When you’re trying to shed weight, you need a cutting routine that’ll support your goals of getting lean and maintaining your muscle.
With it starting to heat up, bodybuilders the world over are ready to cut fat and whip their shirts off. If you’ve just finished a bulk, finding the best workouts to get cut is naturally the next step.
After building up muscle, it’s crucial to preserve as much of it as possible through your cutting routine. While the aim is to strip fat, there’s also room to potentially gain mass.
But what does a bodybuilder cutting program look like? We’ve searched high and low for the best workouts to get cut, so you can get shredded in no time.
What makes the best cutting program?
In order to have a successful cutting workout plan, you need to pay attention to two important aspects of your workout:
Of course, in any workout routine to get cut, you’re gonna need cardio. However, the type of cardio in your cutting routine matters – with each having its own benefits and downsides.
Understandably, you may be unsure of the type of cardio to include in your cutting workout plan, since some have the potential to encourage muscle loss. However, both the type and the amount of cardio you do is key. When you strike the right balance with our bodybuilder cutting program, you’ll keep hold of the most amount of lean muscle, while firing up fat burn.
Although a bodybuilding cutting program is all about burning fat to reveal that beautiful lean muscle we all crave, weight lifting is still an important element in your cutting routine.
Many guys don’t realise how much weight lifting can contribute to fat loss. While cardio technically burns more calories than lifting weights in the gym, the effects of weights are long lasting – meaning that calorie burn continues in the recovery phase.
So while it may not feel like you’re burning a shed load of calories on the spot, overall it is pretty damn good.
Also Read: How to burn fat by building muscle
But it’s not all about the calorie burn, since weight lifting during your cutting workout plan can help you to maintain your strength gains.
Now, let’s talk about what you’re really after: The best workouts to get cut.
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The right cardio for your cutting routine
As we touched upon earlier, the best cutting program includes the right type of cardio to burn fat and keep your gains. But what’s the best route to take?
Well, you’ve got two ways to conquer cardio in your bodybuilding cutting program.
High-intensity interval training (HIIT)
We all know what HIIT is by now, don’t we? While it may not usually be a part of your cutting routine, this type of cardio is key to maximize calorie burn in a short amount of time.
Since HIIT combines medium-paced intervals with short bursts of intense exercise, this high-intensity approach allows you to burn fat much faster than longer, slower, workout sessions.
Plus, HIIT is pretty damn adaptable. So whether you’re planning a cutting workout plan alongside football training, adding HIIT can benefit both. But that’s not all! Since many of us can find it difficult squeezing in long gym sessions into our cutting routine, the chances are you’re more likely to stick to such a short burst of exercise.
I totally get it. A long slog of exercise can be both time consuming and a little mind numbing. Walking mindlessly on a treadmill for an hour is gonna send anyone a bit nuts. But short bursts of getting sweaty? Much more like it.
Usually, those looking to do HIIT pick an exercise such as running, rowing, cycling or elliptical machine. The flow usually follows a minute at 60 to 75% of your max heart rate, followed by a sprint (15 to 30 seconds) at 90 to 95% of your max heart rate.
Here’s how to do it.
Warm up for 5 minutes on the treadmill
At internal 1: Run for 1 minute at 60 to 75% max heart rate – Sprint for 20 to 30 seconds at 90 to 95% of your max heart rate.
Repeat this cycle 10 times – for a total of 15 mins.
Cool for 5 minutes.
The best bodybuilder cutting program is all about frequency and consistency. The thing is, guys, you’re probably running a little low on energy anyway, since you’re in a calorie deficit in order to maximize your cut. So don’t go overboard when adding HIIT to your cutting routine.
So what works best?
The best bodybuilding cutting routines focus on HIIT three times per week, sneaking them into your schedule on non-lifting days where possible. And believe me, you’re not going to want to do a HIIT workout a leg day.
If you do prefer to not lift weights in your cutting workout plan, you can try HIIT four times a week instead.
When to HIIT it
While we’ve already talked about doing your HIIT cutting routine three to four times a week, the timing here may also be important.
Also Read: How to strength train while cutting
Some bodybuilders have reported that cardio in the morning may have a greater impact on muscle loss. But remember, a HIIT workout doesn’t last forever, so it isn’t a deal-breaker here. Get a good meal after your workout or grab yourself a protein shake and you’ll be fine.
Switch up your HIIT workout
During even the best bodybuilding cutting workouts, your body can get a little familiar with your routine. So don’t be afraid to switch up your HIIT workouts every now and then to keep your cut on track long term. If you stick to just running, your results could plateau.
Try switching between running to cycling for example from one month to the next.
Long duration, low-intensity cardio
If you’re not a fan of utilizing HIIT workouts in your cutting routine, you can opt for cardio that is low intensity and longer in duration.
