Structuring a 12 Week Cut. Advice?

Due to start a potentially 12 week cut in April. Wanting advice on how to structure this. Obviously the goal is maintain maximum muscle mass with maximum fat loss. Currently bulking on 3500 ish calories. Not really sure how much is to lose but imagine 2lbs at 12 weeks 24lbs lost over 12 weeks while keeping as much muscle would achieve goals.

Would like some advice that went like:

For example start off eating at maintenance implement cardio the ramp it up as the weeks go on etc then drop Cals by x and increase cardio by x
Cut calories before cardio or cardio before calories etc. Weeks 1-4 do this, then start this etc

Vs a bad plan that starts by dropping Calories by 1000 and 40 mins cardio daily from the off.

Also thinking I might implement the use of clenbuterol But might make another thread for that for dosages and effects etc.


If you don’t already know what you’re doing cutting-wise, this seems like an unnecessary and dangerous step


I second everything already said here. Clen has its time and place, and it for sure isn’t at the start of a cut. Learn to generate and sustain a deficit, and only when all conventional diet methods have stopped making progress does supplementation come into play.
You should have well defined abs before the above applies

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2 pounds a week is pretty quick. It depends on what and why you are wanting to cut. If you are wanting long term leanness when the “cut” is over, I’d recommend going slower. Also you need to understand that progress isn’t linear. If you do something like cut carbs, you’ll drop some water weight quickly, but it isn’t fat loss. Don’t freak out and change things drastically every time you don’t exactly hit your target.

Do what’s easier. If you are really getting lean, you’ll have to pull all the levers at some point, but start by picking one, pulling it a little, wait till progress stalls, then up the ante. There is some evidence a higher amount of throughput (eat more, burn more) is probably better for body comp, but it’s marginal at best. What’s easiest for you to stick to is more important.

No, don’t do that…

I can’t speak intelligently about drug use like this because I’ve never used it, but that seems like a pretty big lever to pull when there is no reason to. If you’ve been bulking and have your calories pretty high, you should be able to lean out substantially without drugs.

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As far as retaining muscle: there are a lot of recommendations to keep protein intake anywhere from 0.75g/lb BW to 1.25g/lb BW, but I do mine at roughly 1.0g/lb.

Mike Israetel has a good video series on it if you really want to understand everything about your cut.

I’m still a complete noob at cutting so I truly don’t have all the answers. I will say that your goal of 2lbs/wk is really aggressive (speaking from experience) and is more likely to result in muscle loss. Aiming for 1lb/wk weight loss is the most commonly recommended way to go as it reduces muscle atrophy chances, but I understand it is slower.

Currently (by currently, I mean I literally just started) I’m doing the MATADOR protocol, which has some literature to support it. Basic plan is 2 weeks cutting at 30% deficit followed by 2 weeks eating at maintenance, lather and repeat. This would take me to roughly 2lbs lost per week while cutting and obviously no weight lost during maintenance - so it averages out to 1lb/wk.

In reality, there are hundreds of ways to lose weight, and many of them are good. The one thing they have in common is generating a deficit. The trickier part for those of us more bound with muscle, is trying not to lose the muscle.
Keep protein intake up, maybe reduce volume while increasing frequency, introduce some cardio as needed (don’t start off with too much as to avoid diminishing returns), and be honest with yourself.
You’ll need a scale in your home, a food scale, and My Fitness Pal (free version works fine) or some other food log method. I also recommend taking measurements of your biceps (flexed), waist at navel, thighs, and calves. This is to give some insight as to whether you are moving in the right direction. I do my measurements weekly and my weight daily.


See above. So generally the slower you go the more muscle you will retain but you should target 1-1.5lbs/wk.

Do you know what your TDEE? What is your current height and weight? Do you have a picture you could share along with a photo of what your goal physique looks like?

What we need to do is pick a macro ratio that works for you along with a caloric intake per day. Then a food plan needs developed that you can abide by. If you hate the food too much you won’t stick with it so write down wholesome foods you like on a piece of paper along with their nutrition facts and start jig sawing them in the plan like a puzzle.



I understands the principles of a cut for example calories deficits and the illusion of losing fat where actually the reduction in water weight etc.

