T Nation

Duration of Bulk & Cut Periods?

I know that the conversation of (full body vs body part splits) have been argued to death

So has going to failure vs not going to failure

So has dirty bulking vs clean bulking

but im wondering your opinions on bulk/cut durations.

would you rather bulk for a long duration then cut for a long duration or shorten the phases and switch more often.

for example bulk for 12-14 weeks then cut for 4-5 weeks.

or would you rather bulk for 4-6 weeks (hell even 8 weeks) then cut for 2-3 weeks

I think most people are going to tell you that both of the options you listed aren’t optimal. Bulking to truely gain a substantial amount of mass should be done in the long run, I’d say a minimum of around a year is the response you will get from most.

[quote]josh86 wrote:
I think most people are going to tell you that both of the options you listed aren’t optimal. Bulking to truely gain a substantial amount of mass should be done in the long run, I’d say a minimum of around a year is the response you will get from most.[/quote]

is this how you gained most of your size? through long term bulking phases?

I should be sooo much larger than I currently am had I started properly bulking for the long term when I first started…I wasted a LOT of time (over 2 years) worrying about always wanting my abs. If I could go back and do it all over I would have started eating for bulk much sooner and actually listen to those who are much larger and told me.

I personally feel that I am no where near any kind of impressive level of muscle, my answer is coming from those I know that ARE impressively large and the advice they have given me.

The largest guy I know said he bulked without worrying about his BF for close to 10 years before his first cut.

while this may be considered outdated info at this time, in arnolds encyclopedia he says the initial mass building phase, or bulk as we put it, lasted 2-3, even up to 5 years for some people. thats your first 5 years of training, before you ever consider dropping calories.

basically, if you have a lot of mass to gain, the best idea seems to be to have at it for several years (not weeks or months), before you take a backwards step, so to speak.

Do what this guy did.

http://www.T-Nation.com/myTNation.do?id=198384

Build yourself up by gaining strength under a fat blanket (how thick this will get relative to how much size you build depends on your genetics, your training, how you approach your diet, your cardio, your intensity levels, etc) until you have enough size to reveal underneath.

If the fat blanket gets too thick for your taste, spend a few weeks during your loooong bulk shedding some fat before you switch to bulk mode again.

[quote]hypnotoad wrote:
while this may be considered outdated info at this time, in arnolds encyclopedia he says the initial mass building phase, or bulk as we put it, lasted 2-3, even up to 5 years for some people. thats your first 5 years of training, before you ever consider dropping calories.

basically, if you have a lot of mass to gain, the best idea seems to be to have at it for several years (not weeks or months), before you take a backwards step, so to speak.[/quote]

I certainly don’t consider that outdated advise!!
Unless you are gifted out of the box(>200lbs & <6’ tall)lean and athletic; plan on two years minimum before a cut.

Get strong: Squat @ 2x BW for reps-Same for Deadlift; Flat presses @ 1.5 or more…gradually increase calories.

Pay attention and become intimate with yourself. This will take time.

[quote]BlueCollarTr8n wrote:
hypnotoad wrote:
while this may be considered outdated info at this time, in arnolds encyclopedia he says the initial mass building phase, or bulk as we put it, lasted 2-3, even up to 5 years for some people. thats your first 5 years of training, before you ever consider dropping calories.

basically, if you have a lot of mass to gain, the best idea seems to be to have at it for several years (not weeks or months), before you take a backwards step, so to speak.

I certainly don’t consider that outdated advise!!

Unless you are gifted out of the box(>200lbs & <6’ tall)lean and athletic; plan on two years minimum before a cut.

Get strong: Squat @ 2x BW for reps-Same for Deadlift; Flat presses @ 1.5 or more…gradually increase calories.

Pay attention and become intimate with yourself. This will take time.

[/quote]

Agreed. Anyone who thinks it only takes 3 months to gain enough size to warrant dieting down isn’t going to gain much.

