Are you ready to commit to a long-term health and fitness regime to finally build that body you’ve always wanted? If so, then congratulations, you’ve made of the best decisions in life that you could ever hope for.
Good health and fitness are a fundamental part of everyday living, and the healthier you are, generally the happier and more productive you are. While plenty of people commit to a regular workout regime to help meet their goals, some take a more radical approach to their training and diet and they completely transform their bodies. Bodybuilders are always in search of the perfect body. A bodybuilder is never satisfied by what he sees when he looks in the mirror.
If you’re looking to make some beastly gains, it’s important to decide whether to bulk or cut. Bulking is a process whereby you stack heaps of muscle mass and size onto your frame by upping your calories and training intensity in the gym. Cutting is a process where you strip away any excess fat you may be carrying, in order to reveal the lean muscle tissue that may be hiding underneath. But which should you do first? To help you make up your mind we’ve compiled this article.
Should I bulk first?
First up, we’re going to focus on bulking up. If you’re concerned that you aren’t carrying enough muscle, or if you simply want to bulk up and put some more muscle mass onto your frame, a bulk is generally beneficial. To help you decide whether to bulk first, we’re going to look at some pros of bulking.
Reasons to bulk:
– Increase your muscle mass
The first reason to bulk up, and the reason why so many bodybuilders decide to begin with a bulking program for several weeks, is so that they can build muscle. Let’s face it, the reason why we’re clanging and banging in the gym for several hours each week is because we’re chasing those all-elusive gains. If you’re really looking to transform your body over the next several months, a bulk is a great starting point for if you’re serious about getting jacked.
When you bulk, you’ll increase your muscle mass through a caloric surplus and intense training routine. For most, the prospect of being able to build muscle is very appealing, which is why starting with a bulk may not be a bad idea. We can’t say how much muscle you’ll build because in reality we don’t know. If you are committed and you do stick with it however, your bulk will certainly add some pounds of muscle to your frame.
– You won’t go hungry
If you’re not ready to say goodbye to food just yet, a bulk is generally beneficial because you certainly won’t go hungry whilst bulking. The idea behind bulking is to increase the amount of calories that you consume on a daily basis, to enable you to create a caloric surplus. Basically, in order for you to build muscle, you need to be taking in more calories than your body burns off each day just to maintain itself in its current form. If you enjoy your food, you’ll likely enjoy bulking. Just be aware that bulking should still be done with a strong emphasis placed upon healthy and balanced foods, rather than junk foods high in calories. We’ll look at “dirty bulking” a little later on, so don’t worry about that just yet.
– Your lifts will improve
When it comes to training in the gym, being stuck on a plateau is no fun. If you’re stuck with a 1 rep max bench press of 225lbs, after a while, failing to bench anymore weight will become quite disheartening. When you bulk, many of your lifts will improve quite dramatically. When you bulk up, the increase in calories means that you have more energy, and the more energy you have the more productive you’ll be in the gym.
Being able to lift heavier weights isn’t just great for showing off in front of your buddies either. It’s also a basic fundamental part of progressive overload training. Progressive overload training is basically a method of training whereby you progressively get stronger and “overload” your muscles with each passing workout. So, if one week you bench press 225lbs for 5 reps, your next session you may aim to bench press 236lbs for 5 reps, or maybe 225lbs for 6 or 7 reps. Basically, the aim is to constantly improve and progress. When bulking, progressive overload training is easier than ever.
– Make more gains
In order to improve your physique, you need to be making gains. We’ve already looked at the benefits of bulking for building muscle, but making gains isn’t just about building muscle, it’s also about building a symmetrical physique. It’s no good building muscle if 90% of it is going to your upper body, because that will leave you with chicken legs and an unsymmetrical physique. When you bulk, you can evenly distribute muscle across your physique so that you build it in the right places and keep everything in proportion.
Things to Know about Bulking
As we’ve looked at the pros of bulking, it’s now time to look at a few cons and things that people often don’t realize about bulking.
– Bulking is expensive
A lot of people don’t realize that bulking is actually very expensive, especially if you’re already big to begin with. When you bulk, you need to be eating regularly, and you need to be using supplements in conjunction with your diet. This calls for a lot of food and supplements, which of course do not come cheap. Depending on which diet you follow, you will likely be eating between 6 and 8 small meals per day, along with one or two protein shakes. This of course, does not come cheap. Remember, when you follow a bulking diet, you’re investing in yourself and investing in your health. It’s an investment that will pay dividends, but at the same time, you do need to be aware of the cost. If you’re on a budget, bulking will be much harder.