I have no doubt I could get from A to B in the end in terms of fat loss I would just like to do this as optimal as possible by preserving as much muscle.

I’ve actually enquired about a PT if available just thought I’d start thinking of a plan as back up.

With me being a visual person I like to physically see change i.e on the scales weekly to know I’m making progress. Don’t want to waste say 4 weeks on the same weight thinking my body composition is changing when in fact I’ve been at a stand still.

My plan would always be to change something when weight dropped stopped ie reduce calories or more cardio like you say.

I was just hoping for generic advice that could have went something like.
Weeks 1-4 keep calories at x implement this much cardio etc

Weeks 5-8 reduce further add this much cardio etc

What would you recommend keep as close to maintenance as possible with higher cardio to begin or less calories and implement cardio as the weeks go on?

How was any of you previous cuts structured in past?

i started cutting naturally before using dope! do you really want to put yourself in a position where you rely on drugs to achieve to your goals?

think about it sir. drugs are tools not crutches. if you use drugs as a crutch, the more you end up putting in your body.

take your time, be patient. cutting is 99.9% diet.

if you can not take the time in the kitchen your cart is before your horse.

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Thanks for advice.

Nope not yet. Like I say I only came on to see how people would structure their cut and to see if there is a generic plan to follow and alter as weeks go on against my own progress etc. And sort of tips and tricks like drop calories before ramping up cardio or vice versa.


Thanks will give that a watch and take on board your advice.

The cardio vs calories as a starting point is kind of up to you: how much time do you have, how much do you hate cardio, do you like eating, etc?

For me, when I start, I typically add 10 minutes of cardio before and after my lifting and just start logging my food - no conscious changes; just log it. That will take me several pounds and I’m not unhappy yet.

From there, my adjustments will mainly come from dropping calories week to week. I don’t like using cardio to keep digging the deficit, because it’s too variable: if I do a bunch of treadmill, I might undo it by laying on the couch.

For macros, again for me, I go on the lower side of the recommended protein (.8 - 1g/ lbs), moderate fat (.4-.5g/ lbs) and make up the rest with carbs. I do this because I really like fatty cuts of meat, so it’s harder for me to rein in calories if that stuff is a bigger portion of my diet.

@T3hPwnisher manages it pretty much the exact opposite of me and is much more successful. Point being: the principle is deficit, everything else is technique, and you can use whatever technique you want as long as it respects the principle.

As a somewhat irrelevant note: I have been trying to not log my food for the last year or so. It’s actually harder for me to affect change this way, but I think is the right move for my circumstances right now.

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So heres the kicker. You can’t out cardio your diet. A cut is still going to be 90% what you stick in your mouth. So you need to focus more on nutrition than any other aspect.


I confess the wording of this made me chuckle

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Thanks good response.

For me even just around maintenance and just under maintenance is what I would say my natural apatite is for what I’m hungry for everything else on this bulk has been added to hit calories etc.

Based off what yous have said I might started off at this see how the weight goes. Once progress stops decided at the time to add some low cardio or drop the cals little more and got from a there, monitor and repeat. And just gradually increase everything while trying to keep as much strength in lifts

I can manage cardio it’s just boring

What’s your height and weight? Approximate bodyfat? Pics would help a ton. That typically helps tell whether you’re someone better suited for cutting on low fat vs. low carb to start.

Height 6ft 2
Weight 222 lbs first thing morning hoping to get to 224

Body fat: 16-17%

Based off this would you still say 2lbs a week will be excessive and cutting into muscle rather than fat storage?

Yes excessive. If you were 20% or more I could agree with a more agressive start but at 16-17% you want to stave off muscle wasting.

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Tbh I’ve never planned out how much weight I’d like to lose and at what rate heading into a cut. I take it one week at a time and adjust accordingly. Weekly adjustments will make or break the cut. For reference though, I think my last cut was 22lb down in about 16 weeks and I ended around 6% bodyfat.

Did you read my thread that Voxel posted? I went more in depth to my approach.


Thanks taken all on board.

What would losing say 1/1.5lb over 12 weeks so 12lb / 18lbs total bring the body fat percentage down to? From a start point of 16-17%

Going on abit here just thought I’d pick your brains and curious haha ?