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Leanness Level: How Many Weeks Out Am I?

5’6, 150, lifting for 5 years. Currently wrapping up an 8-week cut, and I’m curious how many more weeks people think I’d need if I were to diet down to contest-level conditioning. Am I eight weeks out? Twelve? Sixteen?

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I’d like to compete after I finish grad school (3 years from now), and I’m hoping I can maintain something close to this level of leanness while slowly putting on another 3/lb of muscle or so per year before then. Also might help if I learn how the hell to do the mandatories.

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My guess is your 12-15 pounds over a stage level of conditioning. So how many weeks out you are would be determined on how fast youll be able to loose the last level of fat stores. As you get leaner, the rate of fat loss slows down quite a bit. Plus if you want time to reverse diet youll need to add in another 4 weeks or so, if your doing multiple shows and have to maintain conditioning for awhile you may have opportunities to come into shows alittle fuller or dryer, leaner or bigger, etc and see which look fits you best on stage. The simple answer to your question though is 12-14 weeks out


Sounds like a fairly good guesstimate.


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You look good! And you’ll look even better with more muscle!

Posing needs work. You should smile while posing too.

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Thanks all for the feedback! I know @BrickHead and @The_Mighty_Stu have talked about not favoring traditional bulks. How would people suggest I transition into a muscle building phase with an eye on competing in a couple years? I’ve started reverse dieting to maintenance (adding 150 cals/day in week one, keeping re-feeds at maintenance). Once I level off there, should I just work to add 1/2 pound or so per month until I get too fluffy?

You’re biceps are awesome man!!!

Better pics would help a lot. Take your pics standing in front of a white wall, with bright, direct (ie, not overhead) illumination, and turn the camera’s flash on. No filters.

Will such pics be unflattering? You betcha–but then, the point is to elicit helpful feedback about the status of your physique, not to impress anyone. (The time to impress is with your contest pics.) Much more importantly, such pics will be revealing–you can’t hide flaws or fat in them.

So, no more pics half (or more) in shadow. Face the light, and face the music. In the long run, you’ll be happy you did.


@EyeDentist are these better?

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Thanks! They’re actually pretty small (like the rest of me, lol), but high muscle insertions make them look better when flexed

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Infinitely. Anticipate receiving more detailed, nuanced and useful feedback.

I’ll start. The first thing that jumps out at me is your quads are enormous, so much so that they overwhelm the rest of your physique (including your hamstrings). Given this, I recommend you do two things:

  1. Cut way back on quad work. Instead, devote your time, energy and recovery abilities to bringing the rest of your physique up to match them.
  2. Write up your quad program and sell it on the internet; you’ll make millions. (Dibs on the first copy!)
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Different people lean up at different rates, and noticeably in different areas. Because your legs are showing signs of leanness, it’s easy to overlook the fact that your delts would be much more cut in the majority of people who were sporting your current leg definition.

Lean quads, but smooth delts.
Lean Back, but smooth obliques and shallow abs.

Things like this will cause other gym goers to tell you that you’re 4 weeks out from contest shape, but an experienced competitor or coach to tell you 8.


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@buttwink do this lol

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Thanks everyone for the feedback!

Makes sense. I focused on bringing up my arms and hamstrings this summer, but I was still training quads pretty frequently. I’ll probably drop them back to maintenance volume during this next mass-gaining phase.

@duketheslaya I have a background in cycling and triathlon, so I imagine that the increased number of capillaries from that stuff has helped them grow decently (short femurs help, too).

I’d way rather have lean delts and abs than legs haha. Good to know that I’ll need to keep an eye on my upper body in the future when assessing how ready I am