Should I Bulk or Should I Cut?
As a coach & personal trainer, I find that I get asked a lot of questions. One of the most intriguing questions I get asked though, is the following:
“Do you think I should bulk or cut?"
I get this quite a bit actually.
While I do understand the potential benefit of asking a professional for their opinion here, at the very end of the day, this question can only be answered by the individual asking it. As a coach and most of the time, a trainer to the person asking this question, by right, they should be telling me what they want and then allow me to facilitate said change.
I mean, don’t get me wrong, if a male client is asking me this question and he's 120lbs soaking wet while standing 5 foot 9, I would most definitely push him in the direction of gaining weight since he would be at risk of malnutrition, not to mention him being underweight to begin with.
For the average client though?
I would lay down the facts and point out that one route may be more beneficial than the other. Either this or I would take a look at the long-term plan and structure it into different phases or blocks which may assist with answering this question in the short term. After explaining everything and assessing it, it would ultimately still come down to their decision.
If this is a question that you battle with yourself or find yourself asking often, there are a couple things I can suggest to help.
First, you need to weigh the pros & cons of either approach and see what suits your lifestyle at that time before all else. I only say this because I have seen more than my fair share of people try to take on a hardcore diet or “bulk” at the absolute worst times possible, just to see them fail miserably in the end.
In short, if you know that your lifestyle and the time you’re choosing to start a new program works with that program, then the first part of this dilemma might just be done already. If on the other hand, you want to go all-in and get “shredded AF” but it’s Oct. 20th already, you have multiple Halloween parties ahead, Thanksgiving dinner with both yours and your wife’s family at different times, and then you're traveling for Christmas and the New Year, I would probably advise you to reassess your goals. Waiting for a more stable time to diet would be the most responsible decision in this case.
Another thing I would recommend is picking a direction and sticking to it. Set up a time period in which you want to reach your goal and don’t sway your direction... AT ALL. You should always focus on progress and not perfection. Whether you’re progressing by the inch or by the meter, progress is progress. Take every day as it comes and do whatever you can to learn how and why your body is responding to the training and diet because this is valuable knowledge and as they say, knowledge is power. By not changing direction and sticking to your original plan, this will be the best chance for progress and success overall.
This brings me to my next point though, progress is individual and everyone is different because everyone has a different level of knowledge. In today’s world, we have social media, magazines, and every fitness related pop up article on the internet being shoved in our faces. Most of which are covered with people talking about losing some asinine amount of weight in a ridiculous amount of time. Then there’s those select few, who, by every one of your standards can only be defined as perfect. You have to remember, some of these people have been training for years and know their bodies inside and out. You can never compare yourself to anyone but yourself. We all have the same learning curve and most of these people started long before you.
The most important thing is to not lose faith in the process because it’s been tested and proven time and time again. This means, trust in the process and control that which is controllable.
TRACK YOUR FOODS.
SHOW UP EVERY DAMN DAY!
MOST OF ALL, PUT THE WORK IN!
Do what you’re doing for yourself and disregard other people and what they’re doing. It doesn’t affect you. There's no prize for being leaner or bigger than the person next to you. Do YOUR thing and focus on being a better YOU. Most importantly, do it - whatever IT is - for you, because that’s what YOU want to do.
Bulk, Cut, or recomp because YOU want to, PERIOD.