What is Cutting up?

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  • Written By: M. Rosario
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 04 February 2019
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In fitness and bodybuilding, cutting up is the process of creating a more defined muscle tone. Some people prefer to have a cut or ripped body as it may appear more natural compared to a body developed from pure bodybuilding. Maintaining the right balance of muscle tone and body fat level is essential to having a lean, cut body, making it one of the hardest and most common goals among bodybuilders.

There are various reasons why a person wants to be cut up. Some people choose this look at a goal as part of health improvement. Others seek it for competitive purposes, such as when entering body building competitions. Still others want a cut body purely for aesthetic reasons, trying to have that six pack abs many people long for.

The main goal of cutting up is to develop the muscles without significantly increasing their size. This is often done by using a relatively light weight with high repetitions during workouts. Sports are often used to accomplish this effect. Engaging in sports usually results in an athletic body and is an effective form of cardiovascular exercise.

A common misconception is that cutting up is the same as bulking up. Bulking is mainly done to increase muscle mass while cutting emphasizes a smaller but more defined muscle. A person should know his or her goals before working out as there are exercises more suited for bodybuilding than for cutting up.


Having the wrong diet is one of the most common stumbling blocks to attaining a body that has good muscle definition. The right diet ideally encourages the body to use more calories than it takes in. This is because the muscles are under a layer of fat that hides their natural shape. A calorie deficit helps remove this layer of fat and show muscle definition. An average of 9% body fat for males is needed for the six pack abs to be seen.

When the body is on a calorie deficit, it sometimes breaks down muscle tissues to use as fuel. This leads to a condition known as muscle catabolism. To prevent this, the diet should be high in protein and carbohydrates while low in sodium and fat.

There are several factors that can affect how hard or easy it is for a person to achieve a cut-up body. Genetics usually determines how the body stores fat and builds muscles. A person with an ecto-mesomorph body type generally sheds fat faster and develops muscles relatively easier. Higher metabolism rates mean fat is burned faster as well.

Fitness centers and personal trainers often offer programs specifically focused on giving clients a cut or toned body. A typical cutting up workout incorporates cardiovascular exercises with weight training. Cutting up bodybuilding classes are available for individuals or groups.


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