Cutting for Crossfitters

Crossfitters often end up looking to achieve the aesthetics of bodybuilders and physique competitors.  We start out wanting to look good in a bathing suit.  Then we want to be just a little leaner, a little leaner.  Eventually we’ve moved the goal posts from flat stomach and some mini abs to looking like a fitness model.  The problem, as it goes for crossfitters and other athletes, is the performance variable.  For bodybuilders and physique competitors the question isn’t when will I lose strength and performance?, it’s how deep can I go into my cut before I start losing strength? and do I focus on maintaining strength or volume?  So, it’s a completely different set of rules which by its nature produces different results.  Most crossfitters will tell you two things:  1) I want to look like that (just like everyone else does), and 2) there’s no way I’m willing to perform lousy in the gym.   During early transformation the goals move together, but eventually as you move down your fitness journey closer to your potential they diverge.

If you want to be a physique competitor—do what will make you successful in that arena.  As a performance athlete, there are different rules no matter how badly you may want it to be otherwise.  The remedy is adjustment to expectations and adding some patience.


Unless you’re some sort of genetic anomaly, to get to that dry shredded look is going to require noticeable sacrifices in performance.  This is why you see professional sports athletes in the 8-12% body fat range, not 5-7%.  There’s plenty of first-hand accounts from bodybuilders about the psychological and physical toll a deep cut takes on them.  You’re just seeing an amazing photo at the finish in good lighting.  You’re not seeing the stress, headaches, and severe fatigue that accompanies such efforts.  You should always keep this in mind as Facebook tries to convince you otherwise.


This isn’t to say you can’t navigate your way through leaning out those last 5-10 pounds to maximize your performance in WoDs and achieve a better swimsuit look.  It’s just going to take you a lot longer given losing performance isn’t an available variable.  So, instead of a more traditional physique competition cut of 16 weeks or so, it may take you a year.  That’s the reality of moving closer to your God-given potential.

I hope this helps others!  I struggle with this every day!

Interested in talking about your goals and how we can help?

Author: Asher

I worked as a CPA for 10 years before jumping into a fitness industry career. I'm Precision Nutrition Level 1 certified, a Crossfit Level 1 trainer, and an Eat-to-Perform certified nutrition coach.