Bulking and cutting is an extremely popular method used by people, mainly guys, to help either put on muscle to cut down or get shredded.
But does this concept really work? Do you really need to bulk to put on muscle and does it even add more muscle more quickly? Do you also even really need to cut? Were going to dive in and look at this from different angles and see if bulking and cutting work.
Bulking and Cutting
The fact that this idea is still a thing is kind of scary. The bulking and cutting concept is such a false idea that it doesn’t help you put on muscle at all. When you put extra calories in your body that are above your maintenance it is just going to make you fatter.
All those extra calories that you're putting in your body from “bulking” are not going to just suddenly be used for adding muscle to your body. They're going to be used for energy but they're not going to suddenly be stored in your muscles and allow you to be able to break more muscle fibers when you workout or just suddenly feed the muscles you already have which will suddenly cause them to grow. I wish that were the cause, but it isn’t.
I have done this in the past myself and I also found through experience it doesn’t work. I later even realized this through school and also looking at certain studies as well. I thought the same at one point in time where if you consumed more calories then your body would metabolize it and help your muscle grow more or turn it into muscle, but it simply isn’t true.
But over time through attending school and gaining personal experience plus learning from individuals who know their stuff, allowed me to understand and gain the knowledge I have today. To put on actual muscle mass takes time as I am sure you have heard before. But all that time can be for nothing if you don’t continue to want to learn and grow. Some people have been working out for ten years but are still stuck in year three of working out. They stopped growing and learning and therefore stunted their possible muscle growth because they refused to learn more.
When I decided to get into health and fitness and become a trainer, I told myself I would always want to learn more so that I could better my understanding and also pass this knowledge onto my clients. Some trainers got into training because they, themselves like working out and have seen results but are terrible trainers. They don’t know their basic anatomy and don’t even know how to properly build a periodization chart for their clients. They then aren’t able to help their clients as much as they should as end up giving their clients stupid rules to follow such as “eating more will help you lose weight” because it speeds up your metabolism.
So my point is, once you become more educated in a general aspect, you come to realize that bulking and cutting are almost useless. when it comes to building muscle and wanting to build a good physical frame of your desire they are not needed. The real and only way that's going to cause you to be able to build actual muscle and lean tissue is being able to do the exercises properly, making sure your technique is on point, and getting good at creating more time under tension. You of course need to have protein daily, between 0.5 to 1 gram per body weight just to be safe. Either getting it from food or a supplement to make sure your muscle is growing and getting the recovery it needs to build and grow.
Calories for Extra Energy?
But in terms of how you need to build muscle, choosing a weight that's appropriate for you also making sure that you're essentially going slower and controlling the weight when performing the exercise and challenging your muscle to create consistently over-time to create muscle fiber tearing which will essentially cause growth through sleeping and recovery. In general, that's the only way that you're going to grow muscle. You don't even need to excessively eat more than 300 calories in a surplus over your maintenance. Anything past that is too much, it's just going to be stored as fat and it's not going to help you put on muscle. You may look like your getting bigger and growing muscle, but your body is just storing fat. So essentially you are just getting fatter.
Now, there's an argument that eating more calories does give you more energy, which by the way it does. But this is true up to a certain point as our own bodies can respectively only use so much of those calories as energy. And if you're strength lifting this does help you push more weight over days and months of continued progressive overload because the energy it gives you essentially makes you stronger.
So, there is truth to that but it's not as drastic and as big as everybody's making it out to be. Even strength lifters eat too much in my opinion for what they need to do. To lift heavy, you don't need to eat an excessive number of calories even if you're strength lifting. For strength lifters they need to eat more, you can argue that but for the average person and even more, you eat at a max surplus of 300 calories and that’s it. You need to train and continually get stronger progressively over time to build that strong man strength. And when the muscle starts to tear and build over months and years, then you supplement it with calories progressively.
You have to train your body by doing multiple repetitions over some time with an exercise to build lean muscle tissue and to create hypertrophy.
If you're just lifting heavyweight and you’re going for two or three reps of a heavyweight, you still don’t need a surplus of calories. Every person is different and no one is the same, but a lot of people overeat way too much past their maintenance phase.
