January 28, 2019

Cut or Bulk? The Skinny Fat Dilemma

by ironparadisefitness

To Cut Or Bulk? That Is The Skinny Fat Dilemma.

Should you cut or bulk? Lose excess body fat first, or dive straight into building muscle?

As with most fitness questions, there’s no definitive answer for everyone. Nuances and specific circumstances exist that are unique to you. But that doesn’t really help, does it?

You need guidelines. A framework. Like the plans to the Death Star.

Fortunately, this article is going to give you those plans. It’ll thaw you from your cut or bulk carbonite-like paralysis and make sculpting a badass body easier than shooting Womp Rats in your T-16 back home.

Cut or Bulk? Skinny Fat? What The Hell Are You Talking About?

Cut or Bulk Skinny Fat Iron Paradise Fitness

Words like cutting and bulking conjure up images of self-harm (accurate for many diets) and getting as fat as possible. Neither of which sound positive, nor appealing. However, look beyond the bro-code and you’ll see that the core principles could be exactly what you need to achieve your goals.

The Definition of Bulking

The traditional definition of bulking might be along the lines of, “eat what the hell you want, train all day, and build as much muscle as possible. Who cares about putting lots of unnecessary body fat at the same time?”

The updated definition of bulking is much simpler. Bulking = Building muscle (no need for excessive fat gain).

The Definition of Cutting

Cutting doesn’t involve self-harm and it’s not as scary as you think. In fact, it’s actually something you might want to do.

The simple definition is this. Cutting = Losing Body Fat.

So the decision of whether to cut or bulk is a decision between building muscle (bulking) or losing body fat (cutting).

The Definition of Skinny Fat

Think Skinny Fat, think Dad Bod. With a t-shirt on you don’t look overweight. There’s no obvious beer belly. And you’re not waddling around like an obese penguin.

But whip your t-shirt off and there’s a bit of a flabby belly, no chest muscles to speak of. And arms akin to an anorexic Twiglet.

For the ladies it’s a similar story. You’re thin, but lack muscle. Your body doesn’t have the shapely, strong curves you want. And you feel everything just needs a little… tightening up. Know what I mean?

Often, this type of physique isn’t due to a lack of effort. In many cases, incorrect training and nutrition over a number of years are to blame. Typically characterised by pounding cardio for hours and hours, a low-protein diet, and very low calorie intake.

Why Cardio Isn’t The Route To Losing Body Fat

There’s a popular misconception that cardio is the best way for you to lose body fat.

Now, cardio is certainly not bad for you. In fact, it can be very useful when used in the right way. But the issue comes when you use it to excess. Especially when you’re in a calorie deficit. Because hours and hours of exercise doesn’t automatically lead you to a greater level of fat loss.

Multiple Studies have shown that endurance training can impair strength and muscular development. So if your goal is to build a leaner and more muscular physique, endless amounts of cardio is not the way to go.

Instead, opt for a well-structured resistance training programme to build and preserve muscle. Add cardio in for health, or simply if you enjoy it.

Why A Low-Protein Diet Is Working Against You

If you’re in a calorie deficit, then you will lose weight. That’s a fact.

But if you neglect protein then you run the risk of losing muscle. To prevent muscle loss, keep protein intake high (around 1.8-2.7g/kg), keep training, and don’t be excessive with your calorie deficit.  


Cut Or Bulk? The Big Decision

Cut or Bulk Skinny Fat Iron Paradise Fitness

If you’re Skinny Fat, knowing where to start with training and nutrition can be confusing.

You’re caught in the middle of two competing goals. Do you build muscle first and potentially add some body fat? Or should you lose the excess body fat and build muscle from a leaner start point?

To resolve your dilemma, use The Golden Rule. It’ll make your decision easier than deciding to sell your speeder to fund a trip to Alderaan.

Cut or Bulk: The Golden Rule

Many people will tell you to base your decision on your body fat percentage. In truth, it’s simply not necessary.


Firstly, your body fat estimate will be wrong.

Unless you have access to a DEXA scan, or somebody cuts you open and specifically measures your body fat, your estimate will be inaccurate. And yes, that goes for the fancy bathroom scales you bought, the posh machine at the gym, or whatever other whacky device you’re using.

Here’s The Golden Rule.

Cut if:

  • You have no visible abs and / or an excessive amount of body fat. The only caveat to this being women. As women can have a lean, healthy physique without lots of ab definition. So some sensible judgement will need to be used here.

Bulk if:

  • You have a visible set of abs and / or are very lean and comfortable putting on a little body fat.
  • Now, I’ll say that when I use the term ‘visible abs’ I don’t mean you have to be shredded to the bone. No. I mean, you can see clear definition without tensing the fuck out of every muscle and sinew.


Cut Or Bulk? Why Follow The Golden Rule?

Cut or Bulk Skinny Fat Iron Paradise Fitness

There’s several reasons why you should follow the golden rule when deciding whether to cut or bulk.

1. You’re More Likely To Feel Good About The Process

Feeling good about the process of building a great physique is important. You’re more likely to be consistent and motivated if you like what you see in the mirror every morning.

So take a moment to ask yourself a simple question.

Would you be happy increasing the amount of body fat you have?

If the answer is no, then bulking is the wrong option. Get to a level of leanness where you would be comfortable adding a small amount of body fat while you focus on building muscle.

Using the golden rule will help you avoid these potentially negative feelings that leave you demotivated.

2. When You Cut It Won’t Be A Long Drawn Out Misery.

Nobody enjoys restricting calories. Most people want to lose body fat in the shortest possible time-frame. 

If you choose to bulk when you’re not particularly lean, the inevitable increase in body fat will make the subsequent process of losing it much longer than it needs to be.

And who the hell wants to spend more time away from Messrs Ben & Jerry than is absolutely necessary?

