Probably not, unless you have trouble completing or recovering from your workouts.

That said, the answer really depends on how long you’ve been lifting weights, what your current training program looks like, and how fast you’re trying to lose weight. 

If you’ve been lifting weights for a year or less, you’re probably still benefiting from “newbie gains,” meaning your body is still hyperresponsive to the muscle-building effects of resistance training. As long as you’re using an appropriate volume and intensity in your workouts and maintaining a moderate calorie deficit, you probably won’t have any trouble recovering from your workouts, and thus don’t need to change anything while cutting. In fact, you may even be able to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time

This changes as you transition from being a beginner to intermediate weightlifter, which occurs after roughly 1-to-3 years of proper strength training. At this point, your newbie gains will be long gone, and you’ll also be using much heavier weights and probably higher volumes (more sets). Thus, your workouts will also be significantly more fatiguing than they were when you were a greenhorn, and you may have trouble doing as many sets or using as much weight as you would while maintaining or bulking.

This is why many intermediate or advanced weightlifters often dial back the volume and intensity of their workouts as their cuts drag on. What usually works best is to not make any changes to your training program during the first month or two of your cut—just keep trying to progress using the same volume you’d use while maintaining or bulking. 

What typically happens, though, is you hit a period of rough sledding after 1-to-2 months of cutting. The weights feel heavier, your motivation to train sags, and you have trouble maintaining the intensity of your workouts. Instead of automatically reducing the volume or intensity of your workouts, though, first ask yourself these questions:

When was the last time I deloaded?  

If it’s been more than 3-to-4 weeks, take a deload week and then reassess how you feel afterward. 

Am I getting enough sleep? 

If you’re sleeping less than 7 hours per night on average, try to bump this up to at least ~7-to-9 hours per night before you change your training program. If this isn’t possible due to your job, life stress, insomnia, etc., then it might be worth reducing your training volume (though you’ll still want to address the root cause of your sleep problems at some point). 

Am I restricting my calories too much?

A good rule of thumb is that you want to maintain a calorie deficit of about 20-to-25% while cutting, which usually results in a rate of weight loss of about 0.5-to-1% of body weight per week. If you’re restricting your calories more than this or losing weight faster than this, you may want to slightly increase your calorie intake instead of cutting back on your training. 

If you implement these changes and still feel sluggish, weak, and frazzled, reduce your training volume by about a third. For example, if you normally do 12 sets for your chest per week, you could cut this back to 8 sets per week after your first month of cutting. 

Again, though, you shouldn’t change your training program unless you’re having trouble recovering from your workouts. If you’re still getting stronger, aren’t taking your sets to failure, and typically feel good during and after your workouts, there’s no need to change anything. 

Why reduce your training volume and not intensity, you wonder?

A variety of studies from different sports show that if you maintain the intensity of your workouts, you can significantly reduce your training volume without a loss of performance. While there isn’t as much research on how reducing training volume affects your ability to hold onto muscle mass, anecdotally, many people find that this kind of “tapering” strategy works well for preserving muscle while cutting, too. 

Another line of evidence in support of this idea is that studies show it takes about a month of no exercise whatsoever to lose muscle, and thus it’s reasonable to assume that doing a relatively low volume of intense weightlifting while cutting can help you hold onto your gains.

That said, you may reach a point at which you have to reduce the weights you use in your workouts slightly to avoid hitting muscular failure (which significantly increases fatigue and possibly the risk of injury). 

Reducing your training intensity a smidge isn’t a big deal or a sign you’ve lost muscle, but if you have to reduce your training weights by more than 5-to-10%, it’s probably a sign that you’re cutting too quickly (overly restricting your calories), not sleeping enough, doing too much cardio, phoning in your workouts, or making other training or lifestyle mistakes that are hampering your performance. 

The bottom line is that you don’t need to drastically change your training program when you start cutting. Instead, keep following the same strength training program during your cut that you’d follow when eating more calories. Try to maintain the same intensity (weight) in your workouts, and only reduce the volume of your workouts if you’re not recovering.

Recommended Reading: 

What Are the Best Exercises to Lose Weight?

Volume vs. Intensity for Hypertrophy: Which Is More Important?

The Complete Guide to Safely and Healthily Losing Weight Fast

+ Scientific References

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