T Nation

Lose Fat without Losing Muscle?


Currently 190lbs with 18% bodyfat and I want to drop to 8% bodyfat without losing much muscle. I have been training stronglifts 5x5 and then madcows 5x5 for the last year, eating anything and everything, and doing zero cardio. Next week I plan on dropping my weight lifting to 2 fullbody workouts per week and taking MMA classes Mon-Thurs for 2 hours per night, not sure how I should eat yet or if I should take a fat burner.

Any suggestions as to how I could do this without sacrificing muscle mass or strength?


and did you do a search on the topic?


I agree with fr0IVIan, your asking for a comprehensive multifaceted answer. On T-Nation we call those articles.

Once you have read some articles on the subject and formed a knowledge base come back here and ask questions with a narrower scope.


btw, how much weight have you gained in the past year since doing SL and madcows? and how much have you increased your lifts?


You were 155 in September....


.... serious?


Ha, I was about to call shenanigans on that too, but in that thread, he wrote "I'm 5'8", 155lbs lean mass, 30lbs fat mass, 185lbs total".

Presuming your bodyfat calculations are accurate (which they rarely are) and if my math is right (which admittedly, it might not be), you gained 4 pounds of fat and a pound of muscle in about five weeks. That's not the way we want to keep going, obviously.

8% is pretty lean. Not saying that's a bad goal at all, just realize that you're shooting for the stars here, considering where you currently are. It'd be better if you tried to get a general idea/picture in your head of how you want to end up looking, since focusing on bodyfat percentages isn't a reliable or easily trackable goal.

Ta-da. I think I just figured out why your porking up.

This is the third thread you've started about a new training routine in just over a month, including your last thread two weeks ago that mentioned no squatting due to an injury.

I think you need to slow down, take a breath, and focus on one plan (almost any one will do) for a solid 12 weeks before changing things up.

To clarify, does this mean 4 days a week (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday) or twice a week (Monday and Thursday)?

Is it a priority? Like, do you do competitions or is it just for fun? Or, holy shit, are you two-time Olympic gold medalist in Tae Kwon Do Steven Lopez branching out his martial arts career? :slight_smile:

Without knowing how you're currently eating, I'd suggest following these steps for a start:

Absolutely not. Your training and diet aren't in place. A fat burner would be a waste.

Smart training, smart eating, and most importantly, patience. You're still a young guy, so don't think that all is lost if you don't get absolutely shredded by the summer of 2012 (though that's not an impossibility).

Get down the right path, attack your goal the right way, and you can make the progress you're looking for.


This might just be worth a look at.



Kids, that's what happens when you only have two coffees in the morning...

I was wrong

And good advice Chris.


Thanks for the advice everyone, especially Chris.

I think I want to try out Lyle McDonald's RFL? Seems like a quick and easy way to get the fat off while conserving muscle. Obviously I won't be able to do the MMA during that time but I think it would be worth trying.




Yeah, pretty much.

Steve, first off, a cutting plan can be quick or easy, I guarantee it won't be both, no matter who designs it.

I'm not entirely familiar with the RFL plan, but there's a big thread on here about the RFL. Some people like it, some don't. It does seem like you're turning the dial straight from zero to eleven, considering you've been doing who knows what for the last few weeks.

Also, I'm pretty sure I asked a few more questions and brought up some other relevant issues earlier, to get more info so I could provide more feedback, but that's fine, I guess.


Can't save em all Chris, keep your chin up!


I had Charles Atlas....

This kid gets golden advice and just walks away.....

Think I'm going to get a bag of Doritos.


lol...I have not met a person who wasn't miserable and wanting to eat their own arm while on RFL...but go for it brah...you're doing great!


Steve, you'll do what you want to in the end, but Chris laid it out clearly for you.

Me personally, I don't like bulk/cut. IMO that equals 'fat/skinny' - do you want to be fat all the time you're doing 'zero cardio', weights 3 times a week, eating everything in sight? That's the road to fatness and average strength on compound lifts.

Here's some very simple strategies that have benefited me:

Realise RFL diet is not magical, but it is miserable
Eat enough to gain 1-2lbs every couple of weeks (there's no rush). FUCK THE SCALE it should be quality weight gain not just weight for the sake of it
If you start getting too fat, decrease carbs and cals a bit, and increase activity (skipping rope, cardio, weight sessions) a bit
Do some fasted morning cardio (light/moderate intensity) a few days a week, even when gaining
Eat using a carb-cycling approach where at least a few days in the week, even when gaining weight, you have low carbs, say 50-100g. It will help you, believe me. It will make higher carb days more effective (you should still keep higher carb days)

By doing less severe bulks you will need to do less severe cuts - and spend more time in your LIFE in a physical state closer to your ideal (which is the goal, right?)


