilding context. It is a term that is commonly used and misinterpreted by many people. Nowadays, they’ve even come up with ‘dirty’ and ‘clean’ bulking. Dirty bulking is associated with eating junk food like fast food e.g. burgers, fries, cheese, etc. where a number of calories are neglected. The mass or 'big-ness' you have gained physically are not muscles but fat. Clean bulking earned its reputation due to the amount of clean food eaten per day - quality vs quantity. Both types of eating, unfortunately, in my experience, will still gain you a certain amount of fats. Clean bulking, of course, will gain you much fewer fats than dirty bulking. In my opinion, these terms are just made up for marketing in the industry. We always hear, mass up, mass gaining etc. Do not believe in eating whatever you see or as much as you want. You will literally become fat.
No Need To Do Cardio While Bulking? This is another piece of information which was so misleading and I fell trap to. For my whole 13 years of training, I didn't do any form of cardio when I wasn't competing. The only time I did cardio was when I was competing and trying to look chiselled. At the beginning of 2016, I made it a point to jog every day, 4km for about 35-40mins. I saw stunning results from jogging which I never would have imagined. Cardio enhances cardiovascular health and hence, will improve your performance in lifting. It has many other health benefits. Just Google, you will find the answers. Hence, never, ever skip cardio.
What Is ‘Cutting’? Cutting is the phase after ‘bulking’. It is commonly used in the bodybuilding context. It’s a phase where you lower your calorie intake and a low carb diet will be implemented. During this cutting phase, the person's body frame will become smaller but leaner and sharper; no longer looking like a balloon during bulking period. This myth was passed down by generations whereby a bodybuilder will bulk first and cut later to prepare for a contest, then the cycle continues.
Can I Bulk And Cut At The Same Time? A lot of people have asked me this question many times and I told them no. Absolutely not. I have tried many times over the years and it doesn't work. Reason being, the body is always in a calorie surplus, so how can one get lean? Getting lean requires some calorie deficit for a period of time. Therefore, bulking and cutting at the same time will not work.
Should I Have Cheat Meals? I know you must be thinking about cheat meals. As mentioned many times in my other posts, it’s ok to have cheat meals but don’t overdo them as you will be back to square one. Have one and only one cheat meal whenever you think you have made some progress. Feel good about it and move on.
What Are My Thoughts On Bulking? I have tried all ways to bulk up; be it dirty or clean bulking. What do I think? - I gained fats. Through the years of experimentation, I find that maintenance is the best. It is pointless to get big by junk eating or eating so much and trying to chisel those muscles when preparing for a contest. End result? - I end up looking the same as last year on stage. I would rather fluctuate my carbs and protein to bulk up. This way, it helps to expedite fat loss and accelerate muscle gain. If you time it correctly, it teaches your body how to utilize fats as energy.
What Would Be My Recommendation? My honest opinion is to stay lean year round (at least have slightly visible abs) or try keeping your body fat as low as possible. To do so, try practicing carbohydrate cycling weekly; drop carbs to as low as 50-100g and go as high as 300-500g. Please remember to continue cycling your carbs on Saturdays and Sundays too. The majority of us are just doing Monday to Friday and have cheat meals all day on Saturday and Sunday. You can't do that. It doesn't work that way.
What Have I Been Doing To Bulk Up and Build Solid Muscle Mass? I wasn’t diligent about my diet during the initial stage of my bodybuilding life. I always thought that after the contest, I can go back to my normal eating habits and when contest time comes around, I will go back to ‘dieting’ again. Later, I found out that this is not the way. I kept trying to find out how and I finally found some results. For me, during training days, I consume a very high amount of carbs (350-500g) and moderate protein (150-200g) while on non-training days, I will go low on carbs (50-100g) and high on protein (250-300g). However, sometimes, I would have a high fat and high protein diet for a few days. It all depends on individuals.
After reading this, I hope you get a clearer picture of bulking and cutting. These two terms are just so misleading. I wish you success and train hard, always.
For more information on diets, please refer to my other post - https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=946773675409563&id=915089981911266&substory_index=0
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Your Fitness Coach, Amirrudin Ong