T Nation

Getting Ripped

You guys are great! (You often stimulate ideas for new threads, and in this case, it was Jason and Vain).

My feeling has ALWAYS been that “getting ripped”(losing bodyfat)was OVERWHELMINGLY dependent on what we did with our diet (and to an extent supplementation and cardio), and NOT what we do with our resistance training. The idea still exist that doing a lot of high rep circuit type training is the “key”, close to a contest and/or event. But I think that that is often the mistake. (Before anyone yells “What About Meltdown”? Remember that “Meltdown” can be an excellent part of an overall Periodization program, but I think most would agree that it was never meant to be a “pre-contest/event” stategy).

So…manipulate diet, supplements…(to an extent cardio)to get ripped…keep workout intensity/muscle overload high (no “bunny weights and high reps” stuff)…monitor…and you’re ready for “The Arnold” or the beach!Your thoughts?

couldn’t agree with you more…please see my post about “cut the crap” as well–just posted it…also, if you would look back to page 2 or so of the training/nutrition posts, i asked for your advice on my current cut phase, but I know you have been busy and probably didn’t see it. I totally agree with you about high intensity and maybe lower the volume…the circuit type shit is a joke, as is the “lactic acid-meltdown theory” (in my opinion of course) becuase you CAN NOT violate the law of thermodynamics. Yeah, meltdown might help out for overall periodization, but did the authore provide any scientific proof (i.e., journals or other theoretical postulates) that would seriously suggest it could burn fat in a “local” manner? Camahn
Alright Curoius to hear your thoughts

On my first cutting cycle I went with high reps because I’d just heard that it would help me burn more fat. More reps = more calories burned = more fat loss, so it made sense. Unfortunately, I ended up losing a TON of LBM, not to mention a lot of strength as well. I’ve learned from my mistakes, I try to keep the weights higher now, and I never diet at any calorie level without my morning Androsol, it helps considerably. Hopefully by reading this post some newer guys can learn from my mistake - don’t ever decrease the weight if you can avoid it.

since i am currently subjecting my ass to cutting up, i cannot agree more with the m man i basically try to almost get in a power lifting mode. heavy fucking weights with 4-6 rep mode. 2-3sets. while this makes me put more emphasis on recovery and is sometimes a bitch due to inevitable lost of strength i have always been able to keep more muscle this way. just keep the surge handy. by the way md6 and surge along with a mrp and efas are a great stack for preserving your lean muscle.

Brilliant posts guys. I couldn’t agree more with each of you. I am still rather new at this game. I’ve been lifting for about 8 years, but only BB’ing for about 3. A couple of years ago, on my first attempt at “getting ripped”, I incorporated circuit training which was basically a hybrid between German Body Comp and some sissy workout you would read about in M&F. Well, I ended up being able to see my abs for the first time, but I also wasted all of my lean muscle progress up to that point. Now, I concentrate on AT LEAST maintaining strength with heavy weights. I also slowly reduce my cals so that I am losing no more than 1-1.5 pounds per week. In the future, I think I’ll go with the morning Androsol while dieting. I may also use something like Meltdown for a few weeks within a larger periodization scheme, as Mufasa suggested. Anyways, I just wanted to throw you guys some props.

I’m into long term results that do not sacrifice all my hard work. Meaning, when I begin contest prep, it’s usually at least 3-months out and I diet REAL slowly. I do not lighten the weights in my training - training heavy until the day of a show. I also believe that those twice a day workouts with ALOT of sets were started by the 'roid-heads in the 80’s - because they have the recuperative abilities gained from drugs for those types of routines. I’m natural, therefore I need to maintain heavy training and watch my recovery time, even during a cutting phase. My last show, I got down to 6% with no cardio. And although I lost some muscle in my legs, overall, very little lean mass was sacrificed. I stay at 10-11% year round and find that I also have to INCREASE food intake as a contest nears. This year, we’re (my boyfriend and I) are going to do the Meltdown Training - begining in April. AND I’m going to use some of the Biotest products as well. The strongest supplements I’ve used regularly in the past have been VitaminC, Multi-Mineral, and maybe some GABA. This year, I’ve been using Creatine - and have been experiencing spectacular results. So, take my point of view also (and based on personal experience) - train heavy even during a cutting phase so as NOT to lose all that hard earned muscle.

I think the higher rep circuit training protocols are good for people who either don’t want to do a lot of cardio or just want to creat a greater caloric deficit through exercise and not necessarily all through diet. I would tend to agree that for maximum muscle retention it’s probably better to keep the weights heavy and the volume lower but for someone with a slow metabolism who hates doing cardio the higher rep, higher volume weight training does make things a lot easier.

