3 Week Cut to Lean Program - Results
For part one of this post, click here. This post reviews what I learned during my 3 Week Cut to Lean Program. What spurred me to do a hardcore 3 week cut was the stagnation of body fat loss that I was experiencing. I had been training for months and wanted to see what was underneath the body fat. Also, I had never pushed myself to stay completely laser focused on a meal plan and workout plan. So, I embarked on the 3 week program hoping to learn from the experience and take the lessons forward with me in the arena of health and fitness.
- Starting Weight: 142 lbs
- Body Fat: 24%
- Minimal Cardio:(20-30min on the Bike, 2-3 times a week
- Working Sets (Weight, Reps, Sets) - Arnold Press: 20x10x3, Barbell Curl: 40x12x3, Overhead Tricep Press: 30x10x3, Squat: 50x10x3, Flat Bench Press: 60x8x3, Incline Bench Press: 50x7x3, Deadlift: 120x6x6, Close Grip Seated Row: 105x8x3, Seated Barbell Calf Raise: 120x20x5 *This is just an example of some of the exercises that I do. There are several more in my routine.
- End Weight: 138 lbs
- Body Fat: 23%
- Solid Running Program: 30min x 4 times a week + 1 Long Run a Week (3-4 miles)
- Working Sets: (Weight, Reps, Sets) - Arnold Press: 20x10x3, Barbell Curl: 50x12x3, Overhead Tricep Press: 35x12x3, Squat: 50x8x3, Flat Bench Press: 60x8x3, Incline Bench Press: 50x10x3, Deadlift: 110x8x6, Close Grip Seated Row: 105x10x3, Seated Barbell Calf Raise: 120x25x5 *This is just an example of some of the exercises that I do. There are several more in my routine.
STREGTH AND GAINS
Throughout my cut I felt strong and able to preform the entire workouts. This was the first time in my entire training history that I was sticking to a consistent cardio regime (running at that). I would run in the am fasted and train in the afternoon fed. I experienced some strength gains both in weight and reps. The area that I drastically improved on was my tricep strength. During these 3 weeks, I consistently improved in that area. My arms were the easiest muscle group to really hammer while in a caloric deficit. I found larger muscle groups like the legs and back harder to train. Towards the end of the last week, my strength started to go down. At this point, my energy was low and I had been training at a level of intensity that I wasn't used to.
This was the area where I experienced the biggest changes. My first 2 weeks of the meal plan went great but towards the third week I noticed a switch in my mental attitude towards the food I was eating. I started to really miss a higher variety of vegetables and fruit. I was really craving plant foods and a higher carb intake. When I listened to the voice I was hearing, it was telling me to go back to a plant based diet.
My diet in the past was primarily vegan and plant based. When I started bodybuilding, that's when I introduced a lot of whey and animal protein. I was still vegetarian, but items like cottage cheese, greek yogurt, and eggs became frequent in my diet. I had also been experimenting with eating fish once and awhile. At the two week point in this cut, I really felt the need to cut out all the animal products. I was done with it and ready to fall in love with plant based foods again.
I made the switch at week 3 to a plant based diet and fell in love with food again. I upped my carbs and lowered my protein. The change felt right and aligned better to my values. It also allowed me to focus on nutrient dense foods and packing them into my diet. I strongly believe that the whole point of this cut was to get me to arrive back at a plant based diet. I'm currently eating this way and intend to keep that the focus of my diet. Overtime, I'll be able to see how adjusting my macros effects my gains and body fat.
During the 3 week cut, I stuck to a regime of 16:8 intermittent fasting. I found this very useful for accessing body fat during cardio. My body learned to redirect hunger to my chosen feeding window and my energy levels were fine in the mornings. I performed my cardio in a fasted state and felt that my performance was optimal. The 3 weeks of consistent intermittent fasting led me to incorporate it as an ongoing lifestyle change. It also led me to do my first long term fast (42 hours) which was a great learning experience and allowed me to shed some stubborn body fat around the midsection.
GOAL, OUTCOME, LESSONS
Overall, the 3 week cut to lean program was a beneficial tool in seeing what 3 weeks of consistency can do to the body. The main take away though ended up being the lessons that I learned during the cut vs. how my body looks. I really wanted to see abs, that was my goal but it didn't happen. What's more important though is that I learned that doesn't really matter. Body changes take a long time, much longer than 3 weeks. What 3 weeks can teach you is how to turn a new part of a regimen into a lifestyle change.
The lessons that I take away this cut are...
- Plant Based Diet: It hit me with clarity that I want to eat this way moving forward.
- Intermittent Fasting: A great tool for teaching the body to burn fat.
- Low Body Fat = Low Mood: I started to feel the mental drop in the last week of the cut. Moving forward, I am more cautious of dropping weight quickly due to how it effects mood, libido, and energy.
- Running: Running has been a tool for getting in touch with my inner strength. I never expected to be able to run 30 minutes without stopping, now I do it a few times a week.
- Abs: They still haven't arrived but I'm excited to meet them someday.
This is not intended to be instructional but rather a way to share my experience with this method. For more in depth information on developing your fitness and nutrition plan, click here. Also, this post was created pre-t. All images are from training prior to hormone replacement therapy.