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What Exactly is Recomping?

VeryKatieVeryKatie Posts: 5,377Member Member Posts: 5,377Member Member
Hello!

I'm about 5 lbs away from my original goal weight, and have been hovering there for what feels like forever (so I'm giving up on them. If they come off, then they do, if not who cares? Haha). I just started doing Stronglifts 5x5. I'm considering doing this 3-4 times a week (every other day), and cross training 1-2 times a week (off days up to working out 5 days a week. I'm thinking 20-30 minute jogs, walking, group classes, skating, trampoline, DVD... just kind of whatever I'm feeling like doing).

What I'd like to do is a recomp! I know its slow, but I'm ok with that.

However, I'm confused as to what, exactly, that is. I know I should lift progressively heavier. But how should I set my calorie goal? Just below maintenance? At maintenance? Slightly above? Can you actually ever so slowly build muscle while losing fat if you're eating at maintenance? The things I've read seem divided. I suppose I should start by experimenting and finding out exactly what my maintenance calories are?

Thanks for any help!

In case you need to know, I'm female, 26, 130 - 132 lbs depending on the day, and 167 cm (slightly under 5'-6"). I don't know my body fat % but I suspect its at or a smidge under 25%, going visually. Mostly on my belly and legs, not much on my upper body... So I'm an apple pear haha... I'd love to get to 20-22% bf (looking lean and strong, but not super chiseled).
edited February 2015

Replies

  • DancingMoosieDancingMoosie Posts: 4,021Member Member Posts: 4,021Member Member
    So, it sounds like you are ok with your body weight, but would like more muscle and less fat? There are 3 basic scenarios:
    1. Since you want to lose fat, you can lift and eat a a slight deficit, keep doing cardio and lose weight/fat, maintain muscle, make strength gains.
    2. You could eat at maintenance, lift, do cardio, slowly recomp to lose fat and build muscle. I think this works mostly for beginners. Newbie gains.
    3. You could eat at small surplus, lift, and build muscle, then cut fat later. I don't think this is what you want to do at this point since you still have more BF than you want.
  • SideSteelSideSteel Posts: 11,074Member Member Posts: 11,074Member Member
    Recomping is eating at maintenance in an attempt to lose fat and build muscle simultaneously.
  • sijomialsijomial Posts: 13,628Member Member Posts: 13,628Member Member
    I'm a recomper.
    Train hard, eat well, keep an eye on your weight and be patient - it's no more complex than that.

    It used to be the default when I was growing up. Bulk/cut cycles were the sole preserve of serious body builders.

  • SideSteelSideSteel Posts: 11,074Member Member Posts: 11,074Member Member
    sijomial wrote: »
    I'm a recomper.
    Train hard, eat well, keep an eye on your weight and be patient - it's no more complex than that.

    It used to be the default when I was growing up. Bulk/cut cycles were the sole preserve of serious body builders.

    Mind sharing with us some of your progress/stat changes over the past year or so recomping? I'm actually very interested to hear about it since most people tend to do the bulk/cut thing.


  • sijomialsijomial Posts: 13,628Member Member Posts: 13,628Member Member
    No problem.
    A bit of context may help - I'm almost 55, probably best described these days as a cyclist who lifts weights.
    The cycling partly explains why I don't want to gain weight - for performance reasons, but other major factor is I'm also very happy in my current weight range after 20 years of being fat.
    Been strength training in various forms since 1974 so I'm unlikely to be able to gain much traction in terms of speed of progress from a consistent calorie surplus anyway.
    Progress on my lifts has slowed but mainly because I'm hitting joint/tendon/injury limitations. Currently close to lifetime bests on many of my lifts. My training focus is on CV performance and strength rather than physique/body composition.

    Six months from March to Sept 2013 when I nibbled a few pounds off:
    Lost 7.5lbs of fat, gained 3.5lbs of LBM for net loss of 4lbs of weight.

    Over last year measurements have stayed roughly the same (varies with training focus) but muscle definition has visibly improved. No idea what my BF% is at the moment.

    One thing I do differently to most people which gives a theoretical advantage is that I have an uneven eating pattern. Six days at small surplus balanced by one day with a large deficit.
    5:2 to lose weight, 6:1 to maintain weight and all inclusive vacations to gain weight. :smiley:


  • tigerbluetigerblue Posts: 1,623Member Member Posts: 1,623Member Member
    sijomial wrote: »
    No problem.

    Six months from March to Sept 2013 when I nibbled a few pounds off:
    Lost 7.5lbs of fat, gained 3.5lbs of LBM for net loss of 4lbs of weight.

    Over last year measurements have stayed roughly the same (varies with training focus) but muscle definition has visibly improved. No idea what my BF% is at the moment.


    How did you estimate the fat loss/LBM gain noted above? Is it just from knowing your measurements stayed the same while weight changed?
  • SideSteelSideSteel Posts: 11,074Member Member Posts: 11,074Member Member
    Totally random question: What type of cycling do you do and are your quads huge?
  • sijomialsijomial Posts: 13,628Member Member Posts: 13,628Member Member
    tigerblue wrote: »
    sijomial wrote: »
    No problem.

