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T-minus 4 days: how I prepare for a cut.

Thursday, January 9, 2014 by  
Filed under Daily Blog



Preparation before embarking on a strict cutting program is critically important. Without a proper plan and your head in the right place, you are going to make things harder than they need to be, and quite possibly set yourself up for failure.

Here’s a general timeline of how I prepare myself…

A few weeks out I purchase most of my proteins in bulk. This isn’t required, but personally I find that having all that stuff on-hand and ready to defrost on a regular schedule to be a powerful tool. I did this shopping about 4 weeks ago, and you can check out the list in this blog.

In the weeks leading up to a cut I really relax my diet. I choose to be ultra-strict while cutting (no cheat meals, no cheat snacks, little to no processed foods, no alcohol…), so I like to enjoy my favorite splurges without restriction before I get hardcore. I also find that by the time my cut starts I’m pretty sick of junk food, and that makes getting super strict a welcome relief. If you choose to cut with weekly cheat meals, then this may not be a great approach, but for me it really works.

The week before I start dieting down I plan our shopping list so that there will be no junk food or alcohol in the house when my cut starts. I am very lucky in that respect, as my wife, Lisa, is 100% with me on this. Lisa is naturally thin, but she’ll still dive right in there with me, eating ultra-healthy and consuming no alcohol for the duration of the cut. By this Sunday night this house will be “dry”, and any junk food that happens to be left will be given away or tossed out.

A few days before my cut I get my meal plan for the first week done and my workout schedule for that first week ironed out. After more than 10 years of bodybuilding-style bulks and cuts, I’m very experienced at cutting body fat; because of that experience, creating my cutting meal plan is usually extremely easy for me. This year, however, there is an unknown. This year’s cut will involve a tremendous amount of cycling training–far more cardio than I’ve ever done before while cutting (my last cut was back in early 2012). I am going to have to remain fluid with regards to my caloric intake. I think I’m going to start with around 2,600-3,000 calories per day, give or take depending on my activity level. I’ll be carefully monitoring my performance, energy level and scale weight loss. I’m aiming for a healthy 1-2 pound loss per week (after the initial water weight loss the first week).

Finally, the weekend before the cut starts I get mentally prepared. I really psyche myself up for these things! I never diet down thinking “Oh, this sucks!” That’s how people who fail think. I only think positive thoughts. When I wake up on Monday morning I’m going to be in Machine Mode, executing my plan until the job is done. My success is assured, there is never a doubt in my mind about that.

John Stone Fitness Comments

5 Responses to “T-minus 4 days: how I prepare for a cut.”
  1. Just out of curiousity what is the lightest you have been? I’m struggling a bit with caloric intake. I’m at about 2300, trying to keep a 40/40/20 mix on proteins, carbs, & fat, On the days I’m doing double workouts my garmin stats have me burning roughly 1600-2000 calories a day. The big unknown is swimming as I dont have a waterproof watch, I’ve seen estimates of 600-800 per hour for moderate freestyle lap swimming. Anyway, I wont lie, I am hungry, I totally crave carbs post workout. I’m going to finish out this week and see where the scale falls, I’m already down about 2 lbs since sunday so I’m thinking I may increase the calories to about 2600 and include a scoop of Mike’s Recovery Mix in my post morning workout shake, thats a good shot of carbs and calories. Good luck my friend, I will be watching closely.

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    • The lightest I’ve ever been in my adult life is 147 pounds back in the early 90s. No muscle at all, didn’t workout, just starved myself. 🙁

      This is me, circa 1990 at about 147 pounds:

      The lightest I’ve been since my my initial transformation is 160.2 pounds, which is what I weighed at the end of my initial transformation. My body fat was around 8% then. The difference now is I have a lot more muscle, so my body fat percentage will be lower when I reach my goal weight.

      Yeah swimming burns a lot of energy. I can tell you that when I swam competitively in high school I could eat as much as I wanted, and anything I wanted, and I never gained fat. Of course I was training twice per day for a total of 4-5 hours, six days per week. I don’t know how many calories I was burning, but it was a whole lot because I ate like a horse. Once I stopped swimming I put on fat pretty quickly until I changed my diet.

      I think increasing your calories is smart. We’re after performance here, and we don’t want that to suffer! Keep kicking ass!

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  2. I know a few ex collegiate swimmers that gained a lot of weight after they stopped competing, they get so used to eating so much, its hard to stop. I read somewhere that Phelps used to eat 10,000 calories a day. I think if I wasnt trying to drop weight this would be quite a bit easier. All this training while in a caloric deficit has me feeling a bit rundown but according to my coach, this training with a proper taper before big races, I will feel like a spring chicken on the start line.

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  3. John
    I apologize if you’ve explained this before but if you did, I missed the explanation.
    I ‘m wondering why you wait until a couple weeks into the new year to begin your cut when nearly all others begin immediately at the new year mark. (?)

    You have a great home gym so its not like youre dealing with the madness at the local gym in January. What’s your reasoning behind starting a couple weeks into the new year?

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