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Do I Need to Cut First or Bulk?

Hi guys

30 years old
80kg
6 foot!

This is my current body


And this is what I want to achieve

I’m currently eating 3,500 Calories a day and training 5x a week.

I’m just fed up of looking fat, I do have a belly to me, I just want to be lean with slight muscle

Do I need to bulk first or cut?

Thanks

If you need to ask the answer is always to cut first.

I’ve found that you’re not going to find a satisfactory answer to this question. I look similar to you (5’10”, 176 lbs) and I’m not bothering with worrying about body composition at this point. I just focus on maintaining/building good eating habits, getting 2-4 days of strength training with effort and progressive overload, 1-2 steady state cardio sessions, sleep, and recently added some higher intensity conditioning (sled drag, kb swings).

The answer I was looking for was, gain 20 lbs of muscle and lose 10 lbs of fat in a year, but I’ve learned this is not realistic.

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Sounds like you answered your own question right here.

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IMO, cut first or bulk first is quite simple, but you must be able to assess your genetic potential to put on muscle.

If you believe you have better than average genetic potential to put on muscle, you should bulk first. Muscle burns fat, even while you sleep. Muscle requires calories much more than fat, or less muscles. It is as simple as more muscles, higher caloric requirement.

But if you believe adding muscle will be difficult, you best attempt to cut first, knowing full well it won’t be as easy with less muscle mass

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So we all saying I have a good base for a bulk?

Or best to get rid of that slight belly fat first?

If you’re fat and can’t see any muscle then you cut

If you look like you spent a few years in Buffalo Bill’s pit being fed slices of bread then you bulk

However one thing remains constant

Train like a fuxking animal

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What “phase” are you in Now?

You’ve been eating 3500 calories and training five days a week for how long? And during this time how has your bodyweight changed? And have the weights you lift been going up or down?

You might be “cutting” or bulking" right now.

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This post is not discernable from a “rate my physique” post, and you will get nothing but opinions.

MY take is that you don’t have a whole lot of muscle at your current build, and you have some fat on you, but not a whole lot.

The picture you posted of your goal physique is

  1. not reasonable
  2. not “lean with slight muscle”

IMO, lean out to where you think you’d be happy, then go on a lean bulk until you’ve become the model you posted. You will have to lean out a bit after your mild bulk, but it shouldn’t be much if you keep it actually mild. This is basically cut, bulk, cut.

One could always ask “did the chicken or the egg come first” too though. It truly does not matter which you do first.

EDIT:
The reason I state cutting first is because its more difficult to do. Anyone can just eat more, but without first knowing if you are capable of cutting to your desired lean-ness, I don’t see bulking as a viable first step. If you can cut, you are capable of bulking and returning back to your desired BF%.

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Thank you!!

So shall I just maintain my calories and smash loads of cardio?

This will probably answer your questions better than I can.

Find your maintenance calories at your current activity level, and reduce ~500 calories per day from that. It can be more if you want to cut faster, but you will risk increased muscle loss. 500cal deficit per day is 3500 calories per week = 1lb loss per week.

Cut first… without a doubt.

No! Cutting is overwhelmingly done in the kitchen. Calculate your TDEE and start cutting calories from there. Are you maintint or growing at 3500 calories? Seems like a lot to me for your current body weight.

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Okay, so my maintenance calories is 2500,

Shall I eat 2000 a day?

In regards to training whilst cutting, carry on lifting weights?

You know, the other part of this website has ~25 years of detailed articles about almost everything you want to know lol. Reading up on some of it could probably prove useful to you.

A general rule (found on this site) that I think works well to decide whether to cut or bulk is: don’t start bulking unless you have some visible abs (I am speaking of natural trainees). You are far from visible abs, so you should definitely cut. Trying to bulk when you already have a belly risks to lead to considerable fat gain (read this if you don’t trust me). There are many methods to cut; just research on T-Nation to find inspiration. One I find promising (but I haven’t tried it yet) is this one.
Also, consider two things. First, to be able to see your abs you’ll have to lose more pounds than you think, probably 30 if not 40. Second, your target physique is not a trivial achievement for a natural trainee in his thirties. Getting there won’t be easy, and if you make it, it will take years.
Apologies if what I say is disappointing, but weight training isn’t for daydreamers.