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Mastering The Art of Cutting in Bodybuilding: Effective Strategies

Anyone who has been working out probably wants a bigger and leaner muscular physique. This is when bodybuilding comes into action. It is also a competition where athletes show off their hard-earned muscles from intense workouts and a healthy diet. You must work on your muscle mass and symmetry to achieve this physique.

One way you can achieve your target figure is to cut. If you think growing your muscle is about lifting heavy weights, cutting is a more relaxed but stricter phase. It is as essential as the bulking phase because cutting makes your muscles look leaner by shedding off body fats.

During this phase, you need to get leaner as possible since this is the last part of preparing for a competition.

Art of Cutting

Understanding Cutting in Bodybuilding

The cutting phase allows you to lose weight and body fat gained from the bulking phase. You need a calorie-deficit diet to lose fat while maintaining muscle mass. It is typically done within 2 to 4 months before the scheduled competition or depending on the results you want for your physique.

You will have less energy during this phase, so adjust your workout routine. Compared to bulking phase, you don’t need intense workout routines like lifting heavy weights. Creating a cutting plan is crucial since it will make your muscles look leaner and give you the shape you want to achieve.

Anyone can do the cutting phase, but it is crucial to those who have just finished the bulking phase. If you do not enter a cutting phase, you may gain more fat and lose muscle mass.

Nutrition and Diet for Cutting

Your diet will be the most critical factor in the cutting phase. It has the most significant contribution to how you lose fat. Though there are no particular types of foods you need to eat, they should still be within the range of your allowable calorie intake.

The usual diet of a bodybuilder in the cutting phase is more on lean protein and vegetables rich in different nutrients.

Protein is the most essential macronutrient and will be crucial in maintaining muscle mass. It also aids muscle recovery, even if you only do light training and cardio exercises. Foods with protein, like lean meat, eggs, and nuts, take time to digest, so it helps curb hunger even if you eat lesser than usual.

Aside from protein, appropriate amounts of healthy fats and carbohydrates should also be consumed. These macronutrients aid in producing testosterone and play a massive role in providing energy and immune function.

Art of Cutting for bodybuilding

The Role of Exercise in The Cutting Phase

Since the cutting phase only requires lighter workout routines like cardio exercises and resistance training can help reduce body fats as soon as possible. These exercises help show off the muscles hiding in body fats.

Cardio exercises are good if you plan to lose weight. You can incorporate both low-intensity and high-intensity cardio exercises into your routine. These exercises burn more calories, which is essential when losing body fat. However, you should balance it with resistance training to avoid losing muscle mass.

Unlike cardio exercises, resistance training is not about losing weight. Instead, it is added to a cutting workout plan to retain the muscle mass gained during the bulking phase. However, resistance training during the cutting phase is less intense than in bulking phase. Most bodybuilders use compound workouts to use several muscle groups in a single routine.

Importance of Supplements During Cutting

Adding supplements during the cutting phase can enhance the results of your cutting phase. These supplements support your nutrition and exercise to give the best results. Whey protein, glutamine, creatine, and branch-chain amino acids are the most commonly used. Though these are not necessarily required, it helps you meet your fitness goals during the cutting phase.

Supplements contain few calories, so adding them up during your cutting phase will not significantly affect your calorie-deficit diet. These are rich in nutrients that speed up the fat loss.

Every supplement has its role in the cutting phase. Whey protein comes in a powder form that can be made as a smoothie that you may include in your meals or as a drink during routines. The primary role of whey protein is to fuel the body with energy in workout routines.

Glutamine works as a muscle builder even when you are resting. These are usually taken as post-workout supplements to support muscle repair and maintain its structure.

Unlike others, creatine does not contain any calories, so it is safe to be added to your meals. It can be used for bulking and cutting phases because it helps promotes muscle mass building. It ensures that the muscles are working correctly and prevents breakdown during exercises.

Hydration and Rest: The Key Aspects of Recovery

Generally, the main goal of water is to help muscle tissues and lubricate joints when working out. It also suppresses appetite, which can be helpful, especially if trying to lose body fat. It also reduces fatigue during workout routines since it regulates the body temperature as you sweat out.

