Get our FREE Workout App!

When to Stop Lean Bulking

Someone asked me the other day when should you stop lean bulking.

The complete answer is this: At all times in your muscle building journey you should stay below 15% body fat. So you would need to stop bulking when you are around 12-15% body fat.

There are several reasons you don’t want to bulk above 15% body fat:

  • You completely lose muscle definition and vascularity. When you’re above 15% you barely have a blurred 4 pack while flexing in good lighting.
    Not only that but because your waist starts to get wider your proportions are negatively affected. Your shoulders, chest and arms will actually appear smaller because of this:

same muscle development different levels of body fat

same level of muscle development, different levels of body fat

  • Your face starts to get puffy too. Maybe you’re one of the lucky guys that doesn’t store fat easily on their face but me, I always have a moon face when I approach 15% haha. I don’t even want to imagine how I’d look at 18-20%!

Look at my face in this video and then in this video. Massive difference right?

  • It takes a long time to cut back down below 10%. Considering you can lose around 0.5-1% body fat per week, to go from something like 18% body fat to 9%, you’re looking at 12-16 weeks of cutting. That’s not fun.
  • It’s harder to make lean gains when you’re above 15%. As our body fat increases, insulin sensitivity goes down and that negatively affects nutrient partitioning making lean gains much more difficult. Testosterone also seems to go down when we get fat. Testosterone is the anabolic hormone most involved in muscle growth so we wouldn’t want it to go down.

Building a Great Body 101

I explained my philosophy for gaining size in the article The Complete Guide to Lean Bulking. Here it is again in short:

  1. If you’re over 14% body fat, lose some fat before you start bulking.
  2. Once you reach 9-10% bf increase your calories to maintenance for about 2 weeks.
  3. After that maintenance phase, start to gain weight slowly over several months. Once you’re up to 14-15% body fat it’s time to cut back to the 9-11% range.
  4. Repeat this process until you’ve built enough size to not look small at 9-11% body fat. At that point you can get leaner and bring your cut-bulk range to 8-11%. So you’d bulk until you hit 11-12% and cut until you hit 8%.
  5. Repeat this process until you’re happy with your size at 8-9% and then maintain that condition.


Do you have a different lean bulking strategy? Something else to add? Any questions? Leave a comment below and let me know! I read and answer all comments.

The Program that built my physique

If you’re looking for a muscle building program I recommend you check out The Greek God Program. Greg designed specifically for building proportionate mass and gain strength fast while staying lean.

Check out my one year transformation with it.

Click here to see a few more success stories with it


  1. Moonlight15 on October 27, 2015 at 5:39 pm

    Salut ! Cred ca am ceea ce se numeste grasime incapatanata in partea lombarilor, nu imi place asa mult forma mea de V , cand o sa fiu la perioada de definire, ce pot face ca sa scap de aceea grasime? Cardio 3 zile pe saptamana ar fi ok?

    • Radu Antoniu on October 27, 2015 at 7:46 pm

      Tot timpul o sa ti se para ca nu esti destul de definit. Crede-ma, esti.

      Grasimea aia e normal sa fie acolo. Ai da-o jos daca ai ajunge pe la 6% grasime. Dar nu iti recomand sa faci asta acum

  2. Moonlight15 on October 28, 2015 at 8:00 am

    In vara, as vrea sa incep definirea si sa ajung la 6%! E ok?

    • Radu Antoniu on November 3, 2015 at 10:38 am

      Da, poti sa faci asta 🙂

  3. Moonlight15 on October 31, 2015 at 12:44 pm

    Si eu trebuie sa fac la fel ca in videoclipurile postate de tine? Adica sa pun 100 si ceva de calorii zilnic? Sau sa continui sa merg cu 2400 si daca fac de exemplu 62 de kg si maresc caloriile?

    • Radu Antoniu on November 8, 2015 at 12:49 pm

      Daca cresti in greutate nu e nevoie sa maresti caloriile. Dar daca nu iei cel putin 1kg pe luna, e bine sa mananci mai mult.

  4. Leo on March 12, 2016 at 11:09 am

    Hi Radu, thank for all your Amazing videos and articles
    I am around 15% bodyfat now. So according to your strategie i should cut. However i weight 67,5 kg for 1m84 and i have been training for 9 months, don’t you think i would be very very skinny and that it would be unhealthy for me to cut ?
    Thank for your inspiration
    Leo from France

    • leo on March 31, 2016 at 3:58 pm

      no reply ?

Leave a Comment