As I mentioned eating over 300 calories is enough and you don’t need more. But this is just for precaution as you will not know the exact number of calories you need daily. It's better to be over by a little than be under and lose muscle. But anything past 300 is essentially going to be too much. regardless of your strength training, because as I said above it's about you progressively increasing your lifts over time to develop your strength and muscle and then supplementing the added gained muscle with calories and of course protein.
But in my opinion, this plays out to the younger generation more than others as they think they need to eat a lot of calories to get huge. You’ll get huge alright but not in a good way. They think they must stuff all these calories down their mouth to help put on size and allow them to catch up to whatever Instagram model that they're following or whoever in their group of friends they're trying to measure up to.
But I’m telling you, it’s not needed as that's not the way.
There are also a lot of factors that come into play when it comes to building muscle that people don’t take into consideration. Things such as your genetics, what body frame you are, if you more of twitch one or two fiber dominant, your technique during your exercises, how and many times you work out, intensity, your nutrition, if you’re even performing the exercises properly. There are multiple factors. Now keep in mind, this might not apply to every single person. This is an estimate but on a general spectrum it will give you an idea of what you can expect. But within the first year of you lifting weights, you're roughly going to gain anywhere between 4 to 12 pounds of muscle in that time. And generally, you will gain more less rather than more because the average person doesn’t know what they are generally doing in their first few years.
the second year is going to be roughly around six to eight, or so pounds of muscle. After that, it'll be maybe around four pounds and then it'll get a bit lower, and you'll start to just have a steady incline versus more of an inclined spike. You can always ensure you are going to keep getting results with progressive overload by adding different exercises and always making things harder for yourself, slowly, month after month.
If you do all these things consistently while taking into consideration of all the other factors, I listed above such as genetics, your technique, form, etc., you can of course still gain muscle every year at a good pace. But eventually, it will start to slow down, and you will peak out. But this is 10 years or so down the line, and again it depends on many factors.
a lot of people want to hear that all you need to do is overeat to put on more muscle. They legitimately don’t know or want to take an easy way out or try to be that one person who magically found a way to get results faster, but it doesn’t exist. Even if you take steroids or some sort of performance enhancer it will still take time. So, thinking you can find some way to make your muscle grow faster is no different than thinking eating a bunch of calories is going to allow you to grow more.
the amount of time that it took me to put on the muscle that I have now has been over 10 years and it was a slow progressive overload of a process. And had I known what I know now in the beginning, I could have essentially shaved a couple of years off. But even then, it still takes you a lot of time to be able to put on that muscle.
You also have to be on top of your nutrition essentially keep around the caloric intake that you need to make sure you're getting the right amount of protein daily. Every time you put on more lean tissue you need around 50 or 60 calories of protein to supplement that lean tissue.
All these things matter and if you're not doing it consistently, you're not going to get the top results that you could get. and this isn't to discourage anybody it's just to tell people on what it really takes to be able to make this a lifestyle and get the results that you want.
so bottom line, bulking again doesn't work and cutting isn’t necessary unless you are going to be in a bodybuilding show, or you are already in great muscular shape and you need to trim down slightly for an upcoming photoshoot. Other than this you don’t need to do it. The only thing that I would say that it's good for is if you're really underweight you need to eat more calories but even then, I wouldn't bulk. I would do it in a slow progressive manner by increasing caloric intake every month for a couple of weeks to a month or so and let it take a steady incline. I wouldn't just start shoving calories down my body because it doesn't do anything for you except make you fat. You could also develop things like indigestion, bloating. I just wouldn't recommend it.
just go to the gym and put in the time. Get good at learning how to perform the exercises properly. Get good at getting a good mind to muscle connection. Understand how body mechanics work and get really good at focusing and doubling down on the exercises that work for you. And put together a timetable and a time frame that's going to allow you to build the muscle and get the body that you want over time.
It is a slower and steady process that requires you to put in the time every week and month. There is no shortcut to getting the physique you want; it takes time and effort. But if you can stick with it over time and keep challenging yourself every month or so and keep creating progressive overload, then you will surely get the goal you want in time.
Disclaimer: Adam is not a doctor nor a nutritionist. This is all from the experience Adam has gained through himself and through schooling. Through his videos, Adam shares his personal and educational experience that he has acquired over the past years of training individuals through fitness and nutrition. Adam would strongly recommend you see your physician before starting or completing any exercise program. You should be in good physical condition to participate in the exercises which are why consulting your physician would be recommended.
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