Should I Be Bulking Up or Toning Down?


question-icon-newRight now I’m basically trying to “bulk up” and gain around 15 pounds before I start toning down, and I’m not quite sure I’m doing the right thing. As a skinny person, I do realize I have a fast metabolism, and never pictured myself as a “chubby” person. In your 10 tips, you suggested that I include one cardio workout in my daily routine, and I realize that it might stop me from gaining weight, and in fact help me burn the fat I have right now. Last year I had 22% body fat, and I’m pretty sure that has increased over time, but I’m still about the same weight, 145 pounds, which is not a lot. So my question here is, should I include cardiovascular workouts and tone down at the same time, or should I wait to get bigger first and then start doing more cardio workouts to work on my definition?

Another concern I had was the excessive candies and chocolates and ice cream that I eat; surely, if I decide not to eat that, I can certainly put it to a stop, it really isn’t that much of a deal, but I was wondering if it does indeed stop me from getting bigger and gaining more muscle strength and weight, rather than fat?

answer-icon-newWith your body type, I really don’t recommend “bulking up” before trimming down (cutting). The reason is because when someone tries to gain mass, they usually pack on a substantial amount of body fat during the process. Then, when it comes time to trim down (cut up), they end up needing to really restrict their calorie levels and increase their cardio to rid themselves of the excess fat. This turns into a nightmare, because their body’s metabolism slows way down and they end up losing some precious muscle mass in the process.

I recommend adding high intensity cardio sessions to your overall fitness plan. These cardio sessions should consist of explosive movements such as sprinting, jumping rope or spinning on a stationary bike. Make sure you’re training at about 85% output and really push yourself through the workout. Limit each of these cardio sessions to 20 minutes max. Your goal is to hit it hard and fast, then give your body time to recover. You will want to do cardio about 3-4 times per week.

Along with cardio, make sure to weigh train with very high intensity also. Your muscles will only grow when they’re being overloaded, so make sure to always focus on increasing the amount of weight per exercise and taking every set (after warmup) to positive failure. By combining a high intensity weight training routine with a high intensity cardio program, you will be hitting it from every angle and your body will drop fat and build quality muscle mass. A great way to track your progress is by using our exercise journals here:

In terms of your diet, I really can’t stress enough how important it is to eat a clean diet that excludes all empty calories such at candies, chocolates and ice cream. These sweet/sugary foods are the worst for you because they contain large amounts of sugar which causes your insulin levels to go crazy. You end up packing on unwanted body fat and always become hungrier and hungrier. If you’re truly serious about making substantial changes in your physique, you really need to focus on cutting these “cheat foods” out of your diet. Stick with a lean protein and non-starchy carbs. A great meal would be a grilled chicken breast salad with romaine lettuce, sliced cucumbers and a little balsamic vinaigrette dressing. You could also opt for a nice chicken breast and veggie stir fry. Throw some broccoli, mushrooms and chicken into a stir fry pan with a touch of soy sauce.

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