There are two main problems with the traditional bulking and cutting approach to building muscle.
Firstly, for a lot of guys anyway, it doesn’t work.
That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with splitting your training into bulking and cutting cycles, where you focus on one specific goal – such as losing fat or gaining muscle – at a time.
Rather, the main problem lies in the way most people go about it.
The mistaken assumption is that you can’t gain a decent amount of muscle without getting fat in the process.
Here’s what’s supposed to happen.
You spend most of the winter months training like a demon and eating everything in sight.
And sure enough, your weight on the scales, some of which is muscle and some of which is fat, goes up.
Then you go on a cut to drop the fat and reveal all the new muscle you’ve built in time for the summer.
Like I said, that’s what’s supposed to happen.
The reality goes something like this…
During the bulking phase, you gain some muscle. But you also end up gaining a lot of fat as well. In fact, those with less favorable genetics may end up putting on a lot more fat than they do muscle.
Then when it comes to stripping off the fat (which usually takes a lot longer than it did to gain it) you somehow end up losing much of the muscle you’ve spent months gaining. Either that or you realize that most of it was never really muscle in the first place.
You end up right back where you started at the exact same size, having wasted several months of your life (not to mention all the money you’ve blown on food and supplements).
You also need to consider the fact that, with few exceptions, it’s rare to build a decent amount of muscle while simultaneously losing a large amount of fat.
Which means that during a long cutting phase, you won’t gain much in the way of new muscle. It’s time that could have been much better spent getting bigger and stronger rather than losing fat that had no business being there in the first place.
But there’s another problem with the standard approach to bulking and cutting.
A lot of guys start lifting weights because they want to look like one of the cover models on Men’s Health or Men’s Fitness. But when you add 10 or 20 pounds of fat to your body then you’re actually moving further away from this goal.
If you’re carrying around a significant amount of muscle, adding a layer of fat can create the illusion of size, especially when you’re wearing clothes. People may tell you that you’re looking bigger, which is always nice to hear. And you might feel that warm glow of satisfaction when you step on the bathroom scales and see your weight going up every week.
But what’s the point if you’re just getting fat?
If you spend half the year bulking up and a few months cutting, there will only be a few weeks in the year, usually around July or August, where you actually LOOK like you train.
Truth is, a lot of guys who get bulking and cutting wrong spend most of the time looking like they’ve never seen the inside of a gym, let alone spent any time in one.
Why put all that effort into training hard if you’re not happy with the way you look?
To repeat, I’m not saying that having distinct phases of your training where you focus on losing fat or gaining muscle is a bad idea.
Rather, it’s the way most people go about doing it that’s less than ideal.
If you want to gain muscle without simultaneously accumulating large amounts of fat, I’ve laid out a couple of ways to do it inside Muscle Evo.
Both methods are ideal for anyone with a few years of solid training behind them (where gains in size are hard to come by) who wants to add some muscle while staying lean.
If that’s the sort of thing you’re after, go here next.
SEE ALSO: THE FLAT BELLY CHEAT SHEET
If you want less flab and more muscle when you look down at your abs (or where they should be), check out The Flat Belly Cheat Sheet.
It's a “cut the waffle and just tell me what to do” PDF, written in plain English, that tells you exactly how to get rid of belly fat. To download a free copy please click or tap here.
ABOUT CHRISTIAN FINNChristian Finn holds a master's degree with distinction in exercise science, is a former personal trainer and has been featured on BBC TV and radio, as well as in Men's Health, Men's Fitness, Fit Pro, Zest, and Perfect Body magazine.