I am finishing up a cut. My body fat is 11%. I am a recreational triathlete and do on average 1.5 hours of cardio (running, biking or swimming) per day. I have been lifting weights for 4 months (and until 6 years ago I lifted weights regularly for years but stopped to do triathlons). I need to look as good as possible in 10 weeks. I figure I can either (x) spend the next 10 weeks reducing my body fat to single digit percent or (y) bulk for 8 weeks then cut for 2 weeks. If I bulk I can cut my cardio back to 45 minutes running 3 days per week and 60 minutes biking 3 days per week. That will allow me to maintain a cardio base. I have a small frame (I am 5'10", 145 lbs) so adding muscle would be preferable. So my question is can I realistically expect to add muscle mass in 8 weeks? And if I did would I lose it all in a 2 week cut starting immediately after the 8 week bulk period is over? If I can't add significant muscle or if I would lose the gains in the 2 week cut, then I might as well use the next 10 weeks to cut my body fat more.
You can maintain your cardio by cutting down to about 45-60mins every other day, Im assuming your pretty well conditioned.
And yes you can gain in 8 weeks but your diet will be key. Lots of protein portioned out into 5-6 meals a day. And of course a godo amount of complex carbs, there should be some good stuff in the Diet section.