During a cutting cycle, there are many key points to consider.
- Resistance Training
- Cardiovascular Training
A diet can make or break a cutting cycle. The old saying "abs are made in the kitchen" is not far from the truth. To increase the metabolism, one should eat 6 or more proportionate meals through out the day, preferably at 2-3 hour intervals. This will help stabilize blood sugar levels and avoid sharp falls or raises.
A bodybuilder needs carbohydrates for the following reasons:
- Carbohydrates are the body's primary source of fuel.
- Carbohydrates are the primary glucose source. Glucose is the fuel for our nervous system and brain.
- Carbohydrates should be consumed before, during, and after exercise.
- Carbohydrates are involved in maintaining blood sugar levels, which are vital to performance and appetite control.
Carbohydrate consumption should mainly be kept to complex carbohydrates with adequate fiber content. Fiber will be digested slower and leave you feeling fuller for a longer period of time. The average person should consume 25 grams of fiber on a daily basis. Treat yourself, but limit it to simple carbohydrates with nutritional value (ex: fruit) instead of a sugary snack.
When purchasing foods, check the ingredients list for hidden sugars. They will appear as sucrose, sugar, corn syrup, and dextrose. These forms of simple sugars should be avoided during this period. However, fructose and honey are naturally occurring sugars. Sorbitol, mannitol, and xylitol are forms of sugar alcohols and are acceptable.
At mealtime, have a salad first. Try to limit this to fresh vegetables, low fat/fat free cheeses and dressings. A salad is a good way to fill up with little calories and lots of nutritional value. Remember, the more colorful the salad, the more vitamins and minerals you will be consuming.
Everyone is different when it comes to carbohydrate metabolism. Endomorphs tend to digest them slower and will not require them in high quantity. Not to mention, endos store body fat easier. Ectomorphs have a higher metabolism and seem to be smaller and slender no matter what they eat. Mesomorphs are athletically built and like ecto's don't seem to gain fat quickly.
The best way to determine your necessary carbohydrate consumption is to go by how you feel. Keep in mind, the same amount of carbohydrates should be consumed for several days to feel the effect of them. If you are feeling sluggish or unable to concentrate, try increasing your carbohydrate consumption a little. If you are feeling heavy, weighed down, or bloated, lower your carbohydrate consumption. A good range to keep carbohydrates is anywhere between 20% to 50% of your daily caloric intake. Though the percentage with a low carbohydrate diet is much lower than the percentages stated here.
Protein make up about 74% of the human body. This is one reason it is important to consume the adequate protein the body requires. A lack of sufficient protein means the body robs protein from your muscles to use where they are needed. The main goal for protein consumption is to eat just the right amount your body requires. Too little means muscle catabolism (breakdown) and too many is just as counter productive. Excess protein is excess calories and will be stored in your body as fat if not used up as an energy source.
Proteins are needed for muscle growth and recovery. BCAA's (isoleucine, leicine, and valine) are required to spare muscle breakdown during exercise. This is why it is important to consume protein prior to exercising. The more muscle you spare, the more calories are burned throughout the day.
Keep protein sources from low fat foods such as skinless chicken, fish, turkey, egg whites, lean cuts of beef, etc. Eat approximately the same amount of protein with each meal throughout the day. This will ensure your body has a steady, constant supply of the proteins that it needs to function without muscle breakdown.
Keep protein intake to a minimum of 1 gram per [b]pound of lean body mass[/b] (not to be confused with per pound of body weight). Bodybuilders should consume 1.2 grams per pound of lean body mass, and power lifters should consume around 1.4 grams. Protein should make up about 20% to 40% of the diet. Again, a low carbohydrate diet will fall under different percentages.
The main function of fats are:
- to provide fuel
- to provide insulation
- to aide in the absorption of fat soluble vitamins
- to apply protective padding to body structures and organs
There are 3 different types of fats:
Saturated Fats- These are found primarily from animal sources and should be kept to a minimum during a cutting cycle.
