T Nation

Body Composition


#1

Hi Coach,

I'm 51 and recently had a hydrostatic body fat test completed. I weighed 202.6 with 174.6 lbs of lean mass or 13.8% body fat. I am not trying to compete or anything but just trying to look good.

If I were a client would you try to add more lean muscle or continue to lower body fat at this point? I am at crossroads and don't know which would be the correct path. I need a goal so that I can stay focused. Correctly, I feel a little lost.

I take two scoops of plazma pre and during workout and two scoops of MAG-10 post.

Any recommendation with respect to training or supplements would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance for your advice to my question and to all the other questions on T-Nation.


#2

Obviously not CT

But if you look on this site - 'ARTICLES' - 'DIET AND FAT LOSS' there is a plethora of solid plans and information.

CT is a performance guy - not a nutrition one. 'Lift to maintain strength and use diet to lose fat' - seems to be his general view me thinks. Loaded carries seem to be a particular favourite in regards to shedding fat and improving conditioning. Do a search as he's written a few articles on the subject.

Anecdotally...

I've been doing the overhead carries + Growth factor shoulder workouts, as well as loaded carries (in addition to Muay Thai everyday and another total body weight session per week). My bf has gone down significantly, but I look bigger and more powerful as I've added muscle in the shoulder and trap area (those 2 sessions are my higher calorie/carb days)

Just my humble 2 cents, CT may see things differently

Good luck

Moog


#3

Well it depends on how you look. Two people can have the same lean and fat mass and carry it very differently. This is in part due to body type (for example someone with naturally wide clavicle will look larger than someone with a narrower one at the same level of muscle mass... or someone with long limbs will not look as muscular as someone with short limbs with the same muscle mass). WHERE you store your body fat will also affect how you look.

Furthermore it also depends on your own perception. For someone who like the bodybuilder or lean powerlifter body, a certain amount of muscle mass might "look too small" while for someone who prefer the athletic looking body it might be perfect.

At 13-14% body fat (especially if it was with something precise like hydrostatic weighing) you shouldn't look sloppy at all and realistically you should be about 8 weeks of "contest-like dieting" from being sub 10%. So I see no rush to pull all the stops and start a max fat loss diet at this moment.

Simply making small changes in your training, nutrition and supplementation Should be enough to gradually get you leaner and if you keep nutrients intake high you can also add some muscle in the process. That way you should hold your body weight fairly stable but gradually make your 202lbs more and more solid. You should be able to drop a good 2-3% body fat in 2-3 months without risking losing your gains because of strict dieting.

Once you are about 198-202 at 10% body fat (you will look very good at that point) it will be easy to turn up the dieting notch and drop down to 7-8% within 6 weeks, and then you will look great.

It's hard for me to make any specific recommendations since I have no idea what your training, dieting and supplementation program is like.

As it was mentioned earlier, just adding loaded carries to your program will make a big difference and so will sprints. But without having more info on what you do I can't give you more advice.

So if you want more, let me know how you are training, eating and supplementing at the moment.


#4

Moog,

Thanks for the input. I will look at the growth factor shoulder information.


#5

Coach,

For the record I'm 6'1". I can see my abs but I would describe it as a "four-pack". Not a true six pack. I carry extra fat in the love handles and lower back.

I try to eat correctly but don't follow a strict diet plan. I try to hold calories to around 2500/day which does not include two scoops of Plazma and MAG-10. I use Indigo as well. Other supplements include fish oil, ZMA. sometimes Curcumin.

Currently my training is as follows:
Day 1 One horizontal push and pull exercise
5x5
4x8
3x20
Day 2
Deadlifts the same rep scheme
Day 3
off or conditioning/abs/arms
Day 4 - one vertical push and pull exercise
same rep scheme
Day 5
squat variation
same rep scheme
Day 6
off or conditioning/abs/arms - just depends how I am feeling
Lately conditioning is mainly sprints
rinse and repeat

Prior to this routing I was doing a pyramid
65432 - going up in weight each set.
deadlift, bench, Military press and pull-ups on one day
Squat variation on the next
Conditioning on day 3

Prior to the pyramid I completed your Complete Power Look program

I hope this helps and gives you the information you need.

I greatly appreciate you taking time to assist.


#6

One more thing I forgot to add. I often will do what I believe your refer to as double stimulation. For example, I will do high rep isolation exercise for the muscle worked the previous day. Usually, no more than 3 sets.

I hope the additional information is what you needed to further assist.

Thanks again for all you do for T-Nation.


#7

Hey CT I hope I am not hijacking the thread but while we are on the subject...

What would you recommend for someone at 7% looking to drop down to 5% or so (anything different from the aforementioned)?

Also what percent bf is considered for contest shape?

