I’ve been asked this question a number of times now regarding bulking and cutting cycles and every time I give an honest answer, I get the strangest looks but here it goes again:

“to hell with bulking and cutting it’s an old school myth and is not needed regardless if your goal is strength or body composition”.

Strong words I hear you say but let me explain:

The concept of bulking and cutting is old school crap which for the “oldschool” means that you eat all the crap you want for several months while training hard and heavy. The “oldschool” theory behind it is that it’s impossible to gain large amounts of muscle mass without allowing yourself to become fat in the process.

Which means, you have the excuse to gain a lot of fat along with the additional muscle during the bulking phase then you switch over into “cutting” mode and extreme calorie restrictive dieting to undo your “bulking phase”.

News Flash… it doesn’t work that well and is unnecessary…

So, what’s supposed to happen” theoretically” is that a person gains around thirty pounds during a bulk phase, ten or more of which will be fat, and then during the cutting phase you lose all the fat and keep 90% or more of the muscle. If you bulked for four months and then cut for four months you would theoretically end up gaining about fifteen pounds of lean muscle at the end of eight months.

Unfortunately, in the REAL WORLD this doesn’t happen. If only it were that easy, but it’s just not. If it were, all the normal gym going public would be walking around looking like they just walked of the set of 300 and supplement companies wouldn’t exist.

What Really Happens During Bulking & Cutting….

What really happens during a bulking phase is that you gain at least as much, if not more fat as you do muscle. That’s usually the best case scenario. It’s proven that most people actually gain more fat than muscle during a 12-16 week bulk. Instead of the promised twenty pound muscle gain along with just ten pounds of fat it usually turns out to be twenty pounds of fat with ten pounds of muscle.

Even if it was 50/50 at the end of your bulk phase you still only end up with maybe an additional two to five pounds of muscle eight months later. Now if you are all natural this is a decent figures to achieve but getting fat in the process isn’t exactly necessary nor is it exactly healthy.

I’m of the opinion that an alternative and smarter approach would be to aim for somewhat slower and consistent gains while staying lean throughout the whole process. At the end of the year you will still end up making the same progress but having not had to go through the extremes of gaining a lot of fat and then starving yourself to distraction in your cutting phase.

When you allow yourself to get fatter you not only increase the size of your fat cells but there is also evidence showing that you can increase the number of fat cells you have. This means that it will forever be easier to get fat again and harder to get lean. So basically one or two of your “bulk” phases goes south and you’ve screwed up your metabolism and your potential to get lean again.

Now, you just have to ask yourself if you’re willing to spend all those weeks eating burgers and pizza walking around looking like a bad copy of the michelin man “for those younger readers google is your best friend go check it out” and downing 6,000 calories a day or if you’d be happier with a smarter, slower, healthier ….. leaner approach.

So I say… Get Lean Once and then Stay Lean

Staying somewhat lean is very important to your health and performance. Getting fat is unhealthy and decreases your performance, slows your metabolism, messes with your hormone levels and generally negatively affects your ability to build muscle.

By the way, shit foods kill your testosterone levels lads, and that’s a Fact and it’s a price I wouldn’t pay, don’t know about you but my levels of testosterone are precious, it’s what makes you a man for christ sake, and by the way low levels of testosterone also kills your ability to build muscle and your ability to perform in the bedroom…again FACT.

My advice is to get your body stronger and it will it will become more anabolic, when your body is in a more anabolic state it will become leaner naturally, on the other hand if you are around 15% body fat start a muscle building food plan but make sure to be smart about it.

Stick with primarily healthy foods and don’t go overboard on the calories. You definitely need to bring in more calories than you burn, but not to the point where you are consistently eating every minute of the day.

My point is that if your maintenance caloric intake is around 2300 you definitely don’t need to eating 6,000 calories per day.

So take your measurements, put the bathroom scales in the bin, they are a waste of time trust me, use the mirror and your weight training numbers and adjust up or down accordingly. If you get to the point where you can’t close the top button of your jeans you’re most likely on the wrong path.

If your tee shirts are getting tighter around the arms and chest and your jeans are looking like slim fits around the quads area you’re usually on the right path.

Keith Richardson

Keith Richardson

Founder, Storm Body Fitness

“It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it’s the pebble in your shoe”.
-Muhammad Ali


What’s your opinion on bulking and cutting?

– Keith, Body Storm Fitness 

2 replies
  1. Melissa
    Melissa says:

    Amen. I wish more people would listen to this.
    I compete and place and do not bulk and cut.
    I am lean and fit all year round, 1 month before competition I cut out sweets and white flour and I step on stage.
    Anything else is just awful. For what? A $50 trophy? I mean let’s be real, this bulking and cutting is why most people don’t last very long in the bodybuilding world, especially women, they are only kidding themselves if they think they will forever be able to lean out.
    Not going to happen.
    Most people in bodybuilding are so unhealthy they could never be lean all year round, it is just not who they are. It’s quite sad being backstage and hearing everyone complaining how starving they are and how they cannot wait to go to McDonalds.
    That’s bodybuilding for you….one big fake production.


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