Ask Jujimufu #5 - Bodybuilding bulks and cuts

ask jujimufu building muscle periodization winter

You ask Jujimufu, and Jujimufu responds. Here are some questions I get through the contact form on this website and directly through e-mail, and here are my responses for everybody to see!

Question from Traindom about Bodybuilding bulks and cuts:

Juji, do you follow the normal bulking and cutting scheme (bulk for a few weeks, then same with cut)? I’ve been trying to bulk and cut simultaneously (eat more on workout days and less on rest days, simple, but nice), but I notice it doesn’t lend itself well to bodybuilding schemes with workouts nearly everyday.

The way I learnt it works well for workouts every couple of days or at least with alternating workouts and rest days.

Are you still bound by the old bodybuilding scheme or are you just maintaining?

My answer:

Hello Traindom,

In regard to the the old, bodybuilding schemes of bulks and cuts, bulks and cuts have long been mistakenly taken out of the bodybuilding context by the growing population of hobbyist trainees like you and me. What we all think of as the old bodybuilding schemes of bulking and cutting aren't even the old bodybuilding schemes of bulking and cutting at all. Even many bodybuilders confuse themselves with the whole bulking and cutting thing. This is why there are so many mixed opinions on bulking and cutting.

The real bulking and cutting schemes of bodybuilding go by different names, they are:

  • Cutting = Competition dieting

  • Bulking = Growing

Successful bodybuilders spend the entire year outside of their competition diet trying to grow. That means they are basically "bulking" all but the 12-16 weeks out of the year they are competition dieting. If they lose too much during their competition diet they try to regrow. In fact, a bodybuilder's entire career is just a prolonged bulk with some dieting and occasional breaks for competition and body chemistry regulation.

So jumping outside the complete bodybuilding context, most people like you and me still want to grow some damn muscle. However, we do not like holding onto a little extra fat for large parts of the year like all successful bodybuilders do (even though that's the most effective way to foster the long term anabolic environment necessary to build muscle at the capacity, and of the quality that these bodybuilders do). Besides that, we have other things we like to do, like tricking or other sports. Thus, we make a mistake when we remove the concept of the bulk from bodybuilding which it depends upon. Then we make another mistake when we shrink it into a 1-4 month time frame. For us, these miniaturized, terminal bulks are hit and miss because they are a distortion of an idea that derives its relevancy and power from the complete, long-term bodybuilding context. That context goes beyond a mere winter break from tricking: it's a continuous lifestyle. That context goes beyond wanting just a little more muscle: it's about being "the big guy" and winning against others in competition. That context goes beyond basic compound lifts, whole body workouts, and low reps; it's characterized by daily training, huge pumps, body part splits, isolation work, tons of different exercises, modified exercise angles, bands and chains for accommodated resistance, cable machines, high reps, intensity tactics like drop sets, rest-pause, post-workout posing routine practice, etc. And, so, this is why everybody has mixed opinions about bodybuilding bulks: because almost everybody, including even many bodybuilders, often remove it from its complete, long-term bodybuilding context and, thus, strip it of its power.

Jujimufu, machines.

So, if anyone is insisting on doing a 1-4 month bulking phase for building muscle, I would recommend instead calling it a 1-4 month bodybuilding phase and make more changes than just the quantity of food ingested. This is why I wrote a page about becoming a bodybuilder. If you want the most effective muscle building bulking results, you should become a bodybuilder. Train and do the things bodybuilders do. If you want more results, do it for a whole year. Rewire your brain so that traditional bulking is now synonymous with building a body (IE: Bodybuilding). You aren't just bulking, you're bodybuilding. Then, since you aren't really into the bodybuilding thing for the long run, you can then maintain what you built on that long developmental detour as a bodybuilder as you ease back into tricking or your other activities. And remember, it's an awful lot easier maintaining things than building them for the first time.

