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Lifting in a deficit

donjtomascodonjtomasco Posts: 604Member Member Posts: 604Member Member
I had to post here that while I am still in a deficit to lose weight to my goal, I have been lifting 3-4 times a week and doing cardio 5-6 days a week. I continue to increase the weight that I am lifting. I am 54 years old if that matters, and somehow I think it does, since logically it seems like at some point we just get too old to get 'stronger' even though ALL workouts as we get older are always good for us. And I just don't believe the pics of the old geisers who are 60+ or 70+ and totally ripped in those adds for supplements.

So, now 6-7 weeks into my weight loss program, I am lifting weights where I was at my peak 5 years ago (I keep all my records and cards).

So, is it fair to say that I am "BUILDING MUSCLE" or am I simply "Getting stronger but not building any muscle"?

I am asking a serious question here since so many of you are the pro's. It is hard to wrap my head around the idea that I am not building muscle yet am gradually increasing the amount of weight that I am able to lift. It makes me wonder if I should 'take the red pill or the blue pill'.....


[post edited by MFP mod]
edited February 16
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Replies

  • TresaAsweganTresaAswegan Posts: 888Member, Premium Member Posts: 888Member, Premium Member
    It's possible to gain strength without gaining muscle. Given your stats (not a newbie lifter, not a 20 something who seems to grow by simply looking at the weights) it's not very likely you're going to gain much, if any, muscle while eating in a deficit.
    The good news is you're getting stronger while cutting body fat, sounds like a success to me.
  • jennybearlvjennybearlv Posts: 892Member Member Posts: 892Member Member
    I'm not an expert on the science of weight lifting, but my grandpa and my friend's dad both got into lifting after retiring in their 60's and may not be as ripped as a twenty-something, but look damn good for men in their 70's. Not to mention that I'm sure they are both much more healthy, and alive, than the men their age that retired to the TV room. Any exercise you do is going to put you ahead of the pack in the decades to come.

    As someone who is in a long term deficit I focus more on the idea that I'm not losing as much muscle as someone who just diets. At some point we will both get to a point where we can eat more and build. But for now just be glad you are holding onto what you got and maybe you will get lucky and add some more.
  • donjtomascodonjtomasco Posts: 604Member Member Posts: 604Member Member
    AWESOME comments. Thank you. I really appreciated your detailed explanation SideSteel! It made perfect sense to me hearing it that way!
  • comptonelizabethcomptonelizabeth Posts: 1,163Member Member Posts: 1,163Member Member
    lorrpb wrote: »
    I finally got "out of jail" so I will be playing very nice from now on. But I had to post here that while I am still in a deficit to lose weight to my goal, I have been lifting 3-4 times a week and doing cardio 5-6 days a week. I continue to increase the weight that I am lifting. I am 54 years old if that matters, and somehow I think it does, since logically it seems like at some point we just get too old to get 'stronger' even though ALL workouts as we get older are always good for us. And I just don't believe the pics of the old geisers who are 60+ or 70+ and totally ripped in those adds for supplements.

    So, now 6-7 weeks into my weight loss program, I am lifting weights where I was at my peak 5 years ago (I keep all my records and cards).

    So, is it fair to say that I am "BUILDING MUSCLE" or am I simply "Getting stronger but not building any muscle"?

    I am asking a serious question here since so many of you are the pro's. It is hard to wrap my head around the idea that I am not building muscle yet am gradually increasing the amount of weight that I am able to lift. It makes me wonder if I should 'take the red pill or the blue pill'.....

    If me, a 61 year old woman with no starting muscle mass, can get stronger, I'm sure that a 54 year old man is not "too old"!

    ^^^^ Another 61 year old woman here,though I'm not eating at a deficit
  • donjtomascodonjtomasco Posts: 604Member Member Posts: 604Member Member
    This is about adding muscle in a deficit, not getting stronger. I am clearly seeing strength gains and getting stronger or else I would not be lifting more weight then when I started. But I am glad you are getting stronger too lorrpb.
  • ninerbuffninerbuff Posts: 39,017Member Member Posts: 39,017Member Member
    I finally got "out of jail" so I will be playing very nice from now on. But I had to post here that while I am still in a deficit to lose weight to my goal, I have been lifting 3-4 times a week and doing cardio 5-6 days a week. I continue to increase the weight that I am lifting. I am 54 years old if that matters, and somehow I think it does, since logically it seems like at some point we just get too old to get 'stronger' even though ALL workouts as we get older are always good for us. And I just don't believe the pics of the old geisers who are 60+ or 70+ and totally ripped in those adds for supplements.

    So, now 6-7 weeks into my weight loss program, I am lifting weights where I was at my peak 5 years ago (I keep all my records and cards).

