The Five Biggest Contradictions in Fitness
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The Five Biggest Contradictions in Fitness

Its no secret that when people contradict themselves, it has the effect of making the flaws in their actions or statements seem glaringly obvious. But what about when WE ourselves get caught contradicting ourselves by someone else?

By: Nick Tumminello Added: January 6th, 2014
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  1. #1
    Father of Three Bosch232's Avatar
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    Cutting on HCT-12

    I did a bulking diet since January, and lost my abs along the way. But then HCT-12 went public, and I got really into it for the first month, and saw good performance gains.

    After that first deload week, I decided I wanted my abs back, so I began to cut calories 3 weeks ago, while maintaining this workout routine. Currently I'm consuming about 2,100 to 2,200 per day. It's worked.

    When I began the cut I was 17.5% BF using an Omron BF anylizer. I'm very careful about how I test, to keep consistent readings. Three weeks later, I've got the top third of my abs back, i'm seeing 16.0% BF consistently, and my bench has only dropped about 5 pounds.

    I know I should probably keep going with the cut, because 16% is not exactly stellar body comp, and 3 weeks probably doesn't constitute a legitimate "cut". It's SOooo tempting to get back on the bulking side because it's so rewarding to see numbers go up (and I like to eat). Anyway, strength is staying pretty solid for now, we'll see what the next few weeks bring. I'm an impatient 'cutter', I guess.

    Last edited by Bosch232; 07-01-2010 at 05:51 AM.
    "A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, 'darkness' on the walls of his cell." ~ C.S. Lewis

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  3. #2
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    I know this isn't a nutrition forum, but what exactly are you doing besides just the deficit? The reason I ask is cause it's obviously not ideal to lose any strength, and I'm just wondering if there's anything you could be doing better to help you along more.

    For example, do you eat more on lifting days and around the actual workout? Are you keeping protein high? Are you reducing frequency of workouts while keeping intensity (weight on the bar)?

    Just running through a checklist of things that can prevent strength loss on a diet. Best of luck to you though!

  4. #3
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    Just a little pet theory here, pure anecdote, that it is harder to keep strength up while dieting if you've not build up a significant base of strength to begin with. That is if you've got strong (relative to your starting point or absolutely, doesn't matter) after years of effort i.e. you are not a beginner then dieting (not to extremes) shouldn't hurt too much your ability to keep lifting at that previous level or even keep progressing.

    Strength recently gained, especially when a beginner, seems to suffer most when dieting.

  5. #4
    Moderator Off Road's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel Roberts View Post
    Just a little pet theory here, pure anecdote, that it is harder to keep strength up while dieting if you've not build up a significant base of strength to begin with. That is if you've got strong (relative to your starting point or absolutely, doesn't matter) after years of effort i.e. you are not a beginner then dieting (not to extremes) shouldn't hurt too much your ability to keep lifting at that previous level or even keep progressing.

    Strength recently gained, especially when a beginner, seems to suffer most when dieting.
    I've noticed the same thing in my own training. The bigger the base, the less effected it is by calorie manipulation. I also think the quickness in which you lose the weight plays an equally important role.
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  6. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel Roberts View Post
    Just a little pet theory here, pure anecdote, that it is harder to keep strength up while dieting if you've not build up a significant base of strength to begin with. That is if you've got strong (relative to your starting point or absolutely, doesn't matter) after years of effort i.e. you are not a beginner then dieting (not to extremes) shouldn't hurt too much your ability to keep lifting at that previous level or even keep progressing.

    Strength recently gained, especially when a beginner, seems to suffer most when dieting.
    That's interesting. I once read some strength trainer saying that most people shouldn't do a real cut until they have been lifting for 3-4 years. He must have had the same idea I suppose.

    Bosch, I can relate to the paranoia. I've been lean and tall my whole life so whenever I see my belly start to protrude a bit I get uncomfortable. But then I know I've had to eat so much food to get where I am that I worry cutting my food intake will badly affect me. I'm just trying to slowly balance it out and find a rough maintenance diet now.

  7. #6
    Father of Three Bosch232's Avatar
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    Interesting thoughts, thanks for the input. I wouldn't say that I qualify as having a large strength base, so maybe this is all the further I'll go with it. I told myself that I'd stop cutting when I saw the strength start to dwindle, and I do predict that will probably happen soon. I don't want that.

    Berz: I've left my routing totally untouched between the bulk and the cut. Same days, same lifts, etc. My cardio is very limited and low-intensity when I do actually do it. Since I'm limiting calories, I save up for my post-workout meal and really load up (but staying within 2,200/day) right after the workout. I am keeping the protein high. I had to cut pretty much all grains/bread/pasta, and I consume very little milk now because it's very calorie-dense. Those calories add up quickly in a day.

    I'm going to give some thought to what Daniel and OR said. See, here's the thing... I've never been fat. When I bulked the first half of this year, it's the most strength and (simultaneously) the most fat I've ever gained in my whole life. And it started to make me a bit paranoid that perhaps I would not EVER be able to lose the fat which inevitable came with the strength gains. (I'm 43 yrs old).

