So as I promised, I’m finally getting around to blogging about the whole cutting vs bulking thing! I initially made this post on my blog but I got such positive feedback, I thought I’d post it here on my website as well! I got a ton of questions about the concept of bulking vs cutting via Instagram and elsewhere (mainly girls wanting to know what the difference was. I’ll give you a simple run down and then tell you what I do personally! =)
Typically, people who bulk and cut will go through it as a cycle. In other words, they will have a bulking phase first to create a solid foundation and make improvements to their physique, and they will then follow that with a cutting cycle where they will lean out to reveal all that new muscle.
The idea behind the bulking phase is to build muscle. In order to build muscle, you typically need to be taking in MORE calories than you would need to maintain. Usually during this phase, people put an emphasis on lifting heavy, having longer rest time between sets, and doing less cardio. Although keep in mind, everyone has a different formula so this is just to give you an IDEA of the bulking concept! Rest and proper nutrition is CRUCIAL. Your body rebuilds itself when you’re resting, NOT in the gym. (The gym is where you break down the muscle to be rebuilt later through your nutrition and sleep). You will just be spinning your wheels if you go HAM in the gym, only to not sleep and not eat enough of the right foods later!
The idea behind the cutting phase is to decrease the excess body fat while keeping as much muscle as possible. During this phase, people usually up the intensity of their workouts while trying to maintain strength (less rest time, supersets, dropsets, incorporating plyos and other techniques to keep the heart rate elevated and calorie burn high). There is also typically more cardio during cutting. During this phase, macronutrients are often manipulated and calories are a bit lower. PLEASE KEEP IN MIND this is just an IDEA of what SOME people do! Everyone is different and everyone has techniques, macro ratios and amounts/type of cardio that works best for their individual bodies.
There is an exception to both of these that I learned about from a couple very well known bodybuilders many moons ago. When you are FIRST starting out and your body has never experienced resistance training or clean eating, it is possible to drop body fat and build muscle at the same time. I bet you’re feeling pretty good right about now if you’re just getting started! =) Also, for very experienced competitors/models or individuals who have good coaches or know their bodies well, they can manipulate their training and nutrition to do this as well.
For me personally, these are the main differences:
During my bulking phase, I keep it simple. I eat more, I lift heavier, I do less cardio and I have 2-3 cheat meals a week instead of just 1. (Cheat MEALS not days!) I still eat clean the majority of the time. I make sure to get plenty of protein from things like chicken, turkey, salmon, tuna, cottage cheese, greek yogurt and protein shakes. For carbs, I stick to yams, oats, sweet potatoes, berries and apples. I still eat my greens which include broccoli, asparagus, bell peppers and spinach. For my fats I eating natural almond & peanut butter, almonds, avocado and coconut & olive oil.
During my cutting phase, it’s a little trickier. I won’t go into the exact specifics because like I mentioned before, everyone’s bodies respond differently and what works for me won’t necessarily work for everyone else. I eat a little less, I keep lifting challenging weight and incorporate more supersets and dropsets. I don’t do a lot of plyos for various reasons.. mainly because I’m clumsy and I am always injuring myself. I never have and never will attempt a box jump… the thought alone makes me shudder! lol. I do cardio 6 days a week. The length and type varies depending on the body part I’m training. Leg day is usually off day from cardio. My protein comes from chicken, tilapia, salmon, tuna and my post workout protein shake. My carbs are oats and brown rice. My greens stay high and are the same/similar to my bulking phase. My healthy fats are the same also, just in smaller doses.
As you can see, the concept is simple generally speaking. But when you break it down on an individual level, it gets a bit tricker. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try new things! If you are planning to compete or you don’t feel you’re ready to go through the process alone, check out the free resources that are available to you like Bodybuilding.com! If you want a more personalized approach, consider hiring a good coach! I hope this helps clarify some things for you guys!!! <3