T Nation

For all you ripped dudes

Once you get into those low BF levels 5-8% is it easy to keep it or do you have to stick with the same diet that got you there?

Bobo da Clown…For quite some time, I maintained very low levels of bodyfat (i.e. 4-5%), all the while consuming anywhere from 3500-4000 kcals per day. However, my bodyweight and physique were pathetic and did not at all represent an athlete or bodybuilder. At 6-foot and a buck fifty to a buck sixty, I could only go in one direction: up.

I don’t think that one needs to maintain a super low-calorie, strict diet to maintain a low percent fat. However, I may be biased because I’ve got the ability to get that lean.

Its a lifestyle my man! I am 7-8% BF, and I have been lucky in that I have stayed in that range for awhile now. Sure, during winter I add on a little weight, but for the most part I stay relatively the same year round. I train hard, I eat clean and I am good to go. What I mean by its a lifestyle… is that I am able to keep the same physic because I choose to live the way I do. Sure, I keep an exercise log and I keep a food log…BUT I know my body and I know what works for me,so I tend to not dwell on every little aspect. If I did, I would drive myself crazy. Yes, it takes hard work and dedication…but if you are in this “training game for life” than I am pretty positive you will attain and keep your goals in tact.

I usually spend about 4-5 months out of the year below 10% bodyfat. It depends on what you mean by low. For me, it’s easier to maintain about 6-8% bodyfat than it was to get there. A few times I have dipped into some really low ranges, like 3-5%, but I can’t, or will not stay there. The reason is that I flat out feel like crap at that low %bf, so it’s just not worth it. The few times that I’ve been there, I’ve only maintained it for a couple of weeks at a time. I remember reading an article about Jerry Rice’s training regimen, which by all accounts is meticulous and extremely demanding. Anyway, I guess he gets his bf checked frequently and he does not let it drop below 5%, because he feels weaker and slower when it dips that low.

I don’t think I have ever been above 8%BF and that being the highest if Ived ever been there. It’s not hard at all. I eat about 3000 calories everyday, sometimes I eat more and sometimes less but I have a routine and pretty much follow it. Im never hungry and when I am I feed myself plenty. I only weigh 155lbs. at 5’6" so sometimes I’ll have a really bad week of eating and it shows, but one hard day in the gym and it’s all gone. Being a small dude, 5lbs of water and glycogen sure shows.

Da Boxer

I think it’s highly individual. Personally, I have a very fast metabolism, have never not been able to see my abs, and never been above 9%; even before I started lifting when I lived off Doritos and Oatmeal Cream Pies. But most people probably couldn’t get away with this.

Timbo, when you were consuming that ammount of cals, were you also doing ridiculous ammounts of cardio


do you just have an insane metabolism?

I found, when I was leaner, that I had to do a good ammount of cardio and also never cheat in order to maintain that 6-ish look (<3000c/day). Maybe just me.

Pooh Bear, my man, I don’t train for marathons, man:-)

I’ve partaken in different approaches to cardio, but the consistent factor is that it’s always a part of the program. Even when I put on an insane amount of muscle, I was still doing cardio. Perhaps even more then–not in terms of volume, but in terms of intensity and overall stress, although difficult to measure–but it kept gains extremely lean while eating massively.

Looking back, at times I did 15-20 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio after lifting sessions and nothing on off days or one 20-30 minute session of moderate-intensity stuff on off days.

I’ve also done a more intense protocol. That is, 2-3 high-intensity sessions (15-20 minutes) per week. These were on training days but separated from lifting by 8 hours. These were not interval sessions, just completely balls-out sessions for the entire time. Quite humbling.

I’ve also included an HIIT-based protocol, which is more what I follow now and advocate. On my off days from lifting I’ll do HIIT and might also throw in an extra session on a training day, separated from lifting. A max of three sessions per week of HIIT then. I’m also doing 10-15 minutes of moderate intensity cardio after lifting.

If any of these protocols are considered insane, then so be it. However, I think this is far from insane. Insane to me is doing cardio 5-7 times per week for 45-60 minutes each time.

I believe Dave Draper once gave a maximum percentage of time that should be dedicated to cardio (for the physique athlete). I can’t recall off-hand, but it’s probably around 20-30% of total training time.

In addition, my metabolism is freakish, I guess. I just choose to be very active. I can hardly stand sitting around. I make an effort to take several walks each day, in addition to parking far away from my destination (at school, at the store, etc), walking to the grocery store, taking the stairs (9 floors at Bellmont Hall), and things along those lines. I am advocate of such a high energy expenditure and subsequent energy intake.

Thanks Timbo. Interesting stuff.

As soon as Hell (finals) is over next week, I’m definitly going to step up the HIIT on my off days.

I was chubby when i was younger, but now am more mesomorphic…I mention that cause I’ve heard being fat when you were young makes things tougher when your older. Either way, I can maintain 8-9% now “relatively easily”. meaning i can do that when I’m training hard, eating 6,7 good meals per day (my lifestyle includes counting cals…so I know what goes into my meals). I also often play basketball for an hour or two at night which helps incredibly. If I go out to eat, I eat sensibly, and I don’t drink except maybe once every two months. This is “easy” for me, but I guess its a pretty structured life compared to the average joe. I’ve never tried to maintain below 8.

Don’t you ever get tired of making excuses, Pooh!?! I’m just kidding.:slight_smile:

The HIIT will work quite efficiently, no matter your goal.