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Thread: ***DISCUSSION*** Gain or cut? Choose 1 goal and see it through to completion

  1. #1
    gbrice75's Avatar
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    ***DISCUSSION*** Gain or cut? Choose 1 goal and see it through to completion

    Ask just about anybody on this board what their goal is, and you'll hear something along the lines of "add muscle while losing fat". Well yea, we all want that.

    Is it possible to pursue (and achieve) both goals simultaneously? I believe it is - but what's possible and what's optimal don't always correlate. Beyond 'newb gains', drugs, and/or freaky genetics, it's a very difficult, slow path. You are quite literally working towards two opposing goals: building your body up, and breaking your body down. It doesn't matter that we're talking about lean mass in the former and body fat in the latter; caloric intake is by and large the biggest factor at play in either case.

    I speak from experience; when I embarked on my journey to a healthier, fit lifestyle, I was 254lbs @ 5'10 (see before/afters below). I have gone back and forth between goals, never fully committing to one or the other for any appreciable length of time, and consequently never putting on the size I expected/wanted, nor achieving (or better put, maintaining) the single digit bodyfat I desired.

    When I advise people today, I am 100% steadfast in my approach; reduce bodyfat (for those needing to do so) first. Start with a 'blank canvas'. It's by far the better approach IMO. Why?

    For one, nutrient partitioning tends to 'shift' at a lower bodyfat (~12% and under, depending on the individual) in favor of muscle. Sounds unfair, doesn't it? Those who are already fat have an easier time getting fatter (and tougher time adding muscle), and those who are already lean have an easier time staying lean/adding muscle vs. fat. This should be reason enough alone.

    Beside that, there is also the physiological factor. When you're lean, you see progress. Sometimes daily. If you start adding mass (I hate using the term 'bulking') at 10% bodyfat, you'll surely see your results as you progress. Start adding mass at 15% + and results won't be nearly as visible. Further, when all is said and done you probably will have put on a few BF% points. Going from 15% to 18% is a world of difference than say 10% to 13%. You'll still look pretty lean at 13%. At 18%, you'll just look fat.

    Just wanted to share this, my own experience and advice since we see this question (should I bulk or cut) pop up here several times weekly. Feel free to keep this thread open for a Q&A.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails ***DISCUSSION***  Gain or cut?  Choose 1 goal and see it through to completion-gb-back-comparison.jpg   ***DISCUSSION***  Gain or cut?  Choose 1 goal and see it through to completion-gb-front2-comparison.jpg   ***DISCUSSION***  Gain or cut?  Choose 1 goal and see it through to completion-gb-front-combined.jpg   ***DISCUSSION***  Gain or cut?  Choose 1 goal and see it through to completion-gb-side-comparison.jpg  

  2. #2
    --->>405<<---'s Avatar
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    I agree with you GB.

    Id like to add to this if i may. I basically did the same thing as you, going from a fat butt to lean and mean. Since then my progress has not been much at all.

    We hear a lot of talk about genetic limit. For me i always went with what most people said about how hard it is to reach the genetic limit. While technically this may be true (hard to argue conclusively in this context ) i am beginning to think it isnt so hard to reach. Personally i think ive reached some kind of limit with myself. While it may not be the. "Genetic limit " it is def where if i try to gain mass i end up gaining fat in a much greater proportion.

    So now thru experience it seems i am at a crossroads: maintain and maybe try to gain very very slowly or cycle. It is pointless to me to keep trying to bulk and just end up fat and have to cut.

    Im looking to see here if im the only one who has noticed this or if there are others?? (Im sure there are) would u say this is what we mean when we make reference to "genetic limit"??
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    Quote Originally Posted by --->>405<<--- View Post
    I agree with you GB.

    Id like to add to this if i may. I basically did the same thing as you, going from a fat butt to lean and mean. Since then my progress has not been much at all.

    We hear a lot of talk about genetic limit. For me i always went with what most people said about how hard it is to reach the genetic limit. While technically this may be true (hard to argue conclusively in this context ) i am beginning to think it isnt so hard to reach. Personally i think ive reached some kind of limit with myself. While it may not be the. "Genetic limit " it is def where if i try to gain mass i end up gaining fat in a much greater proportion.

