T Nation

Starting a Prep Aggressively?

@The_Mighty_Stu have you ever prepped someone and starting off their diet aggressively as opposed to slowly cutting calories, digging deep at the end?

I was thinking that since one starts off carrying extra fat it would be easier and muscle sparing to cut calories lower at the beginning and slowly raise calories. I searched and saw that a couple competitors have done this.

Any thoughts?

You have to always start any prep or cut with a few things in mind:

1- What are your current numbers (diet) and training (cardio) like? Because if you’re already eating almost nothing, and doing a ton of cardio,… seriously, you think you can cut more food and hit the treadmill more and it will be a good idea? -lol

2- How much time do you have? Rushing to the finish line, just to get there asap, but with less than the optimal results you could have achieved if you had kept a steadier pace, is usually not a great idea, and can leave you regretting your haste in hindsight.

3- The body adjusts, and as my clients know I like to say, you “always want to have cards to play.” As you progress, your body will react, sometimes well, sometimes not what you want, BUT, you always need to have options as you assess after each week and make plans/changes for the coming one. If you play all your cards at once,… well, like I said with #1, just eating nothing and doing as much cardio as you can without dying isn’t usually the best idea to achieve your optimal physique.

Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t be more strict, and not planning as slow and steady a pace as someone who has 20 weeks to prep, and only 15-20 lbs to lose, BUT, it should never be haphazard and crazy if the plan is to achieve a physique that displays conditioning and size. I’ve seen plenty of amateurs give up size in pursuit of conditioning, and in the end, even the conditioning isn’t that impressive because they killed themselves in the process and the body shows it (poor lines, no crispness etc).

S

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@BrickHead What did I miss? -lol

S

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A topic much less commonly discussed, presumably because we want to look great now is “recomp”. Any experience you can/want to share?

“Intuitively”*, I’d imagine one would want a slightly elevated protein intake since one is asking their body to trade fat for muscle (and may on somedays end up in a deficit).

*diet phases usually prescribe a slightly higher protein intake (1.25-1.5g/lbs)

To piggyback off of this (and maybe I’m asking relatively the same question), can an individual (non-competitor) reduce calories by a lot initially when start a cut? For example, say maintenance calories in 2500. Can they drop it to 1500 for the first 3 weeks, reassess, then increase back to roughly 2000? Or would this not make sense? In this example, you really can’t drop below 1500 without fat loss stalling, metabolism/hormones crashing, etc. etc.

1500 is a bikini girl prep you shouldn’t get this low. What will you do then if it stalls?

@The_Mighty_Stu I’m assuming the leaner you are, the slower your fat loss should be to preserve muscle/health?

My coach took me down to about 1600 calories before rebound.

What’s your maintenance? How long did it get you to get to 1600?

You covered it all!

Not a good idea for contest prep. It’s actually a very bad idea.

You are not alone:
Paul Carter apparently dieted down on 1,800 kcals
Arnold apparently 1,500 kcals for his whole prep (pinch of salt time)

Stu’s point about keep some cards in hand to play later is key. Play your entire hand early and not only will the body start to adapt and push back earlier than you would like but now it will be nearly impossible to determine what factors are working and what is not.

Minimum Effective Dose.

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It gets like that at the end. I was down to ~1900 for last month but started the prep at ~2500-3,000 depending on the day. And Paul is much bigger than me but I was just as shredded. That says something. @The_Mighty_Stu

I’ll check article. I see they’re talking short time frames. So my bad.

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Yeah, the last few weeks, if you’ve done everything intelligently and methodically, you still may need to make that last deep push. Of course in those instances, you’re already so damn lean, and in the short duration you’re discussing, you’re not really going to lose any noticeable muscle depsite some peoples’ worst fears.

Of course, for a guy of Brad’s size, low 170’s on stage (diced to sh-t, which is a hell of a lot of LBM, and easily walking away with unanimous first place wins, and an easy overall nod for the pro card), to have to do 1900 the last couple of weeks, and a guy of Paul’s size, to do so the entire prep and, if you pull up the pics on NPC online, be nowhere even close to being as conditioned, and not come close to taking either class he entered…

well, IMO (MY opinion! You can disagree, and that’s fine, but in trying to be as objective as I can with the two individuals, their plans, and their results) you can ask yourself if you care more about your final results achieved or being able to go online and make yourself sound hardcore about how crazy your plan is.

S

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