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Should Athletes Bulk And Cut?

Bulking and cutting..... These are two words you hear a lot in the fitness industry, but should athletes use them?

First of all let´s explain what they actually are and how they work.

  1. Bulking - Bulking is a way of gaining strength and muscle faster than you usually would be able to. This is done by putting your body into a caloric surplus (eating more calories than you burn). The reason this makes it easier to gain strength and muscle is due to having more energy in your body due to the extra calories from the food, this extra energy can be used for training harder than normal and helping your body recover.

  2. Cutting - Cutting is used when somebody wants to lose weight, this is archived by putting their body in a caloric deficit (burning more calories than you are consuming).


Now let's discuss the reason people decide to do this. For bulking being in a caloric surplus makes it easier to gain strength and muscle, this is due to having more energy in your body due to the extra calories from the food, this excess energy can be used for training harder than normal as well as helping your body recover. On the other hand, cutting can be used by people who need to cut weight before a specific event or if you are overweight is also used to get to a better liveable weight. But can they help athletes? The key way in which bulking can help athletes is if they are needed to put on muscle and size quickly, the best time to use a bulk would usually be in the off-season when you can train more often than in season without having to worry about being match fit. With a cut, this can be used if you need to lose weight quickly, again lots of athletes use these in the pre-season to get to a sustainable weight for the upcoming season.


So now you know when is a good time to bulk and cut, let's discuss when it might become a problem. Again, starting with bulking. Bulking can become a problem when athletes begin to do it in season, the issue with trying to bulk in season is that your body won't be used to the excess weight, even though you may be getting stronger it is highly likely that your fitness will drop off a little and as an athlete, this can create big problems in your specific sport. Having that extra weight can also make you feel a little slower as it will take time to get used to it, this is why bulking in season is not the best thing to do as it can affect your performance. When it comes to cutting in season, the biggest problem with this will be your energy levels. Since your calories are reduced during a cut your energy throughout the day will be much lower which will, in turn, affect your performance in your sport. Even though you will be getting lighter training will feel much harder on the body as recovery periods will largely extend. As well as this during a cut you will lose a bit of strength due to being in a caloric deficit which depending on the sport can also have a detrimental effect.

SO, What should you do in-season?

Personally, I feel the best way to either bulk or cut in-season is through using either a mini bulk or mini cut, let me explain what I mean by this. Let's say you have to your season but are still carrying a little bit of excess weight, you know you want to cut a bit of weight but don't want to feel lethargic and drained in training. The way I would go around this problem would be to use a mini-cut over a few months. A mini-cut is a way of cutting weight without losing much strength or feeling tired. The way that it is done is firstly by finding your current maintenance calories (EG 2800) and taking 100 calories from that number (2700), at the same time you want to keep your output the same as normal (amount of training and exercises as before), by doing this your body will be in a very slight caloric deficit daily which will be enough to begin the cutting process. Due to it only being a 100-calorie deficit, you will not notice a drop in energy levels throughout the day and your strength won't be affected. If you are to do this over a few months you will be to see changes in the scale without having to worry about being too tired to perform well in your sport. This is the same method I would use to bulk in season, I would add 100 calories to my daily intake so that over a few months I would see increases in my weight.


Overall, if possible the best time for athletes to bulk or cut will always be in the off-season, But if you are in-season and feel a need to bulk or cut, remember that steady wins the race, and do not rush your bulk or cut. Great things take time.....

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