How do deal with the mindset of bulking and cutting?

Since my heaviest ever, I have lost about 35 lbs. Now I am at ~131lbs and 5' 6" but still with lots of extra fat in my opinion.

Right now I am maintaining (have been doing so for about 1 year) till my wedding in November (have to stay the same size for that dress!!)

But after the wedding, I don't know where I should start. Should I cut, bulk? Keep trying to recomp?

I'd love to be able to recomp and get to approx 18% BF (I think I am about 21-22% now-from comparisons to pic charts online, see profile pic), but I just don't know if that's feasible.

When I think about bulking and cutting though, the concept of cutting again just seems like TORTURE... Do I just have to suck it up and do it? The slowness of recomping doesn't bother me, but of course, I'd love to REALLY pack on some more muscle. Obviously being able to eat more during a bulk seems great, but I also know I will have that little voice in the back of my head saying "you're going to get fat again!"

So, should I keep recomping? Or bulk/cut? And if I should bulk/cut, which first come wintertime, and how do I mentally prep myself?

Replies

  • Brolympus
    Brolympus Posts: 360 Member
    Not sure where I read this, but I repeat it a lot when describing the two processes:

    Bulking is a battle of self-esteem. Cutting is a battle of self-control.

    Both have their unique challenges. So yes, you just have to suck it up and cut when it comes time to do it. And yes, you will gain fat when you bulk. Which is going to be a mental battle you will have to learn to keep under control. Keep the long-term goal in mind, stick to your program, and log as much data as you can to help you show how much you have progressed.

    Easiest way to figure out when to cut and when to bulk is using p-ratio. P-ratio (calorie partitioning ratio) is partly determined by genetics, and partly by your current bodyfat %. As a general rule, when you are lean, your body will more inclined to take calories from muscle in a calorie deficit, but also put more calories toward muscle production in a calorie surplus. Similarly, at high bodyfat levels, your body will more inclined to take calories from fat in a calorie deficit, but also put more calories toward fat production in a calorie surplus. This is why it is hard to spare muscle the leaner you get, and also hard to build muscle at high bodyfat levels.

    For men, cutting until reaching 10% bodyfat is ideal. Any more and increasingly more calories come from muscle. Bulking occurs up until 25% bodyfat. Any more and you are packing on fat at an increasingly faster rate.

    For women, adjust the levels accordingly. I think the numbers would be 20% and 35%, respectively.

    The %'s are not exact. Everybody's ideal spot is going to be different, and there really is no way to test what yours is, so use them as a guideline for planning rather than a hard and fast rule.

    You could keep recomping if you want, but I tried a recomp it was terribly frustrating and slow to me, the lack of noticeable progress started to make me unmotivated. If it works for you though, keep on doing what works.
  • lauramillat
    lauramillat Posts: 41 Member
    Thanks. I just want to be able to make real progress. Then again, I think I am just undermining the progress I have made so far. I know for a fact that I have more muscle in my butt and legs even with eating at maintenance. I guess I just need to keep continuing till my wedding and see how I feel then!
  • CancerSurvivor2014
    CancerSurvivor2014 Posts: 111 Member
    Brolympus wrote: »
    Not sure where I read this, but I repeat it a lot when describing the two processes:

    Bulking is a battle of self-esteem. Cutting is a battle of self-control.

    Both have their unique challenges. So yes, you just have to suck it up and cut when it comes time to do it. And yes, you will gain fat when you bulk. Which is going to be a mental battle you will have to learn to keep under control. Keep the long-term goal in mind, stick to your program, and log as much data as you can to help you show how much you have progressed.

    Easiest way to figure out when to cut and when to bulk is using p-ratio. P-ratio (calorie partitioning ratio) is partly determined by genetics, and partly by your current bodyfat %. As a general rule, when you are lean, your body will more inclined to take calories from muscle in a calorie deficit, but also put more calories toward muscle production in a calorie surplus. Similarly, at high bodyfat levels, your body will more inclined to take calories from fat in a calorie deficit, but also put more calories toward fat production in a calorie surplus. This is why it is hard to spare muscle the leaner you get, and also hard to build muscle at high bodyfat levels.

    For men, cutting until reaching 10% bodyfat is ideal. Any more and increasingly more calories come from muscle. Bulking occurs up until 25% bodyfat. Any more and you are packing on fat at an increasingly faster rate.

    For women, adjust the levels accordingly. I think the numbers would be 20% and 35%, respectively.

    The %'s are not exact. Everybody's ideal spot is going to be different, and there really is no way to test what yours is, so use them as a guideline for planning rather than a hard and fast rule.

