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Bulk or Cut? Not Sure What to Focus on at This Point

hey there, i just want some advice as to whether it is advisable to focus on fat loss or muscle gain.

last year i went from 200 lbs down to 175, however was uneducated in regards to proper training protocol to maintain muscle. i didn’t have much muscle to begin with and ended up skinny-fat. after a relatively unclean bulk i added roughly equal amounts of muscle and fat.

at this point i have a basic amount of muscle and strength but would like to see more, yet am worried about the accompanying fat gain. does the aesthetic improve with both muscle and fat gain? i would say i am between 18-20% bf. i struggle immensely with restricting calories, i eat at least 80% clean but struggle with hunger after a few weeks of caloric deficit. i have no troubles adding mass, both muscle and fat.

any advice would be appreciated.

You’re bouncing between extremes. On your bulk, you eat too much and get fat. On your cuts, you eat too little and loose too much muscle.

If you can easily gain mass, don’t kill yourself. Work hard enough in the gym to make gains. Eat enough to not feel hungry. Go for 3 or 4 weeks. Then evaluate. If you look sloppy, just eat a little less. Then repeat for 3-4 weeks and evaluate. If workouts suffer, eat a little more.

Be like Goldie locks. Don’t eat too much. Don’t eat too little. Find that sweet spot right in the middle. Once you get it just right, keep doing it for a couple years.



Habits and goals are everything for long term progress.

Find one or more goals that you can commit to long term (ideally specific, measurable ones). Think about what behaviours are going to be essential to get you there and make them habits. In terms of body composition, this will likely mean a steady plan covering eating and food prep and a guideline for how you’re going to take care of business in the gym and in recovery.

If you want more specifics on what these behaviours might be, we’ll more details of where you are and where you’d like to be. And no bodyfat estimates, because we’re all fed up of that particular argument.

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as of right now eating between 2400-2600 calories a day which keeps me between 201-203 lbs. ideally i would like reach a point where i have enough muscle to make cutting less of a struggle. whether it be lack of will power or commitment i cant seem to sustain my deficits (between 500-700 calories under maintenance). anything else you need to know to give detailed advice just let me know.

How do you buy your calories? Do they come in a box or a bag?

This is something you’re going to need to correct. Fixing it will carryover to everything else, in training and out.

How tall are you?

Also, what does your training week look like - the days, exercises, sets, and reps. Any cardio? Current bests on the big basic lifts?

[quote]last year i went from 200 lbs down to 175 […] i would say i am between 18-20% bf
as of right now eating between 2400-2600 calories a day which keeps me between 201-203 lbs[/quote]
If you’re right back to around 200 pounds and around 20% fat right now, you wasted last year’s time and energy. You should get frustrated by that and use the frustration to focus on sticking with a good plan.

im 6ft, benching 250, squat 300, deadlift 405.

monday chest
benchpress 5 sets of 2 reps or 5x5
incline db press 3x8
flys 3x10
band pushups amrap

tuesday back

5x5 bb bent row
db row 3x10
pullups 3x5
lat pulldowns 3x10
lat pushdowns 3x10

Wednesday rest

thursday back, same as tuesday but deadlift instead of bent rows

friday legs

squat 5x5
hack squats 3x8
calf raises 3x12
hamstring curls 3x10

if i am aiming to cut i mix in 20 minutes of hiit either on a bike or treadmill or 10-15 minutes of sprints on the track.

i ended up skinny fat after an uneducated cut but am now significantly more muscular.

What I’m trying to get at is what do you eat? And not numbers, actual, real food. This will be the biggest determining factor in body composition. As a rule of thumb I would say food quantity is about how much you weigh and food quality is how “soft” that weight is. It will also have a massive impact on the mental aspect of dieting that you stated you had an issue with.

A better designed program will also encourage better results by giving your body a reason to build/preserve muscle. There are tons of great routines on the site, this is one example.

Also, it wouldn’t hurt to always do 10-20 minutes of easy-ish cardio (like incline treadmill walking or simply walking outdoors) right after any weight training session, on top of whatever cardio you do on off days.

Like Dagill was saying, lay out your specific nutrition. If you’re not getting enough quality protein or are loading up on junk carbs, that’d be an easy fix.

Even more importantly, in my opinion, is that you can name roughly what you eat on a typical day. If there is no typical day, there’s your problem right there.

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I really like this point about the typical day.

First, establish some kind of routine. Get a “good” set up going. You have to do that before you figure out how to improve it.