This will be an invaluable article to those of you who have attained a nice, defined six-pack and want to keep it that way.
Yes, you can have a year round six-pack when you know what to do AND are willing to do it.
We all know that it’s hard to stay away from fast-food and sweet treats ALL THE TIME. Even small indulgences add up over the course of a year meaning you’ll have to embark upon a cutting cycle at some point.
Typically, the choices for staying lean all year round are:
- Don’t eat above your Sufficient Calorie Requirement for growth EVER. AND, always keep the food that you do eat clean.
- Use a carb-cycling diet and make sure that all your carb-ups are low in fat. This means no luxury treats at all.
Today I’m proposing a third alternative: The ‘Mini-Cut.’
Here’s the idea:
- You hit 8% body fat from a cutting cycle and want to keep it that way
- On coming off the cutting diet, you implement a mass-building diet like GLAD
- You’re not perfect; you allow some high GI/high fat meals from time to time
- Inevitably your body fat creeps up slowly
- Since 10% is the six-pack barrier, you monitor body fat level increases to know when you reach this point
- One week you measure your body fat at 10.5% – Horror of horrors! Looks like it’s time to go on a mini-cut.
Let’s say you want to bring it back to 9%. This means you want to lose 1.5% body fat, and you want to lose it fast.
I previously blogged about how long it takes to get a six-pack. Let’s apply that formula to this situation…
(1) We first need to know how much body fat this guy is now carrying. Let’s say he now weighs 162lbs. 10.5% x 162 = 17.01lbs of fat.
(2) Now we can calculate his lean body weight. 162 – 17.01 = 144.99. Let’s say 145lbs lean body weight.
(3) His goal is to reach 9% body fat. We subtract the goal from 1 i.e. 1 – 0.09 = 0.91.
(4) Now we divide the current lean body mass by the above figure i.e. 145/0.91 = 159.34.
So we can now say that in order for this guy to bring himself back to the six-pack zone he needs to lose (162-159.34) 2.66lbs of fat. Hardly an arduous task!
Even eating at a 500 Calorie deficit level, this would only mean a 2.5 week mini-cut 🙂 .
However, it is my opinion that a 750 Calorie deficit is the safe limit for Calorie restriction i.e. you won’t need to worry about muscle loss up to this level on a mini-cut (based on the assumption that you continue with your lifting program).
So, mini-cuts employ a 750 Calorie restriction from the outset. In contrast to longer cutting cycles, we can cut back by this amount without the worry of a slowing metabolism owing to the very short duration i.e. it just doesn’t last long enough for these unwanted adaptations to kick in.
In contrast to a longer cutting cycle, you will perform NO cardio on a mini-cut. It is simply not necessary. The deficit created by diet alone is enough. (Note: You should not be performing any cardio during any mass-building cycle either. It can offer no benefit but CAN be counterproductive. I’ll be writing an article soon to articulate my argument more thoroughly on this subject.)
How long is it going to take with a 750 Calorie deficit?
As you know, there are 3500 calories in a pound of fat. 2.66 x 3500 = 9310 fat calories.
9310 / 750 = 12.41 days. That’s under 2 weeks to get back in the “very-lean” zone – not bad if you ask me!
Since fat gain should be slow in coming if you eat right 80% of the time, you will probably need to employ a 2 week mini-cut every 4 or 5 months. Surely this isn’t to much to ask for:
- A year-round six-pack
- The luxury of allowing some cheat meals every week.
This also means means that you’ll be in ‘Growth Mode‘ for the vast majority of the year.
It also means that your summer or competition cutting cycles will be much shorter than they once were. Imagine the joy of a 4 or 5 week summer cut compared to a 12-week one 😀 .
Also imagine, if you will, just how ripped you can get when cutting down from 10% rather than 20% body fat!
You will need to know your maintenance Calorie requirement before deducting 750 for a mini-cut. Here’s how to work it out…
- Resting Metabolic Rate.
RMR = 370 + (21.6 x lean weight in kg)
- Calories Burned From Daily Activity/Job – Different daily activities obviously have different energy requirements. That’s why it’s important to factor in your occupational Calorie burn.
Light work – multiply your RMR by 1.5
Moderate work – multiply your RMR by 1.7
Heavy work – multiply your RMR by 1.9
- Calories Burned From Exercise
A typical 30-40 minute weight training session (like THT) will expend roughly 150 – 200 Calories.
Add up the 3 totals above for your maintenance Calories.
So that’s the good news friends. You can stay ripped and still enjoy some cake!
By The Way – The pics of me in this article are after my ’09 Cut of 7.5 weeks. My (very) dirty carb-up weekends since November ’08 had amounted to a 15% body fat level by June ’09. I got down to 9% with a ‘Total Six Pack Abs’ cut – that’s a 6% loss in 7.5 weeks which is pretty damn fast. I don’t compete so 9% is good for me. I’ve decided to allow my body fat to creep up to 11% before mini-cutting back to 9 this year.
(Having said that I was invited to an ‘all-you-can-eat’ Chinese buffet yesterday afternoon. Being the polite bloke I am, I had to say ‘Yes’. That mini-cut may come sooner rather than later!).
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Another great article!
Thanks Antonio 😀
Question for anyone who can answer:
I am starting a cutting cycle for the next 5 weeks or so. Afterwards, I will be traveling for a month straight throughout Australia and Asia, so I won’t be worried about dieting and exercising. So for now, I am cutting all starchy carbs, religiously eating 2 servings of fruit (apples, peaches) and 3 servings veg (broc, cucumber, spinach) and getting 220-250 g of protein from chicken, tuna, powder, and lean pork. Try to get in a spoon of peanut butter and some cott. chz or egg whites daily. I weight 210 lbs now, trying to loose about 10 to get cut up. Cardio 3 times a week, weight lifting heavy 8-12 sets, 4 reps.
How do I cut more calories (I’m at about 2000 daily now) without sacrificing my daily fruits, vegs, and fats? Should I start eating only protein with less servings of fuits, veg, fats?
Cut back on the protein. 10 pounds in 5 weeks? Good luck. Personally, I would have started the cutting cycle 12 weeks out but that’s me.
Terrific! If this is tactic is used prudently then your mass cycles can go on for a long time. thanks mark