T Nation

Advice on Getting Lean?

First off want to thank Jim for 5/3/1. I’m 44 years old and have been running it consistently for about a year and am the strongest I have ever been in my life. I got into weight training because I was a 270 lb weakling that couldn’t walk up a flight of stairs, now I am 260 lbs, more muscular, still soft around the middle but a lot stronger.
My best lifts:
Benchpress- 300 x 1
OHP- 200 x 1
Squat- 315 x 2
DL- 400 x 3
Not anything to get me on a powerlifting platform but the best they’ve ever been.
Now to my point. I want to focus on 8-12 weeks cycle to lean down some. I’ve read through the archives and this is what I’ve come up with:

Calories kept at Maintenance on weight training days. Cut back on calories by cutting carbs on non weight training days. Protein at 260 g per day. Gallon of water per day.

Day 1
Bench 5/3/1 + FSL rest pause
Barbell rows x 50 reps
Close grip lat pulldowns x 50 reps
Dips x 50 reps

Day 2
Squat 5/3/1 + FSL
Barbell RDL x 50 reps

Day 3
2 mile walk wearing weighted vest and maybe a few sprints. Outside at home

Day 4
OHP 5/3/1 + FSL rest pause
Barbell rows x 50 reps
Wide grip lat pulldowns x 50 reps
Rear Delt raises x 50 reps

Day 5
DL 5/3/1
Safety Bar squats or Leg Press x 50 reps

Day 6
Farmers walks, jump rope, kettle bell swings in gym.

Day 7

Thoughts and feedback on what I’ve put together would be appreciated. Always looking for good advice. Thanks.

To get leaner, of course, you need to be mindful of what you eating first and foremost. As for training, my advice for those looking to trim down is to incorporate more bodyweight moves into your assistance. Dips, pull ups, push ups, hanging leg raises. As you get better at these, you will lean up naturally because your body can perform these more effectively if you have more lean muscle mass compared to excess fat. You can improve on the barbell lifts while still carrying a lot of excess fat, or even increasing your girth, which just isn’t true for bodyweight exercises.

Your workouts look fine, but if you are focusing on leaning up I’d go to BBB sets and superset all of them with a bodyweight assistance movement.

(Question: what is “FSL rest/pause”? From what I know, rest/pause is an intensification method that has you do a heavy set, rest only ~15 seconds, then get a few more reps. I don’t see how this is applicable to FSL, which are 5x5’s at a fixed weight).

Thanks so much for the feedback. Great advice I never really thought of. The FSL is only referencing dropping the weight back to the first set weight. And you’re correct about the rest pause intensity. I thought that might help with keeping heart rate elevated?

Not doing 5/3/1 right now but I can relate when it comes to strength training on a calorie deficit. I hope these points help you:

  • to mitigate against strength loss, do not drastically cut calories right from the get go. I’ve done this and within 10 days I’m missing lifts. Instead, be honest with your current caloric requirements, and slowly cut daily calories down no more than 200 calories per week. Once the scale begins to move, stick with the current caloric levels.

  • be mindful of the relationship between optimal volume and intensity. In my experience, it is possible to make strength gains while in a caloric deficit. However, you need to keep your high intensity lifts to a lower amount of total volume per week. To ensure a continuation of optimal work, increase the amount of volume you do on lower intensity lifts.

  • I recommend trying full body split - I’m doing it now, on a cut, and I’ve gotten stronger. Try it. Ex. Day:
    Heavy Squat
    Volume Incline Bench
    Accessory Lifts

Hope those help. It can be hard to do, but with the right strategies you can definitely lose bodyfat AND get stronger. Cheers!


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Just speaking from personal experience here. I don’t really change what I eat on non training days because I’m already not taking in about 400 calories and a bunch of carbs because I’m not having my workout shakes.

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What Jason says.
Deficit about 200 cal under every day, just loosing a bit every week.
Eat as clean as possible.
drop the rest pause sets, they are very intense, meant to be used as a way to keep TUT while building muscles.
And The antique guys comment on bodyweight assistance is spot on.
So try 5/3/1 as 5’s pro
FSL 2-3 sets of 5
keep your assistance and do some pull ups/chin ups as part of the 50 reps on your lat pull down.
Do some dips or push ups on OHP day.
(If you can recover throw in some pull ups and push ups between the lower body sets not even close to failure eg DL-pull up-DL-push up.)
But I like you set up.
Jim recommends 5’s pro, FSL 5x5, assistance every day 50 reps of pull, push, single leg/core.

200 calories per day may be too much IF the goal is to build/maintain strength while reducing body fat. At least that’s what I’ve discovered in my experience.

Reducing calories on a weekly basis will be easier for strength management. Of course, if the OP is willing to sacrifice the strength cause then cut daily lol


Maybe you’re right. If OP follows the scale closely, and don’t drop more than 2 pounds a months. Meaning if they scale drops to much then upping calories a bit.
There where an article on T-nation about cutting 2 weeks then keeping maintenance 2 weeks and so on.

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