Cutting / Bulking / Maintaining Weight as a Powerlifter

In the following video, Jim Elli from Reactive Training Systems (RTS) discusses cutting, bulking and maintaining weight as a powerlifter. If you compete in powerlifting, or at least train for this, then when should you be going on a cut? When should you bulk up some… and when should you try to maintain your weight.

Well, it depends on your goal. Do you just want to get stronger no matter what? Then an endless bulk is for you. If you want to look more aesthetic and relative strength is more important to you than absolute strength, then most likely you should throw in some cuts and maintenance phases as well. During those periods, your focus should be to maintain or increase relative strength, while losing some body fat to look more shredded.

Of course he just covers his opinion on the matter, but he’s backed by one of the greatest powerlifting coaches around these days, Mike Tuchscherer (owner of RTS), who has developed one of the greatest systems for auto-regulated training for powerlifting. He also is largely responsible for popularizing lifting based on a Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) as opposed to doing a pre-determined workload in each individual workout of your training program.

Anyhow, this Jim Elli guy knows what he’s talking about, so it’s likely a good opportunity to learn something valuable whenever he speaks about training, nutrition, etc. Especially in regards to powerlifting, which is his area of expertise.

If your goal is to increase your relative (to your body weight) strength, you should keep an eye on your Wilks Coefficient, which is a formula to compare your powerlifting strength at any given weight to other lifters (regardless of their body weight); whether you’re bulking, maintaining or cutting weight, this holds true in all scenarios.

You can calculate your Wilks score any time using this calculator for example. If you’re getting stronger (relative to your body weight at any given time), your Wilks score should improve over time. So, if it’s your goal to be strong for your body weight, that’s a good metric to keep an eye on.

If you don’t care about turning into a lard-ass and just want to get as strong as humanly possible in powerlifting, then most likely you should just eat through your endless bulk and drink beer between deadlift sets.