If you have friends who regularly hit the gym, you must have heard them use the term cut after bulking or cutting. Also, throughout the year, you must have seen them surviving on meals as light like a salad bowl. But as soon as winter hits, you see them gobbling steaks, chicken & potatoes like there is no tomorrow.
Typically, what they are trying to do with their diet and fitness regime is the age-old Bodybuilding technique of Bulking and Cutting. The basic idea behind bodybuilding is to gain as much muscle as possible and lose as much fat as possible. However, the only problem is, this is easier said than done simultaneously.
You can eat clean, exercise, and rest properly to increase the strength and muscle mass gradually. Moreover, this takes a long time to deliver results. Fortunately, the technique of bulking & cutting is known to give faster and more significant results once done right.
BULKING AND CUTTING
The average human body requires somewhere around 1500 to 2500 calories. Ideally, this much is the essential requirement to survive the tasks of our day and stay healthy.
What Is Bulking?
Bulking is taking in more calories (slap on an extra 300 to 500 calories) than what you require for your routine as the Old School Labs say. And workout to gain more muscle. Gradually, in the process of bulking, you gain both muscle and fat.
But the goal is to gain more muscle and minimum unwanted fat. While bulking, we try to activate something called anabolism (a type of metabolism responsible for ‘building’ in our body).
When your body is in this phase, it will use up available protein to build muscle faster. While this assimilation of protein to create muscle is happening, our body also assimilates the extra carbs as unwanted fat. So, we see there are two parts to bulking.
Clean Bulk – You can increase calorie intake by eating clean. And include food in your diet that is rich in protein and a whole lot of carbs. To make sure your Bulk is clean, you must see, these carbs are whole foods like brown rice, oats, sweet potatoes. Ideally, these provide you the extra energy that you need to keep up with the strenuous workout that goes with it. Clean Bulk is effective because it is easier for our body to breakdown these clean carbs. Also, it releases energy when needed. It naturally means you will be able to summon more energy when needed and assimilate less unwanted fat.
Dirty Bulk – This is a technique where you pretty much eat anything and everything, including pizzas, burgers, fried chicken. And you do not care about the complexity of carbs. The idea here is just to make sure there is a surplus of calories in the body. While not highly recommended, it has been a success for people who have a high rate of catabolism (the type of metabolism responsible for breaking down calories). In simpler words, people who tend to be very thin naturally.
You can choose the rate of your bulking as per your workout and schedule. Either one can fast Bulk ( gain weight rapidly) or slow bulk (gain weight gradually).
It is vital to make sure that while you bulk, you engage your body in the explosive workout. It means that you should be using a high amount of energy for a short period to do a challenging task.
During this phase, your workout variations will have an increased amount of resistance (weight). You should ideally increase the weight with every progressing set. Your workout may not have a lot of cardio included in it. However, focusing on single muscle groups is highly recommended during this phase.
Now anabolism kicks in due to your increased diet and explosive workout. Hence, your body will prepare itself for the challenging task by building muscle faster.
Besides, it is essential to make sure you rest properly and get enough REM sleep to get good results.
What Is Cutting?
Cutting is what you do to shred all that fat you built up while you were busy gaining those big muscles. In short, it is the inverse of bulking. You reduce your calorie intake from what you usually need in a day to survive.
Generally, the calorie deficit helps in activating catabolism, which helps in breaking down unwanted fat. And consequently, give you that lean look you worked so hard for.
The idea is to make sure your body has a deficit of carbohydrates. Hence, it will force the body to use all that stored fat for your recovery. But it should not be confused with starvation.
What you try to do is make sure your body runs out of an energy source. And it is dependant only on the accumulated fat to complete the challenges presented every day. It is imperative to eat well in this phase.
Your protein intake should remain almost similar to your Bulk routine. However, you try and reduce calories from the carbohydrate and fats section. Avoiding extremely salty, oily, and carb-rich foods is a suitable recommendation. In short, consuming nuts, fruits & beans over ice creams, candy, and chips is the change you will have to make.
Your workout should have a high amount of cardio to make sure you activate that Catabolism. It is to ensure that you use up as much energy as possible. During weight/resistance training, you should do a more substantial amount of repetitions.
The idea here is to do ‘more’ work rather than doing a more challenging one. As a result, it promotes lean muscle growth and makes sure you retain all that gained muscle.
Importance Of Cutting After Bulking
Time dedicated to bulking and cutting is more of a personal choice. There are workout plans that will suggest a specific period for bulking and cutting. But you can extend or reduce that depending on the conditions you exist in.
Ideally, a considerable part of bodybuilding is to have a clear image of where you are and where you want to be. At times, someone might have gained a lot of unwanted fat over the years. In that case, you might need to follow a fitness regime designed to lose weight. And you must condition yourself to a basic physique before you can think of something like cutting and bulking.
For the rest of you who are are looking to achieve results efficiently, it is, however, vital to cut after you bulk. Most people follow the bulking phase for most of the year. Since gaining all that muscle feels excellent.
However, going through the tiresome cutting phase is equally important. It ensures you give your physique an overall challenge. Apart from developing strength and mass, you also need endurance, speed, and flexibility for all-round growth.
Besides, cutting makes sure you get rid of that extra fat, which weighs you down. Yes, it helps you achieve a low body fat percentage.
So, it is essential to change phases and put your body through cutting after you have bulked to a specific limit. Besides, challenges of cutting improve your lung capacity and core strength. And this is very important to have a healthy body.
One must lose fat as soon as possible. Typically, it is easier and healthier to cut down small amounts of unwanted fat rather than bulking up for years and trying to shed everything off in one go.
The Science Behind
While cutting and bulking, you are activating two very different kinds of metabolic activity in your body. Hence, you cannot do both of these things simultaneously.
