T Nation

Cut or Gain When Less than 10% Body Fat?

Hello Christian, I’ve recently found your articles and have found that they are extremely informative and some of the best most comprehensive information I’ve found to date in relation to body transformation - thank you for all the great in-depth knowledge.

After reading many of your articles I fall into the category of the female CrossFit athlete you told the story of (in The Five Biggest Fat Loss Mistakes ) that basically went all out all the time and never really changed body composition. I’ve been pretty much in that state for years, running up mountains, lifting weights, using devices such as a VersaClimber burning 1200+ cal/hour…) and always have had more body fat than I would like and not really getting that much bigger, stronger or leaner.

This summer after a break of very little calorie tracking and not a huge amount of exercise (the pandemic kind of threw me out of my standard routine). I started cutting calories with a significantly less amount of exercise than my past routines and notice much better results. Initially I had no access to strength equipment so I was doing some cardio (relatively intense trail running and hiking in the mountains) but not too much, maybe 6 hours a week and some quasi strength conditioning (lifting, carrying, flipping and throwing boulders in my driveway, 30-200lbs rocks). Finally I’ve built a home gym (squat rack, dumbbells, cable crossover) and have been pretty dedicated for the past 6 weeks.

In the past I’ve been doing high intensity, high volume and high frequency training (on top of extremely intense cardio), max weight, max reps, max number of workouts per week and as I mentioned previously, I have not had the best results. This summer after building the gym I thought I would follow a plan devised by a pro and did 4-5 weeks of high volume low intensity (high frequency training) after the summer of relatively intense cutting (160 to 144lbs in 5 weeks). With the high volume routine I basically have seen no results - maybe a bit bigger and stronger but not much, then I found your article The Best Damn Workout Plan for Natural Lifters and then proceeded to read quite a bit of your material. I’ve just completed one week of The Best Damn Workout Plan for Natural Lifters and have already noticed a significant difference in my energy levels, and recovery time. It’s a bit too early to measure any differences in strength or size but I feel stronger.

I still have a bit of body fat that I would like to lose, using a skin caliper I’m coming in somewhere between 6% and 8% body fat but I feel it’s not taking into account some excess fat on my lower back and a bit on my belly - in my estimation I don’t look like a person who is 6% body fat. Ideally I would like to get to 160-170 lbs and be lean but I’m not sure if I should lose those last few pounds first or not. It seems to be extremely difficult to lose the fat on my lower back and and want to start getting stronger asap (I lost some strength this spring and would at least like to get it back).

Do you have any suggestions? Would you recommend spending another 4-8 weeks cutting these last few pounds before gaining? Currently I weigh 144 lbs which hasn’t changed for the past week eating 2500 calories/day (225 grams protein, 220 gram carbs, 80 gram fat). I’m doing quite a bit of physical activity beyond strength training like splitting and carrying firewood and 2 or 3 medium intensity trail runs a week - which I don’t want to give up).

I actually would like to sign up for your online coaching but due to the pandemic my clientele/income has been drastically cut and am waiting for a job to come in before I sign up and commit to 3 or 4 months of fees…

Any suggestions or thoughts would be greatly appreciated.