Should You Cut Or Bulk?
This is a question that I get asked a lot and I’ve seen other legends in the fitness space get asked the same question. You shouldn’t overthink it too much, however, there are certain scenarios where it would be better to focus on one or the other. I’m going to describe the type of person who should focus on cutting and explain the reasons why before then moving onto describing the type of person who should focus on bulking and why this is the case. Lastly, I will talk about the lucky individuals who can do both at the same time. This might be you, so keep reading…
The type of person who should focus purely on cutting must meet a few criteria first. Firstly, they must already have some amount of muscle mass. Without muscle mass, you’ll just look skinny and frail after cutting. You should also have at least one year of training under your belt. This is because unlike beginners, intermediates and advanced trainees find it much harder to gain muscle and lose body fat at the same time because your body has adapted to your training and your progress has begun to slow down. Those of you reading this who’ve had more than one year of consistent training know this and you’ve had multiple muscle and strength gaining plateaus up until this point. Trying to achieve this whilst in a calorie deficit losing body fat is an even greater and more difficult task than you initially thought.
So you need to A) have some muscle mass already, and B) been training consistently for 1 year already
Secondly, you must have some body fat to lose. Now, most guys would say that you have to be over X body fat percentage in order to focus purely on cutting and fat loss but I disagree and I’ll tell you why. Everybody looks different at the same body fat percentage, meaning, one person might have better abs at 15% body fat compared to another guy who is also at 15% body fat. Do you see what I mean? People store body fat in different places so determining whether you should cut or not based on some arbitrary number isn’t good.
This is why you need to know what you want your body to look like. Once you know exactly how you want to look after cutting you then know that you need to cut and why you’re doing it. For example, if you’re the type of guy who has visible abs at 15% body fat (this is an example…it could be 13% body fat instead!) but your arms look blocky and your legs look thick and bulky and you want them to be leaner then you know that cutting is what you need to do. Likewise, if you don’t have visible abs at 15% body fat (or 11% body fat…see where I’m going?) but your legs are very lean and your back is shredded and defined and you want your abs to be visible then you also know that you need to cut down. Once you know exactly what you want then you can start cutting with confidence knowing why you’re doing rather than just relying on some arbitrary number that doesn’t define accurately how you look in real life and where your body fat gets stored.
If you fit BOTH of the above criteria then you can focus purely on cutting whilst keeping your hard-earned muscle. But what if you don’t fit the above criteria? What if you are a beginner?
Well, my friend, you are one very lucky man/woman. You can do both! If you’re a complete beginner and you’re new to all of this training and nutrition stuff that you’ve been consuming on the internet, then you are in a very good spot. Resistance training, even if you’ve played sports and been physically active with other activities in your life, is completely new to your body. You’ve never done a bench press before. You’ve never done a squat before. You’ve never done push-ups before. This all means one thing: your body will respond positively to your training. And it will respond in the way you want (muscle and strength gain) even if you are: A) already shredded with a six-pack, or B) have body fat you want to lose. Because you’re a beginner you get to choose. You get to choose whether you focus on muscle gain, fat loss or both at the same time. I’m jealous of you!
And if you are either a beginner or intermediate but you have a lot of body fat to lose and you consider yourself as being overweight then I have more awesome news for you, my man. You can also do both at the same time. You can gain more muscle and lose more body fat simultaneously. This is because you are in a position where because you have a lot of body fat this means that you have a lot of stored energy. Therefore, if you were to stay in a calorie deficit for a period of time you would be losing weight, yes, but you would have a lot of stored body fat that can be converted to energy that is then used during your workouts fueling strength gains and therefore increased muscle mass. The ultimate transformation that you want really is within reach. And now is the time to truly grab it…because you can.