Cutting Workout and Meal Plan

by Jason Stallworth

February 3, 2020

The most challenging feat in the world of bodybuilding and weightlifting is getting shredded without losing (or at least losing too much) muscle mass.

In this post, you’re going to get an entire cutting workout and meal plan.

But it’s important to note that this isn’t about getting skinny or merely losing weight. I’m going to help you maintain your hard-earned muscle during this cutting phase.

You’ll also learn some simple techniques to make your workout more effective for fat burning, and what and how you should eat to get defined and cut. We’re going to attack this from every angle!

Cutting Workout Plan

chest exercises: cable flyes crossovers

Your cutting workout plan is going to be a mix of weight training and integrating different types of cardiovascular work.

You can do your weight training and cardio in the same workout but it would be best to separate them if your schedule allows. We’ll get deeper into that.

Remember, your goal isn’t to pack on more muscle during the cutting phase. But you do want to maintain as much as possible while you’re training for definition.

Cutting Training Split

You’re going to be working out 6 days a week on this plan. I know that sounds like a lot but you want to keep your body in motion, continuously burning calories.

You’ll notice that you’re also hitting most muscles more than once a week. But you won’t be doing the same workouts the second time. The same with cardio.

Here’s your training split for your cutting workout:

  • Monday: Chest, Shoulders, Triceps, and Cardio
  • Tuesday: Back, Biceps, and Cardio
  • Wednesday: Legs and Cardio
  • Thursday: Chest, Shoulders, Triceps, and Cardio
  • Friday: Back, Biceps, and Cardio
  • Saturday: Legs and Cardio
  • Sunday: Rest

Let’s break this down further. You’ll see below how your weight training workouts work in conjunction with your cardio workouts.

As your heavier workouts will typically be longer you’ll follow that up with shorter and more intense cardio (using the Hight Intensity Interval Training method, also called ‘HIIT’).

And on your high-rep days, which will typically take less time, you’ll follow up with a longer and more moderate cardio session. This helps you attack fat at all angles while maintaining muscle.

Here’s a more in-depth view of your workout schedule for cutting:

MondayHeavier with moderate repsShort with high intensity
TuesdayHeavier with moderate repsShort with high intensity
WednesdayHeavier with moderate repsShort with high intensity
ThursdayLighter with higher repsLonger with moderate intensity
FridayLighter with higher repsLonger with moderate intensity
SaturdayLighter with higher repsLonger with moderate intensity
SundayRestRest (or walk)

*Make no mistake that this workout plan is intense and is going to take a serious commitment on your part.
Like that song in Rocky IV, ‘There’s no easy way out, there’s no short cut home’ when it comes to getting shredded.

Monday Cutting Workout: Push

incline dumbbell flyes for defining and shaping your chest

This first workout is going to essentially be a ‘push workout’ with chest, shoulders, and triceps. You’ll start with the largest muscle, your chest.

You will be training semi-heavy here, at least in the beginning. Now, that may not be what you had in mind for a cutting workout.

Remember, your goal is to get shredded while maintaining muscle mass. The last thing you want is to lose muscle and get skinny!

Also, you’ll see a substantial change when you train these muscles again on Thursday.

Workout Notes:

  • Warm-up with a couple of light sets before diving into your workouts sets for the first exercises (follow this rule for the remaining workouts as well).
  • Rest about a 1:30 between sets where you’re doing 6-8 reps
  • Rest for 1 minute when doing sets of 10 reps
  • Do a drop set on the final set where you see an asterisk *
  • You’ll also notice an ab exercise at the end; this will be the case at the end of every workout
ExerciseSets x Reps
Incline Bench Press4 x 6
Dumbbell Press4 x 8
Cable Flyes3 x 10*
Seated Arnold Press3 x 8
Lateral Raises3 x 10*
Seated Overhead Dumbbell Extensions3 x 8
Cable Pressdowns3 x 10*
Decline Situps4 x 12

You’ll notice that you start your chest workout with incline bench instead of regular bench press.

Many lack upper chest development, and as you drop more body fat that will become even more evident. So starting out with heavy incline bench press will help you ensure your chest is looking awesome as you get more ripped.

If you want to learn more about upper chest training, once you finish this workout read my post: Upper Chest Workout: How to Build a Bodybuilder Chest

Monday Cardio

Now it’s time for cardo. As I mentioned before, you can perform your cardio after the weights or you can do it at another time during the day (ex: cardio AM, weights PM, or vice versa). If your schedule allows, you may find it best to split these sessions up.

*You can choose any cardio machine for this such. Here are some common choices:

  • Elliptical
  • Recumbent or stationary bike
  • Treadmill (walk/run)
  • Sprints (walk/run)
0:00 – 1:59Low
2:00 – 2:19High
2:20 – 2:59Low
3:00 – 3:19High
3:20 – 3:59Low
**Repeat to 14 minute mark

Important Note: Your Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday cardio sessions will be the same.

