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Very Confused Newbie


Hello everyone, let me get to the point.

Within the past year i have lost over 120 pounds through diet and exercise. Im currently 5'6 and about 157 from previous 277. However im stuck in a dilemma. I am now somewhat "skinny fat". That is ive lost almost all my fat except for my midsection. My problem is im not sure how to get rid of this excess fat but at the same time retain/build my muscle. I have read through the articles here and while many have helped im currently confused and have some questions i hope you guys could help me out with.

  1. What sort of program should i be doing in terms of lifting. Should i bulk up first and then go on a cut or try to get rid of this fat first.

  2. What is the true deal with cardio. I usually do it 5-6 times a week and its either sprints or long distance running on the treadmill. Im begging to think im losing muscle mass from this yet i still want to lose my gut so im not sure where to go there. Am i doing to much or?

  3. When i do do cardio it usually immediately follows my weight training. Is this bad? I've heard some mixed things. I will always get home immediately after and have some post workout nutrition but am i risking burning muscle mass by performing cardio after an intense lifting session.

Hope you guys can help as im clueless. Thanks.




Eat slightly above maintenance.

Don't do so much cardio.

Lift heavier weights more often.

It is not bad per se to do cardio following weights, however it may be preferential if you can separate the two. Although if this is not possible its not an issue.


In terms of eating slightly more above maintenance, would this be a bit more then my BMR?. Im currently trying to get in 2000 a day as of now i feel like this is probably good since i workout/ am active 7 days a week. But maybe im wrong?


Some say....barbell complexes are the best way to change body comp.


Time to put on some muscle. Forget bulk/cut for them most part, because most people have that entire idea wrong. Building muscle is simply getting stronger. Have some fun lifting heavy shit, and try to lift heavier next time.

Good for the heart. An intense lifting session will burn more calories in the long run than an hour of cardio, though. I do sprints myself, but I can't stand distance running. If you like it, go for it.

Separate them. Gets your PWO nutrition in as soon as possible after lifting, and gives you an extra session of activity with an elevated heart rate, as opposed to an extended session with an elevated heart rate.


Don't forget to add whey too :wink:

OP - The longer you try to build muscle while losing fat/staying slim, the longer it'll take to reach your goals. Do a maintenance type low intensity cardio (e.g. 5-6x/week) in the morning, fasted except some protein/BCAA's. Eat enough to get stronger/good gains in the gym. In the gym, aim for big increases on key exercises. Dietwise, time your carbohydrates around active times (e.g. workouts, at work etc), low carbs around evening/low activity times.

Focus on slimming the midsection once you've built more muscle.


Thanks guys i will give that a shot. Definitley going to try and lift heavier weights more often. Does the 6-8 rep range sound good? thats currently what im doing now. And its_just_me and jay pierce, Thank you for clearing up my cardio questions thats been on my mind for quite some time. If i have one more question to ask its how to i get stronger while not getting fat if i have to eat more?


You're activity level is what shed all that fat in the first place. It will keep you from gaining too much of it back while you focus on getting bigger and stronger.

Diet-wise, look into nutrient timing, as its_just_me hit on. Protein with every meal, carbs at breakfast and around training times, and balanced fats from good sources at other times. Really helps manage fat gain while eating big.


You have to eat more than maintenance to put on weight - and almost everyone puts on at least a little fat with the muscle. Don't worry about this though - it'll be easy enough to take off once you have a solid level of muscle. You can expect to gain a maximum of 3-4lbs lean body weight per month. If you find you're gaining way more than that, eat less. Most of all, make sure you're eating well (no sugar, excessive carbs etc.).

Let the mirror + camera (it really doesn't lie...sometimes the mirror does) be the judge. Document your progress and try to be objective. If you look better, doesn't really matter what the scale or any other measurement says.


When you are newer to this, it doesn't take that much more calories past maintenance intake to gain well (it's like your body is super sensitive and absorbs everything, putting it towards muscle growth/strength). In doing this (eating just over maintenance), you'll be able to slowly put on muscle without getting fat. In fact, you may even LOSE fat while gaining this muscle since you are training your body to burn fat for fuel (by eating a little bit more, your body speeds up the metabolism since there is no "fear of famine"...also the cardio does this too - trains the body to use the fat reserves).

