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How Do I Plan My First Cut?


Hey guys,
I have been hitting the gym hard for a good 6 months now and have made great strength and size gains. I have been eating well but still I have way to much fat for my liking, I am at 24% BF. Plus I had my blood drawn and I have slightly elevated cholesterol levels that I want to lower.

How do I plan a cut without sacrificing my strength gains or desire to hit the weights?
Is adding more (shudder) cardio enough or should I add a full body kettlebell workout?
Sadly I do not have access to a prowler or other cool toys...

Other personal info:
Workout Monday through Friday, weekends are with the wife, kids and football.
I am 33, 6'1 and 220 pounds.
Goal, stay in the 200-220 pound range with 10-15% BF within the next year.


Hi there.

Congratulations on your decision to start weight lifting

Start here http://tnation.T-Nation.com/free_online_forum/sports_body_training_performance_bodybuilding_beginner/are_you_a_beginner_ii

-Start taking it seriously, and realize 6 months is probably not enough time to change anything if your program is good.

-Your program is probably not good (don't take me wrong, but suggesting a fullbody kettlebell workout on top of your other 5 workout days sounds like you are not in the right direction) Read as much articles from this website as you possibly can.

-Read Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe and 5/3/1 by Jim Wendler, even if you are not going to adopt the programs, everything in the world will make more sense.

-Use the search function and look for complexes for fat loss.

-Use the search function before making any thread.

-Read around, it should take care of any doubts you might have regarding cutting.

Good luck


Awesome start. What kind of size gains have you made (what did you weigh six months ago)? To get a point of reference, what are your current bests in the squat, deadlift, bench, overhead press, and row?

How'd you calculate this? Many bodyfat percentage measurements can be inaccurate. It's usually better to stick with tracking inches lost/gained, photos, and strength in the gym.

I suggest taking some "before" pictures and do baseline measurements. Thread about pics here:
For measurements, get a quality tape measure and record your neck, chest/nipple line, upper arm, waist/belly button, hips, mid thigh, and calf. Re-measure when you weigh in (once a week).

That'll have a lot to do with your nutrition, especially not dropping calories too low too soon, and keeping your protein high enough to maintain and/or build muscle.

Without knowing how you're currently eating (which can be a factor for sure), I like this article for straightforward steps to start getting things in line:

That depends entirely on what you're doing now, in terms of weights and cardio. Kettlebells can be used as part of a fat loss plan, but they're not essential and I wouldn't use them instead of a few "regular" weight training sessions each week.

What does your current training plan, weights and cardio if any, look like (the days, exercises, sets, and reps)?

What do you have access to? A full commercial gym or just some equipment at home?

Do you play football or is that for the kiddos?

Gaining muscle while losing fat is tough to do under the best circumstances, so you'd be better off focusing on max fat loss for now. Even if your total bodyweight drops a bit, you'll end up looking better and being in better shape.


Squat: went from 140 to 220 pounds.
Deadlift: not sure on start, about 150 to 250 now.
Bench: Chest still sucks, bench 140.
Overhead press: started low, 80 now.
Row: one armed, 90 pounds.

Legs have grown the most, delts, back and arms are nice... chest is a weak point, finding it hard to focus on the squeeze.[/quote]

I got a electronic meter, my BF has been climbing slowly but I blamed that on the eating. Strength and muscle size has grown a lot.

I will look into it! I also looked up complexes and will I will see where and when I can fit that in.

Right now I try to add 20 to 30 minutes of light cardio after my work outs, but I don't do it all the time as it is just to boring. After leaving everything I have behind in the weight room it is a pain in the ass to get on a tredmill.

I go to a commercial gym with all the necessary equipment, just wish they had less bikes and tredmills and more room for sleds, tire flipping and that sort of testosterone building "man cardio".

Haha, used to play... I was referring to couch football.

I think you are right on this. My strength gains have been very nice but I am going to have to let it go a bit and focus on fat loss. I will look into it and get a plan together that I can stick to and be happy with.


Your strength is my strength at 143 lbs man, I'd say that you should focus on getting stronger while maintaining weight. If you're gonna do that figure out your maintenance calories and weigh yourself weakly. If you drop weight, add cals. If you gain weight, drop cals.


