We spend many months, or even years, bulking up only to come to the realization that we’re going to have to start a cut. This stops us dead in our tracks. We spent all our efforts getting bigger and putting on as much muscle as we can. Now we have to try and accept the fact that we are going to get smaller. Even if we don’t lose much muscle, our body is going to size down.
No Fat Protein
Screw the ribs, pork, and fatty steaks. It really takes no fat protein sources like tuna, turkey breast, and broccoli. Even if we have to stick to these three and alternate them between meals, at least we are getting optimal results during our cutting phase. If we want to throw in a carb-loading day, sweet potatoes are a great option.
Weekends are difficult times to stay on schedule. If we are worried that the weekend may be iffy on what we eat, we can do some intermittent fasting to balance things out.
Weight Lifting for Muscle Maintenance
Our weight training is still very important. We need to make sure that we are not losing our muscle mass or our strength while trying to lose weight. The best way to keep on as much muscle as possible is to make sure that we continue to push ourselves in the gym. Now, instead of pushing to increase the weight we fight to lift the same amount each week.
A good idea is to install benchmark weights into our program. These are weights that we are not allowed to fall under. Say we finished our bulk by maxing at three plates, we set the bottom line at two plates. If we find ourselves struggling at our benchmark weight and no diet modifications help, then we may need to start bulking to regain our strength and approach how we will cut from there.
Do High Intensity Interval Training Cardio
We all hate to hear it, but cardio is very important when cutting. The best way to get cardio in is through high intensity interval training. This is less time consuming, gets the body into its fat burning zone, and provides a positive shift in the body’s metabolic efficiency.
The basis of this type of cardio is a consistency in high intensity sprints or bursts. This can be done very effectively by transitioning from jogging to sprinting for short intervals. It can also be done while cycling. While it is a bit more difficult, it may be done on a treadmill too. Some treadmills even offer pre-programmed settings for this style of training. Other forms of cardio may be compatible with this approach, such as swimming and basketball drills.
Progressive Diet Modifications
Our diet will dictate our progress. A major contributor to our success will be our caloric deficit. We always want to have a deficit, which means that we want to take in (eat) less calories than our body burns in a day. However, we don’t want to have too much of a deficit. Somewhere between 300 and 500 calories less than maintenance is ideal.
As we progress, our maintenance amount will lower. If we do not adjust our intake levels, we will eventually find ourselves taking in the same amount as our maintenance amount. This is why it is important to re-evaluate caloric maintenance levels every month. We may have to decrease our average caloric intake by 100 calories or so if we have made sufficient progress.
Diet modifications may also come in to play if we hit a plateau in our cutting phase. We may need to change our macronutrient breakdown or lower our daily intake amount. We may also have to change up the way we train as we may be overtraining or not doing the right exercises.
Following a Program
A great way to approach cutting season is to find a cutting diet (and training protocol!) to follow. Of course, it will have to be something that is suitable based on personal fitness, body composition, and so on. Once we find this program, we will have a pretty good outline to follow and it will likely factor in progressive changes.
If we go the route of a diet program, we really need to make sure that it is a high quality program. The main focus will be around the types of foods that are taken in and their macronutrient breakdown. There are also some unique diet programs, such as the Lean Gains method, which will require further educating but can be very effective if done right.