T Nation

Maintaining or Bulking Until Cut?

So, I’ve heard some people say that you should maintain for a while after a bulk and not jump straight into a cut because it is much harder to maintain your muscle then. Something about homeostatis and what the body is comfortable with. Is this right?

I couldn’t find anything with a search so I though I should ask here, since it might bring some interesting answers for some others than me.

As for me, I’ve gone from 76kg to 96kg in 4 month. I mainly used a 5x5 scheme (switched to 3 sets of five a montch ago) and am starting to get soft. As I’ve always been pretty lean I don’t like my bodyfat creeping up too much. At the moment I am at around 15%, I can see my abs well in good light while flexing.

I was thinking about trying to reach 105kgs before I start a cut in february or mars. Would it be best of me to bulk until I want to cut, or more efficient to hold my weight for a month or two. The maintaining period would take up the bulking time since I want to get lean for the summer.

Any help is much appriciated

Short version: Maintain weight or keep bulking until it’s time to cut?

Edit: This thread is not to brag about or discuss my progress. It is about how to best keep my gains if I decide to cut.

I have a hard time believing you gained 40 plus pounds in 4 months, but it sounds like you’re making good gains.

I would never interrupt a successful stretch of good gains for anything short of professional or competitive necessity of some sort. In other words I would feed the gains while they’re hot. You won’t sprout like this forever.

If you are still at 15% bf and at that weight keep bulking and then do a 6 week maintenance phase before cutting. It doesn’t seem to work out too well for anyone when they try to cut too quick so just take the safe route and maintain before a cut.

[quote]Tiribulus wrote:
I have a hard time believing you gained 40 plus pounds in 4 months, but it sounds like you’re making good gains.

I would never interrupt a successful stretch of good gains for anything short of professional or competitive necessity of some sort. In other words I would feed the gains while they’re hot. You won’t sprout like this forever.
[/quote]

Thanks, but I’m fairly certain I’m gonna start freaking out at about 20% bodyfat or slightly higher and won’t be able to keep bulking so I thought I’ll cut down for summer and have a whole year of serious bulking ahead of me. And, I’ll look awesome at the beach :stuck_out_tongue: But thanks for the advice, if I decide to cut I’ll take it slow so I can still make som gains strenght wise.

[quote]Steel88 wrote:
If you are still at 15% bf and at that weight keep bulking and then do a 6 week maintenance phase before cutting. It doesn’t seem to work out too well for anyone when they try to cut too quick so just take the safe route and maintain before a cut.[/quote]

Well, I will keep bulking for a few months more, but what I was wondering was, if I have set a time to start cutting. For example february. Is it best to bulk all the way to february and gain some more muscle or is it more wise to maintain and let the body get used to a higher bodyweight? I’m thinking bulking because you’re heavier when you bulk.

Twenty percent bf is no big deal if you are carrying significant muscle, and you won’t regret being larger and stronger when it comes time to show off the goods. I don’t know where you live but you will most likely be able to finish your cut right around june if you keep bulking until february. Don’t forget that you won’t be able to add any significant muscle mass until at least fall of next yr if you do this.

[quote]Steel88 wrote:
Twenty percent bf is no big deal if you are carrying significant muscle, and you won’t regret being larger and stronger when it comes time to show off the goods. I don’t know where you live but you will most likely be able to finish your cut right around june if you keep bulking until february. Don’t forget that you won’t be able to add any significant muscle mass until at least fall of next yr if you do this. [/quote]

Yeah I know I’d lose a few months worth of muscle and strength. I also agree with you that 20% is not a big deal, but what I’m thinking is that eventually I will have to cut and lose that time if I just keep bulking, so why not do it now and stay fairly lean during the next year too? And at 186cm 96kg I do not look big in any way.

If you’re at 15% BF right now, something has to go terribly wrong to reach 20% BF.

As you keep gaining weight, you’ll also gain muscle thus increasing lean mass. while you will gain some fat, it will be offset from a BF% standpoint by the gain in lean mass, again assuming you don’t royaly f’ it up.

It’s up to you though

Dude… I couldn’t stand being at 20%… I start hating myself once I get a belly. But I don’t think a belly looks bad on people, especially not as bad on us weightlifting types. But for me I get really uncomfortable about it and had to cut.

[quote]jehovasfitness wrote:
If you’re at 15% BF right now, something has to go terribly wrong to reach 20% BF.

As you keep gaining weight, you’ll also gain muscle thus increasing lean mass. while you will gain some fat, it will be offset from a BF% standpoint by the gain in lean mass, again assuming you don’t royaly f’ it up.

It’s up to you though[/quote]

I agree. Also, it is not true generally that you must continue to get fatter indefinitely as you get bigger. There will be a level of diminishing returns beyond which gaining more fat will not mean any more muscle.

Do what you want, but I repeat, I would not stop training for size while size was coming steady.

Sounds like you’re gaining weight a little too quickly - you do add some fat but expecting to reach 20% is not the right mindset.

