T Nation

Where to Go From Here?

Okay, bit of a preface. I recently started going to the gym 8 months ago and tightened my diet up about 11-12 months ago. Since then I’ve gone from 205 lbs at 6"2 with close to 19% bodyfat to 180lbs with 12.5% bodyfat.

Now the goal is to get into that sub 10% bodyfat range, but I feel like if I get to that point I’m going to look like a scrawny wimp. I’m not expecting to be Ronnie Coleman, I just wanted to have an athletic build (i do lots of swimming/climbing/biking). My wrists and forearms are already friggin tiny since I’ve been training for loss of fat instead of gaining muscle.

That’s not to say I havn’t gained some defintion (i can actually see definition in my biceps/calves/thighs). So realistically, what do I do? I know you can’t get lean and big at the same time, at least not without sacrificing performance.

Should I just suck it up, get scrawny then bulk up? The real fear here is I don’t know enough about how bodys react to gauge where I should go from here. I’d rather not go back to being a chubby monkey just to cut back to a reasonable ammount of bodyfat again. I don’t want to eat like im cutting weight, and taking supplements to aid me in that just to be counter productive.

There was an article that I’d give a link to if I could find it… it was very good. My recounting won’t be nearly as good.

The idea was, suppose there was a machine, called the Fatolator-5000 (not the correct name) that all you had to do was go into it, and you would step out with the exact same muscle, the exact same bone, the exact same everything, skin nicely tight on the muscle, but with bodyfat reduced to say 5% or 6% and having excellent definition and cuts everywhere.

Only “problem” is, your weight figure would drop to something you have a problem with in terms of mental view and self-image, your arm measurements would drop, etc.

Now they’d only drop to commensurate with what your muscle actually is right now – the only “loss” would be the fat that blows them up – but sure enough the weight will drop and the measurements will drop.

Will you do it?

Or is the thought of the lower weight or the lower arm measurements, or both, too much of a put-off?

The fact is you’ll look better if you do it, but the fact also is that many will have a lot of problems with seeing those numbers change.

Anyway, food for thought. It sounds as if you’re be reluctant to step into our Fatolator-5000, but should you be?

Lacking the Fatolator-5000, what may be your best answer is alternating dieting down with weeks at maintenance or very-slow-fat-increasing calories.

For example, lose fat for 2 weeks, and then for 1 or 2 weeks eat at a rate that does not put on more than 2 or preferably 1 pound fat total, then repeat.

This will allow you both weeks where you have every good shot at muscle gain, and allow you loss of fat over time.

Recommendation: don’t fear being more cut!

Most of us probably have this problem. For example, I find it quite disappointing that (unjuiced but carbed up) I can be just over 200 and test by 3 point skinfold at 6% bf (however I’m sure the true figure is substantially higher) but the fact is, to get the fat properly down everywhere all I’m actually good for is very low 180’s carb-depleted. After a long time of being at least 200 and “not THAT fat” when in the low 200’s, it’s a psychological bummer realizing I’m really only good for just over 180, at least when carb depleted (mid 180’s with carbs.)

But it’s the reality. The added fat when heavier is NO advantage.

So this is something that many of us face.

I can relate to your situation since I recently went on a cutting phase and dropped from 20% fat to roughly 7-8. I was also scared that I’d look small as fuck if I lost too much weight, since I already wasn’t big enough to my liking. But right now, I’m finding that I actually look much bigger and more muscular than when I was close to 200 pounds (at 5"10). No regrets really lol.

Just don’t worry, if you lean out properly you will lose very little muscle if at all. Don’t look back, drop your carbs and lift heavy.

Before, people thought I looked big, and I liked it, but I knew that under my shirt I was actually way too fat. Now, not only do I look more athletic but people actually think I picked up muscle !

Just wondering, what do you mean by “training for fat loss instead of building muscle” ? There’s no such thing as “training for fat loss”, you DIET for fat loss. Training doesn’t change much really. You should always be going balls out.

Anyways, hope this encourages you to start leaning out right away, it really isn’t that hard. I can’t wait to do it again after my next bulk, it’s an awesome experience.

