Roman helps a reader with a question: Cut-bulk-cut, or maintain?
These are actual questions submitted by clients and readers, and my answers.
Q: Hey Roman, I have been dieting for a while, and I went from 23% BF in january to 15% 204 pounds now, in August (7 point caliper reading)
If I have the goal of rocking a six pack by next summer, would it be wise to keep cutting now, bulk, and then cut again? From what I’ve read, it’s easier to pack on muscle once your body fat is lower, the body is in a better hormone balance, and insulin sensitivity where it should be. But, I fear it may not be time enough to keep cutting, bulk and cut again, seeing as it has taken quite a while to go from 23% to 15%.
A: It’s true that there is a lot of hormonal nonsense that goes on when you’re carrying a lot of fat, and losing the fat and getting your body back to where it “wants” to be is generally the best way to start.
Looking at the math, you really should have time to cut/bulk/cut. In almost any situation, this is what I would normally recommend.
With regard to your specific situation: you are currently 204lbs at 15% bodyfat, which means you’ve got about 30 pounds of fat on your body, and 174 pounds of lean mass.
Using that as your starting point, let’s assume your goal was to drop down to 8% body fat, a level of leanness at which you should be able to see your six pack pretty well.
Assuming you gained no muscle at all (an unlikely circumstance, to be honest), you would wind up weighing in at 188, with that same 174 pounds on lean mass, and 14 pounds of fat.
So, really, all we are talking about is losing 16 pounds of fat.
If you get your diet in order, even at a very modest rate of fat loss (lets say an everage of 1 lb of fat per week, with some weeks being faster and some slower) you should easily be able to do this in 4 months.
As a reference point, consider these things:
That said, in all of those situation, diet was in order. Was it 100% perfect 100% of the time? Not remotely. But there was a plan in place and we followed it.
In your case, I think you can probably get to where you need to be in 12 weeks. I assume you will gain some muscle on Vince del Monte’s program (most people do, it’s an awesome program). So let’s assume you lost a pound a week (12 pounds) and gained maybe 2 pounds of muscle; quite doable.
Using those numbers, in 12 weeks you would have had a 14 pound swing in body composition, and you’d finish out at just under 9% bodyfat.
And to be honest those are conservative estimates.
Anyway, for your particular case, you could cut for 3-4 months, maintain for a month, bulk for 3 months. At that point, you are looking at 9 months from now the latest. So we’d be talking early May, with plenty of time left to cut and get ready for summer. And for that, I have some insane programs made specifically to get people down into that summer shape.
For now, get your diet in order, and keep your nose to the grindstone for the next few weeks. Also, if you are need of a dietary repireve, check out Joel Marion’s Cheat Your Way Thin – I really can’t say enough about it. He also has training programs to go along with the diet, but you could use CYWT in conjunction with del Monte’s stuff and get great results.
Overall, with careful planning and adherence to that plan, you have more than enough time to drop the fat, put some mass, and then get back into lean condition by next summer.
Let me just say the fact that you’re planning this far out and thining about it in advance puts you so far ahead of the game. This kind of thinking (macro-goals and micro-goals) is exactly what you need in order to be successful in the long haul.
Just pick the diet you’re going to do, and stick to it. The rest will start falling into place.