Hi all, I've never posted before but have been reading T-Nation for about 5 years now. The reason for the new thread is to get some thoughts on what I should be doing in order to continue improving my body composition, I hope that's okay.
A little background: About 10 years ago I had got to the stage where I was carrying a lot of body fat. I had a lot of unresolved issues and problems with self esteem but I'm not going to make excuses I was overeating and not exercising. I was unhappy and tried all kind of fad diets with limited and short-lived success. I was also in a bad relationship and was surrounded by fat people who told me that I'd never be lean as I wasn't 'designed to be' or 'meant to be' a thin person and were more than happy to validate my poor lifestyle choices and make me feel bad whenever I did try to do something about my weight issues.
I'm 5"11 and my waist size was 42", my body weight had exceeded 127Kgs (280 pounds), I hate to think what my body fat % was but it was probably closer to 40% than it was to 30. I had a 2 year old daughter and wanted to be able to enjoy helping her grow up rather than being some blob sitting on the sidelines never taking part or even worse not even living long enough to enjoy seeing her grow. So I got myself a multi gym and began exercising.
5 years later I had made some progress got a little stronger and got my body weight down to 102 Kgs (about 225 pounds). I didn't really know anything about nutrition or the science behind fat loss and I certainly didn't know anything about training so had really spent a long time spinning my wheels and not really making effective progress. So I started reading up on lifting to begin with.
I stumbled across an article somewhere about Reg Park's 5x5 workouts and wanted to try that so I got myself a membership to a gym where I could use olympic bars and weights and hired a personal trainer to show me how to squat, bench press, deadlift and push press. It was a corporate gym so not really geared up for proper lifters, the barbell area was virtually unused.
I did get some newbie strength gains and I was hooked, I've been lifting 5 times a week without fail since. I started reading more and stumbled across T-Nation and haven't needed to go to any more online resources with regards to my training.
For a couple of years I focused on getting stronger and got quite strong compared to the rest of the guys at the gym but my body weight never really changed. There must have been some re-composition as my weight wasn't changing and I was looking slightly less fat, my self esteem however was still rock bottom and I still was carrying too much fat I would have been carrying somewhere around 25-30% fat.
3 years ago I felt so low that I paid out more than £2000 for 8 weeks of nutrition coaching and training. I was measured at 103.5Kgs body weight at 26% body fat. They put me on a zero carb plan along with high rep body part split workouts for 8 weeks and I followed it to the letter. I dropped quite a lot of fat but also a lot of strength too, I know some of the strength loss would have been down to differing leverages because of lower body fat levels and I think I lost quite a bit of muscle mass too. I ended up at 95Kgs and 20% body fat. That was the leanest I'd ever been as an adult, hardly lean I know but it was a huge difference from where I began. I realised that perhaps I could be lean even though others had tried to convince me otherwise. I also realised that a low carb or fad diet approach wasn't a sustainable way to make the improvements I wanted so I sought advice by means of the articles on T-Nation.
I found that articles from John Berardi and Nate Miyaki were a good fit for me so I used these as a template for making the necessary changes what I eat along with limiting starchy carbs to my pre and post workout meals. I also created full body training plans borrowing methods for periodisation from some of the Chad Waterbury's and Charles Staley's articles.
That was three years ago, and I have stuck to my guns. I've been training 5 days a week without fail and have been following a fat loss style nutrition plan since. It's been a struggle being strict with diet for that long but now at the age of 38 I have a waist size of 28", a body weight of 75kgs (165lbs) and a body fat percentage of around 10% (although I haven't had it measured in the past year).
I've tried to keep my strength up and am okayish in terms of strength. My 1 rep max numbers are as follows:
Front Squat (I haven't done a regular squat in about a year) 125Kgs (275lbs)
Deadlift 205Kgs (451lbs)
Bench 115Kgs (253lbs)
Overhead Press 85Kgs (187lbs)
My workouts are still full body splits. I use one of the above lifts in a workout using strength rep ranges but vary the rep scheme. For the rest of the workout I use compound lifts that target the rest of the body but use intermediate rep ranges for my day 1 and 2 workouts and pump rep ranges for the day 4 and 5 workouts. Day 3 is conditioning such as barbell complexes, kettle bell work, loaded carries etc.
I'm still not where I want to be in terms of body fat as I have these weird pockets of fat weighing down areas of loose skin under my left pec and below my belly button and I'm still 'fluffy' on my lower back. I've been lowering my carb intake and have seen some small losses of fat in those areas but they're still clinging on for dear life.
I can't find an article to help me in this regard so I'm turning to the forum.
Guys do you think I should concentrate on fat loss with an aim to reduce the size of these areas? Should I continue to increase my conditioning followed by lowering my calories as described in John Berardi's G-flux articles? Should I look at increasing carbs strategically to gain lean mass and then look at cutting again? I just don't know.
My worry is that I'll just start putting on fat so any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks guys and apologies for the lengthy post, I just felt a bit of background info was required so you understood where I'm coming from.
Some pictures of my journey (I have none prior to 2014 I never let anybody take my photo).