T Nation

Hard-to-Train Situation

Well, this is my first posting as a T-Nation member. (Very enthused) I could go on to tell you just absolutely interesting things about myself, but I don’t want to put anyone through that. So here’s my situation:

I am a 5,6 sometimes 7 days/wk gym goer. I do a cardio session that lasts for 1 - 1.5 hours as well as a 45 - 1hr long training. Yes, I’m an addict. My cardio can consist of hardcore intervals (easy walk up to barely able to breathe to point of puking/steady low pace HR 125/min for an hour/circuit training etc.)

If you could follow my nonsense, I’m impressed. Moving on. Training consists of bis, tris, shoulders, chest, pushups (the real ones) back quads, hams, butt all over, and isometrics with weights.

My diet is pretty strict. I follow a 3 day no carbs 1 day full carbs deal. I stick to 5-6 meals. Here’s a typical day:

On no carb day, no oatmeal or minimal fruit/veggie. Plus about 8-9 full 16oz waters

(Fasted gym session 5am-7am)
Breakfast: 1/2 cup oatmeal and 3 egg whites
Snack: 2-3 egg whites and apple/yogurt
Lunch: 1/2 cup chicken breast and some black beans
Snack: protein shake or egg whites
Dinner: 1/2 cup chicken with veggies or 1/2 beans

Currently: 150lbs 5’8"
Goal: 140lbs still 5’8" don’t want to shrink in height :slight_smile:

My problem: I am changing jobs to where I will be riding horses for about 10 hours a day without stopping. The food is very very heavy. Consisting of meat and potatoes crap. After work it is about 8pm at night and have to get up at 430 to start at 4:45. I’ve done this job before, and I get flabby, not fat…just flabby. Obviously physically hard work all day … but it isn’t the workout my body is used to, so it changes and I loose muscle and get fat on my stomach (probably from sitting in the damn saddle all day).

My goal this year, is to NOT loose what I’ve already worked my ass off to get. (and still not completely there). I’ve debated on getting my own weights…getting pilates videos…running about 30 min a night or something…my dient will be nearly impossible to keep because of the quick-paced, go go go enviornment.

So. Any thoughts?

Get your own weight and do rippetoe’s starting strength in the evenings. If you are worried about losing muscle mass, the strength work will help force your body to keep it on. Try to eat as clean as possible, avoid the potatoes, etc, and lift heavy, and instead of getting flabby, you should be able to increase your muscle mass. You might not hit your scale number goal, but at 5’8", 140 is damn skinny anyways, and if your choices are get flabby or gain quality muscle, you should go with the second one.
Also, you might want to seriously consider re-evaluating your diet, it’s really way to few calories.

Yes, it looks like I’ll have to buy some free weights. Also, so no cardio? I think cardio because my body literally shrinks when I run…yes I cut into the muscle for energy, but if you saw me you’d see how much muscle I could afford to loose. I build it easily. Its the “long and slender” I want.

As far as the 140lb weight goal goes, my BMI is 24 right now at 150. My “goal” is to be back where I was this time last year: to cut the fat and get down to 140lbs and 21 or 22 BMI again.

I lost that number when I went to this job last summer. I’m an endomorphic, so getting that excess fat on is easy as pie. (mmm…pie) Keeping it tone and trim is the challenge.

Thanks for advice…I’ll have to read the posting you talked about.

Yes, it looks like I’ll have to buy some free weights. Also, so no cardio? I think cardio because my body literally shrinks when I run…yes I cut into the muscle for energy, but if you saw me you’d see how much muscle I could afford to loose. I build it easily. Its the “long and slender” I want.

As far as the 140lb weight goal goes, my BMI is 24 right now at 150. My “goal” is to be back where I was this time last year: to cut the fat and get down to 140lbs and 21 or 22 BMI again.

I lost that number when I went to this job last summer. I’m an endomorphic, so getting that excess fat on is easy as pie. (mmm…pie) Keeping it tone and trim is the challenge.

Thanks for advice…I’ll have to read the posting you talked about.

I forgot one more thing:

You think that’s too little calories? I’m on 1250 to 1300 right now. I am attempting to burn off the fat and maybe a little muscle while I’m at it.

I’m all for eating more (I’m Italian, heehee) maybe more protein shakes? I feel like I’m constantly eating already…ugg, no more eggs!

