By Edd Oldfield |
Bodybuilder and Personal Trainer
When it comes to leaning up for summer, it’s always a difficult choice deciding the best way to go about it. How can you get your body fat as low as possible whilst retaining all of your hard-earned muscle mass?
Everyone’s journey will be slightly different but there are certain things that I’ve personally followed and advised my clients to do to help make their cut as efficient and productive as possible!
#1 Keep Up Heavy Lifts
A mistake many gym goers will make in their quest to achieving a desired physique is suddenly change the training that brought them their muscle gains when bulking. In essence – what put the muscle there, will keep it there.
Once bulking season has finished, many people decide to:
1) Change their training completely
2) Train lighter due to lower calories
3) Perform high reps in hope to become more lean (moving into muscular endurance).
Unfortunately, doing this will promote muscle loss, which in turn will lead to a reduced metabolic rate. A consequence of this would mean having to live on even less calories to get desired body fat levels.
✓ If you’re cutting down from a bulk, keep up your heavy lifts. What you should you look to do is maintain as much strength – if not gain strength – whilst you are cutting – it can be done!
✓ Perform heavy compound movements like squats, deadlifts and bench press to burn a significant amount of calories in comparison to any machine equivalents. This may even will keep that muscle where it belongs rather than it fading away.
#2 Keep Food High & Cardio Low
Cutting does not mean suddenly dropping all carbs and doing hours of cardio. This might just be one of your biggest mistakes. When cutting, it would be ideal to do so on the highest amount of calories whilst performing the least amount of cardio. Sounds great, right?
This will keep your metabolism racing, help maintain a steady recovery rate and even improve performance – all of which contribute to muscle gain. Therefore:
✓ When beginning a cut, make very small changes from your off-season/bulking diet. Numbers will be different for each individual – however – an example: In week 1, drop carbs by about 50-75g – then see how you find the adjustment and re-evaluate for the week after.
This way you’ll give yourself lots of options and leeway to keep getting leaner. Take away too much too soon and the only choice you’ll have is to eat even less and perform a high rate of cardio.
✓ If you are still progressing and getting leaner eating lots and performing little cardio, keep going! Do not feel you have to do more until you actually need to. It’s about what works for your body.
#3 Don’t Overestimate Cheat Meals/Refeeds
The above statement has probably made a lot of you (including myself) very sad. However, I have noticed a lot recently people feeling the need to have cheat meals very frequently whilst cutting.
However, the leaner you become, the need for a cheat meal/refeed becomes more necessary as leptin levels begin to drop – and in turn, reducing the rate of your metabolism. This is very much an individual thing.
✓ Cheat meals aren’t out of bounds – but they’re not absolutely crucial. Some people may enjoy and benefit from having one-a-week without the need for more – but for others, having just one cheat meal may escalate and result in going to town for hours and hours. All this does is put you further back and make the goal harder.
Take Home Message
As mentioned above, everyone’s body’s work differently and what works for one person may not work for another – it’s all about experimenting!
However – it’s a common occurrence for people to drastically change their diet in hope for a quick fix – when more often than not, all that is needed is a little consistency. Work hard and enjoy the results!
Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you're concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or introducing any major changes to your diet.