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Thread: Cut or bulk?

  1. #1
    Registered User LeanDude84's Avatar
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    Cut or bulk?

    I am at a point right now, where I ma not sure whether I should continue cutting for another 2-3kgs or start bulking. (I am 36 y old).

    I've never had abs in my life, my abs are strong as hell, but genetics is ****ty so all my fat is in my belly.

    I am 180cm tall (5ft11). 2 years ago, I had 84kg, and 92cm waist circumference. Right now I am at 74.5kg and 79.5cm waist. My arm is 2cm bigger than it was 2 years ago. I will post images below.

    I am currently probably around 13-14% body fat as my belly is flat and generally look very lean aside from not having abs. My original plan was to lose another 2-3 kg, and reduce body fat to 11-12%, but I am not sure if that would have a great impact on my looks, or I would just look like I have come out of concentration camp.

    The only supplement I am taking is creatine.

    To sum up, the question is whether to start lean bulking now or cut a bit more ?

    Pic from 2 years ago:


    Current pics:


    Last edited by LeanDude84; 05-28-2020 at 12:10 PM.
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    Humble Megalomaniac ElrondHubbard's Avatar
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    I'd say you're more than 13-14%, but not an unhealthy amount by any means. I also doubt that there's anything wrong with your genetics.

    Short answer -- doesn't look to me like diet is an issue one way or the other, you could maintain as easily as cut or bulk. The biggest change will come from your workout program. What is your training like?
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    Registered User LeanDude84's Avatar
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    Thank you for your reply!

    Lifting 4x week, twice a week same muscle group (Chest - Shoulders - Triceps and Legs-Back-Biceps). Hypertrophy reps 8-12 all the time.

    My strength is increasing. Just today I did 4 sets of 8 pullups with 44lbs (20kg) added weight.

    I am not sure if I should stop drinking creatine as that might be causing me to have more "watery" look.
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    Humble Megalomaniac ElrondHubbard's Avatar
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    Don't stop the creatine. It does you nothing but good. You shouldn't need more than 5g/day, though. As long as you're on a program that has you gradually increasing in your lifts, one that works all the major muscle groups, upper and lower, front and back, and you're making progress on it, then the only thing I think you need to add is patience. It's a gradual process, and can't be rushed.
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    What is your goal here?
    If your after hard defined abs then you'll have to lose more body fat.
    This may mean losing some over all size for that goal as fat comes off the body all over and not usually in specific areas.
    Measuring fat levels is not the best way to know what your BF levels are as many methods are not very accurate.
    As you've done a tape measure around the waist and pictures will be more accurate.
    Pics month to month along with a measurement.
    You diet should be recorded daily with calories and macros.
    You training should be as well.
    If your not making progress examines each of these and make changes.
    Yes creatine will make you hold some fluid mostly in the muscle but not completely.
    You could experiment and see how you look off of creatine for a couple weeks.
    I always lose 3-5 pounds if i stop using it for a period.
    If your satisfied with your physique and want to start gaining remember gaining pure muscle is a slow process.
    Anyone can gain weight but developing new muscle tissue takes time and really five pounds a year for a natural lifter is actually good.
    You have to have patients,a training protocol to stimulate muscle growth,eating plenty of protein and clean calories,and sufficient recovery rest.
    If you have all these thing down just right you'll grow.
    If one of them is off your progress will slow.
    Just want to be real with you on growing muscle it's not as simple as some think although people that are new to it usually grow well at the beginning doing the basics.
    Good luck.
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    Registered User LeanDude84's Avatar
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    Thank you.

    My first goal is to look lean, as this is what I prefer, over bulky look, and for that I need to lower my BF.

    The only issue I had is if I am currently 162.8 lbs (74kg) and maybe 3-4lbs is water weight due to creatine, I still need to lose at least 6-7lbs to approach leaner look. Without creatine that would put me around 152 lbs weight and I haven't been that thin in like 16 years. Not sure if it is even healthy to get that low for my height, that was my main concern.
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    Clearly Irrational blue9steel's Avatar
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    I'd say cut first since you don't have far to go, just be aware you're not carrying enough muscle to look amazing when you hit your goal. Once you get down around 10% you're going to need to do some bulking to add mass.
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    Just added another image as a lack of muscles seems to be a common comment.

