The Skinny Fat Body Dilemma: Should You Bulk Or Cut First?

The scale says skinny but the mirror says "lose weight." What should you do? This article helps skinny fat trainees explore the pros and cons of bulking and cutting cycles.

So you want to build the perfect body but you don't know where to start. You dream of adding insane amounts of muscle mass, but when you look in the mirror your current body fat levels haunt you.

All you see is flab, despite the scale telling you that you aren't overweight. The question haunts you: should I bulk or cut first? I will try to help answer that question for you the best I can in this article.

Let's take a look at a real world example of a skinny fat lifter, and see how the various bulking and cutting strategies impact the time it takes to reach your muscle building and fat loss goals.

The skinny fat dilemma

Note: This section will look at the example of a younger lifter who weighs 150 pounds. The weight itself is arbitrary. If you are thin but skinny fat, this entire article will apply to you.

Let's say you want to build muscle, but right now you look like a flabby 150 pounds. Should you cut the extra fat first, or add muscle then do a cutting diet? Here are some factors to consider.

First off, you have no history of building muscle. If you attempt to cut fat at such a low weight without knowing what it takes to achieve results in the gym, it is highly unlikely that you will look any better after your cutting diet is over. Let me explain...

When you know how to build muscle during a bulk, you will be capable of holding on to as much muscle tissue as possible during a cut. This will help improve your body composition and body fat levels. The bottom line is that you will look your best, maximizing the appearance of your existing level of muscularity.

With all this in mind, here are your 3 possible options:

  1. Cutting Diet. Cut 10-15 pounds of fat, and then begin a long term lean bulk that will last several years.
  2. Long Term Lean Bulk, Then Cut. Undergo a long term lean bulk that lasts several years, then attempt a cutting diet to get rid of any extra fat.
  3. Short Term Bulk, Then Cut. Bulk for several months, cut for several months, rinse and repeat.

Let's pretend that our hypothetical male lifter has 18% bodyfat. He's not fat by any means, but because his physique lacks any appreciable amount of muscle mass he looks fairly sloppy, soft and skinny fat. Here is what our lifter's current body composition numbers look like:

  • Weight - 150lbs
  • Bodyfat - 18%
  • Fat Mass - 27lbs
  • Lean Body Mass - 123lbs

Seated dumbbell press

Cutting Diet Scenario

In this scenario our lifter chooses to drop 15 pounds of fat before undertaking a long term bulk. He has no experience building muscle, and knows nothing about how to train to maintain muscle mass, so we will guess that while losing this fat he also loses 5 pounds of muscle mass. After his cut our lifter's stats are:

  • Weight - 130lbs
  • Bodyfat - 9.2%
  • Fat Mass - 12lbs
  • Lean Body Mass - 118lbs

He managed to cut his bodyfat in half, but his physique looks - well to be brutally honest - pathetic. There is little to no muscle mass on his body and he now appears sickly and extremely underweight in clothing. Not an impressive look at all.

Now reality kicks in. Our frail lifter must undertake a long term bulk and will likely gain the fat he lost back over the course of the next year. He panics at the thought, wondering why he just wasted 10 weeks losing weight, and if he will ever look good and reach his goals. Our lifter does not understand that the addition of muscle mass makes a physique look better even if it is at 18% bodyfat.

But what about the 150 pound skinny guy that knows how to maintain muscle mass during a cut? Well, he will still lose some muscle, perhaps only a couple pounds. After his cut is over that additional couple pounds of muscle really won't make much of a difference, with or without his shirt on. He will still look small, frail and unimpressive.

Bulking Diet Scenario

In our bulking scenario, our lifter decides to run a quality lean bulk over the course of the next 3 years. He sets up an eating plan that is based primarily around 80-90% clean food intake, and rarely eats more than 300-500 calories over maintenance levels on any given day.

