November Q and A thread

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Replies

  • SideSteel
    SideSteel Posts: 11,068 Member
    AigreDoux wrote: »
    Hello! I have sort of a long question...

    I'm a 37 year old, 5'5" female, currently around 133-134 ish pounds, but not very muscular at that weight. Or actually not at all muscular. My scale gives me body fat ranging from 28-29%, I know that's not considered accurate, but just a general idea. I started weight training in January 2016, and from 1/16-10/16 lost about 30 pounds. I've been maintaining at this weight since then, following Eat to Perform for my macros, which is sort of based on recomp. I currently lift 3x/week following Strong Curves, and run 3x/week (12 miles total).

    My goals are mostly aesthetic. I do like being stronger, but if I could only pick one, I'd pick the aesthetics. I am sort of thinking of running a half marathon in fall 2017, but haven't committed to that yet.

    I'll probably maintain through the holidays. The questions are:

    1) In January, should I cut again? Or keep going with a recomp?
    2) Should I change up my training program to incorporate another day of strength training? I could move to a split and do 4x/week strength, would that make a significant difference? I would then need to either cut a day of running or do a short run on an upper body day.

    I'm willing to be patient but obviously want the thing that will give me the fastest results :)

    1) Hard to assess without knowing what you look like AND your own perception of your body. Are you happy with your level of leanness? If you want to be leaner, then you could consider cutting.

    2) Strong Curves isn't a bad program, however as a general rule adding additional training days allows you a convenient opportunity to increase training volume. Increasing training volume CAN provide better results in many cases but definitely not all cases.

    I'm certainly not trying to be vague here by any means -- it's just that these questions are incredibly context dependent.

    Here's the good news -- if you are making progress in the gym over time, and you're eating at maintenance with adequate protein, you'll be making improvements to your physique. They just might not be immediately noticeable.
  • AigreDoux
    AigreDoux Posts: 594 Member
    Thanks! I suppose it would be a bad idea to add additional training and cut at the same time?

    I do think I could easily be leaner...I was 125 pounds for most of my 20s and didn't look sick or anything. But I had almost zero muscle, and never exercised (just worked a lot and didn't have time to eat that much). So I would like to do better.

    But I feel like I am getting mixed messages about how I have to eat to gain muscle and strength. But yet I have to be lean in order to not gain fat?
  • SideSteel
    SideSteel Posts: 11,068 Member
    AigreDoux wrote: »
    Thanks! I suppose it would be a bad idea to add additional training and cut at the same time?

    It depends. If you add another session then your per session volume could actually go down slightly while your weekly volume goes up. Doing it in this manner might make it quite doable.

    Additionally, whether or not it's problematic to add volume in a deficit really just depends on whether or not you can adequately recover.

    I would say very generally though, if I HAD to give a yes or no answer I'd say adding volume in a deficit typically isn't a good idea, but the above explanation is more complete IMO.
    I do think I could easily be leaner...I was 125 pounds for most of my 20s and didn't look sick or anything. But I had almost zero muscle, and never exercised (just worked a lot and didn't have time to eat that much). So I would like to do better.

    But I feel like I am getting mixed messages about how I have to eat to gain muscle and strength. But yet I have to be lean in order to not gain fat?

    Not quite sure I understand but hopefully this clarifies things:
    Assuming adequate training:

    Eating in a surplus causes fat gain and muscle gain.
    Eating in a deficit causes fat loss and MAY cause muscle loss but not always.
    Under some circumstances you can gain muscle in a deficit.

    Eating at maintenance will cause concurrent fat loss and muscle gain however it's much less noticeable and requires patience, but it does happen.
  • AigreDoux
    AigreDoux Posts: 594 Member
    Would a reasonable plan be to finish Strong Curves (should take me to end of December ish), then go to a 4x/week split, then resume deficit once I've adjusted to that for 2-3 weeks?

    I'm pretty sure I'm not the circumstance that can gain muscle in a deficit. I don't really plan on ever eating at a surplus, but I have read before that if you start out leaner, you will gain a greater proportion of muscle vs fat in surplus than if you are less lean. Does this apply to recomp as well?

    I.e if I recomp now will it be a slower process than if I lost another 5 or 10 pounds and then recomped?
  • SideSteel
    SideSteel Posts: 11,068 Member
    AigreDoux wrote: »
    Would a reasonable plan be to finish Strong Curves (should take me to end of December ish), then go to a 4x/week split, then resume deficit once I've adjusted to that for 2-3 weeks?

