T Nation

Purpose of Bulking and Cutting?

This is an extreme newbie question. I am currently doing a bulk, and driving home from a workout yesterday, I asked myself why I was doing it, and to be honest I had no idea. I guess I have just accepted it as a fact that this is what I need to do to put on size. I was wondering why you cant eat at maintenance calories and get the same gains without the fat of a bulk?

If anyone wants to attempt this question thats cool with me. If not, whatever. Im doing great on my bulk and cant wait till Im done in October.

It’s about energy balance. The contraction of your muscles to move your limbs, make your heart beat, or cause you to breathe, in addition to the energy expeditures of growing hair and fingernails, replacing skin, and other activities by the body, require energy in the form of food.

If you only provide enough food to maintain these functions and no more, there will be nothing left for new growth to occur. You will have achieved equilibrium: energy in = energy out. So you have to eat above maintainance to achieve growth.

This also means that you will add fat along with the muscle. Not all of those extra calories will go toward growth. Some of them will be stored by the body as fat. If there were some way to ensure that all calories above maintainance went toward promoting muscle growth instead of a combination of muscle growth and fat storage, we’d all be doing that. But there’s really no way to completely separate the two.

Thanks bro.

Matter cannot be created or destroyed; it can only be transfered

Excellent information, Defender.

I might add that the key to bulking is to find your calorie maintenance level (i.e., the amount of calories your body needs to fuel your actions every day) and go just high enough above that to build lean muscle mass. Any calories above this level will be stored by the body as fat.

Inevitably, you will put on a little fat during a bulking phase. By doing it this way, however, you can minimize the amount of fat you put on while maximizing the muscle (and thus minimizing the amount of time you have to spend starving yourself on a cutting cycle).

Tom Venuto’s excellent e-book “Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle” has some great stuff on this concept.