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JT111
03-25-2011, 04:59 PM
I've been on the 5x5 program for around 2 months now bulking and would like to lean up for summer!

I understand a gradual caloric defect is needed to strip the fat away. My question is, how do i retain all the muscle i have built in the best way possible. I tend to add weight and drop quickly, but i get very weak quickly during a cut back. I will be keeping the protein high, (200-250ish grams). My stats are 198 @ 15-18% BF. Idealy i 'd like to hit around 12ish, im not interested in being super lean, but would like my muscle to show more than it is now!

Should i try and hit the same weights as i am now, but with less volume and added cardio? (I 'm following the SL 5x5)

Thanks in advance to all your help guys!

SDS
03-25-2011, 05:10 PM
No real reason to change your routine. Just start dropping calories by 250/day for a week, then cut another 250/day for a week, etc, till you get to around 1k/day below maintenance. You should lean out fairly easily like that, but you will lose some muscle. It's kind of trial and error the first couple times you cut, so keep an eye on the scale and how you look and how your strength is holding up and adjust calories as necessary. It's better to do it slowly than too fast.

jAy_Dub
03-25-2011, 05:12 PM
I'd recommend keeping the weights as heavy as you can to maintain the muscle you have. As far as volume goes, whatever has worked for you to grow is fine for a cut.

A successful cut is going to be based more off of a smart diet, not a certain routine. Of course there is always exceptions, if you're over training on your routine then it will make it that much harder to keep muscle while cutting.

I'd definitely add in cardio. How much? That will depend again on diet. Would you rather eat more and do more cardio or eat less and not have to do as much cardio? All up to your preferences.

JT111
03-25-2011, 05:14 PM
No real reason to change your routine. Just start dropping calories by 250/day for a week, then cut another 250/day for a week, etc, till you get to around 1k/day below maintenance. You should lean out fairly easily like that, but you will lose some muscle. It's kind of trial and error the first couple times you cut, so keep an eye on the scale and how you look and how your strength is holding up and adjust calories as necessary. It's better to do it slowly than too fast.

Sure, what sort of drop should I be looking for? say 1lbs per week? If i go down further should up the cals slightly?

chevelle2291
03-25-2011, 05:16 PM
JT, you'd prolly get a bit more help in the diet forum. :)

JT111
03-25-2011, 05:20 PM
I'd recommend keeping the weights as heavy as you can to maintain the muscle you have. As far as volume goes, whatever has worked for you to grow is fine for a cut.

A successful cut is going to be based more off of a smart diet, not a certain routine. Of course there is always exceptions, if you're over training on your routine then it will make it that much harder to keep muscle while cutting.

I'd definitely add in cardio. How much? That will depend again on diet. Would you rather eat more and do more cardio or eat less and not have to do as much cardio? All up to your preferences.

Thanks for the advice, really helpful!! Are there articles here you would recommend for diets? I'm a university student so i really cant splash out too much on food, sometimes i have to substitute.

I found that i respond well to the added cardio so i think i'll whack in some interval training!
One other point about volume, i've hit the 5x5 for 2 months as mentioned, however recently it has caught up with me, i dont think my shoulders have been recovering in time for my bench (i've missed lifts 2 times now). Although its taken 2 months to catch up, with a defect should i drop the volume if i am on a caloric defect?

Thanks for your time, its greatly appreciated.

JT111
03-25-2011, 05:23 PM
JT, you'd prolly get a bit more help in the diet forum. :)

DAM Your right! Why the hell did i post here? Erugh i 'm loosing it!

Oh also i have to add a big big thank you for your advice!! (If you don't remember you recommended the 5x5 which i have followed!)

Just for info, i 've added 14 pounds in two months!! of which i think 9-10 is muscle. Before the 5x5 i was stuck on 182, and had been for 5 months prior!!

SDS
03-25-2011, 05:24 PM
Sure, what sort of drop should I be looking for? say 1lbs per week? If i go down further should up the cals slightly?

1lb/week is the general rule but you're going for a lower bf% and not necessarily a lower weight. How you look is probably more important than what you weigh.

JT111
03-25-2011, 05:28 PM
1lb/week is the general rule but you're going for a lower bf% and not necessarily a lower weight. How you look is probably more important than what you weigh.

Sure, thanks alot for your help! :)

Dan Fanelli
03-25-2011, 06:09 PM
Some good advice so far. Only thing I can add is that I would drop the volume a bit. Say now you are squatting 300 for 5x5. (I'm assuming this is what you are doing). Well instead of straight sets, ramp up to 1-3 sets of 5. IMO being able to do 1-2 sets of >300 for 5 would be better than 5 sets of 5 at the lighter weight.

