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Building Muscle & Strength from a Less Than "Ideal" Bodyfat Percentage?

I am currently 5’10", 179 lbs and approximately 19-21% bodyfat (34.5" waist). I’ve lost 10 lbs (2" on waist) over the last 8 weeks. The general recommendation seems to be that I should continue to cut weight, however, I’d prefer to focus my training on building strength and muscle mass. Is there anything negative to trying to build muscle from not an “ideal” bodyfat percent using a small caloric surplus with a mostly healthy diet, other than not seeing abs? I am 35 years, married with two kids, and I don’t necessarily need to look ripped (I don’t want a huge gut either).

The source of this “general recommendation” is…Who?

Then this is what you should do.

There might be if there was such a thing as ‘an ideal bodyfat percent,’ but there’s not.

This is completely under your control.

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One negative that sticks out to me is goal dependent… if your end goal is to be not only strong a muscular but LEAN as well. At some point to reach that LEAN part of the goal you will have to cut. I’d rather drop 20 pounds than 80 pounds to be happy.

Full disclaimer: I’m a fatty who has “bulked” twice with extra shitty results and will be very lean before I do it again. As always, YMMV

The source of this “general recommendation” is…Who?

Various people in the fitness industry have recommended cutting to around 12-15%. Menno Henselmans is one name I can think of off the top of my head.

I’d like to be somewhat lean, but not necessarily shredded. Since February of this year I’ve dropped from 194 lbs to 178.6 lbs, most of it in the last 8 weeks. A focused cut of 8-10 weeks is about as long as I would care to do it, not really a fan of caloric deficits and lower libido. I’ll cycle cutting/bulking in 8-12 week blocks.

That’s a great way to make little progress.

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What would you recommend?

What does your training normally look like?

What did your training look like during your weight loss?

IMO, the primary goal of bodybuilding is to add more muscle. Keep adding muscle. But at the same time look like you are building muscle and not just getting bigger. Try to achieve obvious muscle group separation.

“Ideally” you should be able to see your abs. I don’t mean have sharp abs, just see them and your obliques.

Since July my training is 3 day full body focusing on progressive overload in squats, bench press (or floor press if training at home), pull-ups, barbell rows, romanian deadlifts, kettlebell overhead press. Steady-state cardio 2-3 days per week (or ~90 minutes total).

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OK! I’m just trying to get the background straight.

It looks like 4-5 months of slow weight loss.

Then 2 months of quicker weight loss. While you were lifting on a “standard” routine. Did you progress your lifts and get stronger during the last 8 weeks?

And what’s up Right Now? You mentioned lack of libido. Do you feel like shit in other ways? How are appetite and sleep? Are your lifts still moving up?

It was 4-5 months of an attempted recomposition, which resulted in 0.6 lbs decrease in bodyfat and 1.5 lbs increase in lean body mass. It felt like a bit of a waste of time, so I decided to actively cut bodyfat. I started weighing myself most days to track bodyweight trends and focused more on diet.

Based on the numbers in my log book, no not really.

appetite and sleep are fine, libido was much lower in July and early August, but is balancing now.
The option I’m leaning towards now is to eat at maintenance, get my strength up to some arbitrary strength benchmark (squat 1.5 bw, pull-ups x 15 reps), then resume cutting to around 160-165 lbs early 2022.

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Alright dude, Maintenance Phase, you beat me to it!

Right now, you’re losing weight in a deficit. And you’re in a Magical situation where you can Increase Calories and Maintain weight. Theoretically the increased calories should be enough to gain muscles without gaining weight. For awhile. And during this time your body gets accoustomed to the new body weight/body fat.

Then once you’re feeling normal, 1 or 2 more reasonable cutting phases in the future.

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