    My current strength levels:

    - Pull ups - 4 sets 5 reps with 25 kg (55lbs) added
    - Dips - 4 sets of 12 reps 15kg (33lbs) added
    - Incline Bench Press - 4 x 8 with 75 kg (165)
    - Biceps curls - 4 x 8 with 35kg (77 lbs)
    - Squats - 4x8 with 80kg (176lbs)

    I know my squats suck, that is because my legs are my weakest point, but aside from that, how would I be able to lift these weights with so little muscle. Doesn't make sense?

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    Chihuahua in the rain Corbets's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by LeanDude84 View Post
    Just added another image as a lack of muscles seems to be a common comment.

    My current strength levels:

    - Pull ups - 4 sets 5 reps with 25 kg (55lbs) added
    - Dips - 4 sets of 12 reps 15kg (33lbs) added
    - Incline Bench Press - 4 x 8 with 75 kg (165)
    - Biceps curls - 4 x 8 with 35kg (77 lbs)
    - Squats - 4x8 with 80kg (176lbs)

    I know my squats suck, that is because my legs are my weakest point, but aside from that, how would I be able to lift these weights with so little muscle. Doesn't make sense?

    Nobody is trying to insult you when they say you don’t have much muscle. But... those aren’t very heavy weights you’re lifting. They’re not horrible, but you’re probably at a late beginner or maybe early intermediate stage, and you’ve got lots of room to go yet.

    Cut now and you’ll look skinny. Like my picture here, perhaps. But you won’t look jacked. You won’t look muscular. In clothes, you’ll look quite small.

    Nothing wrong with it - just be aware of it. You’ve got a lot of ways to go with regards to building muscle.
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    I understand it. Thank you!
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    First off: we'll done on 2 years of work 😁.

    Second I agree with above your lifts are average, not but but nothing stand out for 2 years of continued training.

    My advice fwiw which is pretty much not at all.

    But. I'd spend some time improving your strength, get on a good strength program and get stronger, then when you cut you will feel better about it. You don't need to eat a load of extra calories as you've still got a load of newbie gains to be had.
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    I love my power hour MrCarrot's Avatar
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    Ignoring the squat, bit depressing if the OP's lifts are nothing more than average. I'm 20 pounds heavier, been training for 2 years, and my incline bench and curls are virtually the same as his (on a good day) and my pull up is more like 20kg for 4 reps.

    OP, looking at your pic my first inclination was to suggest cutting, but at 160 odd pounds I dunno if you'd want to go any lower.

    Originally Posted by LeanDude84 View Post
    I still need to lose at least 6-7lbs to approach leaner look. Without creatine that would put me around 152 lbs weight and I haven't been that thin in like 16 years. Not sure if it is even healthy to get that low for my height, that was my main concern.
    You might need to lose a lot more than 7 pounds to see much difference. I cut down to 160 pounds at one point and refused to go any lower. I don't think I'd weighed that little since being a teenager.
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    Damn, I thought my lifts are above average

    Especially as I haven't seen a lot of people at my gym do pull ups with added weights and being 163lbs , I do dumbbell bench press with 66lbs dumbbells and I don't see a lot of people at my gym do the same thing, or if they do they are much heavier guys.

    I guess I was wrong.
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    Chihuahua in the rain Corbets's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by LeanDude84 View Post
    Damn, I thought my lifts are above average

    Especially as I haven't seen a lot of people at my gym do pull ups with added weights and being 163lbs , I do dumbbell bench press with 66lbs dumbbells and I don't see a lot of people at my gym do the same thing, or if they do they are much heavier guys.

    I guess I was wrong.
    For what it’s worth, I perceive your pulls to be your stronger suit. A lot of people can’t do pull-ups at all....

    And to Mr. Carrot, keep in mind that “average” here (not a word I used, but perhaps not out of line) is not “average” amongst the global population!
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    Originally Posted by MrCarrot View Post
    Ignoring the squat, bit depressing if the OP's lifts are nothing more than average. I'm 20 pounds heavier, been training for 2 years, and my incline bench and curls are virtually the same as his (on a good day) and my pull up is more like 20kg for 4 reps.

    OP, looking at your pic my first inclination was to suggest cutting, but at 160 odd pounds I dunno if you'd want to go any lower.



    You might need to lose a lot more than 7 pounds to see much difference. I cut down to 160 pounds at one point and refused to go any lower. I don't think I'd weighed that little since being a teenager.
    Yeah, that were my thoughts as well...I might go to 154lbs and that would be the lowest weight I am comfortable going to. After that, gonna bulk for 10 months or so.
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    Originally Posted by Corbets View Post
    For what it’s worth, I perceive your pulls to be your stronger suit. A lot of people can’t do pull-ups at all....

