Bulk or Shred? Why I Always Shred Before I Bulk
Choosing to bulk or shred is a combination of preference, body type, current fit status, and long term goal. Bulking is awesome cause it allows you to consume more carbs and you get to eat foods that you otherwise wouldn’t think about eating. When you shred, you do the opposite, you restrict your carbs, and you’re much more careful about what you eat and can’t eat. When making the decision to either bulk or shred, consider your long term goal as the most important reason for making that choice. Thinking that you can gain some size while shredding fat is a little ambitious although not impossible. So I suggest you do one and then the other.
Bulk and Then Shred
This sequence is the norm. Most people who do this are trying to build some considerable muscle before they start their shred. This makes perfect sense for someone who has already been training for some time. Add some mass first and then simply cut down the fat to show off any hard muscle gains.
Benefits of this approach:
- Eat better tasting foods
- Gain muscle and mass by staying anabolic
- Feel better emotionally and physically
- Gain strength and power
However, if you’re just starting out or have been out of the gym for an extended period of time, I suggest you start with a shred and then a bulk. I’ll explain why.
Shred and Then Bulk
This is best when your getting back into the gym after a long hiatus or perhaps after an injury (like me). I wouldn’t recommend jumping into a bulk since a bulk might cause you to gain too much fat while trying to regain size.
What I recommend is easing your way back into your routine by working your diet and slowly going into a short shred phase. With this approach, you get to lose some of that fat you might have gained and you start seeing how much muscle you actually lost. Don’t panic if you notice some muscle loss cause it’s only a temporary setback.
Benefits of this approach:
- Lose fat and get leaner
- You can accurately assess your starting point – ie: how much muscle you currently have or have lost
- Ease your way into a more structured routine than you have been
- Emphasize nutrition to enhance your training
Think about what your long term goals and decide which you will benefit from the most. Everyone wants to shred and look good, but is this your true goal? Do you want to gain size or do you want to stay lean? When you make that decision, don’t be afraid to plan out your training. I always prefer to lose the fat first and see what I look like lean so that I know which body part I need to work on. Remember that each phase can take a couple of months out of the year and if you don’t plan them out before hand, you can and will lose a lot of strategic training time.