It also speeds up recovery by delivering oxygen and nutrients to the body. Additionally, it reduces joint pains and hydrates your muscles by flushing out toxins. Hydration is not only essential to extend your endurance, but it also helps you achieve your fitness goals.

Even when trying to lose weight, you should not overwork yourself in exercises. Getting enough rest is as important as nutrition and training during the cutting phase. Fibroblasts repair your ripped muscle tissues while resting, increasing size and strength.

Art of Cutting

The Psychological Aspects of Cutting

While working out can relieve stress and anxiety, sudden changes in your diet and routine can be mentally challenging and draining. Here are some tips to help you towards your bodybuilding goals.

Find a Workout Buddy

Your workout buddy can keep you motivated during training sessions. They can serve as your support system, where you can share your goals and challenges. Your workout buddy can encourage you by sharing their cutting phase techniques, including meal or workout plans.

Apply Workout Variation

Trying different cardio and compound exercises will engage your workout sessions and prevent boredom. Knowing that you must try something new will keep you excited about your routine.

Track Your Progress

Seeing the improvements in your body can keep you motivated to work out. You can take measurements and monitor your weight to keep you focused on your goals. You can also take a photo of your starting body composition to see how your body has changed during the cutting phase.

Real-Life Examples and Success Stories

Almost all bodybuilders have their own success stories on the effects of the cutting phase. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ronnie Coleman, Dorian Yates, and Jay Cutler are some famous bodybuilders who take their cutting phases seriously. Their successful cutting phases can be seen in their physique and lean muscles.

Their cutting routines have made them famous in various bodybuilding competitions, such as Mr. Olympia. With their cutting routine, they achieved excellent conditioning, which earned them places on the list of the most successful bodybuilders.

Common Mistakes to Avoid During The Cutting Phase

Though the cutting phase only involves a calorie-deficit diet and lighter exercises, they require special attention and knowledge to achieve your bodybuilding goals. A bodybuilder may overlook these common mistakes during their cutting phase.

Relying on Supplements

Supplements only serve as support in your cutting routine. You must consume the proper macronutrients your body needs to give you enough energy for training and recovery. Bodybuilding supplements should not be used as an alternative to protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats.

Excessive Cardio Exercises

Cardio exercises help shed body fats. However, too much cardio increases the risk of losing muscle mass. This will hinder you from achieving leaner and bigger muscles, which will only put your cutting efforts to waste.

Over-restricting Calorie Intake

Calorie-deficit diets can quickly shed off fats. But you should not restrict your calorie intake, thinking it can be a shortcut to getting leaner and losing weight. Bodybuilding takes time and effort. You need the appropriate amount of calories to fuel up your training routines. You will only experience starvation which may lead to slowing down of metabolism.

Neglecting Sleep and Rest

Sleep and rest are as important as your training routine. If you don’t spend a “no-workout day,” your muscles will not have the chance to rest. The recovery happens during your resting period when your ripped muscle tissues are repaired. Insufficient sleep and rest can also make you feel exhausted during training days.


In bodybuilding, you should undergo the cutting phase after your bulking phase. This period allows you to lose body fat and maintain the muscle mass you earned during the bulking phase. You must also be strict in consuming calories and burning them during training. Doing this will help you achieve the bodybuilding physique that you want.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long should I do the cutting phase?

Competitive bodybuilders typically do the cutting phase at least four months before their competition. However, other bodybuilders may need a more extended cutting period, depending on how lean their muscles are after their bulking phase.

Do I still gain muscles while in the cutting phase?
Yes. However, the gains are different during the bulking phase. Better results can be achieved if building muscles and shedding fats are done on separate periods. You must continue your resistance training and balance it with cardio exercises to maintain the muscle gains while losing fat.

How many calories should I consume for a cutting diet?
Your calorie intake depends on your age, body condition, and goals. The typical calorie-deficit diet requires 3500 to 7000 calories if your target is to lose up to 2 lbs in a week. You may change your calorie requirement as you progress during your cutting phase.
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