When you first start to body-build a question that is always asked is whether you should bulk or cut first ? Now most of the people that ask this question have one thing in common… they would probably like to lose some body fat, but also gain muscle and they just can’t decide which one to do first. This is a common dilemma and while there are a few factors for you to consider when making this decision, the biggest factor that should determine whether you bulk or cut first is your current body fat percentage.
Your Current Body Fat Percentage
The reason why your current body fat percentage is the main deciding factor is because the fatter you are when you start to bulk the fatter you’re going to become once you finish. Furthermore, you will have to cut for a much longer time which inevitably increases the amount of muscle you lose. So bulking when you’re already fat is a very very bad idea, but if you’re fairly lean then go ahead and start your bulk.
To help you figure out what your current body fat percentage is, look at the pictures below and compare them to yourself in the mirror.
For males being fairly lean means anything below a body fat percentage of 15%. You don’t have to be super ripped before you start to bulk, but the leaner you are the better it is because you can stay in the bulking phase for longer. However, if you’re current body fat is any higher than 15% you should cut down first.
For females having a body fat percentage of anything below 23% is considered lean and anything above means that you should cut first before you bulk.
Hold ON – Isn’t Possible To Do Both At The Same Time ?
Yes it is !, but there’s a catch… It is only possible to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time when you’re completely new to weight training. This is known as “newbie gains” and if you are doing everything correctly (eating the right wholefoods with high protein, getting enough sleep and progressively overloading your muscles) the newbie gains phase shouldn’t last longer than 1-2 years. Unfortunately once you’re past this stage you can only do one thing at a time, either bulk or cut.
By now you should have decided whether you’re going to bulk or cut, but before you start here are a few tips that will make sure your cutting and bulking phases go as smoothly as possible.
- When cutting don’t lower your calories too fast or else you’ll crash your metabolism and lose a lot of muscle mass.
- Don’t cut for more than 15 weeks without having a refeed day because your body will think it’s starving and you’ll stop losing fat. In the beginning of your cut (the first 1-2 months) a refeed day won’t be necessary, but as you get leaner have a refeed day once a week.
- A bulking phase should last at least 6 months to a year. If you don’t bulk for long enough you won’t gain much muscle mass, but if you bulk for too long you’ll end up gaining excessive body fat that will be hard to lose.
- DO NOT do a dirty bulk where you eat anything and everything you want because most of the weight gain will be fat and not muscle, but instead keep your bulk fairly clean where you get to enjoy the foods you love occasionally. To keep it simple have 60-70% of your daily caloric intake come from nutritious wholefoods and the other 30-40% come from whatever you like to eat.
Once you’ve finished your cut or bulk, switch on over to the other phase and keep repeating as many times as you want until you end up with your ideal body type. This process might take you years, but in the end you’ll look amazing and stand out in any crowd, have more confidence in yourself and be much healthier.
Lastly, if you have anymore questions about bulking or cutting then please feel free to leave a comment about it down below.