Whether you’re a bodybuilder wanting to look bigger on stage or a competitive athlete who wants to bump up a weight class, knowing how to bulk and cut efficiently can put quality muscle on your frame.
The problem is that most lifters don’t know how to bulk and cut in a good fashion, which not only leads to drastic changes in bodyweight, but can adversely affect your health. Here are a few tips to help you do it the right way.
No Massive Bulks or Drastic Cuts
When you look at the approach that many use, including some pros, on how to bulk and cut, they add an incredible amount of bodyweight, only to shed the vast majority of it later on. If you’ve ever seen the pictures of an off-season Lee Priest feasting on fried chicken, that is an example of someone not as much “bulking” as much they are “letting themselves go”.
The truth is when someone puts on something crazy like 75-80lbs of bodyweight, only a small percentage of that is actually muscle. Broscience used to dictate this was what was necessary in order to legitimately increase muscle and strength, but it’s been shown time and time again this isn’t the case. More often than not, guys who go crazy like this do so not for the sake of “bulking”, but rather to have an excuse of eating as much of whatever they want.
The ironic thing is that while people who do this think they’re enjoying themselves more, they’re actually making it that much harder on themselves. When you add such an extreme amount of body fat, you have to spend just that much more time later being excessively strict with your diet and/or doing hours of cardio to lean back down.
At the same time, massive bodyweight fluctuations simply just aren’t good for the heart. If done too drastically too many times, you could end up having heart, kidney, or liver issues. Look at the legendary Icelandic Jón Páll Sigmarsson who is said to have consumed around 10,000 calories or more each day during his strength building phases for Strongman, but then cutting drastically for bodybuilding competitions. He died of a heart attack at age 32. A way better and healthier option is to take it slow.
How to Bulk and Cut the Clean Way
“How to bulk and cut the clean way” might sound like a sort of oxymoron, given that the term “bulking” is usually associated with putting on a serious amount of bodyweight. However, if you’re willing to take a little more time, you can raise your caloric intake only a little bit and make things much easier on yourself. It’s important to start off in an already lean state and learn how to “clean bulk” from there.
By adding an average of only 500-600 calories per day to your diet, you can still ensure an increase in bodyweight, but you’ll do it slowly enough that you’ll maximize muscle. Start off by splitting the extra 500-600 calories evenly between protein, carbs, and fats, then adjust as you go depending on fat gain, energy, and strength levels.
Focus on Building Strength
Simply reducing the extra calories you add to your diet won’t automatically lead to less fat gain. By concentrating on improving strength numbers, you won’t have to really worry about how to bulk and cut. Consistently striving to up your performance in exercises like the bench press, overhead press, weighted pullups, and deadlift will naturally cause your body to want to put those added calories toward solid muscle production.
A simple three day per week program spread between shoulders and back, chest and triceps, and legs and biceps will be all you need. Do 1-2 compound exercises per body part for 3-4 sets of 5-6 reps with another 1-3 exercises per body part for 8-10 reps. Consistently putting more weight on the bar guarantees you’re not only getting stronger, but as much of your body’s recovery processes as possible will go toward building muscle instead of lazily putting on fat.
Does it Really Take Longer to See Results?
If you’re learning how to bulk and cut cleanly, you’ll be told that it can take longer to see results…which is exactly what’s been said in this article. However, that’s not necessarily true. When all is said and done after bulking and cutting cleanly for a few months, there might only be a few pounds of difference in bodyweight.
However, when many lifters who put on obscene amounts of weight, then work like crazy to strip it all off later are done, their net bodyweight difference is often only a few pounds, too. They just go crazy in the off-season, then have to work that much harder during contest preparation. When taking a more clean and efficient approach, you just have to be a little more patient as the changes aren’t as visible as quickly.
In the end, taking this approach to bulking and cutting is a way better option. It’s healthier, still allows you to eat extra food, puts more muscle on you, and even gets you stronger. Though possibly the best thing about it is that it keeps you from having to go through months of overly extreme dieting and doing endless hours of cardio. You may not necessarily see the changes happening as rapidly, but remain patient and you’ll still end up with the increase in solid bodyweight you’re looking for.