– You’ll get sick of eating
To some people, the thought of eating all day will sound like heaven. The truth of the matter is that most people that choose to bulk up get sick of eating fairly-quickly. When you’re hungry, eating is a wonderful feeling. When you’re full however, it’s a different story completely. When you’re bulking, you will never be full because you’re constantly eating. This means that you will be forced to choke down food, even when you don’t want to eat. Normally, when you’re full after a meal, you leave whatever’s left on your plate and either throw it away or eat it later on. When bulking, you need to finish each meal, no matter how full you feel. If you don’t have a big appetite, or if you’re just not a fan of eating, this is worth knowing.
– You should never “dirty bulk”
Remember how we mentioned dirty bulking earlier? Well, now we’re going to expand upon what we were speaking about. Dirty bulking is a bit of a bro-science term used to describe a way of eating which basically is based around copious amounts of junk food. A clean bulker who is following a bulking plan properly, may consume a grilled rump steak, baked sweet potato, broccoli, and a little butter as part of their post-workout meal after training.
A dirty bulker will eat something like a meat lover’s pizza with extra cheese and garlic dough balls, all washed down with a chocolate milkshake. This way of eating may help them to hit their daily caloric surplus requirements, but it’s also bad for their health and will result in too much fat being gained in a short period of time. A little fat gain is to be expected, but some dirty bulkers out there wind up becoming obese through poor dietary choices.
When you bulk up, your diet should be 99% clean and healthy. The good thing about bulking is that you can afford a cheat meal every now and then, as long as your diet is healthy for the rest of the time.
Should I cut fat first
Now that we’ve learned about bulking, we’re now going to focus on cutting. If the thought of getting big and bulky doesn’t appeal to you, you may wish to cut fat and get lean and ripped instead. We’re going to start by looking at a few key reasons to cut fat.
Reasons to cut:
– You’ll feel better
One of the best things about cutting is how awesome it makes you feel, both physically and mentally. Most cuts require the consumption of healthy foods packed full of fiber and micronutrients, I.E vegetables. Healthy foods which are packed full of nutrients will improve your health and ensure you feel healthy and productive. Another benefit of cutting is the fact that your psychological health will improve too. As you burn fat and become leaner and more defined, your self-confidence will improve, and you’ll feel much better in your own skin. You’ll look better in tighter clothes, you’ll feel less bloated and sluggish, and as more and more people compliment you, your mental health will only continue to grow.
– Your health will improve
Although there are some guys out there that are obsessed with being as massive as they can be, the truth is that being bulky and massive is no good for your health at all. When you’re overweight, either in the form of obesity, or through carrying a lot of muscle mass, you’re still putting your body and your joints under a lot of strain and pressure. The more weight you are carrying, the higher your blood pressure will also likely be, which will put you at risk for all kinds of health complications. As you cut and lose weight, once your body fat percentages drop and your weight drops, you’ll find your health improving no end. On top of that, as cutting diets are enriched with nutrient-rich foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, your immune system and health in general will also improve.
– You’ll look better
This is probably the number one reason why people choose to cut. When you follow a successful cut, your physique improves dramatically. As the fat is burned away, you’re left with the muscle tissue hiding underneath. This results in you looking lean, defined, and aesthetic. When you cut you look leaner, your vascularity improves, and you look and feel less bloated. Even your skin and hair will improve because of the nutrients you consume from the healthy foods. Basically, you’ll just look better and healthier.
Things to Know about Cutting
Now we’re going to look at a few important factors to consider if you do decide to follow a cut.
– You need to be very strict with calories
When you’re bulking, as long as you know for a fact that you’re taking in more calories than your body needs, you don’t need to track and monitor every calorie you consume down to the very last bite. When cutting however, you need to be much stricter. To cut successfully, you need to be in a caloric deficit. If you don’t create a deficit, you don’t burn fat, it’s that simple. When cutting, you need to be very careful with how much you’re eating and drinking, and every calorie needs to be accounted for. This is a lot of work, but there are apps and calculators and tools online to make things a little easier.
– You must do cardio
Cardio is a crucial part of any cutting routine, so if you don’t like it, you either need to bulk for the rest of your life, maintain, or suck it up, dig deep, and do cardio anyways. Cardio is essential for fat loss, which is why cardio is such an important part of any cutting routine. Some prefer HIIT, whereas others go for steady state in the form of walking or a very gentle jog. As long as you are doing cardio and remaining in a caloric deficit however, you will continue to lose body fat.