Cut or bulk first?

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    Jan 03, 2012 12:37 AM GMT

    My goal is to lose ~60-65 lbs., gain strength, and gain cardio fitness. No specific goals as far as amount of weight lifted or cardio performance; I'm looking to recompose my body.

    So is it more beneficial to cut first, or to bulk first and then cut? I am leaning toward cutting first as I am at an unhealthy body weight right now. After a successful cut, I could then turn my attention to more aggressively building up muscle.

    Any thoughts on how to preserve the muscle / strength I already have during the cut?

    I'm planning to eat a low-carb / high-protein diet (about 1,800 calories per day), do three full-body strength training workouts and three cardio workouts per week. So I don't expect a protein deficit. In theory, the calorie deficit from the reduced intake and the exercise should lead to fat loss.
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    Jan 03, 2012 12:39 AM GMT
    piano_71 said
    My goal is to lose ~60-65 lbs., gain strength, and gain cardio fitness. No specific goals as far as amount of weight lifted or cardio performance; I'm looking to recompose my body.

    So is it more beneficial to cut first, or to bulk first and then cut? I am leaning toward cutting first as I am at an unhealthy body weight right now. After a successful cut, I could then turn my attention to more aggressively building up muscle.

    Any thoughts on how to preserve the muscle / strength I already have during the cut?

    I'm planning to eat a low-carb / high-protein diet (about 1,800 calories per day), do three full-body strength training workouts and three cardio workouts per week. So I don't expect a protein deficit. In theory, the calorie deficit from the reduced intake and the exercise should lead to fat loss.


    If you cut first things like dips and pull ups will be easier. Just sayin'!
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jan 03, 2012 1:33 AM GMT
    I recommend cutting to focus on a healthy body first.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jan 03, 2012 1:46 AM GMT
    Cut First! you dont want stretchmarks/loose skin if you can help it
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    Jan 03, 2012 1:53 AM GMT
    Good on ya OP, please upload progress pics!
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jan 03, 2012 1:53 AM GMT
    You should cut first.

    That's what I always do. Try to cut as much as possible, and then slowly bulk up (which I am doing right now).
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jan 03, 2012 1:56 AM GMT
    why waste time contemplating what to do first?

    Do a little bit of both and stop wasting time
  • mindandmuscle

    Posts: 44

    Jan 03, 2012 1:56 AM GMT
    I think it depends on your body type, for me the body fat came off faster than the bulk is coming on. Good Luck! It helps to visualize your goal.
  • rebelbeard

    Posts: 558

    Jan 03, 2012 2:16 AM GMT
    I would say do both! That is what I am doing. I lift weights 3 times a week and finish off with cardio, then I do intense cardio three days a week. I take Sundays off. I just read in Men's Health that weight lifting burns more fat than cardio. So definitely do both! I already eat pretty healthy, but I took a few things and subbed them with even healthier options. I am already seeing some results! Our body types are different, but the goal is still the same.

    Didn't Realjock used to have a Workout Pics section where you could log your progress with pictures? I was trying to do that but instead I started using my blog.

    http://vselimaj.blogspot.com/2011/12/road-to-fitness-and-health.html


    Good luck and keep us updated! If you start to lose your motivation or plateau come back to this thread! I am sure everyone would love to support you!

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    Jan 03, 2012 3:37 AM GMT
    Having gone through a weight loss myself many years ago, my recommendation is you do 3/2 alternating workouts (5 workouts per week). First week should be 3 cardio sessions, say M/W/F, for 30/35/40 minutes (or whatever you can handle at first) and then 2 weight sessions Tu/Th of 30-40 minutes. The next week, switch to 2 cardio/3 weight sessions. At this point, you want to get the fires burning in your body while getting your body ready to do more at the gym. I'm no expert, but this is how I handled things back in the day. All of this while really considering your nutrition plan. All the best.
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    Jan 03, 2012 5:52 AM GMT
    I didn't waste any time!

    Last week, I got in 4 cardio workouts in at the gym, and 2 brisk/long walking sessions (gym was closed on Christmas and New Year's Day). Today, I went to the gym and did a full-body weight training circuit. It was my first weight workout in a few months, but there are many more to come. It went better than I expected. I didn't lose too much strength, though I am starting from a low, "out-of-shape" base. There's nowhere to go but up from here...

    All the replies confirmed what I suspected - it's best to cut first and bulk later. So I will keep going with ~1,800 calories per day and challenging workouts. My cardio / weight workouts will gradually increase in difficulty as I get into better shape.

