Did you folks ever feel curious about how bodybuilders turn from super lean, almost skinny creatures into muscular mountains? Well, I was stung by this curious bee when I was watching one of my favourite bodybuilding competitions on TV and that led me on a whirlwind journey into this peculiar world of bulking and cutting. Bear with me as I journey into this fascinating adventure and try to shed light on the age-old question - Why do bodybuilders bulk and cut?
Bulking, as the name suggests, is all about packing on weight - and by weight, I mean weight in muscles. Taking my own example, I remember trying to gain some muscle during my adolescent years and all I did was gorge on pizza, pasta and anything that was rich in calories. The goal was to put on some weight, any weight, but that was far from professional bodybuilders who aim for efficient bulking which leads to muscle gain with minimal fat.
Professional bodybuilders follow a calculated diet schedule that packs high protein, reasonable fat, and carbs. They couple that with intensive weight training exercises to coerce their bodies to build muscle mass. It's like building a skyscraper where you accumulate raw materials (bulking) before starting the construction (shaping muscles).
But why do they bulk? Why not just exercise and diet to gain muscles? Well, bulking helps bodybuilders to gain mass, more than usual that is, by creating a highly positive calorie environment in the body. This state encourages muscle growth because you're providing more building materials (food) to your body than it needs. It’s like trying to build a sand castle with an inexhaustible supply of sand at your disposal.
Now, don't get me wrong. It's not all eating like a dinosaur and sleeping like a log. The workout routine during this stage is as intense, sometimes even more, than the cutting phase. The stored calories are used to fuel this increased activity level.
Then comes the less appetizing phase - cutting. This involves shredding away the unwanted fat that clung on during the bulking process. If bulking is about being in a calorie excess, cutting is about creating a calorie deficit. It is about micromanaging every morsel that goes into your mouth and every repetitions of the workout regime.
The goal here is to achieve that finely tuned physique with six-pack abs and frighteningly pumped biceps which you flaunt in front of the mirror every morning. Well, to be honest, initially it did shock Amelia when I suddenly popped out of the bathroom looking like a Spartan warrior without notice.
Why do bodybuilders go through this gruelling process of cutting after bulking? Why not just stick to a balanced diet and workout regimen? Well, it all comes down to achieving the right balance of muscle mass and fat percentage. Bulking up alone will not bring out the detailed musculature and lean look required for bodybuilding competitions. Cutting helps in chiselling out those fine details.
The process requires cutting down on their calorie intake while maintaining a strenuous workout routine and paying true consideration to macronutrient composition. This ensures that the muscles earned during the bulking phase are retained while they shed the extra fat, giving them a chiselled and defined aesthetic look.
This cycle of bulking and cutting could be compared to sculpting. Imagine a sculptor with a lump of clay. The bulk phase is the sculptor adding more and more clay (muscles) while the cut phase is the sculptor painstakingly shaving off unnecessary portions (fat), gradually revealing the masterpiece hidden within.
Bulking and cutting is almost a science and requires attention to a lot of details. But here are some tips. Always remember to monitor your weight and body fat percentage regularly. This helps you to keep track of your progress. An ideal bulk phase should see an increase in body weight along with a moderate increase in body fat, while the cut phase should see a drop in body weight while your body fat percentage remains stable or drops moderately.
While the pursuit of a perfect body through bulking and cutting seems thrilling, be warned, it is not for the faint-hearted. The yo-yo of extreme eating to extreme dieting can have its toll on your mental and physical health. So, tread this path with caution and keep a check on your goals. Balance is the key, like how Leighton balances Jake, our hefty boxer on the skateboard. Just to be clear, no dogs or canaries (poor Daisy) were harmed in this stunt!
In essence, the process of bullocking and cutting is a cycle that bodybuilders follow to maximize muscle growth and minimize fat gain. It's a challenging, demanding and tempestuous trip. But as Amelia always reminds me - No pain, No gain. So train hard, eat clean, get enough sleep, enjoy the journey and remember, beauty is not just skin deep, it's muscle deep too!