    Six months from March to Sept 2013 when I nibbled a few pounds off:
    Lost 7.5lbs of fat, gained 3.5lbs of LBM for net loss of 4lbs of weight.

    Over last year measurements have stayed roughly the same (varies with training focus) but muscle definition has visibly improved. No idea what my BF% is at the moment.


    How did you estimate the fat loss/LBM gain noted above? Is it just from knowing your measurements stayed the same while weight changed?

    During my weight loss and a year afterwards I was having 6 monthly BodPod tests. Also used a 4 sensor body analysis scale which although it jumped around day to day provided quite a reliable trend over time. Plus progress photos and tape measure.
    Stopped doing the BodPod when I realised I didn't really care what the number was anymore!
    edited February 2015
  • ILiftHeavyAcrylicsILiftHeavyAcrylics Posts: 28,132Member Member Posts: 28,132Member Member
    I'm a recomper too. My first year I ate at maintenance, lifted weights, consumed adequate protein, and dropped 2 pants sizes while maintaining my weight within a 5 lb range. I've seen limited progress since then, but that's to be expected both because I'm not a newbie anymore and because I'm not able to workout with the same intensity as I used to do (health issues).
  • sijomialsijomial Posts: 13,628Member Member Posts: 13,628Member Member
    SideSteel wrote: »
    Totally random question: What type of cycling do you do and are your quads huge?

    Road cycling - 1 hour sprints, 2 or 3 hour rides and long distance events. 113 miles in a day is best to date. Aiming for a 200km/124 mile event this year.

    Indoor training using an eSpinning bike or a power meter equipped stationary bike for intervals, hill climb simulations and LISS when too cold to get outside.

    Quads - lean but not as big as I'd like, working on it but a few knee injuries limit the big lifts. Got to avoid those horrible old man skinny legs!

    ylfe10t9wcj2.jpg

    edited February 2015
  • VeryKatieVeryKatie Posts: 5,377Member Member Posts: 5,377Member Member
    @sijomial, how often did you lift weights per week? Did you do a split or something like Stronglifts?
  • sijomialsijomial Posts: 13,628Member Member Posts: 13,628Member Member
    VeryKatie wrote: »
    @sijomial, how often did you lift weights per week? Did you do a split or something like Stronglifts?

    Normal routine is 3 x cardio and 3 x weights a week alternate days. Mostly full body workouts (custom not following a set program). With the intensity of my cardio sometimes my weights are impacted and I have to rest legs (the downside of mixed goals).

    I do swap around though depending on current training focus, examples being 4 day push/pull split and drop cardio to x2.

  • VeryKatieVeryKatie Posts: 5,377Member Member Posts: 5,377Member Member
    sijomial wrote: »
    VeryKatie wrote: »
    @sijomial, how often did you lift weights per week? Did you do a split or something like Stronglifts?

    Normal routine is 3 x cardio and 3 x weights a week alternate days. Mostly full body workouts (custom not following a set program). With the intensity of my cardio sometimes my weights are impacted and I have to rest legs (the downside of mixed goals).

    I do swap around though depending on current training focus, examples being 4 day push/pull split and drop cardio to x2.

    Perfect, thanks! I think I will do something similar and see how it goes. I'll take pictures every 3 months so I can compare :) I'm in no rush and this seems to align with my comfort and my goals. I'll give SL5X5 3x a week plus 30 min jogs 2x a week and go from there.
  • CarlKRobboCarlKRobbo Posts: 390Member Member Posts: 390Member Member
    Just to add to this.. I'm "recomping" myself... I WILL add, Average Diet, and I've missed too many sessions.. Progress photo's are on my profile, and here <<<<<<<<<<<<<<.

    That's a whopping 2lbs overall GAIN, but a small visible recomp in 6 months....

    I've probably done this wrong, BUT... simply hit Calories on training days, -500 on rest days, Cardio on the odd rest days... (Need to increase this..)

    Training - Power lifting Training... Bench + Assistance, Squat + Assistance, Deadlift + Assistance, Weakness training... (Now on the Cube.. Same thing really...) 6 weeks from Comps, reduce volume.. As for Assistance, It's very flexible, so whatever i need to help the main lift..

    Cardio - Circuit - Farmers Handles, Tyre Slams\Flips, Med Ball Slams, Prowler Push\Pull, Burpees, Sprints, Padwork.... (I pick 5, setup, and do rounds 3-5, then reduce rest times, then increase weight..)
  • aylajaneaylajane Posts: 979Member Member Posts: 979Member Member
    I'm a recomper too. My first year I ate at maintenance, lifted weights, consumed adequate protein, and dropped 2 pants sizes while maintaining my weight within a 5 lb range. I've seen limited progress since then, but that's to be expected both because I'm not a newbie anymore and because I'm not able to workout with the same intensity as I used to do (health issues).

    I did pretty much the same thing. Spent 8 months at basically same weight (up 2 then down 2 over and over), while body fat dropped from ~25% (by scale, started near 40% before losing weight) to 17% (DEXA) eating essentially maintenance (I had WLS, so no real stomach, so this is tough for me!). I assume a lot of that was newbie gains. Now on a real bulk cycle since I would prefer to be closer to 19-20% body fat anyway (went too low) - so getting to gain muscle and fat, and not really planning to cut after, just back to maintenance.
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