Five Basic Fundamentals of a Successful Cut

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Five Basic Fundamentals of a Successful Cut

Bodybuilders generally find themselves either: bulking, or, cutting, for many times of the year. In fact, often it’s either one or the other, depending on whether they’re on-season or off-season. Ask any bodybuilder what they prefer doing however, and 9 times out of 10 they’ll reply with ‘bulking’. A bulking phase is basically where individuals increase their protein and caloric intakes while adjusting their training methods with the aim of building as much muscle as they can. Needless to say, they enjoy bulking a great deal more than cutting because they are never restricting calories, and they can take a more relaxed approach to their diet and nutritional protocols. A cutting phase however, is a lot tougher. When people cut, the intention is to gradually lose body fat whilst preserving lean muscle mass. The idea is to look as ripped, vascular, and defined as possible, without sacrificing too much size. In order to cut successfully, calories need to be reduced and diets need to be cleaned up. If you cut successfully however, all of those months of hard work will have been worth it, as you will look amazing and will feel even better. Thinking of starting your own cut? Then take a look at the following list of basic fundamentals required for a successful cut.

Reduce your calories – First and foremost, the first thing you need to address when it comes to cutting, is the amount of calories you are consuming. A cutting phase is all about gradually burning fat and preserving as much muscle tissue as possible. To lose fat, your body must be placed into a caloric deficit. A caloric deficit is basically where you are taking in fewer calories than your body requires to maintain itself in its current state. As an example, if you require 2500 calories for maintenance, if you consumed 2100 calories, you would create a deficit of 400 calories. Your body would need to get these extra 400 calories from somewhere, so it would tap into your body fat reserves. You can easily figure out how many calories you need at maintenance, by working out your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) online. Put very simply, if you want to lose fat, you need to be consuming fewer calories than your body needs for maintenance.

Slowly and gradually reduce your calories – Bodybuilders during bulking phases have been known to consume as many as 8,000 calories, sometimes more than that. Now, that is on the extreme side of the scale, but when bulking, bodybuilders will often consume a good 1000 – 2000 calories above maintenance. After months of bulking, as you watch your abs slowly disappear, you will probably be eager to start your cut and to start making some lean gains. When reducing calories, it’s important to remember to ease your way into things, rather than rushing them. For example, if your body was previously used to around 4000 calories per day when you were bulking, if you suddenly decided to drop down to 2000 calories per day, this loss of 2000 calories would come as quite a shock to your body. Your body will literally think it is starving and will actually try to preserve body fat, which is the exact opposite thing you want to happen. Your metabolism will slow down and when you do have the odd cheat meal/day, any excess calories will quickly be stored as fat. The key is to gradually ease your way into cutting, by slowly reducing calories each week. Each week, cut calories by around 200 – 250. After a few weeks, when you drop below maintenance, your body will be in full fat burning mode, rather than starvation mode.

Don’t hold back training – When cutting, slight reductions in strength and energy levels are to be expected, because you are taking in fewer calories than your body is used to. However, don’t use this as an excuse to speed through your workouts, rather than putting 100% effort in. If your strength drops, who cares? Simply use a lighter weight and perform more reps. When cutting, the idea is to drop fat, not muscle, so you need to make every single set and rep count. Consider amino acid supplements, or pre-workout supplements, to account for the reduction in energy levels.

Do NOT avoid all fats – Some bodybuilders have been known to adopt a virtually fat-free diet when cutting. This is the last thing you should do, as fats are not to be feared. Healthy fats will not make you fat, in fact, they will speed up your metabolism and will help you to lose weight quicker. Healthy fats provide instant bursts of energy, they strengthen your immune system, they’re great for your internal organs, and much more besides. Put simply, we need fats in our diets, so do not cut them out. 1 gram of fat contains 9 calories, as opposed to 4 calories like proteins and carbohydrates, so you will need to make sure you monitor how much fat you are consuming. Providing you monitor your macros and calories from fats however, and that you stay below maintenance, consuming healthy fats while cutting will help give you a great competitive edge.

Perform at least 3 steady state cardio sessions per week – Cardio and cutting phases go hand in hand with one another, and as boring as it is, it is a necessary evil if you want to look shredded. Cardio burns calories, which means that cardio equals fat loss. For best results, aim for at least 3 steady state cardio sessions per week. Steady state cardio is ideal because it will provide a gradual burning of calories, so your body won’t tap into your muscle stores due to a lack of energy. If you push your body too hard during cardio, once all the available energy has been used up, the body has been known to tap into muscle stores for energy, which is the last thing you will want. Aim for 3 x 45 – 60 minute cardio sessions per week, keeping the intensity nice and steady and you’ll be amazed by how different you start looking week by week.

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