1. Carlos Vanegas

    Hi Andy,
    I’ve been lifting weights for 2 years, I’m 39 yo, 5’11” and just completed a cut that took me from 180 lbs 20% to 155 lbs 15%. I may have gone a little too aggressive on the diet and based on the weight loss rate of the last 3 weeks (2.2 lbs/week) I think I was loosing muscle mass and decided to move to maintenance (diet break) for 2 weeks. I want to move into the “Slow Bulk & Cut” cycling program, and that led me to this article. Based on this article I think I fall on the “Cat 3. Muscled, a few pounds to lose”. So I’m convinced that I need to keep cutting before moving to the bulking phase. My question is, what should be my %BF goal before moving to the Slow Bulk phase of the cycle? My overall objective is to achieve “Scott’s physique” within 12 months and then maintain it.

    1. Losing 9 lbs of fat will have been a 5% drop in body fat assuming perfect muscle mass preservation, but you lose 25 lbs. Did you royally fuck that up? Well, you probably lost some muscle but not 16 lbs. The difference is explained by a dodgy bf% reading (always happens) and non-fat/muscle weight changes (gut content, water, glycogen).

      You want to aim stay within the 10-20% body fat range when cutting and bulking. Any lost muscle mass should be regained quickly, so I’d do a short bulk and then cut once you get back to 20%. This time get lean enough to get your abs out and don’t rush things! 🙂

    2. Carlos Vanegas

      Hi Andy,
      Thanks for your response
      I think the muscle loss is real. Not sure about how much but before-after pictures suggest some muscle loss. I was not taking body measurements yet.
      I was little surprised by your sugestión to bulk all the way back to 20%. If I do so, wouldn’t that be moving all way back to where I started? At that point it may take 5+ months weeks to get down to 10%.

    3. I was little surprised by your sugestión to bulk all the way back to 20%. If I do so, wouldn’t that be moving all way back to where I started?
      Well yes, but arguably you started in a better position than you are now. This is assuming the worst case though. Muscle re-gain is much easier (faster and with less fat along with it). So you probably won’t need to go all the way back to 20% to regain it.

      You have a choice of two paths moving forwards: Cut then bulk or bulk then cut. My advice would be to bulk, but personal preference playsd a role. The most important thing right now is that you make a decision and stick to it.

    4. Carlos Vanegas

      Thanks Andy
      I will go in bulk mode got a few weeks (4-6) and see how muscle re-gains vs fat progresses and evaluate now that, thanks to you, I know how to track progress much better.
      Do you have any specific recommendation in regards to the training for muscle re-gain? (Rep range, or else)

  2. Andy,
    Thank you for all the great info. You’ve helped me tremendously.

    Would you change any aspect based on age? I’m 54 and the chart for calipers indicates that I have a higher body fat at the same measure for someone younger. I’m currently at an estimated 14%. I understand that I need to cut to have a better ratio when building. At my age, should I push through to 12% or lower?

    Are there any adjustments of other aspects due to age?


    1. Doug, thanks for the question. Your ability to recover and respond to training will be lower now than when you were younger, which is worth considering (as are any injuries you have) but just because you’re older doesn’t change of the principles change. There’s huge inter-individual variability in this that is in a large part down to the genetic lottery. There are 54 year olds that will respond to training better than 24 year olds. So don’t let the fact that you’re 54 hold you back.

      If you’d like to read more about the genetic aspect, fantastic article by Greg Nuckols here:
      Genetics and Strength Training: Just How Different Are We?

  3. Hey Andy,

    Love the guides, been eating it up. Trying to get as much info as I can. I’ve been on a 2k cal/day cut for a while now, and haven’t been seeing progress. All your calculators and others have suggested that perhaps I should be eating a bit more on average per day (2300 or so). Can you talk to the science behind how eating more could potentially improve my physique?

  4. Hey Andy,

    First of all thank you for your work and the free guide i really love it, I did dowonload your excel calculation and i was impressed. I found a small mistake which can lead long term to a bad result, maybe you can fix it, it wont take long. You did the calculation for the carbs Protein and fat with 4,4,9 in reall it is 4.1 4.1 and 9.3 in my case it leads me to 100 Calories more per day in a month thats close to 500 Gramm fat more. For people with a biger Calorie intake it can lead to 200-250 Calories more a day.

    1. Hi Jaci. Thanks for pointing that out. It’s a purposeful simplification, the difference is not worth worrying about.
      – You can’t track your food intake perfectly anyway.
      – Metabolism is adaptive, so you need to adjust based on actual progress rather than calculation anyway.
      Don’t worry about it.

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  9. Great thanks for the reply I think ill take the diet break as I have meticulously counted calories for 4 years staright. Ill move slowwly into a bulk after this. Thank you!!

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  11. Hey man lovin all these articles sorry to bump an old thread.

    I did my first Men’s Physique shows last year and really nailed my condition but was too small, I was 155-160lbs on stage at 5’11.5 so definitely need to grow. I was forced to take some time off due to a surgery I had to do, I am 100% recovered now and been cutting for about 8 weeks now. I am 170lbs as of now but feel like I have crushed my metabolism and still not shredded again.

    I got impatient and macros have been 1800 calories training days <100 g of carbs <50g of fat and 245 protein 60min hard weight training and 20 min liss 3 of the 5 days. And rest days twice a week are 50g og of fat, same protein and 0 carbs with 40 min of fasted LISS. Saturdays are a high carbs refeed/cheat meal uncounted.

    My simple question is how lean should I be before going into slow bulk or recomp. I am probably 9-10% now, fully visibible abs but holding water so not as shredded as your " shredded pics" or should I take a diet break and cut down to shredded?

    I am known for overdoing exercises and deficits and making cortisol a problem

    1. Hi Michael. 9-10% is fine to start bulking from, no real benefit in going lower.
      Next time you come to cut, take it slow, be patient and you’ll be able to eat more and do far less, yet still get shredded.

    2. Hey thanks for the quick reply. One last question should I do a diet break between this aggresive cut and a sloww bulk.
      I just feel that going into a slow gain phase with a tanked metabolism wouldn’t give me the best results.

      Thanks very much for your time and this site!!

    3. If you feel that mentally you need it then you can and should. Otherwise you’re fine as the increases to the macros with the slow bulk will bring the hormones/metabolism back up to normal. Don’t aggressively cut though unless you must, you’ll just lose muscle mass.

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