The Age Old Question: “Should I Get Huge First or Ripped First?”

You finally decided to start taking your training to the next level and want to dial in your nutrition, but you’re faced with a dilemma:

Do you cut your calories and get lean before adding muscle -or- should you bulk up, add muscle, and then strip all the the body fat off.

Loaded question. This scenario can go either way depending on your personal situation, and there’s pros and cons to both.

Let’s go over a couple different scenarios and see which one fits best.

[1] You’ve been training for a while and haven’t really been watching what you’ve been eating too much and are holding 20-30 lbs of body fat. You lift heavy, but there is no visible definition in your arms/midsection. You look like you fight bears on mountains. You wonder if you should just keep bulking up and then go on a hardcore cut and get ripped. (This is the scenario where most guys are in right now.)

[2] You have some weight to lose, but only about 10 lbs or so. There’s visible definition in some areas of your body. You eat clean most of the time. You’re debating if you should drop that last 10-15 and get ripped to shreds or add more muscle mass.

[3] You’re lean AF. Visible abs but you feel as if you’re not a big as you’d like to be. You’d like to get huge, but you love being ripped even more. Part of you is scared to lose your abs if you start to bulk up.

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Here’s my take on this:

[Scenario 1:] You’re using the idea of bulking up your sloppy body even more, because you’re afraid to put the work in and diet down. After all, stuffing your face and lifting heavy is the easy part. Doing cardio, cutting your carbs, and doing it on a consistent basis is friggin tough – and it get’s tougher the MORE weight you add to your frame. If think it will be hard to drop the weight now, try dropping body fat after you add another 10 lbs. Sack up and start your cut now – you’ll thank me later.

[Scenario 2:] You can go either way. You’re in a good spot no matter which direction you choose. I would say you can base this decision off the upcoming season. If summer’s coming, you’re probably going to want to cut, if winter’s coming you may want to add a few lbs. I just wouldn’t add too much weight to your body. No more than another 10 lbs. You want to make sure abs are still within reach to make it simple on yourself when you decide to cut back down.

[Scenario 3:] Get over yourself, squid. In order to gain muscle you need to train hard AND eat. You’ll never gain that 5-10 lbs of new muscle without eating a surplus of calories. The good thing about you is that you already sound lean – which means you probably have a speedy metabolism already. You can probably cut down pretty quickly after a good 12-20 weeks of ‘bulking’. All you have to do is clean up what you’re eating again and maybe do a little conditioning after your lifting sessions to get back to where you were — but this time, you’ll be bigger.

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Ultimately it’s your decision, but if you are bulking and cutting in seasons, just make sure you don’t stay in one area too long. If you’re big and can’t see your abs, it doesn’t make sense to keep bulking. The more fat you add the more you have to take off and the tougher it will be and the longer it will take. The leaner you are, the more you have to keep your calories under control to maintain that. If you’re keeping wraps on your calories to stay ripped, you most likely aren’t eating enough to get bigger and stronger.

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Leave me a comment and let me know which of these categories you fall into. If you need help, let me know and I will do my best to help you out. Be sure to subscribe for daily tips, tricks, workouts, and hacks.

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