What you need to know when cutting or bulking
So as we’ve all heard, if you want to get bigger you need to lift heavy for less reps, like 6-8 and if you wanna be get shreddies, use light weights and lift higher reps, like 15+.
This could be one of the biggest myths and loads of BS currently consuming the fitness industry
Let’s break it down.
The more muscle you have then leaner you can become (drop bodyfat), muscles burn more calories that fat, so the more you have the better (this doesn’t mean being a bodybuilder, just lean healthy muscle tissue).
The way to increase muscle is to use progressive overload, this means getting stronger and lifting heavier or doing more reps, progressively over time e.g. a squat may be:
Week 1 – Set 1: 100kg-12reps, Set 2: 100kg-10 reps, Set 3: 100kg-10reps
Week 2 – Set 1: 100kg-12reps, Set 2: 100kg-12 reps, Set 3: 100kg-12reps
Week 3 – Set 1: 105kg-10reps, Set 2: 100kg-10 reps, Set 3: 100kg-10reps
So, no matter what you lift the goal should be to get stronger, if you are doing 15 reps, you should be trying to lift as heavy as possible for 15 reps, with good form obviously. Similarly, if you have 6 reps, you should be trying to lift as heavy as possible. The weights will change between the two, obviously, but the intent and mindset should never – training as hard as possible, this will ensure progress in whatever rep range.
The confusion comes because generally as a rule of thumb, people will do higher reps to help get leaner (NOT ‘LIGHT’ WEIGHT), this is due to calorie expenditure, you will burn more calories by lifting for longer, however you should be trying to remain as strong as possible.
Just as when you do go into lower reps, this is often associated with ‘bulking’ because you do less sets and reps, therefore you burn less calories which can help you grow.
The common mistake many make is to train with less intensity, so when you think you are doing more by dropping weight and upping reps, your actually not because low intensity will burn less calories and the relieved stress the heavy weights was causing is lost and as a result muscle mass is reduced, leaving you feeling weak and scrawny.
So the goal is always to remain as strong as possible and get some form of progression every workout.
The bulk and shred comes down to applying that to smart nutrition. You won’t bulk unless you are in a calorie surplus – eating more than you are burning. You won’t shred unless you are in a calorie deficit (burn more than you consume).
The harder and heavier you train during a bulk will dictate how well the muscles grow – as you can’t increase mass in a deficit.
The harder and heavier you train during a cut/shred, will dictate how much muscle mass you keep hold of, as a deficit will inevitably decrease muscle mass, so you need to work and lift hard to keep it and feel good.
Calories should be increased or decreased incrementally 50-70 per day per week (50 per day = 350 per week), while keeping an eye on measures and bodyfat.
For more on progressive overload, check out ‘training programmes blog’