Cutting Versus Bulking

A woman sitting in the lotus position with her legs crossed.The first question that almost every male asks before they begin their workout program is whether or not they should bulk or cut weight. The great debate is; which comes first and what are the health benefits and risks? If a person is “bulking,” their primary goal is to see the scale move up and build muscle. If a person is “cutting,” their primary goal is to see the scale or body fat percentage decrease.

According to the USDA, an average male 19 years and older needs an average of 2,400 to 3,000 calories a day to maintain a healthy body weight. Typically, if you are bulking, increase calorie intake by 300 to 500 depending on height and weight. There are several online weight gain calculators to determine an exact number. A healthy clean bulk should consist of lifting heavier weights in the gym at lower reps and eating a clean diet while increasing your calories. A common mistake when bulking is thinking it is fine to eat whatever you want; this can lead to an increase in body fat percentage and other health risks.

Typically when cutting weight, a male should decrease calorie intake by 400 to 500, and the most efficient workout program consists of lifting lower weights at higher reps. It is important to continue to monitor the foods you eat; a common mistake while cutting is eliminating carbohydrates from your diet. Remember carbohydrates give us energy and help fuel protein into our muscles. Some healthy sources are broccoli, brown rice, and sweet potatoes.

Consider your fitness goals when deciding if you want to bulk or cut; do you want to gain muscle mass or lose fat? It is healthier and less stressful for your body to cut weight compared to bulking with less weight and stress on joints, less actual weight you will be lifting in the gym, and better nutritionally with the correct diet.

~Bradon Chow, Personal Training Specialist