It’s hard enough that as beginners, Jumping into the world of fitness means undoing a lot of bad habits while also adding a pool of strict and difficult habits. And more importantly, staying motivated for the results to arrive. But when we sit down and write our body goals, one question that often comes to our mind is whether we should lose weight, a.k.a cut or gain weight, a.k.a bulk?
Bulking and Cutting are the concepts that come from straight from the life of a pro bodybuilder. But what if you’re an absolute beginner? What if you know nothing about the terms like body fat, muscle mass, calorie consumption? That’s where most of the gym-goers lack because they do not know the exact science behind bulking and cutting.
So in this article, We’ll scratch the science underneath the bulking and cutting concepts, and we’ll use our expertise to train you for bulking and cutting methods in the right way! But first, Let’s clear our vision with a simple understanding of bulking and cutting concepts.
In simple terms, eating more calories than you can burn in a day is called the process of bulking. Over time, more calorie intake with regular exercise will result in more muscle mass and a bit more body fat.
One of the biggest mistakes most beginners make is not monitoring their amount of calorie consumption. They want to get as big as they can, but with less exercise and more calories, you’ll be only accumulating more body fat at the end of the day!
The trick here is to combine intense weight training with strategic calorie surplus to get better results! With enhanced muscle gains, you’ll also experience some weight gain, a natural process in bulking.
Now that we’ve talked about bulking, it’s time to look at the other side of the spectrum. Basically, all types of weight-loss diets are a cutting program in itself. The first and foremost motive of cutting is reducing your overall body weight.
To lose body fat and body weight, you have to eat in calorie deficit until the point when you reach your desired body weight. And this cutting bodyweight process is to be performed without losing your muscle mass!
Though in the cutting phase, you can not lift heavy weights because of lower energy levels than bulk. So reducing your body weight with a calorie deficit and retaining muscle mass is a straightforward definition of cutting.
Now that you have a general idea of what bulking and cutting are, We’ll dive deeper into the science of both these aspects. One question that might pop up in your mind is, a calorie surplus sounds highly comfortable and easy! So does that mean bulking is easier than cutting? We’ll try to take a thorough look and answer this question down below-
Is bulking easier than cutting?
If we list down the possible advantages of bulking phase over the cutting phase, there is plenty to count. You get to eat your favorite food, You can hit the gym every day, and your physique looks extremely dangerous! (if you’ve been skinny in the past, you’ll love to see yourself in the mirror)
However, bulking isn’t as easy as it looks like. If you’re planning to adapt to long-term bulking, you should be ready to take on a few challenges as well. You always have to fulfill your daily calorie intake, no matter if your stomach is full or empty.
To efficiently utilize that calorie intake, you need to put hours into working out. A case of higher calorie intake and less weight training can result in constipation. You need to perform extensive resistance training if you’re looking to stick to bulking for a long time.
We do not want you to reach a conclusion without proper knowledge, so we’ll list some advantages and disadvantages of bulking & cutting phase-
Advantages of Bulking:
- The bulk phase ensures a healthy recovery for all your torn muscles after that heavy resistance training in the gym. As your calorie intake is on the higher side, You get to eat the right amount of protein which acts as the repairing nutrient for your muscles.
- The strength of your body will automatically increase with excessive workouts. Increased muscle mass and high energy level would help you maintain the core strength, which is slightly tricky to achieve in the cutting phase.
- With bulking, you increase your muscle mass and increase your bone density, which helps maintain strong bones and joints. Strength training in bulk can help you with bone density while also reducing the risk of osteoporosis.
Advantages of Cutting:
- Better muscle appearance is perhaps the most sought-after reason why bodybuilders shift to a cutting diet. When you train hard at the gym and burn out calories, which is already low, You will significantly reduce body fat percentage.
- According to a research, a Calorie deficit can also improve the insulin sensitivity of your body. The sugar intake is minimal in cutting, and therefore you can avoid diabetes, Higher cholesterol, etc.
- The rules of cutting down are strict and harsh! There is no room for junk food, sweets, and other oily or fried foods. This automatically improves the quality of your skin, hair, heart, and your overall body. In simple terms, Cutting plays a crucial role in rejuvenating your health!
Disadvantages of Bulking:
- Excessive fat gains are inevitable while bulking. And this disadvantage refrains people from adopting the bulking method. A large amount of calories is the primary cause of excessive fat gain, and this comes as a downside of building muscle with the bulking approach.
