Ray’s Cutting Diary – Week 2

dumbbell rack

The cutting diary continues; now onto week two after a decent start. I’m hoping to be far more consistent with my macros this week, and to put in better sessions than I did last time around. Always working to be better than before!

Day 8 – Chest/Front Delts/Triceps


Dumbbell bench press (6-10 reps) into press-ups (to failure)
Incline dumbbell press (6-10) into Isometric wipers (to failure)

Another solid start with these two supersets. I went with 26kg for the regular bench presses, and 22kg for the inclines. I hit the lower range for both, with diminishing returns on the bodyweight exercises in between. Last week I did 24kg for the inclines, so I was expecting to get more reps today, but I hit pretty much exactly the same level. I’ve noticed that it really doesn’t take many press-ups or wipers to make a big difference. Even just a few up the ante really quickly and get the muscles burning.

Good work Ray. As you say, it doesn’t take many of the 2nd exercise to really feel the effects. Even those who can push some big weights on the chest feel the burn with press-ups and wipers or any other bodyweight exercise when pre-fatigue has been used first. Don’t worry about hitting the same-ish reps with a lighter weight. Chances are you were lifting slower or squeezing more at the top and hence getting to a similar point of fatigue as with the larger weights, just for a different reason. As long as you work to failure, I’m happy.

Standing Military Press (6-10) into Front plate raises (to failure)

I started with 50kg for the Military Press, but found it a little too much; I was push pressing pretty much every rep. So I dropped down to 40kg, which was better (but still hitting the low-end of the range). The plate raises in between were done with a 10kg plate, and I managed 5 or 6 each time. I threw on an extra rest pause at the end, just to make up for the lower reps I’d managed with the 50kg.

50kg for this is a big call, so well done for trying it. Not surprised you had to lower it though. Having said that, push presses have their place, especially within a cutting programme, so don’t be afraid to up it next time (42.5kg or 45kg) and press as many as you can before adding a few push presses. Well done on the rest-pause at the end. Always a great tool for an extra bit of failure.

Dips (to failure) into Car drivers (to failure)

This is a really good superset. I worked in between someone else on the dip bars, squeezing out 5-8 reps, before doing better on the car drivers than last week. Today I managed 6-8 reps each time. I find myself a little frustrated that I’m not managing more dips here, but I also note that by the time I get to this point my shoulders especially are already feeling sore.

Dips are a tough exercise, especially if you’ve not been training long; which in the grand scheme of things, you haven’t. I never used to do dips at all. I’d been lifting for around 3 years, loads of pull-ups, press-ups for joining the Marines and a fair bit of bench and shoulder press. But I never performed dips. I decided to do them (assuming they’d be easy), and they were much tougher than I expected. After that, I started doing them daily until I was good at them. Back to you, it takes time, stay with it and don’t get disheartened. Just see each day, and in fact each rep, as an improvement.

Triceps pushdown (12-15) into Close arm diamond press-ups (to failure)

As with last week, I found myself rest pausing through the pushdowns. I was only working with 45kg, and falling at the bottom end of the range. The diamond push-ups were once again okay, if not plentiful in number; only 3-5 each time. I threw on a final rest pause but only managed another two. I gave it the old right I’m gonna absolutely destr-oh bollocks I can’t get up. Ho hum… there’s always next time.

Hahaha! Don’t be afraid to do the pushdowns lighter. 30-35kg, but really squeeze with straight arms at the extended position and slow the eccentric portion right down. May produce better reps and allow a few more press-ups. Then again, it might not!

Day 9 – Rest



Day 10 – Back/Rear Delts/Biceps


Lat pulldown (shoulder width grip) (6-10) into Wide-grip lat pulldown (to failure)

This went better than last week. I stuck to 45kg, which allowed me to hit near the top end of the range for the shoulder width pulldowns, before some tough wide-grips in between. Good start.

Good to hear.

Seated cable row (6-10) into Standing bent over reverse flyes (to failure)

Reasonable cable rows in the middle of the range, and this time the reverse flyes went pretty well. I dropped the dumbbells down a level (to 8kg, I believe) to give me greater control, and I felt the rear delts squeezing very nicely.

Perfect. Always a better exercise lighter I find.

Bent over row (6-10) into Face pull (to failure)

Once again I grabbed an EZ bar for this, hitting the top end of the range with 40kg. I should definitely have gone heavier this time around; my mistake. The face pulls in between went well; it’s a good exercise.

Your lats are strong. I would say 50kg at least for you here. Facepulls are great. Squeeze the rear delts at the extended point (when rope is near forehead) to really activate them and to make sure you feel them as eccentric portion pulls hands back towards cable machine.

Chin-ups (to failure) into barbell curl (to failure)

Another solid superset combo. I threw on a rest pause after the designated three sets just to squeeze some more reps out. Still using a 20kg barbell for the curls, and not really able to get that many reps out in between the chin-ups. And finding it hard to locate/squeeze the bicep as well. That’s always been a problem for me. Once the arms get tired, it’s always harder find the squeeze.

Great effort with the rest pause, but if you’re not feeling the bis let’s tweak it: try an even lighter bar (15kg or maybe 17.5kg if they have it) and bend forward to around 45 degrees, but let the arms hang straight down. Curl up and really (really!) squeeze the biceps at the top; but keeping the upper arm parallel to the walls at all times (i.e. elbows pointing straight down. Don’t let them comes back towards the body). This can really affect the biceps for those who struggle with it.