Also, in terms of how people see you:

Your shoulder and chest development, for example, is not judged by the human eye by absolute size. If it were, then when we see really fat guys, as they have really big measurements there we’d be thinking Wow look how muscular they are in the chest and shoulders.

Rather the eye automatically and inevitably judges by for example comparing shoulders and chest to the waist and to the hips.

You will lose much less off the shoulders and chest than off the waist and perhaps hips if your genetics are typical. Your “drop” (difference between them) will improve, thus vastly improving your symmetry and perceived degree of muscular development.

In terms of people’s natural, automatic perception, you will appear more muscular at the lighter weight for that reason, as well as the reason that muscle contour will be more obvious.

As a dramatic and extreme example: Ever watch ECW, or in the past Smackdown wrestling and seen Mark Henry?

Now, Henry is in fact extremely, extremely muscular. But he is also extremely fat – he needs to lose about 90 lb I would say. I guarantee that most people’s main perception on seeing him is not that he has incredible muscle, but that he is incredibly fat (and also that he has an incredibly wide and thick ribcage: the eye cannot miss that extremely unusual attribute.)

Batista, for example, has less muscle than Mark Henry and weighs around 100 lb less but LOOKS more muscular and surely looks better.

Of course if you’ve never seen those guys those are useless examples, but it’s possible you have. The same principle applies to your situation as well.

[quote]Kataklysm wrote:
I can relate to your situation since I recently went on a cutting phase and dropped from 20% fat to roughly 7-8. I was also scared that I’d look small as fuck if I lost too much weight, since I already wasn’t big enough to my liking. But right now, I’m finding that I actually look much bigger and more muscular than when I was close to 200 pounds (at 5"10). No regrets really lol.

Just don’t worry, if you lean out properly you will lose very little muscle if at all. Don’t look back, drop your carbs and lift heavy.

Before, people thought I looked big, and I liked it, but I knew that under my shirt I was actually way too fat. Now, not only do I look more athletic but people actually think I picked up muscle !

Just wondering, what do you mean by “training for fat loss instead of building muscle” ? There’s no such thing as “training for fat loss”, you DIET for fat loss. Training doesn’t change much really. You should always be going balls out.

Anyways, hope this encourages you to start leaning out right away, it really isn’t that hard. I can’t wait to do it again after my next bulk, it’s an awesome experience.

[/quote]

When I say training for fat loss, I meant that I was eating under what I put out in a given day. Eating under what my body consumed, as opposed to eating over what my body needed in order to bulk up. Sorry about that.

[quote]Bill Roberts wrote:
Also, in terms of how people see you:

Your shoulder and chest development, for example, is not judged by the human eye by absolute size. If it were, then when we see really fat guys, as they have really big measurements there we’d be thinking Wow look how muscular they are in the chest and shoulders.

Rather the eye automatically and inevitably judges by for example comparing shoulders and chest to the waist and to the hips.

You will lose much less off the shoulders and chest than off the waist and perhaps hips if your genetics are typical. Your “drop” (difference between them) will improve, thus vastly improving your symmetry and perceived degree of muscular development.

In terms of people’s natural, automatic perception, you will appear more muscular at the lighter weight for that reason, as well as the reason that muscle contour will be more obvious.

As a dramatic and extreme example: Ever watch ECW, or in the past Smackdown wrestling and seen Mark Henry?

Now, Henry is in fact extremely, extremely muscular. But he is also extremely fat – he needs to lose about 90 lb I would say. I guarantee that most people’s main perception on seeing him is not that he has incredible muscle, but that he is incredibly fat (and also that he has an incredibly wide and thick ribcage: the eye cannot miss that extremely unusual attribute.)

Batista, for example, has less muscle than Mark Henry and weighs around 100 lb less but LOOKS more muscular and surely looks better.

Of course if you’ve never seen those guys those are useless examples, but it’s possible you have. The same principle applies to your situation as well.[/quote]

Alright, thanks. I think that’s what I needed to hear/read. I think the fear is that leaning out will make me lose that ideal body that I was hoping for. Although up to this point the results have been great. It’s just I’m venturing into that “unkown” region so to speak. I guess I just need to suck it up and keep my ass moving, doubling back now won’t do shit to help my progress.