Have you ever thought that getting cut was just for celebs and the personal trainers of the world? Think again!
We can all build up our muscle mass and lose that unwanted fat to become stronger and more confident.
Like every change, it takes some time to get used to a cutting phase, but we are here to show you how to do it safely and effectively.
The key to any lifestyle change is to make it a habit. Habits last while fads don’t.
Let’s make your cutting workout a habit that leads to fat loss and more muscle mass. Start channeling The Rock.
Is there Science to Cutting?
Our friend, Mr. Science, has all of the details on the cutting process with some different studies performed to get the body you have always wanted.
The idea behind cutting is to reduce your body fat while increasing your muscle mass.
Increasing your muscle mass means eating more, which can be confusing if you are trying to achieve fat loss.
However, the idea of eating more means eating more protein, the staple of muscle building. Let’s examine some studies that showcase the science behind cutting.
Too Much Fat Mass Equals Metabolic Complications
Before we look at some studies that produced fat loss, let’s explore a study that discussed the adverse effects of too much body fat and its metabolic complications.
Did you know there are three different kinds of fat? Yes, there are, and they are not all the same.
This study focused on visceral fat (fat stored in the abdominal cavity near vital organs), upper body fat, and lower body fat.
The researchers noted that visceral fat and upper body fat significantly contributed to health problems like sleep apnea, type 2 diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), and dyslipidemia (unhealthy levels of fat in your bloodstream), and many more complications.
Increased Weight Loading Causes Decrease in Body Fat
A trial was done to observe weighted vests’ outcomes and the reduction of body fat on the participants.
Weighted vests are often used in calisthenics to increase the weight on the body as you perform regular exercises to increase the difficulty.
Sixty-nine participants were split randomly into two groups. One group had a higher weighted vest. It equaled about 11% of their total body weight.
The second group had a lower weighted vest, which equaled only 1% of their body weight.
The results showed that the group with a higher weighted vest lost more body fat and body weight than the second group.
This study provided evidence that more resistance on the body could lead to better cutting.
Keep Muscle During Weight Loss
Scientists tested whether muscle mass was lost during weight-loss diets. It was found that muscle mass was lost when people diet, but some strategies could be used to try to save muscle mass.
One way to keep muscle mass while losing body fat is to eat high amounts of adequate protein.
Adding resistance training during a weight loss diet also proved to maintain lean muscle mass during weight-loss diets.
Let’s get a Cutting Workout Plan with Cardio
Try to say that five times fast. Maybe you think getting cut with cardio doesn’t make sense because cardio promotes fat loss and not muscle gain. In some ways, you are right.
Cardio burns calories, which is a great way to lose body fat.
This is important for cutting because there is another kind of fat that keeps you from being cut. It’s called subcutaneous fat, and it sits right underneath the skin on top of the muscles.
No matter how much strength training you do, if you don’t incorporate a good diet and some cardio into your fitness regimen, that subcutaneous fat will stay put.
This is keeping you from looking like The Rock, and that’s not cool.
So do Cardio Every Day?
No, you don’t have to do cardio every day to get cut. Splitting your training between cardio and strength is going to get you cut faster.
Doing cardio about three times per week is an excellent way to start. That way, you lose weight and fat while keeping that lean muscle you are loving.
High-Intensity Interval Training
Our old friend High-Intensity Interval Training or HIIT is one of the best ways to cardio train when getting cut.
Those short bursts of intense training followed by lower intensity training or rest kicks your metabolism into gear and you will lose fat quicker.
The idea behind HIIT is to “hit” it as hard as you can for about 20-30 seconds. Then rest for about 40 seconds and repeat.
Think of it as pushing yourself to your absolute max for 20 seconds. Sounds fun, right?
Let’s not confuse HIIT with interval training, where you are taking the heart rate up and down at longer intervals. Interval training is excellent for the cutting phase, even though you work at a lower intensity than HIIT.
Interval training usually alternates between cardio and weight training to get more efficient results.
Strength Training in the Cutting Phase
Moving on from cardio training, let’s look at the amount of strength training you will need per week to increase your muscle mass. The body fat will decrease with the cardio workouts, but we don’t want the muscle mass to fall.
When it comes to cutting, there is no exact number of days that you should be working out. Each person is different.
A general rule is to get your cardio in, and that is about three days per week. Then alternate upper and lower bodyweight training on the other days.
