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Losing Strength while Losing Weight. Program Advice?


I’m 6’8” and 273 lbs. Was as high as 310 lbs 4 months ago. Trying to lose another 30 lbs to get to 240. Trying to get lighter again to enjoy things like skiing/biking/etc.

I’ve only ever eaten at maintenance or a surplus my whole lifting career. I’m eating currently at a pretty severe deficit right now of no more than 1800 calories while I think my TDEE is around 3k.

Now here is my problem/question. This week was the first time ever that my training max has gone down week over week. I used the same weight as the week before and failed on the final set of 5+. Only got 3 reps. So I’m losing strength, and I anticipate that continuing until I hit 240 and stabilize again. How would you go about programming 531 with strength decreasing each week or cycle. Or do I just need to switch to a different program entirely until I hit 240?

Any help is much appreciated

Of course, losing strength while losing weight is to be expected to some extent. I wonder if you could choose a conservative TM (like 80%) and try to hold that during your weight loss (not adjusting up or down, just repeating cycles with it).

Another approach would be to change up your workouts during your weight loss, and let strength take a backseat while you get to your goal. For example, you may see an increase in pull ups, push ups, and dips, and focus on this improvement as motivation.

I would ensure when you test your TM in the 7th week protocol you make sure you can hit 5 good clean reps. Not even close to a 5RM. With that TM you should be able to work a cycle without failing even while losing weight. Just make sure your sleeping and eating protein. Could even test the TM every 4th week to stay on track. If it goes down some every 3 weeks big deal. Im not one to give advice really as i am a amateur. But a true TM (lower than you think) is something i recently learned works wonders.


This is what I think I am leading towards. Drop the weights to maybe 80ish% and then do everything I can to maintain it. And still give me some sort of goal still to try and break reps each week.

Also, with the large caloric deficit, would it be better to keep up the volume on assistance work to keep the muscles engaged? Or drop assistance work considerably since I’m not eating enough for them to repair?

Kind of surprised no one picked up on this. That seems way, way too low for a guy your size. I think the general rule is no less than 10 times your bodyweight. That’s 2700 calories. Even with an LBM lower than that, 1800 calories is super, super low.

So, TBH, I wouldn’t look at fixing training so much as diet.


I’m not sure. Not arguing since I’m no expert. But that whole BW*10 just seems to be too high for someone my height. Plus I’m not exercising too hard. Just 2-3 lifting days each week and LISS elliptical a couple days. Not expending the energy anything like my old college ball days. When I look back on the last 4 months, I’ve been averaging around 2200 calories per day and have lost roughly 2 lbs per week on average. So I think my TDEE is probably just over 3k.

But I think I agree with you, 1800 calories is probably too low. I shouldn’t be losing strength as rapidly as I just did. I need to bite the bullet and be patient and return to my 2lbs per week target and no more. Thanks


Logic prevailed! Definitely do this. Theres no profit from losing a bunch of weight quickly. If you’re following 5/3/1 you’re already familiar with the slow and steady progress mantra.

Also, unless your metabolism is damaged my some other influence, 1800 is wildly low for someone of your stature. I’m at 6’4" and even training light, my average maintenance sits around 2500-2700 a day.


Yeah, I’ll slow it down. Slow and steady…

But about the volume I still have a question… 2 lbs a week is still toward the quicker side of this in regards to caloric deficit. I’m assuming during this weight loss I don’t want high volumes since I’m not eating enough to recover. But how far should I go I’m cutting out volume? Should I just do the main lifts and that’s it? Or can I still do some assistance each session like chin ups, rows, etc? Like just 1-2 assistance exercises of 3*8 per session.

Just keep your schedule fluid.

The only set-in-stone thing i can think of is if you’re following BBB, and trying to cut, just stop and switch to a different program.

Otherwise you may have to make slight adjustments here and there. Jim is always on about eating big on his programs, but you can always lose a bit of weight while maintaining a majority of strength.

As a general rule, if you’re following Jim’s advice on assistance, it should be fairly light, and non taxing at all. You shouldnt have to worry about it. Personally I think the majority of 5/3/1 is extremely light in volume. At least comparitavely to other programs.

I think the best idea would be to back off your TM. if you’re sitting at 85% and arent recovering properly or arent making ANY progress, drop down to 80% and keep moving forward. This will lower your volume, while still allowing you to complete the routine effectively.

I’d train as close to ‘normal’ as possible. If anything, drop the load on the assistance some.

Thanks for the help all!

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