Eli5 What makes a body cut, shredded or bulk?

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Is there a specific technique for me to get cut, shredded or bulk?

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Bulk = Be on a Caloric Surplus, and do resistance training.

Cut/Shred = Be on a Caloric Deficit, continue resistance training, and add variety of cardio.

How you specifically plan for that is up to you, but that’s the very basics between the two. No one plan fits all. And without knowing anything of your current stats, and fitness level, it’s a bit hard to make any further suggestions…

All of these generally refer to having well developed muscles that are easily visible due to low body fat levels. What you need to do to get there depends on your starting point.

Some people need to lose body fat. Some need to build muscle. Some need to do both. There is endless discussion on these topics in r/fitness, r/gainit, and r/leangains.

I’ll give a very general overview of the topic here.

Food has energy in it. Our bodies need that energy to survive, as fuel for making our hearts beat, our brains operate, so we can walk and talk and move. If we eat as much food as our body uses, our weight is stable. If we eat more food than our body needs, the body takes some of the extra energy and converts it into fat. If we eat less food than our body needs, the body takes that fat and turns it into energy to make up the difference.

We measure how much energy is in food in “calories.” The more calories food has, the more energy it has. And if we eat more energy than we need in a day, the body stores it for future use.

So… getting “cut” or “shredded” is what happens when you lose body fat, and your muscles aren’t as covered up by them. The way to do that is to eat less, and exercise a lot. Specifically, you want “aerobic exercises”, exercises that cause you to spend more energy, like running, swimming, playing basketball, anything that will leave you out of breath if you do it enough.

That being said, when you are losing body fat, the body doesn’t want to make your muscles grow at the same time. To make the body burn fat, you need to eat less food. That makes the body go “We’re in a famine, there’s not enough food to eat! I want to get smaller so I don’t need to eat as much to survive!” So workouts that cause the body to grow more muscle aren’t effective when you’re on a strict diet, you can’t diet to lose weight while also growing muscles at the same time.

Many people use a cycle of “Bulk” and “Cut” where they focus on growing muscle first, eating a lot more food than usual so the body has fuel to make those new muscles. Then, once they have the big muscles, switch to a “Cut” cycle of eating a lot less and doing more aerobic exercises, to lose fat.

This is something you will likely want to talk to a personal trainer about, or a specialized subreddit on the subject.

Calories. Training.

* Cut – less calories than used, to reveal musculature.

* Shred – cut to the point of having very little body fat.

* Bulk – more calories than used, training to build musculature.