Full cutting program

arnold-bicepsOver the last couple of weeks, I’ve been posting individual workouts I’ve been testing as part of a new cutting program.

Today, as promised, here’s a write-up of the entire program, largely for your convenience.

Before I’d finished the last bulk, I was already thinking ahead to this next phase and how I’d approach it. I shared my thoughts in a post as the tenets of my cutting program. So far, I’ve held true to those tenets.

Build an enjoyable program

As I worked through the programming for these latest workouts, I tried to hold true to this principal, creating a program I would want to do.

In general, I have a preference for simple programming; workouts I can attack and immerse myself in fully. But don’t mistake simple for easy.

I’ve never needed fancy programming, and I don’t get easily bored. Hence, straight sets across minimal exercises has never been a problem for me… I get off on the work itself.

Focus on density

We are trying to shed a few pounds here, and simple straight sets won’t always cut it. As a result, there are quite a few super sets and tri-sets across the workouts to help increase the amount of overall work and time under tension for the respective muscle groups.

Rest intervals are also programmed to be short, with nothing over sixty seconds between exercise groups. Rest between individual movements in a superset is nominal, usually only the time it takes to transition to the next exercise.

In addition, rest intervals were used to setup the next station, and re-rack weights from the current exercise. Yes, real meatheads put their shit away.

Eat as much as possible while still making progress

So far, I’ve lived by this, diligently cutting only the excess of the bulking calories.

In all other respects, I’m eating good sized meals at regular intervals and generally feeling comfortable day to day.

As compared to the bulk, the edge of hunger is now apparent in the run-up to the next meal, and I am once again waking feeling like I need food… truly a welcome sensation.

Also, as promised, there are no macros, and no counting of calories. The lack of counting etc. is mitigated somewhat by the fact I have previous “counting” experience, and the benefit of pretty structured eating during the working week. Also, like most bros I know, I thrive on eating a lot of the same things.

Minimize cardio

I’ve not added any cardio to the mix as yet, but truth be told, I am looking forward to adding some.

I like cardio a lot, especially the LISS (low intensity, steady state) type of cardio. I find it thoroughly therapeutic and an excellent aid to recovery, helping to refresh tired muscles and reduce soreness.

That said, to get the maximum fat-loss benefit from cardio, I’m keeping it in my back pocket for at least the first month. That way, when I finally add it, it’ll be another step-change in overall work to kickstart my body into burning more fat.

The full cutting program

The program is being run as a three day split, run six on, one off, with Sunday as my rest day.

With focus, a good work rate and short rest intervals (~60s), each of these workouts can be completed in under an hour and some in just forty minutes.

The splits break down like this:

  • Back, traps and biceps
  • Chest, shoulders and triceps
  • Legs

There are two routines for each split, and both have a different emphasis. Here’s the full program:

Monday: Chest, shoulders and triceps (push) [walk-through]

A: Banded facepulls — 3 x 10
B: Floor press — 6 x 6
C: Shoulder press — 5 x 8
D1: Narrow grip bench press — 3 x 8
D2: Bench dips — 3 x 12*
E1: Front DB raise — 3 x 12
E2: Plate halos — 3 x 12 (6 each direction)

* 60s rest between exercise groups
** No rest between exercises

Tuesday: Legs (quads) [walk-through]

A: Seated hamstring curl – 3 x 8
C1: Lunges – 4 x 8
C2: KB front squats – 4 x 12
D1: Leg press – 6 x 10
D2: Bodyweight squats – 6 x 20

* 60s rest between exercise groups
** No rest between exercises

Wednesday: Back, traps and biceps (rowing) [walk-through]

A: Banded facepulls — 3 x 10
B: Meadows row — 5 x 8
C1: Seated DB shrugs — 4 x 10
C2: Towel land-mine rows (t-bar) — 4 x 12
D: EZ-Bar barbell row — 3 x 12
E: Chest supported row — 8 x 4
F: Barbell curls — 3 x 8
G: Dumbbell curls — 3 x 8
H: DB Farmers walks — 6 x 20 yards

* 60s rest between exercise groups
** No rest between exercises
*** 20s rest between sets of chest supported rows

Thursday: Chest, shoulders and triceps (tension) [walk-through]

A: Banded facepulls — 3 x 10
B: DB incline press — 4 x 10, 8, 6, 15
C1: Wide grip dip — 4 x AMRAP
C2: DB Pullovers — 4 x 12
D1: Rear laterals — 3 x 15
D2: Side laterals — 3 x 15
E1: Triceps pushdown — 3 x 10
E2: Triceps overhead ext — 3 x 10

* 60s rest between exercise groups
** No rest between exercises

Note: This is a modified version of what you’ll see in the walk through; I had to tweak the program to spare my shoulders. This workout is yet to be tested.

Friday: Legs (hamstrings) [walk-through]

A1: Seated hamstring curl — 4 x 8
A2: SLDL — 4 x 12
A3: Seated hamstring curl — 4 x 15
B1: Glute bridges — 4 x 10
B2: KB Swings — 4 x 15
B3: Back extensions — 4 x 20

* 60s rest between exercise groups
** No rest between exercises

Saturday: Back, traps and biceps (vertical pulling) [walk-through]

A: Banded facepulls — 3 x 10
B: Deadlift — 4 x 12
C: Neutral grip chins — 4 x AMRAP
D1: DB Shrugs — 4 x 15
D2: DB Snatches — 4 x 15
E1: 90deg ISO hang — 3 x 1
E2: Cable curl — 3 x 20
F: Farmers walks — 4 x 20 yards

* 60s rest between exercise groups
** No rest between exercises


Rest like your life depends on it!

Can this program work for you?


Even if you followed this workout verbatim, without a single change, it can and would work for you. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t modify it to meet your specific needs.

This program was built by me, for me. The splits, frequency and choices of exercises were selected around my interests, goals and capabilities. As a result, the program as written may be suboptimal for you. At the very least you might not enjoy it… and that’s a pretty shaky foundation for most.

Still, if you follow it and work hard, this routine will work. Moreover, drop a few sets, increase loads and rest intervals, and this routine will build muscle too. Just be sure to achieve a small calorie surplus if you want to gain some more lean.

Anyway, I hope this helps someone understand a little more of what goes into creating a program; the reasoning,  the programming, the choices etc. I’ll post an update on progress in the next few days.

And that’s how you build a light saber …

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