T Nation

Maintaining Strength in a Caloric Deficit


#1

Hi,

I'm new to lifting and have done a loose version of Starting Strength for the last 8 months. After hitting my initial strength goals, I decided it's time to lose a lot of fat (not the result of starting strength, just the result of being generally unhealthy for a long long time). I started eating at a caloric deficit two weeks ago, and I'm finding that instead of being able to do 3x5's on my lifts, I can only get two or three reps per set at the same weight.

To maintain strength as much as possible, should I keep the weight the same and just get the reps I can, or should I lower the weight until I can get all 5 reps? Or do I add sets until I get all 15 reps?

Any advice is appreciated.


#2

How much did you cut your calories?


#3

If you dropped your calories too much to start with that would explain it, you need to start with a small deficit and work from there.


#4

Use a small deficit and maybe consider switching to a fat-loss program instead of a linear strength program.


#5

Why? Keep pushing heavy weights to maintain strength and burn as many calories as possible.


#6

Lol at not being able to maintain strength during a cut 8 months into training. Bro, you could cut for the next 6 months and still GAIN strength. You're still making newbie gains. Even if you didn't gain any muscle during this cut, which you absolutely could, you could improve your strength through better neuromuscular coordination.

Muscle gain and fat loss are both ongoing processes. You need to get fat uptake to outpace fat deposition, obviously, to lose fat, and the converse is true for muscle gain. You don't automatically stop muscle repair just because you're in a deficit. At some point there will be a crossover where muscle repair comes down to match the rate of muscle damage, but that's wayyyyy later than 2 weeks in.


#7

You might try to go back to eating the same calories you were eating, but add a couple sprint sessions in there. They produce a better hormonal response for fat loss than just slow cardio.


#8

I think any good fat loss program will include dedicated strength work to maintain/ build strength and muscle while losing fat. However, the point of starting strength is to increase your working weights by 5 to 10 lbs each workout while eating in a way that facilitates those increases. That is not this guy's goal; his goal is to get leaner while maintaining strength. In my experience people have more success if they chose a lifting program that is based around their stated goals.


#9

I'd echo the previous sentiments.

Just clean up your diet, keep lifting, and add a few cardio sessions a week. You will drop fat for awhile, especially if you have a lot of fat to lose, while still making strength progress.