- The body’s athletic performance can come to a halt due to excessive fat gain and calorie surplus. If you focus on athletes, they tend to adapt to cutting because you can’t run an 800 m-marathon with a bulk diet. You need a light body for performing athletic activities.
- Bulking phase can make you adopt those bad habits which we were talking about earlier. You can literally binge watch Netflix with your favorite snack and carry on with your bulk diet. It not only makes you lazy but will make it difficult to transit into the cutting phase. (More on that ahead)
Disadvantages of Cutting:
- Mark my words. Initially, Your willpower will be at test in the cutting phase. In this phase, you have to strictly count your calories before consuming. You need to be mindful of what you’re eating throughout the day. This can be hard work, especially if you’re a foodie!
- Slight muscle loss is unavoidable during the cutting phase. If you’re coming from eating a bulk diet regularly, your body is used to get all the nutrition and protein. There will be a complete overhaul in your diet plan, and due to this, your muscle may not get all the fuel it needs!
- Cutting can impact your performance at the gym. With a calorie deficit diet, you will not have much in the tank to burn out in the gym! As a result, you may not lift heavy weight or throw more punches compared to your bulk regime.
Now that we did a thorough analysis on Bulking vs cutting, You might be wondering it is either Bulking or Cutting you can adopt. But a man always looks forward to making his own way! If you’re thinking that can I perform both bulking and cutting at the same time, yes you can! You can reduce your body fat and retain (Or even gain) muscle at the same time.
Can you increase the muscle size while cutting?
You’ll hear most of the gym-goers arguing that you cannot grow muscle size while cutting, and that is ridiculously wrong. We’ve seen so many bodybuilders grow muscle while boasting a lean body. So the question in your mind would be, how can I bulk and cut at the same time? How can I prevent muscle loss while cutting down body fat? Let us guide you to practice the same!
There are several studies describing people experiencing an increase in muscle growth and a decrease in body fat. This term can be defined as ‘Body Recomposition.’ Let’s talk about some techniques to imply the body recomposition in your perfect body plan!
Focusing on compound movements
Compound movements are exercises where more than one muscle group is targeted. Performing circuit training with light weights would require years to have visible muscle gain results. Instead, we recommend performing compound movements like Squat, Deadlifts, Rows, etc., with heavyweights that can stimulate more muscle growth in less time.
Another exciting way to practice compound movements is having boxing training sessions for 15-20 minutes every day. This full-body exercise can also be included in the warmup regime, heating your body for lifting mighty weights. You can check out our punching bags in case you need to throw some punches!
Boost up your protein intake
Your ideal protein consumption should be around 0.8 grams per kg of your body weight. We recommend raking up the intake to 1.5 to 2.0 grams per kg. Irrespective of any type of diet you follow, if you’re looking to have some muscle mass, you should never compromise on protein!
From those intricate compound movements mentioned above, your muscles will eventually break down and require a massive amount of protein to rebuild and expand. If gaining muscle is your top priority, protein intake should be high. Natural ways or supplements, it’s totally up to your body’s needs.
Cut Down on Carbs
Our lean bodybuilders probably saw this coming! The starting point of shredding out extra weight is cutting down your carbs of what you used to follow in a bulk diet. You should cut it down to the point where they’re efficiently used. You need to maintain your carb intake to complement your workout and give you the required energy.
Several bodybuilding guides say that you should consume your carbs when your body needs them the most. The rule of thumb is 2 hours before a workout and right after your exercise to maintain your energy levels.
Yeah! This is the only downside to the body recomposition technique, keeping your taste buds under control as most of your favorite foods include a high amount of carbs!
Focusing on Cardio Training
If there’s any technique that cuts body fat and increases muscle mass simultaneously, Cardiovascular exercises will top the chart. Initially, people believed that Cardio is only made for fat loss, but recent research denies this claim!
Cardio Training can improve the muscle strength and durability of your muscle. Cardio puts your entire body in motion, and intense cardio can help you lose fat. It’s like the perfect plan of bulk and cut at the same time.
Standard rules/observations for Bulking and Cutting to achieve your body goals
Whether you’re a bodybuilder looking to prepare for an upcoming show, or you’re just a beginner striving hard for your perfect body goals, you need to follow some globally followed rules while practicing Bulking and cutting phase.
The following tips will help people eliminate the trial and error method and also provide a rule checker guide for people already following them.
