WHEN TO BULK AND WHEN TO CUT
I read an article the other day by Jason Maxwell of JMax Fitness that prompted me to put some serious thought into my own history.
More about Jason’s article later, but first a little history.
A little over 16 years ago I went on a serious bulk. It didn’t take much effort on my part. I was working out six days a week, two hours a day- five days in the weight room and one day of cardio, mostly a boxer’s workout on the heavy bag, jump rope and medicine ball.
I got up my heaviest (and strongest) at about 228-230 pounds. Body fat was in the mid teens. While I was at my strongest it didn’t feel quite right. I felt a little (to use a term by comedian Gabriel Iglesias) “Puffy”.
I think everyone has an ideal weight where they feel their best and strongest. I’m not talking about the ideal weight in the government charts. Those are about as useful as Rosie O’donell’s personal trainer. I’m talking your individual ideal weight. I can’t explain to you how to determine yours. But if you do this long enough and pay attention you’ll find it.
Your ideal is the weight at which you can maintain or increase your strength, your energy level is high and you are comfortable with the way you look. (Personal Image Bias aside)
So, at 228 pounds, I went on a “cut”. I maintained my workouts as they were, still using progression, increased my cardio a bit, cut my calories by about 300 per day and increased protein intake. I found my “ideal weight” to be about 222 pounds. I was able to still increase my strength and was comfortable with the way I looked. And I had a lot more energy.
Recently, I was sitting at about 206 (after a lot of years out of the gym). Remembering how I felt at 222 I decided to go on a bulk. It didn’t work.
I gained weight (up to about 213) but I gained more fat than muscle. My strength went up a bit but my energy declined, I didn’t like the way I looked and eating an extra 300 to 500 calories a day was miserable and not sustainable. I was “Puffy” again.
What went wrong?
I’m 66 years old now. My metabolism has slowed a bit (though the decrease in metabolism is much less than most people think. So don’t use that as an excuse). I can’t maintain the intensity I could when I was 50 years old through 16-18 hours of training a week. And I started my bulk when my body fat % was in the upper teens.
That brings me to Jason’s article
Jason’s article is about over hearing two guys talking. Both guys were about 18-20% body fat and about the same age. (Think the average gym goers)
One said he was forever cutting and the endless dieting was miserable. The other said was forever bulking but both said their bodies hadn’t changed much.
According to Jason, the real kicker was they both looked about the same!
Here are Jason’s rules-
Bulking and cutting are fine if:
Bulking and cutting are fine if:
· If you are going to use this approach, attack it relentlessly.
· “Cut until you are lean enough to bulk”-Body fat at 12 % or less. Start a bulk at 18-20% body fat and you’ll gain more fat than muscle. If you start a bulk at 12% body fat you’ll gain more muscle.
Me? I’m cutting and I’m down to about 208-209 pounds and weight has stabilized. I have more energy. Body fat is decreasing but I’m not down to 12 % yet.