Common Cutting Mistakes
If you’re a competitive bodybuilder, you’ll know that a contest prep is one of the most gruelling, physically, and mentally demanding processes that you will ever put yourself through. During the off-season, a bodybuilder will bulk up and gain as much muscle mass as they can.
This is typically done through heavy training, plenty of protein, plenty of fats, and a caloric surplus. Basically, they eat, sleep, train, and eat some more. As they approach a competition however, they need to begin their cut. A contest prep will normally begin 12 – 16 weeks out from a competition.
The idea here is to slowly lose body fat while preserving lean muscle. The end goal is a ripped, aesthetic, shredded physique with extremely low body fat percentages. Whether you are cutting and dieting down for a show, or if you simply want a set of six-pack abs, here are some common cutting mistakes to avoid.
Starting too late
When you begin your cut, you need to give yourself plenty of time to lose the fat and water you gained during your bulk, so as come show day, you looked ripped and full on stage.
The idea is to lose weight slowly, maybe 1 – 2 pounds of fat per week. If you leave it too late you’ll be tempted to crash diet and push yourself too hard, and you’ll end up losing more muscle than fat. Assess your physique around 4 months away from your show and find out roughly how much fat you’ll need to drop to look shredded.
Cutting carbs too soon
Most bodybuilders will cut back on carbs in the lead up to a contest, as this is a great way of losing weight. The problem is that bodybuilders will go from the extremes of having high-carb days, to going to virtually zero carbs right away.
This is a big shock to the system and the lack of carbs and therefore the lack of energy, will leave you feeling ill. Your energy levels will be depleted, and your muscles will struggle to perform due to a lack of glycogen. Instead, gradually taper your carb intakes down, reducing daily carb intakes by around 30g less each day.
Not eating any fat
Healthy fats are incredibly beneficial for the human body for a number of reasons. Some bodybuilders during a contest prep however, will drop down to low-fat diets in an attempt to lose weight faster. Ironically this actually has the opposite effect.
A lack of fat suppresses the metabolism so the body hangs onto more body fat and produces less energy. This means that you find it harder to burn fat and you also have low energy levels. This, combined with the fact that you are already in a deficit, can have disastrous consequences on your performance in the gym. Read more in our article about ‘Fat Burning Foods‘.
Pushing yourself too hard
A contest prep is tough, and it is a lot more physically and mentally demanding than a lot of people realize. Some bodybuilders in the run up to a competition however, will push themselves too hard. They’ll lift weights intensively for 5 – 6 days per week, as well as performing cardio virtually every day.
This is all in conjunction with being in a caloric deficit. Some will even limit their fluid intakes so as to not retain water. If you push yourself too hard during a contest prep you can make yourself ill and potentially put your health at risk. Not only that, but overtraining will have detrimental effects on your physique so you won’t look your best on contest day.