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Pictures From My First Successful Cutting Cycle

I found some cool pics you might be interested in seeing.

I was recently looking through an old hard drive and found pics from my first successful cutting cycle.

I didn’t put a date on them but I’m pretty sure these are from October 2006, about a year before I started MuscleHack.

This was the cut that took place while I was perfecting the Total Six Pack Abs system. You can see I’m pretty ripped in the pics but you’ll also see I was damn SKINNY! I’ll explain that in just a second.

I try telling people that I was really skinny before starting this site in an effort to help motivate them. Basically, if I beefed up like I did and stayed lean, SO CAN YOU!

I certainly don’t have the killer genetics that others are blessed with.

Back to my story…..Maybe a year or so before these pics were taken I was skinny-fat. I had built some muscle but had a BIG ol’ gut. I was about 22% body fat. My body stores fat mostly around the midsection so I wanted to finally shift it and implemented a low-fat diet – a horrible experience!

Here’s how it went…..

  • I lost fat initially along with some muscle
  • Then the fat loss stopped (even though I was on low calories)
  • So I cycled more, ran more, rowed more……
  • …..and lost a whole bunch of MUSCLE!

During this time of frustration I was reading and researching like a mad man. I learned A LOT.

I finally put my new knowledge into practice an VOILA! The fat started to come off with relative ease, I performed much less cardio and I got my wish – RIPPED abs!

The only problem was that it revealed to me just how skinny I had become due to my prior fat-loss efforts. It was coming into 2007 and I was starting from SCRATCH! And That Hurt!

The good news was that I was now armed with accurate information on how to build muscle and lose fat.

Anyway, here’s the pics…..

Measuring my body fat with my accumeasure calipers. Note the skinny arms!

Sorry, a couple of the pics are a little reddish.

Ever since I was finally successful at cutting to very low body fat percentages, I’ve been refining and improving the cutting system that is Total Six Pack Abs.

Out of interest I was about 7% body fat, possibly 8%, I can’t remember for sure.

Now I just need to find one of my big beer belly to show you guys! The thing is, I can’t ever remember lifting my top up to show THAT thing to anyone!

Anyway, I hope this maybe provides some inspiration to you all. It should inspire those who find it hard to lose fat and also those skinny guys who desperately want to build new slabs of muscle.

You can compare these pics to my more recent videos or even the pic in the footer in the section, ‘Who Is The Muscle Hacker?‘. That pic was taken almost a year later – big difference as far as muscle gain is concerned.

Stay Motivated My Friends! The Summer’s Here!


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Mark McManus
Mark McManus
Mark is now available for 1-on-1 consultations to help you take your results to the next level. Click here for more details.
Mark McManus is a trainer & author from Ireland. His work has been featured in major publications all over the world. He is the creator of the free growth-promoting workout Targeted Hypertrophy Training' (THT) and author of the NEW fat-torching system Total Six Pack Abs.
He has also created the BREAKTHROUGH arm and chest maximizer programs The Arms Blast' and 'Chest Blast' workouts.
And if you're a fan of delicious high-protein recipes to fuel your muscle growth, check out his cook book 'Buff Baking' here.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • WHO AM I May 26, 2009, 11:20 pm

    HI Mark, I need some advice if you will. I’m much skinnier than you in the pics above and have very little muscle mass, I have purchased Jeff Andersons Hardgainer project x, so thanks for the email about that. I’m going to be giving his program a go, I’m also going to follow his higher carb approach for the hardgainer, as I’m skinny fat/ecto would you recommend this program more for adding muscle over low carb. I’ve been on low carb since december and it hasn’t really helped me in gaining muscle, even though my calories have been very high. I really like the low carb approach and I have no real probs sticking to it so I’m a little reluctant to go to more carbs but if it means more muscle than thats great. What do you think? Thanks, you look very good btw

  • Sean May 26, 2009, 11:38 pm

    Incredible improvement! You mentioned that you were a skinny guy before the MuscleHacker emerged, but seeing this gave me a lot of inspiration to keep on trying what you suggest.

  • Rich May 26, 2009, 11:43 pm

    Very impressive and great motivation! Just out of interest Mark, for how long had you been training prior to taking these pics?


  • Christian May 27, 2009, 12:54 am

    Hi Mark,

    I bought your e-book total six pack abs. And for me it is by far the best and more concise book of all the books I’ve bought. And I have like 20! Good Job!

    But I didn’t find anything about a cutting cycle. Just once you said:

    “‘Cutting’ is
    a different matter entirely. When your goal is to aggressively cut fat , the
    carb-up is implemented differently.”