If you’re going to be active all day, and you only have limited time to work out, I would put cardio dead last your list of things to do. Also, as you noted, it cuts into muscle mass, which lowers you metabolism, which in turn requires you to do more cardio and eat less, which in turn lowers your metabolism. You can see how it cycles down. Same thing with very low calorie diets, your body adapts to them by lowering your metabolism. 1250-1300 is V-diet range for your size, and those levels of intake really can’t be sustained long term without doing harming your metabolism. And again, your body starts to break down your muscles unless you lift heavy and often. I would bump your intake to around 1700 a day by adding some fats and proteins, maybe some steak and a salad with olive oil. I doubt your fat loss will slow down much, it might actually speed up, as you’ll be able to get your metabolism back up. I’d also recommend checking out Berardi’s precision nutrition cookbook if you’re looking for some healthy variety in your diet. I think he offers some free recipe samples on his website.
Also, I’m 5’9", and I currently weigh in at 205 with about 18% body fat. If I cut down to 8% bf, I’ll weigh around 185 lbs. At 5’8" and 150, there’s no way you have a ton of muscle on you to begin with, even if it’s easy to gain back (I’m an endo-mesomorph myself, so I know how easy it is to bulk up). I know you want a long and slender look, but losing muscle will lead to the flabby look as soon as you stop your insanely paced workout program.

I understand wanting to be trim, but I’d recommend upping the cals a bit too. Weight shouldn’t really be your only metric anyway.

For example, I’m trying to lose a bit of fat as well right now. I’m 5’6", 160lbs. It’s finals time for me, so I eased up on my diet a bit to make life easier. Guess what, I stopped losing weight, BUT lost another inch off my midsection and stretch marks returned to my shoulder area (from muscle gain). Although I didn’t know it, my body really wanted those additional cals, and responded to them. I’m the same weight I was 3 weeks ago, but I’ve lost a full inch from the love handle area. I may have failed the “scale test” but the “mirror test” shows I’m moving in the right direction.

Ok Ok, gotcha both on all that. I’ll give it a go. it just feels weird to eat that much. So here’s the thing, what am I missing (besides a couple hundred calories)from my regime that I’m not getting the infamous Daisy Duke thighs or the Brittney SPears before she became the train wreck?

I want to cut that fat out between my muscles…that is why I do the circuit and interval training (described in my original “insanely paced workout program”)…and you’d be surprised, I keep it up pretty damn well usually. Its just this damn summer job.

So what gives, cutting fat= ???

As for wanting to be 140 pounds, you probably are looking at the wrong website. Ripps is a great program. If you want I could link it to you, if it hasn’t already been. Meat and potatoes has made plenty of men, bigger, stronger bastards. They won’t kill you. Lay off the butter on the potatoes, and take leaner cuts of meat. Suck down a protien shake and some veggies/fruits while on the job. The best thing you can do right now is to gain even just 15+ pounds of muscle.

Then drop some fat Your BMR will go up, keeping you leaner on more calories after you cut. BMI and scale weight are terrible things to go by. BMI doesn’t take muscle mass into the equation, and scale weight is for anorexic schoolgirls. Look in the mirror, will you look like a middle school boy after you’re down to 140, or a hard working, hard lifting man at a higher weight after you put on some lean body mass.

The choice is yours, but your goals seem kind of scewed for a bodybuilding/strength sports forum, cutting without any LBM is sort of ridiculous. Now I don’t mean to shit on your goals, but this is my take on it. if you have any other questions, others and myself will be more then happy to help you.

[quote]FitAddict wrote:
Ok Ok, gotcha both on all that. I’ll give it a go. it just feels weird to eat that much. So here’s the thing, what am I missing (besides a couple hundred calories)from my regime that I’m not getting the infamous Daisy Duke thighs or the Brittney SPears before she became the train wreck?

I want to cut that fat out between my muscles…that is why I do the circuit and interval training (described in my original “insanely paced workout program”)…and you’d be surprised, I keep it up pretty damn well usually. Its just this damn summer job.

So what gives, cutting fat= ??? [/quote]

Are you by any chance female? Because then the 1200-1300 calorie diet isn’t quite so bad, although I’d still recommend upping your intake. I wasn’t questioning how well you stick with your program normally, just saying that you do A LOT of cardio work to keep your fat off, and when life forces you to cut back, your metabolism is too low to keep the fat off. That’s why I recommended heavy lifting, as it boosts your metabolism for several days afterwards. Cardio burns some calories, but its only one piece of the fat loss puzzle Cutting fat= eat clean, lift heavy, do SOME cardio.
As for the Daisy Dukes, check out http://www.musclewithattitude.com/article/bodybuilding/getting_the_red_carpet_look
for some pointers

LOL I’m sorry, I guess I wasn’t clear. Yes, I am female :slight_smile: Thank you for all the advice. Starting yesterday I took in 1350 calories…I was so not wanting to eat that tuna last night. Ugg. Anyway, I’ll work on up’ing my lifting too.

