Build then cut or cycle?

I have been making some incredible gains.
Training hard, Eating harder.
I want to keep gaining, but don’t want more fat.
Right now I am putting on about a pound of fat for every 5 of muscle.

Is it better to take a break from building to cut? or should I keep building and cut up later?

Mike…congrats on your great gains, bud. I guess I would start by asking how long you’ve been on your bulking cycle and if you’ve been switching things up at all in terms of training. However, if you’re making gains, I trust that you’re doing a helluva job in the gym and in the kitchen. Anyway, I strongly believe in cycling calories, if not on a daily basis, at least every couple weeks. Our bodies are very efficient mechanisms, if they are receiving the same amount of energy (calories) over a prolonged period of time, they are going to adjust. That’s why our metabolisms slow down after dieting and, in your case, why our bodies become more efficient at storing fat in the face of a prolonged period of a positive caloric (energy) balance. My suggestion would be to maybe take a week or two and drop the calories below maintenance levels. Yeah, you might drop a little muscle, but if you diet intelligently you’ll drop some of that fat too. Then after a week or so, go back to the higher calorie diet and pack on some more mass, bro! Hope this makes sense to you. I’ll be happy to address any comments/criticism.

Mike, just don’t make the mistake that 90% of the lifting population does. They bulk, then they panic about the fat that comes along with the muscle (and unless you’re a total newbie or a total drug monkey, then this is usually what happens- i.e. fat comes along with muscle), then they go on a harsh cutting program- too harsh- and they lose the fat AND the muscle. Then they feel puny again and start to bulk up. Then they feel fat and… you get the idea.

I’ve had a lot of success bulking, then maintaining for a while, then bulking again. I might drop a little fat during the maintenance portion, but I’m not really “dieting” per say. Give it a shot.

Chris…hey, big guy, just a couple questions for ya. I was just wondering, during any of your bulking sessions, have you gone the route of Delta 1250 or something similar? Also, during a bulking phase, at what rate to do you try to gain weight (ie. pounds/week, calories above maintenance)? How long do you typically remain in a bulking cycle (do you set a goal bodyweight or certain BF% that you don’t want to exceed)? Just a few questions I had, as I have been trying to add mass for a while with little results–I know this is a function of the good ol’ diet manifesto and is a matter of just putting the grub in the piehole.

I was also curious as to how the revised T-Dawg was going for you. In particular, I was wondering if you noticed any differences in having protein above the orignal 1g/lb/day. Thanks for any input, Chris, you da man. I’m pumped about catching up with you and all the other T-Fellas at the Expo (unfortunately I think the seminar is out of the question–college life has its downfalls).

Timbo- The Delta 1250 is good, much better than the old ABCDE diet it was based on. I’ve used it some, but lately I’ve really taken a liking to the “bulk, maintain, bulk, maintain” approach. (I think it was Bill Roberts who gave me the idea for this.) Like I said, most people diet and cardio away their muscle gains. I used to do that, too. This new approach works much better for me.

For bulking I usually try to gain around a pound or two a week. If you’re coming off a low carb diet, you’ll gain more than that the first week (water etc.) I usually log my food intake for the first few weeks until I get the hang of what I need to eat and how much. If I don’t do this, I tend to under-eat. Many skinny guys have this problem and it won’t be fixed until they start weighing, logging, measuring and counting serving sizes. Pain in the ass, but a must, at least until you get used to it. You wouldn’t believe how many “hardgainers” have told me they can’t gain weight no matter how much they eat. I get them to start counting calories and protein grams and they’re shocked to find out how little they eat and that they only get 80 grams of protein a day. Too many people eat a chicken breast or drink one MRP and think that covers their protein needs. They don’t see this fault until they start a food log.

My last bulking cycle lasted around 9 or 10 weeks and I put on 15 pounds, some fat of course. I’ve dropped most of the fat and now weigh in at 209. If I see myself gaining more fat than I should, I just cut back on calories and ditch a “free meal”. I use the mirror mostly to determine this.

The new diet I’ve been playing with is working great. It’s not really a revised T-dawg anymore, though. I’m sure I’ll put it all in an article sooner or later. It’s really easy and lenient. I “control” the carbs, around 100 a day, and just eat as much fat and protein as I want while watching overall caloric intake. I average around 3000 cals per day and pig out one meal on the weekend. It’s nice because although I’m watching the carbs, the diet is lenient enough to allow for a bowl of oatmeal or an extra MRP, no problem. Am I in ketosis? Don’t know, don’t care. The muscle is sticking tight, the fat is coming off, workouts feel great- pumps and all- and there’s no suffering. Maybe I’ll call this the “Don’t Sweat the Details” diet or the “Lazy Man’s Diet.” I’ve also developed a new, easier way to keep a food log and I’ll reveal that in the article.

