Posted on 04 December 2013.
We’re going to get a little technical in this week’s column. We’re going to talk about bulking and cutting, and it’s something that is very popular in the fitness world. Chances are you’ve heard of it already, and may have actually done it. There’s also a chance you’ve done it without really knowing what it was called or how it works.
What exactly is bulking and cutting? Well, it’s a fancy fitness training phrase for building muscle and losing fat. Really. It’s that simple. See, I told you that some of you have already probably done it without knowing! Most people understand that the best way to cut fat is to do two things: 1 – build muscle, and 2 – change your diet.
When you are in the ‘bulking’ phase, your main goal is to put on as much muscle as possible. You are increasing your caloric intake (the number of calories you consume) and working out WITH WEIGHT to increase strength and muscle mass. The cutting phase is always done second, and that is where you decrease the intake of calories and follow the same type of strength regimen. Many things have changed in the fitness industry, but bulking and cutting as a process, or whatever it gets called, hasn’t changed in decades.
However, as with all things, if it was as simple as just increasing calories and working out more and then just cutting calories, then it would be easy to do; and I can assure you it’s not. The most common mistake people make is not monitoring the calories. You need to be very attentive to two things: 1 – what your calorie intake comes from, and 2 – providing just enough of a surplus to allow muscle growth.
I can head on down to Burger King and eat a double Whopper with fries, a huge Coke, and an ice cream and it will give me a TON of calories. I think anyone reading this will probably understand that they are not good calories. Similarly, I could eat a ton of great food, and consume twice what I need and have a bunch of excess and that wouldn’t be good either. You need to monitor your intake very carefully if you’re doing it right. Remember, we’re looking to pack on muscle, NOT just weight. It is, as I am sure you all notice around the holidays, a lot easier to add fat than muscle.
Cutting is the same thing. There is a right and a wrong way to do it. If you suddenly go from a strict weightlifting phase for weeks, and then decide it’s cutting time, and jump on the running band wagon, putting in five miles a day, this will not work. I mean, you’ll lose weight for sure and chances are you’ll see some significant drops, but remember that not all weight loss is fat loss. If you jump straight into a lot of cardio then you’ll start to burn fat AND some of that good muscle you just put on.
This is where the caloric deficit comes into play. You need to start consuming fewer calories than your body needs. Again, this has to be monitored closely. Remember, it’s a slow process. You’re looking to ‘gently’ increase fat loss, but still give enough for your muscles and recovery system to process. Fat doesn’t require energy… it just sits there; your muscles do. Think of it this way: Any calories you consume will be burned by your muscles, and your body will require more energy for those muscles as they get bigger (remember, you’re still working out). So, as you’re now consuming FEWER calories than you require, your body will need to find that fuel elsewhere… and bingo — you’re burning fat!
Again, if you suddenly drop the calories out of your diet too fast, or increase your body’s need for them, then it will burn fat AND muscle as it will need to get energy quickly!
So, as you can see, the process of bulking and cutting is fairly simple when you put it on paper, but once you start to really think about how your body is going to react to certain stressors, and how you workout, you can see that for optimum results, very close attention needs to be paid to the diet and the way you work out.
Simon Date is a personal trainer and co-owner at NW Premier Fitness in Scappoose. You can reach him at 503-381-3528, firstname.lastname@example.org or facebook.com/NWPremierFitness.
Article source: http://www.thechronicleonline.com/sports/article_61a376a6-5c60-11e3-909f-001a4bcf887a.html