An evolution has taken place in the fitness industry in recent years, due largely to the boom in social media that has enabled experts to spread their knowledge and expertise. Only five years ago, bodybuilding terms such as “bulking” and “cutting” weren’t well-known outside specialist gyms.
Now, they are widely acknowledged and anyone aiming to get in shape for the summer or those who want to keep fit in general can use the practices at the gym, without being a bodybuilder.
The growth of physique competitions, such as those organised by the International Federation of Body Building and Fitness, has meant an increase in the number of federations and promotions. Today, competitions are taking place both in the UK and internationally just about every week, due to the demands of those wishing to take part.
What is bulking?
When you’re in training for a bodybuilding competition, bulking is a phase of your preparation that builds muscle. The practice involves supplying the body with more energy than usual, in the shape of calories from food. A bodybuilder is referred to as being in their “bulking” phase when they are ingesting more calories than they need.
Deliberately eating more calories than needed provides the muscles with a strong stimulus to grow, but only when combined with intense, progressive training. In these circumstances, the excess calories will lead to muscle hypertrophy and gains.
However, anyone eating excess calories without the proper resistance training will simply add excess body fat – not muscle growth.
Clean bulk v dirty bulk
You may have heard the terms “clean bulk” and “dirty bulk”. Although they both have the same aim of eating excess calories to gain muscle mass, they involve eating different types of food.
A clean bulk means eating healthy foods, similar to the foods you would eat when trying to stay lean or lose weight. A small percentage of treat meals are permitted – normally not more than one or two meals per week containing unhealthy foods.
Around 90% of meals should be nutritious, while maintaining the necessary amount of calories to gain muscle. A clean bulk is ultimately much better for the body and commonly leads to a leaner bulk.
A dirty bulk means eating the excess calories through any foods you like, including cakes and chocolates. It can be an excuse to eat all the foods you can’t eat when you’re working to stay lean, but it can cause health implications and isn’t favoured.
Foods that are high in calories but low in nutrients will certainly make you gain weight, but you won’t feel as healthy. Binge eating on lots of sugary, unhealthy foods – and in some cases alcohol – during a bulking phase has been linked to eating disorders.
It can also be difficult to get out of the habit of eating them when your bulking phase is complete and you have to return to a healthy diet. Dirty bulk can lead to a less lean result and therefore it isn’t something widely advocated.
What is cutting?
Cutting is another practice that was mainly used in bodybuilding circles and specialist gyms until recent years. Today, it’s something more gyms are providing for people who want to lose weight while getting fit and healthy.
More people want to “get cut” so personal trainers are providing eight to 12-week programmes to help them get in shape for summer, enabling them to reveal lean abs and their “beach body”. Cutting is achieved by using an intense training programme and restrictive diet.
People who wish to look lean or “toned” must reduce their body fat. You won’t achieve a six-pack by doing sit-ups alone, as you will still have a small layer of fat covering your abs. You need to cut your body fat to reveal the muscle underneath by creating a calorie deficit in your diet.
It’s all about energy and in order to lose weight you need to ingest less energy, in the form of calories, than you need. It pays to ask an expert, such as a trainer, as the amount of calories we need depends on factors such as our age, height, weight and level of activity. These variables enable you to calculate how many calories you need to achieve a lean physique.
Bulking or cutting?
Whether you’re a bodybuilder, or someone who works out at the gym to keep fit, how will you know whether you should be bulking or cutting and which practice will benefit you most?
The general consensus on whether to bulk or cut is based on three factors:
- You should be cutting if you’re a man with more than 15% body fat, or a woman with more than 25% body fat.
- You should bulk if you’re a man with 10% body fat or less, or a woman with 20% body fat or less.
- A reliable way to build the best physique is by alternating between proper cycles of bulking or cutting.
In a nutshell, if your body fat percentage is too high, your priority should be getting leaner, rather than gaining muscle. If your body fat percentage is relatively low, focus on gaining more muscle, rather than getting even leaner.
Whether you’re bulking or cutting, Strength and Steroids can help you to reach your goals in both cycles. Combining steroids with your fitness regime will help you achieve the shape you want more quickly. We offer a large range of authentic and effective anabolic steroids online, which will help you to see significant results in a matter of weeks.