# Thread: To Bulk or to Cut, That is the Question - or is it?

1. Originally Posted by always_losing
Ummm, being doing some maths concerning this.

I don't think this works. You need to seriously doctor numbers to get anything like the appropriate results.

I'll give an example:

I weigh 200lbs at about 10% bodyfat. Lets set my 1 year goal at 210lbs with 8% bodyfat. This seems very reasonable to me.

So my maintenance is 3200 calories and my 'as if' consumption is 3360 calories.
This gives me an initial surplus of 160 calories which my body will use to build muscle and gain fat. I need to gain 1.1lbs of muscle per month to reach my goal, this translates to 0.03666 lbs per day.

So now I can work out my new bodyweight, and hence maintenance and surplus calories for each day. It will take 187 days before this will become a caloric deficit (equivalently I reach 210lbs, 186.78 lean 23.22 fat). Now we need to make an assumption about the continued rate of lbm increase. Even if we assume it remains constant, which is very unlikely, I don't reach the goal set initially. By the end of the year, 168 days later, I am still only at a caloric deficit of 75 calories, definitely not enough to incite the weight loss I need to reach 8% bodyfat.

Eventually I reach the expected lbm, since we gained this at a fixed rate, but I still have 10% bodyfat. If we relax the 'lbm gain' especially after we reach maintenance I get ever further away from my goal. Halving lbm gain after maintenance is reached changes the final picture to my weighing 212lbs at 11% BF.

Personally, I think bulk cut is more efficient.
Short answer from me on this one, Daniel may have a different view. If you are training as a 210lbs 8% you have to increase your conditioning work to accomodate being the larger athelete, which in turn puts you in a further caloric deficit. And then you have the factor of having more muscle mass that burns more calories just by 'being there', instantly putting you in a further deficit.

I think a goal of 10lbs of lean muscle in half a year is a little bit of bad example on this theory, as its more addressed to smaller people wanting to get into the average definition of 'big'. I also believe it applies to me at 240lbs to 308lbs.

2. Originally Posted by always_losing
Ummm, being doing some maths concerning this.

I don't think this works. You need to seriously doctor numbers to get anything like the appropriate results.

I'll give an example:

I weigh 200lbs at about 10% bodyfat. Lets set my 1 year goal at 210lbs with 8% bodyfat. This seems very reasonable to me.

So my maintenance is 3200 calories and my 'as if' consumption is 3360 calories.
This gives me an initial surplus of 160 calories which my body will use to build muscle and gain fat. I need to gain 1.1lbs of muscle per month to reach my goal, this translates to 0.03666 lbs per day.

So now I can work out my new bodyweight, and hence maintenance and surplus calories for each day. It will take 187 days before this will become a caloric deficit (equivalently I reach 210lbs, 186.78 lean 23.22 fat). Now we need to make an assumption about the continued rate of lbm increase. Even if we assume it remains constant, which is very unlikely, I don't reach the goal set initially. By the end of the year, 168 days later, I am still only at a caloric deficit of 75 calories, definitely not enough to incite the weight loss I need to reach 8% bodyfat.

Eventually I reach the expected lbm, since we gained this at a fixed rate, but I still have 10% bodyfat. If we relax the 'lbm gain' especially after we reach maintenance I get ever further away from my goal. Halving lbm gain after maintenance is reached changes the final picture to my weighing 212lbs at 11% BF.

Personally, I think bulk cut is more efficient.
Ok, interesting point.

Firstly if you're 200lbs at 10% bf, you're not a novice and you're obviously able to eat and train effectively.

Furthermore a goal of 210 @ 8% bf, (assuming you're of average height and natural) is knocking on your genetic ceiling - margins for error are small in this instance and gains even slower.
Hitting 212 @ 12% bf is not too shabby a result for the period - approx 4lbs lbm for an experienced natural lifter is good going and I'd have to ask how you define 'efficient'. Hitting that theoretical level without having to resort to two different modalities seems pretty efficient to me.

The article also states that as margins grow tighter, progress should be monitored every two weeks and adjusted up or down by 250kcal.

Any theoretical failings you state can quite easily be mitigated by the minor adjustments suggested above and in the article.

Point is, the article doesn't state it is better than bulk/cut it simply offers those trainees not in the position you are, some direction and help with goal setting and let's face it, most aren't about to step on stage, so 212 @ 12% bf for a natural lifter of average height is a goal for many.

For those more experienced and with proven results and a goal in mind why change the process? If bulk/cut works for you crack on.

3. Originally Posted by Risk10k
Short answer from me on this one, Daniel may have a different view. If you are training as a 210lbs 8% you have to increase your conditioning work to accomodate being the larger athelete, which in turn puts you in a further caloric deficit. And then you have the factor of having more muscle mass that burns more calories just by 'being there', instantly putting you in a further deficit.

I think a goal of 10lbs of lean muscle in half a year is a little bit of bad example on this theory, as its more addressed to smaller people wanting to get into the average definition of 'big'. I also believe it applies to me at 240lbs to 308lbs.
Nope, my views echo yours.