Poly-unsaturated Fats: These are found primarily from Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids
.....Omega 3- fish oils, flax seed and oil, walnut oil, and navy and kidney beans.
.....Omega 6- mostly vegetable oils: corn, safflower, sunflower, soybean, cottonseed oils.
Mono-unsaturated Fats: Mostly plant sources. olives, olive oil, almonds/almond oil, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, most nuts, and avocados.
How to determine what type of fat if you are uncertain:
Saturated fats are solid, even resembling wax, at room temperature and are still solid at a chilled temperature.
Poly-unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature and when chilled.
Mono-unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature and are thicker or solid at a chilled temperature.
During a cutting cycle, do not eliminate fats from your diet, rather limit them to healthier sources. Various nuts or natural peanut butter can make for a healthy addition to a snack. Be sure to consume some fat with each meal. Certain vitamins are fat soluble and require fat for absorption.
Studies show that healthy fats can even help decrease body fat.
Again, keep saturated fats to a minimum and do not allow your fat intake to be greater than 30% of your daily caloric intake.
Approximately 45% to 70% of our body is made up of water. Water is stored in our muscles, our blood, and nearly every cell found in our body. It is such an important nutrient that without it, we would certainly die within days.
One way to determine if you are consuming adequate water is to test your urine. Is it abundant? Is it clear? Do you urinate every 1 1/2 to 2 hours? If you answered no to any or all of these questions, you are dehydrated.
Drinking cold water will help burn calories. For every 8 ounces of cold water consumed, our body burns approximately 20 calories to heat up the water to our body's core temperature. That means for every 8 glasses of cold water drank, you have burned around 160 calories effortlessly.
Inadequate water consumption will thicken our blood, making it harder for nutrients to travel to muscles/organs that need it for energy.
The irony of water is that during times of water retention (due to excess sodium consumption) it will help to flush out the excess and lessen that bloated feeling.
So how much water do you actually need? This is a good question. Many variables apply.
Rate of sweating
The rule of thumb is: for every pound lost during exercise/activity, you should consume 20 ounces of water.
Caffeine is a diuretic, meaning that it helps flush out water. A guideline to follow when consuming beverages containing caffeine is for every ounce of the caffeinated beverage you consume, drink an ounce of water also. (1:1 ratio)
Just be sure to keep urine clear, frequent, and abundant. Especially during circumstances such as summer heat, water is very, very important since it keeps our core temperatures under control.
No one should be doing a cutting cycle without a resistance training program. There is absolutely no reason to eliminate weights from your training regimen. The term "use it or lose it" applies here. When you stop resistance training, you tell your body that you no longer need as much muscle. Then your body catabolizes the muscle it sees as not required.
There are many different ways to train with resistance. Whether you use free weights, machines, or your own bodyweight, varying the forms of resistance training will keep the body guessing and eliminate plateaus.
How many sets and reps should you do? That all depends what your goals are. One can train for muscle growth, strength, power, or endurance.
There are many muscle groups and your training should include all groups. You cannot "spot reduce." Therefore, doing hundreds of crunches will not give you the washboard abs look. Those abs are made through overall good diet and a cutting regimen.
Be sure your resistance training includes all muscle groups.
An example of a beginner routine should include an exercise for all muscle groups. This routine could be performed three times per week. Rest a minimum of 48 hours in between working the same muscle group. (Rest will be covered in a later section of this article.)
After the beginner routine is done for several weeks, break up your full body training into several workouts to allow more attention to each muscle group.
Example 2 Day Split:
Day 1: Upper- forearms, biceps, triceps, delts, chest, lats, traps
Dat 2: Lower- hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes, calves, abdominals.
Example 3 Day Split:
Day 1: chest, back, delts
Day 2: biceps, triceps, traps, forearms
Day 3: hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, glutes, abdominals
To avoid a plateau, change up your workout every six to eight weeks. Since your body will adapt quickly, this will keep your body continuously guessing what is next. Not only vary the exercises, but also the sets and the repetitions. The Weider Principals are a good place to start to add variety to your workout.
