T Nation

Cutting or Lose Fat/Gain Muscle


Hey, i've never really posted here, but wanted some opinions. Im 5'10, around 150lbs, and 16% BF. Im a former fat boy, and now a skinny fat boy. My eventual goal is to bulk, but i'm thinking of reducing BF(cutting) before doing so inorder to make the bulking stage a bit more efficient.

Should i do a straight cutting phase?
Attempt the infamous lose fat/gain muscle with nutrient timing and having caloric deficits some part of the day and surpluses at others?

(personally, i am leaning towards the cutting)


Don't know if I'll beat anyone to the punch but:

Why the hell would anyone who weighs 150 lbs want to cut?????


Have you been lifting hard? It sounds like you lost all your weight through diet and cardio, and now you have little lean mass. If this is true, just pick a program from one of the T-Nation authors (ABBH would be good) and shovel lots of protein and clean carbs and fat into your mouth. Things should take care of themselves for quite a while - ie. gain muscle and lose fat. Is there any more we're missing about you? 5'10" 150 @ 16%bf sounds really weird. Are you a little older or did you use one of those bodyfat scales?


Im 18 years old. I was 180 when it all begin, at one point dropped to 135, first year, lost most of my muscle, put some back on, and i admit, diet hasnt been great, so some fat too. Im happy with my arms, back, legs, and I've got nice abs (under some serious fat), but admittedly not really developed pecs.

Bulking at this point would seem to add fat more than i want at this BF. As I sit, i can grab two entire hands full of flab/rolls around my stomach. But no one would speculate that until im shirtless or such.

EDIT- Yea, id say ive lifted pretty hard. At one point was squatting 205-220 at 140lb BW. Bench is up around 140, highest its been. Rows are solid around 120. Can start doing pullups/dips with added weight.


I can guarantee that if I were watch you train for a week, it would be very obvious that you aren't very serious in the weight room. You can't just go through the motions. Many of you claiming "former fat boy" status are just people who didn't move much or exercise very hard before. The truth is, you wouldn't know how your body truly responds to consistant intense training and adequate calories until you actually do it.

At 150lbs you are happy with your arms, back and legs? This is a bodybuilding forum. If your readings are right, you are carrying LESS than 130lbs of lean body mass...and you plan to lose more weight? You have no muscle mass on you.


180 at 5'10 doesn't seem so bad, are you sure you're a former fat boy?


Lets see, If you cut to say 10% BF then youd be 140 lb at 5'10 (giving you a BMI of almost exactly 20). If I remember rightly a BMI of less than twenty is considered under weight (not that BMI is accurate for fat percentage determination for body builders but it does give an indication of size).

The point is at 10%BF and 140lb you'd be lean but as other posters have said youd also be lacking in the way of having much muscle mass.

In fact at 140lb your weight (according to most weight charts) would be on a par with what would is considered appropriate for a small framed female at your height (albeit the female would be around 16% BF as opposed to your 10%). Seriously though I can give a link to a site showing that the ideal weight for a SMALL FRAMED female at 5'10 is 132 to 145lb and the ideal weight for a small framed male at that height is 144lb to 154lb.

Im not saying that to be rude or anything just pointing out that your current weight is not one where you need to be concerned about being too big not even too fat - Im trying to make the point that you need to be worried about weight gain at this point not weight loss. Im actually half wandering if you might not have a bit of an anorexia mentality going on? (I can remember being 145lb at 5 ft 9 when I began body building at age 19 myself and thinking how big my muscles were but in hindsight I was actually at a weight that was no bigger than appropriate for a healthy female at my height, albeit at 9% BF I was somewhat leaner).

So what would be the point of cutting then? Obviously not to show of your physique.

The only other reason you might cut is if you thought it might speed up the rate at which you acquire lean mass in the long run. As fat converts (aromatizes I think the word is) the big T into estrogen there is an advantage in losing fat before bulking for some people (for example middle aged people who are 230lb at 16% BF like myself will benefit from cutting before bulking due to the increased T levels that will potentially result from doing so - which is why in my case I am now cutting).

However because you are young and should have high T levels (and with abdominal fat destroying T not such a problem at your age) and because your total fat isn't that bad (if I had your total body fat I'd be under 10% BF) I personally doubt there is much advantage to you cutting before bulking right now (in terms of raising your T levels).

Really I just think you need to concentrate on bulking for now (and I suspect that youve possibly already lost too much lean mass from your previous dieting and if you continue in your intended case of action you likely will lose even more lean mass).

Point is at your height and weight if you lose 6 lb or more you will be at a weight that is considered too low for even a small framed sedentary male so it sounds like you have a serious lack of lean body mass going on i.e. low for a body builder but probably normal for a small framed sedentery male; so cutting is the last thing you should be looking at doing; yet you are looking at doing just that, like I said could there be some anorexia type issue going on here?


Yeah me too. Why don't you post a pic so we can see if you really are fat or if it is all just in your mind. Its easier to tell from a pic than just your stats what your condition is. Besides Im damn curious to see what a fat guy at 150lb and 5'10 looks like.


I think it's safe to say that if you ask such a question in THIS forum, everyone will tell you to work on your muscle mass rather than worry about cutting, because according to OUR frame of reference you're a rather skinny person, albeit with some extra isolation in places. :slightly_smiling: In short, according to OUR perception there is nothing for you to show off by cutting.