Other than that, a bit of cardio or HIIT will speed things up, and low intensity fasted walking can be added without interfering at all.

JT111
03-25-2011, 06:28 PM
Some good advice so far. Only thing I can add is that I would drop the volume a bit. Say now you are squatting 300 for 5x5. (I'm assuming this is what you are doing). Well instead of straight sets, ramp up to 1-3 sets of 5. IMO being able to do 1-2 sets of >300 for 5 would be better than 5 sets of 5 at the lighter weight.

Other than that, a bit of cardio or HIIT will speed things up, and low intensity fasted walking can be added without interfering at all.

Sure, so ramping weights to third set? This makes sense, i dont think i would recover in time if i was to keep the 5 sets.

Please could you explain 'HIIT' seen alot of people mention it, but never fully understood what it is, is it related to Mike Menzer or something?

Thank you for your help, its much appreciated!!

Off Road
03-25-2011, 07:00 PM
Please could you explain 'HIIT' seen alot of people mention it, but never fully understood what it is, is it related to Mike Menzer or something?
Mike Mentzer = HIT
Conditioning = HITT

HITT conditioning is like sprints or complexes...short bursts of very hard work followed by short rest periods or lower intensity.

Behemoth
03-25-2011, 07:39 PM
Do things as gradual as possible. Don't add cardio unless you need to. Don't do more than you have too. The easiest was to lose muscle is to try to force bodyfat loss moreso than coax it.

RichMcGuire
03-25-2011, 09:21 PM
I agree that gradual fat loss is the best way to go. 1-2 lbs a week is good. Also, I highly, highly doubt you'll drop any muscle going down to 12% bf. Either way, what worked to build your muscle should also work to maintain it. The only thing you might consider is lowering volume since you'll have less kcals to recover with - but it can vary a bit depending.

Dan Fanelli
03-25-2011, 10:02 PM
Sure, so ramping weights to third set? This makes sense, i dont think i would recover in time if i was to keep the 5 sets.

Please could you explain 'HIIT' seen alot of people mention it, but never fully understood what it is, is it related to Mike Menzer or something?

Thank you for your help, its much appreciated!!

Ass Off Road pointed out, HIIT is basically cardio done as intensily as possible. Its a powerful tool, but can very easily be misused. Also as Behemoth suggested, its a good idea to only do what is needed to progress.

By cutting calories, cleaning up the diet, and progressing in strength on a lower volume routine you should lose fat and possibly even build a bit of muscle. Add in the very low intensity walking, because it wont interfere with recovery (it actually may help) and it will burn extra fat. From there, if you are maintaining strength, but not losing fat fast enough you can choose to cut calories further, or add in the HIIT 1-2x per week.

I personally would go with HIIT over cutting calories, even if I had to eat a bit extra to recover from it. HIIT will not only burn fat, but will also build/maintain muscle. Just be smart about it, and ease into things.

Behemoth
03-26-2011, 05:31 AM
I don't know where this recent fad of "lowering the volume when you cut" came from and why it has become so fashionable to advise. When you start a diet you try to change as little as possible. You dance with the shoes that brought you... meaning you don't alter training if it was optimal for building the muscle. If you have to lower the volume later then fine, but don't just lower it out of anticipation. People are too finicky before and during a diet and that's what screws most people up. Its best to just remain calm and consistent.

JT111
03-26-2011, 06:20 AM
I don't know where this recent fad of "lowering the volume when you cut" came from and why it has become so fashionable to advise. When you start a diet you try to change as little as possible. You dance with the shoes that brought you... meaning you don't alter training if it was optimal for building the muscle. If you have to lower the volume later then fine, but don't just lower it out of anticipation. People are too finicky before and during a diet and that's what screws most people up. Its best to just remain calm and consistent.

Ok sure, I guess ill run the volume for as long as i can. I just feel like i wont recover quick enough without the extra food in my system.

Thank all above also for your input! :)

Off Road
03-26-2011, 07:52 AM
Ya, whatever volume had you progressing in the first place should be maintained when starting a cut. If the lifts start to tank then you can reduce the volume or exercises to try and maintain the big lifts. I also think whatever amount of conditioning you've been doing should be maintained too, not increased. Later when weight loss slows and you've reduced the calories a lot, then throwing in some extra exercise will help. If you are not doing any conditioning when starting a cut, start doing some walking. That way if you need to throw in some extra cardio later you won't be completely out of shape.

