Looking at the grand scheme of things can always be a challenge. When you are setting a goal, you do not want to get to far ahead of yourself, yet you do want to have a plan of attack and have a good scope of things to help ensure consistency and effectiveness for a good stretch of time.
When it comes to bodybuilding and putting on muscle, you have to accept it is going to be a timey process. Even if you have amazing genetics, putting on muscle the right way takes hard work and patience. Many people break up the muscle building process into two phases; bulking and cutting. In a 12-month calendar year, an individual can see some pretty amazing results if they stay consistent and work hard.
Bulking, or “building a foundation” of muscle is important and usually comes first in the process. This is when of course eating is vital to make sure your body has the energy and nutrients to build good mass. With this should be some minimal fat gain. The fat gain is not a bad thing though for it will just fit into the overall look of power and strength you are broadcasting. Many people struggle with bulking because they either eat too unhealthy so they put on more fat than they need to or they just cannot deal with the fact that along with 15 pounds of extra muscle they have built they are also carrying 5 pounds of fat. Many people do not stay in the bulk phase long enough to see optimal gains which will just help motivate them to keep going.
When looking at a bulk session or sessions throughout the year, it is good for you the individual to evaluate the look you are going for. Depending on how much muscle you want to build, this should play a role in determining how long you should bulk. If you are a ectomorph, or “hard gainer” by nature, and want to pack on 50-60 pounds of muscle, than a good suggestion would be taking a whole 12 months learning your body and eating to build (bulking). If you are someone looking just to add some overall size, maybe 15 pounds, a good 3-4 months of clean, abundant eating with some heavy lifting would be a good start. How clean you eat during your bulk will play a huge role in how long you can keep the bulk going. If you are eating unclean and consistently upping your calorie intake, you will start to notice more fat than muscle being put on.
When it comes to cutting, or conditioning, the same mindset comes into play. If you have done well on your bulk for a year and now want to spend some time shedding fat, slowly start reworking your macros, decreasing your overall calories and implementing some light cardio into your workouts. A good cutting phase for any individual is 8-12 weeks. This time span will allow you to track your body’s progress in losing fat, making adjustments where you need to.
If you are a person looking to lose 10-15 pounds to get the stomach to show more, still that 8 to 12-week time span is good. Just be smart and do not starve yourself or just do cardio. All that hard-earned muscle will be lost.
Bulking and cutting down all depend on you and what look you are going for. More muscle will require more bulking time, and more fat will require not so much more cutting time, but more of a strict and disciplined cutting time.