    It seems I can lose the fat, though. So maybe I won't get nuts about this cutting thing. My long term plan has been: Get the abs back so I look OK, then do a maintenance diet for the rest of the summer, then go like hell again in the fall/winter. Then cut again next March or April.
    "A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, 'darkness' on the walls of his cell." ~ C.S. Lewis

  8. #7
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    If you decide to stick with the cut for a little longer, I'd suggest you maybe drop one workout a week, or leave at least 2 days between workouts (Workout A, rest, rest, Workout B, rest, rest, etc... Rest days could also be cardio days if you felt up to it), give yourself a bigger feeding around your workouts, while keeping a high deficit on off / cardio days and of course keeping protein high. From everything I've seen load is the main thing that matters for keeping muscle while dieting. There's this physiological principle that states that once an adaptation has occurred in the body, it can be maintained with 1/3 the stimulus is took to achieve it. In other words frequency and volume can be dropped by (theoretically) 2/3 and you will hold onto muscle (assuming load stays the same). Of course on this program you can't really drop volume since it doesn't work like that, but frequency can be reduced, and this will allow you to keep a big deficit on off / cardio days, while allowing bigger refeeds around workouts (since you'll be working out less frequently). The whole idea of slightly refeeding on lifting days has worked for me in the past and I think it's due to fixing some of the bad hormonal adaptations to dieting while not adding much to fat since the extra calories go to muscle (the partitioning effect of consuming nutrients around lifting).

    All that being said, if you choose to bulk again then I definitely think you could still drop the fat later on. It may be harder than for a 20 year old, but 43 isn't to the point where it'll be almost impossible to get it off. If you wanted to try a recomp, you could eat like you're bulking on lifting days and then maintain a deficit on off / cardio days. You'll still make strength gains, just slower, and you'll be able to drop some fat while you're at it. Just an idea!

    Also have you considered trying Intermittent Fasting? It seems to help maintain muscle extremely well by dieting. It may not be for you but if it is, it's worth trying and I definitely recommend looking into it. Ryan Zielonka just wrote an article on this site about it (which I'm sure you're aware of).

    Sorry for such a lengthy response! Hahaha. I hope any of this info helps!

  9. #8
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    I'm on the other side of the fence. I've had a jiggly belly my whole life. Even when I was skinny, I still had belly fat. So, when I can actually see my abs, I freak out and start eating more I don't want to be called skinny ever again...If I could maintain around 15%, I'd be happy.
    Last edited by Off Road; 07-01-2010 at 10:38 AM.
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  10. #9
    Senior Member Rugg's Avatar
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    You really just have to define your goals. Do you want to look better (defined in your own self image), or do you want to be stronger. What level of BF are you comfortable with when your shirt is off?

    I struggle with this a lot, my head gets full of lofty lifting goals, but when reality reels me back in I realize my bottom line is to look good naked. Good, in my opinion, is 10% BF, with Abs and prodigious upper body size.

    In keeping with this, I've been on a mild deficit over the past few months and have lost about 15 pounds while on HCT 12. My plan is to lose another 10-15 pounds and hopefully reach the BF levels I want, then very slowly add calories back and hopefully start gaining some noticable strength.

    Bottom line is you have to do what makes you happy, do you feel more rewarded when you reach new strength goals or when feel good about poping abs out all over the place?

  11. #10
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    I'm just trying to slowly balance it out and find a rough maintenance diet now.
    What JC said would be the only compromise I'd make now - grow into your maintenance. Choking off progress by cutting when you're not at the level you want to be will keep you fluctuating around that point indefinitely. That's not to say you should look sloppy, you can remain reasonably lean, top two abs lean, the reason you got fatter than you wanted was because your surplus was too high.

    Oh and at 43 you will get where you want to be, just don't expect to hit all goals simultaneously and if being bigger and stronger is one of them, then that has to come first - find a good maintenance grow into it the fat will gradually come off to a respectable level whilst your weights go up, then adjust accordingly.

  12. #11
    Father of Three Bosch232's Avatar
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    Well that settles it: I'm off the cut as of this evening, and have proceeded to consume 1/2 of a rotisserie chicken for dinner. LOL

    Not really. But I'm going to give this some more thought. It's easy to miss the forest because of the trees.
    "A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, 'darkness' on the walls of his cell." ~ C.S. Lewis

  13. #12
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    It seems to me like gaining strength is where your heart is and you'll probably get a lot more out of training and diet if you're really into it.

    So it seems like your making a good decision. Good luck man!

  14. #13
    Father of Three Bosch232's Avatar
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    Thanks for the thoughts, everyone. Ok Berz, you got me: I do confess that when I pushed up 250 x 1 on flat bench two weeks ago (for the first time in my life, even back 20 yrs ago in college) I was so stoked that I had to text a few friends right there while I was in the gym, lol. That's a modest bench, to be sure, but it's the most I have ever done, and I mean the most by 25 pounds. (I'm gonna do a plug for Nitrean right here.)

    Daniel, you said "Grow into your maintenance." To be sure I'm getting your message clearly, what that sounds like to me is this...

    If my current maintenance is about 2,750 (which I think it is) then I should be targeting.. What? About 3,000 per day? And as the strength and lean mass accumulate, they will 'consume' that extra 250 per day, and I'll be at a new maintenance of 3,000 per day. Yes?
    Last edited by Bosch232; 07-02-2010 at 05:46 AM.
    "A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, 'darkness' on the walls of his cell." ~ C.S. Lewis

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