T Nation

How Long to Maintain Before Cutting?



Looking to get input here. How long would you maintain your weight before you would start cutting?

I was thinking a minimum of 4 weeks, but figured maybe 6-8 would be better to allow your body to "get used" to the new muscle.


I think it would be a good idea to maintain at least 6 months or so, the longer the better. I started cutting because of health reasons (high blood pressure, ultrasound of liver returned fatty deposits forming on liver, pre-diabetic situation/family history of diabetes, etc..., otherwise I would have kept gaining because I LOVE food too much.


I think it depends on a lot of things..but in general the longer the better. For example, if you've maintained a lower body weight for a significant amount of time and you've put on considerable mass...IMO cutting after a month is just asking your body to do everything in it's power to get back to that original weight that it recognizes as optimum.

I think how much mass you've put on factors is an as well. The more mass, the longer time period needed. Like I said in the beginning..the longer the better. Maybe some of the big(ger) guys can help you out as well. In my case, I've stopped bulking for periods relating to the military, but I've never really actively cut down. Just maintained until I was free to gain again.

Just my two cents..


I'd say closer to 6 months as well. But this will depend on how much muscle you are carrying. If you are at the point where you start losing weight just from missing 2 or 3 meals a week than maintaining for a longer period of time is probably necessary.

My plan when/if I cut will be to gain as much weight as possible, hold that weight until it feels completely comfortable to eat that amount of food, then clean up my diet as much as possible while still being in a slight surplus and add a bit of cardio (which should drop a small amount of fat), then slowly move into a caloric deficit.


I agree. You have made a new set point when you don't drop five pounds just because you missed meal numbers 4-6.


BTW- I don't plan on cutting soon, but with my wedding coming in Sept, I was hoping to drop a few pounds of body fat for that and the honeymoon.


If your not playing a sport what are you maintaining for?


So you don't see any reason to maintain new muscle weight for a period of time after it has been gained?

Care to post a pic of yourself. You must have made some stellar progress going from bulking right into cutting if that's the advice you are going to give.


I vote for at least 6 months, I made the mistake of not holding on to higher weights before cutting, once at 200, and again when i got to 220. My body never got used to holding those weights, and now i'm having a hard time getting back up there.


Soooooooooooo your saying that bodybuilders lift weights to maintain? not bulk? or cut..... but to maintain?

Here's a little secret Mr. Maintainer, if your not gaining your losing.

They may have a period where they are RECOVERING after a show, but pleeeeaassse show me this bodybuilder who's competing and they are in a Maintence phase?

So rather than tell the dude to just get more muscle until he decides to cut, your telling him to stop getting muscle for 6 months because any extra muscle he makes for the next 6 months plus the muscle he has now will dissappear? If you need a picture to prove that's false that's on you not me.


let me try to clearify

when you put on muscle your body needs a reason to to hold on to that muscle or else its going to drop it.

so if you just bulked up for 4 months and say, "ok my bulks done" then went on a caloric deficit you arent going to keep hardly anything because your body isnt used to carrying that weight yet.

heres another example

if you were at 150 pounds 5 months ago and just gained 50 pounds then you suddenly got very ill and lost 70 pounds then recovered you would gain weight back very quickly, but you wouldnt gain to 200 pounds, maybe youd get up to 160 because your body hasnt been used to carrying that weight around

now say youre 200 pounds and youve been that way for 10 years, if you got sick and went down to 150 pounds you would probaly get back up to 200 pounds or so when you recovered.

its called muscle memory, but it will only take place if your body has adapted to a certain weight ( ie a "setpoint" ) and has declared that weight essential for survival.

its the reason why a lot of people who take juice for short cycles dont keep a lot of their gains.


LoL at the strawman fallacy that begins this post.


First of all the OP is not a pro BBer looking to gain 100lbs over his natural limit, nor is he looking to drop to 2.5% bodyfat. Pro BBers also take advantage of anabolics when bulking and cutting. That changes the method of fat loss completely. So using a pro BBer is completely irrelevant to this situation.

I'll humor your idea for a second. Lets say the person who is 5'10 is sitting at 12% and 200 pounds after a bulk that started at 160 pounds. I say maintain 200 pounds for 4-6 months considering that 40 pounds is a siginificant weight gain. The persons goal is to cut to 185 over 3-4 months. To me this seems very doable with the proper knowledge and won't be hard on the person at all.

You say the person should continue bulking. During the 4-6 months of maintenance eating the person could look to gain, what, another 10 pounds of muscle(? of course this is just a generalization and can in no way be proven or disputed because it is an opinion) and possibly 15-17 pounds overall. Then go directly into a cut by dropping the calories to 300-500 below maintenance level. So the person will be attempting to go from 215ish to 185 in a matter of 3-4 months. Going from a set point of 200 to 185 in 3-4 months sounds much more plausible for sucess.

I say there is no way the person will hold as much of that muscle as the person who lets their body become accustomed to the new weight gain.

The only way to actually prove any of this would be to hear from people who have tried both methods. Anyone with a relevant experience feel free to chime in.

Your analogy to pro BBers in this situation still astounds me.




Just to avoid the argument going on, first, what we are talking about doesn't even concern the guy who just started lifting. If you have no muscle on you, worrying about maintaining size before cutting is a fucking non-issue. This is for INTERMEDIATE AND ADVANCED lifters who already have some size on them and are pushing the envelope as far as overall size gains. The person looking to "get toned" or who thinks they are just 5-10lbs away from their goal shouldn't even be in this forum to begin with.

If I have been "bulking up" for months and gained 20lbs but I am trying to avoid any further fat gain and want to diet some of the fat off before I return to gaining, then holding that weight or "slowly cleaning up the diet in hopes of some small comp change in that time" is how you keep your body from dropping weight you just gained. I have also gotten to a new heavier weight, held it for a while, seemed a little leaner after a couple of months of tighter diet control with no drop in calories and then went right back to gaining.

The reason most of these people are just running in circles is that they gain some weight, panic because they lost an ab muscle, and then hurry to diet down full force. Their body will drop any muscle just gained because they didn't give themselves enough time to adapt to the new weight and are now in a caloric deficit. These are the same people who look exactly the same after 3-4 years and start accusing everyone else who went ahead and grew of steroid use.

I have doubts as to Airtruth having made that much impressive progress if this has never been a concern at all or if he can't follow the discussion.



If you are making your way through the supps in your avatar you will lose some fat by the time you get to September, without any dieting.

I put on 30lbs give or take in the last 18 months and after being around 220lbs for 4-5 months (+/- 4 pounds during that period) I am now cutting down, slowly.

How's the MAG-10 going anyway?


This is what I did when I first lost a whole bunch of weight and started lifting, I would gain some size then lose it all and wasted well over a year of back and forthing.

You do learn from experience though.


Some of us might, but judging by a lot of these posts, most of these people seem clueless to it.

I would blame some of the writings of one of the authors here but then that takes responsibility away from the person too blind to pay attention to their own body and make adjustments without being hand held the entire time.


In the past I have waited 4 weeks, and it was way too short. And then one more time I waited 16 weeks and had much better results.

The longer you are at a certain weight, the better your body will be able to make adjustments.

Arguing about whether to maintain or not is for newbies and ignorant people.


this stuff is the bees knees :wink:

up 6-8 lbs in 2 weeks with no change in body fat. The plan is to run another 2 weeks (after this 2 weeks off), and then reassess things from there.