I've done the research on a successful hypertrophy bulk, and come up with the following theory:
1. If you eat the correct number of surplus calories, you add 250-500 calories per day above maintenance.
2. The optimal ratio of muscle gain to fat is 2.5 to 1, if you eat efficiently and clean.
3. If you are eating 3500 surplus calories per week, you will gain 1 lb per week.
4. In 2 months you will have gained 8 lbs.
5. Of those 8 lbs, about 6 will be muscle and about 2 will be fat.
6. You can cut for 1 week and lose 2 lbs of fat while maintaining muscle.
Therefore, the ratio of cutting to bulking cycles would be 2 months bulking, 1 week cutting.
Are my calculations correct?
Absolutely none of that is correct. The human body does not act like a machine in a science lab. It was an admirable attempt though.
I'd go like this if possible, eat enough to fuel your workouts and gradually gain weight. When you reach the point where you notice you are putting fat on at a more than acceptable rate, or your workouts get 'stale', cut back a bit and maintain. From there decide whether you are able to continue building or if its time to "cut".
The 'cutting' process works just about the same way, but can a bit more extreme since you can lose fat faster. Whatever method you choose to "cut" keep going until the point where you are losing muscle or strength at a more than acceptable rate. Go into maintanence, re-assess and repeat the process.
As for cycling the two. You can either improvise it, or follow a schedule. There is no exact formula, but I probably wouldn't 'cut' for less than 3 weeks at a time, and I wouldn't bulk for less than 6-8 weeks at a time. BUT even this recommendation is not a definate. If your bulk/cut cycles are not very drastic and you are basically just trying to recomp, then something like 2 weeks cut, 4 weeks bulk can work. I think this is similar to how Layne Norton recommns things. And sometimes a 1-2 week "cut" can be beneficial just to get things in order before going into a longer slow 'bulk'.
As much as we'd like to believe this stuff is all science, its more a mix of science and art.
Of course it varies. There is no set amount of calories for everyone to take in order to gain or lose weight. You have to take into account body type, metabolism, daily caloric expenditure, current BF etc.
You look at what you're eating right now and maintaining at and increase that number by a bit.
Bulking for 4-6mths would be just fine.
And gaining fat is NOT the end of the world. It will come down to how much fat you are willing to gain to put on a significant amount of muscle. If you put on 10lbs of fat in 6 months, that could be considered good if you put on 20lbs of muscle. But if you put on 10lbs of fat, and only 5 lbs of muscle, that would be bad.
You've got too many threads going now, its going to be hard to get straight advice. Go into the thread you started about the "best hypertrophy program" and give us a DETAILED post of what youve been doing and where you are at now.
Important things to list:
Current and previous training
Current / previous diet
Pics would help
Short and long term goals
Do this, and then people will be able to make more substantial recommendations
EC, 15% BF seems to be the highest your typical lifter wishes to go if they care about asthetics. Its really up to you, but there is no benefit in going beyond that. I would cut back down to 10% but thats hard to do if you havent got used to counting calories yet. Having a 37" waist doesnt look good on a 200lb guy.
Basically, Behemoth definitely explained this well in your other thread.