At a Crossroads: Get Stronger or Lose Fat?

Just at a crossroad here as I am wondering what to do.
I am a 47 year old lifter who has been in and out for years. 15 years ago I was fairly strong 400+ squat 500+ DL 300+ Bench.
Fast forward a bunch of years with a kid, work and life and things get derailed and pushed to the side. As a result, I ballooned up to 217 lbs not in the good way. 15 years ago I was 190 lbs with that strength.
2019 became my pay the piper year and decided to drop the weight as much as I can with still having a life. Currently doing 5/3/1 after doing a 5x5 program and want to switch it up a little but will go back to 5/3/1 in a few months again. Main goal for training is strength. Train weights 3 days a week and cardio on opposing days.
Right now I am eating very cleanly. A couple months back I got a body assessment done and was 200 lbs and 21% bf. Dropped 10 lbs since then so I am guessing I am sitting somewhere around 17%-18% bf right now.
A few goals:

  1. Continue to get stronger - but it seems I might be temporarily topping out on that with a calorie reduced diet. Can be patient on that. As we know, strength gains are a long term plan. I want to do a Power Lifting competition when I hit 50 and be in the mix so 3 years to add about 300 lbs total to my lifts.

  2. Quit being a FAT F*#%.

I want to continue to drop the body fat down to the low teens or towards 10% if possible to see the abs once again but I am feeling down about the strength topping out and the biggest thing is my muscles seem very “Flat” so to say. It seemed i was way more defined at 20%+ bf than I am now.
Just wondering where to go from here as far as program (keep going with 5/3/1?) and do I continue to try to lose the rest of the weight to get down to a reasonable bf%.
Outside of protein powder, I have not had much experience with supplementation so direction on this would be a help as well.
Any comments would be great.
A fellow Canadian.

If your main goal is strength, and 5/3/1 is working, don’t stop. And it’s a myth that you have to choose between gaining muscle/strength and losing fat. If you push the supplemental and assistance lifts hard, shoot for rep PRs 3x a week and condition your ass off 2-3x a week on non-lifting days, you can get stronger, build muscle mass, and lose fat, all at the same time, given an adequate diet and appropriate intensity.

1 Like

I actually have a Q&A about that topic coming up in Question of Strength next week. It is perfectly possible to gain strength while losing fat if you are smart and non-emotional (making you make knee-jerk decision like cutting your calories too much or increasing volume too much) about it.


Looking forward to it. Thanks.

Thanks for the feedback.
Looking forward to the article.