    And to Mr. Carrot, keep in mind that “average” here (not a word I used, but perhaps not out of line) is not “average” amongst the global population!
    Yeah, I've been doing pull ups my whole life, even when I wasn't going to gym, or working out I would often go out and do pull ups. I was obsessed to get to 20 pulls in a set. Once I did, I don't have that obsession anymore but pull-ups remained my strongest point.
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    Humble Megalomaniac ElrondHubbard's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by LeanDude84 View Post
    Yeah, I've been doing pull ups my whole life, even when I wasn't going to gym, or working out I would often go out and do pull ups. I was obsessed to get to 20 pulls in a set. Once I did, I don't have that obsession anymore but pull-ups remained my strongest point.
    I think you and a lot of others are overthinking this. It's not about where your lifts are now, it's about where they are compared to two years ago, and where they'll be a year from now. You're neither over weight nor underweight, all you're really talking about is fine tuning, which I would dispute the need for at this stage in your journey.

    If you're making progress, keep doing it. Your diet seems fine, don't worry about it. Continue to get stronger, the muscles will grow as you do. You're still on the journey, don't start thinking you should have reached the destination by now. Don't turn it into a chore or a torture. Enjoy the process.
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    I love my power hour MrCarrot's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by ElrondHubbard View Post
    You're still on the journey, don't start thinking you should have reached the destination by now. Don't turn it into a chore or a torture. Enjoy the process.
    Good advice. I've been thinking lately, I'm getting a bit podgy, should I cut? Then I think, the gym's closed, I can't lift heavy, if I cut now the muscle I have gained will waste away. I start getting a bit stressed out by it, but then have to remember, this is a hobby. It's supposed to be enjoyable, not stressful!

    As for what constitutes "average" lifts, I think relative to whatever my size happens to be at the time, I've always been a bit on the weak side for whatever reason. Often it feels like a lack of stamina rather than lack of strength. Quite often people mistakenly think I'm stronger that I am. But in any case, I think the main thing is to record your lifts, and make sure they're going UP over time. As long as that's the case, it doesn't matter how much other people lift, as long as you're improving.

    And as someone once said, "It's not how much you can lift, it's how much you look like you can lift that counts."

    Originally Posted by LeanDude84 View Post
    Yeah, I've been doing pull ups my whole life, even when I wasn't going to gym, or working out I would often go out and do pull ups. I was obsessed to get to 20 pulls in a set. Once I did, I don't have that obsession anymore but pull-ups remained my strongest point.
    Pull ups are a funny thing. I would say on average most non-gym goers probably can't even do a single pull up. With that said, I remember when I was a kid, and my friend's dad (who was not particularly in shape) did 10 or so pull ups on one of those door frame pull-up bars, and I was in awe of that.

    And in my 30's there was a skinny Asian dude at the gym who somehow had massive biceps and could do 20 pull-ups with ease.

    A couple of years ago when I started working out again I also couldn't do a single pull up. So thinking about it now, to be able to do them weighted for several reps feels like quite an achievement.
    Last edited by MrCarrot; 05-31-2020 at 03:42 PM.
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    Originally Posted by MrCarrot View Post
    Good advice. I've been thinking lately, I'm getting a bit podgy, should I cut? Then I think, the gym's closed, I can't lift heavy, if I cut now the muscle I have gained will waste away. I start getting a bit stressed out by it, but then have to remember, this is a hobby. It's supposed to be enjoyable, not stressful!

    As for what constitutes "average" lifts, I think relative to whatever my size happens to be at the time, I've always been a bit on the weak side for whatever reason. Often it feels like a lack of stamina rather than lack of strength. Quite often people mistakenly think I'm stronger that I am. But in any case, I think the main thing is to record your lifts, and make sure they're going UP over time. As long as that's the case, it doesn't matter how much other people lift, as long as you're improving.

    And as someone once said, "It's not how much you can lift, it's how much you look like you can lift that counts."



    Pull ups are a funny thing. I would say on average most non-gym goers probably can't even do a single pull up. With that said, I remember when I was a kid, and my friend's dad (who was not particularly in shape) did 10 or so pull ups on one of those door frame pull-up bars, and I was in awe of that.

