T Nation

Cutting.. How Long Should You Cut?


Hi everyone,

Just looking for some advice on cutting.
I'm trying to do figure modelling, but I am far away still. I've spent a lot of my time the past months putting on strength and size, but I know I need to cut a good amount of body fat.
I'm trying to plan my next cutting cycle and am wondering how long you think I should cut before I begin to plateau?
And do you know of any good cutting programs I can check out?

Any help is amazing! Thank you =)


Can you give us your stats? Before you started gaining and currently? How long did this take? How long have you held your current weight?


I believe Christian said somewhere that after 12 weeks you need a break, but I usually go 16 weeks for a contest, and this past Spring, doing two back to back shows, I was dieting for ab out 20 weeks.

'Cutting plans' are usually just generalized information to make a good article. You need to understand the basic concepts, and stick with them long enough to get results. Most people who don't lose 5 lbs in their 1st 2 weeks dieting give up and start looking for another magic diet that won't fail them like this one did.



Stu -

To be clear, when you mention CT's recommendation, and the term 'cutting' in general, are you (or whomever) talking about losing a lot of fat very quickly and to low BF levels as opposed to just 'losing some fat slowly' (I don't like the word "diet").

I would treat an all out 'cut' (eg. 12-16 weeks to competition date) much differently than recomping or slow fat loss.

Is 'calorie deficit' a calorie deficit a calorie deficit or does one have to take into account the intensity of the fat loss?

Whenever I hear "Someone (CT) said this or that", I'm always wary of not really understanding the complete context of the recommendation. Most of the time I find that it was mentioned within a certain context and not meant as a generality.



I'm sure Christian was talking about a hard, serious diet (and I THINK he said 12, I know he had a number he threw out). I'm certain that a slower approach, or one with some type of backing off at points can be stretched longer. I use a cyclical dieting approach myself, and I'm positive it plays a role in my being able to draw things out, and come down slowly and steadily for contests.



Stu, I'd be interested to know, how fast of weight loss you are talking about with serious dieting. And how you'd approach "taking a break". Is that upping calories with the same diet strategy for a few weeks maintaining weight? Or is it dropping the regimen all together for a bit? Or pigging out to try and start your metabolism again?


Well, I didn't throw out a number because with sufficient dietary peaks and valleys, and adequate attention to avoiding excessive fatigue in the gym, I think you can go for as long as your body is willing to cooperate and you still have adipose to lose. In that regard, everyone will be different. I certainly find that my body can handle longer stretches now simply in terms of mental preparation than when I dieted down for my first show.

I was just telling someone this morning that excessive pig-outs are more of a mental outlet than a physical one. The whole 'shock your metabolism' concept doesn't have to require 800-1000g of carbs to do the same job as 400g would. If you're approaching the game without the assistance of PEDs, going so far overboard in this manner isn't doing your any favors in the long run.



I've been dropping fat since last April. I personally wouldn't recommend most people all out diet for longer than 3 months. Those same catabolic hormones will soon take a toll elsewhere if constantly in a deficit.

I take breaks from time to time for maybe a few days to a week depending on many factors from how I feel to whether my muscles are consistently flat.

I really think this all depends on how much fat there is to lose and what the end goal is.

Yeah, you can stretch out a long term body recomp if your diet is right and you back off for a while every few weeks or months (depending on the results)


That's great thank you all so far =)

To be honest I started my current program (the superhero workout by John Romaniello) needing to lose about 30% body fat. I am now needing to drop about 20% body fat. So yes, still a ways to go. But I am the type of person who sticks to a program in full, whether the results come fast or slow.
So if 12 weeks is the recommendation right now, then I'll give that a shot!
On a caloric deficit, I personally work better if I can get a day to eat whatever I'd like, not even junk food, but more substantial/more carby food.
I'm very strict when it comes to everyday through the week.
It's just a matter of finding a program that is good to invest my time in.