So use the Golden Rule to help you avoid this no-ice cream hell.

On the plus side, as a newbie, you should be able to build muscle while in a deficit. So why not have your cake and eat it? Just make sure you account for the calories.

3. When You Bulk You’ll Gain Muscle And Won’t Look Like Jabba The Hut.

If you’re starting at a relatively high level of body fat, then getting fatter is going to be detrimental to building muscle. And here’s why.

Studies indicate that the more body fat you have, the more your insulin sensitivity is likely to decrease. This can lead to a greater tendency to gain fat. Additionally, muscle protein synthesis (an important factor in building muscle) can be negatively affected.

Further to that, the more body fat you have, the lower your testosterone levels are likely to be. And this is crucially important, because testosterone plays a pivotal role in the muscle building process.


Once You Get The Right Approach, You See Results.

If you’re doubting whether or not the Golden Rule works, let me put your mind at rest.

The pic below is me. I started out pretty skinny. I had some muscle definition, though not much to write home about. Maybe that’s where you are right now?

By applying the guidelines I’ve laid out for you in this article, I built a decent amount of muscle over a 2 year period, before losing the body fat and achieving the physique in the second pic.

Best Meal Plan For Weight Loss Iron Paradise Fitness

Let me show you a few of my clients

Jacques wanted to drop body fat and build muscle. Who doesn’t, right? So he joined my online coaching programme and we set about making it happen. Based on The Golden Rule, we focused on body fat reduction first. During the 12 week programme we also optimised training and nutrition to try and build muscle at the same time. And I think you’ll agree, he nailed his transformation and looks great.

Best Meal Plan For Weight Loss Client Transformation Iron Paradise Fitness

Jose from sunny California was another guy who absolutely crushed it. He lost over 10kg and built muscle at the same time.

Best Meal plan For Weight Loss Iron Paradise Fitness

I’m showing you these epic transformations, not to blow my own trumpet, but to show you what’s possible. More specifically, what you can achieve if you follow these simple guidelines. Because these a real people who were in the exact same position you are now.

And if you want to see more transformations just like these, just go here.


Cut or Bulk? The Final Word

Cut or Bulk Skinny Fat Iron Paradise Fitness

Once you get past the slightly nonsensical terms, deciding whether to cut or bulk is actually pretty straight-forward. All you need to do is figure out if you’re carrying excess body fat, then apply the golden rule.

And once you’ve done that, follow the guidelines below so you know when to flip from cut to bulk and vice versa.

Cutting Guidelines:

  • No visible abs and / or an excessive amount of body fat (just remember the caveat for women)
  • Keep protein intake high at around 1.8-2.7g/kg of body weight.
  • Calculate a moderate to aggressive (but not reckless calorie deficit). 10-20% should be fine for most people.
  • Follow a good weightlifting routine focused on progressive overload.
  • Target 8-10k steps per day
  • Supplement with cardio where necessary
  • Ditch the fat burning supplements (they don’t work)
  • Stop cutting when you start seeing the ab definition and / or you feel happy adding a little body fat.

Bulking Guidelines:

  • You have visible abs and / or you’re comfortable with a slight increase in body fat
  • Keep protein intake high at around 1.8-2.7g/kg of body weight.
  • Aim for 4-6 servings of protein during the day
  • Calculate a small calorie surplus. 10% increase on maintenance is a good start point.
  • Follow a good weightlifting routine focused on progressive overload.
  • Don’t bother with cardio unless you want to.
  • Ditch the BCAAs, testosterone boosters and other useless supplements.
  • Stop bulking when you don’t want your body fat to increase further

Follow these guidelines and you’ll be on the way to achieving the body you want. Be consistent and patient. Trust the process and you’ll reap the benefits.

Oh… And let’s stop using the terms cut and bulk. They’re outdated and meaningless. Losing body fat and building muscle are much more descriptive and a lot less bro.

A Handy Graphic

Here’s a handy cut or bulk graphic if you’re still unsure about what to do.

Should You Cut Or Bulk Decision Tree Iron Paradise Fitness


Here’s What To Do Next If You Want More Help To Achieve Your Fitness Goals

Online Coaching Iron Paradise Fitness

After reading this article, you might be excited at the prospect of transforming your physique and fulfilling your genetic potential. And to do that, you need training, nutrition, and mindset to be aligned.

Through my online education platform, The Lean Life Uni, I’ll help you lose fat, build muscle, and build the body you’ve been striving for. Ultimately, taking the guesswork out of training and nutrition so you can live a leaner, healthier life for good. 

With The Lean Life Uni, you’ll learn a simple, stress-free way to lose fat, build muscle, and feel more confident and healthy than ever before, without torturing yourself in the gym, avoiding wine and pizza, or killing your social life in the process.

And I understand the fact you’re unsure about parting with your hard-earned cash. After all, you’ve spent thousands on pills, powders, and programmes that delivered nothing. So what’s different about me?

The simple truth is this… I get results, and I’ll teach you everything you need to know so you can maintain those results.  So answer me this.

  • How much precious time are you spending trying to figure out what’s right, instead of making progress?
  • Are you sick and tired are you of never seeing the results your hard effort deserves?
  • How much stress and frustration is your lack of progress, adding to your life?

lack of clarity might be holding you back from living the leaner, healthier life you deserve.

Find Out More

Click here find out more about the Lean Life Uni. And if you feel like the courses and my personal support and coaching could bridge the gap between where you are now and what you’re trying to achieve, start your membership, today.

So, if you’re even the slightest bit interested, click here for more information.

But for now, all I’ll say is, keep living the Lean Life. And I’ll see you soon.


body fat, bodybuilding, bulk, bulking, calories, cut, cutting, diet, dieting, fat loss, skinny fat, weight loss

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