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How Do I Get That Cut, Toned and Defined Look?

Putting on muscle and getting fit have their own rewards when it comes to your health but let’s face it, when you see infomercials or magazine covers, you kinda sorta want to look like THAT as well, right? You know… cut, ripped, DEFINED. And while all that stuff takes the time and dedication you’ll pour into your program and will happen as you work out and eat right, there’s always the question: “How do I get that cut look?”

Truth is, following the program and nutrition guides of a program like P90X, Asylum or Turbofire will put their arm around you like a pal and guide you every step of the way. That’s why I love these programs. But beyond that, “looking cut, defined or toned” is primarily the result of losing fat. See, fat is simply “muscle mayo”– thick stuff slathered all over your body that hides your true physique lying patiently underneath. Of course, there’s a few additional factors that go into getting that “cut” look and nutrition and intensity of workouts are definitely leading that charge.

Still, goals like “losing fat” and “adding muscle” can often be mutually exclusive of one another and many times “hypertrophy” (building muscle) and blow-torching fat can work against one other. There’s certainly “sweet spots” where you can gain the best of both worlds (I’ve been there as have many others) but progress in one area may be slower than the other… So here’s the question to start with: “Do I want to lose fat or pack on muscle?”

Getting Cut = Losing Fat

If you’re looking to lose fat, it’s often a recommendation to do that first. Keep in mind, as you lose fat, you will look more muscular just because the padding is being melted away. You do this with a “calorie deficit”. In short… if you’re burning more calories than you’re consuming, your body needs energy and will resort to pulling from available muscle mayo (aka- fat).  Do keep in mind that doesn’t mean starvation. If you’re working out, you need to EAT.

So to get your fat cells into that fat microwave? Calorie reduction while ensuring good nutrition, eating clean and working out with Tony Horton, Shaun T. and Chalene Johnson are key.

As you marry the idea of eating to fuel your body, there’s a “sweet spot” for everyone that will reduce fact without triggering the “plateau effect” or what’s sometimes called “starvation mode” where you body retains fat despite being at a caloric deficit. You can ballpark that sweet spot pretty easily (and I can help) and tweak from there.

As an example, as a 6’1″ guy I can’t go to a 1000 calorie deficit. Well, let’s be honest, I can but at a certain point it’s just too much for me. I lose fat but I also lose muscle and hit that “plateau”– I retain fat in some areas I’d rather see it go. I’ve found my sweet spot, when cutting, is around 220-2300 calories per day.  That gets me results you see in the pics on this site. The calorie standard may be different for you but the key is to test into it, go for a couple weeks and then asses where you’re at, making the adjustments on calories when/if needed. Eventually, you’ll just KNOW.

Smart Cardio

Of course, cardio also plays a part in fat loss and I found also that 2-3 times a week really did the trick on torching fat and getting cut. Keep in mind… cardio is NOT the end-all be all if you’re looking for an athletic, cut physique (read why in detail here). It’s PART of a whole and one that plays a helpful role.

Getting Cut = Sculpting Muscle

If you’re looking to add muscle, you CAN add muscle under fat and may see some changes but the “definition” and “getting cut” really comes when the fat starts melting away and showing that hard-earned, chiseled muscle. Giving that muscle definition and shape and growth is where weight training comes in and is the “sculpting” to cardio’s “chisel”… man or woman. Definition will inevitably start making itself known (and making you smile) in the 10-12% body fat range. If you’re looking to see muscle, weight training with a program like P90X, Chalean Extreme or Body Beast is key.

How much weight training you bring into the mix will depend on your goals. P90X offers a well-rounded approach while Body Beast focuses exclusively on muscle building (and yes, it’s for girls as well– my wife is seeing awesome results and still looks like a woman). A good rule of thumb is a minimum of three days per week in lifting giving time between muscle groups for rest (IE-weights, cardio, weights, cardio, weights, rest/stretch/cardio).

Smart Weight Training

Building muscle isn’t just about picking heavy things up and putting them down again. It’s about INTENSITY (pushing yourself and making it hard) and form (see why here). Muscle responds to being pushed and doesn’t want to be shown up by some silly weight– it will respond when you show it that it’s weak. Muscle is a constant over-achiever.

That Nutrition Thing

There isn’t one right way to eat. Everyone is different, which means various eating approaches work for different people. That’s not to say eat what you want as the most effective programs keep you eating 5 or so times a day and with whole, real food.  All Beachbody programs come with a nutrition program specifically tailored to your workout and the results its trying to achieve. They’re invaluable resources that will teach you the ins and outs of eating right with good food– and more importantly, food that will get you that cut look you’re going for.

Never underestimate nutrition. It’s AT LEAST half the battle of getting cut. But know when you dial in your goals and nutrition while staying consistent… your dreams of getting cut will have no choice but to come true.

For questions or genuine help in on the journey that is a Beachbody program like P90X or Insanity, email me here or at Better yet, let’s get you the support you need through making me your Beachbody Coach right here. 

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