Cut/bulk/recomp for dummies

Longish post…

Background: I’m an older dude (56), 6’4” ~188lbs, lifting for two years, but have been a runner since my 20s (I’m a comfortable 1:40 half-marathoner). In mid 2018 I realized I was a wad of cookie dough. I began a typical bro split dumbbell workout + a lot of body weight exercises (pull ups, push ups, planks, squats, and lunges). I also increased the frequency and duration of my running. When I began I was 200lbs of skinny fat, and I saw considerable improvement in weight loss, strength, and fitness in 6 weeks. By Thanksgiving 2018 I had dropped to 183lbs, and ultimately decided to slowly add weight back. In mid 2019 I joined a local gym and transitioned to more barbell-centric lifts, but still leveraging the chest/back, arms, shoulder/core, legs bro split along with :30 min of easy cardio to end my workout. I was happy with the results until COVID lockdown, at which point I reverted back to dumbbells and a lot of creative body weight work. Fast forward to reopening of my gym in mid-July, and I increased the volume and frequency of workouts, but limiting cardio to one 3 mile run and one longer run (6-8) miles per week. I recently transitioned to a push/pull/legs split and I am very pleased by how I’ve responded. My weight is in a stable range; I’m on 2200 maintenance calories/day; but focused on consuming at least 115 grams of protein daily. Aesthetically my arms, chest, and back are much larger and I am beginning to see some definition. I would even say my upper torso is also seeing a slight bit of definition, however I am still doughy around my midsection from my belly button to my sides.

My goals are pretty simple…feel good, look good, and preserve my fitness now that I’m staring down the barrel of my 60s.

My question: I’d like to recomp knowing it’s going to be a long-ish process. I’ve never run a cut/bulk cycle before and I am concerned about losing some of the muscle I have been able to build. I tend to look alarming thin below 180Lbs. Should I: A. reduce my daily intake by 500 cal. and continue my current split? or B. Run a smaller deficit keeping the same frequency and intensity of my workouts but increase my cardio?

Thanks in advance for the advice.


  • Chieflrg
    Chieflrg Posts: 9,097 Member
    If you feel you look "alarming thin" at #180, I wouldn't aim at a caloric deficit at all. Hard to say best route without knowing more info. Perhaps post a pic might help.

    As far as your current split. There isn't enough info to advice. I will say if you are pleased with the results so far, I would increase volume as needed and add frequency when the time comes. Use the average intensity your body is responding to for each lift. Basics of progressive overload that you can adhere to.