Continue Cutting? Direction Needed!

I’m 26m, 6,0ft and 164lbs. I fell off track with my health after my first child, and gained about 20lbs. I’ve been losing weight since the beginning of the year and am down 10-12lbs. I’m currently doing Upper/Lower split 4x a week. I’ve been eager to go into maintenance and then a lean bulk, I just ideally wanted to be leaner before doing so.

However I feel like a cut this long isn’t doing me well. I could go for a bit longer but ideally want to move calories back up. My goal is primarily to just have a strong and lean physique. I eat clean just need some advice on direction. I’m back on track with my diet and exercise just needing some advice! (Pictures below)


What would make you happier, having more definition or having a bit more size?

I get stuck into the mind set of wanting to be big and strong, but find I am happier being a bit leaner than that mind set get me. So I have adjusted diet and training to achieve that.

Just keep eating clean and lifting weights.
IMO, don’t think the dichotomy of either cut or bulk.

Eat enough protein to build muscle (that is often debated here, but I suggest a gram of protein for every pound you weigh). Eat frequently to keep your blood sugar from swinging as best you can. Eat as “clean” as you can.

Lift weights consistently and progressively.

Monitor your weight and the mirror. Progress might get be slow, but it should be steady. Your best weight room gauge is your strength. It should be progressing in either weight or reps. IMO, the barbell bench press is the best exercise to monitor strength progress. (Some will pick another exercise, or a combination of exercises)


That’s a great question. So ideally I want aiming to get down to 10-12% body fat before going into a lean gain again. Do you have any idea of what I might be at? My goal through the years is to get to around 190lbs and 10%. I know that could be close to genetic limit but that’s my goal. I will break it down into smaller goals for sure as I go.

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My thoughts are that you actually are going after a look, not a BF%, right? The 10-12% that you wrote corresponds to a look you expect at those numbers. I am not a mind reader, but I am guessing you want a flat stomach, with ab definition, but not shredded. Am I close?

Should be possible IMO. Or 190 lbs and lean looking at least. I think at 6’ 200 lbs is possible while looking athletic (visible abs).

As you get more muscle, you can have more fat and still look good. Like a really muscular individual can look really good at 15% BF, but someone with little muscle will just look like an average guy who isn’t fat at 15%.

I spent a long time “cultivating mass”. I looked terrible the entire time haha. I would have gotten lean and stayed leaner in hindsight (just not letting abs completely disappear during a bulk I think is a pretty good recommendation). If you currently want to be leaner than you are, then you are not going to be happy with the way you look bulking.

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Depends on prefferences. If i would be at your level but with my shit genetics i would bulk and get fat, because bigger = better in my opinion. I dont see a point to be lean at your height under 220lbs. Ok, 200lbs at lowest. But thats just my opinion. If you would rather be the skinnier dude with some abs - cut first.
For me, cutting just makes me lose muscle. The only times i got big and strong was when i ate to get fat and did it for 2 years straight.

I don’t have much to add to what others have said except that a legit 10% bodyfat (DEXA scan) is what most folks would consider pretty shredded. Especially as a natural lifter. And likely quite painful to maintain for any period of time. I agree with @mnben87 that 200# at 6 feet with visible abs is certainly doable long term.

Edit: I looked at the picture. It sounds like you’ve just recently gotten back on track with diet and exercise. If that’s right, I’d focus on what @RT_Nomad said for at least several months.

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I’ve got to say that at 6’3 I’ve always looked better when bigger. When I’ve slimmed down I look better topless but 95% of the time I felt better a bit bigger especially in a T-shirt.

If I were to give my younger self some advice, it would be to follow a proper BB split get big and don’t change programme and don’t try to lean down until you are a lot bigger than is comfortable.

I know everyone is different but trying to stay leanish and get bigger ruined years of my training.

Thank you for the feedback. This is what I had in mind and honestly don’t like the terms “cut/bulk”. That’s what I’ve been doing for the past 30 days so I’ll continue to go in that direction. I’m thankful for the help, I’ve been doing the split I’m on for quite some time and have been thinking of going to 3x per week full body. Do you have any advice on this or is it largely preference of schedule?

