CUT/BULK SERIES Part 1: WHAT is a bulk or a cut? and WHY would you do one?

HEY TEAM! As many of you know we're currently running a movement called #G4GSlaySeptember. The aim of this is to get back into the groove of things this September after summer and absolutely smash our workouts and nutrition to kickstart this new academic year. As a part of this movement we wanted to make sure that we all educating and informing ourselves as much as possible, so I've written a series of blogposts on cutting and bulking, the why/what/how's etc. There is SO much information out there on the worldwide web so it's really hard to know what to believe, so here's part 1 of this two-part series. Let me know what you think ladies and enjoy the read!

PART I: WHAT (is a bulk or a cut) & WHY (would you do one)?

Ok so let’s get one thing straight, neither a ‘cut’ or a ‘bulk’ is better than one another - they’re completely different processes and there are what people will perceive as ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ of both.

The main purpose of a ‘cut’ or a ‘bulk’ is that unless you’re very very lucky, or have been resistance training less than 6 months, losing fat whilst gaining muscle simultaneously is virtually impossible.

This means that one only one can be done at any one time, and you have to commit to this with consistency to see results.

BULK:

The term ‘bulk’ essentially means your calorific intake is higher than your calorific expenditure. This is called being in ‘calorific surplus’.

When you’re in a calorific surplus, your body has extra energy which can either be used for gaining muscle or storing fat, and if you're exercising whilst being in calorific surplus, you can gain muscle ('gains', if you will), and achieve those coveted muscular curves.

HOWEVER, there are a few ‘buts’. Being in a calorie surplus doesn’t mean eat as much of whatever you want. If you want to gain muscle and strength, but put on minimal fat then you need to continue eating wholesome sources of carbs, proteins and fats. Although tracking macros is not the only way to eat, it’s important to be aware of what is in your food so that, most importantly, you’re getting the right amount of protein, but also carbohydrates and fats.

It is important to realise that whilst on a 'bulk' you will inevitably gain a certain amount of fat. The  best way to ensure that you gain as little fat as possible is to 'bulk' over a longer period, making sure that your calorie surplus is relatively small. 

CUT:

The term ‘cut’, by contrast, means that you’re burning more than your calorific intake. This is called being in a ‘calorific deficit’, you can do this by eating less than you burn or increasing your calorific expenditure so that you move yourself into calorific deficit.

The downside of a cut is that whilst you are in a 'calorific deficit' your body will start using up internal energy stores to function. Whilst this is beneficial when your body breaks down fats in adipose tissue (basically just the scientific name for fat tissue), it can also use proteins in muscle tissue as an energy source. This means that whilst in a cut you will lose muscle. 

In order to preserve as much muscle as possible during a cut it is important to ensure that you are eating enough protein so that your body is less likely to break down protein in muscle tissue. Another way of preserving as much muscle as possible is to make sure you cut over a longer period of time with a small calorific deficit. 

WHY:

The main reason for either bulking or cutting is to reach a certain goal, which cannot be reached without it, as highlighted above, it is virtually impossible to put on muscle mass whilst cutting fat and getting leaner. 

Many of you may already know that I'm doing a 'mini-cut' this September, before I start bulking this winter. I'm doing this because it's best to start a bulk off relatively lean. This is for two primary reasons. Firstly, starting a bulk off lean means that you will limit fat gain, versus if you were to start a bulk on a higher body fat %. Secondly, with a lower body fat % you're more 'insulin sensitive' (which basically means your body uses carbs more efficiently), therefore you'll gain more 'lean' muscle, versus bulking with a higher body fat %.

WOW that was a lot of talk about body fat %. Although all of this sciencey stuff is important to bear in mind if you seriously want to change your body, it's also important to take it all with a pinch of salt. Hard science versus things as changeable as hormones and our lives in general means that these hard facts sometimes don't work out as we want them to (e.g. the accidental thai take-away I had last night day 3 of my cut...). So don't get too bogged down by numbers (macros, body fat % etc) and forget to enjoy your life everyday!

Lots of love, LP x

 

FitnessLucy Plenderleith