    I'm pretty sure I'm not the circumstance that can gain muscle in a deficit. I don't really plan on ever eating at a surplus, but I have read before that if you start out leaner, you will gain a greater proportion of muscle vs fat in surplus than if you are less lean. Does this apply to recomp as well?

    I.e if I recomp now will it be a slower process than if I lost another 5 or 10 pounds and then recomped?

    I suspect the differences would be minimal but I can't say that with certainty.

    The logic behind it has to do with how excess body-fat may reduce insulin sensitivity.

    You can read more about it here, however I think you run the risk of driving yourself nuts trying to make things perfect. I don't say that to be insulting just so that I'm clear here.

    Here's what I mean -- do the following things reasonably:

    1) Get calories and macronutrients close to where they should be for your goals.
    2) Train your *kitten* off.
    3) Make progress in the gym by a combination of 2) and using a decent training program. Gym performance should improve (progressive overload).

    If you do those things consistently you're going to capture the majority of benefits.

    That's not to say that details don't matter. For example nutrient timing/protein distribution, supplementation, etc --- but at some point just make sure you're getting the basics in place and that you're doing them well.


    http://www.bodyrecomposition.com/muscle-gain/calorie-partitioning-part-1.html/

    Regarding leanness -- are you happy with your leanness? Start there and use that to determine whether you want to diet down.
  • jemhh
    jemhh Posts: 14,262 Member
    What volume/frequency would you recommend doing an exercise that you are doing just in order to maintain the ability to do it?

    Background:

    Back squats have always been my most challenging lift and I struggled with them for a very long time when I wanted to switch from dumbbells to the barbell. I ended up dropping them for 10 months to focus on other squat variations (front, goblet, zercher) and then picked them back up a year ago. I have done them consistently since then. When I eat at maintenance or above my progress is slow and when I'm under maintenance it is glacial. Right now my max is 110 x 3. (pounds, not kg)

    Beyond being very difficult, I've never felt like I get much out of back squats as far as leg development goes. However, I really love barbell hack squats, goblet squats, and lunges and feel like I get more out of them, leg development-wise. I use 5/3/1 for my programming so I normally do the 3 regular working sets of squats and then an additional 2-3 sets beyond that. I am thinking of switching to doing 3 regular working sets of back squats and then any squats beyond that would be hack squats and I'd do either hack squats, lunges, or goblet squats on my other lower body day.

    Does this make sense? I don't want to give up on back squats entirely but I also don't want to spend a ton of time doing them since I get more out of other exercises.
  • SideSteel
    SideSteel Posts: 11,068 Member
    jemhh wrote: »
    What volume/frequency would you recommend doing an exercise that you are doing just in order to maintain the ability to do it?

    Background:

    Back squats have always been my most challenging lift and I struggled with them for a very long time when I wanted to switch from dumbbells to the barbell. I ended up dropping them for 10 months to focus on other squat variations (front, goblet, zercher) and then picked them back up a year ago. I have done them consistently since then. When I eat at maintenance or above my progress is slow and when I'm under maintenance it is glacial. Right now my max is 110 x 3. (pounds, not kg)

    Beyond being very difficult, I've never felt like I get much out of back squats as far as leg development goes. However, I really love barbell hack squats, goblet squats, and lunges and feel like I get more out of them, leg development-wise. I use 5/3/1 for my programming so I normally do the 3 regular working sets of squats and then an additional 2-3 sets beyond that. I am thinking of switching to doing 3 regular working sets of back squats and then any squats beyond that would be hack squats and I'd do either hack squats, lunges, or goblet squats on my other lower body day.

    Does this make sense? I don't want to give up on back squats entirely but I also don't want to spend a ton of time doing them since I get more out of other exercises.

    What is your main goal?

    I mean aside from maintaining your back squat. Why do you lift weights?

  • CarlKRobbo
    CarlKRobbo Posts: 390 Member
    Once or twice a week to maintain, probably 3 x 8-12 reps.

    It'll always be a slow lif to progress, even someone like me who squats are arguable their best lift.

    However, If your goal is more leg development, then that's a different story. Back squats qoud be good to keep in their, but leg dvelopment, I'd go Front squats, Split Squats and Lunges, SLDL, RDL. Maybe Iso movements like Quad extensions\ham curls...

    For example - I'm doing a mix ATM - Just coz i like lifint heavy stuff! But I'm more looking for Size ATM..

