Unless you are a BBer (by which I mean you get in the weenie bikini and pose on stage to be judged), the whole concept of cutting for a short period (i.e. a few to ~12 weeks) followed by « lean bulking » is completely ridiculous.
I do not know any athlete of any sort, or even any NARP for that matter, who actually does this who I would consider average or better. This is the kind of trash that is put forth by crappy magazines that is followed by people who don’t know any better. I want to be clear that I mean no offense to you here. I believed the same crap back in the day before I was introduced to elitefts and before I knew anything about nutrition and training. You cannot « bulk up » 30 lb of muscle while maintaining low body fat levels in any sort of time frame like that.
Unless you are still under 18 years old, gaining 30 lb of pure muscle is something that takes literally YEARS. And ever if you were still in puberty, the idea of gaining 30 lb of muscle in even as short as 1 year is basically impossible because you would have to live for training and recovery and nothing else. No job, no school, some sort of income that allowed you to train, eat, sleep, and train again with little to no activity outside of training to screw with your recovery. For 99.9% of people with real lives that include job, school, family, wife/gf/life partner, success, failure, stress, friends, hobbies, and all the shit that comes with being a person, gaining even 10-15 lb of pure muscle in less than a year is strongly unlikely. This is not to say that you can’t get stronger by any means. Gaining strength is much easier than actually adding muscle to your frame.
Here is what you and pretty much anyone else who is concerned about body composition needs to do: weigh yourself and measure your body fat (NOT using bioelectrical impedance). Repeat these measurements once a week under the same conditions (i.e. same day of week, same time of day, same scale, same calipers, same person, not yourself, using calipers, etc). Then just eat healthy and train hard. If you find you are losing muscle, eat more. If you find you are gaining fat, train harder or adjust your diet accordingly. And yes, « eat healthy » is very generic, but that is seriously all most people need to do. Learn how to cook, at least on a very basic level. Eat beef, chicken, eggs, protein powder (NOT soy), pork, salmon, tuna, turky, tilapia, oats, potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice, nuts, olive oil, fish oil, spinach, kale, lettuce, celery, green beans, broccoli, bell peppers, onions, avocados, carrots, cucumbers, and all the other things that you and everyone else knows are healthy.
None of the pre-packaged garbage or fast food or fat treats that are gluten free or sugar free or low fat or light or any fake-ass advertising to get you to buy some crap that is made from rat poison and gorilla farts. You can follow a specific diet like mountain dog, carb night, slow carb, or whatever, but the diets that work all follow these same basic ideas. And you can absolutely get leaner without « cutting. » If you are training hard following some sort of well designed plan while eating healthy, you will get leaner. If you lost zero fat, but added 5 lb of muscle, you will have improved your body composition and you will show lower body fat levels when measured. If your goal is to look like a competitive body builder, then you have to realize that those guys are severely and dangerously dehydrated and they train for months and years to look that way for about 48 hours. Plus, their pics that you see in the mags are edited, photoshopped, airbrushed, etc.