Another great post from the lion’s den! Just want to add my two cents. Beyond all the high rep versus low rep, cardio versus no cardio debates, there is one thing that is completely ignored. In fact, I think it is probably the deciding factor in training and eating while cutting (and, actually, while bulking as well). What is this factor? Mindset. We have learned the importance that nothing is out of bounds in the quest to gain mass. We run the rack, do heavy negatives, drop sets, etc., etc., etc. Why are these things effective? Because we believe them to be. The same goes for diet. A perfect example is the assertion made by Chris Shugart and John Berardi in the Growth Surge Project. They encouraged everyone facing the Mag-10 dilemma of “How can I possibly eat so much without getting fat?” to simply think of the food as fuel for intense workouts. Furthermore, we read about other peoples’ progress on Mag-10 and learned about just how potent it was. This, albeit unintentionally, was a perfect example of the placebo effect. Rest assured that I’m not saying Mag-10 isn’t incredible. However, I firmly believe that positive thinking and appropriate perception of training and diet practices are just as influential as the Mag-10 itself! Personally, I feel that if we eat something while thinking, “This is going directly to my love handles,” it very well could do just that. To relate this all back to cutting, why should we all of a sudden be petrified of catabolism when, in fact, worrying about all this stuff releases enough cortisol to be catabolic in itself! Why not just train hard and let the chips fall where they may? Whether you use high reps or low reps, focus on intensity above all else. Offer a comparable stimulus to your muscles in terms of intensity while cutting to what you offer them during bulking. Personally, I feel this is best accomplished by simply setting up an appropriate periodization schedule and plan your training out months in advance. Then, when the pants start to fit a little tighter, tighten the reins on your diet, but continue within your periodization framework, which, naturally, incorporates the variety necessary to give a muscle a reason to hypertrophy or prevent atrophy. And, regardless, keep a positive mindset about whatever it is you are doing. Think about your goals, and tell yourself that you’re doing the right thing to reach them rather than second guessing each decision you make and losing sleep over if that 1/8" you lost in your quads was due to glycogen depletion, fat loss, or catabolism. Know that people have lost fat on all combinations of high rep, low rep, moderate carb, and low carb plans. As I think I remember you saying, “Rants turn into ramblings.” On that note, I’ll shut up and go back to watching my Tony Robbins tapes and telling myself that I’m a good person!

Mufasa, I can’t agree more. The type of weight training done while trying to cut down should be the kind that preserves strength and a training stimulus. Keep the intensity high and the volume and duration low. Use diet and cardio to create the negative energy balance and then add supplements to aid in lean body mass preservation, appetite control and thermogenesis. I think that if you stick to a plan like that, then there you can lose fat and maintain lean body mass and strength.

Eric, you make an excellent point that is often ignored in the bodybuilding world today. The mind has dramatic influence over the body. Arnold used to meditate before sleep that he was ripping out of his clothes, bursting with muscle. He seems to have recognized the X-factor in changing his physique, along with proper training, nutrition, and sleep of’course. An old-acquaintance of mine once made decent money selling Sudafed advertised as Sustenol, and the people who bought the stuff were amazed at their newfound strength and endurance. The placebo effect is critical and displays once again that the mind has astonishing results over the body. My message to everyone here - THINK POSITIVE and you are more likely to succeed in your routines.

Wow, Eric and mega_adonis: yes, the mind is the most often neglected bodypart. And that’s sad, since it’s the most powerful tool! People should remember the power of positive thinking - hey, I don’t want to sound like a “Tony Roberts” ripoff. But the one thing that I pay much more attention to during a pre-contest phase is how I’m thinking - I KNOW I’m going to be in the shape of my life on that stage, etc. It makes a HUGE difference. Whenever I train, I KNOW I’m going to be able to lift MORE than I did last time, etc. And so it goes. And since I’m an artist and thus very visual, I visualize how I’m going to look on stage, how I’m going to complete a set. Wow, so glad that you guys brought this up. Something that is rarely touched on in this forum…

I also agree. I got ripped as hell when i was doing low rep, high intensity olympic lifts. Right now i’m doing Fat to Fire on days 1, 3, 5, and then the 7th day i do a full body powerlifting type workout where i do triples and then singles of bench, squat, deadlift, pullups. then i take a day off and repeat. This works out good because i feel like i’m getting the benefits of the circuit workouts and additional fat loss w/o doing cardio and at the same time by doing the real heavy stuff i’m maintaining more lbm and strength than i otherwise would have lost.

The assumption here seems to be that sustained strength is a reliable indicator of preserved lean mass. I’ve heard it suggested that neural adaption can compensate even when some muscle is being lost, especially when there’s a shift in exercises and rep volume. I’ve never quite bought that argument, especially for those who’ve been lifting a long time. In any case, when I start worrying about looking flat and losing mass while cutting, I take great comfort in making my lifts. Do we all agree that this is a trustworthy sign of preserved muscle? Conversely, does a slight loss of strength necessarily suggest a loss of muscle?

I know i’m gonna get stomped for posting this but i’ve kept my normal bodybuilding/powerlifting style workouts and added about 4-5 decently intense cardio sessions a week, lasting adleist 20 minutes but not exceeding 40 minutes, and only slightly lowering calories, has anyone seen signifigant bodyfat dropps with a program similar to this? (I’m 6’2", 200 pounds, and about 8%bodyfat)thanks in advance for the responses

my workouts is the only thing that doesn’t change while dieting… still hard and heavy.

Take a look at this article by Paul Chek. Probably the single best article on fat loss from a practical standpoint I’ve read.


I disagree. For fat loss, greater vascularity, and retention of muscle mass, moderate-high rep interval training is best. This really is the only way to achieve a higher level of fitness while not becoming king cortisol. Achieving a higher level of fitness is important in determining the ratio of muscle to fat that you lose, and in determining just how low of a bf% you can get to. Calorie manipulation is only one piece of the puzzle. You’re just not going to get the same level of fitness with 4-6 reps and 2-3 minutes in between sets as you will with interval training.