    And in my 30's there was a skinny Asian dude at the gym who somehow had massive biceps and could do 20 pull-ups with ease.

    A couple of years ago when I started working out again I also couldn't do a single pull up. So thinking about it now, to be able to do them weighted for several reps feels like quite an achievement.
    Pull ups are a funny lift, they are really hard to do in the initial stages but I find they are such a skill / awareness based exercise. There are also so many variations on the pull up that it is hard to compare.

    We have a baseline of 10 strict at work, at that point we are considered to have a good upper body strength to weight ratio. But very few can manage it, and that includes guys who are significantly stronger than I am.

    I agree though that tracking is important and that enjoying making progress is important, regardless of that being size, strength or how you look in the mirror.

    I know from my personal journey that after 2 years of cutting, I was done with that for a while, I needed to do something else to make myself feel better, and for me that was increasing my lifts.

    Whatever you choose OP your journey is going well, and take what is said here as constructive comments as that is what they are meant to be :-)
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  20. #20
    Humble Megalomaniac ElrondHubbard's Avatar
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    ElrondHubbard is offline
    Originally Posted by MrCarrot View Post
    Good advice. I've been thinking lately, I'm getting a bit podgy, should I cut? Then I think, the gym's closed, I can't lift heavy, if I cut now the muscle I have gained will waste away. I start getting a bit stressed out by it, but then have to remember, this is a hobby. It's supposed to be enjoyable, not stressful!

    As for what constitutes "average" lifts, I think relative to whatever my size happens to be at the time, I've always been a bit on the weak side for whatever reason. Often it feels like a lack of stamina rather than lack of strength. Quite often people mistakenly think I'm stronger that I am. But in any case, I think the main thing is to record your lifts, and make sure they're going UP over time. As long as that's the case, it doesn't matter how much other people lift, as long as you're improving.

    And as someone once said, "It's not how much you can lift, it's how much you look like you can lift that counts."

    Yeah, there's a lot involved. I try not to worry about the "standards", they don't take into account age, history, genetics, or even motivation. I've been dealing with chronic anemia all my life, my red blood cell count is always low. I'm sure it's genetic. It doesn't affect me most of the time, but it does seem to influence recovery time between sets as well as the amount of time I can spend doing intense work without stopping. Does that impact my ability to achieve the "standards"? Who cares. What matters is that I keep training, and keep doing what I can to progress. I like the results I've seen so far, I've increased in both strength and size (except in the waist), and I don't think the opinions of those who don't have the same set of experiences as me regarding whether I'm "strong enough" are all that meaningful.

    Which is why these "cut or bulk" questions are usually not very useful. The great majority of responses are irrelevant to the situation of the person asking the question.

    Pull ups are a funny thing. I would say on average most non-gym goers probably can't even do a single pull up. With that said, I remember when I was a kid, and my friend's dad (who was not particularly in shape) did 10 or so pull ups on one of those door frame pull-up bars, and I was in awe of that.

    And in my 30's there was a skinny Asian dude at the gym who somehow had massive biceps and could do 20 pull-ups with ease.

    A couple of years ago when I started working out again I also couldn't do a single pull up. So thinking about it now, to be able to do them weighted for several reps feels like quite an achievement.
    Pullups are fantastic exercises, and a big priority for me. They're accessories, but I often treat them like a main lift.
    I'm out, standing in my field.

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    Chihuahua in the rain Corbets's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by ElrondHubbard View Post
    Pullups are fantastic exercises, and a big priority for me. They're accessories, but I often treat them like a main lift.
    You’re not the only one.

    https://outlift.com/the-big-5-bulking-lifts/

    Ok, those are chin-ups, but still, fantastic exercise (now that I can do them..).
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    https://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=177212011&p=1581528721#post1581528721

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  22. #22
    Humble Megalomaniac ElrondHubbard's Avatar
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    ElrondHubbard is offline
    Originally Posted by Corbets View Post
    You’re not the only one.

    https://outlift.com/the-big-5-bulking-lifts/

    Ok, those are chin-ups, but still, fantastic exercise (now that I can do them..).
    I do both. Right now it's 3 sets of weighted pullups followed by two sets of weighted chinups on day 1 and 3, and bodyweight pullups as myo-reps followed by bodyweight chinups as myo-reps on day 2. I'm hoping it will lead to long-term progress. So far it's helped -- slowly. I hope it continues.
    I'm out, standing in my field.

    64 and still a newbie.
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