Yeah I would say that’s pretty close or even exactly what I’m going for! I don’t desire to go below 10% body fat as far as visual and my willpower to do that personally. But I do want that strong athletic look (visible abs) even while gaining weight. So I take it as far as my personal goal it would be better to continue to eat clean and continue to lose some weight/recomp?

I never would consider doing full body in a single workout.

My legs were lagging from the beginning being a long legged 6’0” at 165, or so, at 19 when I started lifting weights not doing anything but running for my legs the first 2+ years.

Legs had a dedicated day when I realized the need to change my bird legs to bodybuilder-like thighs. IMO, if you train legs properly, there is too little me left to train anything else.

I would suggest either an upper body/lower body four day split, or a six day PPL split. Four days a week would be easier to avoid overtraining.


You can actually do 4x per week full body if you want, it’s what I’m doing and have had decent results over the past 6 weeks. The full body approach I take is outlined in Fortitude Training by Scott Stevenson, but is effectively Heavy Upper/Light Lower, then Light Upper/Heavy Lower - rinse and repeat. This can be done to increase stimulus frequency and bring up lagging muscles as needed.

@RT_Nomad is more experienced than I will likely ever be, so take what I say with a grain of salt (I know my opinion is contrary to his). I did, however, have good results on PPLx6 for quite a while, but eventually I had to change it up as I could no longer recover from squats/deads 2x per week.

Thanks, I’ll plan to stick with my upper/lower for awhile longer and will probably move to a PPL later. To be transparent with my past year I never really stopped training, but I ate poor, drank too much, and got overall lazy. So when I say I just got back on track I’m just over a month sober and have been eating healthier than I ever have. I feel much better and am taking my training and nutrition seriously.

I appreciate the advice, this online forum seems much more responsive and genuine than I’m used to. I don’t have many friends or family into this lifestyle so thank you for the help. While I do what you recommended for the next few months, when would you recommend looking to purposefully gain weight?

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I should qualify leg training in particular. IMO, a person can best gain when only one day a week the legs are trained heavy and hard. The other day needs to be light on the heavy compound movements.

If heavy deadlifts are part of your program you need to keep it as far apart from the heavy leg day, or do them on the heavy leg day (after heavy squats and/or leg press, or after completing all thigh work. Thighs are the priority, not the deadlift.)

Considering your condition and modest amount of muscle, I think you shouldn’t even focus on cutting or bulking now, and go for so-called “maingaining” (very modest increase in food intake) and see where that takes you in a few months.


@BrickHead Agree with this and along the lines of what @RT_Nomad stated. I doubt you have a nutrition plan… let’s get you on one. Second, need to start pounding the weights and if you are, then we need to figure out what you’re doing wrong. The more info you provide on nutrition and current training the better pointers you will receive.


Right now we’re just talking philosophy more so than a plan you can use going forward.

And I would like to see what kind of drive and determination you actually have. We can help you make smarter choices, but it helps greatly actually seeing your dedication. Achieving a muscular (10% body fat) physique requires a drastic lifestyle change.


Yes I agree, I do feel I have developed a good amount of self disciple as well as a joy in going to the gym and eating healthy. I am thankful for that. This was my first post online and I am grateful for how helpful it’s already been. But I will most definitely continue to share and seek help here.

As far as specific plans for moving forward, let me know what you have in mind that would be to my benefit regarding what we’ve discussed so far!

As far as my training goes in the gym I do about 3 sets of 8-12 reps. If I can do all sets to 12 reps I up the weight. I’ve been trying to go back to basics and really focus on strict form and controlling the weight. I also have started including more calisthenics exercises which I’ve heard can help with strength.

So as far as training I’ve been doing Upper/Lower split 4x a week. Usually do 2 days of cardio, and nothing on Sunday. My nutrition plan isn’t anything specific, but it is clean. High protein with moderate carb/fat intake. I cut out booze/sodas. Everyday my diet consists of I would say 90% whole foods. Greek yogurt, protein shakes, eggs and whole wheat toast, chicken breast, and fruits/veggies as sides and snacks.