If you’re subscribed to my YouTube channel then you’re probably fully aware that I have just started another cut.
I’ve started this cutting phase because (1) I have reached a point where I am more primed for fat storage than for muscle gain and (2) I am about 14 weeks out from my next powerlifting meet (and I am about 10 pounds overweight).
And I’m not going to lie…
It’s also just because I like being shredded. Especially during the summer.
Oh and I also enjoy the vascularity that comes from being ripped.
So here’s the deal.
Since posting that update video (How I Plan to Get Absolutely Ripped) I have gotten a number of questions.
Particularly about how I plan to (a) get shredded with such high carbs and (b) lose fat with minimal cardio.
- Following the end of my last cut (the end of 2013) I reverse dieted by slowly increasing my carb intake over time. After over about a year and a half of slowly introducing more and more carbs, I’ve managed to build my metabolism up to a point where I can maintain my weight on 450grams (of carbs) per day.
- Fact is, intense (heavy) weight training burns a ton of calories. Training at a high intensity with a high frequency (5x per week), I am expending enough energy through weight training alone to keep me in a deficit by simply adjusting my carb intake.
At this point you’re probably wondering to yourself “if he keeps his carbs high and doesn’t do any cardio, what changes DOES he make when transitioning into a cut?”
I am glad you asked…
Because today I want to share 5 principles I follow when transitioning from a bulk to a cut. Rules that allow me to get shredded without ever giving up my favorite foods, with minimal cardio, and all while maintaining my strength and muscle mass in the process. (Read this: Should You Bulk or Cut?)
Rule #1 – Go All In!
The first thing I do is make myself accountable. For me, this is typically by scheduling an event (i.e. bodybuilding show, vacation, powerlifting meet, etc.).
The method behind this madness is quite simple. You signed up, you paid money, you have a deadline, and you better show up!
Another measure I take is one that most “professionals” would probably advise against.
I tell EVERYONE!
You see, there have been a number of studies done proving that those whom share their intensions are less likely to achieve their goal than those who do not share them (their intentions).
In a nut shell, it has to do with some premature sense of completeness.
But in my opinion, this is only true for those whom find a sense of achievement from simply talking about a possibility.
And although this may describe the overwhelming majority, it certainly doesn’t pertain to me.
If I have a goal, not only am I not afraid to share it, but I make it a point to announce it as often as possible. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not the guy at the party talking to strangers about how “I am cutting for a powerlifting meet”. But you better believe that my closest friends all know that “Alain is cutting”.
Not only is this making me even more accountable, but having people close to you who understand why you “can’t eat that today” is extremely helpful.
My advice. Do what I have done and aim to create a reputation of sticking to your word. When I announce a goal to a friend, in their head, it’s as good as done.
Rule #2 – Clean Up the Calories
No. This does not mean I opt for “cleaner” foods. Cut or bulk, I believe in being flexible with your diet. After all, if your diet is not sustainable, it’s only a temporary fix.
What I mean is this. Typically when we have been “bulking” or in a lean mass phase for an extended period of time, we tend to get less and less “strict”.
For example, if your fat intake is at 70grams for the day and dinner with your friends is going to put you at 100grams, you probably won’t second guess it.
If I had already hit my macros for the day and I ended up hungry or with a craving, I satisfied that hunger (or craving) without hesitation.
But now that I am on a cut, my numbers are my numbers. The leeway I give myself is probably 5grams and even that small of an overage is a rare occurrence. (Read this: How to Calculate Macros for Cutting)
Rule #3 – Make the Fridge Match the Macros
The items I keep in my fridge and/or pantry change in accordance to my macronutrient goals.
When I am at the higher end of my calories during a “bulk”, you probably won’t find egg whites and fat free yogurt in my fridge.
However, while my carbs are decent (high for most people’s standards), my protein is high, and my fat is low, my fridge and pantry will reflect that.
A simple example would be the almond milk transition. During higher calorie phases, I add the flavored version that contains 60-90 calories, while only drinking the original 30 calorie version when my calories are low. Foods that contain very little to no fat with a decent carb and protein content become my best friends.
You know I am on a cut when you find fat-free Chobani Greek Yogurt piled up in fresh drawer of my fridge.
Rule #4 – Train Heavy
When I am on a cut, my main goal in the gym is to maintain my strength.
I realize that while I am in a deficit I will not be adding muscle mass. Once you have come to terms with that, you can shift your focus to maintaining the muscle by strategically adjusting your volume and intensity.
Because volume is mostly associated with hypertrophy and intensity is more beneficial for strength, I tend to increase the intensity while also (sometimes) decreasing the volume.
The increase in intensity allows me to maintain the strength I gained during my growth phase by stimulating the muscle enough to preserve it. And the decrease in volume allows for me to recover adequately while on lower calories.
The lower your calories, the more challenging it becomes for your body to recovery from strenuous activity. Decreasing the volume as needed will allow you to maintain performance by avoiding over taxing your body.
Rule #5 – Introduce the Magic Supplement
“Different foods have different combinations of 20 different amino acids. Fact is, some combinations are more potent than others. 9 of the 20 are considered essential because our body does not create them (thus we must consume them). Out of those 9, 3 are considered branched chain amino acids (BCAA). Out of those 3, 1 is the most powerful and most important nutrient for building muscle. Leucine.” – Putting a Fork in Fad Diets
I have no doubts that my diet supplies a sufficient amount of essential amino acids. But I take them anyway.
There is something you probably didn’t know about certain amino acids.
Did you know that they go through a process known as GNG?
Gluconeogenesis (GNG) is a metabolic pathway that results in the generation of glucose from non-carbohydrate carbon substrates such as glucogenic amino acids.
To put it simply…
Certain amino acids do convert to glucose (our body’s #1 fuel source).
So consuming an amino acid supplement during your workout will have a similar effect to sipping on an intra-workout carbohydrate!
The reason for consuming BCAAs instead of a carb drink during my workout should be self-explanatory, right?
No one wants to waist their carbs on a low satiation sugary drink. I’d rather have more rice and pasta!
So someone like myself, who is sure that they’re getting a sufficient amount of BCAAs from their diet, does still consume them intra-workout on my heavy training days for that extra boost in energy during a cut.
Take It or Leave It
There you have it. The top 5 rules I implement when starting my fat loss phase to ensure I am losing fat while maintaining my performance in the gym.
Did you find any of these rules helpful? Great! I hope you can implement them to help achieve your goal of a shredded and strong physique.
If you didn’t find these rules helpful, that’s fine too. I hope that they can at least encourage you to create your own rules for an easier, more sustainable, and enjoyable cut.
If you’re looking to get as ripped as possible in a matter of weeks, download 21 Day Fast Abs and achieve an event ready physique, fast.
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Have questions about cutting? Leave them in the comment section below and I’ll be sure to get back to you.