T Nation

Are Bulking/Cutting Cycles Necessary?


Hey, I was recently looking more into bulk/cut phases and I just wanted to know if you guys feel that it's a total necessity for a serious bodybuilder and why? What are the disadvantages of sticking with a static diet and training?


I really thought this was basic, basic, basic bodybuilding.

You're not going to build muscle at low bodyfat (5-7%). You're body does not like to be that lean and you have to fight to get your bodyfat that low, which equates to not having enough calories to build muscle.

But you're not going to win a show at 12%bf.

So, you use the off-season to build as much mass as possible, then diet down for shows.


The main one is that you will not progress at all. Static diet means static everything else.

Your body is not going to magically use up your fat stores and turn it into muscle. You need to eat more to grow.


For a serious bodybuilder competing in shows, yes. For everyone else, most should focus on building a good foundation of size and strength for a long period of time (years) before looking to truly "cut". You may need to throw in some "mini diets" occassionaly where you scale things back a bit if you over reached and put on more fat than deemed acceptable, but then it's typically back to putting on size.

I also think it's important to point out another issue. If you're putting on a lot of weight but your total workload moved from session to session is not "improving" at the beginning stages, you need to reasses your training and possibly your diet. As you get stronger and more advanced, gains in strength will slow down and come in bursts here and there and then you will go back to a bit of stagnation until the next burst.


all good posts so far but this one ^^^ basically sums it up perfectly.



Why is that? OP said serious bodybuilder.


Is this serious bodybuilder just beginning which I'm assuming he/she is since this is in the beginner forum? Serious does not = advanced. I think my advice was probably more pertinent to the audience if that is the case.


great advice and explanations guys, thanks. I will start towards bulking immediately, and cut down my cardio.


I agree. If the bodybuilder in question is just starting, then the best advice is to bulk for a few years until you're a decent size. I'm not even a serious bodybuilder, and that's what I'm doing now. (by serious, I'm assuming you mean 'plans to step on stage and compete')

I was simply answering the question as it was stated, not taking the OP's training level into account.


I don't have plans to step on stage and compete (it's just not very appealing to me at this moment, but that could change in the future obviously). Although, I do admit that I would like to have a nicer physique than the typical "I go to the gym 4-5 days a week and eat decently" guy. I guess I want to be somewhere in between for now.