T Nation

Maintain or Keep Going?


I've voiced this elsewhere but I have yet to really get a satisfactory answer, but i'm a little fuzzy on how exactly one should transition from cut to bulk or bulk to cut.

I've seen a ton of people come out and say that after a cut, you should maintain for like 2 months in order to prevent putting all that fat back on right away, because your body likes to remain at a certain set point.

I acknowledge that that would probably certainly happen if you did go straight from a cut to a bulk, so maintaining SOUNDS logical. However, what if instead of maintaining you took those 2 months and continued cutting? Just from my limited experience it sounds like you'd be able to lose more fat in those 2 months than you'd put back on immediately. Yes, you'd see a good portion of your gains dissapear, but it'd still be better than maintaining.

For instance, say Joe and Bob are both 200lbs and got to a point where they want to start bulking in 2 months. Joe continues to cut for those months and loses 15 pounds of fat more, while Bob just maintains. When Joe starts to bulk, he immediately gains 10lbs of fat back, while Bob doesn't gain fat back at all because he was maintaining. Joe is still ahead because of his cut.

Obviously, if in most people's experiences the amount of immediate fat gain is bigger than what has been lost (i.e. Joe gains back 20lbs of fat), but it just doesn't seem to me like that would be the case (again though, I have limited experience).

I'm actually thinking more about the reverse of this since I migth be approaching this soon - going from bulk to cut, where cutting immediately might make you lose muscle, but it also seems like you could've gained more muscle than you'd lose by doing a quick switch.

Anyone have any thoughts?


Joe may be ahead in bodyweight, but he'll probably be behind in strength. But I'm just talking out of my ass because I'm nowhere near big enough to cut yet.

I would think that decreasing calories enough to cut while still placing a huge demand on your muscles will make you lose some of that muscle whether you maintain for a while or not.

What is your reason for cutting, anyway? How big are you? I don't gain muscle easily (most of us don't), and I'm not willing to give up ANY of it right now, abs be damned.


Why would you continue cutting? If you cut for another 2 months think about how much more muscle you are going to lose. When I did a cut to a bulk I maintained only for about a week or two slowly titrating my calories up during those two weeks to maintenance levels. After those two weeks were over I went on to bulking and followed the same concept during maintenance, slowly increasing cals to the point where weight gain was .5lbs a week or so.

I have read before that going from a cut to a bulk is actually a good thing because your body is undernourished and the surplus in nutrients is very anabolic. And the inverse is true as well, a bulk followed by a cut is very effective.

HOnestly we need more stats on you to get a better idea but those are some tips...


I'm really not searching for advice for what i'm pursuing right now, I was just more confused on what the best way GENERALLY is to do things.

I'm not planning on making the switch anytime soon as i've got a lot more muscle to put on (I'm 225 at 6'2", which is more impressive than it sounds since I have a big frame), but i'm just curious what other people have done so I can figure out how to do things in the future.


Lately i've been hearing more that the dangers of losing muscle are exaggerated as long as you aren't doing anything extreme (cutting to 4% bf, eating 500 calories a day, etc.). If you're smart about it, is it still really a huge danger?

I definitely see how Joe might be behind in strength though, good point. But what about for the inverse - say if they were going from bulk to cut, and Joe decides to bulk during Bob's maintenance period and gains 2lbs more muscle. Will Joe REALLY lose more than 2lbs muscle by switching fast from bulk to cut? In this case it also seems like he could be ahead in strength too, having eaten/lifted more during that time period.


typed and posted answer a couple days ago, but it didn't take.

I'm currently gaining about 2lbs a month, and not much of it seems to be fat. If I were to cut for three months and lose 20lbs, probably 3-4lbs of that would be muscle. More importantly, I would lose the opportunity to gain 6lbs of muscle.

So the net effect of my cutting would cost me ten pounds of muscle over three months. If I did that once a year, I'd cut my yearly gains from 24lbs to 14. That's a 40% loss.

Allowing for my gains to slow down, which I know they will, I should be able to reach 250 in about 3-3.5 years. If I cut every year, it'll take me anywhere from 5-6.

I would consider 225 at 6'2" to be marginally impressive at 10%bf. I'm actually shooting for somewhere around that weight at 5'11" and around 10%.


JayPierce, I would wager you are definitely shortchanging yourself only gaining 2lbs a month.

Try going for a little more and I bet you'll be happy with where that takes you.


Well, I was being a bit conservative. I went from 170 to 200 in about 6 months. Hit some inconsistency with a bad cold and the holiday season and dropped to 190. Got back on track starting Dec 30, and I'm back up to 196.

I guess I just pulled a number out of my ass, but a higher rate of gain doesn't make it much better. Even if you didn't lose any by cutting, you're still swindling yourself out of a third of your gains.