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    Registered User ChrisRobz2's Avatar
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    Finishing a bulk help

    This is my first post on here.

    I started at 63kg around mid 2018 and now im sitting at 82kg (22 yr old). Whilst putting on alot of muscle and gaining strength, i have gained a little fat along with it. I want to finish my bulk diet but i dont want to snap my fingers and tomorrow i eat half my calories and starve myself. Is it better slowly transitioning into calorie defecit/maintenence or faster? Without losing too much muscle mass along the way. I have been at 3200-3400 cals for up most of 5-6 months and recently lowered it to 3000.
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    Rows Could've Saved Jack Camarija's Avatar
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    I'm in for this question to be answered too by someone who has experience transitioning from bulks to cuts.

    I assume common sense would scale down the calories by 200 a week or so to monitor weight loss within desired margins, but your question is interesting because it poses a more nuanced question.

    If you know your current caloric maintenance from your nutrition logs, does ramping down calories slowly produce different results than going straight into your target caloric deficit? Some of the differences might be one method preserves lean body mass better, one method may result in faster fat mass loss, etc.

    Smart question mate!

    *edit*

    I found a study that is close to answering your question, but it doesn't exactly go into the TRANSITION period from bulk to cut. It just discusses the CUT itself.

    The study found that a natural bodybuilding trying a smaller caloric deficit over more time versus a larger caloric deficit over shorter time resulted in key differences:

    Reducing calories by a smaller margin over a longer time resulted in maintaining more lean body mass.

    So I think this MAY support scaling down calories, versus an abrupt deficit? It's definitely a massive jump to get to that conclusion, so yeah, maybe someone with more experience with bulks and cuts can weigh in.

    Nutritional Strategies of British Professional and Amateur Natural Bodybuilders During Competition Preparation
    A J Chappell , T Simper , E Helms

    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31438992/

    Conclusions: Longer diets and slower weight loss utilized by PROs likely contributed towards a lower EED compared to the AMAs. Slower weight loss may constitute an effective strategy for maintaining energy availability and muscle mass during an energy deficit. These findings require corroboration, but will interest bodybuilders and coaches.

    I hope this helps
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    I'm not sure that this is the optimal way to do it, but it works well for me:
    I bulk at 2500 (plus exercise cals burned) and cut at 2000 (plus exercise cals burned) so that my bodyfat never gets high and I don't have to cut for long, I can still build muscle in my cuts, and it's overall not hard to cut at all. If I have too much bodyfat, I'll cut at like 1750, but I start cutting after gaining a few bf% so it's often not necessary

    When you bulk/cut close to maintenance, there isn't really a hard transition
    Last edited by alec935; 06-04-2020 at 06:54 PM.
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    team ketchup AdamWW's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by alec935 View Post
    I'm not sure that this is the optimal way to do it, but it works well for me:
    I bulk at 2500 (plus exercise cals burned) and cut at 2000 (plus exercise cals burned) so that my bodyfat never gets high and I don't have to cut for long, I can still build muscle in my cuts, and it's overall not hard to cut at all. If I have too much bodyfat, I'll cut at like 1750, but I start cutting after gaining a few bf% so it's often not necessary

    When you bulk/cut close to maintenance, there isn't really a hard transition
    You’re 6-2 and you bulk at 2500 calories...?
    The power of carbs compels me!
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    Originally Posted by AdamWW View Post
    You’re 6-2 and you bulk at 2500 calories...?
    plus exercise, yes. instead of generalizing activity levels, I calc tdee sedentary then add in that day's worth of activity each day

    my "bulks" are very-lean-bulks
    Last edited by alec935; 06-04-2020 at 08:34 PM.
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    Originally Posted by alec935 View Post
    plus exercise, yes. instead of generalizing activity levels, I calc tdee sedentary then add in that day's worth of activity each day

    my "bulks" are very-lean-bulks
    Have you actually gotten significantly bigger/stronger doing that?
    The power of carbs compels me!
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    Yes

    https://forum.bodybuilding.com/showt...post1606627221

    Though I have to say I'm still a relative newbie, so my method may not work for more advanced lifters
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    team ketchup AdamWW's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by alec935 View Post
    Yes

    https://forum.bodybuilding.com/showt...post1606627221

    Though I have to say I'm still a relative newbie, so my method may not work for more advanced lifters

