T Nation

Time to Cut

I started off in the middle of January at 171lbs and 17% body fat. I hadn’t trained in almost two years and from the stress of working nights and going to school during the day was in pretty bad shape… a sad sort of skinny fat.

My plan was to gain for 15 weeks to try and put on a little more mass before I cut down for the summer. At my weigh in and bod-pod session yesterday I was 208lbs and 21.5% body fat. So I made decent muscle gains, and managed to hit a few new personal bests, but also gained a bit more fat than I had wanted.

Now its cutting time. The plan is to do three full-body style workouts with HIIT on alternating days with one day of rest. Calorie wise Im just shy of 5000 on workout days and about 4500 on off days…Ill be slowly trimming 500cal every two weeks until I see weight loss…

once I plateau Ill start trimming again. Ill use an ECA stack to hopefully keep me from stagnating to badly or loosing much muscle.

Ive only ever really tried to cut once before, and it ended with me being admittedly much leaner… but unfortunately I had lost almost all the muscle I had earned from my gaining cycle. Does anyone see any problems or red flags in this plan?

Suggestions? Questions? From what I have read, so long as I stick to it and keep my head… this tactic should work just fine. Also, does anyone know about how long it takes for your nervous/endocrine system to recover from ECA?

I have never used the ECA stack before and want to double check before I start to cycle it. The consensus from what I have read is two weeks on, one/two weeks off… but for most of the posts I have read, the two weeks off are spent with another stim(clenbuturol)… doesn’t that defeat the purpose of cycling?

I am currently planning on not doing so… but should I be taking something during that two week down time?
Any help or comments are greatly appreciated. Thanks

This is an all around bad idea if you are ever gonna look anything other than a tall skinny guy with abs.

With all do respect if you ever are planning to fill out so to speak you are defeating your self before you even get started you don’t have enough size to be concerening your self with cutting and taking thermos and even mentioning Clen.

But ultimately its up to you if having abs is more important than having muscle keep heading in the direction you are going in.

Also you really didnt gain anything in 15 weeks you may have filled out a little closer to your normal weight set point because you were in a calorics surplus but muscle takes time and all this up and down serve no purpose but to impeed progress.

Again unless abs is all that matters.

Ok, I admit I am tired of being the tall skinny guy with abs… so what should I do then? I did manage to put on a good amount of muscle… but I also put on quite a bit of fat onto an already slightly chubby body. At over 20% body fat I am now officially “overweight” and only a few percentage points away from being clinically obese. So how should I go forward?

How have you been training up to this point? What does your diet look like? Bodyguard is spot on the money, but there may be some tweaks that will let you gain weight in a better muscle to fat ratio.

I have been following Berardi’s scrawny to brawny plan. It started with three weeks of corrective work. Then phase two was four weeks of three total body style workouts in the 5x5 range for the major lifts and 2x6-8 for the more smaller muscle group lifts. Phase three was four weeks of total body style workouts with wave-sets on the major groups with 2x8-10 on the smaller muscle groups. The last phase was four weeks of upper/lower split with 3x5, 2x10, and 2x12 rep ranges being used.

Diet wise I was using Berardi’s massive eating method. On training days I aimed for 4500calories.
Meal 1
Scrambled eggs
green pepper, onion, mushrooms, spinach
fish oil caps

Pre workout drink+ workout drink
1 1/2 serving of Surge

Post workout drink
Three servings Surge

Meal 2
three scoops whey protein

Meal 3
3 turkey sausage links
1/2 green pepper raw(I love green pepper)
fish oil caps

Chicken breast
Oilve Oil
Flax seeds
fish oil caps

Meal 5( i tend to just munch on this in between meals 3 and 6)
Walnuts 1/4 cup
Almonds 1/4 cup
random raw veggie

Meal 6
Lean Meat (250-400 calories worth)
Green veggies

Meal 7
Scoop of Metabolic Drive
1/2 cup of cottage cheese
tablespoon of peanutbutter
3 fishoil caps

The non work out days are exactly the same except no workout Surge and I cut down the quantity of the berry/yogurt shake.

There is also a cup of coffee in the morning with green tea throughout the day.

I get around eight hours of consecutive sleep and usually manage to take a 45 minute nap or so in the afternoons.

[quote]Agnostic wrote:
Ok, I admit I am tired of being the tall skinny guy with abs… so what should I do then? I did manage to put on a good amount of muscle… but I also put on quite a bit of fat onto an already slightly chubby body. At over 20% body fat I am now officially “overweight” and only a few percentage points away from being clinically obese. So how should I go forward?

The first thing you need to do is quit panacking you are over 6ft and wiegh 208lbs. Not even remotely overweight for that height though your body composition may be a little high BF percentage wise but you are not to far out side the average.

Without knowing more specifics and seeing pics Id be remiss to advise but my guess is your issues are both training and nutritionally related, as well as experiance level.

I don’t know bodyguard. He’d need to cut about 28lbs of fat to be at 10% assuming no muscle loss which is clearly a significant amount so I’m not sure a continued bulk (with less calories) is a good idea. 180lbs at 10% bf is quite the improvement from 171lbs at 17% bf though. That’s an increase of about 20lbs LBM which is quite good.

Clearly your calories were way too high on your bulk. Keep that in mind next time.

If you were to cut, it would take you about 4.5 months if you wanted to keep all your LBM. That sucks at first, but if you think about it, 20lbs of added muscle and 11lbs less fat in 9 months time is not bad at all.