    You could keep recomping if you want, but I tried a recomp it was terribly frustrating and slow to me, the lack of noticeable progress started to make me unmotivated. If it works for you though, keep on doing what works.
    good read. thanks. I lost about 50 lbs in 2 months while going through cancer treatment. i was left with a fat roll at my belly but lost most fat elsewhere. I tried for a few months to get rid of the belly fat and only could put a small dent in it. I finally decided that I was going to bulk despite the stubborn belly fat. about a week and half in and it seems to be working(up 4.5 pounds but probably only 2 will stick). Looking at it with this perspective will be very helpful to keep it going despite of worry about the belly. thanks again


  • pf1975_NW
    pf1975_NW Posts: 266 Member
    Hey for what it is worth - I'd keep your protein high and cut through carb reduction only taking in carbs post weight training - that will maintain what you have with regards to muscle and cut the fat around it. I dropped from 20% to 8% with this approach....I now maintain rather than go on a bulk preferring to stay lean throughout the year rather than fatter with bigger muscles.
  • Caged_Heat
    Caged_Heat Posts: 1,031 Member
    "Bulking is a battle of self-esteem. Cutting is a battle of self-control."

    I really like that and I'm gonna steal it for my profile page.

    I've been bulking for the first time since mid-March after slowly increasing calories from 1700 to 2400 in about 3 months. After losing 50 pounds in 3 years, I hesitated to start bulking for the very reasons you describe but I had lost too much and was weak from chasing that last 5 pounds around my waist, which never really left from just eating at a deficit.

    I've gained 16 -17 pounds since March 1 but I was about 10-12 pounds underweight IMO anyway. I've been working out 4 times a week and have gained strength and some muscle, especially upper body... and yes fat around my waist. I take progress pics every month and do some basic measuring.

    Bulking - especially the first time - is hard emotionally. Difficult for me physically also as I am 64. Meeting your calorie and macro goals is extremely important IMO. Recently, I've fallen into the habit of just eating whatever I want whenever I want so I have had to recommit to the process. Protein is the hard part for me. Seems like I'm always "chasing protein." I'm back to spreading my protein out over 5 meals so absorption is optimal.

    I'll probably start cutting October 1st but may go a little longer. I have friends here reassuring me that this is going to work. If it doesn't, I'll be travelling the country, making some house calls lol

    Hope this helps.

    (Would be happy to add you as a friend for support if you wish)
  • ndj1979
    ndj1979 Posts: 29,147 Member
    OP - no matter what you choose to do...recomp or bulk/cut cycle both are a process.

    I have never down a recomp but most say it take about a year to get appreciable results. With a bulk/cut cycle assuming a three month bulk and three month cut you are still look at six months, maybe more to see results, and it usually takes two to three cycles of bulking and cutting to get the look you want. So no matter what you choose to do, it is going to take time.

    I think some prefer bulk/cut cycle because when you eat more you start gaining weight, lifts go up, and you can see the change/progress; whereas with recomp, the changes are more slow and you have to take constant measurements to see your progress....

  • lauramillat
    lauramillat Posts: 41 Member
    Yes, I do understand they are both processes and they will take time. Like I said, the slowness of recomp doesn't bother me. I guess I just have a hard time imagining what will get me to my goal. I see so many pics of women who are heaver but leaner than me, so I don't know yet if I will need more weight in the end, or if a true recomp will be all the muscle I "need".

    Does that make sense?

    Honestly I am generally happy with my size (in most areas). The only place I would want to lose size would be my arms, and the area around knees (I know that sounds strange but yes knees). I know you cant spot reduce though.
  • ndj1979
    ndj1979 Posts: 29,147 Member
    reasonle wrote: »
    Yes, I do understand they are both processes and they will take time. Like I said, the slowness of recomp doesn't bother me. I guess I just have a hard time imagining what will get me to my goal. I see so many pics of women who are heaver but leaner than me, so I don't know yet if I will need more weight in the end, or if a true recomp will be all the muscle I "need".

    Does that make sense?

    Honestly I am generally happy with my size (in most areas). The only place I would want to lose size would be my arms, and the area around knees (I know that sounds strange but yes knees). I know you cant spot reduce though.

    well, this may sound obvious :) but you have two choices..

    run a recomp for a year and see how you like the progress.

    run a bulk/cut cycle maybe three months bulk/three month cut and see how you like the progress...

    the only real way to figure it out is to pick a program, dedicate yourself to it, and do it..

    I ran my first bulk/cut cycle this year and I liked the results, so I am going to maintenance in August and then bulking again from September to February ...

