The Truth About Cutting Weight
In all honesty, cutting weight is really pretty easy. All you have to do is reduce your caloric intake and viola, you lose weight.
As we all know if you take this approach, you are going to lose a lot of muscle in the process, that is a given.
However, what if I told you that there is a way that you can cut weight without having to worry about losing that much, if any muscle?
What would you say then? Impossible! Well, I think not!
I should know because I have done it. From January to July of this past year I lost well over 75 lbs of body fat and went from 23% body fat to 12% body fat.
Was it easy? No. But it is possible.
Want To Keep Your Muscle? Then Don’t Rush!
By far, the biggest mistake I see aspiring bodybuilders making when trying to cut weight is rushing the cut.
Rushing your cut may be tempting, especially if you hate dieting and believe me I totally get that.
But keep your goals in mind, if you want to look and perform your best, do you want to eat like an anorexic? Of course not.
If you starve and deprive your body of vital and essential nutrients that quickly, your body will start to fight back against you.
You WILL lose a lot of muscle and even strength. So here’s a revolutionary idea, stop rushing and instead relax and take your time.
The RIGHT Way To Cut Weight
Most of the information online for cutting weight comes from professional athletes, mostly MMA fighters. There’s no doubt that these guys know how to cut weight fast.
Likewise, professional athletes live in a different world than the rest of us “regular” people. We all have busy lives and a boatload of responsibilities. Whipping out measuring cups in the office and carrying a second duffel bag full of meals is just not practical for most of us.
So here’s what you need to do if you want to cut weight properly.
- Burn Off More Calories Than You Take In
- No Extreme Diets! Small Gradual Changes
- Add More Volume And Conditioning In Your Workouts
It is really this simple. But it is not as simple as starving yourself and then praying you get ripped.
You still need to work hard and train even harder. So let’s dive into each of these in a bit more detail.
Burn Off More Calories Than You Take In
Arnold even said it, “if you are eating around 2,000 calories per day, try to burn off around 2,500.”
It takes about 3,500 calories to either add or burn 1 pound of fat. If you simply subtract 500 calories per day, then you will burn off 3,500 calories weekly. Thus, you will lose 1 pound of fat.
This is how it works. Some people like to reduce the calories by 1,000 per day. I recommend that you reduce calories according to your activity level. If you are a very active person, then around 500 calories should be the max. If your more sedentary, then aim for 1,000.
It is much easier to do this if you eat more small meals throughout the day.
Let’s take a look at an example:
Typical Day (No Calorie Reduction)
Breakfast – 700 calories
Pre-Workout Snack (Lunch) – 360 calories
Post-Workout Meal – 340 calories
Dinner – 680 calories
Post Diner Snack – 200 calories
Total: 2280 calories
Typical Day (With Calorie Restriction)
Breakfast – 600 calories
Pre-Workout Snack (Lunch) – 260 calories
Post-Workout Meal – 340 calories
Dinner – 480 calories
Post Diner Snack – 100 calories
Total: 1780 calories
Did you happen to notice how similar these two diet plans are? They are virtually identical. Same structure, same number of meals, etc. But there is only one difference between the two. The number of calories.
The second diet plan with caloric restriction includes the same meals, same food, same everything. You are just eating less of it. Couldn’t be any simpler.
- Write Down And Record Everything You Eat For A Week
- Add Up The Total Amount Of Calories
- Look For Areas Where You Can Cut Calories
No Extreme Diets
Avoid those silly 28 day “get shredded” programs. They are a complete waste of time and energy.
What makes more logical sense?
- Working out for 11 months busting your ass trying to build muscle and then losing most of it in a month.
- Getting leaner while still building strength and then staying lean all year round and getting really big and strong in the process.
I hope you said number 2 because that the right answer.
When you do those crazy extreme diets you are choosing number 1. Why?
Simple. Because they promise you “quick” and “easy” effortless results. Listen man, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Remember, muscle also has weight. If you lose 30 lbs in 30 days, there is absolutely no guarantee that all of it is going to be fat.
In fact, as we already know, a good deal of it is probably going to be muscle.
Add More Volume And Conditioning Into Your Workouts
Now comes the fun part, the workouts. You have to put a lot of work into your diet. That is a given. But you also need to put just as much work into your actual workouts.
When you are cutting weight, you need to dramatically increase the volume of your workouts. I talked about this briefly in my last article on Strength Training Programs.
You want to lift more weight for more repetitions. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy heavy, but it should be some moderate weight for A LOT of reps.
The goal is to increase time under tension. Muscles don’t understand weight, they only understand tension. So if you really push the reps, you will force your muscles to keep growing even though you are cutting calories.
Plus, you will also give yourself a great conditioning workout as well.
Cutting Workout Blueprint
We want to start the workout with a heavy compound exercise (e.g. bench press) to maintain our strength levels. We DO NOT want to lose strength.
Maintaining your strength levels is crucial to both building muscle and maintaining your body composition on a cut.
Don’t try to push it too much, otherwise you will burn yourself out. Aim for around 5 reps for about 3-5 sets. Go as heavy as possible for this one.
Then we perform various assistance exercises for weak and/or lagging muscle groups.
It doesn’t really matter which assistance exercises you pick. Just pick the ones that work the best for you.
As for sets and reps, do as many as you can. I personally find that around 8-10 sets of 10-15 reps works the best for any given exercise.
Plus, you would also do some form of interval training on your “off” days.
I told you it was not going to be easy. There is a reason there are so few lifters that are on the covers of fitness magazines. It is very hard work!
It you want to truly look your absolute best, then this is the roadmap to get there.
Sample Cutting Workout
- Bench Press – 3 sets X 5 reps (~80% 1RM)
- Lying Dumbbell Tricep Extensions – 6 sets X 8-10 reps
- Arnold Presses – 8 sets X 8 reps
- Reverse Flys – 10 sets X 10-15 reps
- Tricep Pushdowns – 1 set AMRAP
It may only be 5 exercises, but volume is certainly not something you are taking lightly. This is a brutal workout. But this is the absolute best way for cutting weight as a bodybuilder.
I have tried many other ways, both with myself and with my clients and this is the way you do it.
When you first start cutting weight you’ll inevitably feel fatigued. It feels like this huge tidal wave of exhaustion just hits you in the face. This usually happens around the second week.
What most people do is they stop training heavy and they they start to reduce the volume of their workouts opting instead for steady state cardio.
If you do this, you WILL NOT get ripped. You’ll be skinny, but not defined. In order to be defined you need muscle mass. That is a given.
However, with the lower calories you body will be trying to get rid of any excess muscle bulk because it burns up too much energy. You need to keep lifting in order to stop this from happening.
If there is only one piece of advice you remember from this article, it is this: keep lifting!
We went over quite a bit of information in this article so lets do a quick recap.
To properly cut weight you want to give your body a caloric deficit of at least 500 calories, while at the same time lifting weights with high volume.
It may sound hard to believe and quite simple, and you’d be right tho think so. But it’s the truth.
Instead of binge cutting, just make one really good cut and then maintain low body fat as long as possible. Read my article on a bulking to find out how to do a clean bulk.
If you learn how to stay lean all year long, you will not only make incredible strength and athletic gains, but you will also look incredible.
Enough talk, time to take action! Go hit the iron!