How I prepare for a cut, step 3: Training.
This is the third article in my new “How I prepare for a cut” series. Previous articles can be found here:
My cut doesn’t start for another month, but I’ve already set my goals, set the start date, roughed out my diet and locked in my supplement intake. I can’t say it too often or emphatically enough, planning is critical to success. I’ve seen it over and over again: those who don’t plan and those who don’t fully commit almost always fail to reach their goals. As I said in my last article, seeing a cut through to the end is difficult, so give yourself every possible advantage.
The next step in the planning process is to nail down your training program. Obviously training will vary considerably from one individual to the next depending on his or her fitness/athletic goals, but there are a several constants.
Weight training during a fat loss program is very important, and so I highly recommend that everyone do some form of resistance training. If your primary goal is body recomposition, then resistance training is absolutely critical and should be the focus of your fat loss training program.
Over the years I’ve done all kinds of resistance training programs geared towards building strength, hypertrophy, improving my athletic performance and so on. If you’re looking for some ideas, you can always check out my various training programs on my Training Page. There are also some excellent resources on the JSF Forums.
My current athletic goals are not body composition related, they are athletic-based (specifically, cycling). While I’ll still train with weights during my 2015 cut, the bulk of my training program will be cycling-specific:
- Minimum of 6 cycling workouts/rides per week. These can be solo training rides, structured cycling workouts in my Bike Torture Chamber, mountain bike rides or group rides. I’ll get one day of rest, or I can do a light spin on that day if I prefer. The reality is I’ll probably ride every single day during my cut.
- Minimum of 1 full body weight training workout per week. The exercises will be almost exclusively compound lifts (little to no isolation work). This is the weight training strategy I used for my 2014 cut and it worked very well for me, so I’ll be doing it again for my 2015 cut.
2015 Weight Training Program
- Lots of compound lifting. Almost no isolation exercises.
- A mix of moderate weight/high reps and heavy weight/low reps.
- Primary objective is extreme intensity.
- Use any and all techniques to increase intensity: supersets, giant sets, rest-pause sets, drop sets…
- 1 minute rest between sets (max), 2 minutes rest between exercises.
- Workouts need to be quick (less than 45 minutes), absolutely relentless and totally brutal.
Because I’ll be riding every day and only lifting once per week, my schedule pretty much wrote itself. For those who will be training with weights 3-5+ times per week (which is what I did during my bodybuilding years), it’s important to get your training splits, your lifting days and your workout times locked in. Commit to your schedule, and do what you must to make each workout as unoptional as breathing.
Why so strict? Because if you allow yourself to skip a workout, skipping the next one is even easier. It goes downhill quickly from there. Want proof? Just look at how quickly the gym population thins out after January. Don’t skip workouts.
There are three primary components involved in a fat loss program: diet, weight training and cardiovascular activities. You may be wondering why cardio hasn’t come up much in this article. If the primary goal is fat loss/body recomposition, then cardio is by far the least important of those three things. Unfortunately many (most) dieters have these three things prioritized all wrong. The majority of dieters place way too much emphasis on cardio, their diets are terrible and strength training is either ignored or is an afterthought.
Diet is #1, strength training is #2 and cardio is a distant third. You can get absolutely shredded to the bone without doing a lick of cardio. Again, this applies to those who are are dieting to lose fat and improve their physiques. People training for athletic performance obviously require specialized training, much of which may be cardio-related.
Next up: diet planning and tracking your progress!