There seems to be a lot of frustration and confusion with a lot of guys,…
SO many guys fail to do this, and end up ballooning after their cutting period, where they were extremely deprived, and couldn’t wait to get bulking again.
It’s arguably one of the most crucial periods, the “Transition Period” as I like to call it, for those who care about staying lean year-round. This is the time where your body is primed for body fat storage, and the less you put on, the longer you can bulk for, and the less time you need to spend in a calorie deficit next time you decide to cut (all things equal).
Staying Lean – The Transition Period
We need to remember that muscle takes a long time to build, regardless of caloric intake, unless you’re a beginner. Therefore, we need to enter the lean-bulk phase with a long-term perspective. There’s no point bulking for one or two months – you won’t get any momentum going. This needs to be more like a whole year.
With this in mind, I would argue that you would be smart to spend a month (YES A MONTH!) in a “Transition Period”.
It’s only a month, which is miniscule when you look at the entire lean-bulk phase, which should be over a year (maybe with a couple of very short mini-cuts in there). This month is crucial for preventing rapid fat gain after coming out of a prolonged cut. You want to limit the damage as much as possible during this month.
Staying lean during a lean-bulk is difficult. This month is sometimes just as hard as cutting itself – your metabolism does ramp back up, and even though I like to harp on about the psychological aspects of nutrition and fitness success, there are legitimate physiological changes too. Your metabolism will be lower when you transition into a bulk, purely because you’re lighter.
So, what exactly do you do during this month?
I want you to eat at maintenance calories for a month. You may be thinking: “What’s the point in that, we’re not trying to bloody re-comp – you’ve already said those are useless for non-beginners!”
True, but once this month is over, we can really focus on gaining muscle, once we know for sure that our metabolisms are back on track. There is a psychological element to this too though. Your maintenance calories are probably lower than you think they are, plus, as I mentioned, this period is REALLY difficult.
Your body’s metabolism will be ramped up again, and it will be desperate for you to re-gain a load of lost fat.
NO, don’t let it!
Adding to this, you will probably go over your calories a little, with the goal of maintenance, so you will gain muscle – don’t worry. Just ride this period out, and you will have almost a year to focus purely on getting bigger and stronger.
As your body is adjusting, you’re still not really in “Bulking Mode” – you’re not safe yet. This is why it’s so important to keep doing whatever you were doing whilst cutting, with the only change being total calories consumed.
You would think that when raising total calories you would feel full all the time…not the case. Your metabolism and hunger signals soon adapt. Also, you’re likely to increase carbs and drop protein. DON’T!
Normally, this is a great idea whilst bulking, just not during the Transition Period. You want to stay as full as possible on your caloric budget – don’t change the macros from your cutting macros. Your percentages may vary a little, but keep protein the same, and don’t add too many extra carbs. Avoid sugar like the plague, otherwise you’re likely to lose control – as I said, you’re not safe to relax yet.
This month requires discipline – staying lean year-round is NOT easy. But, it gets easier after this.
Finally, whatever cardio you were doing, keep doing it. You can reduce it slightly, particularly if your training volume goes up, but this is a Transition Period – don’t make any drastic changes!
This is how to stay lean year-round. If it sounds like work, that’s because it is. But, you get the following benefits:
- You look awesome year-round
- You feel confident year-round
- It’s easier to get even leaner when you want to either compete, or get completely shredded for the summer
- There are no major losses in strength during any given month – this can be soul-destroying for the typical bulk/cut yo-yo-er.