I started my own version of GVT
In the gym everyday for ONE hour (one hardass hour)…drink my Grow then Nap.
Bumped calories to 3600+
This means I go to class with hardboiled eggs.
Eat every 2 hours.
High protein low fat (only eat the egg whites)
I have put on some 15 lbs in 6 weeks.
My abs are gone and now I have those handles starting.
I don’t want the fat but this is the first time I could ever break the 200lb mark.
Now I am hovering at 210 at 6’2"
My guess 15% bodyfat
My goal 195-205lb @ 7-9%

A year ago at 190 and 7% I liked the way I looked. Want to do that again but a little bigger.

Chris…thanks for all the input, bud. Sounds like you’re progressing at a great rate and just kickin’ some ace! 209, that’s great…I’ll catch up with ya, my man (160 right now but bound and determined to hit the big deuce). The Lazy Man’s Diet sounds great…only thing is, I think that’s how it should be. All about control. While I wouldn’t mind trying one of the ketogenic diets some day–I’d have to put on some fat though–I think a lot of people really over-simplify things and what you’re doing and have outlined is really the way to go. But who am I to say?

Yeah, I was thinking about 1.5 lbs/week was about the rate I would like to progress. The main thing for me is finding my baseline calorie level. Some days it seems like 3600 isn’t enough, and some days 3000 is too much. I also tend to not eat as much on off days as training days–as I have trouble convincing myself to eat despite my lower energy expenditure. Basically, I try to grind it out to a point where I can figure how much I need to eat for each day.
As far as logging and measuring food, I keep a daily log of all my food intake–something I’ve been doing for almost a year. It’s just something I feel is necessary–to make sure I’m getting adequate nutrition, reference for future days/meals, and to assess energy levels/performance. I do tend to use a food scale from time to time, but I have a pretty good idea of portion sizes by now. As far as “hardgainers” not knowing their protein intake, I’ve ran across the same type of trainees who’ve sparked some major growth after I’ve basically told them their daily protein intake is equivalent to an old granny sitting in her rocker all day. Unfortunately that’s not my own problem, as I make certain to get at least 1.5g/lb/day, if not a little more. Thanks again, Chris.
BTW, can we expect an article from you this week…maybe “Things We Like”?

Hey Chris - your “Don’t Sweat the Details” diet is exactly how I got ready for my last BB Show! It worked great - I went from 210 at about 16% bodyfat down to 175 at 4% on stage. Worked so well Tim gave me a leather coat!


egg whites,cottage cheese,yogurt,milk,granola,fish beef chicken

I will cut out the yogurt and granola and see if this helps.

Also how much cardio is too much
now I do nothing…not to say 4 sets of 10 in five exercises in 1 hour isn’t cardio

Thanks for all the input

Timbo- Sounds like you’re on the right track. When I started lifting I was 159. I had been fat before that, so I was satisfied for a while with 159. At least I wasn’t fat, I thought. In truth, since I had no muscle to speak of, I was actually kind of a “skinny fat”, you know? I started lifting and hit the 170’s pretty quickly, as most beginners do make fast progress at first. Took me a few more years to hit the 180s and there I was stuck for a couple of years. Training the whole time and never hitting 190. Frustrating. Finally, I made radical changes in my diet (starting eating fat, lots of protein, more calories) and training (started deadlifting, killed all the cardio, took time to recover etc.) and finally hit the 190’s. By then I was working for T-mag and had access to all this cool info and supplements that actually worked so it didn’t take me long (maybe a year) to break 200 naturally. (Well, the Androsol helped, but if that’s “natural” or not is a whole 'nother argument.) But add all that up and it’s been around 8 years. Just don’t give up. If you only put on 2 pounds of muscle a year, you’d still turn heads at the high school reunion, you know? It’s a life long process. The key is to always be moving forward, not regressing and devolving like most people do. In then end, you’ll come out on top.

“Stuff We Like” ran last week. I helped with the Short Topic article this week, not sure what else TC is going to run later today. Probably a new Staley article, which is an interesting 3 month program. Plus plenty more, I’m sure.

Mike, 5 lbs of muscle for every lb of fat is AWESOME. I would rarely diet if I could do that. Even the most horrible piss-poor diet would take off muscle and fat at the same rate so assuming you could gain 5 lbs of muscle and a lb of fat, you should easily be able to lose the lb of fat quickly with minimal muscle lost. I wish I could gain so easily. how the hell do you do it???