    So, is it fair to say that I am "BUILDING MUSCLE" or am I simply "Getting stronger but not building any muscle"?

    I am asking a serious question here since so many of you are the pro's. It is hard to wrap my head around the idea that I am not building muscle yet am gradually increasing the amount of weight that I am able to lift. It makes me wonder if I should 'take the red pill or the blue pill'.....
    In a deficit, possible but not likely. I'm 53 and have been lifting since I was 19. Unless I "enhance" my hormones, even with the perfect nutrition, rest, training, etc., it would be unlikely that I'd gain any more muscle even in surplus. While it's different from person to person, testosterone levels do reduce as you age. And it's needed for anabolic process for muscle building. Hence that's why many older males consider it (HRT) to sustain gains they've gotten for years. I haven't gone that route (yet?), but a client of mine has and in 6 weeks, he's looking pretty amazing for his age.

    A.C.E. Certified Personal and Group Fitness Trainer
    IDEA Fitness member
    Kickboxing Certified Instructor
    Been in fitness for 30 years and have studied kinesiology and nutrition

    9285851.png



    edited February 16
  • donjtomascodonjtomasco Posts: 604Member Member Posts: 604Member Member
    I would enjoy knowing if he has suffered any of the minor or major side effects that I have read about HRT. I am not sure that many men would discuss this though. I will stick to the working out and accept natural aging until there are some pretty concrete studies that tell us more. This was very interesting though. Thank you.
  • ninerbuffninerbuff Posts: 39,017Member Member Posts: 39,017Member Member
    I would enjoy knowing if he has suffered any of the minor or major side effects that I have read about HRT. I am not sure that many men would discuss this though. I will stick to the working out and accept natural aging until there are some pretty concrete studies that tell us more. This was very interesting though. Thank you.
    His dosage is quite low, so so far he hasn't had any side effects he's read about. But his bench, squat, and OHP have all increased as well as muscle mass. He is in a slight surplus though. He's gained 10lbs, but looks like he gained 20lbs.

    A.C.E. Certified Personal and Group Fitness Trainer
    IDEA Fitness member
    Kickboxing Certified Instructor
    Been in fitness for 30 years and have studied kinesiology and nutrition

    9285851.png

  • donjtomascodonjtomasco Posts: 604Member Member Posts: 604Member Member
    Some of the side effects (my limited reading about it) seems to have some of the same side effects as taking steroids. Maybe they are similar. This is interesting to hear about your client though and that it seems to be working for him.
  • ninerbuffninerbuff Posts: 39,017Member Member Posts: 39,017Member Member
    Some of the side effects (my limited reading about it) seems to have some of the same side effects as taking steroids. Maybe they are similar. This is interesting to hear about your client though and that it seems to be working for him.
    Well it is testosterone. Most bad side effects happen with high dosages over a long period of time with continual use. He chose only low dose because he didn't want to get really big. He just wanted to add a little more muscle.

    A.C.E. Certified Personal and Group Fitness Trainer
    IDEA Fitness member
    Kickboxing Certified Instructor
    Been in fitness for 30 years and have studied kinesiology and nutrition

    9285851.png

  • trigden1991trigden1991 Posts: 4,166Member Member Posts: 4,166Member Member
    Some of the side effects (my limited reading about it) seems to have some of the same side effects as taking steroids. Maybe they are similar. This is interesting to hear about your client though and that it seems to be working for him.

    The side effects of testosterone especially at HRT levels are massively exaggerated............ apparently.


    If your natural levels are lacking then even an extremely low dose <100mg/week will boost your levels to higher than is naturally possible.
  • donjtomascodonjtomasco Posts: 604Member Member Posts: 604Member Member
    I actually had my testosterone checked last year when I was consistently tired and I was fine. Pretty sure was just 'life' and the hip wearing me out pre surgery.
  • psuLemonpsuLemon Posts: 27,819Member, MFP Moderator, Greeter, Premium MFP Moderator Posts: 27,819Member, MFP Moderator, Greeter, Premium MFP Moderator
    I actually had my testosterone checked last year when I was consistently tired and I was fine. Pretty sure was just 'life' and the hip wearing me out pre surgery.

    Did you check any other vitamin/mineral deficiencies?
  • dvannetzeldvannetzel Posts: 8Member Member Posts: 8Member Member
    And be aware side effects of HRT. But also effects of a low testosterone. I think too much of anything is bad. But in moderation could and should be ideal for you. Also, if you overdue cardio, it will be hard to add any chances of additional muscle mass. That's my 2 cents.
  • Carlos_421Carlos_421 Posts: 3,838Member Member Posts: 3,838Member Member
    SideSteel wrote: »
    I have two main points in response to your post:

    1) I don't think anyone can conclude with absolute certainty whether or not you are gaining muscle tissue. That being said, I DO think it's possible to build muscle in a deficit depending on the deficit size, the distance you are from your genetic limits, whether or not you previously were in fantastic shape (possibly due to satellite cells from previous training experiences), your training program, how well you partition nutrients (genetic), how well you respond to exercise (genetic), how lean you are during the diet, etc.

