Choosing whether to cut or bulk will generally come down to what your overall goal is, and what your current body fat percentage is.  Here we’ll go through a few different goals and options you have, along with personally what we’d recommend.

What Is ‘Cutting’ ?

Cutting is where you are in a calorie deficit and you are looking to lose body fat through burning more calories than you are taking in. Dropping the body fat will reveal your muscle that you have built. If you are just starting training we would advise to bulk because you need to be taking in excess calories to build substantial muscle mass.

What Is ‘Bulking’ ?

Bulking is where you are taking is an excess of calories in order to build muscle, as this is when your body is in it’s most anabolic state for building muscle. This will usually cause your body to gain fat (this will depend on how much your calorie excess is). Most people bulk through the winter because your usually have layers of clothes on so no one is going to see your fat, and then strip away the fat in the summer ready for the beach!

You Want to Achieve a Lean Athletic Look

If this is what you are looking to achieve then generally most people will want to cut into this.  Especially if you have been training for a year or so you will have some shapely muscular development underneath your current body fat and you’ll probably be surprised at what you’ve got lurking underneath!  If your body fat is around 12-14% and you’ve no visible abs, we’d generally recommend cutting in to this.  If you’re extremely lean then you may want to bulk smart into the physique.

You Want to Achieve a More Muscular Heavy Athletic Look

Generally if you haven’t been training very long, regardless of your body fat, you will want to bulk into this shape.  If been training a while and think you have adequate muscle, then you can bulk but be aware, you may be disheartened at the overall physical mass of you that is actually body fat.  Our advice here is to bulk to bigger in overall size than you want to be, to give you room to drop into the physique when you decide to lose the body fat.

You Want to Achieve a Bodybuilder Physique

This one is entirely down to you and how your body responds unfortunately!  The body is usually in the most anabolic state when covered by a nice comfy layer of fat and taking in excessive calories. You’re always going to want to bulk into this as you will need to get bigger. The most common way to bulk is heavy excess calories (plenty of junk food) but there’s scientific research arguments into whether or not this is the most effective way.

It is possible to stay fairly lean whilst bulking but the body is usually less anabolic in this state due to the lower calorie intake.  Personally, I like to get up to no more than around 14% body fat during the bulking season as I don’t think it’s necessary to look like a fat slob half the year, and I find I put on size at a nice rate around this body fat level!  This is just personal preference though.

If your body fat is significantly high (around 25% upwards) then you may want to cut off some excess body fat for a couple of reasons.  The first being so that you’ll be healthier, and in much better condition to train at the intensity required, and the second is that higher body fat on the body means lower testosterone production, exactly what we don’t want!