    Squat - Heavy - 3x3
    Squat - Volume 5x12
    Front Squat - 5 x 8
    (Single Leg) Leg Press - 4 x 12
    Lunges - 3 x 12
    Split Squat - Tech ATM!! about 3 x 8 before i fall over!! Working on it!
    Leg Extensions - 4 x 12

    Hamstrings get done on Deadlift day...

    So - I still get my heavy fix, but the main focus is Leg development (And GPP via the 5x12 sets!). As well as making anyone who want to train with me Cry...

    NOT saying you need that volume BTW... Bear in mind I've competed, squatted over 500LB's, Trained for 6 years solid before taking on that lot!!
  • AigreDoux
    AigreDoux Posts: 594 Member
    edited November 2016
    SideSteel wrote: »

    Regarding leanness -- are you happy with your leanness? Start there and use that to determine whether you want to diet down.

    Surprisingly, that's a hard question to answer...I've never been one to look in the mirror and go "fat cow!" even when I was 30 lbs heavier. I sort of came at this by saying "huh, I'm bigger than I used to be and that can't be good in the long term" Most of my weight was gained in pregnancy and never lost afterwards.

    I know for sure that being 5 or 10 lbs lighter or leaner wouldn't make me a happier person. So I guess that means I'm ok. But I also think I could look a little more "athletic" and that would be cool too?
  • jemhh
    jemhh Posts: 14,262 Member
    SideSteel wrote: »
    jemhh wrote: »
    What volume/frequency would you recommend doing an exercise that you are doing just in order to maintain the ability to do it?

    Background:

    Back squats have always been my most challenging lift and I struggled with them for a very long time when I wanted to switch from dumbbells to the barbell. I ended up dropping them for 10 months to focus on other squat variations (front, goblet, zercher) and then picked them back up a year ago. I have done them consistently since then. When I eat at maintenance or above my progress is slow and when I'm under maintenance it is glacial. Right now my max is 110 x 3. (pounds, not kg)

    Beyond being very difficult, I've never felt like I get much out of back squats as far as leg development goes. However, I really love barbell hack squats, goblet squats, and lunges and feel like I get more out of them, leg development-wise. I use 5/3/1 for my programming so I normally do the 3 regular working sets of squats and then an additional 2-3 sets beyond that. I am thinking of switching to doing 3 regular working sets of back squats and then any squats beyond that would be hack squats and I'd do either hack squats, lunges, or goblet squats on my other lower body day.

    Does this make sense? I don't want to give up on back squats entirely but I also don't want to spend a ton of time doing them since I get more out of other exercises.

    What is your main goal?

    I mean aside from maintaining your back squat. Why do you lift weights?

    Oof. This is where I fall apart a bit. I mostly lift weights because I just enjoy it--the actual doing of it, the physical health benefits (I have PCOS and weight training is a non-medical intervention that helps with it), the mental health benefits (it's calming to me), being stronger (not powerlifting strong but strong enough to move heavy furniture or carry an 80 lb. dog), and part of it is appearance. I would ultimately like to build some muscle but I've never gotten to the point where I could say that I am lean enough to just focus on muscle building. Right now I am coming off of 6 weeks of maintenance to try to lose more fat using a fairly small (350 calorie) deficit so I guess my goal is trying to maintain the muscle for the next year or so until I (hopefully) am leaner.
  • SideSteel
    SideSteel Posts: 11,068 Member
    jemhh wrote: »
    SideSteel wrote: »
    jemhh wrote: »
    What volume/frequency would you recommend doing an exercise that you are doing just in order to maintain the ability to do it?

    Background:

    Back squats have always been my most challenging lift and I struggled with them for a very long time when I wanted to switch from dumbbells to the barbell. I ended up dropping them for 10 months to focus on other squat variations (front, goblet, zercher) and then picked them back up a year ago. I have done them consistently since then. When I eat at maintenance or above my progress is slow and when I'm under maintenance it is glacial. Right now my max is 110 x 3. (pounds, not kg)

    Beyond being very difficult, I've never felt like I get much out of back squats as far as leg development goes. However, I really love barbell hack squats, goblet squats, and lunges and feel like I get more out of them, leg development-wise. I use 5/3/1 for my programming so I normally do the 3 regular working sets of squats and then an additional 2-3 sets beyond that. I am thinking of switching to doing 3 regular working sets of back squats and then any squats beyond that would be hack squats and I'd do either hack squats, lunges, or goblet squats on my other lower body day.

    Does this make sense? I don't want to give up on back squats entirely but I also don't want to spend a ton of time doing them since I get more out of other exercises.

    What is your main goal?