Chris…I know, I’m in this for the long run, baby. It’s a lifestyle and one that I completely enjoy. However, I don’t know if you noticed a recent post of mine, but I’ve kinda been run down a bit and am probably going to take a few days–going to try to make it a week–off from the gym. I’ve been lifting for close to 4 1/2 years now. Like you said, progress was pretty awesome to start. I was probably at 190, around 12%, at my biggest and strongest. Then I ran into a toilet bowl of problems and am now a sliver under 160 and weaker than I was at my prime. I’m not the “skinny-fat” 160 that you described (5% BF is about the only thing I’ve got going for me), but sometimes I feel about as low on the totem pole. However, I have been progressing and thanks to T-mag, been training more intelligently. Like you mentioned about nutrition, I’ve slowly but surely been changing things up: adding more calories and more fat (used to be fat-phobic, I’m talking like 5% of daily calories). I’m really pumped though, cause after this little breather I’m planning on my first ever Androsol cycle…it should be a dandy. I’ve been on Tribex the last couple weeks with no evident changes/improvements, but I attribute that to accumulative fatigue (haven’t laid off on the weights for a long, long time). Like I said though, it’s a learning process and I’m here to stay. I really appreciate all your advice and expertise, Chris, as well as all the other awesome stuff I get from this website, T-mag and Biotest. Looking forward to #141.

Mike…sorry, buddy, didn’t mean to leave you behind. One question for you, why the lowfat approach? If anything, during a bulking phase I would think–and I think most T-Men would echo the thought–that fat should be about 30% of total calories. You definitely have the mindset necessary to add the mass–not worrying about those handles now, they can come off later. If you’re going to continue bulking, no need to add cardio. GVT is pretty efficient in terms of taxing the cardiovascular system.

5 lbs lean to 1 lb fat and you want to diet??? Damn, what cycle are you on? Just kidding, that is most impressive. Are you an easy gainer or do you just have the right program and diet going on?

I was very fat 6 years ago. 210 lbs at at least 35% fat. I dieted like an idiot, trained like an idiot, and cardioed like an idiot but I did lost alot of fat, lost all muscles in the process too. Almost 3 years ago, I weighted 148 at 10% fat. Then I wanted to gain muscle, but at least as much fat was coming with it. Then I wanted to lose the fat to see my abs. Boom, 150 lbs again. I yoyoed my weight, struggling to get those fu**ing muscles but I could never get them without alot of fat. Then came T-mag. I was 158 lbs last summer at about 11% fat. I am now 184 at 14-15% fat. I cleaned my diet, i.e. alot of calories but controlled carbs. I follow Ian King’s programs but I know I overtrain easily so I rest when I feel I need it. I gain weight at about 1 lb per week, but 4 lbs per week while on androsol. My problem is I can’t lose weight on the long run. I mean if I need to lose 1 lb / week, it won’t work. I lose as much muscles and here I go again. So my strategy this year is to get to around 195/15% and then do the anorexic…euh…I mean the fast fat diet for 4-6 weeks. That means my bulking phase would be 5 months, and my cutting phase 6 weeks. I need to drop 15-20 lbs of fat, and I can’t believe I will lose all my muscles in only 6 weeks (I plan to use androsol 35 spray twice a day). If Chris Shugart is reading this, am I on the right track? I’m very proud of the muscle gain by the way, and I thank T-mag for that.

Chris, I think you should call it the “Ergonomic Growth Diet”. In other words, “Simple, makes sense, and works like it’s designed.” I accidentally stumbled onto the same ratios you’ve used by being attentive to my own body changes, and have moved from a whopping 36% bodyfat to 14% (and dropping) today, using only Grow, Androsol, MD6, glutamine, and Tribulus as my supplements (I’m one of the few out there who doesn’t use creatine). I’m shooting for that leather jacket, too, but since I only have a two-pack (the other four are about the emerge), I guess I’ll have to wait. The holidays gave me a GREAT reason to fat fast, so after this month I’ll be back on an ergonomic growth diet phase with the diet you describe.

I really appreciate all the comments.
I will adjust my diet over the next few weeks.
I plan to keep my cals up just lower my carbs a little. I agree fat is good in the diet just not on my stomach.
I will send in an update.

I’ll keep checking for more advice.

Thanks again,

Mike…good luck, bro. Keep training balls-to-the-wall and eating just as hard. Tool around with things a bit if you like, but if it’s working well for you and you’re happy with the rate of progression, stick with it, buddy! Just make sure you keep the protein high. It didn’t seem like you were eating a ton of carbs from your earlier post, but if you want to cut back a little, that’s probably the best way to go.