T Nation

keep bulking or cut?

Just had hydrostatic weighing done today and I am 173 @ 15% bf. I have been bulking since October. Went from 161 @ 12.5% I’m feeling a little chunky and wondering whether I should begin a cutting phase since I only gained 6lbs of lbm. I followed massive eating yet seem to put on fat a little easier than most. I am thinking that cutting to around 160 @ < 10% bf and then begin to go back up from there with a greater muscle to fat gain ratio. Opinions?

6lb of lean body mass is not bad at all. Good work! Yes, I would now lean out for around 4-6 weeks and try to preserve most of that new muscle. When you start to gain again, don’t go for more than 4-6 weeks before leaning out again. I’ve said it on this forum before that I feel this is the best way to put on quality mass, especially if you are not using AASs. Even then, the days of bulking for months on end and later severely cutting are over. Even the top pros try to stay within a few weeks preparation year round since there are more and more big shows throughout the year and not just October’s Olympia.

I also agree, the idea off extreme bulking is not only unhealthy it makes it that much harder to take off all the fat in the end without losing your hard earned muscle. Good work 6lbs is quite a bit. Also when bulking up remember to not over-do it. I see a lot of guys eating way too much the key is to eat all throughout the day to keep your body full with all the nutrition it needs, not to overwhelm your system with so much food that a good chunk of it simply goes to fat. Judging by your numbers you are by no means doing this just something to watch out for. Keep up the good work!

Lean out bro. Don’t try a cutting cycle because you risk losing mass and strength. Try Berardi’s Don’t Diet format and you will still get stronger as you lose the excess weight. The lowest you should go is 10% body fat after that you risk strength. Good job and the mass though!

That’s 3 for and none against so far. Seems like the right thing to do so I will try Berardi’s Don’t Diet. Any recommendations for a program?

I have very similar conditions. I went from 158 in August to my current 173. I am 5’9 and have been training and eating hardcore for several months now. But I would guess that my body fat would be somewhere between 15-18. After reading the above statements, I guess it would be wise for me to trim off the excess for awhile.

I’m not necessarily agreeing or disagreeing, I’m just wondering for the 3 posters, what are the heights and weights of the people that have answered? Have you gained a good amount of muscle mass with the strategy you’re recommending? I’d like to hear from experience myself on this particular subject. My perception is that the guys in this community who have really gained mass (over 30-40 lbs of muscle) over a period of time (2 yrs+) have done it by bulking/maintenance/bulking/maintenance phases. By the time they get to be pretty big they also seem to have an appreciable amount of fat that they then diet down. The guys I have seen extol the bulk/cut/bulk/cut phase approach never seem to put that much muscle mass on their frames; again my perception.

What I want to know is what was the point in bulking if you want to cut back down to 160lbs at 10%. Whats your main goal, do you want to get big or stay lean? If your diet is pretty much intact than I would mix in a little cardio (15 to 20 mns 2 or 3 times a week it’s worked for me) to lower the body fat and try to keep as much lean muscle as possible but why drop back down and loose the hard earned gains.

I am thinking that I want to cut back down because I look at the LBM not total weight; that means that as long as I don’t lose 6lbs of LBM then I have done some good. I am in no hurry to get huge and am enjoying being lean while I gain LBM.

Additionally I think someone asked for the height of the posters: I am 5’10

T-Quinn and Rand, you don’t cut down till you are in contest prep. form between the bulking cycles, you merely do it for 4-6 weeks. The first couple weeks are primarily maintenace calories to not shock the system too much and then this is followed by 2-4 weeks of below maintenance. This is just long enough to reset the body’s anabolic proccesses to make the following bulking phase more productive(you will put on more muscle after a period of lower calories, once you introduce higher calories again). These short phases will keep the weight gain primarily lean. I have much positive experience with many clients using this method and it is the method that has made Roger Riedinger and Beverly Int’l so popular among top natural competetive bodybuilders.

If you’re goal is to ultimately gain more muscle mass your bulk/cut/bulk/cut incremental approach isn’t going to get you very far (especially in 4-6 week increments). If you really want to gain, you’re going to have accept the fat that comes with it, plain and simple. If you want to stay relatively small and lean the rest of your life, continue doing what you’re doing.

Rand, your last comment is about as wrong as you can get. I have used this method on 26 separate individuals over the past 3 years(that I have kept records for). All were university athletes who needed to add bodyweight without “dead” weight to obstruct performance. No drugs were used by any of them and the only supplements were creatine, protein powders/MRP and EFAs, these are students so obviously they don’t have money to spare. Only 7 of the 26 athletes did not meet their goals, however the seven of them did put on 104lbs total of lean mass, which is an average of about 15lbs/lean each. Not bad, it’s just their goals were high. The other 19 put on a total of 398 lbs/lean mass. That is an average of 21 lbs of lean mass each. They were able to do this without ever getting to the point where their fat levels went above 14%. Not one of them! In fact, the average fat level over the entire “study” was 11% and yet they managed to put on 21 lbs of muscle. This is enough proof to me that this system works and I will continue to use it. And like I’ve said, Roger Reidinger has had the same results with HUNDREDS of clients using the same method. This also happens to be the method preferred by Charles Poliquin and Christian Thibaudeau as I spoke with Christian about this very subject like 8 or 9 days ago. Do what you like, but I’m just trying to inform people that there are other ways of getting what you want.

what kind of training program were you on? for your training age, i think you could’ve done better than 6 lbs of lbm in 4 months

To randman:
For the past 7 weeks I have lost 15 lbs. and I am getting stronger. My squat and deadlift have come up. I am also 204 at 13% bodyfat. I am trying to get to 10%.