He proceeds to gain 25 pounds of muscle and only 15 pounds of fat during this 3 year period. At the end of the bulking period his stats are:

  • Weight - 190lbs
  • Bodyfat - 22.1%
  • Fat Mass - 42lbs
  • Lean Body Mass - 148lbs

Despite an increase in bodyfat percentage, our lifter looks amazing. His body now has more surface area because of the dramatic increase in muscle size. He looks fit and strong, and his physique catches the eye of onlookers. Believe it or not, he will also generally look leaner than he did at a lower bodyfat percentage simply because of the extra muscle mass.

At this point our lifter could undertake a short 12-15 week cutting diet, lose 20 pounds of fat, and look great. Since it's much easier to maintain muscle mass and scale weight, our trainee could simply adopt a reasonable lifestyle and enjoy the fruits of his hard work.

After this cutting diet, and assuming he loses about 3 pounds of muscle during this weight loss period, our trainee's stats look like this:

  • Weight - 167lbs
  • Bodyfat - 13.2%
  • Fat Mass - 22lbs
  • Lean Body Mass - 145lbs

At this point a lifter could either undergo a long, very lean bulk to try and add 5-10 more pounds of muscle mass, or just focus on keeping the status quo. Since this would be a lean bulk, it is unlikely this trainee would gain any appreciable amount of body fat. Even if he did, a short one month cutting diet would likely bring him back to his goal bodyfat percentage or leanness.

Dumbbell curls

Short Term Bulk Scenario

This is a very common practice. You will see trainees engage in endless (relatively) short cycles of bulking and cutting. They never give themselves an extended period of time to build muscle, and typically pinball back and forth between a few pounds of muscle gain and then losing it again during a cut.

Let's pretend that our trainee spends 6 months bulking and gains 16 pounds during this time. Part of this weight is simply additional water gain caused by eating more food, and it can be easily lost, but our trainee panics. He has seen some muscle gains, but the extra couple of pounds of fat he has gained, along with the additional water weight, sends him head first into a cutting diet.

Here is the likely breakdown of the 16 pound weight gain:

  • Muscle Gain - 8 pounds
  • Fat Gain - 4 pounds
  • Water Gain - 4 pounds

His current states look like this:

  • Weight - 166lbs
  • Bodyfat - 21.1%
  • Lean Body Mass - 131lbs

Because this lifter is still on the thin side, the 8 pounds of fat and water weight gained look noticeable despite the additional muscle mass. Given another 12-18 months on a lean bulk, and the addition of another 12-15 pounds of muscle, these small fat gains would look less and less bothersome.

So the cutting process begins. Our example trainee decides to try a cutting diet. He loses 12 pounds of fat, 4 pounds of muscle and the 4 pounds of water he gained during a bulk. The result is the following:

  • Weight - 146lbs
  • Bodyfat - 13.1%
  • Lean Body Mass - 127lbs

He is now 4 pounds lighter than when he started building muscle, and does have 4 more pounds of muscle mass, but it took him 9 months to get to this point. (6 month bulk, 3 month cut)

This is certainly progress in the right direction. There is no doubt about it. But it is slow - very slow - progress, given our trainee's goals of adding as much muscle mass as possible.

If our trainee continues to stay in bulk-cut-bulk-cut mode, it will take him longer to build muscle during each additional bulk because he now has to take time to regain muscle lost during each cut. Though this muscle mass typically comes back rather quickly, it's still 6-8 weeks of time lost on each bulk.

The next 6 month bulking period will result in another 4 pounds of fat gain, a return of the 4 pounds of water lost during the cut, and a 8 pound muscle gain. Keep in mind that half of this muscle mass is simply the regaining of muscle lost during the cutting period.

So after the trainee's second bulk, he has the following stats:

  • Weight - 162lbs
  • Bodyfat - 16.7%
  • Lean Body Mass - 135lbs

15 months into his muscle building journey, our trainee has made the following body composition changes:

  • Weight Gain: +12 pounds
  • Muscle Gain: + 8 pounds
  • Fat Gain: +4 pounds
  • Bodyfat Percentage: -1.3%

Shredded physique

So is this good progress? No. It is "ok" progress, but at his rate it will take our trainee a much longer period of time to reach his muscle mass goals. If he continues to engage in cycles of bulking and cutting, net muscle gains will likely remain around 4 pounds every 9 months.