    So now thru experience it seems i am at a crossroads: maintain and maybe try to gain very very slowly or cycle. It is pointless to me to keep trying to bulk and just end up fat and have to cut.

    Im looking to see here if im the only one who has noticed this or if there are others?? (Im sure there are) would u say this is what we mean when we make reference to "genetic limit"??
    My friend, I'm at the *exact* same crossroad as you. Not too long ago, a friend (whose knowledge and opinion I value greatly) suggested I may have simply reached my 'genetic limit' (in response to my endless bitching about not being able to gain more muscle, bla bla bla, you've all heard it from me before). I didn't want to accept it. I mean, THIS? THIS is my genetic limit? I feel like I've barely gotten started. This can't be it!!!

    Here's the deal though - and in this you and I are also similar: drugs aside (and possibly even with), we are never going to achieve that look that I know we both want. Simply, the guys who look that way have been training consistently since their mid-late teens. They've had decades to develop thick, dense muscle mass - we've only been at it consistently for a few years. That's nothing. I started in my early 30's, and to my knowledge, so did you. In terms of developing muscle, we are WELL beyond our best years.

    I've recently come to accept the fact that I won't have the look I set out to achieve. If I had started much sooner, AND didn't spend years destroying my body (which makes this even that much more difficult) with horrible 'nutrition', laziness, etc., then it'd probably be a different story. I have no choice but to work with what I have now. I work hard, try to keep my diet on point, and that's all that I can do. Beyond that, it's in the hands of the powers that be.

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    When I first started I was overweight with a goal in mind to lean out and have my abs show. I achieved this and gained an incredible amount of knowledge along the way. Once I got to the point of being lean I was about 170lbs and had good definition but felt small. I tried to stay lean while adding muscle and felt like I was making little to no progress or just minutia baby steps.

    I currently shifted into going over a mass "bulking" stage over the last 6 months to increase my muscle mass as much as possible. I have made a huge leap as compared to when I was trying to stay lean and add mass at the same time. Yes, I did add a good amount of fat but I approached this goal knowing that I would be adding fat and knowing that the fat I gained would disappear when I entered my cutting phase.

    I believe if your goal is to add mass, why not add mass rather then slowly trying to stay lean while adding mass? If you posses the knowledge and skills of cutting down then I believe you can sacrifice adding fat in the time you are adding mass.

    I understand there are individuals who have there personal preference of staying lean year around and would rather stay lean while trying to add mass which is fine. We all have our different preferences and goals.

    Just my personal opinion .

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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnnnyBlazzze View Post
    When I first started I was overweight with a goal in mind to lean out and have my abs show. I achieved this and gained an incredible amount of knowledge along the way. Once I got to the point of being lean I was about 170lbs and had good definition but felt small. I tried to stay lean while adding muscle and felt like I was making little to no progress or just minutia baby steps.

    I currently shifted into going over a mass "bulking" stage over the last 6 months to increase my muscle mass as much as possible. I have made a huge leap as compared to when I was trying to stay lean and add mass at the same time. Yes, I did add a good amount of fat but I approached this goal knowing that I would be adding fat and knowing that the fat I gained would disappear when I entered my cutting phase.

    I believe if your goal is to add mass, why not add mass rather then slowly trying to stay lean while adding mass? If you posses the knowledge and skills of cutting down then I believe you can sacrifice adding fat in the time you are adding mass.

    I understand there are individuals who have there personal preference of staying lean year around and would rather stay lean while trying to add mass which is fine. We all have our different preferences and goals.

    Just my personal opinion .
    hey JB i tell u what man. come back and report when u have cut back to 10-12% body fat and lets see how much LEAN u actually gained. speaking for myself, ive tried it (without AAS) and when i get back to my beginning bf% im maybe 2lbs heavier (that could even be water). this is 6-8 months later. thats a lot of work for little reward IMO.

    i may be at a diffrent stage than u though for me to bulk requires steroids at this point. im not saying im against bulking, just against it for me with out aas..

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    The problem I have with 'bulking' is this:

    1 - it's not necessary to get big and fat just to add muscle. It just doesn't have to be that way, so long as the individual has the discipline to dial in a die and stick with it.

    2 - when people do decide to 'bulk up', I've noticed that most simply don't know how to cut and maintain the majority of their muscle.

