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Too fat to recomp?

SlSl12345SlSl12345 Member, Premium Posts: 6 Member Member, Premium Posts: 6 Member
Hi all,

How do you determine if you’re simply too fat to recomp?

I am 5’7”, 160lb, female, right on the high edge of a ‘normal’ BMI. PW of 135-140, gained 20# a few years ago and have not been able to get it off. I have a decent amount of chunk in my thighs and arms, some belly fat, etc. I’m cool to not get lighter or back to my PW, but I would like to decrease the chunks and have some visible muscles again. I successfully recomped when I was lighter, so in my mind recomping at this higher weight will just give me more mass to slowly gain muscle with and be more jacked?

I’m back on a progressive lifting program, but wondering if I’m kidding myself and seriously just need to lose more fat and deal with dieting for a while. I don’t know my BF% but from online pics maybe somewhere between 25-30%?

So, is there a way I can determine if recomp will help with health/physique goals or if I’m kinda fat and will not make real progress without losing that first? Thanks in advance.


  • KickassAmazon76KickassAmazon76 Member Posts: 2,638 Member Member Posts: 2,638 Member
    If you are relatively happy with your body as is, then I'd say go with a slight deficit and push hard with the lifting program. You won't see instant results, but you will see results over time.

    If you decide you want to lose weight faster, still keep up with the lifting (to preserve your muscle and strength) and increase your caloric deficit.
  • ExpressoLove11ExpressoLove11 Member Posts: 86 Member Member Posts: 86 Member
    I started recomp at 29% BF. Now down to 22% so it is doable. Just takes some time!
  • Niki_FitzNiki_Fitz Member Posts: 936 Member Member Posts: 936 Member
    I recomped for 2 years at a higher weight than I wanted to be at. It was quite by accident. First I lost a bit, then had success with lifting as I aimed for a small deficit and mostly hit maintenance. It felt very healthy to get stronger, look better, and be eating well, and enough. Looking back, it was successful and I have zero regrets. And I'm a firm believer that recomp is very underrated! I slipped up between the gym/work shut-downs and eating out of anxiey this past year, although I continued strength training at home as best I could. So I gained 10lbs on what was a lean frame. But right now I'm considering recomping again, from this new higher weight/bodyfat. And at the same time torn, out of vanity haha.

    In the end @sijomial is right
    sijomial wrote: »
    There really isn't a "too fat to recomp", it's actually easier when you have plentiful energy reserves.
    Yes of course gaining muscle and losing fat will help you progress towards the look you seem to want but at higher BF% it's just a lot more subtle and takes a long time to actually see changes.

    Overall I love recomp and it's a worthy goal. You can always change goals as you go.
    edited December 2020
  • SlSl12345SlSl12345 Member, Premium Posts: 6 Member Member, Premium Posts: 6 Member
    (ETA photos)

    I am 5’7”, too. I started weight training about two years ago, at 165.

    I am SO happy with the results. I’ve got definition in my arms, legs, and butt.

    Training gave me the confidence and motivation to drop more weight.

    YMMV, of course, but we are nearly identical and I feel like that was a great time for me to start.

    BTW, I started Pilates around the same time, and credit where credit is due, I think the Pilates helped tremendously as well. I was already doing (and still do) vinyasa type yoga. The three disciplines mesh very well, imho.

    At 165, 02/2019

    At 133, earlier this week

    You look amazing!! That’s a really significant shape difference.

    Its funny because last time I leaned out I was also around 135#, AND I have recently incorporated a bit of yoga, so our stats are even more identical :smile:

    Also, and you don’t have to share, but I could not even begin to guess at your age. Exercise is truly the fountain of youth and you look like you lost a decade in addition to the 20 lbs. Impressive.
  • springlering62springlering62 Member, Premium Posts: 2,157 Member Member, Premium Posts: 2,157 Member
    Awe, you’re sweet. 58. I guess that was one of my less haggard days lol.
  • sgt1372sgt1372 Member Posts: 3,805 Member Member Posts: 3,805 Member
    Recomp usually implies that you have reached your goal wt but still have too much wt in the form of BF that you"d rather be in the form of muscle.

    This doesn't nean that you can't reduce the % of your wt in BF while increasing the % of your wt in muscle but it won't be very noticeable if you are still carrying a high % of BF.

    FWIW, it is IMPOSSIBLE to convert BF into muscle

    You can only lose BF and/or build muscle but BF can never be converted into muscle.

    If you do nothing other than lose BF and maintain your muscle mass (w/o gaining any more), your BF% will decrease and your muscle mass % will increase accordingly, thereby resulting in a "recomp" of sorts.
  • richardgavelrichardgavel Member Posts: 914 Member Member Posts: 914 Member
    I think some of this question might come from the idea that you don't want to start a bulk until you reach a certain BF level. The basis behind that opinion (don't know if it's right or wrong) is that the higher your BF, the more each new pound gained tends towards fat vs muscle. So I could see a similar question when discussing recomp, since recomp isn't turning fat to muscle so much as micro gains and losses.
  • DaltaMcCarthyDaltaMcCarthy Member Posts: 2 Member Member Posts: 2 Member
    Definitely not too fat to recomp!

    The reason a recomp works if you are overweight is due to the fat being used as the extra energy to fuel the muscle building process.

    If you are significantly overweight, it just may take more time!

    Just take a look at this study on police officers with on average 26% body fat!

    "A 12-week study by Demling and DeSanti aimed to analyse the effects of a caloric deficit and resistance training in overweight (26% body fat) police officers. The results showed a total fat loss of 9.3 lbs and gained 8.8 lbs fat free mass over those 12 weeks." - PeakThrivePerform

    You will 100% make progress. Go and crush those goals!

    - Sean
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