5'10", 175 lbs - Lack of Muscle or Need to Cut?

Since March 2021, I’ve gone from 195 lbs to 175 lbs. My current weekly training is 90-120 minutes steady-state cardio (run, cycle, weighted vest walk), 1-2 gym sessions (squat, incline press, RDL), and 2-3 bodyweight/kettlebell circuit sessions (e.g. push-up, ring rows, bodyweight squat). My average calories in the month of February was 2241 calories/day and 115 grams/protein per day.

My 3 year goal is to add ~15-20 pounds lean body mass, while not being excessively fat (<37" waist) and having good athletic conditioning (run a few miles, do high rep calisthenics).

If you were in my current situation, would you cut additional bodyfat or start focus on muscle growth?



IMO, see if f you drop about 10lbs more.
And sure, you need more muscle. Keep pushing the weights.

I would keep cutting until you’re happy with your lean-ness, then go on a little bulk. Doesnt make sense to purposely add fat on your frame first if you’re going to have trouble losing it again.

Great job on your progress so far

Why is this an either or? You clearly need both.

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Wouldn’t it be either or for the current training block? Either I cut to 160-165, then bulk, or I bulk now and cut once waist exceeds 37". Or I could just focusing only on performance metrics (1 mile run time, max pull-ups, increasing squat/press/etc), eat healthy, forget about body compositon and see how it shakes out in 9 months.

I think you’re getting too far ahead of yourself. You are at a stage when you can (and should) be losing fat simultaneous with gaining muscle. To get there, any basic training and nutrition plan will work as long as you are consistent.

I’m not sure why you would only focus on performance and forget about body comp if your goals are related to body comp. That should be your focus.

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For starters, I’d recommend

  1. dropping the steady state cardio
  2. doing 3-4 gym sessions a week and either add some of your bodyweight/KB circuits to the end of workouts, or just one day a week dedicated to them.
  3. doubling your protein, but don’t change calories.
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Yeah exactly. And honestly there’s more than 10 additional pounds of fat to lose.

My 2 cents:

  1. Dropping it completely? No. But I would do less of it.

  2. 230g might be a bit high? But bumping it to 180 would be already a nice number

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Based on the responses here, my recomposition training and nutrition plan will consist of

  • 2200 calories per day. This is what I averaged in March, which resulted in a average rate of 0.04 lbs lost per week. Adjust as needed.
  • increase protein intake - meat is too expensive to have in massive quantities, wo I’ll have to increase egg white and protein powder consumption
  • weight train in the gym 2x/week (squat, incline press, RDL) and at home once a week using my 1" diameter barbell and dumbbells (OHP, dips, lunge, rows). Squat, incline press, and OHP will use 5/3/1 percentages, which is what I’ve been doing for the last 5 weeks.
  • remove steady-state cardio, except for evening walks with my kids, to be added back in later on
  • 1-2 hard conditioning sessions, on its own or as a finisher to a workout, consisting of high rep kettlebell swings/bodyweight and/or sled dragging.

Bodyweight will be tracked a few times a week, waist and caliper measurements will be checked 1-2 times a month, arm/leg/torso measurements will be checked every few months.

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  1. Yeah I’ve always been a fan of starting off with zero added cardio. I don’t count all the walking. It allows for more room for adjustment and less dependency.
  2. Maybe it’s a tough jump if you’re not used to it. I’ve never had trouble hitting 250 a day. I admittedly have anecdotal evidence on this point but I just never ever see people making these posts hitting 200+g of protein, and have not seen natty guys getting lean with any less. And IRL from people I’ve worked with, every single time I repartition their calories so they are getting at least 30% of total cals from protein they ALWAYS drop fat, feel less hungry, and have more energy. And that’s not changing cals at all. Every time! Haha. It just seems like a simple no-brainer for me at this stage.

If you’re not going to increase weight training frequency, I don’t know if cutting SS Cardio is the better move here. If you stick with @jskrabac’s recommendation of

Then I would say cutting SS Cardio is a good call

You could always start a log here in #training-logs like many of us have too. Helps you stay honest with yourself and also gives real-time feedback

I am going to increase the weight training frequency, from 1-2 times per week to 2 workouts in the gym and one weight training workout at home (I have a 6 foot barbell, adjustable dumbbells, 35 lb kettlebell, 55 lb kettlebell, dip stands, doorframe pull-up bar, and bands at home).

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How do you hit your protein targets? A lot of meat, or using a lot of protein powder?

I understand, my apologies for the misinterpretation.

I’m not who you tagged, but doing this requires eating quite a bit of chicken breast and tuna/other high protein fish. 12oz (raw) chicken breast is about 106g protein :+1:

I had a rule of thumb that I could only digest 50 grams of protein per meal, and that all the protein over 50 grams was used solely for calories and not building muscle.

That is why I ate six meals per day. The thought was that eating six meals a day I could get 300 grams of protein per day.

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To be honest, I haven’t eaten chicken breast or tuna in years…it’s a chore to get through them. For me daily staples for hitting my target are 1 lb of lean ground meat, a few scoops of protein powder and a container of cottage cheese. That’s good for over 200 right there. The rest I hit from the scraps of protein in all my other food like nut butter, oatmeal, etc.

How much does a lb of ground beef cost you?

I’m usually at 180g, at best. I’m 6’1. Research tells us than protein consumption needed might not be as high. But i’ll try to bump it to 220 for this prep. I’ll add a fifth meal…even though it annoys me

Yes and no… Over 40 usually (depending on the individual), it doesn’t help with protein synthesis, but it does with protein balance

in the USA, about $7-8 for a pound of grass-fed ground beef, cheaper for non-grassfed or ground turkey.

Nice. Maybe I could look into dropping my protein a little and getting more fun calories elsewhere.

When you mention not as much protein is needed, needed for what? I don’t disagree that we can survive and build muscle on less, and I’d even be willing to concede that the extra protein doesn’t necessarily provide any boost in muscle gaining potential past a certain threshold. But for recomp and staying lean for the average Joe/Jane I find high protein is just about guaranteed to give them the best results.

Also, even on my most extreme cuts I’ve never experienced strength or muscle loss that people always talk about on here. I guess I’ve always attributed that to the high protein.

Idk maybe I’m stuck in an outdated mode of approaching my diet. You’ve given me food for thought

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I mean we probably don’t need as much as we think, for efficient muscle building, according to science (1,7 to 2,4 per kilo of BW).

180 is still around 2g per kilo of my BW. I mean that’s high protein for many, many people. But yeah to be safe we can bump it a bit.

Only time I really lost strength is when I tried a water bodybuilding thing for a week, with like 0 carbs and 1500 cals. In the pic you see I was at 2500 per day, not counting the week-ends.