You need to bulk. Then cut. "Your body simply isn't very good at doing both at the same time."
To be fair to the masses, the actual physiology behind this is actually close to being completely accurate.
You might be sitting back thinking, "hang on, I remember days when I first began training with weights, I got bigger and leaner without to much trouble." It's true. Newbie trainers can pull off huge body composition transformations without much difficulty. The body is simply adapting to a new external stimuli at a great rate of knots. In my first year of training I had reduced my waist by 1.5 inches but had put on 8 Kg – this is before I even knew how to train!
But as trainers become more experienced and advanced, gaining additional mass while reducing body fat becomes more and more difficult - to the point where it's almost impossible. Most of us usually have to focus purely on muscle gain (accepting that some fat will come with it) or fat loss (accepting that you'll lose some muscle).
The reasons why this occurs is beyond the scope of this article, suffice to say that the some of the simplest explanations are evolutionary; your body is very good at keeping you alive (i.e. storing energy), and fat storage happens to be one of the easiest storage mechanisms to help you survive if you suddenly had no access to food.
OK, so the above are very simple explanations. The physiological reasons why we struggle to gain muscle and lose fat simultaneously can get quite complex, this however doesn't change the outcome. I'll sum up by saying that underfeeding is necessary for fat loss but will always have a negative impact on muscle mass. Dieting also induces a number of adaptations that tend to prevent further fat loss. Overfeeding is necessary to gain muscle but will always have a negative impact on fat mass, however, it can reverse many of the adaptations that occur with dieting.
You see, in our quest tobecome leaner and bigger, we are up against the odds. But this doesn't mean we can't do it. We just have to know how to "trick" our bodies.
Goal transfers simply means you rotate between gaining muscle - and losing fat, with the net result of achieving both. We now understand that you can't do both concurrently (unless you're a rank beginner). They both need to be done separately.
Often lifters will gorge on food and lift heavy for long periods of time, sometimes 3 months, often a year. This is a traditional bulk. Many times there are no plans on when to lose fat; this all changes when they look in the mirror and notice that all their muscle definition and leanness have gone.
They then diet for 3 months or until they are very lean. They call that cutting. Unfortunately they have probably lost as much muscle dieting down, as they gained when bulking. Hardly ideal.
Although we have two phases in a traditional bulk and cut --- just as you do when you goal transfer, the traditional bulk and cut isn't a goal transfer because momentum from one of the phases is no longer available to carry you (or add value) to the follow on phase. A goal transfer is a pendulum swing. It can be half the week muscle gain and half the week fat loss. It can even be a week or two (or three) before swinging back the other way.
The beauty of the goal transfer is that it re-sensitises your body to your overall goal. If your goal is fat loss, when you overfeed your body relaxes its defences to allow further loss. If your goal is muscle gain, a period of under eating will keep you lean but also provide you with an anabolic rebound once you resume overeating.
OK, onto the program:
What I am about to describe is an INTEGRATED diet, SUPPLEMENTATION AND TRAINING program. The three are synergistic. This means that 1+1 = 4, not 2. The take home message is USE THEM TOGETHER. Some of you reading this may notice similarities to Lyle Mcdonald's Ultimate Diet 2.0 and you would be correct. I have personally used this dieting method with great success (when most others have failed – I experiment a lot!).