It's a funny phenomenon that often happens when people have dieted for a while - they can lose more fat by gently increasing calories (at least for a short period). Not only that, but your muscles will fill out more (instead of being flat) and will give the illusion of being leaner.

Once this phase is over (e.g. you gained 15lbs or so), you can concentrate on dieting as normal again (which simply means sticking to your routine but cutting calories).


I agree with what the above have said. Also, no worries about getting too fat (assuming your above-maintenance diet isn't terrible). When you're focusing on getting stronger and actually are getting stronger, everything else generally follows. While it' true and probably likely that you'll put on some fat, the added muscle mass is really what's going to stand out and you'll actually look leaner.


lol@"don't worry too much about fat gain" when OP just went from 277 to 157...different mindset. This isn't some high school ectomorph afraid of losing his hot abzzzz. When you lose weight that quickly, it's very easy to rebound if you aren't very careful. It's good to give your body some time to adjust to living at a lighter weight. Same thing goes for after a prolonged bulk.


^ Sloh may disagree with you there :slight_smile:


I get where you are coming from, but gently adding 10-15lbs over several months is not going over the top (like recommending some ectomorph not care about his abs). No, he may not exactly be complete like a ripped bodybuilder after this phase, but it's a means to an end.

If the OP wants to continue starving and getting ripped at 120lbs, that's up to him, but he asked about getting muscle...and which direction to take. Dieting hard to drop over 120lbs is going to make his metabolism sluggish as hell and create un-necessary muscle wastage, but can easily be remedied by eating a little bit more while staying active.


That's actually what I was getting at. Gently is a great word. Telling someone who just dropped 120 not to think about fat gain is severely lacking in perspective.


True, sorry about my confusion


Thank you again for more support guys i continue to appreciate the advice. Im definitley hoping to not get "As fat" as i was or to add to my current gut. Would 2500 calories to 2700 be a good range considering i workout/am active 7x a week? And in terms of fat gain my diet is defitnitley in check from what it previously was. I no longer eat junk food, eat plenty of fruits/vegtables and try to take in good sources of protein and carbs. However i still want to hopefully gain some muscle/strength and then lose the fat i still have. Once again thanks a lot im going to follow all of your guys advice.


First: congratulations.

Second: stop worrying about fat, start working on strength. Build up some base muscle, 15-25# of gains, then reassess your goals. That's probably a 12 month cycle here. I'm a big fan of 5x5 programs (Stronglifts 5x5, Rippetoe's Starting Strength), but find something that works for you.

You've dropped 120#. You've probably lost a fair amount of muscle in the process, especially if you weren't strength training while cutting. You also probably have at least some excess skin, which will tend to look like flab. At 120# loss, most of it should resolve on its own (the body is very adaptable), though it may take a while (give it a year or two).

Go for a 9-12 month mass-gaining program. 5x5 as suggested above, until you can squat 1.5x bodyweight. At that point you've got a solid strength foundation to look at further goals.

As a long-time cardio athlete (swimming, cycling, hiking, rowing), it's not as essential to fitness as a lot of folks would have you believe.

First: strength training itself is a pretty good cardio workout, especially if you're working with shorter rest intervals. As you progress with a 5x5 program you'll be resting 3-8 minutes between efforts, but at 2-3 minutes you're still going to keep your HR elevated for most of your workout.

Otherwise: I try to get 1-2 HIIT sessions and a third long-distance effort in weekly, if possible. Depending on your age and training intensity, rest is actually going to be more useful than additional time exercising.

Either cardio after weights, or in separate sessions. I split my training days between cardio and weights. It's usually been a 3x weekly strength session (M/W/F), with cardio on Tu/Th/Sa. HIIT is Tu/Th, LSD on the weekends. One rest day per week, at least.

Keep it up and keep us posted on your progress.


Thanks Dingo for helping to further clarify some things. Ive read over some solid material on this site and its guys like all of you that have really helped me out. Im going to eat more and start from the basics with a 5x5 program. I will certainly keep you guys posted of my progress. Thanks again to all of you.


Just a quick question. What would my Macros be if im trying to do a clean bulk? I know protein is around 1.5g per pound of body weight. But in terms of Carbs and Fats? Ive been eating about 200g carbs a day and 60 or so fats is this to little/ to much? Also i take in about 2800 calories.