This takes YEARS, not weeks. You are NOT going to go from skinny to huge by dieting down drastically every other month. Deal with it and eat/lift to gain.

[quote]hypnotoad wrote:
while this may be considered outdated info at this time, in arnolds encyclopedia he says the initial mass building phase, or bulk as we put it, lasted 2-3, even up to 5 years for some people. thats your first 5 years of training, before you ever consider dropping calories.

basically, if you have a lot of mass to gain, the best idea seems to be to have at it for several years (not weeks or months), before you take a backwards step, so to speak.[/quote]

interesting this probably explains why arnold in his younger days wasnt as ripped as he was later. he was bulking all the time

Incredible genetics and drug use aside… Arnold had 95% of his mass by the time he was 21 and not staying pretty boy lean all the time would have certainly helped him.

Looking at current young pros/top amateurs you don’t see big mass monsters who got their by being 6% year round… those are the guys that make 1-2 lb muscle gains from year to year if any.

You have to give a little to get a little here.

Want to stay ripped year round? Accept slower muscle gains

Want to gain as much muscle as possible? Accept you might have a bit of a gut and some face fat for a bit

Key.

[quote]Scott M wrote:
Incredible genetics and drug use aside… Arnold had 95% of his mass by the time he was age 21 [/quote]

[quote]josh86 wrote:
I should be sooo much larger than I currently am had I started properly bulking for the long term when I first started…I wasted a LOT of time (over 2 years) worrying about always wanting my abs.

If I could go back and do it all over I would have started eating for bulk much sooner and actually listen to those who are much larger and told me.

I personally feel that I am no where near any kind of impressive level of muscle, my answer is coming from those I know that ARE impressively large and the advice they have given me.

The largest guy I know said he bulked without worrying about his BF for close to 10 years before his first cut.[/quote]

I too pissed away 2 years of training worrying about bodyfat. And after two years of of being at approximately 5’10" 190-200 lbs, I realized that I was just being an ignorant dumbass.

I dunno how I feel about the advice from the vets.

If you’re really committed, you can alternate between the two fairly regularly and still net muscle.

For example, I started out at 175 15% body fat in early June, bulked up to 207 17% body fat by the start of September, and I’m currently 193 @ 12.5% body fat. There comes a point where if you bulk enough, your fat gains far surpass your strength/muscle gains, and you lose that optimum balance…that’s when I knew to cut for a few weeks and get back to gaining. Once I hit sub 10% (in what I hope to be before the end of October), that’s when I will go back to bulking again…possibly even sooner if I start to lose muscle because I’ve been dieting too long (which would be evident by not maintaining my strength levels)…so a 12 week bulk, 6-8 week cut, followed by another bulk.

Really it’s about listening to your body and knowing when you lose that optimum gain/loss. That seems to be working for me…I can’t imagine bulking for a year straight without a few breaks to limit significant fat gain…maybe I’m just different.

[quote]acelement wrote:
I dunno how I feel about the advice from the vets.

If you’re really committed, you can alternate between the two fairly regularly and still net muscle.

For example, I started out at 175 15% body fat in early June, bulked up to 207 17% body fat by the start of September, and I’m currently 193 @ 12.5% body fat. There comes a point where if you bulk enough, your fat gains far surpass your strength/muscle gains, and you lose that optimum balance…that’s when I knew to cut for a few weeks and get back to gaining. Once I hit sub 10% (in what I hope to be before the end of October), that’s when I will go back to bulking again…possibly even sooner if I start to lose muscle because I’ve been dieting too long (which would be evident by not maintaining my strength levels)…so a 12 week bulk, 6-8 week cut, followed by another bulk.

Really it’s about listening to your body and knowing when you lose that optimum gain/loss. That seems to be working for me…I can’t imagine bulking for a year straight without a few breaks to limit significant fat gain…maybe I’m just different.

[/quote]

I hit 190lbs before the end of the second year of training seriously from 150lbs. Some of us have goals beyond weighing 190lbs.

