T Nation

Body Weight Question


I've been lifting for about 4 months now. I started on a 5x5 program and made great gains and have recently changed over to 531.

Right now I'm 6'3'', 235lbs, and about 20-25% body fat.

My diet is a mess and I know that's something that has to change regardless. Beyond that, should I keep eating in a calorie excess to build more strength? Despite the gains I've made over the last few months I'm still very weak. Should I reach my lifting goals then worry about BF% or get my BF% under control then worry about lifting bigger wieghts. From what I've read, it doesn't seem like I can do both at once so I'm going to have to make a decision soon.


As a newb if you're training very hard and sleep is on point etc then you can do both -ie eat to sustain your lifting goals/hard workouts and just make cleaner food choices...


There are a ton of good articles on how/what to eat right here on this website.

IMO, and based entirely on my own experience and little else you should be OK to eat a fair bit if the quality is good and you train hard enough. That's kind of the key: if you work hard enough under the bar you'll get stronger. You'll also put on more muscle. As your body composition changes to being more muscular, you'll need more calories just to maintain that mass let alone grow more muscle and recover.

Just personally, I'd worry about getting stronger and clean up the diet. Let your bodyfat take care of itself, because the chances are if you take care of those two things the bodyfat WILL take care of itself.

Just my two cents'. For what its worth, I started powerlifting just over a year ago. I'm about 6' and when I started I weighed around 187 and was probably towards the lower end of the 20-25% bodyfat range, even though I did a ton of strength endurance work (kettlebell sport five to six times a week) and controlled my diet pretty rigidly.

A year on, I'm at around 209 lbs and visually I'd estimate around 18-20% bodyfat - and I don't control my diet rigidly at all and I train two to four times a week. The only other thing I do is one or two 10 hour intermittent fasts once or twice a week on my rest days. What I've noticed is that as I increased my muscle mass, I became better able to tolerate more calories as long as they're not from junk. The only 'junk' I eat are cakes, perhaps twice a week at most and maybe a Turkish pizza once every two or three weeks. Other than that, its a lot of starches, a bunch of meat and eggs and milk and some vegetables.


You absolutely can progress in strength while eating a caloric deficit. That said, I will echo what others have said: worry less about eating a deficit or a surplus and worry more about eating a quality diet. Once that is established, then you should tweak it.


This! This statement right here has made my life a helluva a lot easier!


Maybe it's possible, but most people will experience a strength loss, and at best it will be difficult. Being new to lifting will make this easier. I constantly read about people losing strength on a weight cut. That includes elite powerlifters, to joe-schmoe powerlifters (like me!), bodybuilders, and amateur bodybuilders.

I lost ~50lbs, and suffered a ~10% loss of strength (based on 1RM bench). My relative strength did go up. I've gone back to maintenance recently and am quickly gaining again, however.

I think someone going on a deficit to lose a substantial amount of weight needs to accept strength loss will most likely occur.


It's no accident Th3Pwnisher lifts the weights he does (especially because we all know he trains completely the wrong way). He's very good at seeing the important bits that are missing from peoples training.


What?! He does half squats and reps outside of the strength and myofibrillar hypertrophy zone ffs! He's a walking unfunctional mass of sarcoplasm!


What you are discussing is a different animal and one that I agree with.

Cutting weight to bodybuilding levels of leaness and losing a substantial amount of weight will absolutely result in strength loss. I am more discussing the idea of being in any manner of caloric deficit not allowing for strength gains.

This is one of those myths that's really pervasive on the net, and especially among beginners. It's heart is in the right place for sure, but it's not accomplishing it's mission.

Bench especially is a fickle mistress in regards to bodyweight, for reducing your body size will also increase the distance you have to move the bar, so that really sucks, haha.


I've heard he's never even run Starting Strength, and he thinks he can go steal George Leemans progressive ROM idea? Everyone knows that's only for intermediates.


I suppose the level of deficit matters. I was at a 2lb/week loss for most of the time, so I guess that puts me at a 1000/day deficit (given the general idea of 7000 calories in 2lbs of fat, so I was using 1k calories of fat a day).

A 250/day deficit (which would, given the previous assumptions, result in a .5lb/week weight loss) could be much different in terms of strength loss. I don't know.

Very true. I've unfucked my shoulder though, and have been able to move my grip out wider for a reduced ROM. I'm sure I'll get back to where I was. That's whole other discussion though.


That's been my experience with a smaller loss. I've been losing about .5-1lb a week since June and have managed to increase my weight on all lifts/movements, except for my bench, which as of 2 weeks ago has started to regress. A more aggressive approach can definitely throw some wrenches into the program.

Good luck with the shoulder rehab. Shoulders are terrible, haha.

And as per the side conversations, I appreciate the legend of myself continuing to grow.