It should be noted that this rate will not last forever. Gains slow over time. So the longer this natural lifter engages in short term bulking and cutting cycles, the less muscle he will gain during each bulking period. 

A straight lean bulk would have landed our lifter about an 18-20 pound muscle gain during this 15 month time, and perhaps a 9-10 pound fat gain. How long will it take our "bulking and cutting cycle guy" to gain 18-20 total pounds of muscle mass? My best guess is about 36 to 42 months.

So the verdict is?

You came here to answer the question: should I bulk or cut? Given that everyone's situation and goals are different, you can understand that this is a hard question to answer.

Ultimately the route you go is up to you. With that said, here are the facts you should consider.

Cutting diet first. Cutting fat before you have experience building muscle is a slippery slope. You are likely to lose even more muscle, and there's a good chance that when the cutting diet is done you will still look skinny fat.

The main problem for skinny fat trainees is that they simply need more muscle mass. Existing fat stores look horrible upon an unmuscular physique. When you add 20 pounds of muscle to this frame you will look much better at the same body fat percentage.

Too many skinny fat lifters think they can simply lose a few pounds, get six pack abs, and finally be happy with the way they look. This is rarely the case. Getting "ripped" is an art form. Most experienced bodybuilders and fitness models learned to master their body composition through years of trial and error.

A huge factor in this equation is learning to build and maintain muscle tissue. If you do cut first, understand that unless you are genetically lucky, it's unlikely that your appearance will look better.

  • Pros - You knock off a few pounds of fat, you learn a little bit about cutting which may help you down the road after you build muscle, and you enter your lean bulk not worrying about existing body fat levels.
  • Cons - Potential muscle tissue loss, physique may remain skinny fat, lost fat will come back after a cut.

Short Term Bulk & Cut Cycles. In my opinion this is a trainee's worst option. Because you are trying to master both muscle building and fat loss, and because you are constantly ping-ponging back and forth adding muscle tissue you've lost on cutting diets and losing water and fat gains you gained on bulk, it takes a much longer period of time to reach your end goals.

Remember that your end goal was to be as huge and lean as possible. There is a strong likelihood that you will extend the time needed to reach this goal two-fold if you don't commit to an extended lean bulk.

Far too many lifters use this bulking and cutting pattern. I've seen hundreds of men try to reach their goals this way over the years. To be frank, I've yet to see one develop a decent physique. It's not that they can't - anything is possible with time, obviously - it's more a case that they either quit lifting, lose motivation, or have never taken the time to master the muscle building process in the first place.

  • Pros - You gain experience learning how to cut, rarely let yourself get above 18-20% bodyfat, gain an opportunity to master your diet under any circumstances.
  • Cons - Takes much longer to get huge, constantly worrying if you are "too fat", spend too much time regaining muscle you lose from cuts.

Long Term Lean Bulk. This approach is a straight line path to a great body. You can spend 3 years building muscle, then embark on a 4 month cut and be done.

Your body will continue to look better and better with each additional pound of muscle gained. You will not have to deal with the frustration that comes from slow gains, and your body will look better overall at a higher bodyfat percentage.

You have the potential to build 25-30 pounds of muscle over the course of 3-4 years. The tradeoff is that you'll also likely accrue about 15 pounds of fat, give or take. 

Most successful bodybuilders or muscleheads I know followed this plan. They went after muscle gains voraciously, and then cut as needed once they had plenty of muscle size. They have learned that a long term lean bulk doesn't have to result in an unpleasant degree of fat gains.

  • Pros - Fast track to muscle mass goals, body looks better even with a little more body fat, once the building process is done you get to put everything into cruise control and enjoy the rewards of your hard work.
  • Cons - You will have to trust the process and go through that early beginner stage where you may feel like you are gaining too much fat.