I am not sure why people like you feel the need to jump in on topics like this as if the advice is incorrect.

Your profile lists you as being 6’1". That means your 190lbs isn’t exactly that big at all…AT ALL. Let us know when you get to ABOVE AVERAGE muscularity for your height for someone who is actually serious about changing how they’re built.

I think you underestimate what some of us consider “significant progress”.

I am not sure why anyone OVER 6 feet tall would even want to weigh UNDER 200lbs and yet give bodybuilding advice.

What about for a guy who has just come off a big weight loss with less than ideal BF%(20%ish)? Would that person be more apt to gain more fat and want to keep their bulk period shorter? Or should this type go balls out for a year or so then lose the fat again?

Bottom line, I don’t want to be super fat again, it sucks, I do want to get a big as I can without juice.

[quote]dday wrote:
What about for a guy who has just come off a big weight loss with less than ideal BF%(20%ish)? Would that person be more apt to gain more fat and want to keep their bulk period shorter? Or should this type go balls out for a year or so then lose the fat again?

Bottom line, I don’t want to be super fat again, it sucks, I do want to get a big as I can without juice.[/quote]

No offense (because it isn’t just you) but why are some of you completely devoid of basic common sense? If you are OVER 20% body fat, should you really be “bulking up” at all?

Someone has to actually write this down?

[quote]Professor X wrote:
If you are OVER 20% body fat, should you really be “bulking up” at all?
[/quote]

Right. And I take it you mean this regardless of muscle mass for the size of the person’s frame.

[quote]PonceDeLeon wrote:
Professor X wrote:
If you are OVER 20% body fat, should you really be “bulking up” at all?

Right. And I take it you mean this regardless of muscle mass for the size of the person’s frame.

[/quote]

If you weigh 350lbs at 5’10" and ONLY have 20% body fat, you can do whatever the hell you want to. You wouldn’t look “fat” at that weight. If you weigh 250lbs at 5’10" and you are 20% body fat, again, you may be able to get away with it considering the more muscle you have, the less fat you actually appear at higher body fat levels.

I am not sure why this needs to be so specifically spelled out lately.

Are people just avoiding actually being around serious weight lifters?

I think the confusion for most is that body fat percentage is a ratio and not necessarily a particular look.

[quote]Professor X wrote:
dday wrote:
What about for a guy who has just come off a big weight loss with less than ideal BF%(20%ish)? Would that person be more apt to gain more fat and want to keep their bulk period shorter? Or should this type go balls out for a year or so then lose the fat again?

Bottom line, I don’t want to be super fat again, it sucks, I do want to get a big as I can without juice.

No offense (because it isn’t just you) but why are some of you completely devoid of basic common sense? If you are OVER 20% body fat, should you really be “bulking up” at all?

Someone has to actually write this down?[/quote]

I cut a lot of weight. Maintained the weight loss for a little while and then had my BF read by one of those crappy scale things – just to get an idea and it said I was around 19-20%. Admittedly, I have no idea how accurate this thing is and I don’t really care. The point is, I was tired of cutting (after about 18 months of it). I went from 285 to around 203 and I was at a serious sticking point and I realized that a complete lack of muscle was limiting how I looked and any potential fat gains. I was 203 at between 6’2" and 6’3" and still had a relatively high BF, which meant to me that 166 lbs of lean mass simply wasn’t enough.

Since then, I have bulked back up to 228ish and have been happy with the results. With 25 lbs gain gross weight I have just barely moved from a size 34 pants to a 35. I plan to keep bulking up to around 240 and then see if I am too fat again. I am not afraid of fat gain despite having been obese before. I want muscle and lots of it. The fat was easy to lose for the most part.

Is this the right approach? I don’t know. I feel it is right for me despite a relatively high BF%, but I’ve only been at this for a little over 18 moonths and I am still learning a lot about my body. If it turns out to be wrong, then I can always lose the fat again. No problems.