Bulking and cutting are terms thrown around the gym culture every day. Today we talk about what it means, and why it isn't for most people.
Bulking means to consume a large amount of calories in order to increase body mass (lean and fat). The purpose is to get bigger for strength and muscle gain. For bodybuilding competitors (bodybuilding refers to those competing in aesthetic competitions), it is planned based on when their next show is. For people not competing, it is usually in the winter (No suns out, no guns out).
On the other hand, cutting is the opposite. Cutting means to lose weight rapidly (fat mass, lean mass, and water mass). Again, for competitors, this is done after bulking and a few weeks before their show. For non-competitors, it is done near and during the summer time (Suns out, guns out).
With those defined, here is why it's not for everyone.
The term "yo-yo dieting" means to go on a diet for a short while then falling off. It is common for most people. For example, a person may have a vacation coming up, and will diet for about 2 weeks, only to fall off of it after the trip. Another example is the traditional New Year's resolution; a few weeks of good habits, then falling off. When those habits are done repeatedly, their health goes up temporarily, then down again, which ends up showing no long-term change anyways.
Are you catching on? Most people who do not compete still say they are bulking and cutting, but they are no different from a yo-yo dieter. The only difference is that those non-competitors are saying it is intentional. The problem with that? Well, if it's intentional, have they been actually improving? Do they have more muscle mass than when they first started out or did they still have the same muscle mass through their bulking and cutting cycles regardless of their weight? Numbers do not lie people! It's best to stick with a program that is not restrictive and based around short-term "seasons".
Below are some results from a client of mine that was looking to gain weight and strength. No bulking and cutting season, no supplements except protein; just life-long habits being developed. He sees me twice a week has no burnout, and is still getting steady gains in muscle mass and strength.
Of course this blog is for general fitness (meaning those who do not compete in anything), and remember that athletes are different in terms of goals and programming.
It's that time of the year where people are becoming sick. This is also the time when you hear people say they're going to recover by "sweating it out". Below is a link to ACSM's position stand on it. For people who do not want to read it, it basically says that doesn't work.
Our sweat glands actually don't just sweat out all these "toxins" that self-proclaimed health gurus mention. Bacteria and viruses are not that easy to get rid of. If you think heating up your body kills the bacteria and viruses, guess again. Bacteria is incredibly resilient. Most bacteria would only in extreme temperatures. We would probably die before our bacteria does if we were to heat ourselves up.
Although it won't get you better, you can still work out. The only drawback is that your performance will be hindered. Also, you will be getting a bunch of other people sick since you touch all the equipment. Always thin risk and benefit. Working out sick generally has the risks outweighing the benefits.
No pain no gain you say? Get out of here with that. Get some rest.
There's a lot of supplements out there, and when you buy a supplement, it is often combined with a bunch of other ones. Here's a list of what each one does based on our research. If you would like to know the exact mechanism of each effect, let us know in the comments or by email!
To start, supplements should not replace a meal, and many of the nutrients can be obtained from consuming normal foods. Although we each have our opinions about supplements, we won't let that get in the way of facts. Below is a list of common supplements out there. No opinions, just facts backed by cited sources. All this info is only regarding the effects of a supplement in regards to exercise. All recommended intakes are suggestions made in the research studies; we are not prescribing any supplements or dosage, just reiterating what the literature states.
Protein (Whey, Casein, Soy)
What it does: Improves protein synthesis and strength.
Recommended dose: 1.5 - 2.0 grams per kilogram of body weight.
Potential adverse affects: None.
What it does: Delays fatigue during a workout; mainly for anaerobic exercises (weightlifting, sprints, etc.).
Recommended dose: 3.2 - 6.4 grams a day
Potential adverse effects: None.
What it does: Delays fatigue during intense exercise
Recommended dose: 136 - 227 milligrams per pound of body weight.
Potential adverse effects: Diarrhea, Cramping, Nausea, and Vomiting.
What it does: Delays fatigue during exercise. Does not help for anaerobic exercises, but will work for maximal effort exercises that last between 2-15 minutes.
Recommended dose: 200 milligrams per pound 60-90 minutes prior to exercise.
Potential adverse effects: Not much research has been done on it...which is a problem.
What it does: Claimed to promote fatty acid use during exercise rather than glycogen, but there is no clear evidence. Shown to improve recovery.
Recommended dose: 2 - 3 grams per day for 3 weeks.
Potential adverse effects: None.
What it does: Creates ATP, improves power and strength, reduces fatigue. Recommended for advanced resistance training athletes. Best for anaerobic exercises.
Recommended dose: There are two methods. One is to load it, which means to take 20 - 25 grams (or .3 grams per kilogram of weight) for five days, then take only 2 grams a day after that. If you do not load it, you will still get the benefit, but it will take roughly 30 days to change creatine levels to match that of the loading method.
Potential adverse effect: None except weight gain (although weight gain isn't an adverse effect for some people).
What it does: Prolongs energy (breaks down fatty acids to avoid muscle glycogen depletion). Helps rate, strength, and frequency of muscle contractions.
Recommeded dose: 3 - 9 milligrams per kilogram, or 1.5 - 3.5 cups of regular drip coffee. It is best in pill form.
Potential adverse effects: Addictive, anxiety, GI disturbances, restlessness, insomnia, tremors, heart arrhythmia, risk for heat illness. It's also a diuretic, and can cause the urge to urinate.
What it does: Helps burn more calories, and increases fat oxidation (fat burning). Only shown to have benefits when paired with caffeine.
Recommended Dose: 4 milligrams per kilogram of body weight
Potential adverse effects: May cause vomiting after exercising, death, mood change, anxiety, psychiatric symptoms. It is banned by governing sports bodies. Banned in NCAA and being closely watched in world list.
What it does: It is a mild stimulant that causes appetite suppression. It also increases rate of fatty acid use. Delays time to fatigue when combined with caffeine.
Recommended dose: ???????
Potential adverse effects: Elevates blood pressure.
Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAA's)
What it does: Most evidence shows it improves recovery time, however most research was done when BCAA's were paired with a carbohydrate solution.
Recommended dose: 1 - 5 grams daily
Potential adverse effects: None.
Let us know if we left one out, or you have anything to add. Thanks!
Baechle, T. R. & Earle, R.W. (2008). Essentials of strength training and conditioning 3rd Edition. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
Blomstrand E. (2006). A role for branch chain amino acids in reducing central fatigue. The Journal of Nutrition.
Branch Chain Amino Acids. Retrieved from http://www.med.nyu.edu/content?ChunkIID=21527
Gleeson, M. (2008). Dosing and efficacy of glutamine supplementation in human exercise and sports training. The Journal of Nutrition, 138 (10).
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