To get that 'cut' look, you need low levels of body fat to expose your muscle definition. Cutting actually has more to do with your diet, than how you train. A cutting routine is remarkably similar to a bulking routine, only with a little more emphasis on cardiovascular work and with some extra high-intensity fat-burning techniques added in too. Keep your training intensity high and aim to progress from session to session.
Weight Training Guidelines
One of the biggest myths in the training industry is that you need to lift light weights for high-reps to get cut and heavy weights for low-reps to build muscle and strength. Most bodybuilders actually lift moderately heavy weights for high-reps, notes trainer Justin Rivelli. According to the guidelines set by the American College of Sports Medicine, sets of eight to 12 reps builds strength and power, while sets of 15 to 20 increase your muscular endurance. Toning a muscle or getting ripped and cut has very little to do with your sets, reps and weights and much more to do with how hard you work.
Weight Training Program
Even if you don't want to build big muscles, weight training will help preserve muscle tissue and make you look more defined. Full-body workouts are the most effective for burning fat as they create a higher calorie burn, according to trainer Shannon Clark of Bodybuilding.com. Pick six exercises in each workout -- two lower-body moves and four upper-body moves. A sample workout could be dumbbell lunges, lying leg curls, barbell shoulder presses, push-ups, pull-ups and cable rows. Perform three to four sets of eight to 12 reps on each using a weight that you can just about complete each set with good form with. Leave 48 to 72 hours between sessions and aim to lift heavier or perform more reps and sets each session.
Cardio aids cutting by increasing your calorie burn. The first type of cardio is steady state cardio, which could be going for a jog, a steady cycle ride or hitting a cardio machine at the gym at a moderate pace for 30 to 60 minutes. Alternatively, you have interval training, which combines short bursts of all-out maximum effort with longer periods of steady work. Both types are effective, but high-intensity intervals raise your metabolic rate higher than steady state and may be more beneficial for fat loss, according to the IDEA Health and Fitness Association. Nutritionist and diet coach Dr. Layne Norton recommends one to two high-intensity sessions per week, though you can add in extra steady state sessions if your fat loss begins to plateau and you need an extra calorie burn boost.
The main factor in getting cut besides training is your diet. To shed body fat you need to consume fewer calories than you burn, to force your body to turn to its fat stores for energy. Your cardio and weight training take care of this to a degree, by increasing your output, but you also need to cut your intake. Reduce your calories slightly to the stage where you're losing around 1 to 1-1/2 pounds per week -- any more than this and you're likely losing muscle tissue, not fat, advises Norton. This calorie deficit will also ensure you're not giving your body enough nutrients to build muscle, so you needn't worry about getting too big and bulky.
- Justin Rivelli: The Muscle Tone Myth: High Reps Don’t “Tone”
- American College of Sports Medicine: ACSM Issues New Recommendations on Quantity and Quality of Exercise
- Bodybuilding.com: 3 Full Body Workouts for Cutting Body Fat
- IDEA Health and Fitness Association: HIIT Vs. Continuous Endurance Training: Battle Of The Aerobic Titans
- Simply Shredded: Mega Feature: Layne Norton Training Series + Full Power/Hypertrophy Routine
- Bodybuilding.com: A Unique Combination Of Science And Experience Based Pre-Contest Advice
Mike Samuels started writing for his own fitness website and local publications in 2008. He graduated from Peter Symonds College in the UK with A Levels in law, business and sports science, and is a fully qualified personal trainer, sports massage therapist and corrective exercise specialist with accreditations from Premier Global International.