T Nation

Cut or Bulk, Need Advice

I am 5’8", 180lbs, 20-21% body fat (measured with calipers). I just spent 3 months cutting down some weight, before I was 195lbs at 34% body fat. Worked hard and am down a bunch now. My question here is if I should continue to cut or begin a bulk. I have been lifting for 10+ years on and off but only now am taking it seriously. Because of this, I still consider myself a beginner.

In short my goals are to get around 10% body fat around 180 lbs, i stress eventually, i know it will take a while. I began powerlifting last year and got my strength up a lot, for example my deadlift went from 180 to 370 since last year (3 rep max). I feel strong and i have good technique from every trainer i have worked with and was even licensed as a trainer when i was younger and in better shape. I know how to and what to do to diet for either a cut or bulk. The question here is what is the best approach to take now? Do I continue to cut down more or do I bulk and put on some more muscle mass?

My original idea was to cut and bulk in 4 week cycles to minimize fat gains on the bulks, but from what i am reading more and more, it is bad to switch back and forth so quickly. This would be due to the body not holding on to muscle gained when going from bulking to cutting, essentially the body would say “oh we are cutting now, i have some great fuel in these muscles to eat up!” trying to avoid that.

Sorry for the long winded post, any advice or experience in this to share is greatly appreciated.

I would cut to 10% if that is your goal and then slowly bulk from there (read CT’s article on t-nation on bulking it has fairly accurate calorie recommendations). Switching every 4 weeks is a recipe for zero progress. If you want to lose the weight anyway I would just continue cutting. I also think your math is off, if you were 34% at 195 and assuming 1-2 pounds a month of muscle gain (which is very liberal on a calorie deficit) you are probably closer to 25-26% bf at 180. If you need a mental break from the diet I would begin bulking once you hit 14-15% and maybe bulk for a few months (3 months minimum) slowly and then resume the cut again but if you can hang in there I would just stick with the cut to 10%. Good luck.

I like the cut to 14-15 recommendation, because honestly i dont think i can make it to 10%. As for my numbers, if anything my initial calculation of fat % was probably high. I probably started closer to 28%. I did measure again yesterday to confirm and i am right around 20% now +/-2 percent taking the high and low range of what my calipers showed me. But thanks for keeping me realistic and honest!

Ill check out that article by CT if i can find it.

Thanks for the advice.

I agree with the 14-15 cut before bulking. I think your body is more efficient at using your calories to build muscle when you are leaner, and getting below 14 from 20 is difficult. I recently went from 26 to 12 and the last two were very difficult. I then bulked for a few weeks to 14 and am cutting again now and it seems to come off easier than when I was higher. When you start to bulk I would recommend you set a ceiling, say 16 percent, and bulk slowly until you hit that number, then start to cut.

Thank you for the info. I like the ceiling idea, i will definitely keep that in mind and use that once I get down and start to bulk.

justme78, were you talking about this article? https://www.t-nation.com/diet-fat-loss/nutrition-for-newbies

No, this is the one I was referring too. https://www.t-nation.com/training/truth-about-bulking

Thanks, appreciate the reply.