T Nation

When to Switch Bulking to Cutting?

Okay, so I started to bulk in like early December. 5’11 180ish pounds. Now, it’s mid-January, and I’m right at 200. My arms look great (for me), my chest and legs have really grown, but so has my belly. I was a 31" waste them, now I can still get into my 32" fine, and 34" is big. Much of it is just my stomach getting “big”, i.e. maybe doing too much ab work, but the layer of fat is definitely gotten a little thicker.

With a shirt on,I look like I might have a little pudge, when it comes off, there’s actually more definition then you might expect. And it looks like most of my fat gain is in the love-handles.

Anyways, I was planning on bulking till March, and just seeing how big I could get without totally ruining my body composition. I was shooting for maybe getting up to 215/220, then cutting back down to whatever a six-pack me weighs at that point.

What I’m wondering is, should I just stick it out, and do the full bulk, or is it better to start cutting now and attacking my worsening body composition now, then do another bulk later? Frankly, I’m not going to have my shirt off much between now and June, but it is a little depressing to be soft in the mid section.

Thanks

Should I wear jeans or cargo pants today?

[quote]HK24719 wrote:
Should I wear jeans or cargo pants today?[/quote]

Jeans if you don’t need to pockets.

Sill post? Sorry. I’ve never done a bulk-cut cycle before, but my emphasis has always been general conditioning more than size or aesthetics. The yo-yo approach seems like it wouldn’t really get you anywhere, and my gut tells me to keep bulking. On the other hand, there’s got to be a point where body composition gets bad enough that resetting, and getting lean again, would be more beneficial.

[quote]Spartiates wrote:

[quote]HK24719 wrote:
Should I wear jeans or cargo pants today?[/quote]

Jeans if you don’t need to pockets.

Sill post? Sorry. I’ve never done a bulk-cut cycle before, but my emphasis has always been general conditioning more than size or aesthetics. The yo-yo approach seems like it wouldn’t really get you anywhere, and my gut tells me to keep bulking. On the other hand, there’s got to be a point where body composition gets bad enough that resetting, and getting lean again, would be more beneficial.[/quote]

If conditioning is your main priority, cut when the excess weight hinders your ability to train properly (I know jack shit about conditioning training btw, so can’t be more specific)

Aesthetically, cut when you don’t want to look at yourself in the mirror or eat another big meal because you are disgusted with yourself.

[quote]silverhydra wrote:

Aesthetically, cut when you don’t want to look at yourself in the mirror or eat another big meal because you are disgusted with yourself.
[/quote]

So you’d argue that it’s best to just keep bulking till I’m as big as I’d want to be (or if I can’t stand it first), rather than do incremental bulk/cut phases? See for me this is the first time in my life where my arms are really getting “big”, at the same time, so are my love handles. What I don’t know, is if I bulk so much that my arms are really where I want them, will I just end up loosing them in the cutting phase because it will have to be so drastic by that point.

Are there any metrics or predictors?

[quote]Spartiates wrote:

[quote]silverhydra wrote:

Aesthetically, cut when you don’t want to look at yourself in the mirror or eat another big meal because you are disgusted with yourself.
[/quote]

So you’d argue that it’s best to just keep bulking till I’m as big as I’d want to be (or if I can’t stand it first), rather than do incremental bulk/cut phases? See for me this is the first time in my life where my arms are really getting “big”, at the same time, so are my love handles. What I don’t know, is if I bulk so much that my arms are really where I want them, will I just end up loosing them in the cutting phase because it will have to be so drastic by that point.

Are there any metrics or predictors?[/quote]

It’s simple.

If you’re actually gaining too much fat relative to muscle, tweak your intake to compensate.

It doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing bulk or cut.

Just don’t be one of those people who are so afraid to eat for fear of blurring their abs that they never give themselves the opportunity to grow.

5’11 31 inch waist doesn’t sound like you need a cut, hard to tell with no picture. But it really depends if you did it before. You should know how long it takes you to cut and what you want to look like. Pick what yo uwant to look like by what date and cut.

Other than that we can’t tell you when is the perfect time for you. One person may be able to cut 10 lbs in 2 months, another might take them 6

[quote]Spartiates wrote:

[quote]silverhydra wrote:

Aesthetically, cut when you don’t want to look at yourself in the mirror or eat another big meal because you are disgusted with yourself.
[/quote]

So you’d argue that it’s best to just keep bulking till I’m as big as I’d want to be (or if I can’t stand it first), rather than do incremental bulk/cut phases? See for me this is the first time in my life where my arms are really getting “big”, at the same time, so are my love handles. What I don’t know, is if I bulk so much that my arms are really where I want them, will I just end up loosing them in the cutting phase because it will have to be so drastic by that point.

Are there any metrics or predictors?[/quote]

If I were to compare a continuous bulk phase versus incremental bulk/cuts, then I would be undecided. I have seen people do both amazingly, and have seen people screw both up equally (The former gets you really fat and you believe that it is muscle, and the latter just negates what you did in the first phase during the second)

I doubt you will find any hard numbers to suit this problem, you could use Lean Body Mass vs. Body fat (I believe the measure is called the FFMI, the Fat-Free Muscle Index), but there are inherent flaws in such frequent body fat testing, as well as the method chosen.

A simple way could be either the mirror, which albeit not numerical, is good for many. Or devise a method using measuring tape, either ratios (3:2 or 3.5:2 chest:waist ratio minimum, any fatter and a cut is needed, for example) or just basic measures (bulk until enough fat is stored to make my waist X inches flexed/at rest)

Correction: This is the absolute only way one should judge whether adjust their diet since appearance is why we’re in this in the first place.

I hope no one takes this recommendation seriously.

Why start cutting? Why not stick to your bulk, and just try cleaning up your diet and adding a few cardio sessions a week? Its not always as black and white as bulk/cut, sometimes you just need to reevaluate what you’re doing and tweak it.