    And so it's incredibly complex which is why a simple yes or no answer isn't typically correct.

    (EDIT: A MAJOR portion of strength is rate coding which is basically a neurological process involving how efficiently you send signals to cause muscles to fire)

    2) It doesn't really matter for you or anyone else under most circumstances.

    Here's why I say this. Lifting weights will give you more muscle mass than you would have had were you to not lift weights. This is true regardless of whether or not you gain additional muscle mass over the course of a dieting phase.

    For example, if someone goes on a diet and loses 100lbs in a year without lifting weights, they might lose a mix of fat mass and fluids and other non fat tissues some of which would be skeletal muscle. They may end up with 20lbs less muscle than they started with.

    If that same person were to have dieted down 100lbs with a well designed lifting program, even if they didn't gain any muscle at all, they might fully maintain muscle mass which means a greater portion of their losses came from non muscle tissue. And so they could end up with 20lbs additional muscle mass compared to the previous scenario with no lifting.

    And so you still end up with more muscle at the end of the diet if you choose to lift weights.

    I know you probably know this already, but not everybody does which is why I'm typing it out this way.

    Lifting weights will give you more muscle than you would have had without lifting weights, and this is true regardless of what state of energy balance you are in (deficit/mainitenance/surplus).

    Well said.

    Also, to OP, I don't believe anyone is ever too old to get stronger. Maybe someone who's already peaked is too strong to get stronger but not too old.
  • donjtomascodonjtomasco Posts: 604Member Member Posts: 604Member Member
    Why does overdoing cardio reduce the chance of gaining muscle dvann? Isn't cardio simply burning more calories? I eat back most of my added calories burned to get back to my MFP goal to lose x-amount a week. So, in theory if I cardio more (say treadmill or tennis), and burn more calories, but eat back those calories, how is this any different from burning fewer calories by piddling around the house, and not eating more, but my net caloric intake is the same?

    This just does not make logical sense to me, but I am seriously asking what you mean when you said this? Is there some science to actual additional cardio reducing adding muscle just due to the act of actually performing actual cardio?

    Did what I said even make sense? Either way, my "net" calories in are the same, at a pre-set deficit to lose fat to a level that I can then maintain, or maybe (hopefully) add some weight back in the form of muscle mass and not fat if I ever reach that point.
  • dvannetzeldvannetzel Posts: 8Member Member Posts: 8Member Member
    You are burning muscle mass with the cardio and caloric reduction. You can do cardio, just in moderation. You may lean out, but you will not pack on muscle mass. You should look into the ketogenic diet, along with strength training, and lighter cardio. Cut your carbs out, and the weight and fat will come off. Look at your marathon runners. How do they look? Like twigs. You can do strength training which incorporates cardio at the same time with drop sets, supersets, and timed exercises.
  • sijomialsijomial Posts: 9,171Member Member Posts: 9,171Member Member
    You don't automatically burn muscle by doing cardio in a deficit - that's utter twaddle. Using muscle for fuel is a last resort.
    I "do cardio" and don't look like a twig.
    Look at non-elite marathon runners and they are in all shapes and sizes.

    Elite level marathon runners have to be very light and lean - otherwise they wouldn't be elite, but you can't project that into the whole population.

    OP - I'm 57 on Tuesday, still getting stronger, still able to add muscle - just very slowly!

    Keep at it, stop wondering about what ifs, you know what to do to be the best you that you can be and that really is all that matters.
  • donjtomascodonjtomasco Posts: 604Member Member Posts: 604Member Member
    Thank you SIJ!!!!! That was perfect and I am glad to hear you are getting stronger and adding muscle, who cares at what rate, you are adding! I am not looking to be in the seniors body building Olympics. I just want to be healthier and hopefully stronger and that it might show also. Your testimonial was very helpful!
  • dvannetzeldvannetzel Posts: 8Member Member Posts: 8Member Member
    I agree. You all take things to the extreme. I will add marathon runners is an extreme example. I am saying do less cardio or cardio in moderation. Just like most things, things in moderation are usually ok, but too much or too little probably not good. I do cardio myself, but not extreme.
    Do not expect miracles over night, but diet is a big part of lean muscle mass. Not just cutting calories but the right amount of macros.
  • donjtomascodonjtomasco Posts: 604Member Member Posts: 604Member Member
    I don't think anyone would consider my cardio extreme. I treadmill 60 minutes usually every day of the week, 3 mph @ 1% incline. Today upped it to 1.5% at 3.2. I play tennis doubles (hard tennis) twice a week, and lift for 60-75 min every other day. So, diet is important but getting older impresses on me how important lifting is. Physically & Mentally.
  • richardgavelrichardgavel Posts: 557Member Member Posts: 557Member Member
    My .02 on cardio and muscle mass gains. I personally struggle on cardio days to eat enough to put myself in a net surplus calorie wise with the burn created by the cardio. After a year and a half of deficit eating, it's tough to allow myself to eat more. Second is the recovery of the body. It's only going to be able to recover so much and ifit has to spend some time recovering from cardio, that's less that it can do to recover from lifting to build more muscle.

