T Nation

37 Yr Old: Fat Loss & Strength?

Hello everyone, decided to post after lurking for a while. I value the candor that I see in this forum so I’m hoping for some advice.

I am an athletic, overweight 37 year old! Still do the weekend warrior sports, competitive softball in the sumer and ice hockey in the winter. Without trying to brag, I am pretty good at both (relatively speaking) but I’m overweight…by a lot.

I’m 5’ 11" and 255 lbs. Some say I carry the weight pretty well because when I tell 'em I’m 255 they are surprised. I can only imagine how much fun I’d be having at sports if I was 40-50 lbs. lighter! I still wear a size 40 waist pants too! Horrible!

Anyway, my main goal to my workout program is FAT LOSS and strength gain. Can they exist together?

My supplement program (along with a decent eating program)will be:

  • Creatine
  • High quality Whey protein
  • Flameout (Fish oils supplements)

Following the recommended dosages for each.

My realistic workout days will be 3-4 days over a 7 day period.

I’m trying to tailor my work out to maximize fat loss and gain strength so I’m thinking Hi-reps one week and more HIT style the next week and alternating every other week. Oh, and I’ll put about 2 - 3 hours of cardio in a week too.

I really want the winter months here in Michigan to be my transformation. Not that I expect to look like a ripped beach specimen, but just shed this freaking gut and start to feel really good physically.

Should a split workout work better or should I go whole body? I’ll probably switch it up as things get stale but I need a good place to start.

There was a point when I could do 15 reps with 225 in my bench press. Now I’m lucky if I can do 10 reps with 135. I’ve put aside my ego to work on what’s right for me, but I’d sure like to get back to lifting some of that “good ol’ days” weight.

Thanks all!

-Rich (the FNG)

Normally strength training and weight loss don’t go together. You generally have to pick one over the other. You can, however make some beginner gains at first where you get stronger, build muscle and lose fat all at once. That doesn’t last very long tough. You will find that if you lose 50 lbs it will be easier to move athletically so that should be your first move.

You probably should workout 5 days a week. Do weights twice and cardio the other 2. Look for articles here by Alwyn Cosgrove. Concentrate on barbell complexes for cardio, perhaps some tabatas or other forms of HIIT. Do those on the cardio days.

On the weight training days, focus on the big lifts, squats or deadlifts in each workout and make them heavy. Keep your rest periods short. Do a 10-20 minute bodyweight circuit as warmup, 20 minute of squats and/or deadlifts, followed by 20 hard minutes of presses and rows. Then you can do whatever for 10 minutes.

Keep your diet clean and about 500 calories short of your needs. Once every 4 days, eat enough to meet your needs so your metabolism doesn’t slow down. Make sure you get the proper post workout nutrition.

There is a lot of good advise available on this site so ask.


Can they exist together? Sure, you can get stronger than you are now and still lose fat at the same time because you are not currently strength training.

People say the two are diametrically opposed but I disagree because it’s relative to your start. I’ll bet you will lose BF with pretty much any program and your bench numbers (all your numbers actually) will go up…so in that sense, you will get stronger than you are now and lose fat.

Why most people say you can’t do both is because they mean a program designed solely to increase strength if you’ve been at it while and are plateaued. In that case, when you want to add strength, a fat loss program might hamstring you, so it might be best to focus more on the strength aspect for a while. I’m not talking about straight linear periodization necessarily, but mainly in terms of what you do on top of your weight training…like cardio GPP days and nutrition. Adding a lot of extra activity and caloric restrictions while trying to get stronger can negatively affect your goals.

But a lot of this is over-analyzing things. You’ve trained before so I would focus on getting to the gym and doing weights three times a week for the next two weeks no matter what program you decide to go with.

In an aside, and interesting thing I read recently stated that it’s best for someone overweight to lose some fat to begin with because a fat-loss program can increase their overall fitness level and exercise tolerance before moving on to a muscle-gain specific program. I forget what thread I picked that up in but it’s an interesting theory. It may not apply to you though because you’re active already.

Either way get started and keep it up and let us know how things are going.

To quote coach Thibs in the Physique Clinic thread:

I posted this in Bartl’s thread, but it is also applicable to you…

Ok, time to explain the logic behind your program.

As I mentioned your first objective should be to lose fat. A lot of people in your situation (who want to drop a lot of fat and gain a lot of muscle) often try to do both at the same time (it doesn’t work) or are at a loss regarding where to start.