If working out every day of the week is too much, then cut back on your cardio one day and also one day on your weight training. Do what is best for you.
Let’s walk through some of the best workouts for building that muscle.
HST Workout Plan
Hypertrophy Specific Training (HST) is a fancy way of saying muscle growth training. We are so fancy.
The first principle behind HST workouts is to load the muscles with more weight more often. You want to be lifting more weight each time you train. The next principle is that you don’t want to go longer than 48 hours before working that muscle group again.
Think of this as staying in front of your recovery. The muscle will not be fully recovered before you add more weight to it. While that sounds strange, it strengthens the muscle further. The last principle of HST is progressive load.
You always want to be adding progress to your weight training. Keep actively increasing the weight you are pumping to increase the muscle mass.
Once you stop, the muscles will be maintaining but not building.
An example of an HST cutting workout would be to do two exercises each for the arms, back, legs, and chest. Then do one exercise for the calves and three exercises for the abdominals. Got it? Okay, you will need to do four sets of about 10 reps of each exercise for the legs, back, and arms (two sets for biceps, two sets for triceps).
Then do three sets of 10 reps for the abdominals, chest, and shoulders and then only two sets of 10 reps for the calves. You can vary what exercises you do so that your muscles keep growing.
Think of changing up the exercises after about two months. Further down, we give you some examples of exercises that could work into this workout, so don’t stress.
For this HST workout plan, try to get your workout to about 45 minutes or 60 minutes max. That means you aren’t resting a whole lot in between sets. Endurance is the key here.
Circuit Training Workout Plan
Circuit training is excellent for cutting because it is cardiovascular but also utilizes the weight training aspect. Plus, it’s intense.
There is no rest in between the exercises because you want to keep your heart rate up. That said, you don’t want to have too much weight or go too intense because you won’t make it through your sets.
You are going to be working the entire body utilizing about six exercises.
Perform squats, side bends, shoulder press, bench press, v-ups, and chin-ups in that order. Once you are done, that is one set. Do about 10 reps of each exercise and try to do three sets.
Whether you decide to do an HST workout or circuit training, the recommendation is to train 2 or 3 times per week.
Pick the one that works best for you and your goals and knock it out. Below are some of the exercises that you could try in your workouts.
Doesn’t everyone just love a good squat? We heard you say, “hell yeah.”
Squats are a compound exercise that engages your core, glutes, quads, and hamstrings. The key to using squats while in the cutting phase is adding more weight to your barbell each time.
We want to keep challenging our muscles. Making those squats harder is going to increase muscle mass.
Literally, bend over to the side y’all. Well, it’s a little more involved than that, but not much. A side bend, leaning over to one side while holding a weight in the hand that you are leaning towards, engages your core, specifically those oblique muscles.
Any core exercise you can do is going to help your overall fitness. Increase the weight you hold during the bend to get those muscles working even harder.
Working those shoulders is vital during the cutting phase.
Not only that, shoulder presses increase your functional fitness. Remember what it was like to lift your luggage into that overhead bin? Oh, to be on an airplane. Those were the days.
Anyway, shoulder presses involve holding a dumbbell in both hands with your palms facing forward and your hands, elbows, and shoulders at a 90-degree angle.
Press the weights overhead and straighten your elbows and then bring them back down to that 90-degree angle. Don’t be fooled.
This exercise is intense for those deltoids, so progress in weight slowly.
This one is a clear favorite and another great way to cut. The bench press’ key is to lock your arms at the top and lower them to utilize those chest muscles.
Like all of the other exercises, add weight to your bench press to get that progression and build that muscle mass. Don’t let yourself get complacent.
If you want to get a shredded core, v-ups are a surefire way to do just that. Lie on your back on the floor with your arms stretched out straight above your head.
Lift your legs and your arms simultaneously to sit in a V, using your core and then lower everything back down.
Core exercises are essential in the cutting phase to promote muscle mass in your abdominals. You should be working your core multiple times per week to gain that six-pack.
Something to note with the v-ups is that the hip flexor muscles like to lift your legs. Don’t let them. Visualize contracting your core as your lift up so that your abdominal muscles are doing the work.
Don’t roll your eyes at us. You knew this exercise was coming as part of your cutting phase. Yes, chin-ups are hard, but you got this. Grab that pull-up bar, contract those back muscles, and rise.
