I think Chris has put some excellent food for thought out there and I will share with you my observations of this fat man’s year with a barbell.
First, the lifting. I’ve been running something similar to Starting Strength. For discussion purposes, let’s just call it that. Almost all compounds with 3 top sets of 5. A strength program. I’m very consistent and I lift with intensity.
The beginning is sweet. I lost fat and got stronger without making too many radical diet changes. Win/win.
That gravy train petered out. I started weighing food and logging intake. I lost fat but my lifts stalled, so I wasn’t “running” the program, which was designed with progression in mind, but rather doing the movements prescribed by the program with the goal of maintaining strength. It worked fine, when my diet was in check.
Summer rolled around and I started eating more and drinking more empty calories. Still running the same program, I got stronger, gained a few pounds but saw little change in body composition or how I’ve looked in the mirror. I’ve learned that you can’t out-exercise a calorie surplus, but dammit I sure as hell tried to. But hey, strength gains have kept me engaged in the process of improvement by keeping it fun for me. So that’s a plus.
So what’s my point? I have three.
Chris is right. My past year is an affirmation of his above post.
Diet is the most important element of fat loss. Program A or program B will matter very little if your diet is not in order.
The merits of program A vs program B do not matter unless you actually get out and lift. To paraphrase Serge’s advice in another thread, pretty much everything “works” for beginners. Find a way to lift that you really enjoy that keeps you in the weight room. My results have been far from optimal, but I’ve found a way to really enjoy a positive lifestyle change. I’ve weathered a summer of less-than-perfect diet choices and I’m still on a trajectory to be some combination of stronger, leaner and healthier than I was last year.
I’d just be fatter and weaker if I didn’t find a way to lift that I enjoy enough to do consistently day-in, day-out.
I’m now at a point where I’m taking a close look at my own training, I’m doing my homework and a change will be coming soon. But I don’t regret running this strength program for the last year. Not one bit. It has taught me a lot about my own body and it has gotten me a lot stronger and I’m still about 40 pounds down from my starting weight. Could I be 80 pounds down if I did things better? Definitely. But I’m still MUCH better off than I was before, any way you measure it.
I’m also still chugging along with no thoughts of giving up on the process. Not quitting is very important.
So, back to my first post in this thread, spending some time getting strong may not be the “best” thing you can do. But if you feel like you WANT to get stronger, just go do it. You may lose fat and get stronger at your stage. Or you may get stronger without losing fat. Only one way to find out what happens.
If you really don’t care about how much iron you are moving then you should absolutely try a different style of training more suited to your priority of fat loss.
Whatever you do, don’t let the search for the perfect program or perfect diet get in the way of making a good improvement.
And never, ever quit.