These sessions are based ‘going hard’ followed by a ‘backing off’ phase, hench high-intensity interval training (HIIT).

Tuesday Cutting Workout: Pull

lat pulldowns for back

Today you’ll be working the opposing muscles, training with pulling movements (Pull Day) that primarily hit your back and biceps.

Like yesterday’s workout, you’ll start out with heavier weights. After that you’ll stay in that 8-10 rep range, also doing supersets at the end of a couple of exercises (this ramps up the intensity and helps you exhaust the muscle, preparing it for growth!).

Workout Notes:

  • You’ll do a little more for your back than you did for chest; this is because your back is so much larger than your chest and requires more attention.
  • Rest about a 1:30 between sets where you’re doing 6-8 reps
  • Rest for 1 minute when doing sets of 10 reps
  • Do a drop set on the final set where you see an asterisk *
  • There’s a different ab exercise at the end (and there will be a different one tomorrow!)
ExerciseSets x Reps
Barbell Rows4 x 6
Dumbbell Rows4 x 8
Lat Pulldowns4 x 10
Seated Rows4 x 10*
Dumbbell Hammer Curls3 x 8
Preacher Curls3 x 10*
Rope Crunches4 x 12

Tuesday Cardio

As we all know, cardio can be boring. So although today’s session is the same as yesterday, you can mix it up by changing the cardio machine you use. For example, if you did the elliptical yesterday, do the recumbent bike today.

0:00 – 1:59Low
2:00 – 2:19High
2:20 – 2:59Low
3:00 – 3:19High
3:20 – 3:59Low
**Repeat to 14 minute mark

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Wednesday Cutting Workout: Legs

Today is the most awesome day of all…it’s leg day!

You’re going to stick with the same theme as the past two days for your first exercise. However, you may notice that your legs may respond better to higher reps. So you’ll be cranking out more reps for the rest of your leg workout, especially for quads.

Workout Notes:

  • You may opt to warm up your legs on the recumbent bike or even doing a couple of sets of leg extensions before you squat
  • Rest about a 1:30 between sets of squats
  • Rest for 45 seconds to a minute for all other exercises
  • Do a drop set on the final set where you see an asterisk *
ExerciseSets x Reps
Squats4 x 6-8
Leg Press4 x 12
Lying Leg Curls4 x 12*
Single-Leg Extensions4 x 12*
Dumbbell Lunges3 x 12
Seated or Standing Calf Raises5 x 15*
Leg Raises4 x 12

Your legs, specifically quads, may take a different approach than upper body due to the different muscle fiber types. I’ve found that higher reps (and higher volume) is what will make your quads respond and grow.

You can learn more about why I recommend high reps for legs in my post: High Reps for Legs for Ripped Quads

Wednesday Cardio

This will be your last HIIT cardio session for the week, so make it count!

0:00 – 1:59Low
2:00 – 2:19High
2:20 – 2:59Low
3:00 – 3:19High
3:20 – 3:59Low
**Repeat to 17 minute mark

Thursday Cutting Workout: Push

incline barbell press chest day chest exercises

Now you’re back to training those ‘push’ muscles; your chest, shoulders, and triceps. But this workout will be quite different from Monday’s workout.

Today is all about pumping more blood into your muscles, getting that pump, and also jacking up your heart rate to burn more fat.

You’ll also notice below that your rest between sets will be decreased. And you’ll be doing some supersets as well.

Workout Notes:

  • Rest 40 seconds between sets of your first exercise
  • Rest 30 seconds between sets for all other exercises
  • For any ‘Machine Press’ use Hammer Strength if your gym has that; if not, you can use any machine, including the Smith Machine
  • Superset with the exercise below where you see an asterisk **
ExerciseSets x Reps
Incline Dumbbell Press4 x 12
Machine Chest Press4 x 12
Pec Dec Flyes3 x 15
Machine Shoulder Press3 x 15**
Bent-Over Raises3 x 12
Reverse Overhead Rope Extensions3 x 15**
Rope Pressdowns3 x 12
Decline Situps4 x 15

Thursday Cardio

Here’s where you’re cardio is going to change. Because your weight training workouts are shorter, higher reps, and more intense, you’ll do the opposite for cardio for the next 3 days.

You can choose any cardio machine but just a simple walk will do the trick as well. Now, this doesn’t mean you should go ‘turtle speed.’ You need to be moving but you won’t be going all-out during these sessions.

0:00 – 35:00Moderate

Important Note: You’ll do the same for cardio tomorrow and Saturday. Feel free to use a different method to change things up.

With your prior cardio sessions earlier this week you probably needed some upbeat music to get you through it. But for these longer, moderate sessions, this is a great time to listen to a Podcast and soak in good information.