While bulking, you put your body in a state of anabolism. Ideally, in the anabolic state, your body has an accelerated rate of growth in terms of muscle and fat. High resistance challenges require explosive strength to overcome.
However, it regenerates and restores those muscles with an added amount of nutrition. Hence, you need to make sure you load yourself with proper nutrition. Besides, the carbs help in overcoming the challenges by releasing energy.
And, proteins help in restoring and building the muscles while you sleep. The body recognizes the high amount of work you do regularly. And consequently, it starts ‘building’ to make sure it can overcome those challenges efficiently. It promotes muscle growth as well as fat assimilation.
Next, you go through cutting to shred off all that extra fat you assimilated during the bulk phase. Here you work to activate catabolism. Besides, this metabolic activity is responsible for breaking down nutrition and producing energy.
Generally, you consume fewer carbs during this phase. It is because you want your body to break down the existing fat accumulated once it runs out of food. Once your body is in a catabolic state, you need to make sure you don’t starve yourself.
In case of an extreme deficit in calories, your body might start breaking down muscle tissue for you to have enough energy. Hence, it will turn out to be counterproductive, and you may lose all the muscle mass you gained over the past months.
How To Cut After Bulking?
1. Calorie Intake
Ideally, your cutting routine begins by changing the way you eat. The idea, however, is to burn that extra fat away. Hence, you must make sure your body stays in a calorie deficit mode.
First, you need to calculate the number of calories you need. There are a lot of online calculators that can give you a rough idea. Then, you need to subtract around 200 to 500 calories from that. It shows the amount you need to consume during the cutting phase.
Also, your diet should have the right amount of protein since it maintains muscle mass. And even fewer carbs to make sure catabolism is activated. Remember, you should not starve yourself as it will diminish your bulking results. Therefore, you must have 6 to 8 small meals throughout the day.
Water is your friend as it helps in fat burning. Since you are running on a calorie deficit, this helps compensate for that.
You aim to promote fat burn, hence make sure your muscle mass is intact. Moreover, to help fat burn, include cardio like swimming, running, and cycling in your workout.
Therefore, compound exercises that focus on multiple muscles at the same time are a recommendation. Concentrate on larger muscle groups will activate more of your body and help you carve yourself efficiently. So, avoid focused training on a single muscle as it is less likely to burn a high number of calories.
Remember to always warm-up and cool down before and after any kind of exercise you do. It is because it will engage in multiple muscles in most cutting workouts.
4. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
Also, include High-intensity interval Training (HIIT) in your workout. HIIT is known to be an efficient way of burning calories. Besides, it gets completed in a smaller duration of time. So, you have to pick a cardiovascular exercise and perform it for a minute at 60 -75% of your max heart rate.
Then once you are through, you do the exercises again for 15 to 30 seconds at 90 to 95 %of your max heart rate. Finally, when done ten times, you will have performed a 15-minute HIIT workout.
5. Circuit Training
Circuit training is also a popular method used for cutting. Here you pick 5 to 8 exercises that work your entire body. IN short, it means all these variations combined should have worked all/most of your major muscle groups.
Hence, the idea is to perform these sets of exercises without taking minimum or no rest in between them. Once you do all exercises, you will have completed a circuit. Then, repeat the circuit course two to 3 three times.
It is essential to keep in mind to do 8 to 12 reps of each exercise. However, you can do more if you feel like it. Only make sure not to wear yourself out.
6. Low-Intensity Long Duration Cardio Or LILDC
Also, Low-intensity long duration cardio or LILDC has proved to be suitable for cutting. Here you perform the cardio exercise(s) for 30 to 60 minutes at a low intensity.
Typically, the idea here is to do the work for a more extended period. Hence you can go at a medium pace maintaining an elevated heart rate. LILDC is known to burn fat more than carbohydrates because it tends to save simpler energy resources for intense challenges.
7. Weight Lifting
Weight lifting is a prominent tool for burning carbs. You may not have enough energy to keep up with the programs you performed during the bulking season. Hence it is essential not to attempt a heavy lifting schedule during cutting. But it is equally important that you continue lifting to maintain that muscle mass.
Combining exercises and finding the right workout routine for your cutting season can be a little confusing. Hence, there is another method recommended by trainers to divide your training into three days.
- Push – include exercises that require you to apply push force
- Pull – include exercises that require you to pull with force
- Legs – work your legs
Now the rest of the week is to focus more on cardio, HIIT, LILDC, plyometrics, kickboxing, and ab +core engagement workouts.
Common Mistakes By People Who Do This
According to A Workout Routine, most people make the mistake of eating way less than they should, for quicker results. But, you must avoid starvation and flash diet programs. They will damage your muscle gains and push you away from your goal.
People have tried to be hasty with their cutting and regretted using bizarre methods to do so. However, understand that cutting takes its own time, and your progress needs to be steady. Losing 0.5 to 1% of your body weight per week should be enough.
Getting comfortable with your workout is another mistake. Always, your workout should be adequate physical stress and should challenge you. If you keep doing the same exercise for a long time, it will eventually stop delivering results. It is because your body might get used to the familiar challenge. Therefore, ask yourself if it is comfortable or it is a challenging workout?
Skipping those rest days is a big mistake! But, make sure you let your muscles rest regularly. You should also get enough sleep for everyday recovery.
Cutting is a workout phase that requires commitment. Although a lot of cardio plus high-intensity work can feel monotonous after a while, also, logging your work and setting small goals for yourself can keep you focused.
Fortunately, there are also a lot of workout programs out there to keep you engaged. Choose what fits you best and take up challenges that fit your overall life. Lastly, be mindful, do not hurry, and have a fantastic Cutting Season!