The Difference Between Cutting and Bulking

Cutting and bulking are two very important concepts that every aspiring bodybuilder needs to fully understand in order to propel his performance and physique to newer and greater heights. Not many know that possessing the right knowledge can be the difference between a complete and a mediocre physique. Training is a very important and fundamental part of bodybuilding, but it means nothing without the proper nutritional regimen to follow it up, cutting and bulking are the two extremes of it.


Let’s start this off with cutting, the part of dieting that everyone hates going through. Cutting is bodybuilding slang for dropping weight, losing fat and defining the body’s muscular structure. Cutting is used by bodybuilders, athletes from different backgrounds and regular people in order to lose the excess body fat that makes them feel uncomfortable and attain a leaner, more defined and in some cases healthier physique.

Lean bodybuilder posing showing off Back muscles

There are many ways and methods that can be used to approach cutting, the first one being the most popular, is always completely overused and misunderstood. Beginners tend to place their body’s in extreme caloric deficits, doing this in a rapid and unmonitored manner can be really dangerous, dropping weight in such fashion can make anyone lose fat but also muscle and energy, these last two factors are crucial and essential for bodybuilding.

The second most used cutting method that inexperienced lifters tend to use is drastically increasing their training time inside the gym. The first thing that tends to go up in time is cardio, most people will double it and then spend an extra two hours inside the gym doing countless sets and repetitions so they can burn the unwanted body fat, this is not only pointless but it’s also incredibly time consuming.

Cutting needs to be approached in a very slow and calculated manner, the first thing that people need to understand is that if something is done right, it will usually take more time to do than originally planned. If cutting is performed correctly the athlete will conserve almost all of his hard gained muscle, he will also conserve his strength and energy, all while losing the excess fat and water.

The key to cutting is eliminating fattening foods (High Carbs and Fats) while maintaining a high protein intake, maintaining and adding a few minutes of cardio before or after the regular gym workout. Everyone’s body is different so results will always vary, the key to cutting is doing it in a slow manner, just to give you an idea of how long it usually takes, some bodybuilders will diet for up to 20 weeks before a competition even though they are already really lean.


There is no denying that bulking is definitely the most enjoyable part of bodybuilding, it’s technically easier to do and you don’t have to starve yourself while doing it. Bulking is the opposite of cutting, while cutting means that the body will slowly go through a leaning out process, with bulking the body will find itself in a weight gaining surplus.

bulky overweight bodybuilder flexing bicep

Just like with cutting, beginners tend to under think the process, even though bulking may seem easier and less restricted in comparison to cutting, it’s actually the opposite. The biggest risk involved with doing an aggressive cut is losing extreme amounts of weight (including muscle) that will later amount to poor performance inside and outside of the gym. The biggest risk involved with aggressive bulking is extreme weight gain; the problem here is that losing weight for some is way more complicated than gaining it.

Bulking should be approached with the same mentality as you would with cutting, if you want to experience a successful growing phase you need to set up a successful game plan that will allow you to maintain a good balance. For some weird reason people like to think that bulking means that you can eat everything in sight, this is completely wrong because doing this will only make you fat. It’s true that bulking gives you the opportunity to eat more calories from a wide variety of foods but only under very specific circumstances.


The key to going through a successful cutting or bulking cycle are timing and control. It doesn’t matter if you’re cutting or bulking, the process will always be the same but inverted, the first thing that you need is knowing where your physique stands and then figuring out how you are going to transform it and how long it’s going to take.

Even though it may seem a little farfetched, there are people who weigh less than 130lbs yet they want to start cutting, the same thing goes for someone who wants to bulk and weighs 240lbs, analyze where your body stands, then go ahead, set your game plan and attack it. Professional bodybuilders tend to bulk for six to seven months at a time and then lean out for the last four.

One the most popular misconceptions regarding cutting is that you need to do it year round, this is completely false, the body can’t grow or be healthy by staying in a deficit year round, if someone truly wants to progress and keep on gaining muscle they need to bulk too.

Regarding bulking one of the biggest misconceptions is that “lean bulking” is the best alternative for muscle building, this is false, lean bulking is short for adding a few extra clean calories into a diet, while it may work at first, the body will then require extra food to keep growing and there’s nothing wrong with this, the more food the better, as long as their macro and micronutrient contents are healthy.

Another big lie regarding bulking and cutting is that these two dieting methods need to be used once a year, every year. This is partially wrong, for someone who wants to gain weight, the better thing to do would be bulking for at least twenty four months, if someone on the other hand is on the heavier side he might want to lean out a bit each year.

Bodybuilding will always be subjective, do what you feel is right but never try anything in an irrational manner, cutting and bulking are important but they have their place and their time, some people will bulk straight out for more than two years at a time while others will do the same for cutting, it all depends on what your personal goals are and how you are willing to approach and fulfill them.