Now, perceptions of what qualifies as a "buff", attractive physique differ quite a lot from person to person and from group to group. People in this forum has a different perception of what qualifies as "buff" than Joe Average does. And your perception of what counts as "buff" changes as you get used to lifting weights. I remember thinking that certain actors and atheletes were "muscular" when I was a teenager, and when I look at them today they barely have any muscle worth speaking of (according to my current perception). And an old girlfriend of mine seriously argued that a certain female catwalk fashion model was "too muscular"! Just something to keep in mind.

16% is a perfectly normal BF% for a male your age by the way, and there are quite a lot of athletes who routinely carry around that amount of fat and look pretty good, because they have substantial muscle mass.


Prof-x >>>
I understand that most people in my situation are here form lack of training. I may have found my self here with poor dietary choices and over training. Its true that I didnt start to lower reps and lift heavier until a few months ago, but its partially due to injuries and lack of strength (that has developed some since).

Vguppy >>>
180 @ 24%BF I was FAT (note:I have an extremely small frame, which is why I can conceal the gut, but when theres no shirt, ive had closer friends tell me they didnt expect that!)

rswa >>>
I know i need more LBM, thats my eventual goal. Im cutting only so I can put muscle on after that. Bulking first would probably lead to me being more disatisfied and discouraged, leading to not cutting properly afterwards. I've been working out 2-3 years. My first year and a half is when i lost my LBM doing repititive machines, not eating at all, moronic things. Since I educated my self and still am and the next year went better. My last few months through me off as well, with graduation, college, excessive binge eating and drinking, cant spot reduce, but i sure has hell am prone(like all men) to store fat in the midsection.

Prag >>>
eventual goal: 180-190 with 12% BF. Cut till thanksgiving, bulk till april, cut till july, bulk till nov, cut till jan and hopefully ill have accomplished that. But you really cant plan that out so far in advance.

I appreciate all the feedback beyond recognition, thanks guys.


What injuries and how much strength did you expect to have before training seriously?


Prof X >>

I had some problems with my rotator cuffs. Also a minor tear on my knee cap. Bad back and knees in general, from a childhood accident. This summer involved in a car accident that nearly killed me, most of the damage being to my head, left knee, left arm, and lower back.

Strength wise, I started off not bencing 95 lbs and am hovering around 140, admitting I only started pushing my self to increase weight recently(lack of training partners/spotters where i used to work out).


Check out pictures taken this morning, empty stomach(tried doing the best I could). I realize theres no pics of my legs, which are my strong point, but it was hard to take one of them my self, I would not neglect legs (squats, cleans, DL are 3 of my 6 favorite lifts)


After looking at the pics, they seem a bit more flattering than should be. But, it also helped point out that what discourages me most is that little pouch of fat around my lower abdominal section. You can feel my top 4 abs, but its the lower section that pisses me off. anyway, lets hear it! Im ready.


You have no business trying to lose weight. You're problem is simple -- you have no muscle.


The scariest thing is that you even think you need to diet down. YOU HAVE NO MUSCLE. THAT alone is why you think you are carrying so much fat. Someone very muscular could be nearly 20% and still look good in clothes because of the muscle they carry.


My view:

You're not fat, and your're not thin. You ARE skinny.

I don't think you need to bulk or cut. You just need a total readjustment. You need to start eating healthier foods
Lean meats
Cottage Cheese
LOTS of fibrous veggies like broccoli and green beans
Fruit, especially low GI like apples and strawberries
Make sure you're getting your omega3s

Simply replace the junk you're currently eating. I suspect you're not getting enough protein in your diet. And you're likely eating way too many processed foods. That being said, you'll need to eat more in terms of quantity, because these healthy foods are less calorie dense than, say, a whopper.

As for lifting, pick a program on this site designed for hypertrophy and follow it to the T. After a month, pick another one and follow it to the T. Try out a few programs over the next few months. You'll learn alot. I bet you'll make a lot of progress too.

This is just my opinion. I believe if you cut right now, you're only going to lose strength and muscle mass. Especially since you don't yet know how to eat properly.


Please dont get the impression that im completely new to lifting/eating right. BC the state im in doess lend me to seeming like a newbie.

Final decision: Finish week 3 of Waterbury Method and let it be.
Im going for ABBH and then ABBH2.

For ABBH would it be okay to do 15 min HIIT after workout sessions, and 20 min HIIT/GPP on off days? With 1 long run(40 min) per week, and 8th day of cycle completely off. Ill calculate my calories after weighing in at the gym today.

thanks guys.


Krikey. You have no business doing HIIT or any serious cardio program for the next eight weeks. Do light jogs on your off days (15 - 20min) and eat. Sweet square dancing giblets.


zdrax - i like that response. I can see ive come to the right place to get some motivation to bulk. I just wanted to do some hiit to minimize fat gains. I guess instead of sipping my PWO shake sitting back in my dorm, ill do it while walking around campus/treadmill?

Question: Switching from Waterbury method to ABBH doesnt seem like that big a change for my body. Same lifts basically, just paired a bit different and some rep adjustments along the way. But ABBH seems like a solid plan, so go with it anyway?


Just eat and train. At this point, anything will help you. You need to get bigger and stronger and not worry about fat loss.