Bulking & Cutting Cycles???

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    Question Bulking & Cutting Cycles???

    Hello Peeps,

    Is there an ideal cycle between bulking up/cutting down?

    I have gotten down to the leanest I have ever been in adult life and have a definite six pack starting to show through... FINALLY!!!

    I want to gauge opinion on what makes the ideal time to cycle between bulking up and adding additional muscle mass and cutting down the BF% again?

    My own personal goals are:
    • put on 20-30lb of good quality muscle (confidence/vanity)
      Massively increase strength (good power to weight is essential for sports I enjoy)
      very lean single digit body fat levels (confidence/vanity)
      Massive cardio endurance (essential for long distance triathlons/martial arts)


    I have been cutting for 2 months now and my fat loss seems to have slowed and I am wondering if I should look at switching back to a calorie surplus to pack on more muscle for a month or two.

    Then got to thinking is there an optimum ratio/cycle for cutting Vs bulking?
    any thoughts?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Powermaster View Post
    That's cool some good info for sure however...


    It has made me realise that perhaps I wasn't clear enough with my OP or didn't use the correct terminology?

    Please chime in if I am incorrect here but when I talk about bulking Vs cutting. I am only talking about 500 calorie surplus or 500 calories deficit.

    I am under the impression (perhaps mistakenly) that when gaining muscle it is impossible to do so without gaining a little fat too.

    And conversely when dieting you will always lose a little muscle.

    The question really is that now I feel I have gotten down to maybe 15% bf (and fat loss has hit a plateau) is it now time to switch back a to a calorie surplus and build some more muscle?

    Just looking for some guidance here guys...

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    OP: have you taken any supps to get down to where you are at currently? or are you on any supplements now?

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    just creatine.

    Creatine + clean diet + Daily training
    Last edited by Ascension; 02-04-2012 at 12:55 PM.

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    How fast was your BF loss over the last two months and have you altered your diet in that time? How aggressively are you dieting?

    My point being there are many ways to tweak a diet to continue getting results. If you've been operating e.g. low carbs for a while, it may be time to do a refeed. If you've been aggressively cutting cal intake, it might be time for a refeed.

    I like to drop into a carb cycle for more maintained fat loss - and you can do it for either a slow clean bulk or a cut. Basically you're just adjusting your carb intake for when you are going to use it - e.g. higher carbs on leg day, lower carbs on accessory day or day off / cardio day. You can alter the total cals as well, or like I like to do - keep the total cals constant, but vary your carb & fat ratios based on the energy needs for the given day.

    Also you mentioned you're training every day - literally every day? The 3rd leg of "fitness" to balance diet & training, is RECOVERY. Many people forget that aspect of it and pride themselves on never taking a day off from the gym. Its the recovery aspect that allows you to keep going at sustained rate of activity over time.


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    Nutrient ratios have been more or less unchanged.

    approx. ratios
    30-35% protein
    10-15% fat
    50-55% carbs

    from what I have read I hadn't considered changing the carb content according to activity, thats a new idea to explore.

    Training everyday yes but with varying intensity, try to have a heavy day and a light day or some days I just go for a walk for 20-30 minutes. Just to have gotten out in the fresh air. or 20 minutes gentle swimming perhaps.

    In short I am trying to develop my sensory acuity, I listen to my body, if I am sore i have a day off when I feel strong I train hard and have beaten a few PB's over the last few weeks. perhaps I should have said training regularly and consistently, but normally doing 'something' each day.

    Diet is approx. 5-600cal deficit below maintenance with a spike day (back to maintenance level) every 4th day and 1-2 litres of water a day.

    have dropped (i think) about 4-5%
    attached is a pic from just over a month ago (can definitely see a difference).

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    Your goal to add 20-30 lbs of muscle and improve endurance for long distance triathlons are directly contrary to each other. Carrying the extra muscle weight will make the endurance training much tougher. Each pound of body weight that you gain will - per Jeff Galloway - add 2-3 seconds per mile to your running. And the endurance training will burn through all of your calories. My recommendation - quit triathlons. I am so damn tired of training for triathlons. I can't wait to quit (less than 8 weeks).

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    ^^ That's a very good point. It is very hard to demand BOTH size (i.e. use your energy for mass building) AND to fuel distance running. They are diametrically opposed goals. Distance running consumes muscle mass - you've never seen a stacked distance runner. You'll also rarely see large bodybuilders doing a lot of cardio. In trying to do both, you're sending mixed messages to your body, and the end result is sorta mediocre results in either direction.

    Also practically speaking - any one pursuit is reflected in your body - if you want to be quick (i.e. distance, MMA), you don't want to carry the extra weight. If you want put on 30 lb of lean muscle mass, you're going to have to spend time bulking up to allow your body to adjust to maintain it. Any quick change in your body isn't going to be able to be supported by your body if it hasn't had that time to adapt your metabolism to the new body comp & energy demands.