    My current profile pic should serve as the "before" pic as it represents how I look right now. As I recompose my body, I'll get new pics as I go along...
  • Havenjock80

    Posts: 428

    Jan 03, 2012 5:54 AM GMT
    Consistendy, Diet, and Keep going, lift heavy and Blood , Sweat and Tears

    Thats your solution.
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    Jan 03, 2012 5:58 AM GMT
    keep fighting bromosexual! it takes a lot of work to live the life you want
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    Jan 03, 2012 6:03 AM GMT
    I think one of the first mistakes you're making is setting a goal of how many lbs you want to lose. I say this only because you've got two goals you're striving for: dropping fat and increasing muscle. Muscle weighs more than fat so you'll find nothing but frustration if your target is a certain weight. The better approach is to set a target BMI (body mass index, percentage of fat of your total body weight).

    By modifying your diet to decrease fat and increase lean muscle, you will be greatly improving your BMI, but your total weight may not change much.

    Based on this, to answer your question, you should be focusing on both cutting fat and building lean muscle concurrently. This will allow you to adjust your diet correctly now, versus having to make two adjustments later (first to cut fat then second to build muscle, or vice versa).
  • MikemikeMike

    Posts: 6932

    Jan 03, 2012 9:04 AM GMT
    Loose the weight by doing more cardio than weight training at first. Never just do cardio you want your skin to stay tighter and you don't want to lose too much muscle mass. Do both!!

    Good Luck p71. Track your progress with a tape measure not a scale. Muscle weighs more than fat. If you train right you can achieve the body you want by doing strength training and cardio.

    FYI take advice from guys that actually work out and are fit not the other clowns.icon_idea.gif
  • Beeftastic

    Posts: 1747

    Jan 03, 2012 9:34 AM GMT
    As someone who has lost a lot of fat and gained a lot of muscle (lost 80 pounds of fat and gained 30 pounds of muscle), I would recommend working on cardio for the first month or so until you lose enough weight to feel ready to do more intense muscle work.

    With diet, cardio at least 5 times a week, working up to 30 minutes a session. The heart rate monitors on most cardio machines are a good way to monitor your progress. Interval cardio workouts where your heart rate gets over 150 or so (depending on age and fitness) will give the best results. I try to get mine over 160, but that might be a bit excessive.

    Adding 45 minutes of weight training three times a week is a good start if you have the time. A good trainer is the best way to kick this off if you can afford it once or twice a week. But dont' worry much about results, the first month or so is about building good habits, and good form when working out. You should spend most of your time weight training on Core as opposed to chest or arms. Getting a stronger core and foundation will improve your ability to lift properly and build things like arms and chest later. Also, core is what you lose the most as you age. Core is not such an issue for anyone under 30, but after it is usually the biggest barrier to gains and fitness.

    Get a good fat monitor like this one: http://www.amazon.com/Omron-HBF-306C-Loss-Monitor-Black/dp/B000FYZMYK

    Track your fat composition over your weight loss. If you do the first couple of months right, you will be gaining a good 5 to 10 pounds of muscle offsetting your fat loss.
  • CDNinOZ

    Posts: 38

    Jan 03, 2012 9:59 AM GMT
    Excellent start.
    Eat healthy, do cardio and lift weights. Your body will slowly transform itself.

    I lost about 50lbs over a period of about two years by doing that. I'm not quite where I wanna be, but feel lots better.

    Don't diet. Make a lifestyle change to eat healthy and portion controlled meals. Lots of non-starchy veggies and protein.

    I would be less concerned about cutting or gaining at first. It's more important to get a good routine going that you can sustain for a long period. Like the rest of your life icon_smile.gif
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    Jan 03, 2012 10:09 AM GMT
    Well, if you bulked, you'd be going in the wrong direction by adding weight.

    You want to cut and the secret to that is diet diet diet.

    A low-carb, high-protein diet is fine but they are difficult to maintain and 1800 calories is way too low to aim for. Yeah, you'd shed pounds fast but you are going to find yourself fatigued, irrittable and completely lacking energy to do any cardio. Your weight loss calorie range should be about 2400-2600.

    Diet is about 70% of the process, the rest is going to be cardio for a while. Think about what kind of cardio you can handle, do you prefer the gym or outside. For the gym you want to find a machine and pace that's challenging but that you can do for 30-45 minutes. There is no use running on the treadmil if you can only make it for a short amount of time.

    You also don't have to do this alone, you can get a trainer to help you get on the right track and set some short-term goals.

    Good luck!
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    Jan 03, 2012 11:13 AM GMT
    I have been going through the same transformation.

    I focused on the weight loss first. Now I am focused more on getting the weight training and body shaping under control.

    I am no expert, but I think that if you start bulking up first, you may find it more difficult to lose the weight. - I know they say that adding muscles helps you burn fat more efficiently, and that's true, but now that I am trying to add muscle, I am finding it hard to see the scales move downward. Which would have been very discouraging when I was just beginning.

