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How to Cut After Bulking

If you're involved in bodybuilding chances are you're familiar with the terms "bulking" and "cutting." Bulking refers to a phase where you consume more calories than your body requires aiming to build muscle mass and enhance strength. On the other hand, cutting involves consuming more calories than your body needs with the goal of shedding fat while maintaining muscle definition.

How exactly can one transition from bulking to cutting ? How can you lose fat without sacrificing your earned muscles?. Are there any supplements that can aid in this process?

This article aims to provide answers to these questions and more ensuring that you have all the knowledge to cut after a bulking phase, like a pro.

Why Cut After Bulking?

One of the reasons to undergo a cutting phase after bulking is to eliminate the body fat that accumulates during the bulking phase. When you bulk you consume more calories than your body needs in order to support muscle growth and provide energy and nutrients. However, this surplus of calories can result in some being stored as fat.

If you choose not to cut after bulking you'll typically be left with a greater  amount of muscle mass, along with a greater amount of body fat. This may give you a larger but “smoother”  appearance that is lacking in definition or leanness. Additionally, it can increase the risk of health issues like diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.

Another motive for cutting after bulking is to enhance the visibility and aesthetics of your muscles. When theres a layer of fat covering your muscles they tend to appear smaller and less defined.. When you shed that fat your muscles will become more prominent and impressive.

Cutting after bulking also has benefits for both performance and overall health. Reducing fat will make you lighter, faster and more agile. It also positively impacts factors such, as blood flow, oxygen delivery, balance and immune system function.

How to Cut After Bulking?

a muscular man flexing his biceps

Cutting after a period of bulking can be quite challenging. It demands patience, discipline and a thought out approach. If you rush the cutting process or take an approach you risk losing both muscle mass and fat. On the other hand, if you proceed cautiously or conservatively, your progress and results may be less noticeable.

To effectively navigate the cutting phase after bulking consider following these steps;

Step 1: Determine Your Current TDEE

The initial step involves figuring out your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE). Essentially the number of calories your body burns on a basis, for functions and activities. To estimate your TDEE you can utilize a calculator or employ a formula that considers factors such as age, weight, height, gender and activity level.

By knowing your TDEE, you can get an understanding of the amount of calories required to maintain your weight. This serves as a starting point, for creating a calorie deficit to facilitate loss.

Step 2: Create a Calorie Deficit

The next step involves creating a calorie deficit. This means consuming less calories, than what your TDEE ( daily energy expenditure) requires. By doing your body will be prompted to utilize its stored fat as an energy source.

However, it's crucial to strike the balance with your calorie deficit. A large deficit can lead to muscle loss, a slower metabolism, hormonal imbalances and increased feelings of hunger. On the other hand, an insufficient calorie deficit may result in sluggish or no fat loss, frustration and boredom.

Ideally aim for a calorie deficit range of 10-25% from your TDEE. For instance if your TDEE is 2500 calories per day you can aim for a calorie deficit of 250-625 calories. This translates to consuming between 1875-2250 calories each day.

Remember that you can adjust your calorie intake based on your progress and goals. If you find yourself losing weight rapidly or feeling weak and hungry, consider increasing your caloric intake. Conversely, if weight loss is sluggish or you feel overly comfortable or full, reducing your caloric intake slightly may be beneficial.

Step 3: Set Your Macros

The next thing you'll want to do is determine your macronutrient breakdown referred to as "macros." These are the three components of your diet; protein, carbohydrates and fats. Each macro plays a role and has a unique impact on your body.

Protein is crucial for muscle growth and repair. It also aids in feelings of fullness, helps with calorie burning and plays a role in hormone production. When you're aiming to reduce body fat it's recommended to consume around 0.8-1.2 grams of protein per pound of body weight each day.

Carbohydrates serve as the source of energy for both your body and brain. They also contribute to glycogen storage, assist with recovery after workouts and support performance. When cutting down on body fat it's advisable to target 1-2 grams of carbohydrates per pound of body weight daily.

Fats are essential for maintaining cell membrane integrity, synthesizing hormones, absorbing vitamins effectively and regulating inflammation in the body. To achieve your cutting goals while ensuring fat intake for these functions, aim for around 0.3-0.5 grams of fats per pound of body weight, per day.

To determine the ratios based on your specific calorie intake and objectives you can utilize an online calculator or apply a relevant formula.

Step 4: Choose Your Foods

Now let's talk about choosing your meals. It's crucial to focus on foods that are packed with nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. These kinds of foods keep you feeling satisfied and also contribute to your overall well being and provide a boost of energy. Here are a few examples of options you can incorporate into your diet while aiming to cut down on calories;

  • Lean meats, fish, eggs, and dairy for protein
  • Oats, rice, potatoes, fruits, and vegetables for carbs
  • Nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil, and fish oil for fats

To maintain hydration and eliminate toxins it's important to consume an amount of water. Additionally if you're in need of a caffeine boost or some flavor you can enjoy beverages like coffee, tea or even diet soda. It's alright to indulge in treats or cheat meals to satisfy your cravings and give your metabolism a kick. Just remember to keep these indulgences limited to once or twice a week and ensure they align with your calorie and macro goals.

Step 5: Train Smart

The final step involves training. It is important to continue with weightlifting exercises and incorporate some cardio workouts while in the cutting phase. This approach will assist in maintaining muscle mass, increasing calorie burn and enhancing fitness.

However, it is crucial to avoid both overtraining and undertraining during this period. Overtraining can lead to muscle loss, fatigue, injury and hindered recovery. On the other hand, undertraining may result in muscle atrophy, decreased strength and feelings of boredom.

