T Nation

Program Parameters (Any Template) During Caloric Deficit?

I just finished my first ever 3 cycles of 531. (2) BBB, followed by a 7th week deload, then I did a cycle of PR sets/Jokers/FSL(5x5), and I’m now ready to either test my TM’s or begin a new training cycle. I’ve been on a deficit for 2 weeks now though. I’m at 2525 cal/day, down from my bulking cals @ 3400.

While I know there’s no specific “templates for cutting”, I was wondering about the general training parameters. Is it pointless to adhere to a 2x Leader, 1x Anchor prescription due to the deficit? The only reason I’m wondering is because this entire program(531) is for getting you stronger, and for me, it has. But on a cut, I doubt I’ll be making much progress in the gains department. If I weren’t on a cut, I would very likely do another 2 cycles of BBB(@FSL), but after doing my last cycle of PR’s, Jokers and 5x5FSL, I know there’s no chance I would manage BBB in my energy balance right now.

I thought a lot about this last night and wondered if I should just do an Anchor template for the duration of my cut, then begin back with the standard training parameters once I’m at least to maintenance eating?

If it helps, I’m 40/M, 186lb and all of my lifts (except squat, I know, I know) are in the “intermediate” range on StrengthLevel .com

What (specifically) do you recommend? Thanks!

Think of it in relative terms. Take any training program and any training template. If your goal is strength and you believe your current set up is the best way for you to get strong then that will not change just because your diet has. What you have possibly changed is your ability to recover. This can be sleep, and additional physical or mental stress as well. So if this setup is the best way for you to get strong then it will still be the best way for you to get strong with a hindered ability to recover. If you have to change things because your recovery is so poor you find you dont have the energy to get through a workout then I think you will know what to do without affirmation. You seem like you know what your talking about. Trust your gut.

Well, my cut wasn’t affecting me too much the first couple weeks, but it’s definitely harder to make it through a training session now. Today I did day 1 of my TM testing. Worked my way up to the TM, hit it 5 times, then I was off to my assistance exercises. Man, it’s just getting rough. Plus, my recovery in between sets has been reduced as well - probably due to the deficit. Obviously I can’t do BBB, there’s no way. So my instinct was to just run something simple, like either 5/3/1 or 5’s pro for my main work, then just 5x5@fsl, then on to assistance. At that point it occurred to me, that is more or less a Anchor template. So then I began wondering if it doesn’t just make sense to run an Anchor temp until I’m back to maintenance. If I’m going with my gut, I’d just do that. Unfortunately, I don’t know a fraction of what Jim knows, and I generally follow his routines to a ‘t’ for that reason. I probably did read it, but I don’t remember Jim talking about cutting very much in Forever. That would make sense, because his M.O. is Strength First - or so I figure. So I’m confused. Stay the course exactly, or alter the course due to reduced energy and recovery.

One Idea I have is to just run Triumvirate for the duration of the cut. Again though, on its face, Triumvirate seems like a Anchor Template.

You have a TM to manage days when you are fatigued, beat up, slept for 2 hours, under the weather, etc. It should hold you through periods of calorie deficit. I’d say to you:

  • consider focussing on conditioning and cleaning up your diet
  • pick your TM wisely
  • dont cut back on food too much
  • make sure your training is fueled (if you’ve continuously eaten a carrot in the 12 hours before training, expect poor results)
  • dont freak out about this and expect your training to suffer as your training is likely to reflect your mindset. You’ve cut some calories out, not your leg off.
  • monitor your training and performance and adjust along the way.

Can you elaborate on your first point about the TM to manage days when I’m fatigued, etc? I’m just not understanding within the context. If I may, I just wanted to comment on a couple points you made. My TM that I’ve been using is 85%. I began using that with BBB as outlined in Forever(because I do my BBB sets @FSL) and then just stuck with it. So, far as I can tell, I’ll be using 85% permanently. For food, I was bulking at 3400/day and now I’m at 2525 per day, which is netting me 1 - 1.2lb weight loss per week. My bodyweight is currently 186.6 so I figure my rate of loss is near perfect - would you agree? Far as fueling my training, I eat the same exact thing every single day, and at the same times. 7am, I eat 2 whole eggs and 2 egg whites with a toasted(plain) english muffin. Then at 9:45 I eat 1/2c plain oatmeal and 1 banana, then immediately go to the gym. So, you could say I’m running on the oatmeal and banana which I think is a reasonable amount of carbs - also, would you agree?

Far as freaking out over things, I’ve always been the mountain out of a mole hill type. I analyze everything to death. I always want optimum everything. Training has been a great outlet for that, but I suppose it’s also sort of an enabler for the OCD’ish behavior.

I’d read the books for deeper details around the TM but the general idea is it allows you to train regardless of what life throws at you. A few less calories for a period of time is on the lower end of concerns for the situations the TM covers you for.

This is a great opportunity to practice some skills in analysing less. Let’s say everything goes wrong because you didn’t consider every last detail. What’s the outcome? You’re not as lean and not as big as you might have been? It isn’t a big risk you’re taking. Training teaches you some great lessons.

Some really good info have been put up in this thread already, but I will chime in with my own two cents as I can relate to you in some fashion.

I too have been trying to figure out how to adjust my training to account for an extended caloric deficit. Though I am in a bit different situation than you (27/M 250lbs, 30%+ body fat) the principles are going to be the same.

Start light, progress slowly, set PRs, and focus on compound movements. So in applicable training terms set your TM correctly and choose a program/template that is appropriate. Likely one that isn’t explicitly built to add mass (ie BBB). From what I have read, during a caloric deficit you can cut back your trainining volume to a 1/3 of your normal volume but keep the intensity high. If your already at a 85% TM, perhaps choose a template and build flexibility into it. So you could work up to your TM for anywhere from 1-5 reps and then do 3-5 sets of higher intensity supplemental (SSL, 80-85% 3-5x3-5). Maybe deadlift less and squat twice a week breaking up your supplemental and main work to assist in recovery. Remember that your best bang for your buck is your big compound movements, so don’t be afraid to downgrade, reduce, or cut out your assistance work completely if your having recovery problems. The same applies to conditioning.

As you work through your next training cycles, eventually your work capacity will bottom out as your weight goes up. IE your training will begin to suffer and you will know that to continue to recover properly you will need to either increase calories, or adjust your training. When you hit this point is probably going to depend on how much fat you have on your body. In my case I can probably sustain a caloric deficit longer than someone who is at 15% body fat, so your going to have to consider that as well.

In the end, stick to the principles of the program. 5;s Pro and FSL 5x5 is probably as good a place to start as any as you have lots of flexibility built in with supplemental assistance and conditioning. It is also both an Leader and an Anchor and you can run it all the live long day if you want. If your still unsure, just run it to completion, look at the results, and learn from them.