Your strength vs my strength is not the point. I have made gains in both strength and size, but I am not 220 pounds because I am all muscle. Dropping BF while maintaining as much of my new strength as I can should be my goal for now.


This amounts to losing fat while gaing muscle mass, and as Chris already pointed out, it is very hard to accomplish at the same time. If he is really at 24% BF, and needs to lose fat due to health reasons, his best bet is reducing cals while keeping his protein intake high, while at the same time trying to maintain (or increase) his strength by continued lifting on a regular basis.


I understand that most people consider this an unaccomplishable goal but it truly isn't. If it was undoable powerlifters wouldn't be able to improve their strength while staying in the same weight classes. I agree it is hard to accomplish, but you can do it. If its health reasons, then yes he should cut just like you state. But if I was in this case and just uncomfortable with my body at 24% BF I would just work it over time and end up stronger, at a lower bodyfat, and the same weight.

Your choices though, not mine.


I appreciate your input and it could be possible with a very strict diet. But like I said in my original post I also want to lower my BF because of elevated cholesterol. I love lifting and will keep on doing that but my focus for now should be on finding a routine that will get my BF down in the manliest way possible.


Well, I have been thinking about how to go about my new plan. So far I had been doing a 5/3/1 but I am going to drop that for a few weeks and see how this goes. I will have 2 days of full of complex and interval exercises, 2 days of lighter high rep weights and 1 day of some complex and lighter high rep leg work. I predict I will be puking at the end of every day.


Weight workouts will be 4 sets, 10 to 12 reps
Intervals will be for 15 seconds high intensity, 15 seconds rest for 3 minutes.

Monday -
Plate Complex - Row interval - Barbell Complex - Bike interval - Kettelbell Complex

Tuesday -
Chest - Shoulders - Triceps

Wednesday -
Plate Complex - Row interval - Barbell Complex

Thursday -
Back - Traps - Biceps

Plate Complex - Row Interval - Barbell Complex - Bike interval - Kettelbell Complex


I never understood while people puke when they work out... I know you're supposed to maintain a higher heart rate especially if goal is fat loss, but puking is kinda silly. Slow things down a little.

If you want to lower BF while maintaining as much strength as possible, try to calculate maintenance calories and just eat around that. Add cardio and you should slowly burn off fat and maintain some size.

Any extreme cutting will just result in higher amount of muscle and strength loss.


I say 5/3/1 with cardio maybe 15min sessions after lifting and 30min sessions on off days and see how that goes before switching to something like this. Actually I don't know If you should ever try this, you should probably describe what you're actually doing for lifting.


X2 this.

Sorry if this sounds harsh but where you're at you have a long way to go, strength and leanness wise (both). A cut, or a bulk, would seem too skewed towards either end at this point. Obviously if you're uncomfortable with your current level of fat, then cut. BUT if you cut down, and realise you aren't very musculuar DO NOT reflexively increase calories following some stupid 'just fucking eat' or 'gallon of milk a day' protocol in a vain attempt to get huge, fast. Won't happen. It will result in fat

The key for you from now on is moderation, discipline, consistent improvements in weights lifted over time, and regular cardio sessions too. I was once fat, now girls think i'm cute and all that good stuff. Extremes should be avoided. embrace the dedicated training lifestyle

Please have a read of the 'cautionary tale of Artem' and do not repeat his mistakes:



Good luck mate


V-Diet for a month


Post picture of yourself for reference would be useful but I'm inclined to agree with those saying to maintain and focus on strength and fitness.

Planning - set realistic short term goal.

Step 1. Eat clean if you aren't already.
Did this get you to goal? If yes then return to planning, else go to step 2:

Step 2. Get on a progressively increasing strength plan whether it be increasing your bench from 150 to 225 or increasing your pushups from being able to do 20 to being able to do 60.
Did this get you to goal? If yes then return to planning, else go to step 3:

Step 3. Are you still too small? Increase calories slightly. Are you still too big? Decrease calories slightly.
Did this get you to goal? If yes then go back to planning, else repeat step 3