What in your opinion is the lowest body fat manageable for a long period of time? And by that regard lowest body fat you can have while trying to gain muscle?

And last one may seem like a dumb question but you always have a great insight on typically mainstream answers: what are dangers of having body fat being too low for long periods of time regarding health as well as preservation of muscle?

Thanks again!


#8


For what purpose? Except if one is planning on competing in a physique contest going down to a REAL 5% is counterproductive.

Notice that I mention REAL 5% because most people grossly underestimate their body fat percentages. Calipers, even in the hands of a good coach normally underestimate body fat by abut 3%. At a REAL 5% you should barely be able to pinch any skin at all. In the picture above I was a tad over 7%.

Few athletes really are at 5% even though may claim it. In most cases they are 7 or 8%. The human body actually need abut 4% body fat to survive and work properly. So at a REAL 5% you wouldn't be able to perform athletically. When the picture above was taken I had to do 20 minutes workouts because I didn't have energy for more.

VIA SKIN FOLD CALIPERS a VERY GOOD contest shape bodybuilder would test at about 1mm at every body fat site. Which would actually come up to 1% or less but this actually impossible because the minimal functional body fat is about 4%. Maybe 3% is achievable for a very brief period of time but there wouldn't be much visual different between 3 and 4%. But at the lower level I'd say that most guys are A REAL 5-7% which would come up to about 2-4% on calipers and at lower level shows you often see guys who are 8 or 9%.

Again this shows how calipers aren't that effective. I often use myself as an example. At one point I was measured at 4.1% by a very reputable coach. But in my evaluation I was about 10lbs away from being close to contest shape. The following week at a seminar I was tested by over 15 good coaches and my body fat came up anywhere between 6 and 15%!!! And when I came back the guy who originally tested me, tested me at "unmeasurable" (less than 0%!!!).

Normally at 10% you have full on abs, veins across the shoulders and arms, good definition everywhere. At 7% you can only pinch some fat in areas like obliques, lower back and glutes. At 5% your skin is paper thin everywhere.

It depends on the individual. Some people have a naturally lower body fat than others. These people can have a lower body fat level and function well. For example someone who is naturally at 9% (you have people who eat junk and stay at 9%) then holding on to 7% year round is not a stress on their body.

But if you have someone who would normally be around 15-18% holding on to the same 7% will actually represent a big stress on the body.

It's not really the low body fat that is the problem it is what you have to do to keep the body fat low.

If someone could (God given genetics) stay at 6% bodyfat even when eating 4000 calories then he would be able to stay at 6% while adding muscle mass because he would be able to eat enough nutrients to fuel growth and keep his anabolic hormones high.

But if someone has to ingest 1800 calories/day and ingest less than 50g of carbs/day to maintain 7% he would not be able to add muscle because he would lack the calories needed to fuel growth and this body would produce more catabolic hormones than anabolic ones.

Again it's not a matter of the number itself but how fat it is from your natural setpoint and what you have to do nutrition and training-wise to maintain the low body fat.

But in general women are more at risk then men. When their body fat level drops too much their reproductive system is put on halt (they stop having their periods at one point) and are more at risk of developing ostheoporosis. This is known as the female athlete triad.

When a man goes too low relative to his own setpoint he will also suffer some reproductive issues. For them it mostly comes in the form of a loss of libido and even erectile disfunction.

There are also psychological issues that can occur.


#9

Simply making small changes in your training, nutrition and supplementation Should be enough to gradually get you leaner and if you keep nutrients intake high you can also add some muscle in the process. That way you should hold your body weight fairly stable but gradually make your 202lbs more and more solid. You should be able to drop a good 2-3% body fat in 2-3 months without risking losing your gains because of strict dieting.

Once you are about 198-202 at 10% body fat (you will look very good at that point) it will be easy to turn up the dieting notch and drop down to 7-8% within 6 weeks, and then you will look great.

Hi Coach,

You posted the above. Per my calculations that would require me to gain about 6 lbs of lean muscle mass.

Realistically, how long would this require?

Should I increase my plazma and mag=10 intake to 3 scoops?

Is there one of your programs that you would recommend that would best help me achieve the results ie maintain current weight but add lean muscle?

Per your recommendation, I will start adding loading carries more regularly to my training. Any other recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks for you time and consideration.


#10

Amazing reply and thank you CT!
Yea for me the main reasons are:
Future photoshoots
(Want to be the leanest I can without impairing performance/hypertrophy)

Possibly reset my body fat set point (feel like it has gotten much much higher in past years).

-Improve insulin sensitivity
felt like this also went to hell. I never got "fat" but everytime I would try to push up calories/go on a mass program I would get very short(or deceiving) muscular gains. Then it would seem like only fat was accumulated.

Right now I am at a caliper 7% (so actual 10% based on your description).