I seem to do endless “walking lunges” and “backward lunges” and lunges off a bench all with and without weights…I do the silly circuit machines too. Squats with and without weights as well. Any tips for improving that?

I’m ok with arms, abs and back but my legs just seem to stay the same…and when I get more cut, I only see it right above my knees. Past my knees into my hip area is a disaster and I can never get up there. Is it just because I haven’t done enough “long term” work on them or “clean eating” or am I just totally doing the wrong things? (This is where my cardio comes in, because when I’m running for months at a time, my legs are way more toned and lean looking. Not so fat infested)

I’ll look at those other sites too…I realize I’m barking up the wrong tree, but I really love training and training hard so I dig this site.

You guys would be proud, I’m the only girl at my gym who does one legged pushups and decline pushups :slight_smile:

Its the endlessness that’s most likely killing your legs. There are two sides to having good legs. The first is having well developed glutes, quads, and hams, and the second is having low enough body fat to be able to see them. You’ve over-emphasized the second part, but if you’ve been doing endless circuits and other high rep work with your legs, you haven’t really done much to build the muscles in your legs. I wouldn’t go past 8-10 reps per set range for 4 sets per exercise, using enough weight that you go almost to failure. I recommended starting strength earlier, which is 3x5, and will increase your strength and muscle mass. Gain some muscle, and you should start seeing a better overall shape to your legs, even if you don’t lose any fat. Also, I don’t think anyone realized that you where female until a few posts ago, so your goals really didn’t make a lot of sense. I don’t think you’re barking up the wrong tree, we where just confused. Congrats on the one legged pushups and the declines, now try to be the only girl in the gym who uses the power rack.

One other thought. For adding calories to your diet, consider adding some olive oil, natural peanut butter, or nuts. You really don’t have any fat in your diet right now, which could actually be hampering your fat loss process. You could also switch to whole eggs for some of your meals.

Ok, sadly…you lost me with the leg stuff. I understand lower reps, more sets. What do you mean “starting strength earlier, which is 3X5”?

As far as the fats go, aren’t I getting that in the chicken that I get for lunch? Or are you saying more?

Thanks again :slight_smile:
And I did check out Muscle with Attitude, nice.

Starting Strength, by Mark Rippetoe. Good program for novices. Good luck!

I was referring to the Rippetoe’s starting strength program, which I recommended in an earlier post. It follows a 3 set, 5 rep scheme, also know as a 3x5.

As far as fats, when I plug everything you logged for a carb day, I get 1235 cals, 31g fats, 107 g carbs, and 135g protein. The chicken only has 10g fat, and I assumed you used whole milk yogurt. I’d really like to see another 50 grams of fat in your diet at minimum, preferably from the things I listed above or fish, which would add 400 calories and put you at about 1600 cals on your carb days (btw, if you start lifting heavy, make your lifting days carb days and the other days non-carb).

The reason I’m pushing for more fats is that right now you’re trying to burn fat. However, you’ve got a very low fat intake, and your body needs a certain amount of fat to function properly, so it’s going to try and hold on to every bit of it that it can. By adding the dietary fat, you can take your body out of fat preservation mode, and get it in fat burning mode.

Nice. I’m excited. Back to my original problem…is there anything you can think of that I might be missing for my plan this summer as far as my job goes.

I will have free weights and plenty of road (Colorado) to run on.

As for my diet: as many protein shakes and bars, water and my occasional fruits and veggies as I can muster. (Keep in mind, my diet has to consist of things I can keep in a small amount of space aka: a saddle bag. There is no “stopping to sit down, eat a meal on a plate, go to the bathroom” So I don’t want to load up on the wrong things because the majority of the day, I am sitting on a horse…which is how I got the fat on my stomach again. (which is where my lifting comes in?)

Can you see my dilemma? There is no, “packing my meals for each day with the correct and essential nutrients”

Do you have access to a food drier? If you do, you can marinate your chicken and then make your own jerky, without all the msg and other crap that off the shelf stuff has. Dried fruit is also a great space saver. I’ve used similar things when I go hiking.

I don’t have access, nor do I have funds so spend money on something like that…I do have a blender. I was thinking, protein shake with fruit etc…things like that rather than the pancakes and sausage they serve EVERY morning. During the day though gets tough. Maybe make my own trail mix…kashi cereal, almonds, sesame seeds, protein bar broken into peices. I dont want to over do it. I guess we’ll see.

Thank you for your input, greatly greatly appreciated :slight_smile:

Get out of the mindset of losing weight, even at the expense of muscle. Having more muscle will have a slimming effect on your look and will help you lose fat by building up your metabolism. Start lifting like a man. Make sure you provide enough rest for your muscles to grow.