    I did want to say that bodyfat-wise - a godo rate is 1-2% bodyfat per week, which is sounds like you've hit. If you to continue that you'll find you may need to continue doing small optimizations to what you are doing. A decent diet & regular activity will get you to a point, but you'll need to optimize if you want to continue past that. If you're looking to lean down to single digits and maintain it, you'll need to also optimize for long enough that your body is able to make that a maintenance level and not a 'cut for a few days' level - this is the difference between a massive body comp change to maintain and a contest prep where you'll make that goal, but then expect to gain it back once you come off the extremely optimized and dialed in program.

    Anyway - if you follow a lean bulk approach you can minimize the fat you gain while slowly gaining lean muscle mass. It will take time so you can't expect to see some sort of linearly continuous progress. It will go as your body is able to respond to the continuous small tweaks you make to keep things moving. And again, it needs to be at a rate that your body can adjust to maintain.

    The things you'll probably want to optimize are things like your carb intake for the things that will demand it. You'll also want to optimize your recovery time to be able to continue a rate of progress that moves you forward while adjusting your body to support what you want.

    All in all, to get to any single goal, you need to focus everything you do towards that goal. Trying to achieve opposing goals at the same time will probably leave you frustrated and potentially pushing too hard trying to reach one or the other at the cost of both.


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    Thank you Sassy and BigPimp

    Diametrically opposed goals, hadn't considered it like that.
    Perhaps 30lb is a little OTT in that case.

    But I have certainly see fellow triathletes and other endurance athletes with the kind of body/physique I wish to achieve.

    I am 5'10" and 170lb at present and (give or take) 15% BF
    Please forgive my naivety here but, are you telling me that is is nigh on impossible to achieve a physique like this...



    or this...



    AND have good endurance type fitness??

  11. #11
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    30 lb of lean muscle mass implies a massive increase in muscle mass - IMO you're looking more for a body comp change. Generally for guys, if you clean up your diet and lift like a mofo, you're going to get the results you want. Start w/ that & get the process started. Your body will refine towards what you want as you go.

    The idea is the body reflects the lifestyle. You want both a look and performance. If you were looking to do distance marathons & look like the above, I'd tell you you're smoking crack. Distance running is catabolic by defintiion so you'll be more skinny fat but you'll be able to perform. The look you're going for somewhere between that & bodybuilder. Think Crossfit. That is more aerobic-oriented. Or Poliquin's German Body Comp training - weight lifting for the athlete basically.

    I would spend less time looking for some sort of ultimate balance between cutting & bulking. Just streamline what you're doing now. It is hard to cut and get good performance, and it just doesn't happen that you're going to cut and gain significant muscle. But you can change your body comp to reduce bodyfat and bring up your muscle. As I'm thinking about it, its more like you need to improve your conditioning.

    Can you post up your current diet?


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    Sure.
    I am in the best physical condition of my life (re. current pb times/strength/condition)
    eg. was recently able to perform (for the 1st time ever) a handstand press up on FINGERTIPS!

    But ultimate goals are significant improvement on where I am now.

    Where I am now is as follows...
    *running 5 miles in about 45 minutes (current max and pb)
    *15 handstand press ups (current max and pb)
    *75 hindu squats (current max and pb)
    *1miles swim about 40 minutes (current pb)

    eating 6 times per day (ex chef so know my stuff) 1600kcals per day (approx.)
    to give an example of daily routine...

    *awake
    *creatine
    *fasted (pre breakfast) early morning cardio session (normally mix of running/callisthenics)
    *breakfast = 1 slice lightly buttered brown toast + baked beans + scrambled whole eggs
    *2nd breakfast = tuna/sweetcorn/red onion sandwich (wholewheat bread) + low fat yoghurt
    *Lunch = Salmon + curried green lentils + veggies
    *Tea = Chicken breast + wilted spinach + sweet potato
    *Dinner = chilli con carne + brown rice + beetroot salad
    *supper = cereal + protein powder + banana + semi skimmed milk

    training sessions I try to limit to 1 hr max
    *10 mins warm up
    *45 mins pushing hard
    *10 mins stretching
    *5 mins cool down

    training each day but with varying intensity, trying to listen to my body.
    When feeling strong I push hard (and usually set at least 1 new PB that day)
    and some days if feeling sore (sure sign that I have indeed worked hard the day before) i take it easy that day until feeling strong again.

    Smoking crack certainly not, however IF I am aspiring to unrealistic goals or goals which are unattainable simultaneously I am of course grateful of the advice.

    of the pictures that I posted, I cant see that they are a huge leap from where I am now?
    Maybe a 24-36months with consistent focus?
    Last edited by Ascension; 02-06-2012 at 02:38 PM.

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    Sass,

    Just re-read your last post;

    Forgive me (and correct me) if mistaken but I thought it was entirely possible to add mass whilst in calories surplus and then cycle onto a deficit to maintain leanness and then go back to calorie surplus and so on.

    Such was my OP.

    I kind of had the impression that, that is exactly what the body builders do.
    Bulk up and then cut down over and over.

    Although I am not a body builder, nor do I intend to become one, body builders (above all other athletes) have mastered keeping muscle whilst reducing bf% right?

    I thought this was achieved entirely by cycling through calorie deficit/surplus/deficit/surplus and so on. Isn't it?

    (((And a lot of hard work of course, doffing one's cap here)))
    Last edited by Ascension; 02-06-2012 at 02:40 PM.

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