CUT/BULK SERIES Part 2: HOW
PART II: HOW to start:
1) Up your calories
Although tracking macros permanently isn’t for everyone, it’s a really good place to start if you want to seriously bulk or cut. This is because it gives you complete awareness of what macronutrients make up your food and therefore exactly what you’re putting into your body.
AC tracks all the time, mostly because she’s in prep for the British Junior Bikini finals in October, but also because this is what works for her.
A good place to start a bulk for an absolute beginner would be to initially workout what your ‘maintenance’ macros are. Your maintenance macros are what you need to consume to maintain your weight. You can do this on an online calculator (link below). However, everybody’s macros are different! We would recommend eating in accordance with the your macros calculated by your chosen calculator for one or two weeks, doing your usual amount of exercise, weighing yourself every couple of days and taking note of this weight. If you stay the same weight or within 0.1kg of this weight then these are your maintenance macros. If you lose or gain weight, you need to adjust them slightly and accordingly and try it again. Seems like a slow process but as macros are such personal and individual things patience and perseverance to fully utilise them.
I don’t track my macros religiously. When I started my ‘bulk’ and ‘cut’ phases last October and March respectively, I tracked my macros for 2-3 weeks to give me that awareness of what macros I was eating, so that I could adjust them accordingly, but I find that choosing to eat more intuitively works for me (essentially I get f***ing hangry if I don’t eat when I need to). I try to eat clean 80% of the time and over-indulge 20% of the time. If I’m ‘bulking’ I allow myself to be slightly more lenient with cheat meals, and try to eat bigger portions of carbs (e.g. 80g of oats rather than 50g of oats on my cut, or a whole pack of microwaveable rice rather than ½ a pack).
2) Lower your cardio:
As explained in Part 1 of this series, the premise of a 'bulk' is that you are eating and training so that you are in a 'calorie surplus'. This means that you are consuming more calories than you are expending. When you do cardio you are expending calories. This is counteractive to the purpose of a bulk, meaning you have to eat more in order to maintain a 'calorie surplus'. This is not to say that you should stop doing cardio all together (as great as that sounds to me!). Cardiovascular fitness is integral to your overall health thus you should always try to fit at least one or two sessions a week. Not only will this maintain your cardiovascular fitness but to some extent it will also help to lose some of the fat you may gain throughout the bulk
With the cardio, we prefer to stick to one or two HIIT sessions a week (normally the dreaded deadmills). The most important thing is to do what you are happy with and experiment to find out what works for you! That being said, you'll find it very difficult to put on size if you're smashing out 5kms every day of the week!
As explained in Part 1, a 'cut' is for when you want to 'cut' or lose some fat. This can be done whenever you want (not just before your summer hols, believe it or not!), according to whatever your own personal goals are. If you are unhappy with the amount of fat you are carrying then a 'cut' is for you but if you're unhappy with the size of your legs and booty, then you may want to 'bulk'.
1) Lower your calories
Use the method highlighted in the ‘bulk’ section to work out your maintenance calories. Then, to ‘cut’, begin to reduce your calorific intake GRADUALLY. We would recommend not decreasing your calories by more than 50-75 (absolute maximum per week). If you drop your calories too quickly then your body could react by slowing your metabolism down and you won’t get the desired results.
When working out your macros, it is important to take into account the calories that you will be burning during cardio. This is important because you may work out that without cardio, your maintenance level is around say 2000 calories and thus tailor your diet so that you are eating 1950 calories. But if you do daily cardio sessions in which you burn 400 calories, your actual calories expenditure will be 2400 calories, putting you in a 450 calories deficit, which is not the healthiest. Whilst this all seems very complicated, the easiest way to figure it all out is by experimentation as described above.
Cutting is a slow process that takes TIME and PATIENCE – if you trust it and stick to it, you will get the results that you're after.
2) Up you cardio
Adding more cardio to your workout routine will increase your calorific expenditure which can help to move you into calorie deficit. Now, what kind of cardio should you be doing?
HIIT – High Intensity Interval Training:
- HIIT is working at high intensity for a short period of time, reaching 80% to 95% of your maximal heart rate, followed by a rest period in which the heart rate is allowed to drop down to around 40% to 50% before repeating the process for anything between five to ten sets
- For HIIT we usually do ‘deadmill’ sprints, either on a treadmill or a deadbelt. But HIIT can be done in so many different ways, on the rower, outdoor sprinting, on a watt bike etc.
- An example of one of our typical HIIT workouts would be 15 seconds of high intensity work followed by 45 second rest, repeated 10 times. This structure can be used on all of the pieces of equipment mentioned above and many more.
- One of the distinct benefits of HIIT training is that it stimulates your metabolism to burn calories at a higher rate, even after you have finished your workout
LISS = Low Intensity Steady State:
- LISS is any low intensity endurance exercise. During a LISS session you should attempt to work at a heart rate of between 30-50% of your maximal rate.
- The logic behind LISS training is that in order to metabolise fat, the body needs oxygen, and during low intensity cardio your body has more oxygen than during high intensity.
- LISS has been shown to support more fat loss than HIIT due to the fact that whilst exercising at low levels of intensity, fat is the primary source of energy.
- Please note that this doesn’t mean that LISS is a ‘better’ way of burning fat than HIIT, it simply means that it’s a different way of burning fat.
Disclaimer: Macros are really personal things, so we choose not to share ours online because everyone’s are so different. The macro calculator we use is: http://www.iifym.com/iifym-calculator/. Whilst this is a good place to start it will only ever be roughly accurate. Start with the macros that the calculator gives you and track for a week to see how your weight fluctuates and you can then adjust your macros accordingly. And if you are interested in AC’s personalised online coaching which includes full macro calculations then please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org