When someone spends their precious time breaking the whole thing down like Chris did and the person just ignores it, why do the rest of you keep going?

I mean, I could see if we were new to this....but we've seen this enough times. Very rarely do ttypes like this become the types who listen and grow quickly.

Now, the ones who get royally pissed off are different. I have seen quite a few of those do a complete 180 and apologize even years later for acting like an ass when they got hit upside the head by one of the posters who had more experience.

But the guys who just act like nothing was written?


Time could be better spent elsewhere.


It's a shame about the way this thread has gone, and thanks to chris and prof for trying to steer it onwards on such little information.

Maybe to try to move it though on because for me this is right now a very relevant subject and one that i was hoping would go the 'right way' :

My own situation (at 53) is that at just 8 months into training with weights (and decent eating)for the very first time is that just over a month ago i decided on and planned for a quick and hard cut of body fat while i am still making decent beginner gains in the gym.

Background :
Going back 2 years i was in a pretty grim state both physically and mentally and very stressed in my work situation.
I had to turn things around i was slipping into the early stages of metabolic syndrome--and pretty well everything that goes with obesity.
I did turn things around mainly by re learning just to eat proper meals instead of incessant high carb snacking at work and by doing a shed ton of walking--luckily i have always walked and aside from a lot of aches and pains it did shift the weight problem steadily downwards, first year was around 15kg loss.

(starting weight around 105kg and around 90 at end of first period)

I didnt't in any way think of this as 'training' simply a big self rescue and it was only at the end of the first5 year that i started doing anything other than walking..a pt got me to start doing some outdoor running with a bit of calisthenics thrown in.

Then i suddenly got serious (after an injury that layed me up for a month) read everything from textbooks, medical articles, high street books on fitness etc..even the internet !.
(discovered T nation)

Pretty soon i joined a gym, hit gold with a new pt who was really into basic weights work and did a 10 week programe with him, havn't looked back and not regretted a single moment so far !!.
Since then : pretty steady progression : weights generally going up.

So : decision time last month based on :
Me ..height 6ft 1.5 inch and sitting at around 185 lbs but acording to a bf scale still with just over 19 % body fat.
So not a pretty picture..gone from fat n skinny to just skinnier..however with some strength amd muscle coming back.

It might (on those numbers) seem like a strange decision to deliberately lose even more mass but from my perspective that 19% (some 35 lbs) of fat is just a waste of effort to be carrying around--especially given my goals and the things that i want to do.
So : in fact the composite plan was first a quick hard fat loss aiming at around 5-6 lbs over 5-6 weeks and then a longer slower lean build over 6 months ..hopefully ending at around the same overall weight but with a better body composition.

And then repeat !.

Well..a lttle about my method : firstly i did a shed load of reading , once again getting my head in the textbooks and reading what respected t nation authors (like chris thibs) have to say.

Then producing a plan : (short version)

Lifting as per my programme--to preserve muscle mass , lifting as heavy as i can 2-4 times a week (with the right nutrition)
Caloric defecit from diet and exercise.
Lactate producing workouts.(epoc)
Fasted walking.
Further slight clean up of diet ie increased protein and reduced carbs.
Slight change in supplement regime.

Diet and training log maintained.

Etc etc -- i havnt written the whole thing out !--whole thing is written up as a plan each week and then run as closely as work/life allows.

Results so far : disapointing ! ?..well i seem to have at least hung onto what strength i have (even set a new dl pr) but the objective weight loss has been very small !!.
Does not compute !!

So hopefully this shows why i have a serious interest in the thread and have high hopes that the thread might be resuscitated.

Specific questions ? ..no not really, i would like to hear from the experienced guys who have been in a similar situation ..how you did it..what the pitfalls are etc.

EDIT . my own thread is over in the over 35s -with the training and food logs reproduced from my journal : (give the monkey a banana) don't seem to be able to set up a ditect link tonight.



Doing some work.


Those look really solid Big Nurse. If anything, I'd start with lower hips and slightly higher chest...a bit more upright, and try to pull your shoulders behind the bar to start the pull. Control the weight back, falling back on your heels with it.