Friday Cutting Workout: Pull

dumbbell rows back exercise

Friday’s cutting workout you’ll be hitting back and biceps for the second time this week. This is going to be similar to what you did yesterday on your ‘push day.’

Workout Notes:

  • Rest 40 seconds between sets of your first exercise
  • Rest 30 seconds between sets for all other exercises
  • Use Hammer Strength machines for back every chance you get; these machines really target your lats and cane grant some pretty awesome results for getting definition and striations in your back muscles
  • Superset with the exercise below where you see an asterisk **
ExerciseSets x Reps
Reverse Grip Barbell Rows4 x 12
Wide Grip Seated Rows4 x 12
Reverse Grip Pulldowns4 x 15**
Cable Pullovers4 x 12
EZ Bar Curls3 x 15**
Incline Curls3 x 12
Rope Crunches4 x 15

By this point, being that you’re now on this cutting workout plan, you’ve already added enough mass. Now it’s time to shred.

This workout is all about bringing out those details in your back muscles. And that can be frustrating but I have some additional info that may help you…

After you finish reading this post, go check out my blog post: How to Make Your Back Muscles Stand Out

Friday Cardio

Same as yesterday…(yes, I know, it’s boring but do it anyway!)

0:00 – 35:00Moderate

Saturday Cutting Workout: Legs

leg press leg workout

Your final workout of the week will be your second leg day. And this leg workout will be similar to Wednesdays but without the heavy squats.

You’ll also be doing some supersets and your overall goal is to really exhaust your leg muscles by pushing them to the next level.

And although you’re on a cutting workout plan, you can actually expect to gain a little more size in your quads from this style of training.

Workout Notes:

  • Rest about 40 seconds between all sets (you will be doing more supersets in this workout than you did on Thursday and Friday; those, of course, will have no rest between the superset part)
  • Superset with the exercise below where you see an asterisk **
ExerciseSets x Reps
Single-Leg Leg Press4 x 12
Leg Extensions4 x 15**
Seated Leg Curls4 x 12
Leg Press (close-stance)4 x 15**
Stiff-Leg Deadlifts4 x 12
Leg Press (close-stance)3 x 12**
Seated Calf Raises3 x 15
Standing Calf Raises5 x 15
Leg Raises4 x 15

If there’s any body part that should be trained twice a week, whether cutting or bulking, it’s legs. Like I mentioned earlier, you have to take a different approach to building your legs than you do with upper body.

If you’re not convinced, read my post: Training Legs Twice a Week: How to Build Bigger Legs

Saturday Cardio

0:00 – 35:00Moderate

Cutting Meal Plan

You can workout all day, every day but if you don’t have a meal plan strategy for cutting you’re setting yourself up to fail.

So I’m going to give you a template to follow below to help you create your own cutting meal plan.

PLEASE READ: This is not one of the trendy meal plans or fad diets. It’s a sensible meal plan that includes a balance of all macronutrients (protein, carbs, and fats).

Since you’re cutting, you won’t eat as many carbs. But again, you will still eat some carbohydrates. The thing that matters here is the type of carbs. Same goes for fats.

Cutting Meal 1

6:00 AM

  • 2-3 whole eggs
  • 2 sausage links
  • 1 serving of oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup of blueberries (these can go in your oatmeal; also serves as a sweetener)

Cutting Meal 2

9:00 AM

  • 8 ounces of almond milk
  • 1.5 scoops of whey protein powder (ALLMAX ALLWHEY is my recommended protein)
  • 1/3 cup of frozen berries

Cutting Meal 3

12:00 PM

  • 6-8 ounces of lean chicken breast or sirloin steak
  • 1 serving of brown rice
  • 2 servings of green vegetables (spinach, broccoli)

Cutting Meal 4

3:00 PM

  • 1 cups of Greek yogurt
  • 1 serving of almonds or cashews

Cutting Meal 5

6:00 PM

  • 6-8 ounces of fish or turkey
  • 1 sweet potato
  • 2 servings of combined carrots and cauliflower

**You can opt to have another meal before bed if you choose.

You will also need to adjust your calories to fit your specific needs (this is why I didn’t get detailed into macros). Experiment and see what works best for you.

More Resources for Cutting

In addition to your cutting workout and meal plan, I want to provide you with some more resources to help you get lean and shredded faster.

I’m also covering a couple of premium supplements in this section.

The one thing I want to make clear is that taking supplements is not a substitute for hard work and consistency. Get that down first and then start adding supplements.

  • 4 Gauge – My recommended pre-workout for intense workouts
  • Prime Male – This is a natural formula for men over 40

I hope this cutting workout and meal plan helps you achieve your goal of getting ripped and shredded! Have fun with it and stay positive. You will see some awesome changes in your physique!

Excuses Don’t Build Muscle,


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