It’s looking like I will not be doing a formal cutting program in January.
During the first 7 or 8 years after my initial transformation in 2003 I did quite a few “bulks” (eating and training to build muscle size) followed by “cuts” (fat loss programs).
My last bulk was in late 2008/early 2009, but in 2010, 2011 and 2012 I still did winter cutting programs to get lean for summer. A quick review of those cutting programs, and why they were required:
In 2009 my maintenance phase was very sloppy (dietary speaking), and during the last couple of months of the year I added even more fat. I started my 2010 winter cut on January 4, 2010 at 206.4 pounds and 15.5% body fat. It took me four months of very strict dieting to reach my goal: on May 2, 2010 I hit 7% body fat / 178.6 pounds.
By the end of 2010 I was back up to 203.2 pounds and 15.9% body fat. Just like in 2009, my diet was too loose–particularly during the last few months of the year. This time it took me a little more than 3 months to reach my goal: on April 9, 2011 I wrapped up my 2011 cut at 6.9% body fat / 173.6 pounds.
I did a better job of maintaining in 2011, remaining below 10% body fat almost the entire year. I relaxed my diet quite a bit late in the year, and when I started my 2012 cut I was at 193.6 pounds and 12% body fat. I was able to quickly shed that fat with about 10 weeks of ultra-strict dieting, and on March 18, 2012 I closed that cut out at 5.7% body fat / 171.6 pounds.
Maintenance–for me, and many others–is far more tricky than fat loss. As someone who tends to be very “all or nothing”, maintenance is that sort of middle ground that doesn’t really compute in a brain like mine. At least it didn’t for a long time. I’ve really had to work at it…
That work is paying off. This is the first year during which I felt like maintenance was effortless. It’s been nearly 33 weeks since my 2012 cut ended, and over those 33 weeks I’ve lost additional body fat and scale weight. The weight/fat loss has not been a purposeful thing, but I’m 100% cool with it. I’ve certainly lost some “show” muscle over the past year (my arms, chest and shoulders are smaller than they’ve been in ages), but that’s actually affected my performance on the bike positively (much less weight). My legs have probably never been better conditioned than they are right now, and they will continue to improve as my cycling training becomes longer in duration and more intense.
My cycling training has been ramping up over the past three months, and that trend will continue for the foreseeable future. I would not be at all surprised if my scale weight winds up in the 150s. While this may sound shocking to those of you who saw me bulk up to as high as 236 pounds, it’s nothing more than my body adapting to further my current athletic goals. I will, of course, carefully monitor my performance. I want to be light, but not at the expense of performance; I have many checks in place that will quickly alert me to any negative performance impact.