A traditional bulking and cutting cycle is a time-tested way to gain mass and end up looking defined. Whatever stage you’re at in your fitness journey, a cut is the fastest way to get ripped.
Many people, from amateurs to professional bodybuilders, make cutting mistakes when they’re entering their cut phase.
If your cut goes wrong, don’t worry. It’s a natural part of the lifestyle to make these errors and learn from them – but thankfully you won’t have to, as we’ve devised a list of the top 10 cutting mistakes people make when they’re finishing their bulk.
10. Starting a cut too late
One of the most common mistakes people make is starting their cut far too late. They set a date to look their best and begin the cut a week before – this won’t work. Your cut should be planned in advance, after first measuring your body composition and then planning your deficit as a result.
9. Starting a cut too quickly
Just like the point above, you can start a cut too early and jump straight from a bulking caloric surplus to a tiny amount of calories doing lots of cardio exercise. This will naturally make your body suffer. You should be gradually reducing your calories and avoiding heavy cardio at first.
8. Cutting down on carbs too suddenly
The reduction of carbohydrate is the most common way to quickly shed mass – but if you cut too much too quickly you’ll find yourself depleted of energy as your muscles struggle to replace their glycogen stores. Instead, gradually reduce your carb intake as your cut progresses.
7. Your cut lasts too long
Reducing your caloric intake is a great way to lose body fat, but staying on a low calorie plan for too long makes your body produce cortisol, a stress hormone that increases blood sugar, which in turn leads to fat gain. Try and avoid any cutting cycle lasting longer than six weeks – and include cheat days to keep you on track.
6. Not sticking to a plan
When you cut, you work out your ‘maintenance’ and then add a calorie deficit. You should never begin a cut, step on the scales, panic and start eating even less. This type of aggressive dieting can have bad effects on your health. Once you’ve got your cutting calorie deficit planned, stick at it.
5. Not having smart cheat meals
A good cheat meal on a cut is actually an essential – the increase of calories during a calorie deficient diet can help you keep your metabolism in check and can also help you stay focused. Without one, it will be extremely difficult to stick to your cut.
Not that it needs to be said, but your cheat meal shouldn’t be a huge tub of ice cream or something nutritionally void – it should still have all the essential macronutrients (protein, good fats and carbs.)
4. Not consuming adequate protein
When you reduce your calories, you may end up reducing your protein too severely. You’re still going to be training intensely during a cut, so you’ll need to ensure you’ve got plenty of protein in your diet. Aim for a gram of protein per kilo of bodyweight.
3. Accepting lapses as failures
A huge cutting mistake that lots of people make is to give up when they fall off the wagon. We’ve all been on diets and have had splurges that we can’t avoid, whether it’s a night out with friends or some bad choices after a hard day. The key is not allowing this to stop your cut. Stay dedicated and the results will be worth it.
2. Not adjusting calories
Your initial body composition pre-cut will be very different to what you’ll be like once you’re a few weeks in. After you’ve set your caloric intake, you’ll need to readjust each week to help you hit your target. Lost too much muscle? Increase your protein intake. Lost fat slower than expected? Decrease your caloric intake slightly. Adjustment is the key to success.
1. Going too cardio-intensive
It can be very difficult to stick to a cutting diet that doesn’t supply much glycogen to your muscles while you’re doing heavy cardio. While it’s tempting to jump on the exercise bike to try and lose weight, cardiovascular activity makes your body demand more carbohydrates in order to replenish itself – so be careful with the amount and intensity of cardio you do.