A final note of body fat

Over the years I have been asked the following question probably a thousand times: "I have a little extra body fat. It's really bothering me. Should I cut?" My response is always the same:

If the extra fat bothers you, then cut first.

There is no sense trying to run a long term lean bulk if you are going to obsess about extra body fat each day. I've seen far too many trainees jump ship on a bulk because they simply are unsatisfied with the 20-30 extra pounds of fat they are carrying around.

My only concern is this...if you are underweight to begin with you shouldn't be trying to lose more weight. This isn't healthy. Build first, then lose. On the other hand, if you are a skinny fat 170-190 pounds and can't stop thinking about that extra 15-20 pounds of fat you are carrying around, go lose it.

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57 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Sat, 08/05/2017 - 14:22
Cole F

I don't lift yet, and I'm not an expert in the slightest, but the first paragraph or so of the article states that you have to either cut or bulk, but whilst working out and eating healthy you will still lose fat. the 3 options things makes it sound like you will be fat but grow muscle, but in reality you would be losing body fat whilst changing to a better diet and exercising.

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Posted Mon, 07/31/2017 - 10:18

What food suppliments would you suggest esp. mass products if I want to gain mass first before cuts. I just want to know whats best for that option

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 07/31/2017 - 10:29

Hi Jos,

You can see our best selling mass gainers here:

We also have loads of product ratings and customer reviews in the store to help you make an educated decision.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Wed, 07/26/2017 - 00:18

I m a skinny guy and my weight is 132 lbs(doesn't fit the guy you explained above) but i have some belly fat. But still i can't be said to be a fat guy, I m more on the leaner side. So should I adopt the long term bulk?

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Posted Wed, 05/31/2017 - 11:08

Bulk or cut 177.6lbs i don't know my body fat percentage but I can see cuts in my both of my shoulders a little in my chest and I can see the top part of my abs I want to put on muscle but not get fat what should I do first?

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Posted Wed, 10/12/2016 - 00:56

İ will lose 10 pounds. Eating (-300 calories ) what will happend if i do weight lifting when my diet is for fat loss ?

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Posted Fri, 10/21/2016 - 13:24

Lifting shouldn't change depending on bulk vs cutting. Diet and cardio should change,however you might lose a little strength while cutting.

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Posted Wed, 06/29/2016 - 13:33
Nicholas H Char...

Hi I recently dropped from 285 to 195 in 2 years I had weight lifting experiance and now I'm around 15 percent bf at 62 I don't look scrawny but I want to build muscle and lose some fat. I lost my gut but feel that I could lose more what should I do?

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Posted Mon, 12/21/2015 - 21:46

Steve, Great article mate - and negative people like rufian should keep their nonsense to themselves.
With a lean bulk (80-90% clean), would white rice and pasta pass as "clean"? I found that with bulking it is very hard to get the calories required just on protein/fat. Would consuming white rice and pasta (in reasonable amounts) on a daily basis expedite the fat gained on a bulk? I am relatively active and play sport 4-5 times a week

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Posted Tue, 12/22/2015 - 11:04

Hey Ameeno,

There's nothing wrong with eating rice and pasta on your clean bulk. If you're struggling to eat enough calories, those should help get you closer to your goals and should not add any bodyfat.

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Posted Wed, 05/06/2015 - 14:52

Great article. Right now I'm skinny fat at 190 5"10. Will cut down to 160 and then go on a long bulk.
I got my diet on check now.

Are there any specific workout type you suggest? And how about cardio ?

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Posted Wed, 04/29/2015 - 22:15

I am 19 and am 5foot7 144.6lbs and 15% Bodyfat last I checked. I am in the process of bulking but also realize this is more fat than I have ever had as well. If I was to cut to 10% Bodyfat i would be about 134lbs. Should I do this or try and get add more mass before such? I was thinking I should aim to get around 150-155 and between 16-17% Bodyfat before I aim to cut

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Posted Thu, 03/19/2015 - 14:33

It's crazy how this fits me lol. I'm 16 and skinny fat after losing 70 pounds in 7 months (unhealthy diet)and weigh 151 and I am also around 18% body fat currently. I want to go with the bulking idea but my bulking calories would be around 2,350-2,500 and this seems too much, but in your opinion is it? Also i plan to workout 5-6 times a week, and i plan on starting the "strong lifts" 5x5 workout problem. What are your opinions on the bulk calories and workout plan??

