View Full Version : Gaining strength while being in a calorie deficit
I'm having a really hard time gaining strength while being in a calorie deficit. I know that it's a lot harder than while being in a caloric surplus, but with my numbers I'm still very much a beginner. (Been training for 1 year and 6 months, 5x142KG squat, 5x140KG deadlift, 2x70KG press, all at about 90 kg BW) and I think I should be able to progress more rapidly
This is the second time being in a calorie deficit, as I'd like to stay somewhat lean, current BF% is probably about 20%, and as soon as I decide to do just that, I stall on the press, bench and deadlift immediately, even though I'm just eating 300-500 calories below maintenance. Still getting stronger in the squat though.
I'm currently following the Madcow 5x5 (week 8). Should I be doing a different kind of routine while trying to cut weight? What can I do to optimize strength gains while being in a calorie deficit?
01-12-2012, 07:23 PM
any volume you had before the diet you must reduce, you cannot recover fast enough compared to when you were eating at maintenance or at a surplus. Your body from what you typed, indicates to me that it reacts quickly to being on a diet in order to protect itself or survive. It may be stubborn compared to other people, all that means is you may need to monitor your diet find out what you need to not feel so lethargic or weak. Your diet has to be consistent no matter what, that way you will notice how to curb your hunger pangs. Neurological gains in strength will slow down, nothing you can do.
01-13-2012, 02:26 PM
I would second the advice to cut the volume of training while you are dieting.
01-13-2012, 02:59 PM
I would look into doing something like the Velocity diet (bash me if y'all want to). Research it first, or maybe try a "light v-diet"
I'm doing it right now, about 1.5 weeks in. I feel like I have more than enough protein intake (which helps with the preservation of muscle mass), as well as taking in BCAA's and EAA's throughout the day and pre- and post-training.
I'm taking in ~200g of protein a day (maybe a little more or less depending on the day) and can visibly tell I've leaned out quite a bit.
Let me get this straight though before someone bashes me- BY NO MEANS am I saying the Velocity diet is the be all-end all of diets, but that is just my input.
You may also want to read around on intermittent fasting coupled with fasted training (Nick Horton has written on his blog about his), and look up Leangains.com and read on there.
Most of all, figure out what you can do.
I personally suggested the v-diet only because it was a more short-term, accelerated fat loss plan, and I like to challenge myself.
I think an intermittent fasting/fasted trainign approach can ve very succesful, but it also depends largely on when you train, your lifestyle, etc.
Just putting in my .02, regardless, best of luck on your goals!
01-13-2012, 03:41 PM
I think the V-diet is largely a scam devised to make you live off nothing but biotest supplements and fiber-one for a month.
Some sort of diet based on macronutrient numbers like Carb Cycling is probably the way to go for most. I can confidently say an approach that counts macronutrients (Fat, Carbs, Protein) is better than simply counting calories. Paying attention to these numbers will ensure you eat quality foods. It's hard to get a balanced macronutrient intake on burgers and french fries. You'll be forced to resort to rice, veggies, and lean meat.
Squatting 3X a week on a calorie deficit is probably too much. Doing lots of sets of 5 in the squat is good for gaining muscle and strength while calories are plentiful but there's probably a better choice to be made when you're in a calorie deficit.
Consider a program that only has you Squatting Once a Week, like 5/3/1, a Westside-inspired program, or a typical bodybuilding program. Believe me, whether you are a beginner or an advanced lifter you can progress by squatting only once a week.
Also obviously include some conditioning/cardio into your program to cut fat. Because you'll be in a calorie deficit this is not the time to tear your body down even more with Prowler Sprints or Crossfit Metcon workouts. 20-40 minutes of stuff like brisk walking, moderately paced rowing, or recumbent stationary biking are the tools you'll want.
01-13-2012, 11:08 PM
This is how I gained 12.5 kg on the squat over five weeks of diet during the summer (loosing the last three kg which was very hard since I was already down at low body fat):
Low volume (squat to max, then 3-4 back off sets) and low volume on other exercises. Often I did a max of three exercises per sessions (squats, pullups, military press, bench press, biceps curl, french press, rows, and some abdominal work) with three working sets and sometimes going to max before working sets. This was before I started lifting though but it really helped me and I never felt physical weak (just mentally).
I stalled in the presses, but kept the strength which I consider a victory. I don't know about the deadlift since I rarely go for max.
Most people stall in the presses. Powerlifters I've talked to usually kid that "if you want to be good at bench, be as fat as you can...shorter range of motion". ;)
Thanks a lot for the replies guys. Very useful.
Intermittent fasting doesn't really sound like it'll fit me well because of my job (different shifts) so I tend to workout at very different times. Sometimes mid-day, sometimes early in the morning and sometimes in the evening.
I'll definitely be looking into carb cycling though, sounds very interesting.
I will continue Madcow for another 1-2 weeks to see how it goes. I am still able to progress on the squat, deadlift and pendlay rows. If I keep stalling, I will give Wendlers 5/3/1 a try. I have his ebook and read it several times so I know how the system works. Should be able to jump right into it.
01-19-2012, 03:53 AM
- Cut volume/frequency up to 2/3rds, keep intensity high. For Madcow, you could do this by just doing 2x/WO per week, not ramping the sets etc.
- Eat enough protein. 1.5g/lb BW minimum.
- Program structured refeeds and diet breaks based on how lean you are currently.
- Eat at a deficit. 1-1.5lbs/week, again depending on how lean you are.
This stuff is simple. T Nation and stuff just like to make it look complex.
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