Best Rep Range For Cutting | Preserve Muscle
PRESERVING MUSCLE ON A CUT SHOULD BE YOUR MAIN PRIORITY. READ ON TO DISCOVER THE BEST REP RANGE FOR CUTTING BODYFAT FAST WHILST KEEPING YOUR HARD EARNED GAINS!
Ask any bro in the gym and he will likely tell you the best rep range for cutting is in the ‘8-12 range’
This could not be further from the truth.
You see, the absolute best rep range for cutting is one that lets you lift some HEAVY ASS WEIGHT.
Pumping out bicep curls for straight sets of 20 will not provide the right signal to your body which lets it know you need to keep that DAMN muscle…after all you have earned it.
HOW TO CUT WITHOUT LOSING MUSCLE MASS
The science is very clear on this, a large increase in strength equals size gains.
If we know this, a reasonable assumption would be that to maintain your current levels of muscle mass you need to retain your strength also.
Using this same logic we can therefore assume that the best rep range for cutting is the 1-5 rep range as this will allow you to get maximum muscle fibre recruitment.
Lifting in this rep range is much less taxing in a deficit as you will not be stimulating as much metabolic fatigue or relying on glycogen stores as much as a high volume session.
In addition to not lifting heavy many people make the mistake of cutting out multi-joint exercises in favour of single joint movements!
This is a terrible idea to say the least, heavy compound lifts should take much higher precedence over isolation movements, especially when you are in a deficit.
Progress in your heavy compound lifts are an incredibly effective way to gauge how well you are preserving muscle mass.
When you are simply trying to maintain strength levels it may be in your best interests to cap volume;
Total volume requirements when cutting vs lean bulking is drastically smaller, you can get away with a 1/3 of the volume needed to actually add additional muscle.
An example of how you would implement this is as follows (fullbody example):
Bench press 5×5
close grip bench press 3×8
weighted chin up 3×8
workout B: (reduced volume):
Bench press 3×5
close grip bench press 2×8
weighted chin up 2×8
This is great as recovery takes a huge hit when dieting for any significant amount of time, and the ability to scale back workouts is useful as it allows you to put more energy into retaining reps on your heavy sets.
NUTRITION WHEN CUTTING
Aside from prioritising intensity over volume, we can ensure that that our caloric deficit is not too large.
My usual recommendation is 0.5-1.5 pounds a week at the max. An exception to this rule would be severely overweight individuals who need to lose weight quicker and are not concerned about preservation of muscle mass.
If you try to cut weight too drastically you will end up losing a lot of strength unnecessarily which will inevitably cause a loss in muscle tissue.
A certain level of strength loss is to be expected when cutting any significant amount of weight however due to many reasons which I will list below:
- Worse leverages (less cushion for the pushin!)
- Lower glycogen stores
- Less total carbohydrates
Carbohydrates should compromise at least 40-45% of your macro nutrient intake when dieting, this will help keep glycogen levels raised and your workouts will benefit tremendously because of this.
I usually hold the opinion that protein is highly overrated but in the case of cutting and trying to keep muscle mass, raising protein to a gram per pound of bodyweight can be beneficial for certain reasons:
- Helps preserve muscle mass
- Satiation benefits
- Thermic effect of protein will allow you to eat more
The rest of your diet would consist of healthy fats.
160 lb guy cutting on 2200 calories a day
- carbohydrates= 275g (50%)
- protein= 165g (30%)
- fat= 49g (20%)
LIMITING EXCESSIVE CARDIO
Excessive cardio can push a moderate deficit into an aggressive calorie deficit that is not sustainable long term and will negatively impact strength in the gym.
Recovery is already diminished on a cut, excessive cardio exacerbates this and makes maintaining muscle alot harder due to the increased stress levels (cortisol) and lack of energy.
My advice would be to stick to30-45 minute LISS cardio sessions 2-4 times per week on off days, this is very low intensity and will actually aid recovery.
There you have it! just to summarise:
- Focus on heavy compound lifting in the 1-5 rep range to preserve muscle while cutting.
- Aim for no more than 1.5 pound a week loss
- Keep carbohydrates and protein high
- Keep cardio moderate and low in intensity
- reduce volume and focus on maintaining strength if recovery is an issue