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Posted Fri, 09/04/2015 - 19:02

2500 calories isn't too much as long as you are putting the work in. Benefit of a long lean bulk is you add a lot of muscle which increases the need for extra calories. This will make cutting a lot easier later on. Don't overeat but a calorie surplus is necessary for building muscle.

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Posted Tue, 12/09/2014 - 21:19

What about for women who are thick, curvy, etc extra pounds needed to be lost but I also want to weight train. Do I concentrate on loosing fat ,trimming down ?

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Posted Mon, 12/01/2014 - 03:24
Stevey H

Perfect. This is an amazing article, and exactly what I needed to hear! I can now see the grave errors I've been making all this time - stuck in the cycles of short term bulking and cutting, then eventually giving up due to complete lack of progress.

I now finally understand the three alternative approaches to the end goal of being big and ripped. This article has given me the confidence to commence to a long term lean bulk, thank you :).

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Posted Thu, 10/30/2014 - 03:34

My main concern is that any fat I gain ends up under my chin and around my stomach. The LAST thing I want is to look heavier in the face. But I absolutely want to gain muscle... lean, strong muscle. Do I have to lean to "get over it" and accept the fact that I'm going to look like a fat ass in every single photo for the next 3 years before I can truly cut?

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Posted Wed, 10/29/2014 - 22:56

I started a routine 5 days ago. I would consider myself a beginner. But have past knowledge on weights. Not a pro by any means. I am about 155 160. With a height of 5'8. Most of my weight is in my abdomen. And around my nipples. Not extremely bad though. I don't eat a lot. Weighed close to 150 in 6th grade. Smh I am almost 33 now. Most people consider me skinny. But my abdomen isn't defined at all. What is my best option to gain mass in my arms and chest. But define my ABS.

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Posted Fri, 09/04/2015 - 19:06

It will be hard to add any genuine size to your chest and arms while defining your abs. To lean you mid section you have to cut fat which works against adding any real size.

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Posted Tue, 10/14/2014 - 09:30

You don't understand the role of hormones in fat loss / muscle building. And I'm not talking about testosterone (only). Study up on Insulin, Leptin, and Cortisol. Just because a person has sufficient fat stores doesn't mean their metabolic processes will choose to burn it first, or at all. If you think it does, explain the starving fat person... explain why a marathoner always has a higher body fat % than a sprinter... don't subscribe to the foolish "calories-in/calories-out" BS. It's not that simple for hardly anyone. Those who are insulin resistant, or leptin resistant aren't going to burn fat. period.

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Posted Mon, 10/13/2014 - 18:10

There's a problem with your math. A skinny or skinny-fat beginner on a cut doesn't lose any muscle, in fact because of the fact that he has enough fat to lose and is extremely sensitive to resistance stimulus, he is going to build muscles on a cut. This has been shown over and over in a lot of studies showing beginners with a bad body composition all build muscles while losing fat and never lose muscles on a cut. Losing muscles on a cut is something that comes later, when you're intermediate, your muscles don't respond so readily to stimulus anymore and you don't have much fat to lose.

Steven's picture
Posted Tue, 10/14/2014 - 09:07

You're assuming the individual knows how to train properly, which is a huge assumption. You are also advocating that a skinny individual lose weight, which is not required because their existing body fat is not the issue, it's a lack of muscle.

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Posted Sun, 10/12/2014 - 12:58

One word AMAZING! very nice laid out. Very informative. And easy to understand!

Is it really bad to get really fat in a bulk? Cause 3 years is a lot! I've been doing it for 2 months and I can notice some fat being shown. I don't go over 500 calorie maintaince. I want to CUT! :( or should I continue bulking? And ignore the fat that is showing? HELP!