In your case (a guy who is fat but wants to add a lot of muscle) it’s always best to get lean first. Face it; you want to do BOTH lose fat and gain muscle. But both goals are somewhat contradictory (well you can gain some muscle while losing a lot of fat OR lose a small amount of fat while gaining a moderate amount of muscle). So you will eventually have to focus on each goal for a certain period.

So you will have to spend a few months losing fat and a few months building muscle. The question normally is ‘which one to do first?’

In your case it’s a no-brainer: lose the fat! You do have some muscle underneath so it’s not like you are a skinny beginner. And they are several benefits to getting lean first:

  1. I truly believe that the leaner you are when you start a mass gaining phase, the better results you’ll get. It’s fairly easy to explain: the leaner you are the more insulin-sensitive you become… the fatter you are, them ore insulin-resistant you’ll be.

Why is that important? Without being too scientific with this, the more insulin-sensitive you are the better you’ll be at partitioning the ingested nutrients toward muscle tissue. Simply put, the more insulin-sensitive you are, the more of the food you eat will be used to build muscle and the less of it will be stored as fat.

So the leaner you go down, the more food you’ll be able to eat without getting fat…so the more muscle you’ll be able to build!

Fatter individuals become good fat-gainers because of their poor insulin sensitivity. This is one of those bad things: the fatter you are, the easier it is to gain fat! Talk about a vicious cycle!

  1. When you are lean, you can ‘see’ more easily how much muscle you are gaining. When you are lean, every pound of muscle gained will visually look like two! This is very motivating and will help you train harder and harder.

So I think that it’s fairly easy to see that in your case it is important to lose then fat first.

OKAY, now that this is out of the way you should understand that the first and foremost goal of weight lifting when losing fat is to prevent muscle loss and even stimulate muscle gain. The best way to force your body to keep its muscle is to keep on getting stronger!

When dieting your body needs a darn good reason to maintain its muscle mass. If your body is used to having to haul big weights what do you thing will happen if you decide to drop the weights down to perform higher volume of work with less rest intervals (hoping to use weight lifting to increase fat loss)? You are going from a need for strong muscles to a need for endurance muscles! This is not a good way to force your body to hold on to the muscle you have!!!

The best way to make sure that you are no losing muscle is to get stronger!!! How can you be losing muscle if you are getting stronger? You can’t!

Most of your fat loss should come from your diet and your cardio, not weight lifting. Each component of your regimen serves its own purpose. The purpose of weight lifting is what? To force your body to keep its muscle!!!

This is why most of the lifting you are doing is relatively heavy (and it will get heavier next month).

We are including one ‘circuit’ session to get an extra boost in fat loss, but this is basically cardio with weights, I don’t see that as weight training.

  • Get stronger
  • Stay strict with you diet
  • Do your cardio

You can most certainly get stronger and lose fat concurrently. I would follow a whole-body format, primarily consisting of big complex movements performed “on your feet”. You’ll get the most bang for your buck in terms of time spent and metabolic improvements. I would check out one of Chad Waterbury’s progams under the Authors tab.
For fat loss, diet always has the bigger impact vs training. You’ll have to find a starting point in terms of maintenance calories and slightly decrease and go from there. Increase your lean protein intake (preferably form whole food sources), minimize starchy carbs and eat healthy fats.
As far as supps go, they’re incredibly overrated IMO and the vast majority just get someone else rich and provide you with expensive pee. I generally recommend a good protein supplement if you can’t practically reach your goals with whole foods, multivitamin, 1g+ vitamin C, and fish oil.
Lot’s of good resources here on the forum. Good luck.

ooooohhh, to be 37 again…

LOL, @ 38, and in the same boat as you, my only advise… from a fat athletic “carries his weight well” guy like you, is to get lifting. lift heavy, lift often, and eat 6 meals a day. So if you figure out you need 2200 calories a day to drop fat, then divide it by 6 and eat 366 claories each meal with lean protein in each, and tons of green veggies, and some fruit here and there. Don’t forget the PWO shake also on lifting days. (2 scoops of grow whey, a banana, 6 ounces milk, and some Ovaltine to taste with a teaspoon of Glutamine and 3 or 4 icecubes is my personal favorite)This is in addition to your 6 meals IMO. it adds about 400-500 calories to your total on training days.

Compound lifts are the key for strength gain, and they will also help in fat loss. Doing some HIIT 3-4 days a week will also help accellerate your fatloss!


Do a 5X5 as heavy as you can handle 3X a week.

Eat plenty of veggies and have starch only before and after physical activiety plus a chat day.

You will loose all the weight and get stroner than a Bull.

Good luck