    Well that’s only 1.5 months... right? How much weight change is that?
    The power of carbs compels me!
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    No clue unfortunately, I wasn't logging my weight 6 weeks ago and idk if I lost or gained bodyfat anyways

    By the looks of things though, I did gain a good amount of muscle in those 6 weeks. I'll keep doing what I'm doing till it stops working
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    This is how I generally transition from a bulk to a cut.

    https://bodyrecomposition.com/fat-lo...ansition-phase

    Is it essential to do a transition phase of course not, but it may offer the chance to maximise the final weeks of your bulks gains. As muscle growth is not linear rapid switch may not allow optimal growth in the last weeks not to mention growth can occur at maintenance and slight deficit caloric levels.
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    team ketchup AdamWW's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by alec935 View Post
    No clue unfortunately, I wasn't logging my weight 6 weeks ago and idk if I lost or gained bodyfat anyways

    By the looks of things though, I did gain a good amount of muscle in those 6 weeks. I'll keep doing what I'm doing till it stops working
    Then you have no way to know if it’s working... how much stronger did you get?
    The power of carbs compels me!
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    Originally Posted by AdamWW View Post
    Then you have no way to know if it’s working... how much stronger did you get?
    You can definitely tell that something is working if your muscles are getting bigger

    I got significantly stronger. I haven't been logging my lifts, but my dip and pullup weight went up a lot.

    I'm not saying my method is the best for anyone else or that it leads to maximal muscle growth. But my goal is to look great and feel great. I don't like dieting, and I don't like being fat. So if I have to sacrifice a few percentage points of muscle growth (assuming I'd grow more with huge bulks and cuts) so that I can look good and eat close to maintenance 24/7, it's worth it for me.

    I understand that the goal of many on this forum is to get *maximum possible muscle growth*, and in that endeavor, perhaps my method is not the best. But different people have different goals, and my goal is to enjoy life . Dieting and being fat takes away from that, for me.

    I suspect that some other readers share my goals, even if not the majority.
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    Originally Posted by alec935 View Post
    You can definitely tell that something is working if your muscles are getting bigger

    I got significantly stronger. I haven't been logging my lifts, but my dip and pullup weight went up a lot.

    I'm not saying my method is the best for anyone else or that it leads to maximal muscle growth. But my goal is to look great and feel great. I don't like dieting, and I don't like being fat. So if I have to sacrifice a few percentage points of muscle growth (assuming I'd grow more with huge bulks and cuts) so that I can look good and eat close to maintenance 24/7, it's worth it for me.

    I understand that the goal of many on this forum is to get *maximum possible muscle growth*, and in that endeavor, perhaps my method is not the best. But different people have different goals, and my goal is to enjoy life . Dieting and being fat takes away from that, for me.

    I suspect that some other readers share my goals, even if not the majority.
    So, you're not logging bodyweight...


    not tracking lifts...


    And you're a newb?

    These changes could be 100% water/carb retention in the muscle as well as new adaptations to training, not necessarily hypertrophy.
    The power of carbs compels me!
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    I've been logging bodyweight for a little while, just not since then

    No I'm not logging lifts because I see them improving anyways. I like to determine my volume each day based on how much energy I have that day instead of following a plan, which would make it a lot more work.

    I'm 100% sure I've built muscle in the past 6 weeks. I feel my lats like I never did, my chest looks considerably bigger, and if I flex my bicep I finally get some resemblance of a ball which I've wanted for quite some time.
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    team ketchup AdamWW's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by alec935 View Post
    I've been logging bodyweight for a little while, just not since then

    No I'm not logging lifts because I see them improving anyways. I like to determine my volume each day based on how much energy I have that day instead of following a plan, which would make it a lot more work.