If you want to maintain sub maximal strength then stick to a 5x5 routine. Sets of 8 works well too, just don’t change your lifts often or your CNS won’t adapt and increase strength. Remember that you have to do cardio to lose weight so keep that in mind when setting up lower body workouts.

I understand everyone else’s concern about rebounding bulking and cutting cycles back to back. It does seem counterintuitive regarding huge, but would you want to be considered a weightlifter/bodybuilder or some fat bastard, hence trying to keep the bodyfat between 10% and 15%. I hope this helps all.

hey as far as height and weight, im 5’7" and 170lbs weight gain i havent trained too seriously except for the last month but i have been hitting the gym and just eating sensibly and in the last year ive gained 20lbs about. Could just be genetics and age (im 18) but my attitude is that there is eating to bulk up and then there is just putting on fat… i personally would rather look good all the time with a mediocre % instead of cycling.peace

if you are training uni level athletes then chances are they have decent genetics, and results are generally alway going to come easier with these guys, or any high level athlete (provided the trainier is competent :wink: ).
As for long period bulking , this, in my mind, is fine for typical ectomorphs, as short term bulking may do nothing (brings back memories of ABCDE…)
Whetu -former skinny guy

Good work for 4 months. 6 lbs is pretty good.

As far as cutting /bulking I see no reason not to go either way. It is dependent on your goals.

Seeing as you want to stay lean then I would go with a couple weeks of maint. with a couple added sessions of cardio. See where this gets you. It should allow you to cut a little fat while still preserving lbm.

If more loss is still needed then cut for a couple weeks. months of bulking and a month of cutting / maint isn’t that bad.

It is obvious that you were smart about your bulking, taking more of a long term approach instead of cramming your pie hole and expecting major gains in a few weeks. This usually only leads to major fat gains. Gaining LBM takes time.

I do feel that short periods of MASSIVE eating, do have their place in a bulk though. Keep them short, a week or two and follow them with maint or moderate bulking. To maintain gains that you made. During the massive eating also do massive training, two a days and such. By keeping them short you can get good gains and stop befor overtraining sets in and fat gain is to high.

Just a few things for you to think about.

So I would say cut down to get a little leaner, and then bulk again. Try to keep your bulking phases LONG, and steady. Throw in a couple phases of massive eating/training, and a few weeks of maint. every now and then to drop unwanted fat while preserving/ solidifying gains during the bulk. Try to stay away from having to go into long cycles of server cutting.

If you are able to keep going the way you are, bulking the majority of the time, while cutting a total of a couple months out of a year you should be able to get some solid gains in the long run.

Just remember that you are going to have to carry a resonable amount of BF% to make gains in muscle. Just dont let it get out of hand, and stay away from the yoyo of massive bulk, cut, bulk, etc. every couple weeks.

Sorry about the epic of jumbled thoughts , its freaking early and the mind is not quite working right yet.

Hope that helps somehow


Lumburjak: I followed a 4 day split that looked like this:

Leg Extension
Leg Press
Hanging Pike (abs)
Standing Calf raise

Dumbell Incline
Tricep Extensions
Incline Barbell Press

Seated Calf raise
Seated Leg Curls

Barbell Rows
Chin Ups
Barbell Curls
Seated Cable Rows

Set/Rep Range: 4 x 6

This was coupled with Massive Eating

Hey loop, I’m curious as to what calculations (kcals, weights lifted, etc.) you used for your athletes in both the cutting and bulking phases. I was looking through some pictures of myself after just completing my last “huge bulk” and was absolutely disgusted. I’m not afraid of adding fat, but looking like a lard isn’t a hobby of mine. After I cut down I lost a lot of what I had anyway.

I’m very interested in using your suggested 4-6 wks bulk/cut protocol. As someone said earlier, I’m in no hurry to get “HYOOGE” and just enjoy the journey itself. Any help would be appreciated!

P.S. For the “Don’t be a pussy, get some MASS” people out there, I have no problem with what you do, but I’m tired of doing it that way. Feeling and looking like shit for months on end just to “look good” for a few warm months is not fun anymore. You do it your way, but don’t feel everyone else must do the same.


Actually what you say makes sense and I can’t argue with success. The fact is what you are talking about doing is just cut down for 4-6 weeks without trying to get contest-ready ripped. You lose some of the fat you gained and then have you’re body ready to bulk again when you reintroduce calories. Acutally I like this idea. But what this guy was talking about seemed to be different. It was more “oh my god, I put on some fat, I can’t see my abs, so I’m to go to even a lower bf% then when I started.” With this approach/attitude, I don’t think he’ll ever put on appreciable amounts of muscle. What you’re talk about however, seems to make good sense. I haven’t tried it yet, but I may. I went through the bulk/maint./bulk/maint. approach and I am at the point now that I feel I need to lose some bodyfat. I probably will only cut for a month or two and then bulk again. Thanks for sharing you’re real-world experience. One question, were these people training newbies or experienced lifters that experienced the average 15 lbs of muscle gain?