  • tiffanyaiv
    tiffanyaiv Posts: 108 Member
    Where I love your body the way it is and work on maintaining your health goals, you have come along way and need to be proud too :)
  • slaite1
    slaite1 Posts: 1,309 Member
    ndj1979 wrote: »
    reasonle wrote: »
    Yes, I do understand they are both processes and they will take time. Like I said, the slowness of recomp doesn't bother me. I guess I just have a hard time imagining what will get me to my goal. I see so many pics of women who are heaver but leaner than me, so I don't know yet if I will need more weight in the end, or if a true recomp will be all the muscle I "need".

    Does that make sense?

    Honestly I am generally happy with my size (in most areas). The only place I would want to lose size would be my arms, and the area around knees (I know that sounds strange but yes knees). I know you cant spot reduce though.

    well, this may sound obvious :) but you have two choices..

    run a recomp for a year and see how you like the progress.

    run a bulk/cut cycle maybe three months bulk/three month cut and see how you like the progress...

    the only real way to figure it out is to pick a program, dedicate yourself to it, and do it..

    I ran my first bulk/cut cycle this year and I liked the results, so I am going to maintenance in August and then bulking again from September to February ...

    Will you cut for 6 months as well, or is your cut shorter? Just curious.
  • ndj1979
    ndj1979 Posts: 29,147 Member
    slaite1 wrote: »
    ndj1979 wrote: »
    reasonle wrote: »
    Yes, I do understand they are both processes and they will take time. Like I said, the slowness of recomp doesn't bother me. I guess I just have a hard time imagining what will get me to my goal. I see so many pics of women who are heaver but leaner than me, so I don't know yet if I will need more weight in the end, or if a true recomp will be all the muscle I "need".

    Does that make sense?

    Honestly I am generally happy with my size (in most areas). The only place I would want to lose size would be my arms, and the area around knees (I know that sounds strange but yes knees). I know you cant spot reduce though.

    well, this may sound obvious :) but you have two choices..

    run a recomp for a year and see how you like the progress.

    run a bulk/cut cycle maybe three months bulk/three month cut and see how you like the progress...

    the only real way to figure it out is to pick a program, dedicate yourself to it, and do it..

    I ran my first bulk/cut cycle this year and I liked the results, so I am going to maintenance in August and then bulking again from September to February ...

    Will you cut for 6 months as well, or is your cut shorter? Just curious.

    well my goal for the bulk is to get to 190 and then cut back down to 180….so I will probably cut for three months after my bulk at about one pound per week loss, or maybe a tad less then that, then after three months transition to maintenance for about three months and then either run another bulk/cut cycle or just recomp for a year…

    still debating if I want to do a third bulk/cut cycle..it will depend on how happy I am with how I look.
  • slaite1
    slaite1 Posts: 1,309 Member
    ndj1979 wrote: »
    slaite1 wrote: »
    ndj1979 wrote: »
    reasonle wrote: »
    Yes, I do understand they are both processes and they will take time. Like I said, the slowness of recomp doesn't bother me. I guess I just have a hard time imagining what will get me to my goal. I see so many pics of women who are heaver but leaner than me, so I don't know yet if I will need more weight in the end, or if a true recomp will be all the muscle I "need".

    Does that make sense?

    Honestly I am generally happy with my size (in most areas). The only place I would want to lose size would be my arms, and the area around knees (I know that sounds strange but yes knees). I know you cant spot reduce though.

    well, this may sound obvious :) but you have two choices..

    run a recomp for a year and see how you like the progress.

    run a bulk/cut cycle maybe three months bulk/three month cut and see how you like the progress...

    the only real way to figure it out is to pick a program, dedicate yourself to it, and do it..

    I ran my first bulk/cut cycle this year and I liked the results, so I am going to maintenance in August and then bulking again from September to February ...

    Will you cut for 6 months as well, or is your cut shorter? Just curious.

    well my goal for the bulk is to get to 190 and then cut back down to 180….so I will probably cut for three months after my bulk at about one pound per week loss, or maybe a tad less then that, then after three months transition to maintenance for about three months and then either run another bulk/cut cycle or just recomp for a year…

    still debating if I want to do a third bulk/cut cycle..it will depend on how happy I am with how I look.

    That makes a lot of sense-thanks! I'm trying to get leaner throughout the summer and then want to do my first bulk in the fall/winter. Very curious to watch your progress.
  • gmallan
    gmallan Posts: 2,099 Member
    Probably helps to have a wardrobe for both. I don't mind my body when I'm a bit heavier but not having clothing that fits well and makes me look and feel good makes me sad
  • EnriqueLuviano
    EnriqueLuviano Posts: 16 Member
    Cut, you say you feel like you have extra fat so why you want to bulk and add to that ? Cut and then do a long clean bulk with minimal fat gain.
  • lauramillat
    lauramillat Posts: 41 Member
    Thanks, I think I will just continue with recomping after the wedding, I know it works well for me!