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Should You Really Get Lean Before Getting Big


#1

Folks, looking for your opinions on an age old question.

Is it better to focus on getting lean before worrying about strength training?

Say your body fat percentage is between 17 and 23% and you want to get it down below 15%.

Reason I’m asking is because I’m a pilot and some of the boys in my squadron and I recently returned from deployment having gained some body fat. We are challenging each other to get back into tip-top shape, but some of them think they should just hit the barbells hard and heavy. Some of the others, me included, think it would be better to spend a couple months getting lean and then worry about adding muscle.


#2

Regardless of either goal , weight training should be the principle focus


#3

Hitting the weight to gain and maintain muscle while simultaneously losing fat isn’t unusual. It’s what most actors do to get in shape for a film. It really depends on your goals; getting lean will be faster and more noticable than going on a bulk and gaining a fair bit of muscle AND fat. Again, it really depends on your definition of “in shape”. Do you want to look like an underwear model or a heavyweight? Nothing wrong with either.


#4

Eat sensibly and focus on getting strong. Chances are you’ll lose fat that way anyway, plus you’ll get stronger.


#5

Whether you are “bulking” or “cutting”, lifting heavy things should always be part of your exercise programming.

Ditto what MarkKO wrote…eat well, train hard and let the cards fall where they do. In a few months, adjust as needed.


#6

[quote]TomcatFlyer wrote:
Is it better to focus on getting lean before worrying about strength training? [/quote]
Like the guys have already said, it’s not an either-or situation. It’s entirely possible, and actually preferred, to be lifting if the goal is to drop fat. People that try losing “weight” without lifting (just using cardio and diet) may end up weighing less, but also end up soft, flabby, and weak.

If you guys will be training together during this friendly competition, even better. Pick out a decent program from the site, follow the plan, and push each other every session (without encouraging anything totally stupid, too often, at least).

EDIT - This: "Should You Really Get Lean Before Getting Big"
is a different situation than this: “Say your body fat percentage is between 17 and 23% and you want to get it down below 15%.”

Lifting is a huge part of the plan, regardless. But if you’re 20% and want to get down to 15%, the overall approach and the details will be different than if you’re 20%, 180 pounds, and want to end up at 200 pounds.

To answer the thread title, yes, it’s generally not recommended to try getting big/bulking up when you’re already carrying a large amount of bodyfat. Has to do with insulin sensitivity, metabolic efficiency, and some other factors. But it’s more about being “not fat”, not necessarily getting “really lean.”


#7

If you want to improve your body composition, regardless of gaining or losing weight, then your quality of diet will be important. If you want to keep or gain muscle, then your training should involve some type of strength work with a reasonable progression.