Should you cut or bulk first?

Should you cut or bulk first?

Sometimes it is hard to know whether you need to cut or bulk first for a bodybuilding competition after you have made the decision to. 

There are some important things to consider when it comes to this as it will directly reflect which option you should do and where to start

Of course, having a coach at the end of the day will help you in this process, but having a general idea of what to expect will help you to understand why your coach has you plan set up the way it is.

 Recommended Reading: Is competing healthy for you?


How to determine what you should do first

 should you cut or bulk first when it comes to your first bodybuilding bikini competition

The time that you have

Most preps for shows, on average, are 12-16 weeks when it comes to cutting down for a show. 

Obviously, this means that someone has prepped in advance before the cutting phase to build lean muscle. 

So it is important to see what kind of timeline that you are looking at. 


If you are looking at a show in 12 weeks and have not been lifting or eating healthy consistently for at least 6 months prior, it will not be the best option for you. 

As a rule of thumb, you will need at least 6-12 months of weight lifting consistently prior to getting ready for a show.

Giving yourself more time is always recommended so that you don't have to do anything drastic in getting ready for the stage. 

Less stress on you, your body, and you mentally so you don't end up burning out. 

Plus, you will have even better results this way. 



Where your body is currently

Being honest when assessing your body where it is currently at. 

If you have a higher body fat percentage at 30%+ you are going to need more time than someone who is already sitting around 20% before cutting the last 12-16 weeks before their show. 

You should be sitting around 15-20 pounds above stage weight. 

Obviously, this is going to look different on every single person, but your federation and division also plays a huge factor in this. 

If you don't already have developed glutes and what the judges will be looking for, you will need to make this a priority to focus on the areas that need to be developed more. 

Cutting for a show is not a time for growing the muscles. It is a time to drop body fat and try to maintain as much muscle that you have built as possible. 

Being in a caloric deficit will not allow you to build successfully. 



How committed are you?

The biggest factor in all of this at the end of the day is how committed you are. 

If you can follow a plan, workout consistently, and eat healthy 80% of the time - this will be easier for you. 

If you struggle with nutrition or following a workout plan consistently each week - this will be much harder and stressful for you. 


What if you want to prep and you are struggling with being consistent?

I highly recommend getting a personal trainer and online coach to help you stay more accountable while you start the process of learning how to workout to get your body ready for a show.

Start with the goal of being consistent and everything else will fall into place. 



Need help prepping for your first show?

Sarah with Top Knot Strong is committed to helping women in prepping for their first bodybuilding show. 

She helps you by taking all of the prep work out of it, gives you accountability, and makes sure that it fits your goals, needs, and lifestyle to ensure it will be easier to stick to. 

No matter how far you are from a show, she is there to help and has many options in doing so


If you are unsure of how long it will take, set up a free 15 minute consult with her today! 

She can go over what will be best for you, what to expect for a timeline in competing, and the next steps for you to take. 


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