Most bodybuilders go through these three phases and they do it in cycles and the results are variable.
Bulking: Intake could be as high as 5,000 to 7,000 calories per day. Goals are to build muscle, gain weight and increase strength. Calorie intake is far more than what they burn daily. This leads to unwanted accumulation of fat and also some use full muscles. Mostly if one gets 10kg bulk then muscle gain and fat gain are 50 / 50. The body looks bloated and fatty. There is increase in Power, mass and size.
Shredding: It is done usually few weeks before competition. Goal to lose body fat and maintain the muscle mass, dehydrate the body to show off the muscles. Cutting down on salt intake reduces water retention in last week of the contest. Three days before the event, bodybuilders go on a salt-free diet, minimize water intake and use diuretics to dehydrate themselves. With the subcutaneous water gone, the skin wraps tighter around muscles. This all process is very hectic and laborious. One loose more muscle then fat and after this cycle one shows the same performance which the person was heaving the previous show.
Cutting: Cut calories and create a deficit. Workout harder. Goal: lose body fat. Diet will be high in proteins; less carbs and no-fat diet. Training hard light, increased number of repetitions, reducing the rest period between the sets and training days, increasing cardios and over training leads to lowering the body fat but at the same time loosening the hard earned muscles. One lose just 40 % fat and lose 60 % muscle hard earned during the off season bulk up season.
DECONSTRUCTING THE SEXES
Diet: Women have more fat in their body as compared with men. So, most women bodybuilders cut down on carbs. Protein remains the food of choice for both the sexes. Female bodybuilders need fewer calories than male bodybuilders. But to achieve the required anabolic growth, bodybuilders, irrespective of their sex, consume much more calories than regular adults.
Exercise: Men have the advantage of natural testosterone when it comes to weight training. Their muscles give dramatic results when subjected to intense workout. Though both men and women have to do intense weight training, women have to do much more cardio exercises to burn the extra fat.
Supplement/steroids: Both men and women need protein supplements to repair the muscles that get injured during workout. Women may need more vitamins and mineral supplements because of their low carb diet. Female bodybuilders also tend to take more fat-burning products to metabolize the excess fat.
Steroids, too, work differently on men and women. In men, the effects of steroids and other drugs are just temporary and good effects goes away like bubbles one the cycle is over. It’s just makeup before the great show. But the side effects can be long lasting depepending upon the dose, nature and duration of the course of cycle. Steroids may lead to enlarged breasts and shrunken testicles. Women often complain of body hair, hair fall and a hoarse voice.