Bodybuilders are constantly switching between cycles of bulking, or cycles of gaining muscle, and cycles of cutting, or cycles of losing weight. If only it were possible to gain muscle and lose fat simultaneously, then we wouldnít have to worry about these confusing cycles.
A bulking cycle consists of lifting heavy and eating heavier in order to pack on pounds of muscle. A cutting cycle refers to cutting down on body fat. The question of how much time one should spend in a bulking or cutting cycle is one constantly debated in the fitness community.
Some people will spend months bulking and pack on a large amount of muscle, and as a result pack on quite a bit of body fat as well. As it is impossible to gain lean body mass without gaining body fat, it is necessary to have periodic cutting cycles in order to keep the body fat percentage down. Luckily, there is a perfect balance between bulking and cutting in order to maximize muscle gain while minimizing fat gain.
It turns out the magic number is fourteen days. Thatís right, two weeks! There is no need to bulk all winter then be stuck with the burden of dropping twenty pounds of fat before the summer. The first two weeks of a bulking cycle are the most effective. Our bodies are meant to handle an excess of calories, but only for short periods of time.
Eventually our bodies will adjust to the excess of calories and begin to store these extra calories as fat. When we first start bulking, our testosterone, insulin and growth hormone levels dramatically increase, turning our bodies into extremely anabolic, muscle building machines!
These hormone levels will return to normal after about two weeks, so it is important for us to take advantage of this anabolic state. The problem with long bulking periods is that after the first two weeks, our gains will stall out a little bit as our body adapts and starts to store our extra calories as unwanted fat.
What should we do after those magical two weeks have passed? The answer should be obvious, cut! Now that our bodies have adjusted to a higher metabolic rate, a sudden scarcity of calories will shock our bodies into using our stored body fat to make up for the caloric deficit.
Find your new basal metabolic rate, which can be determined by multiplying your bodyweight in pounds by fifteen, then subtract 500 calories from the total. The number you get will be the number of daily calories you should aim for during your two week cutting cycle. The body loses more fat than muscle during short term cutting periods.
Once your body has adjusted to a lower metabolic rate two weeks into the cycle, it will be primed and ready for another intense two week bulking cycle. If you want to add muscle and cut fat in a smart way, remember to keep your bulking and cutting cycles around two weeks. This perfect balance will help you build the maximum amount of muscle and burn the maximum amount of fat in the shortest amount of time.