To strike a balance it is recommended to engage in weight training sessions 3-5 times a week and do Cardio sessions 2-4 times a week. Additionally, varying the intensity levels and volume of exercises performed, as rest periods will help keep your body challenged and facilitate adaptation.

Here are a few examples of weight training routines;

  • Upper/lower split: Train your upper body one day and your lower body the next day. Repeat twice per week.
  • Push/pull/legs split: Train your push muscles (chest, shoulders, triceps) one day, your pull muscles (back, biceps) the next day, and your legs the third day. Repeat once or twice per week.
  • Full-body split: Train your whole body in one session. Repeat two or three times per week.

Some examples of good cardio routines are:

  • Try incorporating high intensity interval training (HIIT) into your workout routine. This involves alternating between bursts of exercise and longer intervals of low intensity activity. For instance you can sprint vigorously for around 30 seconds. Then transition, to a relaxed jog, for approximately 60 seconds. Repeat this pattern for a duration of 10 to 20 minutes.
  • Engage in a workout routine known as low intensity steady state (LISS) involving moderate to low intensity exercises performed at a consistent pace for an extended period. For instance you can choose activities such as walking, jogging, cycling or swimming. Dedicate 30 to 60 minutes to them.
  • Try circuit training, where you do a series of exercises without rest in between. Start with 10 reps of squats, lunges, push ups, rows and crunches. Take a 60 second break. Then repeat this routine for 3-5 rounds.

Frequently Asked Questions About Cutting After Bulking

Here are some common questions and answers about cutting after bulking:

How Long Should You Cut After Bulking?

The length of your trim will depend on how much fat you acquired during your muscle building phase and how toned you aim to become. A general guideline suggests cutting until you reach a body fat percentage of around 10-15% for men and 15-20% for women. This approach will give you a fairly lean appearance.

To gauge your body percentage you have options like using calipers, scales, tape measures or online calculators. Additionally, visual indicators such as the visibility of your abs or veins can be helpful.

An effective cutting plan typically involves losing 0.5. 1.0% of your body weight per week. If you belong to category A mentioned earlier or tend to lose fat easily, the cutting process might take around 10-12 weeks. On the other hand, if you fall into category B or have difficulties losing weight, it may require about 12-14 weeks to achieve desired results.

How Much Muscle Will You Lose When Cutting?

The extent to which your muscles are affected during the cutting phase depends on certain factors, including the size of your calorie deficit, the level of protein intake, the intensity of your training, genetics, hormones and more. However, by following the steps outlined in this guide you can minimize muscle loss while maximizing loss. In fact, if you are new to weightlifting or have a decent amount of fat to shed there's even a chance that you might gain some muscle along the way. One effective method to monitor muscle loss or gain is by measuring your strength levels. If you manage to maintain or increase your strength while cutting down on calories, it's likely that you are preserving or even building muscle. On the other hand if you experience a decrease in strength it could be an indication of muscle loss.

What Supplements Can Help You Cut After Bulking?

Supplements are not necessary for cutting after bulking , but they can help you with some aspects of the process . Here are some supplements that may be beneficial for cutting :

  • Whey protein : A high-quality protein powder that can help you meet your protein needs , preserve muscle mass , increase satiety , and boost metabolism .
  • Creatine : A natural compound that can help you  increase your strength, power, performance, and muscle size. Creatine can also help you retain water in your muscles, which can make them look fuller and prevent dehydration.
  • Caffeine: Looking for a boost, in energy focus,. Even fat burning? Consider trying a stimulant that may help with all of these; caffeine. Additionally caffeine has the potential to curb your appetite and uplift your mood.
  • BCAAs: Branched chain amino acids are beneficial, for preventing muscle breakdown, reducing fatigue and enhancing recovery. Additionally BCAAs have the ability to promote muscle protein synthesis and boost oxidation.
  • CLA: Conjugated linoleic acid that can help you reduce body fat, increase lean mass, and improve insulin sensitivity. CLA can also modulate inflammation and immune function.
  • Green tea extract: A natural source of antioxidants and caffeine that can help you boost your metabolism, thermogenesis, and fat oxidation. Green tea extract can also lower your cholesterol and blood pressure levels.

These supplements are widely used and proven to be beneficial for the cutting phase after bulking. However, it is essential to consult with your doctor before incorporating any supplements into your regimen particularly if you have underlying conditions or are currently taking medication. Always adhere to the recommended dosage and usage instructions provided on the product label to prevent any interactions or adverse effects.


Transitioning from a bulking phase, to a cutting phase is both challenging and rewarding as it enables you to achieve an overall healthy physique. However, it necessitates a thought out strategy encompassing factors such as creating a calorie deficit, carefully managing your macronutrient intake, making wise food choices and implementing intelligent training techniques. Patience, discipline and consistency are also crucial, throughout this process.

By following the guidance outlined in this manual you will be able to efficiently navigate the cutting phase after bulking. Moreover, you can rest assured that you'll shed fat without sacrificing muscle mass or compromising your well being. Additionally, certain supplements may aid you in aspects of this journey.

Undoubtedly cutting after bulking is not an endeavor; however the end results make it all worthwhile. Not only will you witness a transformation but also experience enhanced physical performance and overall well being. Accomplishing this goal will undoubtedly fill you with pride.

James Freeman


Meet James Freeman, a California native whose passion for fitness emerged during challenging times, reshaping his life. With over two decades of coaching experience, he's not just a coach; he's a real-life example, shedding over 100 pounds in a journey to a healthier lifestyle. Beyond his coaching career, James is passionate about inspiring at-risk youth and promoting wellness in schools. In his downtime, he enjoys swimming and cycling, connecting with nature. Join him on his Instagram and LinkedIn profiles for insights into his empowering fitness journey.