Former Skinny Dude, Am I Making a Mistake Cutting?

Age: 32, 5ft 10

I spent most of my adult life at 125lbs but 4-5yrs ago decide to put lots of effort into putting weight on. I managed to do this to get to a more healthy weight which is great but wasted a lot of time I should have been training aswell! I am now just over 200lbs and have been training for 2-3yrs. Due to lockdowns… I had a lot of 2 steps forward 2 steps back. Gym was on and off closing for a long time.

My lifts are I guess pretty average. The biggest weights I’ve lifted for the main 4 are as follows.

Bench 105kg
OHP 65kg
Deadlift 175kg but recently started playing around with the trap bar deadlift and lifted 205kg on the high-handles (with no straps).
Squat is a bit of a funny one, I got up to 140kg but suffered some problems down below (piles), I lowered the intensity massively and have since focused on going way deeper (pretty much ass to grass), i don’t get the same problems any more but am suprised how weak i am at the movement. I think my max is probably about 110kg but I don’t want to go that close to failure.

With it being the new year I’ve been realigning my goals. I’ve been learning a lot more about programming so I can continue to progress and will soon either apply the stuff I’ve learned to my own program or commit to 5/3/1 rotating between a 5x5 BBB and 5x10 BBB for a few months to start. (please recommend better options that may fit me better at my current lifts/situation if there are any - i’m not really sure what stage of my journey I’m at and how fast i should be progressing). I also want to increase my fitness a little so may invest in a weighted vest for the dog walks or just add 5-10mins of cardio at the end of each of my workouts.

I’m not bothered about being super lean and am afraid of the cut after being so skinny my entire life… I also want to continue to get bigger and stronger but wonder if i’m going too far in that direction.

Sorry if my post is a bit vague or open ended but any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Without seeing pictures it’s hard to say if you are just getting fat past the point of it being acceptable and need to actually start a cut or if you are packing on some quality mass and still within the sweet spot and should just keep on gaining strength and weight, ie a dedicated cut would be pointless.

Increasing fitness is always a great idea, and should be done whatever you decide to do.

Ah man, some pictures I look like I almost have decent definition. In my bathroom mirror lighting I feel quite hench, other mirrors I feel chubby. Maybe I’ll try to get some but I fear I’ll already know my answer if I do that (cut cut cut!).

I know the feeling buddy!

But honestly seen so many people on here talking about cutting the second they get a bit softer which is just gonna lead to spinning the wheels. And also seen so many people taking about bulking but not actually building any muscle and just getting fatty fat fat. Without any visuals it’s hard to know which one applys!

I witness that myself! I see people wanting to cut and they are at a place I’d probably bulk for a year as they look so small. We all want to look different I guess - having such a history of looking chronically ill due to low bodyweight i’m just enjoying not being that guy any more. I could bench old me for probably around 25 reps! I’ll try and get a picture for you shortly, even though I know you’ll tell me to cut. v_v

Here you go. The perhaps flattering bathroom mirror. 20220109-183215 — ImgBB

Thanks, based off that 1 picture I would personally drop a little body fat. But the goal would still be getting stronger across a variety of rep ranges whilst doing so. Tidy up the diet and implement those walks and cardio and crush every session. Good luck :+1:

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This is what always confuses me. I was of the belief I wouldn’t be able to get stronger whilst cutting. And how would I program it?

I guess eat about 600 calories less than I usually do? Currently aiming for ~300+ maintainance so -600 would put me in a -300 deficit. Or maybe just aim for maintainance but add a little cardio at the end of my workouts?

Thanks for your replies dude.

You need to be clearer on your goals. You want to be bigger and stronger. So should you lose weight?
Sounds like a trick question.

I would if I were you understand what you want. If you want to be strong and lean - remember it is not an either or. You can tidy up the diet work hard and you will get stronger and drop BF at the same time.

As for programmes depends on goals:
Get big quick - Super Squats. Or any 20 rep squat programme. 531 BBB or Hard Gainers.
Get bigger but leaner - 531. A basic programme like triumvirate.