Since I was born I was fat! Then I lost 50 pounds! I'm really scared to have the thoughts that I will gain them back!

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Posted Mon, 09/08/2014 - 10:43

lmao also this guy says "too many skinny fats believe that they can just cut, get a six pack, and then focus on building muscle" yet i have done it, many have done it as well, it is physically possible as long as you lift heavy to maintain your muscle mass, if anything, most skinny fats are noobs, they will even build some muscle, make noob gains even on a caloric deficit. It can be done, the reason why the writer is against it, is because bodybuilding is all about BIG BIG BIG BIG, nobody cares what you look like, the writer is scared of looking to skinny, and being perceived negatively by others, this makes him a sheep.

This is why he is against losing the fat first, it is physiologically possible to lose the fat, and get abdominal definition, EVEN IF YOU DON'T HAVE MUSCLE, the only problem is will you be able to withstand how people will perceive you as very skinny? the challenge is mental, not physical, the body doesn't automatically say, NO SORRY you wont get down to 10%bf, because you DONT HAVE ENOUGH MUSCLE, lmao it is retarded, the body will burn the fat, and if you lift heavy, you can keep most of your muscle, no such thing as starvation mode, if you remain on a caloric surplus, you will get down to 10-12%bf, it doesn't matter if you look super skinny, it doesn't matter if you didn't have much muscle before the cut, then again, most people who write about skinny were never real skinny fats themselves, so how would they know, they have no lived it, they only talk bullshit out of their biased asses with no personal experience

Steven's picture
Posted Mon, 09/08/2014 - 11:23

I am not scared of looking too skinny. I started skinny. Do some research before you assume you know everything about me. I've been training folks for 28 years. Listen, you might learn something.

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Posted Mon, 09/08/2014 - 10:36

what this writer doesn't realize that even though if you gain some fat, when already skinny fat, if you add some muscle, you may look "leaner" it is not the case on your face, cheeks and double chin, your face will get fat, and you will look uglier, nice, also, your abdomen and love handles will get bigger regardless if you gain more muscle, those are will not look leaner as he says lmao, also who wants to spend 3 freaking years to build some muscle, and on top of that, get even fatter all around, what happens when you meet a girl, with the lights out honey?, what happens when you go to the beach or pool, hello whale, if skinny fats already feel self conscious about their fat, what happens if they gain more? lmao the reality is that there are thousands if not millions of skinny fragile kids out there, and nobody gives a fuk, if you decide to cut, and manage to maintain all your muscle, or even if you lose a little, doesn't matter, you won't be the first skinny man, and wont be the last, you may look like shit in clothes, but it doesn't matter, at least you wont be fat, you have one less thing to worry about, also gaining muscle it is easier when you are leaner, you can also see the muscle better when you are leaner, you are more encouraged, because you are not longer fat, and all you focus now is muscle, when you bulk when being skinny fat you WORRY ABOUT BOTH BEING TOO FAT AND NOT BUILDING ENOUGH MUSCLE YET, also losing fat takes less time, you can get lean and maintain almost all your muscle in a matter of months, while building muscles takes fucking years, skinny fat have shit genetics to begin with, otherwise they wouldnt be skinny fat, so is even worse for them, it will take them even longer to build muscle, they will also get fatter, in those problematic areas, also the muscle that you gain, you will not see underneath the fat, not only you were skinny fat, but you are even gaining more fat by bulking

Steven's picture
Posted Mon, 09/08/2014 - 11:26

"also who wants to spend 3 freaking years to build some muscle"

I do.

Fitness is a lifestyle. If you don't you won't.

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Posted Mon, 09/08/2014 - 10:20

the truth is that most skinny fat has psychological baggage, they have been fat long enough, they are sick and tired of the love handles, and bulging belly, they cannot and must not bulk, it will only add to their insecurities, you will gain more fat, and very little muscle

FOR ONE BUILDING MUSCLE is extremely difficult and takes a long ass time, majority of people will add some muscle, and lots of fat, because their hormones are already screwed, otherwise they wouldn't be skinny fat in the first place, you need to cut no matter what fuck anyone else says, is the only way to get down to a lean base, where everything works good, and then put on muscle, where u can actually see the muscle because your lean, before even entering here i already knew it was gonna to be biased for bulking first, every retard says yet i bet the writer was never skinny

Steven's picture
Posted Mon, 09/08/2014 - 11:25

This is a horrible generalization.