On the flip side, it seems your simultaneous bulk and cut isn't getting you the results you desire within a bodybuilding training context. Or maybe it is, but results are much slower than you expect and have a lower ceiling for maximum gains. This is because you substituted the traditional bodybuilding bulk with your mixed bulk while adopting bodybuilding training principles. Actually, what you're doing may be working, but do not compare the rate or magnitude of your results to what a traditional bodybuilder gets; they're not to be compared. Bodybuilders grow because of their type of training, and because they are in an uninterrupted growth phase for almost an entire year straight, year after year. Also, as an aside, what do you think your body is doing on your rest day? It's recovering. What does it use to recover? Calories. And you're giving it less on these days? Why? Hmmmm...

You asked about me. Me? I've been slowly accruing mass for over a decade. Slower than a real bodybuilder, and not nearly to the extent as a real bodybuilder either, but that's because bodybuilding is not the only thing I do; I trick for God's sake! I've had my fair share of shorter bulking phases, all of which were mostly a waste of time until I figured out I needed to adopt bodybuilding training principles in order to make these bulks work the way I wanted them to. My periodization schemes are mostly linear, I don't try to maintain everything all the time. So I get fat, I lose fat. I gain strength and I lose it. I get good at tricking and I lose my tricks. I'm always losing, regaining, and gaining because the worst results I've ever gotten in my life were when I tried to improve or even simply maintain everything all the time. So now I happily switch back and forth when the timing is right. And I'm happy with where I am right now, so there is no need for me to do something as drastic as take a whole year off to build my body up. My body is already built the way I want it to be built. Any change I want to make past this point of development is a seasonal nudge, not an annual project.

Anyway, for some people, anticipating milder, yet still long term mass accrual is much more livable and preferable than implementing very long bodybuilding growth phases. Anthony Mychal has a program called chaos bulking which sounds similar to what you are doing. I have a lot of respect for Anthony's knowledge. Without knowing all of the details of his program, it might be the way to go to add a more moderated amount of mass on your frame over longer trajectories of time without going head first into the bodybuilding thing or losing your leanness. His program is all about the slow accrual of muscle, over several years for non-bodybuilders. There are no bulking or cutting phases, only daily alterations of calories based on activity, like what you are trying to do.

Anthony Mychal

So anyway if you continue to train like a bodybuilder while adopting a mixed bulk and cut eating protocol, don't expect the speed or magnitude of results that real bodybuilders get when they are essentially in tumor mode almost year round.

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  • drewandy on

    I do calisthenics, I love bodyweight exercises and being able to manipulate your own self in awesome ways like handstands, muscle-ups, ring work, so bodyweight can be of relevance, but when I started squatting, deadlifting, and doing bicep curls I got addicted to weights, so I do both! I just don’t know how to approach goals regarding both hobbies regarding nutrition effectively and efficiently as possible. Indecision is a nasty virus.

  • PureApeshit on

    hey Juji! i have to lobby hard for acrobolix subreddit! You have to make a overrthetop post glorifieng the our new forum on reddit!!! It must be done for the sake of humanity!!!!! Just blast the link in all caps on new blogpost! people NEED TO KNOW !!! Community is suffering with each day you delay this!

  • Dobi on

    Mr Call, please take another two weeks/decades/whatever off training to adjust the CSS for your blog. It does not suit my needs yet:

    Despite this unacceptable problem, I really have to congratulate you to this website project. It’s totally awesome. It is like Nietzsche took steroids and learned to blog. ;)

  • Jon Call on

    Hmmm. I’ll have to take a No Season I think to work on that then! :-)

  • drewandy on

    This and your article on nutrition was a fantastic and fun to read! Your experience on the subject is affirming. But, I still have a problem with taking action. I’m 6’ and 173~lbs and I want to build a ton of muscle, gain unbelievable strength, and everything else almost everyone who’ve lifted weights would desire lol. To do that, I obviously need eat more, but how how can I know I’ll be putting on QUALITY weight? For this reason, I’m sort of hesitant on eating to grow. As a perfectionist, it’s hard for me to commit to “possibilities”. I heard you’re a perfectionist as well, so I hope you understand the feels… do you have any wisdom to improve my grit in this situation?

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