Photo By: Alexander Redl
Cardio, Cutting, and More
As I type this post, I’m recovering from my second summer cold in the span of a month-and-a-half which when combined with a calorie deficit does quite a number on my psyche as I watch my 8-10 rep weights suddenly become my 5 rep weights.
The last post covered the basics of the strength-training portion of my fitness regimen. Much of what I discuss in this post references that previous post, so I recommend reading it first. This post covers the more nuanced topics of cardio, adjusting the workout volume, and adding a calisthenics focus during the cutting phase of working out.
For starters, when you’re cutting, there are significant changes.
In the last post, the majority of that information is applicable to the “bulk” or “maintenance” phase or more specifically, the two phases where you’re currently in a calorie surplus or simply eating enough to maintain your body weight (more on this later).
When you’re cutting or eating at a calorie deficit, things are much different. Your strength will start to stall and/or decrease (sometimes dramatically). You’re also not quite able to recover as quickly from workouts. This differs from person-to-person and also from stage-to-stage during the cutting process. You may not see a dramatic performance difference until you’re much closer to a body fat percentage of 8-10%.
For that reason, I make two distinct differences to the program described in the previous post.
First, I lengthen the cycle from four weeks (including a one week deload/rest) to seven weeks. Each week of strength training is followed by a Calisthenics week that involves more esoteric movements and workouts that I’ll get to later.
Second, I reduce the workout volume. While I keep the core working sets on the primary lifts including the final AMRAP sets. I reduce the accessory lift sets from 5 sets to 3. I also dispense with the extra volume discussed in the previous post which includes Joker Sets, FSL, SSL, and Volume Sets.
Next, Let’s look at the addition of cardio in the Cutting Phase.
First, I try to include a significant amount of cardio into my weekly workload. There are many different approaches to cardio and I typically try to avoid performing it on days where my lower body has been worked out thoroughly.
The three categories of cardio:
Or any activity that is physically taxing from a cardio-perspective. If you can fit a type of each cardio in each week, then great. I generally aim for three days of cardio (mainly HIIT or MISS) rather than simply one day as I would when bulking. I would argue that HIIT is likely the most beneficial but difficult to duplicate absent a track near your location.
I’ve found the following HIIT stationary bike routine to be effective: Interval Training On A Stationary Bike
My focus on cardio is not to lose fat (that’s a helpful byproduct) but simply to improve your cardio endurance.
Next, the Calisthenics Week that is sandwiched between the traditional weightlifting weeks.
The typical Calisthenics Week is laid out in the following manner:
The rest days can be spread between the different workout days. Similar to the weightlifting workouts, each workout has a primary lift (or movement in this case).
These would be advance movements, though not too advance for your typical gymnast. However, they are good movements to gradually progress toward completing for a set number of reps (or time in the case of the L-Sit). For most people (including me), these lifts are too difficult to do correctly on the first try and will require a progression scheme to follow before you’re able to do the movement confidently and correctly.
The beginning of the workout is spent attempting to perform the above movements before moving onto the rest of the workout which, depending on that day’s workout, is a prescribed circuit of basic calisthenic movements such as the following:
|Squats||3 Pyramid Sets (6-10 Reps)*|
|Lunges||3 Sets of 12-15 Reps|
|Elevated Back Leg Squats||3 Sets of 12-15 Reps|
|Side Lunges||3 Sets of 10-12 Reps|
|Wall-Sits||3 Sets of 1:00|
A example of a squat pyramid set of 8 reps would be performing 1 squat, followed by 2 squats, followed by 3 squats, and so forth until 8 squats with no break between them, followed by a short 30 second rest and then back down starting with 8 squats. This will burn your legs to a crisp so start small. The next movements can be performed in order or as a large circuit. Everything is performed with just your body weight and can be scaled by increasing repetition (or time) or decreasing rest periods between sets or circuits.
|Medium Grip Pull-Ups||3 Reps|
|Close Grip Chin-Ups||4 Reps|
|Horizontal Rows||6 Reps|
|Wide Grip Pull-Ups||3 Reps|
|Neutral Grip Pull-Ups||4 Reps|
The above workout is to be performed as a large circuit with anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute between movements and 3-4 minutes between entire circuits. This circuit can be performed anywhere from 3 to 4 times. Horizontal rows are to be performed using a bar or rings (if you have any). Pull-Ups mean an overhand grip (exception being neutral/hammer grip) and Chin-Ups mean an underhand grip. This workout can be scaled by increasing reps or decreasing rest times.
|Wide Push Ups||10 reps|
|Close/Diamond Push Ups||8 Reps|
|Back Legs Elevated Push Ups||8 Reps|
|Standard Push Ups||10 Reps|
|Upper Body Elevated Push Ups||12 Reps|
|Front Plank||30 seconds|
Same as above, this is to be performed as a large circuit and can be scaled by increasing reps or decreasing rest times.
This is the more esoteric workout that I use to focus on various movements that affect the core or explosive jumping.
|Hollow Body Hold||3 Sets To Failure|
|Decline Crunches/Crunches/Ab Wheel||3 Sets of Reps Varying|
|Hanging Leg Raises/Lying Leg Raises/Any Leg Raise Variance||3 Sets of Reps Varying|
|Side Leans/Side Planks||3 Sets of Reps Varying|
|Hyperextensions/Reverse Hyperextensions||3 Sets of Reps Varying|
|Dead-Hangs/Static Holds||3 Sets|
|Box Jumps||4 Sets of 5-8 Reps|
|Depth Jumps||4 Sets of 5 Reps|
|Kneeling Jumps||3 Sets of 5 Reps|
|Seated Box Jumps||3 Sets of 5-8 Reps|
|Hurdle Jumps||2 Sets|
These movements are to be performed in-order instead of a giant circuit of movements.
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