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Calorie Deficit and Bad Training Sessions

Hey all,

What do you guys like to do to keep your training sessions feeling good while in a calorie deficit? My calorie deficit is not particularly aggressive, but I’ve found everything feels so much heavier. I generally train earlier in the morning, right after I wake up and eat something . Of course I understand being in a deficit will affect strength a bit, but just looking for things I can do to minimize it. Thanks!

If the deficits not particularly aggressive and you’ve not been in a deficit for months on end it probably won’t affect you as much as you’d think.

If you go into work outs with that kinda defeatist attitude it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy kinda deal.

Usually a less aggressive deficit won’t hit you as hard but you’re already doing that.

So next on the list we have meal timing/ food composition. Pretty much take pre, intra and post workout nutrition seriously. You’ve limited macronutrient resources as is so best make use of them to fuel your workout especially carbs. I go slow release carbs and protein pre workout with minimal fat. Intra workout if I can be bothered it’s carbs. Post workout same as pre workout.

Optimise fatigue management in other ways to make up for less calories i.e. pretty much sleep more. You can get away with stuff in a surplus but you’ll need every little bit of recovery you can muster in a deficit.

Maybe a bit of caffeine… like 1g should get you right lel


Thats good stuff, thanks!!

There’s not a ton you can do if it’s already affecting you IMO, as long as you’re doing everything @khangles listed. At a certain point, though, the deficit is going to announce itself to some extent. What worked for me was lowering my training maxes and adding way more volume than I had before. That way what I found was that some lifts went down (most presses, squats) but others actually went up (most pulls, front squat).

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And you run 5/3/1 right? Did you have any problem recovering after you added way more volume?

My question is how much weight you are trying to lose and are you currently training for a meet? Also, what is your training like at the moment?

If you’re not about to compete and want to lose a significant amount of weight in the least time possible then this is the solution:

You will get weaker momentarily but the high volume will prevent/reduce loss of muscle mass and when you finish cutting you can either bulk up again or stay at maintenance calories and your strength should come back pretty quick, assuming you aren’t losing 20lbs. or something like that.

On the other hand, if you are just trying to lose a couple pounds and/or peaking for a meet then don’t cut too fast. If you are in a slight caloric deficit then it shouldn’t affect strength too much if at all. The way I see it, once you’re losing 1lb per week or more then you are at risk of losing strength (in the short term) and having shitty training sessions.

All good questions. Not training for a meet, looking really to just improve my body comp. I have about 7 lbs more I would like to lose, but I’m regulating more on how I feel/look than on scale weight. I run a standard 5/3/1, when you guys suggest more volume how might that best be done? More sets of the compound lifts before some assistance work?


It depends on what exactly you are doing right now, but you want to mostly focus on compound lifts anyway. Are you already doing “first set last”? If not, then start, if you are then do it for multiple sets. If that’s still easy to recover from then add sets to your assistance work, but do it gradually (like one more set on one lift each day) or your will burn yourself out.

How often do you deload? Do you usually feel burnt out before you deload, with poor performance in the last week of the training block, or do you always feel well recovered? If you are going 6 weeks before deloading and always feel fresh then you can probably add a fair amount of volume, if you have been wearing yourself out (overreaching) then err on the side of caution and add little if any volume.

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I was at the time. No, no issues with recovery. I ran 5s Pro with 5x5-8 FSL except for DL, where I did 3x5 FSL. A lot of the extra volume was in assistance work, and I used variations for the FSL work: close grip bench, front squat and snatch grip DL. That helped by reducing the load I used for the FSL sets. For assistance I had a total rep target, so usually 50 PR 100 total reps.

Low calories = less volume. It doesn’t mean back the weight off. Instead of 5’s make it singles or doubles. How is your body gonna make repairs with higher volume and lower calories? Keep your strength up as much as possible. Keep the volume low.

I dunno about that mane. Less or low or relatively low?

Volume is as much a stimulus for holding onto your gains as intensity is. Maintenance volume is probs lower than the volume required to drive adaptions tho so maybe you meant less/lower vs actual low volume.

It should work if you take enough steroids, otherwise it’s doubtful. Seeing as you (khangles) are familiar with Israetel’s stuff, he says that MRV is lower and MEV is higher when in a caloric deficit. You will burn out more easily than if you were eating more but if you don’t do enough volume then you will lose muscle mass.

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So… jump on cycle?

Or up the dose

Mence 97 - Take a 3 week cycle of your 5’s 3’s and 531. Do that cycle for singles only for your heaviest weight/top set. Push each single as hard and fast as you can focusing on good execution. Do only the minimum reps.

Stay away from Boring But Big for assistance.

Assistance should be high reps and low weight - basically work for a pump.

You will find your energy and recovery will be more than sufficient for staying strong and maintaining muscle. Make sure you get plenty of protein and fiber.

Just do it over 3 months and it will be no probem. Throw 2 weeks of slight surplus at the half way point if super paranoid.