The main thing to remember about resistance training is to consistently workout, but vary your training so you do not reach a plateau and are constantly reaching your goals.
- Set System Training Principle (Performing one set per body part was the old way; the Set System calls for multiple sets for each exercise in order to apply maximum adaptive stress)
- Super set Training Principle (alternating opposing muscle group exercises with little rest between sets)
- Compound Sets Training Principle (alternating two exercises for one body part with little rest between sets)
- Tri-Sets Training Principle (Doing 3 exercises for one muscle group with little rest between sets)
- Giant Sets Training Principle (Doing 4-6 exercises for one muscle group with little rest between sets)
- Staggered Sets Principle (injecting 10 sets of boring forearm, abdominal or calf work in between sets for (say) chest or legs)
- Rest-Pause Principle (using 85-90 percent of your max, do 2-3 reps and put the weight down. Then do 2-3 more, rest, 2-3 more and rest for a total of 3-4 rest-pauses. The short rest-pauses allow enough time for ATP to be resynthesized and permit further reps with the heavy weight);
- Muscle Priority Principle (Work your weaker body parts first in any given workout; alternatively, work the larger muscle groups first, while you're fresh and energy levels still high)
- Pre-Exhaustion Principle (example: super set flies, a chest isolation exercise, with bench presses, a compound exercise involving triceps and chest, in order to maximize chest development by pre-exhausting the triceps)
- Pyramiding Training Principle (start a body part session with higher rep/low weight and gradually add weight (and commensurably reduce the reps), ending with a weight you can do for 5 reps or so)
- Descending Sets Principle (lighter weights from set to set as fatigue sets in --0 called "stripping")
- Staggered Sets Training Principle (stagger smaller, slow-developing body parts in between sets for larger muscle groups)
- Instinctive Training Principle (Eventually, all bodybuilders instinctively attain the ability to construct diets, routines, cycles, intensity levels, reps and sets that work best for them)
To understand why cardiovascular (aerobic) training is important, one must understand the roles of the respiratory and the circulatory systems.
The function of the respiratory system is to get oxygen into the blood stream so it can be carried to the muscles and organs. As the respiratory system grows stronger, the exerciser can breathe easier during exercise and take in more oxygen per breath.
The circulatory system has the responsibility of getting nutrients to the muscles and organs. The stronger the circulatory system is, the easier the heart will have to work to get blood to the body. The stronger the heart grows, more blood can be moved with each beat.
One of the big myths about cardiovascular training is that it will catabolize muscle. This however, is not true. Muscle will only be catabolized if the diet is inadequate and protein consumption is lower than the required amount.
Cardiovascular work forces oxygen through the body. The result is an increase in the size and number of blood vessels. Without cardiovascular training, the body would not be able to adequately get nutrient rich blood to muscles.
When doing aerobic training, one should maintain 60% to 80% of the maximum heart rate. The following is an equation to help find your target heart rate.
The total cardio time can be cut drastically if you wear a heart rate monitor. This is one way to ensure you are training at the intensity you should be. One other way to estimate your heart rate if no monitor is available is based on the rate of perceived exertion. It is based on how hard it would be for the user to carry on a conversation. The premise of this method is to estimate how hard conversing would be, find that on the chart, and add a "0" to the end of the number. This will give you an estimate of your current heart rate.
Aerobic training should vary as often, if not more often, than your resistance training since your body adapts to it also.
Most everyone hates to do cardiovascular work. The key is to keep it interesting by continuously mixing things up. Nearly anything to get your heart rate up and maintain elevated will constitute as cardiovascular training.
Cardio is just as important as resistance training. No training regimen would be complete without it. When you are designing your next routine, be sure to include cardiovascular training. It's the only form of training that will build stronger lungs and a stronger heart.