When you enter into your cut phase in bodybuilding. Your weights are about the only aspect that remains the same. Your diet drastically changes, your whole supplement routine changes as your focus becomes preventing the breakdown of the muscle you’ve worked so hard to build. But you built your size lifting heavy, why stop lifting heavy now? Too many people who try to compete in bodybuilding enter into the cut phase and begin lifting light weights in every set trying to bring out the cuts better. This doesn’t work. Sure some sets you need to do 12 or 15 reps, but when all you do is one light set after another, you will lose all your mass. You’ll be hoping to go into the show as a middleweight and you'll step on stage as a bantam. You have anti-catabolic supplements and tons of protein going into your system. It’s not going to hurt you to lift as heavy as you were before you entered into the cut phase.

Your first four to six weeks, your lifting should not even change at all. When you get cut enough to see what muscles don’t look quite as good or hard as you’d like them to, then you can start isolating that area with very controlled movements of about twelve to fifteen reps, focussing on contracting only the part of the muscle you wish to work on. It would be a good idea at this point (maybe four weeks in) to quit doing any full body movements. Power cleans, deadlifts, and movements like those. If you were doing anything like that, replace the energy you would have spent doing those with exercises on your lacking areas. This far into the cut phase it’s almost impossible to increase muscle mass in any area, but you can maintain what you have while making it look better. If for example your triceps aren’t looking quite like you’d want them to, you can throw in an extra five or six sets of tricep pressdowns very slow and controlled, focussing on your triceps being as tight as possible the whole movement and not letting any other muscles help out. This will help shape them and harden them up. You won’t increase muscle mass at all, but they’ll look better on stage. So pick your target areas and put a little more energy into isolation training of those.

Fundamentally the rest of your workout should be the same as it was before. I’m sure you enter into the cut phase with a pretty solid, intense lifting routine. Don’t change that at all. But after a set number of weeks (about four if your cut phase is twelve) remove those full body movements and replace that energy with some isolation training, leaving the rest the same. In another three weeks, take free weight squats out of your routine. You should be five to six weeks out when you stop doing them. You can still do moderate weight, perfect form smith machine squats with your legs somewhat narrow and out in front of you. But the free weights have to go and be replaced with isolation training of your legs. Single-leg leg extensions extremely slow and controlled, focussing on the areas of your quads you want to be the most shredded. About four weeks out of the show, start basing your leg workout in less compound movements. That means heavy leg presses are out. Leave in your smith machines, and somewhat light lunges, but do a lot of isolation training when you’re four weeks out. The main focus at this point is perfect form, typically around eight to twelve reps per set, focussing only on a specific area of the muscle. If you’re working your biceps, focus on the upper bicep for a better peak as opposed to just letting the entire bicep and forearm just mash together in a powerlifting style of just muscling the weight up. You have to focus on an area of your bicep and have perfect form every repetition.

The Shows are always on Saturdays. So the Wednesday before the show will be your last real workout. Keep that in mind about a week before then so that you don’t have a huge rest between body parts. You should be combining them a little more at this time. Then Thursday evening, you do a light full body workout to drain your glycogen stores through your whole body. This workout is as if you were backstage pumping up getting ready for a show, except you don’t want to overdo the intensity. Just about thirty minutes of sets without much rest at all, going through your full body, and never going to failure, then right after that workout you begin eating. In every one of your meals that is normally just protein and a little fat, you start putting in about 40 grams of complex carbs. The rest of the time until the show you just rest and eat and wait for your time to go on stage.


It becomes very important to practice posing at least five days per week as you move into your cut phase. The farther into your cut phase, the more you practice posing. This will shape and harden your muscle as it is supposed to look on stage as much as the lifting, but you can't just have one or the other. On top of that however, the posing will get your body ready for the competition. You can lift all you want, but when they call that minute and a half front abdominal and thigh, you aren't going to be able to look comfortable and confident if you're shaking like a grand mal seizure. So practice your poses. You might as well do it right after your workout so you can eat as soon as you're done practicing. Practice in this order;

relaxed pose (hold for 60 seconds)
front double bicep (45 seconds)
relaxed pose (15 seconds)
front lat spread (45 seconds)
relaxed pose (15 seconds)
side chest bicep (45 seconds)
rear relaxed pose (60 seconds)
rear double bicep (45 seconds)
rear relaxed pose (15 seconds)
rear lat spread (45 seconds)
rear relaxed pose (15 seconds)
side tricep (45 seconds)
front relaxed pose (15 seconds)
front abdominal and thigh (60 seconds)
relaxed pose (15 seconds)
most muscular- crab (30 seconds)
relaxed pose (45 seconds)
flex right leg and hold 10 seconds, rest 5 (4 sets)
flex left leg and hold 10 seconds, rest 5 (4 sets)
lay on back, feet elevated at 80 degree angle 2 minutes

Eat within about five minutes of the time you finish this. The more you practice posing, the better you'll do on stage. So work up to this much in the first four weeks, then do it until the day before the contest. The further into your cut phase you get, practice your relaxed pose more. This little posing practice will really bring out your cuts and prepare you for the stage.


This is where your bodyfat drowns out. The diet does it, but this is really kicks the pace up. Now regular cardiovascular work during the cut phase is devastating. So never get on an eliptical trainer or a bike, or a treadmill or anything and just start hauling ass. If you're sweating, it's pretty likely that you're destroying your muscle tissue.

What you have to do is... first thing in the morning, pack in a couple grams of pure glutamine or an amino tab or something, a bunch of water, and any stimulants if you choose to take them, but NO calories from fat or carbohydrates or fake carbohydrates what so ever. None. Get on a treadmill and just walk at somewhere around 3.7 to 4.2 mph. Do it either five or six days per week. Four isn't nearly enough, and seven is too much. Start off early in the cut phase at about 35 minutes per session. After a couple weeks, bump it to 45 minutes. The last six weeks or so should be 55 to 65 minutes, until the final week. Your final week, you should start tapering off your cardio. about 40 minutes on Monday, 30 on Tuesday, 20 on Wednesday, and 15 on Thursday. The day before and the day of the show do not do any cardio at all at any time. After your workout Thursday night you shouldn't do any form of exercise except maybe practice a couple of your poses if you want to. Your body is fundamentally where it is going to be on stage. You won't lose or gain any bodyfat or muscle at this point. But you have to be very careful about everything you do because anything can go wrong in the last couple days to ruin the twelve weeks of work put into the show. But everything from this point on is simply diet.