It's a simple concept that'll get you to within spitting distance of any reasonable goal you choose to set, at which point, knowing where you need to get to, you can make the necessary adjustments to caloric intake and/or activity.

4. Originally Posted by Daniel Roberts
Nope, my views echo yours.

It's a simple concept that'll get you to within spitting distance of any reasonable goal you choose to set, at which point, knowing where you need to get to, you can make the necessary adjustments to caloric intake and/or activity.
Ok, I am fine with this as a conclusion then. It wont necessarily get you to your goals, but it has the potential to get you close (which it does). And once you get close hopefully you'll have a bit of practice with manipulating caloric in/out and you basically bulk/cut the last little bit.

5. Originally Posted by always_losing
Ok, I am fine with this as a conclusion then. It wont necessarily get you to your goals, but it has the potential to get you close (which it does). And once you get close hopefully you'll have a bit of practice with manipulating caloric in/out and you basically bulk/cut the last little bit.
That's fair. I state in the article that any assumption on caloric intake, future or present is going to be a guess and with that there are inherent margins for error - there is no guaranteed accurate figure.

To hit any physique target dead centre is therefore going to require some adjustments especially as you get closer to it, as you state.

Just getting close is likely to be a major achievement for those previously lost and aimless, besides physique development isn't a single event of 6-12 months effort, it's a constant evolution. Best of luck with yours.

6. always_losing and Daniel, Thank you for this exchange of ideas and views. Again both of you have reinforced what I had been viewing.

No workout works for everyone all the time and no nutrition plan will work for everyone under every condition.

I think this plan will fit a huge number of new people that each year want to Lose fat or Gain some muscle. I hate to think how many times some poor person comes looking for advice and states "I weigh 250#'s with 35% body fat" and the advice they get includes Micro nutrient management. The more complicated the advice the greater the chance of failure. This plan is simple to understand and simple to follow, especially for new people.

7. Originally Posted by Daniel Roberts
See post number 2 and 22 by Off Road.

Food for thought though - if you're goal is 150lbs @ 8% bf and you've worked out the maintenance for a man @ 150lbs @ 8%bf and you're eating that every day and training appropriately, why when you hit 150 @ 15% bf (almost double the target figure - your example) do you think you'd stay that way if you're eating for a man at 8%?
Makes sense now. I worked out the numbers and the calorie surplus wouldn't be that great to begin withm and the margine would change the heavier I get.

I'm going to give it a go. My current 20% calorie surplus does feel like to much on most days.

8. I like this train of thought...Im going to give it a shot! I think the only loose ends would be the differences for ecto-endo-etc. Each will have a far different experience and some may require extremes (ectos).

Daniel I think this article and notion are both fantastic, and I would really encourage you to think about a follow up one that addresses the training side to match your nutrition plan. I think the two combined would be a really functional plan for people, and would greatly simply what can be a VERY confusing concept to beginners.

9. Originally Posted by DMedley
always_losing and Daniel, Thank you for this exchange of ideas and views. Again both of you have reinforced what I had been viewing.

No workout works for everyone all the time and no nutrition plan will work for everyone under every condition.

I think this plan will fit a huge number of new people that each year want to Lose fat or Gain some muscle. I hate to think how many times some poor person comes looking for advice and states "I weigh 250#'s with 35% body fat" and the advice they get includes Micro nutrient management. The more complicated the advice the greater the chance of failure. This plan is simple to understand and simple to follow, especially for new people.
Agreed. Give me a guy who's consistently trained hard and with progression and consistently eaten a simple diet appropriate to his goals and I'll show you someone not far off the best they can be.
Advanced techniques and elaborate and convoluted eating plans may well make the difference to that guy when he's at that point, but for someone not in posession of the bigger picture they only serve to hinder progress.

10. Thanks for the feedback gents and the suggestion of follow up articles - I'll get my thinking cap on!

11. cool article, thanks!

12. those pictures of Lee Priest were pretty crazy thats just freaky. thnx for the article

13. Great article. I really like the notion of simply choosing a goal and going for it. Makes it seem very concrete and tangible. I think a lot of people, like myself, do not train for any formal competitions, and because of this, goals can tend to be more abstract, making them harder to visualize and achieve.

Definitely a good place to start for newbies (self included).

14. Just wanted to say thanks to everyone who commented on or discussed the article.

It's great to see more interest in the articles and we'll do our very best to keep them coming

15. Originally Posted by dumbbell
Great article. I really like the notion of simply choosing a goal and going for it. Makes it seem very concrete and tangible. I think a lot of people, like myself, do not train for any formal competitions, and because of this, goals can tend to be more abstract, making them harder to visualize and achieve.

Definitely a good place to start for newbies (self included).
Thanks and well put too!

16. So, let me get this straight:
I'm at my goal bodyweight(for now), so I eat at maintenance level and lift. But to lose this fat, do I kick up cardio like I would if I was cutting, or run as much as I would on a bulk?