The trouble with this route is the high possibility of losing more muscle mass. However, while this type of cardio is endurance orientated, the likelihood of your body being pushed to the point that it sacrifices muscle is pretty slim.
But there are some great benefits of adding long duration cardio to your bodybuilding cutting program, since low-intensity cardio uses fat as its main fuel. This means that carbs will be saved for more intense exercise.
Don’t go getting too carried away, though, since 60 minutes plus of this type of exercise may dip into your muscle being used as fuel. This may be the more suitable option if you’re not really that fit to begin with, but still want to lose weight.
Now let’s take a look at frequency, duration, intensity and switching up low-intensity cardio.
Much like your HIIT workouts, aim for 3 to 4 times each week. If you prefer not to make weight lifting a part of your cutting routine, you may be able to do more.
This may also depend on your fitness level. If you’re a bit of a newbie to this type of cardio, stick to three times weekly, if you’re pretty fit, go with four.
Unlike HIIT workouts which run in short bursts, this type of cardio requires at least 15 minutes in order to start using fat as fuel. So in order to maximize your results, aim for at least 30 minutes and no more than 60.
Yet again, this can depend on your fitness level.
If you gradually up the intensity, you’ll begin to use carbs instead of fat as your fuel source. Now, this isn’t the aim of the game here! Keep it low, so that you’re feeling moderately tired by the end, not in a sweaty mess on the floor.
Switching up your low-intensity cardio
Yet again, your results can start to plateau if you stick to the same type of cardio in your cutting routine. Plus, you’re likely to get bored after a little while. Try switching your low-intensity cardio to cycling (for example) or another form of cardio every month.
What are the pros and cons?
Pros – HIIT:
- Short bursts of exercise
- Higher calorie burn
- Can be easily adapted to sports-specific training
Cons – HIIT:
- Can be hard for beginners/those out of shape
- Carbs are the main energy source, not fat
- Not as focused on endurance
Pros – Low-intensity cardio:
- Easier for newbies and those out of shape
- Fat is the main energy source, not carbs
- Endurance focused
Cons – Low-intensity cardio:
- Can be boring, especially 60 mins on a treadmill
- Doesn’t work on fast twitch muscles
Adding weight lifting to your cutting routine
Go for the large muscles
Focusing on large muscle burns more calories – it’s as simple as that! It’s not exactly difficult to get your head around it; doing squats simply uses more energy compared to smaller movements that only use one or two muscles.
Hit compound exercises
Compound exercises are exercises that target multiple muscles at once. A good example is to look at squats versus leg extensions. With a leg extension movement, the only muscle you’re engaging is your quads.
When you’re doing weighted squats, however, you’re using your quads as well as your glutes, hamstrings and core. And using more muscles at once burns more calories!
Keep your heart rate up
It’s all too easy to take great long rests between sets, sitting down and zoning out for a couple of minutes before realising you’re supposed to be working out.
Make sure to keep rest times short so your heart rate doesn’t settle back to its usual rate; the more you keep it elevated, the more calories you’ll burn.
The best workout to get cut
Okay, here we go: the best workout to get cut. Bear in mind that everybody is different, and you’ll find what works for you by tweaking things as you go.
Weights too light? Add more, and reduce your reps!
Circuit training and your cutting routine go hand in hand. The fact it gets your heart rate up is great, and coupled with heavy lifting it can see you burn some serious carbs.
It’s tough though, so be prepared to get sweaty.
- Shoulder Press
- V- Ups
- Side Bends
- Bench Press (with either a barbell or dumbbells)
- Chin ups (you can do these either weighted or just with your body weight)
- Stiff-Legged Deadlifts
Try to do these in the order detailed here.
If you’re able to – and if so, awesome – take no rests between sets.
If you’re not quite there yet, opt for between 10 and 20 seconds in between exercises.
How many circuits?
Doing each exercise in a row is one circuit. Ideally, aim for three. If you can’t do three, stick with two for now – but keep working on it and trying to improve each day!
How many reps?
Somewhere between 8 and 12 reps is best for building strength, while higher numbers of reps are good for improving your cardiovascular endurance – Choose what you want achieve, and plan your workout accordingly.
Very! Keeping it tough and intense will maximize the benefit you get from the workout.
Keep your heart rate up the whole time, but make sure you leave just enough juice in the tank to finish each circuit properly. Therefore, pick a weight that is challenging but that you can make it to the end of the circuit with – barely.
Two or three times a week should do it. Any more than that and you risk overtraining and tiring yourself out, which will impact your progress negatively.
Also Read: How to build muscle
Every so often, you should switch up the exercises you’re doing by performing variants of them, too. This will keep you from reaching a ceiling on your progress.
For example, if you’re doing push ups, switch to angled push ups, or wide grip push ups.
Ready to get CUT?
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