Bulk or Cut?!
That IS the question.
No, seriously, I’m not kidding – it really is the question. It’s a question I get constantly from The SHJ Army.
But, first, let’s talk about what the question means. I know some people don’t even know what a “Bulk” and a “Cut” are.
I know this from experience with launching The Superhero Cut and Shred, and The Superhero Bulk and Strength recently. Thankfully The Superhero Ladies – Glutes, Tone and Slim is pretty self explanatory, so that one is just an honorable mention.
**Oh, and as a bonus I’ll be adding in a quiz to help you choose at the end of this article. So stick around (or just scroll to the dang bottom)**
What is “Bulking” and “Cutting”?
Let’s start with bulking.
Bulking is the mass gain phase.
That’s where we’re going to gain weight, hopefully in the form of muscle, with specific programming and also by eating in a caloric surplus.
Sure, you can utilize different dietary guidelines to do this (same with cutting), like we utilize with The Academy Nutrition Classes (Vikings, Samurais, Monks, SuperHumans, Hunter Gatherers, Spartans, Minimalists) to help find sustainability – BUT, you’ll have to be over your daily caloric maintenance level regardless.
And, onto the cutting phase.
Cutting is the fat loss phase.
This is where we shoot to lose body-fat percentage, hopefully without losing any of the muscle we gained during the mass gain phase, with specific programming and also eating in a caloric deficit.
Yes, that means LESS than your daily caloric maintenance level.
How to Know If You Should Bulk or Cut
Okay, now we can actually get to the question at hand.
I’m going to take you through some things that will help you decide what you should be doing.
One of the first things that I always talk about when choosing a workout routine and diet plan is your goal.
So, let’s start with that.
Decide What Your Goals Are
What do you want out of your training and diet?
Step one, regardless of if you’re deciding to bulk or cut, should always be to evaluate your goals. This technically goes hand-in-hand with deciding whether you want to bulk or cut because for the most part they could even be considered the same thing…kind of.
Some people might want to just get healthier. Some people might want to gain weight and mass. Some people might want to lose the fat, and not care about the muscle mass.
This is what you have to decide.
So, let’s say you decide that.
But…what if you’re “skinny-fat”?!
What if you’re in that predicament where you want to both gain muscle AND tone up and lose fat?
This is where we need to ask a second question to help us out.
Base Your Decision on Your Body-Fat Percentage
One trick is to let your body-fat percentage help you out.
I shared that neat picture above with you guys because I know not everyone is going to know their body-fat percent, so it’s okay to have a rough guesstimate for this one.
Here’s what we’re going to say:
If you’re a man with more than 15% body-fat you should cut.
If you’re a woman with more than 25% body-fat you should cut.
If you’re a man with less than 10% body-fat you should bulk.
If you’re a woman with less than 20% body-fat you should bulk.
And, of course, these aren’t automatically what is 100% right for you, BUT, they’re pretty good judges to help you choose your path.
If you’re a man deciding between the two, for example, and you’re sitting at 9% body-fat, it would be almost ridiculous to attempt to cut more fat!
And, the same can be said for if you’re a man sitting at nearly 20% body-fat thinking about bulking up more, when you likely can shred some fat and tone down and have a better bulk after a clean cut.
But, okay, you could have figured all that out on your own. This is just a good scale and picture to help you out.
Don’t Get SO Hung Up On What Comes First
You’re likely going to do both.
Another trick I like to use when deciding what I’m going to do is to use the two steps I mentioned above and then just choose and get started. It doesn’t have to be overcomplicated. Getting started is more important, so if you’ve evaluated the situation, thought about your goals, factored in your current body-fat and decided on a path….DO IT!
After your bulk (or cut) you’re likely going to do the other one, and then follow a nice rinse and repeat cycle of the two from there on anyways. So go ahead and get started!
I’ve done both over the course of even a 6 month span. Check it out:
The pictures on the left show a mini-bulk using the Bulk and Strength program that I utilized for 2 months or so (with vacations mixed in there in the middle), and the picture on the right is after the mini-bulk when I jumped on the Cut and Shred program for about two months.
And this is what a cycle through both programs can look like. A couple months at a time, and rinse and repeat and come out looking better and better after each one.
Or, you can decide to come out of this cycle and recomp your body if you feel good enough, which is just the process of maintaining calories and weight, but slowly cutting off body-fat.
But, that’s a talk for a different article…
For now, I also decided to make you a special quiz, which basically just takes you through everything we talked about (in case you’re sick of reading what I write and just skipped ahead) and tells you whether you should bulk or cut!
Check it out here:
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SUPERHUMAN SECRETS V.2
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