    I'm 100% sure I've built muscle in the past 6 weeks. I feel my lats like I never did, my chest just looks considerably bigger, and if I flex my bicep I finally get some resemblance of a ball that I've wanted for quite some time.
    Well, to each their own, but I can't say this is going to be anywhere near optimal for growth....
    The power of carbs compels me!
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    Probably not 100% optimal, I agree. But studies have shown only a small increase in lean mass and a much larger increase in fat mass when bulking more than 500 calories above maintenance.
    Maintenace vs slight surplus (~250) is a little bit larger lean mass increase difference. Although muscle gains are a bit larger on very-high calorie diets, fat gains are too, and we have to remember that when cutting, progress is severely diminished.

    It matters also where someone is in their lifting journey. It has been shown in multiple studies that caloric deficits and maintenances have much less of an effect on the MPS of newer lifters as compared to more experienced ones (if I remember correctly, MPB rates were similar).

    But all the studies I've seen have had wide intragroup result ranges – like most things in life, genetics play a big role in whether the body will lay down muscle in certain caloric ranges.

    The most high profile person I've seen that advocates the "gaintaining" approach is athlean x: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bz3AG-oCXTE



    I agree that the fastest approach is probably the classic bulking/cutting, even though it's a less enjoyable way to live life **for me**. But people don't give enough credit to the other approach, which studies have shown is not so much slower than bulking, and has the advantage of not going through cuts. We don't yet have good studies (to my knowledge) comparing the two approaches long term, so it's impossible to tell just how much slower (if at all) it is. But genetics definitely play a big role.

    Now if I ever plateau, I'll probably go ahead and switch my approach. We know the classic way works, and you've built a very impressive physique! But at this point, why fix what ain't broke
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    Originally Posted by alec935 View Post
    Probably not 100% optimal, I agree. But studies have shown only a small increase in lean mass and a much larger increase in fat mass when bulking more than 500 calories above maintenance.
    Maintenace vs slight surplus (~250) is a little bit larger lean mass increase difference. Although muscle gains are a bit larger on very-high calorie diets, fat gains are too, and we have to remember that when cutting, progress is severely diminished.

    It matters also where someone is in their lifting journey. It has been shown in multiple studies that caloric deficits and maintenances have much less of an effect on the MPS of newer lifters as compared to more experienced ones (if I remember correctly, MPB rates were similar).

    But all the studies I've seen have had wide intragroup result ranges – like most things in life, genetics play a big role in whether the body will lay down muscle in certain caloric ranges.

    The most high profile person I've seen that advocates the "gaintaining" approach is athlean x: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bz3AG-oCXTE



    I agree that the fastest approach is probably the classic bulking/cutting, even though it's a less enjoyable way to live life **for me**. But people don't give enough credit to the other approach, which studies have shown is not so much slower than bulking, and has the advantage of not going through cuts. We don't yet have good studies (to my knowledge) comparing the two approaches long term yet, so it's impossible to tell just how much slower (if at all) it is. But genetics definitely play a big role.

    Well first off, I don't follow AthleanX for anything...

    But also I'm not talking so much about staying lean. That's fine...

    I'm talking about moreso gaining muscle while you gain weight. A structured program with planned progression and taking measurements at least in some kind of regular way is going to save you a lot of time in the long run...

    You can waste months or years making no progress of note if you just lazily go about it.

    Now if that's your lifestyle, etc, and you're OK gaining say 8 pounds of muscle in a year vs say 12-13... then OK... but to me, it's a small effort to add for a HUGE benefit.
    The power of carbs compels me!
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    OK, so you're talking about measurements? I'll take your advice on that one. Would you recommend I go all out on a workout, record my vol x reps, then write that down? How do I know how fast I can plan progression, or should the planned progression just be a minimum?
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    Originally Posted by alec935 View Post
    OK, so you're talking about measurements? I'll take your advice on that one. Would you recommend I go all out on a workout, record my vol x reps, then write that down? How do I know how fast I can plan progression, or should the planned progression just be a minimum?
    I would suggest jumping on a proven system with progression such as Fierce 5 novice until your newbie gains are played out, then starting something like Fierce 5 Upper/Lower....

    The program is simple enough that adding weight should not be confusing.