    Therefore, I just find it more efficient to work on adding muscle (which is and should be a fairly slow process to begin with... I always love hearing about the dudes who put on '20lbs of muscle' in X amount of months. Yea, ok, fat boy!) without adding a lot of bodyfat. Some is inevitable in most cases, but you don't have to get fat. I'd rather have to cut for 4 weeks than 16, that's for sure. Nobody likes cutting, so why not minimize a miserable part of this whole game?

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    Quote Originally Posted by gbrice75 View Post
    My friend, I'm at the *exact* same crossroad as you. Not too long ago, a friend (whose knowledge and opinion I value greatly) suggested I may have simply reached my 'genetic limit' (in response to my endless bitching about not being able to gain more muscle, bla bla bla, you've all heard it from me before). I didn't want to accept it. I mean, THIS? THIS is my genetic limit? I feel like I've barely gotten started. This can't be it!!!

    Here's the deal though - and in this you and I are also similar: drugs aside (and possibly even with), we are never going to achieve that look that I know we both want. Simply, the guys who look that way have been training consistently since their mid-late teens. They've had decades to develop thick, dense muscle mass - we've only been at it consistently for a few years. That's nothing. I started in my early 30's, and to my knowledge, so did you. In terms of developing muscle, we are WELL beyond our best years.

    I've recently come to accept the fact that I won't have the look I set out to achieve. If I had started much sooner, AND didn't spend years destroying my body (which makes this even that much more difficult) with horrible 'nutrition', laziness, etc., then it'd probably be a different story. I have no choice but to work with what I have now. I work hard, try to keep my diet on point, and that's all that I can do. Beyond that, it's in the hands of the powers that be.
    i tell u what my man, that just SUCKS!!!

    i will prob cycle to see whats what, and then i can evaluate whether it is worth it to continue. im kind of leaning towards being happy with what i have. im not so sure the risk is worth the reward.
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    Quote Originally Posted by --->>405<<--- View Post
    i tell u what my man, that just SUCKS!!!

    i will prob cycle to see whats what, and then i can evaluate whether it is worth it to continue. im kind of leaning towards being happy with what i have. im not so sure the risk is worth the reward.
    ^^ this is another thing I've come to accept. Aside from my wife not being cool with it, I will never be stepping on a stage in any capacity - so really, why would I cycle? Get big and huge - but for what? To what end? When does it stop? What's the clear cut goal? There isn't one. So, I'll just have to come to terms with being small and lean (when I get there, haha) and having something along the lines of a swimmer's body.

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    Quote Originally Posted by --->>405<<--- View Post
    hey JB i tell u what man. come back and report when u have cut back to 10-12% body fat and lets see how much LEAN u actually gained. speaking for myself, ive tried it (without AAS) and when i get back to my beginning bf% im maybe 2lbs heavier (that could even be water). this is 6-8 months later. thats a lot of work for little reward IMO.

    i may be at a diffrent stage than u though for me to bulk requires steroids at this point. im not saying im against bulking, just against it for me with out aas..
    Sure, I'll come back and report, maybe be a while from now since I havn't even started haha. I'm not going necessarily for weight gain. I'm trying to improve my muscle mass in which I can already see the difference in the gains I've made especially in my chest and delts even with it being blanketed with some fat.

    It was good to have abs and be lean but being at 170lbs with low bf % I just looked small. I didn't like the way I looked, I had small muscles and it was the ultimate physique look I was going for. You look solid where you are at bro you looked a lot better then I did at low bf% :P. you had about 20lbs more of LBM on me though.

    Quote Originally Posted by gbrice75 View Post
    The problem I have with 'bulking' is this:

    1 - it's not necessary to get big and fat just to add muscle. It just doesn't have to be that way, so long as the individual has the discipline to dial in a die and stick with it.

    2 - when people do decide to 'bulk up', I've noticed that most simply don't know how to cut and maintain the majority of their muscle.

    Therefore, I just find it more efficient to work on adding muscle (which is and should be a fairly slow process to begin with... I always love hearing about the dudes who put on '20lbs of muscle' in X amount of months. Yea, ok, fat boy!) without adding a lot of bodyfat. Some is inevitable in most cases, but you don't have to get fat. I'd rather have to cut for 4 weeks than 16, that's for sure. Nobody likes cutting, so why not minimize a miserable part of this whole game?
    I agree with you, individuals do have the opportunity to minimize there fat gain during a bulk with a clean strict diet. Personally for me when I go through my cutting phase my diet is as clean and strict as possible. Having every portion of food weighed exactly how it needs to be to having every macro nutrient perfectly accounted for. I pretty much have OCD when I cut.

