Toning Your Body: Do Cutting Exercises Work


I don't believe in cutting exercises. In fact, I don't believe in long, slow cardio either. But I do believe in hard work that gets the fat loss job done right. And so does my colleague, McMaster Kinesiology graduate, champion Natural Bodybuilder, and registered massage therapist Mike Zappetelli. Mike has a few words to add to the "cutting exercise" debate. Mike is a personal trainer, massage therapist, and nutrition and wellness specialist (R.M.T. C.P.T., N.W.S.) and brings excellent practical and academic knowledge to apply to his client's training programs.

Here is what Mike had to say:

I'm glad that you have dispelled the awful myth of "cutting up". As a bodybuilder, I know what it takes to get "ripped" and show muscle definition. As a personal trainer, I have to teach this to my clients, day in and day out. It is really quite simple.

Diet has to do with 70-80% of training and what you look like. The actual training and stimuli that you place on your body will make up the remaining 20-30%. The only thing that happens in the gym is energy expenditure and muscle damage. Rest and proper nutrition will help to replenish this lost energy and at the same time repair those damaged muscle tissues. If you rest and are fed properly, you are more likely bound for greater repair, hence muscle adaptation and growth. If this occurs, the recently attained muscle mass will burn more calories at rest. Greater lean mass will result in greater energy expenditure.

It's important to realize that although proper rest and nutrition is essential for muscle growth, this change will not happen overnight, nor will someone getting cut up. This is how supplement companies market their products, by telling the public that they can achieve these results sooner than they think. Changing reps and sets and amounts of weight lifted does not necessarily get you ripped. It's the amount of intensity that you lift with that may determine and help you to achieve your desired results.

Bodybuilders writing programs in magazines have found something that they use to cut down. It's different for everybody. Theoretically, the more energy you can expend per workout is the key. So CB is correct, high reps and low resistance is not necessarily better nor is it vice-versa, it is the intensity that is key.

As I already mentioned, I am a natural, drug-free competitive bodybuilder. When it comes time to diet for a show, I do not do any cardio. I step up my training schedule a little and really watch what I eat. I do this year-round anywise to prevent dropping too much weight. The key to dieting is to cut out any refined foods. The final product is a change from 5-6% body-fat off-season, to a ~2% ripped physique on contest day...with no cardio.

The best analogy that I like to use is the Parka and the Armani suit. The parka is the fat and the Armani is the muscle. No matter what suit you have underneath that Parka, you'll never see it until you take off the Parka. So those who think that specific exercises will rid certain areas of fat and get ripped, must think again. Sit-ups will not get you that 'six-pack' to show off at the beach. They will develop the abdominal muscles, but without proper nutrition and constant exercise, you'll never remove that 'Parka' to show off that suit.

Moderate and heavy weight training is effective for most goals. Muscle is the result and muscle will help burn more calories. Starving yourself, doing excessive aerobic activity, and using too low of an intensity in your resistance training will not bring anyone the body they desire! You will get better results within significantly shorter and less frequent workouts, provided they are intense!


Craig Ballantyne is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist and writes for Men's Fitness, Men's Health, Maximum Fitness, Muscle and Fitness Hers, and Oxygen magazines. His trademarked Turbulence Training fat loss workouts have been featured multiple times in Men’s Fitness and Maximum Fitness magazines, and have helped thousands of men and women around the world lose fat, gain muscle, and get lean in less than 45 minutes three times per week. For more information on the Turbulence Training workouts that will help you burn fat without long, slow cardio sessions or fancy equipment, visit one of the pages via the ads on the side. 

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