If you read any magazines or websites about bodybuilding, fitness or nutrition, then you will read a lot about cutting, but what is it?
When people talk about cutting, they are generally referring to reducing body fat percentage, without losing muscle mass (or at least as little as possible).
That is a really key point when it comes to any discussion about what methods are good or not good for cutting.
Most people wouldn’t be very happy if they went through a 6 – 12 week cutting phase, got down to their desired body fat percentage, only to find that they had also lost much of their muscle size and definition in the process.
Cutting body fat without simultaneously reducing muscle size and definition is actually one of the most complicated and controversial topics in fitness and bodybuilding.
This explains why there is so much confusion about what cutting methods actually work and why so many experts have conflicting views.
Could HIIT be the answer?
One element that you will find in most guides, methods or strategies for cutting is High Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT.
HIIT is a term used to describe workouts that rotate short bursts of intense activity with periods of less intense activity or rest periods.
One of the key reasons that HIIT workouts are so effective is because of what is known as the after burn effect.
During a HIIT workout, your body needs a vast amount of oxygen, and at the conclusion of the workout you will be left with an oxygen shortage.
In the hours that follow your workout, your body is fighting to get everything in your body back to a steady state, which requires lots of extra oxygen and speeds up your metabolic rate for up to 48 hours after you finish the workout.
This is why a 30 minute HIIT workout can burn so many more calories than a 60 minute steady state cardio workout, and why HIIT workouts are so great for cutting.
For maximum fat burning effect try to include 5x 30 minute HIIT workouts into your routine each week during your cutting phase.
What equipment is needed to perform a HIIT workout?
Another reason HIIT workouts are great is because they can be done anywhere with no equipment required.
A HIIT workout can be as simple as alternating 30 – 40 seconds of sprints at near maximum effort, with 20 – 30 seconds of walking or gentle jogging.
Don’t forget about your diet
HIIT workouts are excellent for burning fat, but if you want to reach that all important goal of cutting down fat without losing muscle mass, then you need to make sure you regulate your diet carefully as well.
Don’t make the mistake of instantly making drastic reductions in your calorie intake.
Incrementally reduce your calorie intake during your cutting phase, keeping a high level of protein the whole time, and increase your diet back towards your normal level towards the end of the cutting phase.
As I mentioned before though, one of the critical things about effective cutting, is reducing your body fat WITHOUT reducing your muscle size or definition.
HIIT will take care of the fat burning, but the other critical factor is your diet. If you drastically reduce your calorie intake, remove carbs from your diet and increase your cardio all at once, your body won’t have the fuel it needs to keep up and your muscles will start to atrophy.