    I mean aside from maintaining your back squat. Why do you lift weights?

    Oof. This is where I fall apart a bit. I mostly lift weights because I just enjoy it--the actual doing of it, the physical health benefits (I have PCOS and weight training is a non-medical intervention that helps with it), the mental health benefits (it's calming to me), being stronger (not powerlifting strong but strong enough to move heavy furniture or carry an 80 lb. dog), and part of it is appearance. I would ultimately like to build some muscle but I've never gotten to the point where I could say that I am lean enough to just focus on muscle building. Right now I am coming off of 6 weeks of maintenance to try to lose more fat using a fairly small (350 calorie) deficit so I guess my goal is trying to maintain the muscle for the next year or so until I (hopefully) am leaner.

    I'm oddly fascinated by your question. Going to try and make a video reply for this one. If I can't (I'm at my in laws), I'll type some things up.

  • jemhh
    jemhh Posts: 14,262 Member
    SideSteel wrote: »
    jemhh wrote: »
    SideSteel wrote: »
    jemhh wrote: »
    What volume/frequency would you recommend doing an exercise that you are doing just in order to maintain the ability to do it?

    Background:

    Back squats have always been my most challenging lift and I struggled with them for a very long time when I wanted to switch from dumbbells to the barbell. I ended up dropping them for 10 months to focus on other squat variations (front, goblet, zercher) and then picked them back up a year ago. I have done them consistently since then. When I eat at maintenance or above my progress is slow and when I'm under maintenance it is glacial. Right now my max is 110 x 3. (pounds, not kg)

    Beyond being very difficult, I've never felt like I get much out of back squats as far as leg development goes. However, I really love barbell hack squats, goblet squats, and lunges and feel like I get more out of them, leg development-wise. I use 5/3/1 for my programming so I normally do the 3 regular working sets of squats and then an additional 2-3 sets beyond that. I am thinking of switching to doing 3 regular working sets of back squats and then any squats beyond that would be hack squats and I'd do either hack squats, lunges, or goblet squats on my other lower body day.

    Does this make sense? I don't want to give up on back squats entirely but I also don't want to spend a ton of time doing them since I get more out of other exercises.

    What is your main goal?

    I mean aside from maintaining your back squat. Why do you lift weights?

    Oof. This is where I fall apart a bit. I mostly lift weights because I just enjoy it--the actual doing of it, the physical health benefits (I have PCOS and weight training is a non-medical intervention that helps with it), the mental health benefits (it's calming to me), being stronger (not powerlifting strong but strong enough to move heavy furniture or carry an 80 lb. dog), and part of it is appearance. I would ultimately like to build some muscle but I've never gotten to the point where I could say that I am lean enough to just focus on muscle building. Right now I am coming off of 6 weeks of maintenance to try to lose more fat using a fairly small (350 calorie) deficit so I guess my goal is trying to maintain the muscle for the next year or so until I (hopefully) am leaner.

    I'm oddly fascinated by your question. Going to try and make a video reply for this one. If I can't (I'm at my in laws), I'll type some things up.

    Thanks, SS. It's much appreciated. I am a bit lost in the sea of fat loss purgatory, which makes me tend to question whether it really matters at this point why I lift weights. I mean, I think it is good that I do it but does the why even matter if I can't really progress toward a weightlifting-induced goal (e.g., building muscle or significant strength) for another year?
  • SideSteel
    SideSteel Posts: 11,068 Member
    edited November 2016
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rHILrq6wvtA&feature=youtu.be

    @jemhh see above.

    And regarding your recent reply about not progressing:

    It may matter if the lack of progress causes you to lose interest in the activity. Similarly it may matter if making progress causes you to gain interest in the activity.
  • jemhh
    jemhh Posts: 14,262 Member
    edited November 2016
    SideSteel wrote: »
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rHILrq6wvtA&feature=youtu.be

    @jemhh see above.

    And regarding your recent reply about not progressing:

    It may matter if the lack of progress causes you to lose interest in the activity. Similarly it may matter if making progress causes you to gain interest in the activity.

    During the time period when I did other types of squats, I did them 3-4 times a week. Since going back to back squats, I have only been squatting twice a week. I did find that doing some sort of squat more often made squatting feel more natural and less intimidating so the idea of doing it 3-4 times a week could certainly have merit.

    Here's a link to a form video from over the summer. I'm really nervous about posting it.

