Why Weightlifters Talk of Bulking or Cutting

First what you need to understand is that calories = energy. Less calories than you need means you lose weight, yes, but it also means you have less energy. If you have less energy your body cannot output as much energy, because you do not have the same amount of energy to be able to output. This makes exercises difficult to complete at a high level of intensity.

Muscles Build Themselves With Protein (that has Calories)

With that said, the way your muscles build themselves is with this same energy- calories, specifically protein. It’s still fine to say that you cannot build muscle without adequate calories.

Now, with these two concepts, you will quickly realize that if you want to lose weight, it is not really conceivable to also build muscle. This is why you hear of people cutting and people bulking. Is it possible to do a bulk-cut? Kind of, but not really. You have to get within a very specific calorie range, and with a very specific program and nutrition plan. It is much more feasible to either decide to cut or to bulk.

Normally to Build Muscle You Have to Gain Weight

Do you want to build muscle and grow the body you have? Then eat enough calories, put in the work at the gym, and sleep adequately. Your muscles will then grow. Do you want to slim the fat off and expose the muscle you’ve built? Then cut the calories, reduce work at the gym to not overload yourself, and sleep adequately. You will then lose fat.

Losing Weight and Building Muscles Is Almost Impossible

Do you want both weight loss and muscle gain?

I recommend you decide to do one or the other, then swap later. For example, I was skinny fat. I decided to bulk to build the muscle. Is the muscle defined and cut? No, it is hidden over a small layer of fat (don’t eat too much on a bulk or you will have excess fat). Only enough to build muscle is needed. However, once I feel I have built enough muscle, and want to cut down and see the muscle I have built I will do a cut. During the cut I will not focus on building muscle because my body will not have the nutrients available to build them, or the energy required to do the program needed to build the muscle.

You can still lift yes, but you must commit to not lifting as much as you would be to gain muscle. For the same reason that you would be eating more if you were lifting to gain, you must lift less if you are eating to lose, if that makes sense?

Body Recomposition

Body recomposition, is it possible? Kind of. It’s like saying, can I have my cake and eat it too? It is possible, but you would do better to look at it more simply. You can still lift, but lift to maintain, not to grow. It is just not smart to try and force your body to grow, but also depriving it of what it needs to grow. It’s just the hard truth of it.

What I would recommend is this: Your goal is primarily to lose the fat you have. You still want to retain the muscle (if not maybe gain some in the process) but your goal is to lose fat. For this, you want to be in a caloric deficit. Track your calories in and calories out (exercise). Lift at a maintenance volume (I recommend looking at Israetel’s Training Tips on reddit) and don’t lift more than what you need to because the goal is to lose fat, not to gain muscle. If both happens that would be best, but stop thinking that you can everything always all the time. Choose one.  If the other happens, great! But you need only one focus. What you want to try to do is get the protein you need. I like grams = bodyweight, it’s a good amount of protein. If you are in a caloric deficit, eating enough protein, and still lifting weights, it is possible that you will lose fat and grow muscle. I don’t think it’s the best way to go about it though. I think that cutting to cut, and bulking to bulk is far more efficient and result oriented.

Bulking and Cutting Is Superior to Body Recomposition

The way I’m thinking about it is like this. If you ‘body recomp’ for one year, you will gain X amount of muscle and lose Y amount of fat. However, in my opinion, you would do better to bulk for 6 months. Don’t eat excessively, just enough to grow. Excess fat is harder to take off than put on. And then you cut for 6 months you will end up with a greater muscle gain and a greater fat lost. You could cut first since that is your primary goal, then when you are low body fat you can then start to bulk. You will feel good about your body fat, and then you can bulk up to build the muscle. At that point as long as you are not bulking excessively you will look pretty good, and can cut whenever you want to look damn good.

This is just how most people do it. The balance for doing a body recomp is tricky, dependant on each person, and something that depends on how long you’ve been doing it and multiple other factors.

In the end, do what you want to try. If it doesn’t work change it, if it works then amazing. I’m just giving my opinion