‘Can you hook me up with a cutter?’ That’s a question a lot of bodybuilders hear around summertime because bodybuilders tend to have access to steroids. The misconception that certain steroids will rip you up is nothing new. What most people don’t understand is the reality of getting lean. Since I train drug-free and have done so for going on five years, a cutter would be out of the question; however, I do have a lot of experience in the area, so let me dispel the myth before we cover the realities of drug-free leaning out.
Steroids like Anavar and Primobolan have a high anabolic-to-androgenic ratio, meaning they’re designed with a greater focus on building muscle and a lesser focus on developing male characteristics. As a result, side effects are reduced’there’s little or no water retention, little or no shutdown of natural testosterone production, little or no aggressiveness and so on. Don’t be misled, though: Androgenic steroids, being testosterone derivatives, are highly androgenic and highly anabolic. They’re much more powerful than a drug that has low-androgen properties; however, their anabolic-to-androgenic ratio tends to be more balanced.
Typical steroid users may choose to switch from a highly anabolic and androgenic steroid cycle to the aforementioned highly anabolic, low-androgen cycle to cut up. Here’s where the deception begins’and where undue credit is given.
Users do several things as they shift to a cutting phase: step up or add cardiovascular training, reduce calories, add a fat-burning stimulant and begin a new cycle of predominantly anabolic steroids. They also probably add the ever-popular yet worthless high-reps-for-cuts training protocol. With the exception of high-rep training, it’s a good strategy, but the cutter, or cutting-cycle drug or drugs, will inevitably get the credit for any progress.
As I mentioned, the more highly androgenic steroids bring some baggage. When androgenic steroids aromatize, or convert, which they do to varying degrees, you end up with estrogen and DHT. Estrogen brings with it subcutaneous water-weight gain’in addition to intramuscular water-weight gain. Now imagine a bodybuilder who diets, does his cardiovascular training and as a result is down to 5 percent bodyfat’but he hasn’t switched over from the predominantly androgenic steroids to the more anabolic ones. He could be holding several pounds of water subcutaneously. Being an experienced competitor, he switches a few weeks out from his show, dumps seven pounds of water over a couple of weeks and looks shredded onstage. Subcutaneous water had blurred his separation.
I see this guy lose seven pounds and go from cut to shredded, and I want some of what he’s taking! The birth of a legend’the cutter’is born. In reality, the birth of a misconception is born. (Don’t get me wrong: There are plenty of drugs that will aid in bodyfat loss, but they’re much different from what the typical gym rat thinks of as a cutter drug.)
Now, let’s look at the reality of getting lean for the summer, a show or just for the heck of it’and let’s do it drug-free.
Cardio. Gradually introduce low-intensity cardiovascular work at strategic times. That will be your starting point for fat loss. For example, the first thing in the morning is the best time for cardiovascular training. Your metabolism is very sluggish from running on standby for six to eight hours while you slept, so an early-morning session will serve you well. Additionally, your blood-sugar levels are low, and that sets you up for quicker fat burning. It’s not like during the day, when your blood sugar is higher because you’ve eaten.
I recommend a small serving of protein or branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) taken with a fat burner before beginning your morning cardio. The fat burner will aid in elevating your metabolism and mobilizing fatty acids for fuel, while the protein’the BCAAs’will serve as an anticatabolic, feeding your muscles and protecting them from being catabolized for fuel during your cardio session.
Start out with 10 minutes, three times a week, and work up to 20-to-30-minute sessions four to five days per week. Remember to make it low-intensity cardio. Favor longer over harder. Burn fat, not muscle!
Diet. Assuming you’re already on a typical bodybuilding diet of moderately high calories and multiple meals, you need to begin tightening your belt. You still want to eat five or six high-protein meals a day, but don’t make any of them too large. Keep in mind that two or three splurges can really throw off your fat-burning efforts, so adhere strictly to your diet.
Again, if you’re on a bodybuilding diet, then your protein is high’at least one gram per pound of bodyweight’and your fat is around 20 percent of your calories, so you’ll use carbohydrates as your trigger. Lowering carbohydrates will set into motion the metabolic processes necessary to cause your body to turn bodyfat into fuel. Think of it this way: Carbohydrates are your body’s primary fuel source, and bodyfat is your backup fuel source. Eventually, after a little sputtering, your body will switch tanks’from the primary to the backup. You create the switch with a lower-carbohydrate diet and/or by creating a calorie deficit through training.
You can protect muscle and stave off any adaptation to lower carbohydrates by staggering them from day to day. The late Andreas Munzer used two different calorie setups that he alternated from day to day. For example, he might have 500-carbohydrate-gram days on days 1, 3 and 5 and 300-gram day on days 2, 4 and 6.
Fat burners. Using a good fat burner is a big plus, especially when you’re increasing cardiovascular work and lowering calories. You’ll get a twofold bonus with an ephedrine-based product.
First, ephedrine works well with caffeine and other ingredients to speed up the metabolism and free fatty acids for fuel. Second, ephedrine has anticatabolic properties that will preserve lean muscle mass while you’re dieting and increasing your cardiovascular work.
Training. Don’t ever consider the completely worthless implementation of high-reps-for-cuts training. You’ll shoot yourself in the foot if you do. You must continue to train with the intent of increasing weight and reps on your exercises. You want to make the effort to increase muscle. Progressive resistance must remain a constant pursuit. You won’t gain as fast and you may even come to a momentary halt, but keep pushing. Here’s why.
The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn’your lean mass is your metabolism. High reps will lead to less muscle due to their inability to stimulate growth and their inability to make demands on your body to maintain what you’ve already attained. Consequently, your metabolism will slow down, and a lower metabolic rate will work against your goals’you’re trying to stimulate your metabolism, not slow it down.
Even if I weren’t a drug-free trainee, an anabolic would still be my last consideration when it came to getting lean. For most traainees the anabolic would only aid in countering foolish dieting and training practices anyhow. Train hard and train smart. That’s your true magic pill! IM