17. Originally Posted by Dedaw
So, let me get this straight:
I'm at my goal bodyweight(for now), so I eat at maintenance level and lift. But to lose this fat, do I kick up cardio like I would if I was cutting, or run as much as I would on a bulk?
Essentially, yes. Any activity that puts you into a caloric deficit will help you lose weight, and as long as your macro's are correct (Ie; Allowing more protein and fat, while slightly dropping carbs to end up with an equal daily total) you should lose BF. I'd recommend HIIT over SS cardio for trying to drop BF%, but keep some low level SS for basic conditioning (Since your MMA training will more than likely cover high intesity cardio!)

18. Originally Posted by Risk10k
Essentially, yes. Any activity that puts you into a caloric deficit will help you lose weight, and as long as your macro's are correct (Ie; Allowing more protein and fat, while slightly dropping carbs to end up with an equal daily total) you should lose BF. I'd recommend HIIT over SS cardio for trying to drop BF%, but keep some low level SS for basic conditioning (Since your MMA training will more than likely cover high intesity cardio!)
Ok, thank you. I will definitely keep that in mind. I actually prefer to do HIIT over just running, because I am more of a sprinter anyways. And as far as the MMA, I'm only 15, so I don't have the training yet, and am instead trying to get myself into the utmost shape to start it at 18.

Thanks for the help.

19. Nice article but I have a few questions. I started working out and lifting in April 2009. I workout 3 times a week and do cardio 1-2x a week usually 1. I used to weigh 260 and now weigh 245. If i would like to be 190lbs I should eat 190x14 roughly about 2600.

I am currently eating 2300 on workout days and 1800 on off days. I am losing weight. How would eating 2600 affect my weight loss though? Won't I theoretically be slowing it down. My main concern is will eating more help me build muscle instead of the low amount I am eating now? My goal is of course to have muscles and cutting is almost painful now since I have been doing it for a long time.

20. Originally Posted by freedevil
Nice article but I have a few questions. I started working out and lifting in April 2009. I workout 3 times a week and do cardio 1-2x a week usually 1. I used to weigh 260 and now weigh 245. If i would like to be 190lbs I should eat 190x14 roughly about 2600.

I am currently eating 2300 on workout days and 1800 on off days. I am losing weight. How would eating 2600 affect my weight loss though? Won't I theoretically be slowing it down. My main concern is will eating more help me build muscle instead of the low amount I am eating now? My goal is of course to have muscles and cutting is almost painful now since I have been doing it for a long time.
Yes, it will slow down your weight loss in the beginning. Over a period of time your fat loss will probably add up to the same amount. The faster the weight loss, the greater chance of losing muscle mass and the quicker you can lower your metabolic rate, slowing fat loss.

21. I understand but I lost only 15 lbs in 4 months. It's slow enough. I tried eating 3000, 2800, 2600, 2400 and finally this zag zag has shown some results. What my question is what will be the benefit of eating goal weight x 14 instead of what I am eating now. Would it be more helpful towards building muscle eating at 2600 even though I am cutting?

I should add I am a fat guy not someone with a lot of muscle underneath. My LBM through some various unreliable tests puts me between 165-170lbs

Originally Posted by DMedley
Yes, it will slow down your weight loss in the beginning. Over a period of time your fat loss will probably add up to the same amount. The faster the weight loss, the greater chance of losing muscle mass and the quicker you can lower your metabolic rate, slowing fat loss.

22. Originally Posted by freedevil
I understand but I lost only 15 lbs in 4 months. It's slow enough. I tried eating 3000, 2800, 2600, 2400 and finally this zag zag has shown some results. What my question is what will be the benefit of eating goal weight x 14 instead of what I am eating now. Would it be more helpful towards building muscle eating at 2600 even though I am cutting?

I should add I am a fat guy not someone with a lot of muscle underneath. My LBM through some various unreliable tests puts me between 165-170lbs
I would continue with what you are doing. I don't think there would be any advantage. First the difference between 2400 and 2600 is within the normal 250 calorie adjustment that most of us find we need to make from calorie calculations. The next big advantage to not cutting/not bulking is the simplicity. If you are already doing a zig zag, the simplicity is not as important for you as it might be for some.

23. Well done - I enjoyed the article. It is really that simple. JM Blakely's "Big Boy Menu Plan" has, essentially the same message - if you want to weigh 300lbs, then you need to eat like a 300lb man (or woman). http://www.wannabebig.com/forums/showthread.php?t=78823

24. Thanks Sensei and thanks for pointing me in the direction of a great read - I think it may have been more entertaining than mine (!) but the message was similar, truth be told most successful approaches, diet and training have more in common than they do apart.

25. Summer is over and school is back, I'm ready to get on my regular workout schedule and diet again.

I'm currently 6'1 270lbs around 20% BF I would say..

Looking to get down to 230-240 or so.

Tell me if I'm looking at this right..

230 x 16 = 3700 this is what I need to take in everyday to get to this weight correct?
270 pounds x 4cal for each gram of protein, so 270g of protein a day and 1100 cals come from that.
How many carbs do I need?
Fat?

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