Ease up on the food a little, but not too much - 1lb or 1/2kg a week is what I shoot for.

[quote]Tiribulus wrote:
jehovasfitness wrote:
If you’re at 15% BF right now, something has to go terribly wrong to reach 20% BF.

As you keep gaining weight, you’ll also gain muscle thus increasing lean mass. while you will gain some fat, it will be offset from a BF% standpoint by the gain in lean mass, again assuming you don’t royaly f’ it up.

It’s up to you though

I agree. Also, it is not true generally that you must continue to get fatter indefinitely as you get bigger. There will be a level of diminishing returns beyond which gaining more fat will not mean any more muscle.

Do what you want, but I repeat, I would not stop training for size while size was coming steady.[/quote]

Could you please explain that further to me? Based on what I have read on this site (maybe too much Waterbury :P) I would have guessed that fat gain increased exponentially due to a greater ammount of fat generally being more insulin sensitive etc. But obviously I am still a beginner with no real experience.

So when would you say people generally reach that sweet spot of bulking fatness where you don’t gain fat but still can gain muscle? And as I get closer to it, I would have to make minor decreases in calories due to it mainly going towards building new muscle right?

[quote]RSGZ wrote:
Sounds like you’re gaining weight a little too quickly - you do add some fat but expecting to reach 20% is not the right mindset.

Ease up on the food a little, but not too much - 1lb or 1/2kg a week is what I shoot for.[/quote]

yup, 40 lbs in 4 months will do that to you.

[quote]RSGZ wrote:
Sounds like you’re gaining weight a little too quickly - you do add some fat but expecting to reach 20% is not the right mindset.

Ease up on the food a little, but not too much - 1lb or 1/2kg a week is what I shoot for.[/quote]

Hmm, that was what I was aiming for at the beginning, but I was too lazy to count exact calories so I just started heaving litres of milk down and jars of PB down.

Now I’m up from +/- 10% 76kg to 96kg at around 15%. I think that equals 13 kg lean mass and 7kg fat. I realise that the fat gain is quite high, but so is the muscle, and if I would’ve followed the popular 1lb/week I’d be up 17 lbs or 7.75 kg.

Even if that would have been pure muscle it would take way longer to gain the 13kgs, not far from twice as long, and that leaves plenty of time left for cutting and continued bulk thus making me reach my goal more quickly, understand? And I think my gains will slow down smoothly and not take a big crash so putting a set rule on weight gain might not be what would make me progress the fastest.

Goddamnit, I’m a geek.

[quote]skohcl wrote:
Dude… I couldn’t stand being at 20%… I start hating myself once I get a belly. But I don’t think a belly looks bad on people, especially not as bad on us weightlifting types. But for me I get really uncomfortable about it and had to cut.[/quote]

Haha, I know how you’re feeling. I’m going to a sports school, soccer, hockey and such crap, weightlifting is not very big here. The thing is, I’m the biggest one there. But everyone has great abs. Except the one fat kid and me. I can’t help but feel like a fatass even though they’re all tiny :stuck_out_tongue:

[quote]shoo wrote:
Tiribulus wrote:
jehovasfitness wrote:
If you’re at 15% BF right now, something has to go terribly wrong to reach 20% BF.

As you keep gaining weight, you’ll also gain muscle thus increasing lean mass. while you will gain some fat, it will be offset from a BF% standpoint by the gain in lean mass, again assuming you don’t royaly f’ it up.

It’s up to you though

I agree. Also, it is not true generally that you must continue to get fatter indefinitely as you get bigger. There will be a level of diminishing returns beyond which gaining more fat will not mean any more muscle.

Do what you want, but I repeat, I would not stop training for size while size was coming steady.

Could you please explain that further to me? Based on what I have read on this site (maybe too much Waterbury :P) I would have guessed that fat gain increased exponentially due to a greater ammount of fat generally being more insulin sensitive etc. But obviously I am still a beginner with no real experience.

So when would you say people generally reach that sweet spot of bulking fatness where you don’t gain fat but still can gain muscle? And as I get closer to it, I would have to make minor decreases in calories due to it mainly going towards building new muscle right?[/quote]

Sweet “spot” is probably a bit too precise. Meaning if you try to stay within a specific single BF% point for instance you’ll drive yourself nuts.

I have gotten no fatter and 40 or so pounds heavier over the last 2 1/2 years or so, however I am not REAL lean. I’m not fat either, I can see my abs through some blur.

The real trick is to concentrate on your muscles and not your bodyfat. It takes some trial and error. I find that if I can pinch about an inch or so off my abs standing straight up I make solid gains and getting fatter doesn’t get me any more muscle any faster. Yours may be a little more or a little less. I would overshoot and trim back rather than waste time inching up if it were me.

For most people NO you will not have to trim your calories as you go because as the other guy said you’ll be getting meatier and require more the bigger you get. If things go particularly well you’ll have to increase your intake to keep gaining, but will still not get any, or at least much, softer.

