T Nation

Rep/Set Schemes on Cut


For those who have cut do you find that certain rep schemes are better than others when cutting?

I prefer a double progression style routine but, as a the weeks have gone by I am unable to progress on weight or even keep the weight/reps where they were.

EX. last week I hit Front squat 245x7 for 4 sets (6-8 rep range) today I got 7,7,6,4

Would it be better to switch over to a ramping style? Where I could focus more on hitting the heaviest weight possible for that day instead of trying to match past strength levels?


Decrease volume, but try to keep the top weights/reps the same (or progress if possible). So instead of trying to do 245x7 for 4 sets, do it for 2 sets and call it a day (on that exercise).

Volume is not your friend while you’re in a caloric deficit.


Would you eventually cut it to 1 set then lower the weight and raise the volume?

It seems like I would be trying to hold on to prior strength levels as long as possible as opposed to trying to get stronger?


‘On a cut’ implies that the period of caloric restriction has a planned end-point (ie, either a specific weight/body composition, or a specific date). Your goal, I assume, is to maintain as much of your hard-earned muscle mass as possible during the cut. Others may disagree, but I think the key to convincing the body to hold on to muscle despite a caloric deficit is to regularly apply extreme tension to those muscles; ie, to lift heavy weights.

So to answer your question, at no point during a cut would I lower the weight and increase volume (with the exception of a planned deload week if your program calls for such, after which you’d go right back to lifting heavy again).

As for how many heavy sets you can/should do, that’s a function of your training history and workload capacity, as well as the severity of the caloric deficit you’re running (you can tolerate a lot more volume on a 500 cal/d deficit than a 1000 cal/d deficit), and for how long you’ve been in a deficit. There are no hard & fast rules for determining this, I’m afraid.

As for getting stronger–once you’ve been in a deficit deep and long enough, doing so inevitably becomes impossible. (I’m assuming you’re ‘un-enhanced.’) Once you find strength gains are no longer coming, just try and stay as strong as possible for as long as possible.