    Neither of these prevent me from doing cardio and lifting, as a triathlete. But they are reasons for me to recognize gains will come very slowly.
  • psuLemonpsuLemon Posts: 27,819Member, MFP Moderator, Greeter, Premium MFP Moderator Posts: 27,819Member, MFP Moderator, Greeter, Premium MFP Moderator
    dvannetzel wrote: »
    You are burning muscle mass with the cardio and caloric reduction. You can do cardio, just in moderation. You may lean out, but you will not pack on muscle mass. You should look into the ketogenic diet, along with strength training, and lighter cardio. Cut your carbs out, and the weight and fat will come off. Look at your marathon runners. How do they look? Like twigs. You can do strength training which incorporates cardio at the same time with drop sets, supersets, and timed exercises.

    Pretty much this is all wrong, especially for what the OP wants to achieve. First, a person will use glycgoen and fat reserves prior to converting amino acids for energy. If a person is able to keep up with calories, eating adequate protein, then they will not "burn" muscle doing cardio. Muscle loss occurs when protein degradation occurs at a higher rate of protein synthesis. The occurs at higher rates with low calorie diets and inadequate training (since resistance training can stimulate MPS).

    And again, telling someone to look into keto who is concerned about muscle gains is not helpful. At best, keto has been associated as muscle sparring. At best, the person can try and look into CKD/TKD but it's still not as optimal as a diet that incorporates carbs. And not, going keto doesn't just make the weight come right off. There are a ton of threads on here about people going keto and not being able to lose weight or even gaining. It only helps with weight loss if, and only if, it naturally allows them to cut calories.
  • donjtomascodonjtomasco Posts: 604Member Member Posts: 604Member Member
    Thank you!

    Related question (kind of), is it better to NOT do the treadmill on lifting days? I typically life for 60-75 minutes then treadmill for 60 minutes.

    My rational brain is telling me that my cardio is not at a point that it would factor into anything I am doing lifting wise, since it is not THAT strenuous, I am just burning around 560-580 calories on the treadmill (according to the treadmill calculator online, which contradicts the treadmill that says I burn around 400 calories - such wide differences only proving that this is not an exact science).
  • richardgavelrichardgavel Posts: 557Member Member Posts: 557Member Member
    I work out 6-7 days a week, but it's either a cardio day or a lift day, not both. At most, there might be a 45 min walk the same day as lifting. I also try to schedule things effectively day to day. For example, with lifting 3 days a week, that means there is always a 2 day break. That first day may be more intense or longer run, while the second is lighter. This means I'm fresher for the subsequent lifts (especially since I do Stronglifts which has squats every lift day).
  • psuLemonpsuLemon Posts: 27,819Member, MFP Moderator, Greeter, Premium MFP Moderator Posts: 27,819Member, MFP Moderator, Greeter, Premium MFP Moderator
    Thank you!

    Related question (kind of), is it better to NOT do the treadmill on lifting days? I typically life for 60-75 minutes then treadmill for 60 minutes.

    My rational brain is telling me that my cardio is not at a point that it would factor into anything I am doing lifting wise, since it is not THAT strenuous, I am just burning around 560-580 calories on the treadmill (according to the treadmill calculator online, which contradicts the treadmill that says I burn around 400 calories - such wide differences only proving that this is not an exact science).

    I personally would separate.
  • californiagirl2012californiagirl2012 Posts: 2,505Member, Premium Member Posts: 2,505Member, Premium Member
    I have personally proved for my own self that you can BUILD muscle and build strength at a deficit, not too low, but yes. The best way to prove it is with a DXA/DEXA scan, then you can believe real data and not everyone's opinions and based on looking in the mirror, etc. Otherwise it's way too subjective. And even in my 50's. I proved this at age 50, I'm 56 now.
    edited February 20
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