Renagade row (8-12) into Cable curls (to failure)

I actually changed the cable curls to dumbbell hammer curls, as I couldn’t get onto any cable machines. Possibly not the smartest choice of replacement, though! I hit the low-end of the renegade rows, and then burned through a modest handful of hammer curls each time. My arms had certainly lost oomph for the curls. But that makes sense, it being the very end of the session…

Good switch; hits the long head instead of the short. I bet your grip loved you for the change-up though!

Day 11 – Rest


Hitting them macros…

Day 12 – Legs / Abs


Squats (6-10) into Barbell jump squats (to failure)

I used the same weight as last week (80kg dropping into 40kg for the jumps), and enjoyed a solid enough superset. I was more sure of myself for the jumps this time around, and found myself getting a little more air. Perhaps I should have gone heavier for the main squats, though.

Little by little. Now you’ve got the form, you can add some weight. Well done. Feeling this could be a good one for you as the weeks progress.

Deadlifts (6-10)

Four solid sets. I started at 90kg, but moved up to 100kg from the second set onwards. Each time I hit the low-end of the rep range, and felt a little light-headed for a few seconds afterwards. This happened last week too. Not sure what triggers it – it’s just intense to follow a squat superset with deadlifts, I guess? My hands were getting a little slippy towards the end, and my back actually felt the burn quite a bit on the very last two reps. That was probably some combination of natural fatigue and dodgy form. Thankfully I could rack it and move on.

I used to get a little “starry” at the end of deads. It’s a hard exercise, takes a lot of muscle and therefore a lot of oxygen. I wouldn’t be too concerned at this point. Hands wise, try some chalk or liquid chalk, or some straps. A lot of people find the grip or sweaty hands is the reason they stop, not the muscles being used. Having said that, if the lower back is feeling it, it’s probably a good level at 100kg. Make sure you concentrate on driving straight up and squeeze the glutes and hamstrings.

Glute bridges (6-10) into TRX hamstring curls (to failure)

It took a little while to set this up, unfortunately. Had to move some kit and wait for a TRX set to become available. Once again the glute bridges (with a 24kg dumbbell) were only okay, but the hamstring curls were pretty decent. I started with my arms planted below my waist, but did try to do some curls with my hands behind my head – which I read would increase the difficulty. It did, and I lost a bit of control when I tried it. Maybe next time.

Good work. After the deads, prob good to get some rest as the light headedness would benefit from this. With the TRX curls, make sure hips, shoulders and knees stay inline; if hips drop it’s not a great exercise. Hands out to sides for stability is best in my opinion.

Bulgarian split squats (12-15) into Bulgarian split squats with no weights (to failure)

A growing nemesis, this exercise. Last week I didn’t manage to hit the rep range, and although I did more today, I still fell short with only 8 reps each time. This does get my heart pumping and the sweat flowing, but I’m not doing all that well at it just now. But I’ll nail it. I used a 20kg barbell, by the way. So hardly any weight at all, really; hence my relative disappointment.

I’ve been training a while longer than you Ray and I only really use 24-28kg for that rep range. This is tough and meant to be. The stability required means the glutes, adductors, abductors, hamstrings and quads, not to mention the core are all working super hard; hence the sweat and shortness of breath. Well done, keep it up and work hard at it. In terms of helping you to cut, this exercise is nailing it.

Decline reverse crunch (8-12) into Weighted plank (30secs)
Cable crunches (8-12) into Floor crunches (8-12)

Two good ab supersets to finish. I tried the reverse crunches at a steeper angle, which made it tougher. I found myself being a little inconsistent with how I raised myself up. Sometimes the shoulders come up/off, other times they don’t. I need to watch that. The planks in between were tough, but I got through them. Might need to increase the weight or time.

Good work Ray, you’re always looking to improve/progress. Very proud. By all means add time or weight to the planks; carve those abs.

The cable crunches were better than they were last week, and I actually managed to do quite well at the floor crunches in between as well. So the session ended pretty strongly. Good times!


Day 13 – CV


LISS – 15 minute jog

Another full fifteen minute jog without a pause – or a stitch. Count it! Very pleased. I spent the first half of the run paying a little too much attention to the clock, though, so I draped my towel over the display panel so I couldn’t see it anymore. This worked well for a while, but eventually I grew paranoid that I’d set the clock wrong and had been running for three hours etc. I tugged the towel away to see I had less than a minute to go. So I brought it home, before a three minute warm down walk. And then a three minute break leading into…

Towel cover is good. Another trick I use is to drink a sip of water every minute, which seemed to make time go quicker (as I used to do an hour on the treadmill once a week!).

HIIT – Tabata sprints

As with last week, I was a bit intimidated by this, but nonetheless determined to take it up a notch. Last week I set the speed to 15, before bumping it up to 17 for the final two phases of the Tabata set. Today I ran at 17 for the first four phases before upping it to 18 for two phases, and then one phase at 19 before the final phase at 20. Increasingly intense, spurred on by the fear – either I nail this or I’m face planting the treadmill. Go go go!

Nailed it, thankfully. And so ends the second week. Feeling good, but things are about to go to the next level. Starting next week… carb cycling! Stay tuned. It’s about to get interesting…

Great effort Ray. Keep this intensity up. You keep pushing which is brilliant. Eventually I want you to start Tabata at 1 speed and keep it at that throughout: i.e. 19 for all 8. Try it!

Day 14 – Rest!


Time to re-plan my diet to accommodate the changing macros…

Ray Wilson - Author

Ray has worked with Sean on a number of projects across film, web, and health and fitness. In 2015 he completed a bulk/cut cycle, blogging about his experiences with weekly input and advice from Sean.