    I would look for a balance between the two.

    Just make sure you get an adequate amount of cardio. You won't really see the results of the weight training until you melt off the fat. This is what my trainer keeps telling me.


    Oh and if you're low-carb dieting, I recommend that you buy some of those Keto-strips to test your pee every couple of days. You can read the instructions on them. When low-carbing your body goes into ketosis. If it gets too high, you aren't burning fat, you're burning muscle. - If the pee strip is dark red, you need to eat some carbs to bring it down because that can be dangerous.

    Good luck to you.
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    Jan 03, 2012 2:50 PM GMT
    I am sorry if I am posting too much, but may I offer one more opinion to the OP?

    This is the third time I have lost 100 pounds. - The first time I did a low-carb diet.


    I notice on another thread you have problems with falling off the wagon. In my experience with low-carb dieting - it takes at least 2-3 days for your body to go into ketosis. However, if you cheat and kick your body out of ketosis - you wildly crave carbs and can end up sabotaging yourself.

    This time around, I took a different approach. I started by using a service similar to Nutrisystem that was in my local area - with preportioned packaged meals. That allowed me to learn the portion control. - When I reached a certain point, I started swapping those meals for regular meals and increased my protein. The beauty of that is that it wasn't low-carb. It was a balanced diet. So, if I fell off the wagon and had a pizza day, I might gain a pound or two, but as long as I hit the gym the next day, I could easily lose that weight and then some. It allowed me to periodically reset my metabolism - not crave things I liked, and get back on the wagon more easily if I cheated every now and then. I feel like it has become a lifestyle change than a diet.

    I do hope I can maintain it, but for the most part, I don't miss eating the way I did before at all.

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    Jan 04, 2012 3:24 AM GMT
    OK, I made it through another day, eating clean and got in a cardio workout (45 min. on a rowing machine).

    I think my body just hit the point where it ran out of easy-to-burn carbs (glycogen stores depleted). Though I completed the rowing workout, I was getting fatigued / slowing down at the end.

    Though I made initial goals based on body weight, those aren't set in stone. I'd rather weigh 180 and have muscle than weigh 150 and look "skinny/fat." So I am definitely going to stick with alternating cardio and weight training workouts. I'll know I'm getting results when I need to drop to a smaller waist size.

    For weight training, I'm doing a machine circuit that consists of about 13 exercises. There are three exercises for abs/back (core), and five each for upper and lower body. I do all of them to get a full-body workout. I do three sets at each station, 10-8-6 reps with increasing weight as the reps drop.

    When it's time to change my workout plan in about three months, I'll begin swapping in free-weight exercises.

    I am monitoring portions and calories in conjunction with the low-carb. Because I am primarily in a cutting mode right now, I'm trying to keep calories low, but not TOO low. Because I am a short guy (5'8"), I think 2,400-2,600 calories is likely too much for a successful cut. I have that kind of body that likes to store every bite of food I ingest. My typical 45-minute cardio workouts are burning about 400 calories right now. So with a basal metabolism of about 2,200 calories per day, and around 400 more burned through exercise, I need a ~750 calorie deficit from 2,600 ... or about 1,850.

    When I did this before, I was losing 1-2 lbs. per week at 1,800-2,000 calories per day. I'll increase my calories as my fitness improves and I can do more strenuous exercise that burns those additional calories.
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    Jan 11, 2012 5:18 PM GMT
    An update:

    Since opening this thread about a week ago, I've lost about 3 lbs. overall. I haven't done detailed body-composition measurements, but already have been able to increase the weights slightly as compared to when I started.

    I think my fat loss may be a little bit more than that as I'm beginning to notice my pants fitting looser and being able to tighten my belt up a notch.

    Still staying with this program:
    - Low carb eating plan (Atkins Induction). About 1,800-2,000 calories per day.
    - 6 workouts a week. Alternating 3 days of 45-minute cardio sessions and 75-minute full-body weight training (3 sets at each exercise, 10/8/6 reps with increasing weight; last rep on set of 6 should be at/near failure).

    I'll keep updating this thread as my progress continues.
  • Beeftastic

    Posts: 1747

    Jan 11, 2012 9:02 PM GMT
    Good Progress!
  • nicelyproport...

    Posts: 573

    Jan 11, 2012 9:30 PM GMT
    As a former fattie, I can speak only to my own experience.

    I focused on losing the weight before I worried about gaining the muscle. To rid my body of the excess fat, I wanted to be sure I was consuming a sufficiently low number of calories.

    Once the excess fat was gone, I started to work out harder and eat more.

    I'm pleased with resulting combination of leanness and muscle, but you might be after a different body type.