    There are explanations here:

    Novice: https://forum.bodybuilding.com/showt...hp?t=159678631

    Intermediate Upper/Lower: https://forum.bodybuilding.com/showt...post1266761131
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    Thank you for the advice, I appreciate it. I'll look for a proven routine that I like when the gyms open up, and whether or not I adopt one I'll track my lifts to make sure I'm progressing steadily.
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    Originally Posted by alec935 View Post
    I've been logging bodyweight for a little while, just not since then

    No I'm not logging lifts because I see them improving anyways. I like to determine my volume each day based on how much energy I have that day instead of following a plan, which would make it a lot more work.

    I'm 100% sure I've built muscle in the past 6 weeks. I feel my lats like I never did, my chest looks considerably bigger, and if I flex my bicep I finally get some resemblance of a ball which I've wanted for quite some time.
    That could all be a result of glycogen replenishment from more carbs, etc.

    If you're going by volume and progressive overload, judging it by energy isn't a good way at all. For instance, you say your lifts have improved, but as they improve, you may be doing less and less volume, lending itself to individual workout lift performance acutely. To make it more simple, you could just be spinning your wheels at a certain point. Thinking you are improving and getting stronger because of increases in weight, while big decreases in volume. That would result in a lack of progressive overload and an eventual plateau.

    But like stated above, if you are happy, enjoying the process, and convinced you are improving then do it man! If whatever you're doing is enhancing your life, then we can't tell you to do otherwise. However, if you are interested in consistent and lasting improvement over the long term, you must start tracking your workouts at the very least.
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    Originally Posted by alec935 View Post
    Thank you for the advice, I appreciate it. I'll look for a proven routine that I like when the gyms open up, and whether or not I adopt one I'll track my lifts to make sure I'm progressing steadily.
    The two links I gave are good routines...
    The power of carbs compels me!
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    Originally Posted by Nicksosure1 View Post
    That could all be a result of glycogen replenishment from more carbs, etc.

    If you're going by volume and progressive overload, judging it by energy isn't a good way at all. For instance, you say your lifts have improved, but as they improve, you may be doing less and less volume, lending itself to individual workout lift performance acutely. To make it more simple, you could just be spinning your wheels at a certain point. Thinking you are improving and getting stronger because of increases in weight, while big decreases in volume. That would result in a lack of progressive overload and an eventual plateau.

    But like stated above, if you are happy, enjoying the process, and convinced you are improving then do it man! If whatever you're doing is enhancing your life, then we can't tell you to do otherwise. However, if you are interested in consistent and lasting improvement over the long term, you must start tracking your workouts at the very least.
    Yeah, you're right. I've pretty much been doing as much as I physically can each workout for the last 6 weeks (keep doing sets until I mechanically fail with the weights I have), but I agree that as soon as motivation drops or other priorities arise it won't be feasible anymore. Tracking workouts is a good idea.

    Originally Posted by AdamWW View Post
    The two links I gave are good routines...
    I don't doubt that, but I prefer PPL
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    Originally Posted by alec935 View Post
    Yeah, you're right. I've pretty much been doing as much as I physically can each workout for the last 6 weeks (keep doing sets until I mechanically fail with the weights I have), but I agree that as soon as motivation drops or other priorities arise it won't be feasible anymore. Tracking workouts is a good idea.


    I don't doubt that, but I prefer PPL
    I do want to repeat, though. If you are happy, feeling good and having fun then have it. If you were to start a program, tracking everything and not enjoying it, then you're in a worse place for consistency than you are now. Remember, following a subpar program consistently will always beat out following a good program very inconsistently as long as you remain happy and healthy. But you seem like a motivated and curious individual, willing to learn so I don't think it would be a problem for you.
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    Originally Posted by Nicksosure1 View Post
    I do want to repeat, though. If you are happy, feeling good and having fun then have it. If you were to start a program, tracking everything and not enjoying it, then you're in a worse place for consistency than you are now. Remember, following a subpar program consistently will always beat out following a good program very inconsistently as long as you remain happy and healthy. But you seem like a motivated and curious individual, willing to learn so I don't think it would be a problem for you.
    Totally! I made progress with the ****tiest routine imaginable (I literally went to the gym for 20 mins every third day to do a bunch of curls and bench presses) before I started to take lifting more seriously. After switching to a proper one though, the difference was night and day.

    I'm always open to ways to improve
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