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  • Ending a cut and starting advance training

    Published: 21-11-2021

    An experience lifter will eventually end up changing their diet and the way that they train as time goes on.

    In the past 5 months I cut my bodyweight slowly by a low caloric deficit. I dropped from 90kg at my peak evening weight to around 76.5kg at my morning fasted weight.

    I felt being this heavy at 5'9 was not worth the lack of progress I was making at the gym. As a lifter becomes more experience the diminishing returns makes it harder for them to get stronger and gain more muscle.

    Lifters are categorised into four level based their strength to bodyweight ratio of the main 3 lifts (Squat, Bench & Deadlift):

    1. Novice
    2. Intermediate
    3. Advance
    4. Elite
    I place myself as a late intermediate to early advance lifter. At this point the standard method of linear progression (placing a bit of weight on the bar every session) doesn't really work unless you are targetting a lagging body part.

    At this point in your training you must consider changing your training to more advance techniques.

    I did a bit of research and westside barbell's conjugate method system of training seemed well established and its training protocol made sense to me. As I was going on a family holiday soon I didn't want this to interefere with the start of a new program so I figured I would continue my cut to lower bodyweight as to have a good baseline for a new program.

    Losing weight will make you weaker

    I've always found it hard to cut as I have a bit of a strength ego. I tend feel sad when I can't lift as much I usually do. Part of maturing as a lifter is long term planning. Accepting that you will be weaker when losing weight is part of the process of becoming an excellent pound-for-pound lifter.

    This time I pulled through and accepted that I was going to feel worse at the gym and that my lifts were going to go down.

    I haven't had much opportunity to practice my 1 rep maxes but below are the before-and-afters of a roughly 10+kg drop.

    Please keep in mind that my bodyweight can vary by a kg based simply on my hydration and daily food intake. When looking at the bodyweight (bw) of weight lifted please consider that these varied over a 2-3kg range over days.

    1 rep max Pre-cut lift @ bw x bw Post-cut lift @ bw x bw
    Press 100kg 86.5kg x1.16 90kg (-10.5%) 80kg x1.13 (-0.03)
    Bench 130kg 83kg x1.57 120kg (-8%) 80kg x1.5 (-0.07)
    Squat 200kg 86kg x2.33 180kg (-10.5%) 78.5kg x2.29 (-0.04)
    Deadlift 225kg 81kg x2.78 190kg (-16.8%) 78.5kg x2.42 (-0.36)

    Average strength reduction post cut: 11.45% (mean of all post cut lifts).

    Unfortunately I didn't measure my bodyfat percentage. It would have been useful to measure body fag as more weight doesn't necessarily translate to more strength if a considerable proportion is body fat and not muscle. I do have some pictures I took of myself. I think I went from 20-25% body fat to 15-20% body fat.

    Overall I am happy with a 12% or so strength loss with a 10kg weight loss. These latest heavy attempts were recorded following a hiatus and an active cold. I take them with a pinch of salt.

    before and after weight loss
    Taking pictures in a consistent manner is a good way of measuring progress.

    Time to bulk again & diet

    By bulk I mean increase my caloric surplus by up to 500kcal per lifting day and maintain on non lifting days. Usually it's not entirely common not to maintain on non-lifting days but as I have a prolonged time without lifting due to work schedule I think its best to stave off unwanted body fat.

    As it's the first time I've cut properly I know I will find it hard to say goodbye to a more toned body. Almost everyone wants to prioritise muscle and strength gains with as little fat gain as possible. So this time I've looked into meal timings and the use of carbs when lifting.

    Higher glycemic index carbs before my workout (with some protein) will help fuel my body. And workouts reaching 2 hours require intra-workout carbs. The little protein in my blood should also keep the muscles from being consumed in the energy process. At least I think. I don't really understand nutritional physiology and the science and advice out there varies a lot.

    Essentially:

    • I want to consume more carbs on my workout days and have around 1g/lbs of bodyweight of protein every day. On workout days I will bulk 500KCal or so and on maintenance I will maintain.
    • If I grow tired I will eat a few more carbs (and Kcals) on rest days or rest days preluding work outs.
    • I will also be better about hydration making sure I consume the water quantity correct for my weight.

    Goal and measuring progress

    My goal: I aim to lift the same or more amount of weight prior to my weight loss at a lower body weight or body fat percentage. If I can achieve that then I am succeeding in my goal in becoming an more advance lifter.

    Any realistic goal needs measurability. I will record the following variables:

    • Consistent daily bodyweight recording.
      • Always at morning time
      • Prior to food and drink
      • Post toilet use
    • Body fat measurement with skinfold calipers
    • Central Nervous System (CNS) Tapping Test — a proxy for how awake your CNS is feeling.
    • Logging of weights lifted

    Have a plan for your goals too! Good luck dear reader.

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