Weight and Resistance Training - How to train when "cutting"

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04-21-2012, 10:48 AM
I am currently doing NROL4W and should finish up in early June. I've been eating at maintenance (have intentionally upped my calories anytime I started to see the scale drop, and thus stayed at 125lbs) and focusing on strength (and, ideally, body recomposition, which I think I've seen a little of).

After I'm done, I'd like to drop about 5-8 pounds of fat. (Yes, I know this will put me toward the very bottom of a healthy weight range. Yes, I'd like to build more muscle and weigh more. But I am not particularly lean right now; my best guess is maybe 22-24%. So I would like to get leaner before I start trying to bulk. And honestly, I'm starting to get weary of the loooooong no-deficit march to leanness.)

I know the drill by now: fat loss is mostly diet, eat enough protein, moderate deficit, keep up the NEAT, coax the last pounds out rather than slamming them out, etc. But for some reason, I'm finding myself really anxious about how to go about my weight lifting while I'm in a deficit this time.

How many training days per week? Rep schemes more in the strength or hypertrophy ranges? Should I continue training in this full-body (NROL4W-type) style, or switch to an upper-lower split? Do I still lift as heavy as I can, or am I going to stress out my body too much doing that? I know that isolation moves aren't the most efficient/effective way to train generally, but I find myself worrying that if I continue with just compound moves, I might not hit all the muscles very well, & open myself up to muscle loss... etc etc.

I know I'm probably making this all more complicated and frightening than it needs to be. :) But I'd appreciate any advice / tips / links / etc that our resident experts can offer-- especially any specific pre-made training programs, as I don't know that I have the knowledge I need to put together my own.

04-26-2012, 11:39 AM
Wow. You know more than most personal trainers.

I'm sorry I don't have a hard core answer for you, but more of a general answer. Listen to your body.

You are lean enough to see what works rather immediately.

My suggestion is to go more lean proteins, keep the deficit, pay attention to how you feel and what you see. You should lose that fat and get cut.

I do know enough to say that at your current state, there will be visible gains to lifting more specific muscles. For instance, do your squats with differing foot positions. Toes out (Sumo squat) will develop the medial portion of the quad. Toes in or feet together will develop the lateral quad.

Same thing with calf raises. Same thing with bicep curls.

Research all the differnent "whacky-to-the-norm" moves to develop the muscle definition you seek and do them to mix up your routine.

Also, I doubt you're at 24% bf. Your pic and your height/weight ratio considered with what you state as your weight routine indicates otherwise.

I think you're much less bf than you think. That's why I recommend considering a routine that separates individual little muscles for definition.

No matter what, though, consider genetics. It may not be in your cards to be super cut. Also consider that what we see in the media are people who have cut water weight and fat in an unhealthy-unsustainable manner for a photo shoot.

What we see in pictures is NOT a healthy regular. It's merely a second in time that someone was ripped.

Steve Troutman
04-26-2012, 11:46 AM
Yeah, you're well ahead of the curve. To put it as simply as possible, generally speaking it's much easier to maintain a quality (strength, muscle, whatever) than it is to build it. And for someone who's been at it for a bit, that's what they're hoping to do when the slide calories into deficit territory - they want to maintain as much strength and muscle as possible.

Since it's easier to maintain a quality than it is to build it, generally speaking you can cut volume down by a substantial amount... even 50-60%. This implies that you can cut frequency or volume per session back, depending on how your programming is currently structured.

Typically you want to keep intensity (defined as % of maximum) up. Rather than defining that with a specific percentage, I'd simply suggest that you strive to keep lifting the loads you've been lifting - thus giving your body a reason to hold onto the "good stuff."

Put it this way...

A very basic 3x5 template would suffice for muscle preservation.

Something like a squat, a pull, and a push for 3 sets of 5 done 2-3 times per week would be all it takes. Of course that could get boring, depending on you, so you might want to "sexify" it a bit by changing the exercises on each of the days or having a low rep day (3-5) a high rep day (10-12) and a medium rep day (6-8), or whatever. But that's really a matter of preference.

