Suns Out, Guns Out
Lately, I have dealt with the same issue over and over again. It is rooted in every young man's quest to become jacked and tan. I have a term in the gym I use for bodybuilding assistance work that we use after our big lifts are done. I call it 'bro stuff.' It is basically light weight, hypertrophy work that serves a small purpose. It can be fun to chase a pump everyone so often.
The problem lately has been guys coming in wanting to discuss programming. I always know what is coming next. They come in, we shake hands and shoot the breeze, and after a few minutes they tell me they would like to start working on cutting a little. It doesn't matter if the kid is 5'8, 165 or 6'4, 240. It is always about the cut.
If I have the patience and necessary attention span, which doesn't happen often, I ask them to explain why? I love hearing how they justify themselves. It is funny, but I get it. Everyone wants to look a little better. As long as it doesn't turn into an obsession it is a healthy training goal to have for a while.
The funny thing is the training we do all the time, the hard work, heavy lifting kind of stuff is what leads to that 'jacked' look all these guys are looking for. Changing up programming doesn't make any sense.
For fun I ask these guys what they think they should do to change it up and get ripped. I know what they will say, but I always like to hear it anyways. It always goes like this, 'well I should probably do a lot of cardio and use lighter weights for more reps.' Just about everyone says some variation of this. Of course they are wrong. This approach may work for a professional bodybuilder who has been training for years and has a hell of a foundation of muscle built, but for novice an/or early intermediate lifters who don't have much of a foundation developed it doesn't.
In my years of experience I have developed a working theory on this. Actually, it is nothing revolutionary. Basically, these guys need a break. The work is getting tough. Patience starts wearing thin. They start to think that there has to be a better way. They trick themselves into believing that easier training will somehow work, light weight will do the same thing as long as they do enough reps. Ronnie Coleman's classic quote always rings through my head during these consultations, 'everyone wants to be a bodybuilder, but nobody wants to lift this heavy ass weight.'
If you are a natural guy who is serious about getting jacked you need to put in your time under the bar and focus on getting strong. You need to follow a smart program that emphasizes heavy barbell training. Nothing is going to be more effective than that for your said goal. You can add in a little 'bro work for fun', but it does not really do all that much. The real gains come from moving big weight. Do not kid yourself and think that you can get away with lifting lighter to get the same results. It takes years to build a foundation. There is no cheating the process, so you can either put in the time to get strong or find a new goal.