At least that's the way I've always understood it...

RichMcGuire
03-26-2011, 10:07 AM
I don't know where this recent fad of "lowering the volume when you cut" came from and why it has become so fashionable to advise. When you start a diet you try to change as little as possible. You dance with the shoes that brought you... meaning you don't alter training if it was optimal for building the muscle. If you have to lower the volume later then fine, but don't just lower it out of anticipation. People are too finicky before and during a diet and that's what screws most people up. Its best to just remain calm and consistent.

Nothin' recent about it. It's been suggested and practiced for a long time by many natural bodybuilders. But I do agree that you dont need to bother doing it when starting a diet..its more pratical when someone is getting to a really low bf%. And 12 isn't what I consider low - thats normal to me.

Behemoth
03-26-2011, 10:20 AM
I've seen it suggested a lot lately. Lowering the volume can be the right move down the road but it should not be treated as a general dieting pointer or rule of thumb. One is better off not going off with as drastic of a deficit than changing what he dialed in to build his muscle, and only a fools diet is so severe that his training can't keep up initially.

RichMcGuire
03-26-2011, 10:24 AM
Ok sure, I guess ill run the volume for as long as i can. I just feel like i wont recover quick enough without the extra food in my system.

Thank all above also for your input! :)

It's possible that you won't. But more than likely you'll be fine considering the amount of stored energy you have from your adipose tissue. Not only that, it takes a good bit of time for your hormones to level off. But again, you're aiming for 12%. Thats not even close to a low bf%.

I guess in general, as long as you can keep the weight on the bar and maintain that tension, you'll be fine. If your weights start to drop, you might consider lowering volume slightly because you may not be recovering. Lowering the weights you use while in a Caloric deficit is not the most brilliant idea. But I highly doubt you'll have to worry about any of that or try to do anything fancy to avoid catabolism getting to 12% bf. Unless you just decide to one day stop eating and starve yourself for a few weeks, I don't see how you'll have trouble holding onto the muscle you built.

RichMcGuire
03-26-2011, 10:26 AM
I've seen it suggested a lot lately. Lowering the volume can be the right move down the road but it should not be treated as a general dieting pointer or rule of thumb. One is better off not going off with as drastic of a deficit than changing what he dialed in to build his muscle, and only a fools diet is so severe that his training can't keep up initially.

I think you're absolutely correct and we should be more careful about handing it out as cookie cutter advice with someone just starting a diet or wanting to drop down to a lofty 12%.

JT111
03-26-2011, 11:30 AM
It's possible that you won't. But more than likely you'll be fine considering the amount of stored energy you have from your adipose tissue. Not only that, it takes a good bit of time for your hormones to level off. But again, you're aiming for 12%. Thats not even close to a low bf%.

I guess in general, as long as you can keep the weight on the bar and maintain that tension, you'll be fine. If your weights start to drop, you might consider lowering volume slightly because you may not be recovering. Lowering the weights you use while in a Caloric deficit is not the most brilliant idea. But I highly doubt you'll have to worry about any of that or try to do anything fancy to avoid catabolism getting to 12% bf. Unless you just decide to one day stop eating and starve yourself for a few weeks, I don't see how you'll have trouble holding onto the muscle you built.


Thanks Rich, really helpful advice here, however you make out 12% easily attainable and not that low? I know its nothing compared to some bodybuilders but is 12% a good lean level or should i go further? I dont want to be super lean but i would like the muscle i have built to show well. Should i instead be aiming for -10% to reach this goal?

Sean S
03-26-2011, 11:49 AM
Don't worry about the bodyfat % number. Simply diet down until you are happy with your appearance. Whether that's 9% or 13% doesn't really matter. Besides, it tough to get truly accurate BF% numbers unless you have access to a DXA, underwater weighing tank, or someone very very skilled and experienced at skinfolds. What one guy thinks looks like 12% may be very different from what someone else thinks 12% looks like if you are just eyeballing it.

RichMcGuire
03-26-2011, 12:00 PM
Don't worry about the bodyfat % number. Simply diet down until you are happy with your appearance. Whether that's 9% or 13% doesn't really matter. Besides, it tough to get truly accurate BF% numbers unless you have access to a DXA, underwater weighing tank, or someone very very skilled and experienced at skinfolds. What one guy thinks looks like 12% may be very different from what someone else thinks 12% looks like if you are just eyeballing it.