I was skinny fat as a teen. I had no baggage. It was simply a physiological reality that I wanted to change.

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Posted Fri, 09/04/2015 - 19:15

Terrible advice... you're focusing on a short win and not long term changes.

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Posted Sat, 09/06/2014 - 18:09

would you advise a 3 year bulk for women?? I don't think I could handle 3 years bulking!

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Posted Mon, 09/08/2014 - 10:47

lmao no, you will just become a whale, WOMEN SHOULD NOT BULK, women gain fat very easily lmao, you will gain some muscle, and shit lots of fat, dont do it

all you have to do is lift heavy weight, and be in a caloric deficit to lose fat, you will gain some muscle, because you are a beginner

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Posted Fri, 09/04/2015 - 19:18

This is bad advice. Bulking does not mean you have to get fat.

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Posted Mon, 08/18/2014 - 16:41

I'm 16 yr old male and weight of 152lbs and height 5'8 or 5'9 I'm not really sure. My arms my legs looks skinny it's just my belly fat and man boobs that I want to lose. I really want to have a good beach body it's just that i don't know what to do. So steve do you think long term lean bulk would be good for me?? I'm currently going to the gym 6x a week and doing this program shortcut to shred by jim stoppani but I still don't know if wether I should continue this program or just lose my bady fat first and then go to long term lean bulk. Thank you

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Posted Sun, 08/17/2014 - 15:29

Should i bulk or should i cut? I have 18 years old, 186cm and 78kg. I have 3+ years of weightlifting. Here is a picture with me

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Posted Thu, 08/14/2014 - 06:01

Hey Steve great article right now i'm 80 kgs 18 - 19 % bf according to Tanita bf scales i'm 177 cm 19 years old been lifting for 2 - 3 years but i was mainly cutting or maintaining coz i used to be overweight and had some weight rebounds . i did minimal bulk cycles and gained some during this period. now i really want to make a change my bf distribution is really weird but i guess great as i hold minimal fat in my upper body all people and trainers give my upper body when i am at 18 - 19 % bf they say i look 12 - 14 % as i have blurry abs at this range when relaxed and visible when flexed clear pecs arms , back etc and when im at 15 % or under i look more like 9 - 10 % upper body wise but skinny muscluar of course i hold most of the fat on my quads , hams and ass lol i was planning on using this illusion and do a year clean bulk from 80 kg 18 - 19 % bf on a 200 - 300 surplus then cut down to 80 kg again and repeat till my body recomposition is great at 78 - 80 kg according to my stats and weird bf distribution is this a good plan or should i try something else ? thanks !

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Posted Tue, 08/05/2014 - 06:45
Luke Dunscombe

Hey Steve i was just wondering whether to bulk or cut first because currently i am 13 stone 2 pounds & i am a little overweight but i have been weightlifting now for 6-7 weeks but I'm still seeing little to no results, I feel stronger because I can lift more in the gym but my body looks roughly the same any advice & if i should cut what weight do you reckon I should get too before I bulk up?

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Posted Sat, 08/02/2014 - 12:27
mark boyle

hi I'm a 5ft6inch male I'm currently 134 pounds with a body fat of around 12% my arms and face are skinny but my belly looks a bit flabby. should I continue to cut to try and flatten my stomach or bulk which is my final goal thanks. mark

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Posted Fri, 08/01/2014 - 07:17

Hi Steve Great article I am still a bit lost with the cutting and bulking formats I currently weight 11st and have 17% percent bodyfat but not sure which format I should do to get a great physique I would like to gain weight but am worried about putting to much fat on and not much muscle which format would be best for someone of my stature.

