T Nation

Recomp for Teenage Powerlifting athlete

Hey coach!
Just a brief introduction, I’m 16 years old and I’ve been lifting seriously for about a year now, a little less. I’ve been making actual strength gains only in the past 4-5 months with good coaches. My diet isn’t great, I yo-yo a lot with diet strictness and weight. My current weight and body fat is 182lbs @21.2%. My goal is 160lbs around 15% or less while making strength gains, that’s it. I have a competition in early August and I’m on track to set a new national record for the 165lb raw juniors’ class in the USPA drug tested fed. I need to add more pounds to my bench to make the record, but I’m desperate for help.

I hope this isn’t too unrealistic, and I hope you can help!

Well yes and no.

If you had more time I’d say that it is possible. But it might be tough in such a short time. Not so much the weight loss; heck if you only care about making weight you likely only have around 8lbs of fat to lose and you can drop down to 165lbs by dropping water.

But that’s not the point. When you drop weight fairly rapidly, strength is likely to go down. NOT because you are losing muscle, but because 1) decrease in leverage and (mostly) 2) the shoulder joint becomes less stable… there is less packing going on there with less fat, water and glycogen around… all of that tighten up the joint creating passing stability.

Ask any powerlifter and they will tell you that out of all of the lifts the bench press is the most negatively affected by weight loss.

Heck, years ago when I was my strongest with a 445 bench I was bench pressing twice a week. One week on wednesday I hit 425 x 2 … on Friday evening my wife and I took a long hot tub bath. We didn’t do anything crazy, didn’t alcohol or other stuff and I went straight to bed. The next morning I felt really good… and failed to hit 365 on the bench. Turned out that I was 7lbs lighter than usual due to dehydration and everything felt heavy.

When I wa competing on olympic lifting I had to drop around 20lbs to make weight and my lifts dropped by 5%. Not too bad and it quickly went back up, but everything felt heavy.

Case in point you might be able to maintain or even increase your deadlift while cutting weight, you might maintain your squat but it will take everything to maintain your bench. I don’t see you increasing your benc in 3 months while dropping 20lbs, even with zero muscle loss.

HOWEVER you have two things going for you:

  1. you are young. At your age your are begining to be in an optimal physical state to train so you might have an advantage over adults when it comes to gaining or at least maintaining strength while dropping weight.

  2. If you respond well to adrenaline it can boost your strength so that even if your lifts go down a bit in training, they can go back up in competition.

I also don’t like the idea of limiting progression at your age. I understand how enticing it is to break a record. But if you are serious about powerlifting I think that limiting your growth and gains by trying to make weight while your foundation isn’t even built yet is not the best move.

You can try to drop down to 172-175 over the next 6 weeks to see how it affects your strength. Realistically speaking you could be as high as 170-172 the week of the competition and make weight at 163-164 with proper water manipulation (but this needs to be done with someone who knows what he is doing)

P.S. Sure some lifters can drop down 10-20lbs and lift more weight. But these are normally big guys with lots of experience. They have built tremendous size and stability that makes it less likely for their bench to go down when they lose weight. But at 165-180 you will definetely see a difference.

How tall are you?

I’m 5’8

Thanks coach, I totally understand. I’m working with someone with a westside background and he’s done tons of water cuts in that past so I know he knows what he’s doing. I have to ask though, if I wanted to make that happen, drop to 170 and then cut water, what kind of diet do I need to go with?
This is my current diet plan: