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Knowledge check: general guide to bulking and cutting

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  • Knowledge check: general guide to bulking and cutting

    I'd like to bounce some ideas off all your heads to get a sense of how well I understand the principles of bulking and cutting to avoid 'spinning my tires' any more than I have in my pursuit of a lean body. I will list some rules of thumb that developed from all my reading in this forum and beyond. Please let me know what you think and if anything is wrong or can be improved upon.

    1. You shouldn't bulk until you are below 33" waistline measurement. Continue cutting below 33" waist to your own desire/body-fat percentage. The risk for cardiovascular risk starts at 35" or 37" depending on family history and or being Asian.

    2. When bulking, do so at a rate that your waistline creeps up as slowly as possible or perhaps even stays the same during the bulk.

    2. a. Although the average amount of muscle men can gain is 40-50 lbs, an individual's response (that's you!) is unknown. Therefore, you may be in the population of lifters who can bulk faster in a caloric surplus or in the population of lifters who must bulk slowly to avoid an obnoxious amount of fat gain along with muscle.

    2. b. Additionally, another variable is at play here: an individual lifter's potential to gain muscle decreases as more muscle is accrued (novice, intermediate, advanced). Thus this generalized approach of titrating up calories slowly when bulking to avoid changing your waistline very quickly is best.

    3. When cutting, make sure your intensity (RPE 7,8,9) is such that your 1 rep maxes decrease as little as possible. Additionally, you can cut volume during a cut by 2/3rds, but make sure your intensity is high such that you're reaching that RPE 8 and 9 per work set.

    4. Have a 1 or 2 week weight maintenance period before setting off on a cut or bulk. I haven't found much research to back this up. This one seems more anecdotal.

    5. You don't necessarily need more protein in your diet per lb of body weight, but it certainly helps with satiety with lower calories.

    6. Anecdotal: you can cut a whole lot faster than you can bulk. So, as long as your 1 rep maxes aren't decreasing, you can ramp up the calorie deficit. But this runs the risk of adherence and occasional binges by the person under a high caloric deficit (like 1300 calories a day).

    Let me know what you think and if anything really sticks out as being wrong.

    Thank you.

  • #2
    From what I have gathered reading on the website and other BBM sources, you are pretty much correct.

    However, I'm not particularly sure about #3. I don't think the BBM crew recommends that you cut down on volume so that the weight on the bar stays high, because in the bigger picture, it would decrease the adaptations you could get. Rather, you should auto-regulate based on your performance on that day, even if it means less weight on the bar.

    Also (something trivial), I don't think they prefer to use terms like novice, intermediate etc to categorise someone's level of advancement.


    • Goblino
      Goblino commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks for the reply!

      Yeah, that was some information I read from Lyle McDonald on point #3. What I've noticed is that during my extended cut, my ability to do volume has decreased to the point where now that I'm back in a caloric surplus it's hard to do the volume I was doing before the cut. I'll make it a point to auto-regulate as stated in their ebooks even if it means dropping weight of the bar.

  • #3
    Most advice I have heard is to increase, not decrease volume when in a deficit.

    You are most likely under-trained. More volume at appropriate intensities is probably better for you overall, deficit or surplus or maintenance.

    If you're spending a significant amount of mental bandwidth constantly worrying about your 1RM, your head may not be in the right place to support a steep calorie deficit.