T Nation

Training While Leaning Out


#1

How do you guys adjust your training when you're trying to lose bodyweight and fat? Obviously changing your diet is going to be the most important adjustment, but do you also train any differently?

Throw in a day or two of "hard" conditioning? Cut volume or intensity? Increase volume? Focus on bringing up variations of the competition lifts that may progress faster than your competition lifts, or keep the focus on competition versions? Just wondering how some of the experienced and successful guys here do it.


#2

[quote]TrevorLPT wrote:
How do you guys adjust your training when you’re trying to lose bodyweight and fat? Obviously changing your diet is going to be the most important adjustment, but do you also train any differently?

Throw in a day or two of “hard” conditioning? Cut volume or intensity? Increase volume? Focus on bringing up variations of the competition lifts that may progress faster than your competition lifts, or keep the focus on competition versions? Just wondering how some of the experienced and successful guys here do it. [/quote]

Throwing in conditioning is something I do when I’m GAINING weight, not losing it. When you’re eating at a deficit, you’re going to want to stay on top of recovery, and that means not taxing yourself any harder than you have to.

I pretty much just dial my diet in as much as possible, and monitor recovery. If I am having issues, I cut out the fluff and keep the hard stuff. I still ensure that I am gaining strength while the process happens.


#3

I’m pretty sure you’re stronger than me, and we are at different bodyfat levels, but, here is how I approached it.

3-5 mornings a week I did 20 minute mostly-fasted incline walks, adjusting speed and incline to keep heartrate in the 120-130 range. I also had 400-600mg caffeine in me. I extended off the ideas in http://www.T-Nation.com/training/ultimate-cardio-solution-disclosed . I drank a solution of peptopro and electrolytes in water while doing this, but you could use MAG-10, BCAAs, or nothing. I’m not sure how much of an impact came from this, but it was something.

Training, I was using the Greyskull LP program, but I generally think everyone should just stick with what they’re currently doing. I don’t think the training itself should change; you already know how your current training stresses your body, so I don’t see a need to add in another unknown. Work hard, focus on improving, etc. For me, Greyskull worked well because I was always setting either weight or rep PRs, so it kept me mentally in the right place. Just do something and make sure you still eat to improve. It may be harder to improve on a deficit, but it’s still doable.

For diet, I tracked things very closely using the Lose It app. One of the most useful features was that it calculated Net Calories… i.e., calories in minus calories out. Some days I trained harder than others, and ate accordingly, but the net calories still reflected things correctly. I also made sure I got a gallon of water a day. I don’t really like the taste of water, so those little MiO squeeze bottle flavorings were very helpful.

For the most part, I worked with a 5 day window. I recorded my bodyweight every morning, and tracked every calorie. If I averaged 3200 calories for the last 5 days, and lost 1/2 lb, that gave me good information. You can roughly say that 1lb of fat equates to 3500 calories, so if you lose 1/2 lb in 5 days, you were at about a 350 calorie deficit a day. (3500 calories per lb / 5 days / 2 for a half pound) Given that… if your average net calories was 3200, and you were at a roughly 350 calorie deficit, your actual maintenance is around 3550. Knowing that, you can then adjust your calories up and down to do whatever with your bodyweight. This is going to be more accurate than any “maintenance calcluator” out there.

The other advantage of tracking your calculated maintenance, assuming you’re not cheating with any of the numbers, is that over time you can see how badly you’re killing your metabolism. If your calculated maintenance goes from 3000 to 2000, but your weightloss has stalled, you might need more drastic measures. I never got to this point, but I just tracked it out of curiosity. There are people in the bodybuilding subforum who can offer good advice if this happens (Stu, especially).

To track the actual rate of weight loss, you can plug in your measured bodyweight into Excel/Google Spreadsheet or a graphing calculator, and generate a trendline. The slope of that line will be a fairly accurate reflection of your actual weight loss. The formula is literally “=SLOPE” in most spreadsheets.

Or you can just not be so anal[ytical] about it and just make sure you’re both getting stronger and losing weight. Not really a big deal either way if it gets you where you want to be.


#4

Sorry for the wall of text. I just realized how much I wrote a lot when I hit submit. Hopefully something out of that is useful.


#5

The main thing I change is caloric intake and monitor weight each week. I do a slow cut of about .5 lbs a week so it’s hardly noticeable. I minimize outside conditioning work or whatever I think will effect recovery. If I feel like I’m not recovering well then I’ll just do the main work and skip accessory work, and sometimes lighten heavy sets because pushing close to failure will only make things worse. I definitely do my best not to allow reduction in work loads to become a common thing. The only program I can’t see someone being on to get stronger while cutting is Smolov.


#6

[quote]LoRez wrote:
Sorry for the wall of text. I just realized how much I wrote a lot when I hit submit. Hopefully something out of that is useful.[/quote]

I appreciate all your input, especially the idea of calculating average maintenance calories. Thanks.


#7

[quote]T3hPwnisher wrote:

Throwing in conditioning is something I do when I’m GAINING weight, not losing it. When you’re eating at a deficit, you’re going to want to stay on top of recovery, and that means not taxing yourself any harder than you have to.
[/quote]

This is a good point and something that I hadn’t really considered before. Usually when I try to lose body fat, the first thing I do is throw in a prowler sprint or KB swing session on the weekend. In conjunction with my dietary changes, this works wonderfully for about 3-4 weeks and I get noticeably leaner while gaining strength. Then my lifts quickly start to fall off, I start looking shitty and small, and I say “fuck it” to the whole endeavor and just bounce back to my previous weight and strength levels. Keeping the conditioning while gaining weight and strength and dropping it while eating to lose weight might be a solution. Thanks.


#8

Glad I could help out. It’s the issue with a lot of weight loss advice out there being under the assumption that weight loss is the ONLY goal, and that anything else is inconsequential. You can go Biggest Loser style and drops weight incredibly fast if one is so inclined, but it’s going to be incredibly taxing on the body. When strength increase/maintenance is the goal, the approach is almost paradoxical. I eat SO much when I’m losing weight, but it’s all meat and veggies, and it’s with the goal of saving as much muscle as possible. I also do SO little activity for the same reason.

In turn, one must endeavor to really push themselves hard when they ARE gaining weight so that they have something to cut away should the time come. So many folks are terrified of overtraining that they’re putting in the bare minimum to progress while eating excessive amounts to promote recovery. When it comes time to cut away the fat, there is no fluff in the program to cut, and the body is conditioned to perform minimally with maximal input. If I’m pushing my weight up, I am training borderline stupid to make the most of it.