1. Not eating enough when bulking
We can’t stress this enough! If you’re looking on to pack some fat and build muscles, you need to achieve the threshold of daily calorie consumption. Failing that will result in low energy balance in the gym, and there will be complete chaos in your bulk regime.
2. Cut down Oil while cutting
You need to carefully examine calorie intake while cutting, using a large amount of food oil while preparing meals can affect calorie consumption. We recommend using Olive oil instead of your regular food oil to avoid pounding in fat.
3. Sufficient sleeping hours
In this saga of bulking vs cutting, Sufficient sleep is a common rule you need to follow to achieve your fitness goals. Proper sleep gives your muscle and tissues time to repair themselves and make you ready for the next day.
4. Note down the progress
There’s no use in following strict routines if there isn’t any visible progress. You need to note down every pound gained every extra rep. in the gym. This helps you build correct strategies and acts as a motivational factor to continue doing what you do.
5. Black Coffee can be your best friend in cutting
You’re following a light diet while cutting. Therefore to sustain energy levels in the gym, Black coffee can act as the perfect pre-workout fuel. A Cup of black coffee with two of your favorite fruits can be an ideal pre-workout meal in cutting.
6. Protein to gain muscle
Gaining muscle should be one of your end goals of the bulk and cut cycle. To meet that end, protein is essential. Boosting your protein intake is also vital for achieving body recomposition; therefore, you’ll need to keep a check on your protein macro in any cycle.
7. Our stand on cheat meals
The whole bulking cycle is a cheat meal in itself, but you need to plan out the number of cheat meals when you’re thinking of losing fat. While cheat meals are strictly prohibited, we don’t want to be too harsh with you. We recommend one cheat meal a week, preferably a meal with low carbs and high protein.
8. Insulin Sensitivity
Higher fat percentage results in higher insulin insensitivity. In the case of insulin insensitivity, you’re not in the optimal position to put on the muscle mass. If you’re at a good insulin sensitivity, you’re more likely to put on some lean muscle mass.
9. Longer periods to build muscle
Another Common observation while bulking is the more extended period to build muscle. In bulking period, your body becomes more anabolic initially. With higher fat, it will be challenging to gain muscle at a constant speed.
10. Have a word with a professional trainer/ nutritionist
We highly recommend booking an appointment with an experienced fitness trainer who can provide you insightful feedback regarding your body goals. If you want a more customized workout and diet plan with a clear purpose, talk to a trainer/nutritionist ASAP!
What is the point of bulking and cutting? More on a lean bulk.
After consuming all in-depth content related to bulking and cutting, you might be wondering that what is the point of bulking and cutting? Do these two terms can really be pulled off by a normal man with a standard fitness goal.
The answer is Yes! Bulking and cutting are two age-old techniques that have been in trend for years now. But we recommend you stay around the same weight and keep getting more decisive in terms of muscle mass. The process of lean bulk can help you look lean while packing up some muscle mass. Let’s focus more on Lean bulking and why it is the optimal fitness goal for you!
Lean bulking is the process of minimizing fat gain while the process of bulking. This is more of a sustained bulking where calorie surplus doesn’t exceed 200-300 kcal. You need to strictly analyze your calorie surplus to curb the excess fat gain that happens while bulking.
The diet in lean bulking is strictly against High-calorie junk foods. Most of the fat in this phase comes from your protein sources and goes straight into muscle buildup.
From where to start? Bulk or Cut?
Now that you have accumulated all knowledge on bulking vs cutting, you might be stuck at which one to do first. That totally depends on your body fat percentage, as a higher body fat percentage can help you store more fat in the beginning. But an increase in estrogen and insulin sensitivity can not be ignored.
So the obvious answer here is to cut the body fat as low as possible before bulking. While this can vary based on your fitness goals, My recommendation would be to go on a lean bulk phase and cut down the fat when you have packed muscle.
The Bottom Line
In this article, we tried our best to differentiate bulking and cutting and how following these two different strategies can help you achieve the perfect body. The last tip we want you to give is, maintain consistency.
Following any of these wouldn’t be a cakewalk unless you’re absolutely determined to bring the change! The right diet, right exercise, and putting a constant effort will decide the fate of your body goals. All of this content is wasted if you’re not following the guidelines regularly.
If you think we missed out on any vital information, please let us know in the comments section below! Do not forget to check out our punching bags to start working out at home the right way!