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Time to Eat Big... Lift Big?


Hi guys,
Long time lurker around here!

Quick intro: I’am 25 years old, roughly 5’9 tall and currently sit at about 160 lbs and 16-17% bodyfat (different sources, like caliper and scale).

I’ve lost over 100 lbs about 2 years ago, then made a bulk for like 6 months and now been trying for the past 6 months to lower my bodyfat for 10-12% range. Unfortunaly without to much success… I get down to like 155 lbs and 15% and at that point I’m just to exaushted… So I’ve been training for over 1 year now, 6 times per week with 2-3 hours cardio week.

Recently I’ve had gone to the national bodybuilding championship and had chance to talk a bit with a coach who basically told me… “drop the cardio, drop the supps, eat lots of real food and do a fully body routine 3-4 times a week”

Now this goes pretty much against most of what I’ve been reading on the Internet for the past year where general is recommended to cut fat to around 10% before bulk due better insulin response, etc. So I am just pretty confused on what I should do…

I don’t look fat, look skinny in fact but have a little belly and all (skinny fat I guess) and as such I’m not sure if it will only get worst if I do what was just mentioned above.

Anyone have been at similar situation / experienced something like that? What would you advice?


this advice was good advice. You should take it.


I’d drop the bulk/cut thing first and foremost. On this site alone, there have been thousands of failures and very few real successes.


What is your goal?


My long time goal is to have a complete / good muscular physique – like 10-12% bodyfat at 180/190 lbs or so. I know I’m still very far in terms of lean mass right now… at 17% bf and 160 lbs.


First and foremost, congratulations on your weight loss!

IMO it would be more important to focus on just building your physique, packing on smart mass and getting into the lifestyle rather than focusing on numbers or scale weight and body fat. To be honest your goal is not realistic. If you’re 160lbs at 17% body fat, then to be 180lbs at 10% means you’re walking around in the offseason 50-60 lbs heavier than you are now! Don’t focus on numbers, just focus on your physique.

Cutting to 10% is damn tough to do honestly, the amount of LBM you can build on a cut is limited, especially the harder you’re cutting. I think the best course of action would be to get on a good training program, learn how to eat properly at maintenance to build muscle and not put on excess fat, get some recomposition going, and after you’ve packed on more LBM, worry about cutting. If you’re 5’9" at 160lbs, you’ve got a lot of muscle to add.

Just my thoughts, if you want to really develop your physique, a full body routine is always a good way to go. However, if you’re only in the gym 3 days a week, that lowers the TDEE, ultimately lowering the amount of food you can eat to grow. There’s a big misconception out there that only steroid using bodybuilding should be using split routines, and that’s not true. A good PPL rotation, or classic bodybuilding split, would be a great program, give lots of frequency in the gym, up the TDEE and allow you to eat more. You won’t get fat as long as your nutrition is in check, and I bet you’ll notice some incredible growth with consistency.

Regarding cardio, if you’re trying to gain muscle ideally you wouldn’t be doing any, any would manage your caloric intake through nutrition. That being said, there’s nothing wrong with a couple of brief LISS sessions throughout the week. However, 2-3 hours a week, I’d drop that for sure. Additionally if you’ve been doing cardio for along time, your body has adapted to it and you’d need to do even MORE to get the same results. I’d recommend a solid break from cardio, focus on training and nutrition.


Thank’s Rob for all the thoughts and feedback!

I’m aware I still have a lot of muscle to put on but I would not know if after 1 year lifting that “incredible grow” is still possible?

The reality is that I’m pretty exhausted of spending like 80% of the past 3 years in a calorie deficit. Since I’ve lost all the weight 2 years ago - back then just tons of cardio - I’ve then started lifting about 1 year ago and always with the mind / goal of cutting first the last bit of fat belly…

I will look into drop cardio altogether, focus on eating quality food at around maintenance, look for a good heavy compound lifting routine and see how it goes!


Glad to help man. You’ve been in a deficit for a long time, the body doesn’t like being in a deficit for that long and you’ve done quite a lot of work! It would be highly advantageous to get back to maintenance, don’t be carbophobic, and drop the cardio for a while.

You don’t only have to do heavy compound movements, again I’d recommend a standard bodybuilding split (some might say I’m a little bias) but a good program has heavy compound work, and a variety of exercises, angles and rep ranges for you to grow your physique. CT’s Indigo Hypertrophy workouts are fantastic, the first program I ever did in the gym and man it was amazing for adding strength and size quickly. https://www.t-nation.com/workouts/indigo-project.