Are Bulking And Cutting Phases Necessary?

Muscle DietMany bodybuilders and people working at building muscle subsist on switching off between the so-called bulking phase and cutting phase.

What Is A Bulking Phase?

QuestionThis is when the trainee is in a period of gaining muscle, and the trainee takes in a calorie surplus to ensure that the muscle cells are never short on performance fuel, and even more so, recovery fuel.

A calorie surplus guarantees that the muscles will be well-fed, and thus, responsive to the training stimulus. Oftentimes, a trainee during this period won’t have the cleanest diet.

A diet that’s not so “clean” means that it includes more than an occasional indulgence in junk food such as French fries, fast food sandwiches, pastries, candy, sausage, etc. In an attempt to stock up on calories, the athlete consumes fattening and high-sugar foods.

After all, it’s pretty tough to load up on only clean foods like tuna fish, steel cut oats, chicken breasts, barley, brown rice, apples, broccoli and green salads — typical fare of the serious trainee who’s trying to lean out.

During the bulk-up period, an individual may experience major muscle growth. However, there is a price to pay for this: fat growth, too.

The result is a thick or bloated appearance, and often, a gut; no six-pack whatsoever. Invisible are cuts, muscle insertion points, striations and much-coveted veins in the arms.

The bulking and cutting cycle for some trainees is a six months on, six months off program. For others, the bulk portion lasts until a goal lean mass weight or size is reached, or until the trainee realizes he or she has also gained a lot of fat.

The fat surplus that hides the new muscle necessitates the cutting phase. During this time, the athlete eats as “clean” as possible, and restricts calories to the extent that muscle growth is at risk for ceasing while he or she leans out.

Enough food is eaten, however, to maintain the muscle mass that was achieved during the calorie surplus period. So while the new muscle size is maintained, the fat that accumulated along with it gets stripped off.

As the individual progresses deeper into this phase, the cuts, definition, six-pack and vascularity start appearing. Wonderful, right?

Not so fast; there is a price to pay for all of this aesthetic glory: ongoing hunger! The trainee must battle urges to eat “normal” foods while socializing.

While everyone is enjoying lasagna dripping with cheese, the trainee tries to convince himself he’s enjoying that can of tuna and the tossed salad with only half a tablespoon of dressing in it.

Egg whites and oatmeal every morning are a drag. So is all the bland protein powder and steamed asparagus. People dread the cutting phase diet.

There Just Has To Be A Better Way–And There Is

Thumbs UpIt’s called the clean bulk. Bulking and cutting phases are not necessary. For some people, the two-phase approach works better than the clean bulk.

However, some trainees just don’t realize how effective the clean bulk can be. This is a year-round plan; it is the same plan every day throughout the year.

There are no phases, no calorie counting or keeping track of carbohydrates or fats. This plan is conducive to ongoing hypertrophy plus maintenance of a lean appearance.

Next StepHere Is How This System Works:

One enjoys a calorie surplus on weight training days, without going overboard, of course. This doesn’t mean that every lifting day is a pass for junk food eating.

It means that on lifting days, it’s okay to have a reasonable calorie surplus, and most of the food should be whole in form.

So instead of breaded cod, potatoes and broccoli that came from a frozen box that one microwaves, these foods are purchased in whole, fresh form and prepped at home.

On an extra hard training day, the athlete can have some pizza or a slice of pie with a little ice cream, but this doesn’t mean one-quarter of the pie or enough pizza for three adults, either.

Enjoying one’s favorite fattening or sugary foods remains on the fringe, but it can be done year-round. To offset the calorie surplus that occurs year-round on training days, one takes in negative calories on non-weight days.

This doesn’t mean one must count every calorie, but rather, one gets a feel or a sense of what would be a negative caloric intake — negative enough to offset surplus days and maintain leanness, but not so negative that it disrupts recovery from the last workout.

Because the surplus days occur on every training day, a bulk (hypertrophy) is always in progress. Because negative calories occur on every non-training day, this consistency will prevent fat gain.

The trainee thus appears buff every day of the year and never feels deprived of favorite foods. Due to this balance, there is no need for any cutting phase workout routine.

Anybody who is serious about building lean mass and slashing body fat should read No-Nonsense Muscle Building Program by Vince DelMonte: a complete training guide for building muscle.

In it are in-depth nutrition plans for all goals, and plenty of sample menus to take the guesswork out of what should, and should not, be eaten during a muscle building and fat loss program.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

john March 4, 2012 at 2:11 pm

I completely agree with you, i don’t bulk or cut at various times of the year, I just eat consistently good foods and have junk food on rare occasions, once people start “cutting” which normally happens in the summer, they lose strength from when they were “bulking”, I don’t see the benefit of this because you are forever going back and forth and it must hinder their progress.

Great post!

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