    How I can get totaly ripped? Or I just need to do what you say in the book to get it?

    Thank You

    My best Regardas!

    Hope My English Was Good! Im from Mexico!

  • Scott C May 27, 2009, 9:59 am

    Ive seen these impressive pics on the back of your article about hardgainers. Well, what about the other spectrum if you have bulk. Perhaps luckily I can pack on muscle fairly easily and have followed your tips on lifting weights. Thanks. But I have a layer of fat I want to shed, but I’m confused. Do I continue lifting weights thinking it will eventually lead to fat burning or do I up my cardio to burn fat?? But the I fear cardio will hurt my joint, as I’m heavy, and lead to muscle shrinkage due to the release of stress hormone cortisol? What do I do??? Please advise

  • guy delregno May 27, 2009, 1:46 pm


    Just an observation. I was very impressed with your pictures. But, to me it also showed that you were not a serious hardgainer and genetically you were above average than many other people. In looking at your physique today and then from 2006 you have made great strides that only very few can do in a 3 year period. I have fought for over 10 years to try and build more muscle, e.g. bigger arms, and have yet to accomplish this feat. I have made minimal gains but have hit many road blocks along the way. In all the programs and adsvisors I have spoken to, they tell me “Sorry, you are limited to your genetic potential and will not achieve your goal.” I’m over 50 and my muscle growth potential is way below what most of your younger clientele is and therefore their muscle building potential is far, far greater. But, again you seem honest and very sncere in your approach to making people gain muscle and get abs. Wish you all the best!

    Take care & grow, gui

  • Grant May 27, 2009, 2:59 pm

    Hey Mark, I too am interested in your response about Hardgainer X and if the low carb approach is good for an ectomorph.

    Also, I play a lot of hockey and soccer, 3 – 4 days per week. I want to make sure I have lots of energy as you are aware both of these sports use a lot of sprinting and jumping etc. What kind of adjustments would I have to make to perform my best but still following a low-med carb type diet plan.

    Thanks alot Mark, and by the way, the mashed cauliflower with cheese is the best, my friends love it.

  • WHO AM I May 27, 2009, 3:26 pm

    I’ve re-read the hardgainer project x book and from what jeff anderson says about hardgainers and there response to insulin, it sounds like carbs are one of the more important foods to have in the the diet. I’ve given low carb a good go so it might be a good idea to give the higher carb approach a go. Will be interesting to see how it works for me. If it helps me add more muscle I can come back and use TSPA to cut any unwanted body fat. will be sad leaving low carb:(

  • Grant May 27, 2009, 4:51 pm

    Who am I, that is true. My problem with High carbs is I just dont believe in it. I have been trying different diets and researching optimal health for 15 years and all signs lead to high carbs for the cause of a lot of our disease and lacj of energy. What I am thinking is keep going with the low carb apporach but use 3 times of day to do a little spike, like in the morning, and before and after my workout, I am hoping this is whT Mark will also recommend but we will see.

  • Mark McManus May 27, 2009, 6:29 pm

    @Who Am I and Grant. There’s no doubt ectomorphs can handle more carbs without these ending up as stored fat.
    As far as Jeff’s program, I respected the amount of research the guy put in and found his conclusions interesting. I say go for it, do the program as described.
    I agree with you Grant that carbohydrates are central to a lot of our modern-day health problems. However, what I’m currently working on and researching is a more in depth GLAD diet. It’ll allow more carbs but each meal will have a GL rating to ensure that blood sugar/insulin changes are smooth and gradual. This will allow you to perform your extra sports no problem. I’m very excited about getting it out to you guys. You will, of course, factor these extra activities into your daily calorie requirement.
    Hope that helps guys.

  • Mark McManus May 27, 2009, 6:33 pm

    @Sean. Thanks bro.
    @Rich. Approach 4 years but I lost a lot muscle muscle prior to the successful cut you see above. That’s why I say I was starting from scratch again afterwards.
    @Christian. Just to clarify, Total Six Pack Abs IS the cutting cycle itself.

  • Mark McManus May 27, 2009, 6:38 pm

    @Scott. You need to pick a goal now and prioritize that goal. Do you want to build more muscle or lose that layer of fat more? That’s what you need to ask yourself.
    You know what to do if it’s build more muscle.
    If it’s lose fat, the TSPA system has been designed to limit catabolic hormone release – you will never train for more than 1 hour in a day and there are NO marathon cardio sessions. Also, you need a non-impact type of cardio if you’re worried about your joints. A recumbent bike would probably work well for you.

