Start cutting 4 to 16 weeks before summer, depending on your goals and body composition. If you are looking to lose only a little weight, or if you are already very lean, begin cutting 4 to 8 weeks prior to summer. If you plan to lose 10 or more pounds, or if you have been bulking, begin your cut 12 to 16 weeks before summer arrives. Just make sure to follow a healthy diet and exercise plan, get plenty of rest, and stick to your cutting plan to get the results you want.
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Factors to Consider when Cutting for Summer
Everyone’s summer cut will be slightly different, based on their body and fitness goals. Before you begin any cutting plan, take the time to make a plan. It will help you achieve your desired physique, rather than leave you feeling like you’ve failed.
Your Current Body Composition
The first thing to consider when planning a cut is your current body composition. Are you already lean, or do you have excess body fat to lose? If you’re lean, you might not need as much time to cut. However, if you have a higher body fat percentage, you may need to start earlier.
- When you start your cut depends on how much body fat you have and how much weight you wish to lose.
- Plan to lose ½ to 1 pound per week during your cut.
- If you want to cut 5 to 10 pounds of weight, begin cutting 2 or 3 months before summer.
Never plan to lose more than one pound of body weight per week during a cut. Cutting weight more quickly than this can lead to health issues, drastically reduce energy levels, and prevent you from exercising to your full potential. If you think you need to lose 1o to 12 pounds to reach your physique goals, begin cutting 3 months before summer. This means it’s best to begin cutting in February or March.
What are your specific goals for the summer? Do you want to lose a few pounds or achieve a well-defined, shredded look? The more aggressive your goals, the earlier you should start cutting.
- Losing 3 to 4 pounds to add definition can be accomplished in 1 month.
- Cutting for a “ripped” look typically takes 3 months.
- You cannot spot treat fat—it may take patience for your cut to start showing results in all areas of your body.
Remember, body fat can be stubborn, so it pays to start cutting early. Your body may prioritize fat storage in the precise areas you plan to show off by cutting. Personally, losing the last bit of belly fat to achieve abs is always my greatest cutting challenge. So, I like to start cutting in March to make sure I reach my cutting goals in time for summer.
Your Diet and Exercise Routine
The effectiveness of your cutting plan depends on your diet and exercise routine. Are you already following a structured plan, or do you need to make significant changes? If you’re already on track, you might not need as much time to reach your goals.
- Cutting may require a big diet change, which can take time to adjust to.
- To get a good cut after bulking, begin cutting in February or early March.
- If you have not been bulking, begin cutting in March or April.
If you’ve been bulking to gain muscle mass, it is likely you also gained some fat. So, if you’re coming out of a bulk it’s best to start cutting in late winter. This will achieve a cut appearance in time for summer. If you have already been working to stay lean, you can begin cutting in late spring, such as in April.
When to Start Cutting for a Summer Body
Now that we’ve explored the factors that will influence your cutting timeline let’s get into recommendations that will have you looking your best by summer. Here’s how to plan your cut:
Early Birds: 12-16 Weeks Out
If you have a higher body fat percentage or ambitious goals, you might want to start cutting as early as 12 to 16 weeks before summer. This timeframe allows for gradual fat loss, which is more sustainable and helps preserve muscle mass. Plus, it gives you some wiggle room in case you encounter any setbacks.
Moderates: 8-12 Weeks Out
If you are already relatively lean or have moderate goals, start your cut 8 to 12 weeks before summer. This gives you enough time to lose fat at a steady pace without having to resort to extreme measures. Remember, an aggressive fat-loss diet can decrease your energy in the gym, which can actually hurt your cutting goals. So, it’s important to eat enough that you can still work out at high intensity, to build muscle definition.
Fine Tuners: 4-8 Weeks Out
If you’re already in good shape and only need to shed about five pounds or fine-tune your physique, you can start cutting 4 to 8 weeks before summer. This shorter timeframe helps maintain your hard-earned muscle while getting you ready for the beach. Following an intense cutting plan for a prolonged period can cause you to lose muscle along with fat. So, if you’re already lean, don’t start your cut more than 2 months before the summer weather arrives.
Tips for a Successful Cut
Monitor Your Progress
Tracking your progress is essential during a cut. Regularly weigh yourself, take body measurements, and assess how your clothes fit. You can also take progress photos to document your journey. Tracking your weight is also essential to make sure you are not losing weight too quickly.
Adjust Your Caloric Intake
To lose fat, you need to be in a caloric deficit. This means you must consume fewer calories than your body burns. Start by reducing your daily calorie intake by 10 to 20% and adjust as needed based on your progress. Fitness tracker apps like MyFitnessPal can help you create calorie goals based on your weight and activity level. So, you can lose up to 1 pound per week just by following the caloric recommendations from the app.
Protein is crucial for maintaining muscle mass during a cut. Aim to consume at least 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight daily. Choose high-quality protein sources like lean meats, fish, dairy, and plants. If you reduce your protein intake too drastically during cutting, you will lose muscle mass, which will make your cut less effective.
Incorporate Strength Training
Strength training helps preserve muscle mass while cutting. Focus on compound exercises that target multiple muscle groups, such as squats, deadlifts, and bench presses. Train 3 to 5 times per week. Additionally, it is best to perform 3 to 5 sets of 8 to 12 reps for each exercise. This set and rep range is optimized for muscle hypertrophy, which means increased size and definition.
Don’t Forget Cardio
Cardio is an excellent tool for burning calories and speeding up fat loss. Mix both steady-state cardio and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) to burn calories efficiently. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity cardio per week.
Drinking enough water is essential during a cut. Staying hydrated helps maintain energy levels, supports digestion, and can even reduce feelings of hunger. Drink at least 8 cups of water per day. On days you exercise, drink at least 12 cups of water. This will prevent dehydration and fatigue which are common side effects of cutting.
Get Enough Sleep
Don’t underestimate the power of sleep during a cut. Adequate rest supports muscle recovery, regulates hunger hormones, and improves overall well-being. Prioritize getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep nightly. Adequate sleep actually triggers your body to store less fat, which results in a better cut.
High stress levels can hinder your cutting progress by increasing cortisol, a hormone that promotes fat storage. Practice stress management techniques such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, and fun hobbies. Make sure to follow a cutting plan that does not make you stressed and unhappy. An extreme cut can be self-defeating, since you’re more likely to give up on the cutting plan.
Consistency is key when it comes to cutting. Stick to your diet and exercise plan as closely as possible. Don’t let minor setbacks derail your progress. Remember that slow and steady progress is more sustainable than rapid, drastic changes. If you have one cheat day, you won’t destroy your cutting progress.
What is the Best Time to Start Cutting for Summer?
When to start cutting for summer depends on your current body composition, goals, and lifestyle habits. Here are the rules for when to start your summer cut:
- 12 to 16 weeks: If you have been bulking, plan to lose more than 10 pounds, or do not have a lean appearance.
- 8 to 12 weeks: If you wish to lose 10 pounds or less, have not been bulking, and are somewhat lean.
- 4 to 8 weeks: If you are lean and defined and plan to lose 5 pounds or less.
Your own physique and goals are the most essential factors in deciding when your cut should begin. Assess your physique, determine where you want to be, and follow a plan that calls for a maximum of 1 pound of weight loss each week. This will result in a successful cut you can be proud of.