    Not sure about you guys but this type of discipline takes a tole on my psyche. Even in my strictest of cut days to ultimately reach my goal I find myself turning down certain times to hang out with friends because I will miss a meal or won't eat the proper food at wherever they are going.

    During my bulking phase I don't weigh my food or get so anal on macro nutrients or how much I'm eating. This time usually lets me relax a little more and enjoy some foods if I want to, without worrying about going outside a calorie range or wondering if it weighs a certain amount. I just eat it.

    I'm also on-board with you - If an individual doesn't have the knowledge or experience of cutting back down then they shouldn't go for an all out bulk to begin with. That's when I don't agree with it.

    As far as minimizing cutting phase, I personally don't mind hard disciplined work for 16 weeks and strive on it, As long as the ultimate goal is reached in the end there shouldn't be a specific time line on when you should be finished (unless you're competing.) I'm fine with cutting for 16 weeks after a long 6 month bulk or longer. I expect to have my work cut out for me but for me personally it's not about how hard I have to work, that's the least of my worries.

    All in all I believe individuals need to learn and acquire the tools/experience of proper dieting first, before going for a drastic bulk or cut.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gbrice75 View Post
    ^^ this is another thing I've come to accept. Aside from my wife not being cool with it, I will never be stepping on a stage in any capacity - so really, why would I cycle? Get big and huge - but for what? To what end? When does it stop? What's the clear cut goal? There isn't one. So, I'll just have to come to terms with being small and lean (when I get there, haha) and having something along the lines of a swimmer's body.
    NO!!! say it isnt so!!!!!

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    This is an awesome thread as it deals with things that one must come to terms with on a mental level. I have always believed this is the greatest part of the journey I have embarked on. It is simply very inspiring to see the success and challenges that you guys go through to get to a point where you, perhaps, will feel satisfied.

    Personally I am at the cutting stage and having hit 12% body fat I am almost ready to start eating at maintenence and then slowly increase food to see where the sweet spot is for lean bulking. I have nothing but time so doing this slowly is not a problem for me but there will 100% be AAS involved at some point as this is something I have always wanted to try, if for nothing else simply experimenting with my body.

    Again, this is just great a great read. Thank you guys for sharing!!!

    Thanks
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    i dont tend to follow or listen to the advice of pros, but u cant deny that these guys get huge on doing heavy bulks.

    for seriously lifters teh hardest task to tackle, isnt eating, sleep, drug use or training... its the mental game.

    if you wanna get big, you have to eat for it. and it does work. but Gbruce was correct, alot of people dont know how to diet down especially those that lift for a hobby. Show prep is a whole lot more then a calorie deficit and some cardio.

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    I've been bulking for over 2 years now and I think i'm almost to a point where a cut would be possible without completely fading away. Had my diet been better i think i could have been able to cut this past summer and look okay, but with work I tend to get offtrack and not eat enough. Started off below 150lbs a few years ago and almost 190 now.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Awesome_Archy View Post
    I've been bulking for over 2 years now and I think i'm almost to a point where a cut would be possible without completely fading away. Had my diet been better i think i could have been able to cut this past summer and look okay, but with work I tend to get offtrack and not eat enough. Started off below 150lbs a few years ago and almost 190 now.
    Alot of good coaches say this all the time, people cutting way before they have enough lbm to warrant a cut with out looking small.

    if done correctly long term bulking with decent food choices and hard training might help balance you out of the long haul alot better then doing bulk and cuts every few weeks or months.

    jay cutler was at my gym earlier in teh year , and im sorry to say but he looked like a fat piece of crap, granted he didn't do well this year at the show, but still to see him up close like he was to his in shape on stage is still an amazing transformation.

    another friend of mine who usually takes first place for heavy weight every show, is lean and 8% bodyfat roughly year round cause hes got sponsorships, guest posing and male model contracts. but now hes finding he is losing his edge cause he can not bulk to help gain more size and this is causing him to slip. Has made me turn my attitude around from lean body recomp into heavy bulking if gaining more lbm is your thing.

    pro bulk !

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