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Posted Tue, 06/17/2014 - 18:31


What would you recommend for 5-3 139 lbs 21per b/f?
Same as above? Bulk first?


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Posted Mon, 04/28/2014 - 19:11
Aryan 22yrs old n im too skinny..So i just want to gain weight as well as i have recently joined gym n was seeking for the suggestion that shall i take suppliments if yes then which one is the best...plzzz suggest some benefited things as well


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Posted Mon, 04/28/2014 - 03:49

Hi Steve
I am 21 and I lost 120 pounds in weight due to being way to over weight at 18. I stook mainly to cardio and my midsection hasnt ever taken shape again. So im a skinny fat. I weight 180 at 5"8 but I truly am a skinny fat. I went bulking for a while and I really did bulk up but people commented said I was getting fat and I panicked and cut and im back where I started.
I jusy want to know should I drop from 180 a bit and then bulk up? Im happy enough with my weight but I just have to push away the nay sayers!!!!

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Posted Sat, 04/26/2014 - 20:58

Great article, helped answer a lot of questions I had.

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Posted Fri, 04/04/2014 - 00:33

Bulking is wrong for A true skinny fat. I tried it. The problem with this article is it is using A conventional path that doesn't work for most skinny fats. IMO the Skinny fats need to lift moderately and cut to 10 percent body fat. It is at this point A careful bulking and weightlifting plan should be initiated. Skinny fats tend to gain in the belly quick and it's tough to lose.

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Posted Thu, 03/13/2014 - 13:12

I have lost 57 pounds from 340 to 287. I am 5'10" tall and 45 years old. I have recently joined a gym with the thoughts of gaining muscle but strength as well while loosing some fat. it seems to be working primarily because I have had a muscle base in the past so muscle memory seems to be there, I have not lifted in 15 years or more so the newbe benefits seem to be there. I can see the muscle growth and definition but I am loosing about a 1/2 pound a week. I suspect at some point, this progress will slow and I will have to choose cut or bulk. Any advice on my situation?

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Posted Fri, 03/07/2014 - 18:57

Great article! What would you advise for my situation? I'm 33 years old, 5,6" male and I cut for 8 months from a plump 170 to a lean, somewhat athletic 130. I have a 6 pack when flexed, 4 unflexed and I progressed well on my weights for 5-6 months before stalling. 1 rep maxes are: bench 155, squat 250 and dead 330.

I'm at 12% body fat at the moment. Should I continue a cut for another month or so to get to 8% body fat before starting a long lean bulk? Or start one anyway and cut later?

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Posted Tue, 07/15/2014 - 11:27

Stop cutting. Lean Bulk then if you're happy go into maintenance. 12% body fat is perfectly healthy for a male at your age. Ideally, males should shoot for 10-15% BF. Anything below 10% is difficult to maintain and requires a special diet.

IMO this is a good article but strangely doesnt address the fact that the best route for skinny fat is what Steve mentioned previously in a previous comment - Cut properly first, then bulk. You can cut and maintain muscle if you resistance train and diet right with protein.

The reason why you want to cut first is because if you bulk, you will still look fat. Better to cut first, and then go on a long lean bulk. Assuming this is for newbies, you will also gain a little bit of muscle if you are brand new anyway. You'll look better after your cutting period, and its easier to bulk than cut.

Cutting is the hardest part of getting in shape, especially for newbies. If you can get past your initial cut, lean bulking will be a breeze as it requires a slight caloric surplus. Its easier to over-eat than under-eat.

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Posted Thu, 01/23/2014 - 07:00

Great write up Steve!

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Posted Fri, 02/07/2014 - 12:41


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Posted Tue, 01/21/2014 - 13:54

I am 39 years old, 6'1, 194 lbs and 23% bf. Over and over I have done the short term scenario you mention. I am trying to make the decision of cutting vs bulking right now and after reading your article still dont know what to do. My plan was to get rid of my gut and then start a long term lean bulk but now I am not sure. I am heavier and higher bf than in your example. Advice?