This would be my thoughts on it, make those calories clean, move more and do the walks and cardio/conditioning. But make sure to keep pushing to get stronger in all rep ranges, in your current position you can easily do this even in a small deficit.

I hear you, it is my problem. I want to continue getting stronger but I know my bodyfat may be approaching something unhealthy. I like the idea of being a big guy, a gut like this can never be good though. Perhaps continuing to bulk from here would be dumb. I had originally considered bulking to 210, then cutting to 200, then bulking to 210 - rinse, repeat, rinse, repeat.

How much do you think think i should stand to lose and what timeline are we talking? I think I’ve read before about about protein take during a cut aswell. Anything over a certain amount plays havoc with my digestion.

That is super promising that I may still be able to get stronger in a deficit. Why does my position make that possible? Is it because of the extra bodyfat? I was certain I’d be spinning my wheels with weights whilst trying to cut.

I haven’t settled on what I’ll do program-wise yet. I was leaning towards a custom 5x5, 5x3, 5x1 type thing with BBB sets. Maybe adding just 1kg to the lifts each week?

I more meant from the stop start training and lockdowns combined with switching to a new programme. I’m sure having some extra fuel to burn probably helps too!

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Fair enough. I’ve actually already flew past old PRs before lockdowns so don’t think I have any detrained stuff to rely on. :frowning:

It’s 10:30pm and I’m sat here trying to decide whether to have my usual -600 calorie shake or just one scoop of protein. My fear of getting small is reaaaaaal.

It sounds to me that you already have your mind made up? That you want shot of some fat. That’s cool. If you are looking for validation for this - then take it. You are not totally with out muscle mass. And losing a touch of weight will show some more off.

I would personally ditch the idea of “cut and bulk” for 10lb. And just work hard with a high protein diet. In fact for 10lb I would just add in some conditioning every day. You’ll find the weight drops off over a few months.
If you want to follow a cut / bulk plan. 10lb is a month to 2 months of gain or loss. Depending how fast you wanna lose weight. I would stick to 3 month working windows though. If you change from cut to bulk to cut to bulk too often you’ll never get any consistency in your training. I you want to cut - plan for 1-1.5lb of fat per week for 12 weeks. Then in a bulking phase try and add 1lb of mass.

Yeah when you explain it like that it sounds much more sane. I was just stupidly thinking of ways I could stay over 200lbs which was never gonna be a success if I want to lose any fat. I actually recently got some new clothes that I fit nicely in that I’m now gonna shrink in. Seems crazy to me but I know it must be done to set me up better for the long term.

I’ll aim to just drop 10lbs to start me off and then reevaluate. Try and maintain my workout and try to progress in 1kg increments if at all possible (probably not but will see how it goes).

You think conditioning will take me most of the way? What conditioning do you recommend and I guess pair that with -300 deficit in terms of food? Sorry for the questions - I’m sure you can feel my apprehension through my posts.

Do I need to eat more protein? I currently eat around 130-140g - I actually removed one of my protein scoops a day because it seemed to be upsetting my digestion.

Right - there are two options mixed in one paragraph there.
Easy solution:
Create a calories deficit by restricting food:
300 calories a day is good. Room to restrict further when needed. This should lead to 6lb a month.

Create a calories deficit with extra work:
If you keep your current calories the same as you are now - and added in some hard conditioning then yes would lose the fat. Slowly. Extra movement is the less effective way to lose weight. Which is why I said it would take months to come off. You would however be in a situation where - during dropping your 10lb of fat you gained a little extra muscle. If you everyday you did 1 of the following:
Body weight circuit, Bar bell complex, rowing/cycling sprints, Kettle Bell swings ETC.
Over time - even though you were in a state of mild calorie deficit you’d still add some muscle. If you ate enough protein. This will lead to less of a scales driven weight loss as “I want to lose 10lb” is not correct. You want to lose 10lb of fat. Well - if you lose 10lb of fat and gain 3 of muscle the scales only say a 7lb lose. So you need to be aware of this.