Yep - I'd go with this OP. Who the hell cares what number you hit? If what you really want is for your muscles to show well, then diet enough for them to show well. The mirror will play the biggest role.

Dan Fanelli
03-26-2011, 12:25 PM
Im gonna disagree with a bit of the advice above. I wouldn't even attempt to do 5x5 while cutting. I can guarantee if you were training hard on it you aren't going to be able to maintain it for long during a cut. Sure you might be able to for a few weeks before you run yourself into the ground. But if you know how your body is going to react, why not anticipate that and adjust ahead of time?

I don twan tot start an argument about this. I think we are all in aggreement that the intensity is the most important factor here. If you can train with the same loads for 5x5 then go for it. But if you have to cut back on the volume to keep the loads up then you definately should.

Cards
03-26-2011, 12:42 PM
I don't know where this recent fad of "lowering the volume when you cut" came from and why it has become so fashionable to advise. When you start a diet you try to change as little as possible. You dance with the shoes that brought you... meaning you don't alter training if it was optimal for building the muscle. If you have to lower the volume later then fine, but don't just lower it out of anticipation. People are too finicky before and during a diet and that's what screws most people up. Its best to just remain calm and consistent.

I would have to say this is some of the best advice I've seen.

JT111
03-26-2011, 02:00 PM
Yep - I'd go with this OP. Who the hell cares what number you hit? If what you really want is for your muscles to show well, then diet enough for them to show well. The mirror will play the biggest role.

Yeah i agree with both of you! I'm not trying to hit a specific number, just using it as a guide.

JT111
03-26-2011, 02:02 PM
Im gonna disagree with a bit of the advice above. I wouldn't even attempt to do 5x5 while cutting. I can guarantee if you were training hard on it you aren't going to be able to maintain it for long during a cut. Sure you might be able to for a few weeks before you run yourself into the ground. But if you know how your body is going to react, why not anticipate that and adjust ahead of time?

I don twan tot start an argument about this. I think we are all in aggreement that the intensity is the most important factor here. If you can train with the same loads for 5x5 then go for it. But if you have to cut back on the volume to keep the loads up then you definately should.

Yeah i think your reasoning is sound, I will try my best to keep the volume, once i start missing lifts (assuming i do) I will cut the volume to keep the weight.

RichMcGuire
03-26-2011, 03:58 PM
Yeah i agree with both of you! I'm not trying to hit a specific number, just using it as a guide.

Well, considering most methods are inaccurate, you would be best to cut until you're happy. Your goal is very reasonable so I don't see you having any trouble.



Yeah i think your reasoning is sound, I will try my best to keep the volume, once i start missing lifts (assuming i do) I will cut the volume to keep the weight.

Bottom line is - what worked to build your muscle will work to maintain it - but your first objective is to keep the weight on the bar. Some people end up lowering volume to achieve this, while others don't need to. When or if you need to depends on your ability to recover. It's really quite a big variable depending on the trainee but people will have you believe there is only one way to do things.

With that in mind, do what you need to do in order to keep the weight on the bar. But keep everything the same for now to see how you handle less Calories and adjust from there if or when you need to. But like Behemoth said, don't anticipate it when you don't know how you handle the volume/weights initially.

bradley
03-26-2011, 04:10 PM
I think overanalyzing a cut is the first thing most lifters do wrong. Stick with the same program and adjust as necessary depending on how you feel. Everyone is different and there is no one precise way to go about dieting, and what works for one person will not work for another. I agree with Rory, until you are seeing adverse affects from dieting, keep everything the same (except caloric intake of course). There is nothing complicated when dieting down to 12%, and you should be able to accomplish this with just incorporating more activity (HIIT, cardio, work duties, etc.). This is dependant on your starting bf% and setpoint as well.

RichMcGuire
03-26-2011, 04:14 PM
I think overanalyzing a cut is the first thing most lifters do wrong. Stick with the same program and adjust as necessary depending on how you feel. Everyone is different and there is no one precise way to go about dieting, and what works for one person will not work for another. I agree with Rory, until you are seeing adverse affects from dieting, keep everything the same (except caloric intake of course). There is nothing complicated when dieting down to 12%, and you should be able to accomplish this with just incorporating more activity (HIIT, cardio, work duties, etc.). This is dependant on your starting bf% and setpoint as well.

Yep - thats exactly what I said. This is a nice recap in one well worded paragraph.

JT111
03-26-2011, 05:29 PM
Thank alot for Rich thats certainly cleared alot up for me! Thank you everyone else for your input, made a really interesting read!