It’s hard enough that, as beginners, jumping into the world of fitness means undoing a
lot of bad habits, adding new good, but difficult habits, and exuding patience for results while
But, when we actually sit down and start writing out goals, things quickly become a bit hazy.
Sure, we all want to look a certain way or be able to physically do certain things.
But often, one question fills the mind of the average beginner: Should you first try
to lose weight, aka cut, or build muscle, aka bulk?
Unfortunately, the discrepancy of factors doesn’t ever truly allow for a perfect answer.
The science isn’t exactly concrete, and often the preferences and work ethic of the
beginner play more into the role than anything else.
A safe answer here would be, “it depends.”
But even without the concrete evidence, one can still muster up a clearer, yet subjective
take on the matter granted that a reasonable explanation is given.
For me personally, I do believe one choice is better than the other.
In almost all accounts outside of skinny hard gainers, or people that frankly don’t care
about aesthetics, when given the choice, cutting first is the better option.
Here’s my reasoning.
Let’s first address bulking.
The point of bulking is to lift weights and eat excess calories with more protein in order
to pack on more muscle.
However, simultaneously beginners will be adding more fat on top of the fat they already
You’re stronger and have more muscle, sure, but you won’t see it in the mirror, which
can be quite demotivating.
And if you can’t remain motivated, you might end up quitting altogether.
Cutting first instead, where you’re eating at calorie deficit, preferably also with a
higher protein intake, will be much friendlier in terms of visual results and staying motivated.
One might assume that cutting first means you’ll just end up looking skinny and weak,
but for beginners, that’s often not the case… as long as they are resistance training
The fact is, beginners have the great fortune of experiencing what we call “newbie gains.”
Newbie gains is a provocative and ambivalent mechanic in its own right, is often described
as the period in which a novice lifter is able to rapidly increase muscle mass and strength.
With resistance training and “newbie gains,” beginners on a cut will at the very least,
retain as much muscle as possible.
In many cases, they can still experience muscle hypertrophy, or muscle growth, early on in
The science is not clear in this matter, but we can hypothesize that since beginners are
so far removed from their genetic ceiling potential and typically have excess stored
energy, it’s the perfect environment for growth even in the face of a deficit for maybe
the first week to a month.
On top of that, deficit or not, neural adaptations in strength will still occur, such as improved
motor unit recruitment and rate coding.
End result, you will become stronger.
But one reason that I think, above all else, makes cutting first better than bulking is…
It makes more sense to work on technique during a cut for a few reasons.
One, when starting off, you should be working with a lighter load to focus more on your
technique rather than growth.
Not much of an issue during a cut, where the focus is fat loss.
Bulking, on the other hand, benefits directly from higher volume and intensity, and going
lighter in the beginning will cut into potential growth.
Two, when you do start working with heavier loads, you’ll also end up burning more calories
and thus lose more weight.
And three, and perhaps the best reason, is once you do start bulking, you’ve got your
technique down pat, maximizing the growth potential discussed earlier, making it simpler
to hit new PRs, tack on more muscle, and avoid injuries.
All the while actually being able to see your hard-earned results!
And that sums up my stance on it.
Unless you have a health or personal preference to bulk instead, cutting first seems to make
the most sense.
But remember… cutting and bulking should only be temporary phases.
Your end goal, unless you want to become a bodybuilder, is to find a middle ground that
you’re satisfied with and can maintain for the rest of your life.
Balance and overall health is key.
Everything else will follow.
But again, this is my stance on it.
Whether you agree or disagree is up to you!
In fact, let me know your opinion in the comments.
If you find some holes in my reasoning, then feel free to let me know!
I’m always open to feedback.
Other than that, as always, thank you watching.