Bottom line is if you spend your energy thinking about bodyfat you’re shortchanging your progress. Spend your time concentrating on your muscles and the bodyfat will take care of itself if you have any ability at all to read what your body is telling you. Again, if you’re making steady gains, as you say you are, that would be the very worst time to think about dieting. Those gains are precious friend. Gobble em up while they’re coming. One day you’ll have to work much harder and much longer for the same progress.

Ok, screw this summer. I’ll add in some cardio and see how it goes. Shouldn’t ruin a good thing as you say. And who knows? Maybe that G-flux thing actually works :stuck_out_tongue:

Edit: Just to clarify, When I do decide to cut (probably next year, 19 if I get strong enough for competing at 18) Would there be a need to maintain before starting a cut, or can I just jump into it while in the middle of a bulk? Answers for both a long slower bulk and a quicker short bulk would be appriciated. I’m here for knowledge.

[quote]shoo wrote:
Ok, screw this summer. I’ll add in some cardio and see how it goes. Shouldn’t ruin a good thing as you say. And who knows? Maybe that G-flux thing actually works :stuck_out_tongue:

Edit: Just to clarify, When I do decide to cut (probably next year, 19 if I get strong enough for competing at 18) Would there be a need to maintain before starting a cut, or can I just jump into it while in the middle of a bulk? Answers for both a long slower bulk and a quicker short bulk would be appriciated. I’m here for knowledge.[/quote]

If you just reached a heavier body weight and immediately start dieting, your body is very likely to dump the extra muscle mass you gained.

Muscle is expensive for your body to maintain. It uses more calories even at rest. Given a choice, your body would rather hold onto some body fat than more muscle mass because fat is a storage medium. Therefore, it will only hold onto muscle mass during a caloric deficit if you are able to hold that size comfortably and you take in enough overall calories and protein to maintain what you built while dropping weight (assuming you are lifting heavy…which actually needs to be included lately when discussing this stuff).

All of those guys “bulking” for two months and then dieting are running in circles and will make the least progress in the long run.

[quote]Professor X wrote:
shoo wrote:
Ok, screw this summer. I’ll add in some cardio and see how it goes. Shouldn’t ruin a good thing as you say. And who knows? Maybe that G-flux thing actually works :stuck_out_tongue:

Edit: Just to clarify, When I do decide to cut (probably next year, 19 if I get strong enough for competing at 18) Would there be a need to maintain before starting a cut, or can I just jump into it while in the middle of a bulk? Answers for both a long slower bulk and a quicker short bulk would be appriciated. I’m here for knowledge.

If you just reached a heavier body weight and immediately start dieting, your body is very likely to dump the extra muscle mass you gained.

Muscle is expensive for your body to maintain. It uses more calories even at rest. Given a choice, your body would rather hold onto some body fat than more muscle mass because fat is a storage medium. Therefore, it will only hold onto muscle mass during a caloric deficit if you are able to hold that size comfortably and you take in enough overall calories and protein to maintain what you built while dropping weight (assuming you are lifting heavy…which actually needs to be included lately when discussing this stuff).

All of those guys “bulking” for two months and then dieting are running in circles and will make the least progress in the long run.[/quote]

Obviously I would be lifting heavy, one of my dream goals at the moment is competing at a national level in powerlifting. Even if I’ll have to compete in the 125kg+ class where there’s no competition (I know, chicken) I’ll do that.

I think I get what you’re saying also, if your body remembers being much lighter it is more beneficial for it to drop comfortably back to where it was, opposed to being bone dry at starting weights. Probably because being huge and ripped wasn’t the best way to survive when we were evolving right?

So where do you stand on how to build muscle? I know you’ve probably aswered that several times and the subject is beaten to death, but would you say bulking more slowly over a long period of time limiting fat gain or just focusing on gaining muscle for a long time and then shedding the fat when you have your desired level of muscle and your body has grown used to a higher bodyweight? Or regular bulk/cut cycles (obviously not due to your last post but didn’t want to leave it out).

[quote]shoo wrote:

So where do you stand on how to build muscle? I know you’ve probably aswered that several times and the subject is beaten to death, but would you say bulking more slowly over a long period of time limiting fat gain or just focusing on gaining muscle for a long time and then shedding the fat when you have your desired level of muscle and your body has grown used to a higher bodyweight? Or regular bulk/cut cycles (obviously not due to your last post but didn’t want to leave it out).[/quote]

My recommendation is if you plan to be as big and strong as possible, then spend a good 3-4 years simply working on size. If you diet down at all during that 3-4 years, make it only to undo times that you go overboard on gaining weight and use it to get back to a comfortable level of body composition/fitness.

Yes, you should try to limit fat gains. None of us are in this to become obese. However, some of us simply understand that in order for our bodies to grow the most during the years of life that allow it, carrying some extra body fat should simply be expected.

That does NOT mean gaining body fat is the goal.

The goal is to gain muscle. Anything that allows that to happen optimally is what we use to reach that goal.