I’ve begun the transition from a bulk to a cut, and customizing a training split was a tricky task.
The dynamics between the two phases are quite different. In my opinion — and this is before I get the real taste of my first true cut — a bulk provides you with much more freedom to vary your training. I see the need for a little bit more structure and careful planning when it comes to this cut.
There are some common factors I know of that I’m expecting for this new challenge:
- You can start to lack energy and enthusiasm in a cut
- Strength levels often drop as your body weight dips lower and lower
- The combination of the first two can have an effect on confidence in the gym
Putting together my training split for the cut was an interesting process. I built my new program based on wanting to still practice my strength movements (while understanding my ability to train heavy will eventually decrease) but also focus on hypertrophy work to really maximize the intensity of my training.
What I settled on was a split where strength still has a presence, but overall it’s a more hypertophy-based approach.
My Training Split:
Day 1: Push w/1-2 strength movements
Day 2: Pull, w/1-2 strength movements
Day 3: Legs, w/squat programming
Day 4: Push, hypertrophy focus
Day 5: Pull, hypertrophy focus
Day 6: Legs, deadlift programming & weak point training
Day 7: Rest
(NOTE: I’ll factor in 60 seconds of rest between most of my sets. I’ll allow for longer rest periods for strength movements if necessary. Additionally to start, I’m planning on 2-3 MISS — medium intensity steady state — cardio sessions a week as well.)
With this approach, at the very least I’ll still be practicing the mechanics of the squat, bench, and deadlift, which is important to me. After the cut, I have aspirations of approaching strength training more seriously than ever before. By keeping these motor patterns and programming (potentially abbreviated programming) in my repertoire, I’ll be in a better place to pick up a strength program when the time comes.
As for the specifics for each day of the program? I’ll detail that below for anyone interested.
I’ve factored in the reality that every day may present challenges/barriers, so some movements have variations built into them. After a couple of weeks, I may need to tweak the program, which is to be expected. I’ll provide updates to any of that, along with the reasons why, if/when the time comes.
Lastly, I expect to incorporate more volume by way of super sets, drop sets, etc. as my cut progresses. That will help increase the intensity of my workouts. I’ll also add in cardio sessions as needed if I hit any fat loss plateaus, and I’ll add intensity to my cardio if needed as well.
Detailed Training Split:
Day 1: Push w/1-2 Strength Movements
I plan to start each week off with a push day, focused on chest, shoulders, and triceps. Day 1 will start off with the bench press, and my weight/sets/reps will be determined by my strength programming. I intend to operate within my programming until some type of drop off occurs and the programming doesn’t appear to provide value. If that occurs, I will likely still operate within that programming, but in an abbreviated fashion in which I’ll rotate between high volume days that are lighter in weight.
I also want to try and incorporate a close-grip bench press and barbell overhead press on this day as well. These three movements will start off my week and introduce a pretty good dose of compound movements. From there, I’ll add in hypertrophy work that targets my muscles from different angles. The hypertophy goal is to pick a weight I can do for 12 reps, being close to failure by the end of four sets.
The entire workout is as follows:
- Bench Programming
- Close Grip Bench Press (four sets, 8 reps)
- OHP (5×5)
- Incline Dumbbell Chest Press (4 sets, 12 reps)
- Tricep Rope Push Down (4×12)
- Lateral Dumbbell Raise (4×12)
- Cable Flys (4×12 – burnout final set)
Day 2: Pull w/1-2 Strength Movements
Day 2 will mirror Day 1 in its approach. Once again, I’ll target my strength to start the workout and focus on hypertrophy work as the workout progresses.
My compound strength movement will be an overhand barbell row, targeting primarily the mid-back. The goal here is working with a weight I can get 8 reps with. On my second pull day, you’ll see I complement this movement with a different variation.
We’ll follow that up with bicep work, back work targeting the mid-back (and some lats), and other accessories for rear delts.
Here’s the entire workout:
- Overhand Barbell Row (4 sets, 8 reps)
- Standing Bicep Curl (4×12)
- Close-Grip Horizontal Row (4×12)
- Preacher Curl (4×12)
- Rope Pull Overs (4×12)
- Rear Delt Dumbbell Flys (4×12)
Day 3: Legs w/Squat Programming
Day 3 is the last strength-focused day for a few days, and I’ll be focused on my squat. Similar to my bench programming, I’ll work within the program verbatim as long as it makes sense. If/when necessary, I’ll abbreviate the programming and rotate through higher volume days to lighten the overall load.
The goal here will be to use barbell movements to hit the major muscle groups (quads, glutes, hamstrings) to start the workout, then finish them off with accessory movements.
The full workout:
- Squat Programming
- Romanian Deadlifts (4×8)
- Standing Calf Raise (4×12)
- Quad Extensions (4×12)
- Seated Hamstring Curl (4×12)
Day 4: Push, Hypertrophy Focus
This begins the second phase of my week, and it’s all about volume. No barbell movements for this workout in order to give my joints a break. The weights will be a little bit lighter and we’ll be pounding out the reps.
The Day 4 workout (everything 4 sets of 12-15 reps):
- Incline Dumbbell Chest Press
- Overhead Tricep Extension
- Dumbbell Lateral Raise
- Flat Dumbbell Chest Press
- Seated Tricep Push Down
- Cable Lateral Raise
- High/Low Cable Cross Over (superset)
Day 5: Pull, Hypertrophy Focus
Once again, I’m focused on hypertrophy here. One barbell movement to start off the workout, followed by a healthy dose of volume (four sets of 12-15 reps per movement) to target primarily the lats, biceps, rear delts, and some mid-back. This time, I’m switching up the grip on my barbell row to an underhand grip, which will primarily target the lats instead of the mid-back, as was the case in Day 2.
- Underhand Barbell Row (four sets of 8 reps)
- Standing Bicep Curl
- Lat Pull Down
- Spider Curl
- Underhand Horizontal Row
- Rear Delt Flys
Day 6: Legs, Deadlift Programming & Weak Point Training
This day will present the most flexibility as far as the program goes. I’ll start with deadlifts and work into some hypertrophy leg training, but the amount and volume will depend on how I’m feeling on this day. Quite often, at this point in the week my legs are still fatigued from squats. Thus, I can’t go overly heavy or throw in too much volume.
We’ll play all of that by ear.
This will also be a day to target any perceived weak points.
After that, Day 7 will be a rest day. My 2-3 days of cardio will probably not be structured. I’ll fit them in where I can.
And as I mentioned before, I’ll update how this is all going along the way. Feel free to use any of this programming on your own, and if you do, let me know how it goes. Utilize the comments section below if you have any questions, and hit us up on Twitter or via e-mail as well.