If you have an issue with being more than 210lb and less than 200 - there will be many, many more challenged for you than needed. I’m not advocating ballooning up like I have done. But - this 10lb of “float” is not a lot. Well for me. I can gain a few KG a week if I try.

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Is there a reason you want to stay over 200 lbs? I’m your height, and my avatar picture is less than 200 lbs. Carrying weight for the sake of seeing a particular number on the scale is pretty pointless.

I only really skimmed this as well, but do you train more for strength, or aesthetics? If you’re in the gym to look better, you will probably look bigger and stronger by dropping some weight. I think a lot of people who come from a background of being really small think the fat looks better than it does… just saying. I’d rather be a lean 180 than a fat 210 any day.

As far as making progress in the gym while cutting goes: yes, that is very achievable. I’ve worked with a lot of men and women who have gotten stronger while cutting weight. You only really have to sacrifice strength if you’re a) cutting extremely fast, or b) cutting to an extremely low bodyfat level. Like, for me, if I were to cut from where I am to ‘stage-ready’, I might have to sacrifice some lbs on the bar to get the job done. But where you are, cutting down all the way down to 10% or so can be done without getting weaker. You just have to be smart about where you get your calories, and the pace at which you lose the weight.

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Thanks for the post, and wow you look great!

I have no doubt you’re right on the formerly small guys thinking they look better than they do at a higher bodyfat. Sometimes I get glances of myself and feel a bit chubby or notice my big gut and other times, especially with a pump and a good day of hitting a rep or weight PR, and I just want to keep chasing those numbers. Even today I now have it in me that I want to eat a ton because I worked so hard and don’t want to miss out on any gains.

It’s not so much about being over 200lb being a magic number. I just have a genuine fear of looking smaller and it’s a massive mental change after basically force feeding myself for the past 4 years. It’s felt good being one of the bigger guy’s in the room rather than the tiny one. I have no idea what bf% I am now but know I should be less. Being super lean isn’t really a goal of mine. You asked whether strength or size was most important to me - I don’t really know how I can answer that with a full heart - I keep chasing strength but I also want to look as good as I can. I definitely need some realignment of my goals as it’s a bit hazy at the moment.

hey man, I get it. I’m 38 years old now. When I was 18, I weighed 125-130 lbs. I AM that guy. And I know what kind of mind fuck it can be sometimes. When my weight drops as low as like 180 these days, I feel like I’m wasting away to nothing, lol. So I can empathize. And for me it’s been essentially 15-20 years since I’ve been that small.

For sure, I get that. And honestly, it’s better that you’re aware of that, rather than giving an answer you think you’re supposed to have. It’s fine to want both. I’m a competitive strongman, so at the end of the day, strength IS my top priority. That being said, it’s a weight-class based sport, and as such, staying relatively lean is useful as well. But, I’d be lying if I said I don’t want to look good too. Most of us do, even if it’s not the highest priority. What I’m getting at is that it’s not unreasonable to chase both goals. Which really is why I brought up the fact that you can indeed get stronger and lose weight at the same time. I think if you do this, you’ll get closer to both goals efficiently.

When I was younger, ‘bulk and cut’ was what everyone said was the way to go. You have these bulking phases where you just get fat and put on muscle, and then a cutting phase where you lose bodyfat and just try to hold onto the muscle you built. To me, this is wildly inefficient, and doesn’t actually make sense for a sustainable lifestyle. It only makes sense for competitive bodybuilders who have offseasons.

If you’re doing this for recreational purposes, finding a way to look good all year long, and continually gain strength/size while staying relatively lean is ideal. Sometimes it will feel like you’re growing more slowly, but you have to trust the process, and realize that a lot of the ‘growth’ you used to see was just the accumulation of fat.

So, what does this all mean? If I were you, I would start cutting now, and cut down to whatever bodyfat level you think is where you’d like to be long-term. Not necessarily crazy lean, just whatever suits you. Then, you can add calories back in, but not to the extent you have in the past, and just make small adjustments over time to continue to grow without getting excessively fat.

Hope this helps!