Gaining Strength While Losing Weight

I’m new to fitness and I’m interested in powerlifting. How well do you think I can gain strength while losing large amounts of weight(50 lbs+)? Is it possible to, for example, hit a 200 lb bench, 300 lb squat, and 350 lb deadlift within one year of lifting while I’m cutting so much weight?

Also, I’m going off to university in 2 months and my bicycle will be my main mode of transportation. With my school being located in San Jose, the 10th largest city in the US, I’ll be biking several miles a day which is great for weight loss but I’m not so sure how it will effect strength gains.

Thanks in advance for the help.

If you are big enough to need to lose 50+ lbs you can certainly continue to gain strength and muscle while losing fat. Just eat clean and have good pre-, peri-, and post-workout nutrition.

Depending on how much you weigh/how tall you are those numbers should be easy to hit while cutting. When you are untrained you can get stronger while cutting just by getting better/more efficient at the lift; once you hit a certain strength level, however, it becomes increasingly difficult to get stronger on a calorie deficit.

Somewhat off topic but there’s a message at the bottom of the screen that says my posts must be approved by a moderator before appearing on this site. Yesterday I made this thread at 8 pm but it didn’t appear on the forum. I checked again at 10 pm and it still didn’t appear until sometime after that (don’t know when because I was sleeping by then).

Is this an all the time thing or is it just because I’m a new member? It 's weird that my posts don’t appear on the forum until a few hours after I submit them.

Yes, you can hit those lifts within a year with a good training plan while losing 50lbs of fat, even if you were to lose a little muscle along with the fat. However, being untrained and I’m guessing 17-19 years old, I bet you’ll gain muscle as well. You’re going to be amazed at your results if you stick with it.

you can’t serve two masters or you’ll do both 1/2 ass. Instead focus on dropping the body fat. You’ll be healthier than you would heavy and those strength gains will come easier later, putting you far ahead than you would be by trying to do both at the same time. I’m not saying turn into a cardio chick, but don’t sweat it if you “lose” some strength in the process. Judging by the numbers you posted in the firt thread you ain’t working with much anyways so there is little to ‘lose’ yet all to gain.

twojarslave is an example of a guy who started from obese, sedentary slob and has built quite an impressive base of strength while losing some fat. Check out his log (Slowly Changing from Pear-Shaped to Barre-Shaped), as you look like you’re trying to fight the same battle he has been for the past year or so.

The short answer is yes, it is possible if you have basically been sedentary. Are you presently…


If the answer to those is “yes”, good things will happen if you pick up a barbell. There may be more optimal ways to get to your goal. Strengthdawg recommended slimming down first, and there is wisdom in that, but it is not the only path to success.

I firmly believe that the best exercise is the exercise that you do. If you are interested in powerlifting then you should start powerlifting. It is better than sitting on your ass, waiting to die from a preventable disease.

As you progress you will hit a wall where you have to choose between dropping fat or building strength. That’s where I am at now. But you could have several months of simultaneous fat loss and strength gains. I don’t have precise measurements, but off the top of my head I’d say I dropped 30 lbs with very little attention given to diet, simply by being consistent and lifting heavy 3x week. During this time I built my strength up well past the numbers you mentioned. Your individual mileage may vary, of course.

Get moving, work hard and never quit. You’ll be fine.

Yeah, I’m pretty fat and unconditioned. I actually have more like 100-110 lbs to lose but I’m setting 50 as my 1st milestone to hit. I have a fair bit of natural strength although I’m still weak compared to most experienced lifters.

I have 2 sets of strength goals to meet by this time next year:
My modest/realistic goals are the ones posted above: 200 bench, 300 squat, and 350 deadlift.

My ambitious/overreaching goals are 225 bench, 365 squat, and 405 deadlift.

Totally do-able. You can probably even aim higher, strength-wise. You should, however, have realistic expectations for what it will take to get there. You will not be able to lift your way to lean.

You can lift and diet your way to lean.

You can lift, cardio and diet your way to lean.

You can cardio and diet your way to lean.

You can diet your way to lean.

Notice the common denominator here? No matter what path you choose, you will not get significantly leaner without making diet adjustments. But don’t overthink things… yet. Start doing something today. If you don’t change anything about your diet but start powerlifting, you will see improvements if you are consistent. Just be aware that you will probably not be able to ride the wave of simultaneous fat loss and strength gains all the way to 10% bodyfat.

Just be aware that you will have to choose your master at some point.

And never quit.

If you are out of shape bad enough to actually lose 100+ pounds then yes you can easily gain muscle and strength while dropping fat. Hell you probablyu wouldn’t even really need to “diet” in order to drop the 50lbs in say a year. Just cleaning up what you eating and focusing on getting stronger you will naturally lean out fairly easily.

Reed just described my first five or so months with a barbell. There is no reason you cannot do just as good as I did. In fact, you can almost certainly do much better than I did.

Get to work, young man.

Thanks guys, now I’m inspired to go lift some heavy weight. My gym access is pretty irregular right now since I have no car and I live in a mess of suburban sprawl that makes pedestrian travel impossible. However, when I get to college in 2 months I’ll be able to go whenever I want. In the mean time I’m mainly doing bodyweight and cardio.

I’m not running any programming since I can’t get to the gym consistently enough to follow one but I’m starting one in 2 months. What program should I run?

The 2 that have caught my eye the most are Starting Strength and Candito’s linear program.

There is no shortage of great beginner programs. I think the some of the more important things to look for when selecting your program are…

  1. Goals and expectations. Don’t do Arnold’s 6 day high volume bodypart split or a program designed for an elite powerlifter. You are not Arnold, you are not an elite powerlifter and you are not on AAS. You are a beginner. I think you understand this already.

  2. Schedule. Don’t pick a 4 day upper/lower split if you will only be able to consistently lift for 3 days per week. Pick a program that you are in a position to follow day-in, day-out. On that note, 3 days per week is probably the low end of frequency. You will make some gains with 2 days per week compared to your present state, but don’t expect much. You can definitely get very, very strong running a 3 day per week full body, however.

  3. The lifts. If you are interested in powerlifting, you should obviously get some practice with the powerlifts. Choose a program centered around the big basics. There is just no bigger “bang for your buck” at your stage than compounds. You can get very strong without ever touching the cable machine and without ever doing a single set on the pec deck. There’s nothing wrong with either, but think about how you spend your time in the gym and whether or not it is getting you closer to your goals. I think you understand this already, too.

An added bonus of focusing on squatting, deadlifting, pressing, etc is it will give you an opportunity to quickly surpass the strength of the many “bros” you will see at your college gym doing bicep curls and bouncing the bar off their chest on the bench. This was helpful to me mentally, and served as an affirmation that I was doing something right. Just don’t be a dick about it and gloat or anything like that. Keep your head down and do your thing.

Short answer: I don’t think there is anything wrong with Stronglifts. I am not sure about the other one you mentioned. I am sure some lifters with more time under the bar could recommend other beginner programs that will help you meet your goals. Pick something sensible, follow the program and get to work.

And never quit.