  • Mark McManus May 27, 2009, 6:44 pm

    @guy delregno. Hi, thanks for the comments. What you need to take into account is the approx 4 years of training prior to these pics.
    Yes, I lost the majority of what I had gained with a stupid diet and excessive cardio, BUT I did keep some, which is why you see a small but solid base e.g. the pecs.
    I was always one of the skinniest kids in school which is what prompted me to work out in the first place.
    Also, in the 2.5 years since I’ve been 100% dedicated, no skipped workouts, excellent nutrition.
    I also didn’t lose any muscle when cutting since this time which helps too.
    Anyway, All the best.

  • Vladimir May 27, 2009, 8:37 pm

    Hi Mark,

    What do you think about a use of a liver(chicken or beef) in low carb diet?

    Thanks for your great site.

  • good man May 27, 2009, 9:43 pm

    hi mark,
    this is a v. reassuring article.
    but i was wondering…
    i’m a student, and i like to party a lot – its easy to keep fat & protein intake high but difficult to avoid the alcohol & junk food that inevitably comes with being a student.
    would i still see gains if i try my hardest to implement MANS and work out w/ THT but let myself slack in other respects evry other day?

    all the best man :)

  • Mark McManus May 27, 2009, 10:06 pm

    @Vladimir. Liver is ok. I think chicken is a better choice as beef liver has some carbs in there.
    @good man. Sure, you’ll still progress. Alcohol does slow fat-burning though, so you obviously can’t expect to get shredded while drinking a few nights a week.
    Take Care,

  • razor pevinski May 29, 2009, 4:54 am

    hi mark,i m very much impressed by your abs, i have a lot of fat on my belly and i wish to reduce it to have the same abs as you have in your pics. i go to the gym regularly and have a considerable amount of muscle power, the fact is that i do not possess much of the cutting on my body,the size of the muscle is fine but the is no cutting. Also i cant resist food. Please suggest some measures to reduce my waist size and develop cutting on my body without reducing my intake.

  • Pine May 29, 2009, 4:35 pm

    Hi Mark,

    Awesome!! I have a question though. Once you have successfully cut ( like in the pics you posted), did you go back to M.A.N.S diet or you just stay in Cut cycle?

    What was your rate of adding muscle after the six-packs and the cut? ( 1lb or 2lb per month or like 10lb or more )

    Thanks in advance!!

  • biggunks June 1, 2009, 5:37 am

    To skinny… maybe for you, but most of us would kill to look like that at the beach.

  • Mark McManus June 1, 2009, 8:44 pm

    @Razor. That’s not going to happen unfortunately. You can’t get ripped without controlling your intake. TSPA makes that as easy as possible but you do need to eat less, especially towards the end of the cycle. TSPA encourages the body to KEEP giving up its fat stores.
    @Pine. Straight unto MANS. Been on that pretty much ever since with a few GLAD periods.
    @Biggunks. Well it was ok with my top off, but with it on I felt like a worm :( .

  • WHO AM I June 9, 2009, 7:26 pm

    Do you know what your weight was at around that time and how about currently?


  • Nemesiz June 12, 2009, 12:51 am

    HI Mark i was wondering if you could give me some advice on gaining more muscle and still staying ripped… My status is.. I am only 17 and not fully develpoed growing yet and im not a big fella.. I currently train in the gym three times a week twice upper body and once lower body and the other two days a week i have football training so that is usually sufficiant for my legs I think… I am currently got my abs out and have got good all round shape like you have on your pics in 06.. Now i want to gain sum size and muscle.. (I eat regulary and healthey)
    How can I achieve this ???

  • dave September 25, 2009, 9:49 pm

    hi mark,first let me say i love your website.its the most informative site i’ve seen by far.i’ve been working out for about four months now,and i just cant seem to gain much mass.i use creatine(superpump 250),which really seems to help with reps,sets and energy.but,i just cant seem to get on a good diet.i’ve read i should be eating around six meals a day.but,with work and even when i’m not working it just seems really difficult getting in six meals,i usually only get about three a day,actually.it’s just a little discouraging.i’ve seen improvements in my body.but,when i started i was 168lbs.now im down to around 159lbs.i’m 31 years old,am i too old to see improvements as quick as a younger person?i was just wandering if you had any advice you could give me on dieting?any advice you could give me would be greatly valued and appreciated.thanks,dave.

  • Cade October 22, 2009, 4:23 am

    What about people that love carbs? I have to have carbs or I feel like I am missing something.