Bodybuilding: What is the Right Training Programme to Associate with a Cutting Diet?

1. What Does a Cutting Programme Involve?

The goal of a cutting programme is to reveal the muscles you have sculpted. To do this, you will have to lose fat (or adipose tissue) without losing muscle mass, but this is exactly what makes it difficult to achieve. It is all a question of striking the right balance, being rigorous and precise. Under no circumstances should it be confused with a strict food diet aimed at losing weight (and muscles). A cutting programme is therefore about properly distributing macro-nutrients combined with basic muscle building training.

2. When Should You Start a Cutting Training Programme?

A cutting period should be carried out twice a year on average. To be effective, it must last about 2 months. As a rule of thumb, as soon as the body fat (or fat cells) begin to hide your muscles, you should start a cutting programme. This may seem somewhat simplistic and it depends on the body shape, metabolism and personal criteria of each person. However, you can calculate your fat mass index (FMI, not to be confused with body mass index, BMI) which is calculated as a percentage. Above 15%, a cutting diet may be necessary, but beware: is your muscle mass sufficient? These two aspects must always be taken into account because the challenge of a cutting diet is to avoid muscle wasting.

3. SHould You Modify Your Bodybuilding Programme When Cutting?

Yes! During a cutting period, you are on a low-calorie diet. This reduction in energy intake requires a change in your bodybuilding programme. While still training at the same pace, you will have to adjust the content of your sessions (work volume and exercise intensity). Our advice: do some basic exercises at the beginning of the session (the so-called polyarticular movements such as bench press for the pecs, squats and bar curls, should not make up the entire session – we recommend that you perform them after your warm-up) then combine them with 2 or 3 isolation exercises

The muscle exercises can include 5 to 10 sets of 20 to 30 repetitions with a weight ranging from 50 to 60% of your 1RM at a fast pace (naturally, each time, the training should be defined according to your body shape)

To get visible results, complete 3 sessions of this type per week.

4. Are There Any Other Training Methods That Are Effective During the Cutting Period?

Experienced bodybuilders may choose to vary their sessions using the following types of training:

  • HIT (high intensity training)
  • HIIT (high intensity interval training)

These express training sessions will burn fat without losing muscle. Avoid excessively long cardiovascular workouts that can encourage muscle catabolism.

In the world of fitness and bodybuilding, TABATA stands out as a benchmark. It involves doing exercises (burpees, sprints, thrusters, squats jumps, etc.) with 8 intervals of 20 seconds, followed by 10 seconds of recovery (total: 4 minutes of exercising to be done at the end of the bodybuilding session).

5. Should the Cardio Training Programme Be Enhanced During a Cutting Period?

The most important thing during a cutting period is to keep muscle loss to a minimum. That's why, you can actually combine a cutting period with cardio training as long as you stick to the following rule: exercise in the lipolysis zone, i.e. at 70-75% of your maximum heart rate. In theory, the maximum heart rate is 220 minus your age.

To do well and not hinder your progress, complete a few medium-intensity cardio training sessions between your bodybuilding sessions. Keep to a schedule of two 30-minute sessions a week, no more.

As you will have realised, cutting is a training programme that should not be taken lightly. At best, we advise you to use a sports coach to define a training programme that is tailored to your body shape.


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