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Bulking/Cutting as a "Novice" Lifter

I’ve been bulking for a while now (or in my case, just eating a shit ton), and after some research, I should be cutting down first so I can be lean and then do a clean slow bulk. Last couple of weeks I was something like 189 and now I’m 195.2lbs. I may have skipped the “slow” part and I understand that a lot of the pounds I gained turns into fat, but I’ve noticed lots of muscle gain.

Height: 6"

Age: 19

Bench: 195

Dead: 255

OHP: 115

Squat: 225

BF: 15% (pretty sure this is bullshit. I have mad love handles and I used an online calculator. I’ll find a more accurate measurement with that pinch tool).

Should I be cutting down to something like 10% BF before I start bulking?

I’ve been told these 1 rep maxes for someone like me is “novice” stats. So I was thinking whether I should even start this bulking/cutting phase or I should just focus on a caloric surplus (less that what I’ve been doing) and getting strong. What do you think?

I’m following BBB 5/3/1 by Jim Wendler for strength and a bit of hypertrophy assisstance.

BBB is for size though.

You need to eat to support recovery from training. BBB should be placing a good demand on you. Keep in mind, Jim aims for trainees to get all the BBB work done in under 20 minutes. Give that a try and see what your recovery demand is like.


Or just don’t. It’s a spectacularly useless piece of information.

5/3/1 BBB on anything except a reasonable calorie surplus is a bad idea. If you can give us an idea of what your ultimate end goal is, we might be able to steer you in the direction of a better idea.


I think the fatter you are harder it is to gain muscle as a proportion of total weight gain.

The closer to beginer we are the more and faster we gain muscle.

We can only gain muscle so fast so getting super big super fast will have us gaining more fat than we’d like.

I think a photo would give a good indication of where you’re at. Not like some Instagram filter flexed bullshit but a honest realistic pic. Everyone hates on specific numbers but maybe comparing your pic to a specific look would be helpful (look this up online)

If you’re super fat like untested SHW fat. Just a massive fat cunt lol then maybe cut. I don’t think you are from your stats though so slow bulk, eat enough protein and keep making gains in the gym it is.

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I’m just looking to get stronger, but at the same time not look like I eat cake for a living. I’ll send pictures in thread of what my body looks like, but

I was told that you should be getting strong first before focusing on hypertrophy work shit. I agree though, that I need a caloric surplus for BBB, which is why I’m asking whether I should cut first then go on a clean bulk on BBB.

Some people told me to cut until 10% so I could lose excess bf, and others told me it’s fine and keep bulking so I’m kind of lost.

Took this in the morning. I don’t think I’m a fat cunt, but I never tried to cut as you can see. I’m thinking of cutting then going on a lean bulk. What do you think?

I know it’s for size, I completely agree with you there, but isn’t it also for strength? It follows the 5/3/1 method, no? Also, I was looking to get stronger first, but I was thinking of cutting to 10% so I could lose the excess fat then slowly lean bulk and go by BBB. In fact, someone actually recommended the beginner routine since my stats are low. Should I just cut first? I sent a picture of where I’m at up in the thread if you need a better place of judgement.

Thanks for the reply.

I think this may be your finest work @guineapig

@angomango you don’t look super fat, but the photo is pretty terrible so it’s hard to tell. Front relaxed and profile relaxed would be best. Prop your phone up on something.


Just call me InformativePig from now on


No. “Boring but big” is for size, hence the “big”.

Absolutely so. Specifically, BBB is typically a leader program. It has hard supplemental work and light main work, with the focus on building size and accumulating volume. Strength is realized when the main work is pushed hard and the supplemental work is easy.

The rule of thumb I always employ is this: if you want to be bigger, you should eat more. If you want to be smaller, you should eat less.

Who told you this? Why don’t you consult with this person regarding what to do next? It seems as though you hold their opinion in high regard.

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Don’t want to hijack this thread but I’m genuinely curious to know what you think about that statement. Do you not think it’s a good idea to focus on building up one’s strength before they move onto a hypertrophy focused approach even if their goal is to get bigger?

Personally I’ve trained for size pretty much the entire three years I’ve been lifting and I’ve regretted not having taken the time to get stronger first. I’m doing 5/3/1, as you know from my log, for that very reason. So when I come back to high volume training I can actually move decent loads and get better hypertrophy stimulus from my training.

I think this is one of those weird internet things that doesn’t make sense when you try it out in real life.

You’d have to train in the CRAZIEST way to someone get stronger without getting bigger. The issue is, trainees equate “more weight moved on the bar” to mean “more strength gained”, and then they end up focusing on programs that are essentially intensification phases of training to be able to maximize weight moved on bar. They don’t get stronger; they just get better at moving max poundages. Meanwhile, they accumulate ZERO volume during this process, and basically are peaked once it’s over, with nothing to really show for it.

Any decent program is going to get you bigger and stronger.


Obviously speaking for myself only, but in my 12 years ‘training’ I’ve had much better, and more consistent, gains while training strength has been my primary focus. I found it much easier to ‘spin my wheels’ when I was training purely for hypertrophy.

Now I think a good portion of the reason for this is that typical ‘hypertrophy training’ has more high rep work, and more instinctive training. I think its much easier to find out what your 3 rep max is than your 15 rep max, and subsequently is much harder to lie to yourself about how hard you are working when your sets are 3 reps.

Programming for strength is just a lot easier overall in my opinion. If you keep getting stronger, hypertrophy is inevitable. With a purely hypertrophy focus, sometimes there would be growth, sometimes with some strength gains, but it was all to easy to get it ‘wrong’ for short periods, or take the foot off the gas just a little, but enough that all you were doing was standing still. If I could go back to 16 year old me, I would just spend a few years doing 5/3/1 variations.

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I think this is another good point too, these things are, in reality, inseparable to an extent.

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Okay I was going to write a response then realized I had really nothing to add. Then I was trying to delete it and I accidentally posted it lol never mind, anyway I think what you said makes sense.


I should just use a copy/paste as I’ve written what I’m about to countless times over the years, BUT…

You don’t need to think Either Bulk or Cut. Howabout just planning sufficient macros, training your ass off for a decent length of time, and watch the magic as your body changes it’s muscle to fat ration even if the scale never moves a pound in either direction?

I’ve had countless clients over the years who freak out that their scale hasn’t moved at all, and then I send them two photos a couple of months apart and they suddenly realize how they’ve completed transformed their entire physique.

-You don’t need to over-eat to build muscle (it will just add fat anyway)
-You don’t need to do crazy insane hours of daily cardio to cut up (fighting a bad diet)
-You certainly don’t need to follow a program designed by a PLer for strength gains if you’re trying to maximize muscle retention/growth



I agree with this 100% Currently going through this,

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I always felt guys talking themselves into the whole bulking thing just wanted an official excuse to eat pizza. haha


Lol I see that, but I’m not trying to dirty bulk.

I’ve been told to focus on strength rather than muscle gains due to my noob lifts? And shouldn’t I be at a slight caloric surplus so I don’t burn any muscle? Great response though, thanks.