Does this help at all?

04-27-2012, 10:46 AM
Thanks so much to both of you-- that's all very helpful, and I'm breathing easier. :) I prefer low reps / heavy weight with somewhat frequent tweaks to the exercises themselves to keep me interested, so I think I can incorporate advice from both of you to keep myself happy with my training.

I may be closer to 22% than 24%, but there's a reason I'm showing my arms in my avatar rather than my legs! I do have to remind myself that the pics of fitness models I see have their own type of unreality, just like super-Photoshopped pictures of celebs. I may never have the ultra-lean legs I want, but I'm starting to get toward some pretty bangin' arms & abs, so thanks for the reminder to listen to my body & consider what's reasonable.

Steve Troutman
04-27-2012, 11:06 AM
You're welcome. And shocker about your lower half being a bit "slower" to show the results... that whole being female thing tends to do that. Once you get lean to a point... there are some neat things you can do to promote the "burning" of stubborn fat. Things like Lyle McDonald's Stubborn Fat Protocol come to mind, which is something I've used with some of my clients successfully.

04-27-2012, 11:28 AM
And shocker about your lower half being a bit "slower" to show the results... that whole being female thing tends to do that. Once you get lean to a point... there are some neat things you can do to promote the "burning" of stubborn fat. Things like Lyle McDonald's Stubborn Fat Protocol come to mind, which is something I've used with some of my clients successfully.

Yeah, yeah, I know. :p I do think I'm particularly pearish (waist 24", each thigh 22"-- oy). Thanks for the tip on the Lyle McDonald; I'll keep it in mind. I started reading his site quite recently & like it a lot.

Steve Troutman
04-27-2012, 11:35 AM
Hey, curves and a little feminine fat are good in my book. Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder. Of course that's forgotten quite often given our media's incessant lies with fitness and/or fashion models who unrealistically starve for a particular shoot or with crazy digital alterations to photos.

05-09-2012, 01:30 PM
Hi Sumire! I am not on a cut right now but I have found lots of information about IF and lifting when either cutting, bulking, or doing recomp in a link I think JohnP recommended to another user. I can't post links yet. There is an open group in FB called Fearce. Fit. Fearless. You can ask one of the administrators in this group to join the close group. The close one is only for women and it has lots of information. I have been coming to the 3FC forum regularly since 2007 and the kind of info I have found in this group I could not find it anywhere else and now I even spend more time there than here.

Anyway, good luck with the cut. I am focusing on another project now and I am not going to commit to a cut just yet but I'm thinking of doing one in the future. I have similar stats to yours 5,6.5, 126 pounds as this morning, pear shaped. I just recently changed Body Pump lessons for heavy weight training and I am loving it so far.

05-09-2012, 03:36 PM
Thanks for the tip! I'll definitely get into that closed group on FB.

I've been weight training for a while but really started heavying up and focusing in at the beginning of this year, with great results. I'm just ready for some more muscle definition. Good luck with your goals! :)

05-10-2012, 11:07 AM
sumire, remember genetics. If you feel your legs are disproportionate, then making them smaller will only make the rest of your body smaller as well...as you know, we cannot spot-reduce fat/size.

I am the same way. I am lanky and have always been called "too skinny". That's what got me into weight lifting. While I'm super proud of my muscles and definition all over my body now, I still can put my index finger to my thumb tip around my ankle and my bra size has not changed. Oh well. I just suck it up and focus on the fact that for a skinny chick, I'm pretty damn strong!!

I hope you can focus on your assets and not worry so much about your genetics.

Good for you on all that you've accomplished!!! Don't you just LOVE that about yourself? :)

05-10-2012, 08:44 PM
Fitness4life, yeah, I'm proud of me. :D I do spend more of my time flexing my muscles & feeling like a badass than I do obsessing over my thighs, lol. And I try to be reasonable about what I can expect to attain, as well as maintain, for that matter. I'm going to shoot for a little leaner this summer, but if it's not in the cards, then I'm just going to work harder on self-acceptance. :)