As most experienced fitness enthusiasts will tell you, deciding whether to go on a bulk or a cut and when to do so can be a complicated decision. While there are pros and cons to both of these strategies, both bulking and cutting are two widely utilized strategies designed to keep your physique in tiptop shape when the time is right.
In this article, we will outline what each of these phases means as well as outline the basic principles of each. Although there a number of protocols to accomplish a successful bulk and/or cut, our focus will be to provide a basic overview of these terms.
With regards to fitness, a bulking phase is a period in which an individual attempts to put on as much muscle mass as possible. This is usually done one of two ways. The first strategy, usually referred to as a “clean bulk,” involves carefully limiting the amount of fat that is gained during the bulk.
While this strategy is certainly the lengthier of the two, a clean bulk allows an individual to gradually increase lean muscle mass without adding a large amount of fat in the process. Therefore, attempting a clean bulk is usually done by slowly increasing the number of calories consumed each day and avoiding large amounts of junk food.
The second most common strategy utilized during a bulking phase is coined; you guessed it, a “dirty bulk.” This involves ingesting as many calories as possible from any source in an attempt to pack on as much muscle mass as possible and worrying about excess fat gain later.
A dirty bulk usually results in a quicker and greater increase in muscle mass but getting rid of the collateral damage (fat) can be a challenging feat.
The majority of individuals that cycle through bulking and cutting phases tend to schedule their bulk during the winter months. Given that this time of year usually involves wearing clothing that covers up most of the body and the need to look good in a swimsuit isn’t a concern, winter is most suited for bulking up.
A cutting phase is the exact opposite of what we just discussed. During a cut, an individual attempts to shed excess body fat in order to develop a leaner, more aesthetically pleasing physique.
As with bulking, there are two primary ways of accomplishing a cut. The most common approach is to gradually decrease the number of calories consumed over an extended period of time while still maintaining a consistent workout routine. This strategy allows an individual to avoid losing a significant amount of lean muscle mass in the process of burning fat.
A more drastic approach to the cutting phase involves an immediate and drastic decrease in calories consumed. This strategy is not widely utilized for several reasons. When the body is subjected to a large calorie reduction in a short period of time, survival mode kicks in.
A starvation response follows suit, causing a person to lose a large amount of hard-earned muscle mass as well as body fat in the process. Furthermore, any successful cut requires consistently adhering to a lower calorie diet.
More often than not, failing to allow the body to get used to less fuel results in excessive hunger that forces many people to fall off of the wagon.
Most of the time, a cutting phase is performed during the warmer months when beach vacations and pool parties are prevalent. Shedding the fat from a lean and muscular physique allows an individual to show off their hard-earned beach body when the time is right.