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bz1MmqywkthbVHU5bEJLY2NSc1k/view

    Editing to add: Yes, lack of progress has started to affect my interest in lifting in general but I am trying to soldier through.
  • SideSteel
    SideSteel Posts: 11,068 Member
    ^ Those squats look pretty solid. If you decide to stick with the squat in order to attempt to improve it the primary things I'd look at would be:

    1) Program design
    2) Increase upper back tightness
    3) Consider SLIGHTLY reducing depth to reduce butt wink. I think you can do this and still be below parallel.
    4) Do you own a belt? If not, consider getting one for performance reasons.

    Your squat looks good overall.
  • jemhh
    jemhh Posts: 14,262 Member
    SideSteel wrote: »
    ^ Those squats look pretty solid. If you decide to stick with the squat in order to attempt to improve it the primary things I'd look at would be:

    1) Program design
    2) Increase upper back tightness
    3) Consider SLIGHTLY reducing depth to reduce butt wink. I think you can do this and still be below parallel.
    4) Do you own a belt? If not, consider getting one for performance reasons.

    Your squat looks good overall.

    First off, thank you for the video answer. I forgot to write that earlier.

    Second, I am pleasantly surprised that my form is generally good. I've never had a trainer or training partner help with them so getting that feedback is nice.

    1) I am going to strongly consider the multi-day squatting. As far as programming goes I don't feel qualified to come up with that so I will look at a few options.
    2) That's something I think I have improved on since taking that video in July. One day it clicked in my brain and I realized how a certain level of tightness felt and worked better.
    3) I'll have to figure this one out. I'm not sure how to do this as I just descend until I feel my calves hit my hamstrings and then reverse course. I may have to string a resistance band across so that I know where parallel is because I have no sense of it right now.
    4) I do not have a belt. I have always assumed that they are for people who lift way more than me. I will look into it.

    Thanks again. This was really helpful.
  • SideSteel
    SideSteel Posts: 11,068 Member
    I can tell you this-- if you have the disposable income to purchase a belt and maybe even SBD knee sleeves you won't regret it, at all.

    And it will make you more confident, which will make your squat more assertive over time, and that assertiveness is HUGE.
  • jemhh
    jemhh Posts: 14,262 Member
    If those are things that can help, I am open to them. I got lifting shoes after a year of barefoot squatting because I was hoping they'd help even slightly and they definitely did. It sounds like a belt and knee sleeves may be a step in the same direction.

    I will need to eat at maintenance if I go back to squatting 3-4 times a week. I ran into trouble this year with cutting calories and upping volume at the same time and pretty much made myself a complete mess. I'm wrapping up 6 weeks of no calorie counting to recover from that and my end result is now 10 months of no net fat loss. I am leery of repeating that cycle.
  • SideSteel
    SideSteel Posts: 11,068 Member
    jemhh wrote: »
    If those are things that can help, I am open to them. I got lifting shoes after a year of barefoot squatting because I was hoping they'd help even slightly and they definitely did. It sounds like a belt and knee sleeves may be a step in the same direction.

    I will need to eat at maintenance if I go back to squatting 3-4 times a week. I ran into trouble this year with cutting calories and upping volume at the same time and pretty much made myself a complete mess. I'm wrapping up 6 weeks of no calorie counting to recover from that and my end result is now 10 months of no net fat loss. I am leery of repeating that cycle.

    Have you maintained weight over that period of no logging?
  • jemhh
    jemhh Posts: 14,262 Member
    edited November 2016
    SideSteel wrote: »
    jemhh wrote: »
    If those are things that can help, I am open to them. I got lifting shoes after a year of barefoot squatting because I was hoping they'd help even slightly and they definitely did. It sounds like a belt and knee sleeves may be a step in the same direction.

    I will need to eat at maintenance if I go back to squatting 3-4 times a week. I ran into trouble this year with cutting calories and upping volume at the same time and pretty much made myself a complete mess. I'm wrapping up 6 weeks of no calorie counting to recover from that and my end result is now 10 months of no net fat loss. I am leery of repeating that cycle.

    Have you maintained weight over that period of no logging?

    Nope. I expected that a bit though. I've been a proponent of diet breaks and used them a lot. Normally I don't gain any weight on a diet break. This time I knew I was eating quite a bit more than maintenance and just didn't care for a bit. To complicate the crazy cutting cycle I had a DEXA done in August, it came out at 36.3% which would still be obese, and I pretty much threw up my hands and said if I am obese I am going to eat like it. And then I did and gained 8 lbs. Like I said, I was really a mess. I really am doing better now. I've been counting calories for a week so no more gaining at this point.
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