People seem to ask me on a regular basis, why do people bulk and cut? So I figured I would go ahead and dedicate a whole article to this topic. Why? Because bulking and cutting are the building blocks to creating the body of your dreams.
I will admit, when I first started working out, I didn’t realize that there was such a thing as bulking and cutting. I thought that maybe if I just worked out, muscles would magically appear. Well, I couldn’t have been further from reality.
What you will find is that cycles of bulking and cutting are necessary to build your perfect body. And it is going to take hard work and dedication.
Before we get started, I urge you to download our app All Workouts: Personal Trainer (iOS | Google Play). We have FREE workout plans that are great for bulking and cutting! You don’t have to worry about planning your workouts anymore. Everything is in the app.
What is bulking
When we ask ourselves why do people bulk and cut, we first must know what they are. So what is bulking? Bulking is when someone eats at a caloric surplus and also works out. Combine those two things over an extended period of time, and you will have yourself a successful bulk.
How do you know that you are eating at a caloric surplus? I would say that this is the most tedious part of any bulk or cut. It is the calorie tracking that is necessary. You can learn how to calculate your maintenance calories here. Maintenance calories are just what your body needs to not gain or lose any weight.
Once you have your maintenance calorie number, you can now start eating at a starting caloric surplus of 500 calories per day over your maintenance.
Now you are on your way to a successful bulk! If you are doing this successfully, you should be gaining at least a half pound per week. There is a balance between eating too much and eating just enough to build muscle and not build fat. That is why the 500 calorie per day over threshold is usually a good measure.
Some people may opt for a dirty bulk. This is when you essentially eat whatever you want, knowing you are going over your maintenance number. I don’t recommend this because yes, you will build muscle, but a lot of fat will also come with it.
You can also take advantage of the bulking season. This is usually in the winter, when everyone is usually wearing bulking clothing. You can learn more about bulking season in our article what is bulking season and what you can do about it.
What is cutting
Cutting is the exact opposite of bulking. Cutting is when you decide that now is the right time to start cutting fat from your body. The goal here is to keep your muscle definition, but lose the fat. This will reveal all of your muscles and show all of the hard work that you did in your bulk.
Some people may opt for doing a cut first if they are overweight. For me, I had no choice but to do a bulk first, but I have several friends who did their cut first before the bulk.
A cut is mostly defined by eating at a caloric deficit and working out. You can go a step further in saying that you should be doing weight training and high intensity interval training alongside.
In the previous section, you learned how to calculate your maintenance calories. Now that you have that number, you can now calculate your caloric deficit. Start by eating 500 calories per day under your maintenance calories. If you combine this with working out, the fat is going to shed off.
If you did a bulk previous to this cut, you will want to try to keep using the same weight that you did in the bulk. This will help keep the same muscle size. It is important to note that you will lose some muscle mass during a cut.
Whenever you eat at a caloric deficit, you are not going to just lose fat. You will also lose some muscle. Our goal here is to preserve as much muscle as possible while losing as much fat as possible.
The best way to ensure that this happens is to not eat too little. Eat as close as you can to 500 calories under maintenance.
Why do people bulk and cut?
It’s a good question. This is why you came to read this article. The short answer is that people bulk and cut because they can’t do both at the same time.
To explain a little bit further, our bodies are actually fairly easy to predict when it comes to caloric intake. You cannot build muscle in a caloric deficit. That seems pretty straightforward, right? Yet you will see so many in the fitness industry trying to pedal this idea that you can build muscle and lose fat at the same time.
Unfortunately, it is not going to happen. And the sooner that you realize that, the quicker you will be able to hit your goals. I am not proud of the fact that I spent 7+ years listening to the fitness media about what the “shortcuts” are to getting in shape. It’s no surprise that the first year I figured things out for myself, I built over 20 pounds of muscle.
With this same logic, you cannot lose fat in a caloric surplus. Now we are starting to see a trend. If you want to lose fat, you should be cutting. If you want to put on muscle, you should be bulking.
A lot of people struggle while in the middle of deciding which direction they should go first. The way I see it, if you are overweight in any way, you should start with a cut. Then, once you are down, you can start a bulk from scratch and really build the body that you want.
Don’t be fooled by the fitness industry and quick solutions that they want to sell you. There are no quick solutions. Only dedication and commitment will do the trick.
How can I take advantage of bulks and cuts?
You now have the knowledge that you need in order to take advantage of a bulk and a cut. Let’s briefly talk about how we can maximize each bulk or cut.
Bulking is the act of building muscle while in a caloric surplus. I recommend doing weight training 3-4 days per week in order to build muscle. Check out our app for multiple FREE workout plans.
During your bulk, you will want to keep cardio to a minimum. If you don’t feel like downloading our app, a good place to start is our beginner bodybuilding routine for mass.
Take advantage of the fact that your body is in a caloric surplus. It wants to put those extra calories somewhere. You might as well make it your muscles. If you are not working out at least 3 days per week, your body will distribute the extra calories into fat stores.
Cutting is the act of losing fat while maintaining muscle mass. I recommend doing weight training 3 days per week, and HIIT workouts 2-3 days per week. You can alternate the days in between your weight training. Or you can do them on the same day.
Combine these workouts with eating at a caloric deficit, and your results will happen quickly. Depending on how overweight you are, you should be losing 1-3 pounds per week. Now combine that overtime, and that is 52-156 pounds lost in one year.
Most people will go through a bulk or cut cycle for 3-6 months. But it all depends on your preference and where your body is currently. If you have a lot to lose or gain, use your discretion on how long you want to do either. My first real bulk lasted almost 3 years!!
Main Point: Why do people bulk and cut?
Can you finally answer the question, why do people bulk and cut? By now, you should be able to. The main point here is that people bulk and cut because you cannot lose fat and build muscle at the same time. If that were possible, everyone would be doing it.
Bulking is the fastest way to build muscle. By eating at a caloric surplus and doing weight training 3-4 days per week, you can build some serious muscle over a period of time.
Cutting is the fastest way to lose fat. All you have to do is eat at a caloric deficit, workout, and do HIIT workouts.
This all seems so basic, yet people are not willing to put in the work. I promise you that if you put in the time to learn about caloric surpluses and deficits, you will have a leg up in the fitness world.
Don’t fall into the trap of quick fixes and solutions that don’t make any sense. You will find yourself stressed out and not motivated to continue on.
Your first order of business should be to get into the mindset that massive progress is going to take time. Once you learn to fall in love with the process, you will keep chugging along no matter what obstacles come in your way.