Ok, so I posted some pic’s on my profile… and I have to admit… before I wanted to cut because the BF number and I disliked the feeling of my skin hanging over my belt when I sat… now I want to cut because I look like shit. Camera’s don’t lie… and the camera shows a guy that need more muscle and less fat… as well as some exposure to the sun, but that is another matter.

For training I have started the Waterbury Method program, and will be doing his GPP program/HIIT program on the off days. So the only question at this point is diet. Is it better to try to gain muscle weight at low twenties body fat or mid to low teens?

If I cut I won’t try to get down to 10%, I know it was moving down to that range from 13-14% that ate a majority of my muscle last time. But if I can make better muscle gains while “soft” then I might as well push it a bit further… an extra month or two of cutting won’t kill me.

The majority of the article writers on this site continually say that it’s a bad idea to keep bulking when you’re getting fat. This contradicts the usual advice of people on the forum whose advice is often just bulk. I hve personally done Beradi’s S2B programme and it’s an awesome start point, but you are going to get a far better muscle:fat ratio if you lose some fat first. Better insulin sensitivity and you’ll look and feel better too.

I’m no expert whatsoever, but my advie would be to cut off some fat for a few months and then pick up right where you were, just next time reduce the kcal slightly if you are prone to fat gain. (Bear in mind S2B was made with skinny low BF ectos in mind)

I’m going to guess you continued to cut calories to lose weight rather than increase cardio. If that’s the case…well that’s your problem. You can only cut calories down so much before you start losing muscle.

So what if you’ve stopped losing weight, calories are 500 below maintenance, you’re already doing cardio 3 times a week and you’re STILL not at 10%? Increase cardio to 4-5 times a week.

Seriously man if you keep the carbs moderate (250g or so) a day and reducing cals you can possibly gain muscle on the cut. 180lbs at 10% bf is athletic looking and I would go for that before trying to gain more weight. You won’t find many physique coaches that will tell you otherwise either.


I think the problem lies in the fact that you started your bulk at a BF where many would either be slightly scaling back calories or adding in extra activity to combat unwanted fat gains.

While you did add a commendable amount of LBM over the bulk, it may have been wiser to maintain you previous caloric consumption while trying to get stronger and leaner before upping them considerably and winding up at over 20% BF.

To address the problem, don’t get too calorically restrictive–in fact you may not have to lower your intake at all–and increase your weight training frequency to at least 4 days/week. Adding a few moderate cardio seesions may help as well, but may not be totally necessary with the additional weight training.

If memory serves me correctly, “Scrawny to Brawny” is a TBT program and an eating guideline for guys who are extremely skinny, which you weren’t when you started the bulk.

Switching to a split routine and possibly adding in some cardio may be the nudge you need to fire up some body recomposition. Once you get things under control (and no you don’t have to go sub 10%) I think it will be ok to start upping the calories again.

What is your cutting goal regarding weight and bodyfat? You started at 171 now are 208, if your bodyfat estimates were right you gained 22 pounds of muscle, which is more than most bulkers out here. But then consider you cut; if you kept all the muscle and went to 10%, you would be 181 even with you ECA stack, and this is the best situation. Well you could gain a bit of muscle when you cut, but you could loose some. If you want to be 180~ at 10% bodyfat then it’s time to cut, BUT…

You should transition before the cutting. You have been bulking for almost nothing; I bulked for 8-9 months straight and now think that I could’ve done it for a whole other year, transition not included, which could have been a better idea too. This is recent muscle, so it will be easier to loose it; you’ve just gained that muscle because of the demand you put on the body, but if you haven’t carried it for some time then the body will have no problem getting rid of it when you eat less than your body needs. I would suggest staying on maintenance for some weeks:6-8/months:2~, this will help you starting to loose fat while keeping the muscle and making your body get used to that level of muscularity, so less chance of losing it.

hey man, just saw ya pics and well, you dont look that bad, you look like me hahah and im 185lbs and 6’ hahaha, just keep going for another 6 yr and if you find yourself in this position next yr, consider the cut.

seriously im prob in the exact same pic, 185lb, 18%BF, and well im not considering cutting until at least 3 yrs, sure there’ll be sometimes of cleaning up my diet, adding some cardio for a recomp, but nothing drastic.

pretend you are cutting, stick to the plan, maybe even consider carb cycling, but just eat above maintenance on training days, maintenance on non-training days and gain a pound or less a week and youll be awesome in a few yrs.

good luck.

Thanks for all the great feed back.
Yes, I have to admit that trying to put on mass when I was at 17% was… well stupid. Sounds bad now, but I had pretty tossed out the idea that I would ever get over 20%… so not my brightest hour there.
JT339: When I stopped making progress I did drop my calories as well as dropping my GPP style aerobic in favor of just straight running… so good call.

Vanilla-Gorilla- For the split routine what would you suggest? The only well made split I have ever done was a lot of Olympic style lifts and favored wave style set-rep schemes that never got above 5reps for the most part.

Meymz- My cutting goal is to get down around 12-13%… 10% would be nice… but Id be happy with the former. There is a bod-pod setup on campus so I can go in every few weeks and keep a close eye on my progress.

So I have begun the Waterbury method and a mix of GPP/HIIT on my off days. I have started with a small dose of ECA stack in the morning and will keep it at there for a while. Diet wise, I will be keeping my calories and spread essentially the same. The only two changes I am planning on making is getting rid of my last meal of the day right before I go to bed in favor of a scoop of caesin protein and some BCAA’s… and perhaps increasing my fat to protein ratio on my PF meals. I will let this plan go for a month before going in to get my lean mass checked again.