2 Myths of ‘Cutting Exercises’ in Body Building


Any fitness enthusiast would tell you that they want a body with less fat in it. Who wouldn’t want to have a ripped body? Honestly I couldn’t think of anyone who wouldn’t dream of having those toned body.

There are lots of training programs and exercises that trainers and magazines seem to promote in order to reach these goals, so it is understandable that many bodybuilders and gym-goers can be besieged by information. But what is downright confusing is why many gym employees and fitness authors claims that certain resistance training exercises are for definition and “cutting up”.

ripped body
ripped body

Up to now, there are no strength coaches or exercise physiologist that has proven that method. What is the difference between leg extensions and squats when it comes to targeting muscle definition?

Some personal trainers and fitness magazines explain the rationale behind this type of program by saying that pressing exercises are best for strength and mass development, and the pec-deck would provide for a definition. Also, people believe that these “definition” exercises should be highlighted in order to develop a “ripped” body. Unfortunately, it seems bodybuilders and fitness buffs alike have been misleading, resulting to a poorly planned program that does not lead to the desired results.

We need a simple review of human anatomy and physiology to explain why these “cutting” exercises (i.e. pec-deck) do not do the job. For our purposes, there are 2 components that determine body composition, muscle and fat. Some people blame it on the limited amount of fats. This is the reason why they don’t have muscle definition.

Myth # 1

When an obese person loses all the fat in his/her body, he would have a well defined body. I remember that my fitness instructor once told me that if an overweight individual were to be stripped of all their fat, he/she too would have muscle definition or ripped body.

In contrast, a skinny person can increase their muscle definition through lifting weights and increasing muscle hypertrophy (growth). The body has no way of telling the difference between exercises! It just reacts based on the demands of the body. The muscle gets bigger so that it could carry the weight easier next time. Once you eat too much and do not exercise, the energy deposited as fat, and your muscle definition will be lost. Iit is just as simple as that!

The pec-deck can still be included into workout designs, but it does little to promote a better body composition. In fact, this isolation exercise works only the chest muscles and ignores the triceps and deltoids, not like presses. And don’t forget ,that more muscles result to greater energy expenditure and a greater overall training motivation.

Myth # 2

Another myth that seems to be popular is the sets performed for a very high number of repetitions are effectual for “cutting up”. Let’s go back to the basic anatomical principle that the body’s appearance influenced by the amounts of both muscle and fat, and most importantly that low levels of body fat are compulsory for muscle definition. Using a lightweight to do a huge number of repetitions might not “show off” your muscles would be better than using a moderate weight and performing a moderate number of repetitions.

Why not? Because it would be hard to differentiate the amount of total calories burned between the two workouts provided each performed a similar exercise volume in the workout. The greater number of repetitions in the one workout would be balanced by the greater intensity (weight) used in the other workout. However, a heavier weight will accelerate more muscle growth. More muscle means you’re going to have a faster metabolism and theoretically greater energy expenditure while resting. In the long run, the intense (heavier lifting) workout may be the optimal choice to reduce body fat. Additionally, larger muscles would be easy to spot.


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