Remember, the key to chin-ups is getting that first one.
Once you do, you can do three quite quickly, and before you know it, you are up to 10 reps. Basically, you are now a pull-up pro and should be signing autographs.
Can I get Cut in 4 weeks?
Look at your goals! We like it. You are going to hate this answer, but it depends.
Can you get more fit and lose body fat in four weeks while gaining muscle mass? For sure. Is everyone going to see the same results? Of course not.
We are all different body types and at different fitness levels. For instance, if someone has a lot of body fat to lose, it will take longer before they start seeing muscle definition.
Someone who has less body fat and lean muscle mass will see results quicker based on their body structure. When developing your cutting workout plan, essential things to remember are how intense and motivated you are. Discipline is critical when it comes to cutting.
You have to make sure you are increasing your weight training steadily to promote muscle mass. There’s one other thing that you need to do when cutting.
It’s not a biggie. It’s just your diet.
Do I have to Change my Diet?
Yes, we said the “D” word. As hard as it is to hear, you will have to change your diet to get cut. You have to have a hypocaloric diet. Sorry, we are being fancy again. That just means your calorie intake is going to be reduced.
This will definitely affect you overall because you are going to be working out while cutting. Your energy levels will go down because of the calorie reduction, but that’s to be expected.
Some people worry that their strength will be reduced while cutting. Ways to avoid that are to incorporate strength training with your cardio workouts.
Weight training will have that muscle mass building your strength in no time. Also, there is the idea of macros that will help as well. Macro who? Let us explain.
Your macronutrient profile is the amount of calorie intake we get from our three basic nutrients–fats, carbohydrates, and proteins.
Did you do a happy dance because carbs are on that list? However, not all carbs are created equal.
Just like not all proteins or fats are created equal either. We want to think of smarter food options instead of just getting empty calories. Quality is key.
A generic representation of a macronutrient profile is 50% carbs, 20% protein, and 30% fat.
If you want to cut and lose fat, you are going to change those percentages. Usually, the carb percentage is going to go down while the protein intake goes up. Sorry y’all, but the protein is going to enhance that muscle mass to grow.
While carbs are great for giving you energy, so is protein, just in a different way. Your macronutrient profile will be different depending on what you want to achieve, your body type, age, weight, etc.
There is no one size fits all, but tracking macros is an excellent way to reduce calorie intake but in the right ways.
For cutting, you could try something like 40% protein, 40% carbs, 20% fats or 50% proteins, 30% carbs, 20% fats.
Keeping those Insulin Levels Balanced
Yes, we are going to say it. Sugary foods are a quick way to get those insulin levels soaring.
When you are in the cutting phase, you don’t want to do that for many reasons. The most obvious reason is that sugary foods convert to fat, and we are trying to lose fat.
There are also a lot of foods that are high on the glycaemic index or GI. The GI is a rating system for carbs on how quickly they raise your blood glucose levels.
While we know sugary foods have a high GI rating, so do white bread, white rice, and soft drinks. Bummer, right? The best way to minimize that spike in your blood sugar is to eat carbs with a lower GI rating.
Some examples are oatmeal, whole wheat bread and pasta, vegetables, fruits, brown rice, and sweet and regular potatoes.
Remember, you want to eat smarter, not just less. Eat the carbs that will help keep your blood glucose levels from spiking and get cut even faster.
Any Drawbacks to Cutting?
You mean there’s a drawback to having razor sharp abs that could cut steel and biceps that you can flex for days? We could only really find one disadvantage to cutting, and it is a lack of energy. Lowering your calorie intake is going to make that happen.
The key is to eat the right foods to counteract this. If you are reducing your carbs to get cut, at first, you will notice a decrease in energy.
However, as you start eating more fats and proteins, that energy level will start to go back up. You will have more long-term energy, which is the best kind to have.
The Cutting Conclusion
Did you already start looking up pictures of The Rock and imagining the heads that are going to be turning as you walk down the beach this summer?
We love that attitude. That will take you from a cutting phase to being cut.
Build that muscle mass using our tips and tricks above, and remember that in order to get the best cutting experience, it takes diet, exercise, and determination.
If you put all that together, your six-pack will thank you.
Kristen holds a bachelors in English from Louisianna university. With a longstanding passion for fitness, she owns and operate her own gym and is a certified jazzercise instructor.