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Still chubby, should I start putting on muscle? Advice?

vpeachesvpeaches Member Posts: 18 Member Member Posts: 18 Member
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Currently 24F, 150 lbs, 5’8.

Hi everyone, I’ve been in a state of plateau for about 4 years. My starting weight was 210 and I lost most of the weight over 5 years ago and have been fluctuating around 150 ever since. I was doing a lot of cardio and I really hate it/have not been improving, so recently I began incorporating more weight training- and surprisingly have been putting on muscle in my arms pretty easily. However I still have quite a lot of soft jiggly fat on my arms and thighs. It’s really messing with my confidence. I have always had really visible cellulite on my legs/butt, ever since hitting puberty around 11 years old. It has never waivered even when hitting a personal low of 130lbs (I had an eating disorder at that time and have since recovered) 3 years ago.

I am not sure what to do here, both calorie wise and in relation to my exercise routine? I would love to reduce the cellulite and slim down my arms. I don’t really gain weight on my abdomen but to eventually have a firm stomach would be a great bonus. Should I keep trying to drastically reduce my calories, or is it safe to begin training for muscle growth?

Any and all advice appreciated.
edited April 23
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Replies

  • vpeachesvpeaches Member Posts: 18 Member Member Posts: 18 Member
    At 5'8 and 150 lbs you are within the healthy weight range. You may well find that eating at maintenance and strength training helps you feel happier with your body, even at your current weight. Not only will your body itself change, but the physical strength can often translate into a mental strength that just allows you to be more comfortable with yourself.

    Do NOT drastically reduce your calories? Why would you do that unless you are trying to trigger a relapse to your eating disorder? Even if you decide to lose a few pounds in the future, you should somewhat reduce your calories.

    As to it being safe to begin strength training, I guess you would need to discuss that with your doctor if you have any concerns. I have no idea why you would think it might not be safe? Even if you were obese, strength training is part of a healthy fitness program and can even have weight loss benefits.

    Thanks, this is a pretty level headed response. I guess I was expecting something more from the intense bodybuilding crowd which is why I was asking whether or not I should reduce calories vs. start training- I had been reading a lot of forums where, particularly men interested in bodybuilding, were encouraging each other to reduce as much body fat as possible before starting to get serious about muscle growth/bulking. I incorrectly used the word safe, I suppose instead of asking "would putting on muscle align with my goal of reducing cellulite, and if I do so, should I continue eating at a defecit?"

    I'm aware I'm in the healthy weight range, I guess my issue is not so much that number on the scale but a matter of body composition. I know cellulite is normal but I'm quite bummed out (no pun intended lol) about how intense mine is, especially compared to friends and other people my age. So partially I wonder if strength training will really help with that.

    Thanks for your answer, I think I could've worded this whole post better (clearly I am still fighting disordered thoughts despite years of eating at maintenance and semi frequent exercise) but I appreciate your concern about my ED- its something I'm always thinking about avoiding. I think I was fearing that the only way to reach my desire of reducing cellulite is to start eating at a deficit again, thus face the possibility of a relapse. I do find I'm enjoying strength training and seeing that little bump on my bicep does make me feel mentally happier and stronger.
  • zebasschickzebasschick Member Posts: 377 Member Member Posts: 377 Member
    build muscle - why not? you'd basically be recomping.
  • richardgavelrichardgavel Member Posts: 959 Member Member Posts: 959 Member
    There is a idea that you shouldn't bulk unless you are at a "proper" body fat percentage because otherwise the ratio of fat vs muscle gain for each pound gained would lean more towards fat.

    However, that is for a bulk, where you eat more than maintenance. A recomp, however, would have you eating AT maintenance. And I think that is a solid next step as well. It's what I'm doing.
  • Speakeasy76Speakeasy76 Member Posts: 543 Member Member Posts: 543 Member
    If you were to cut calories, I wouldn't cut more than 250/day. However, training *smartly* can really help with looking like you've leaned out....even if the weight stays the same.

    I'm your height and have almost exactly the same body shape as you, but maybe with slightly wider shoulders. I have always struggled with my lower abdomen are, butt, hips and thighs. Unfortunately, cellulite is one of those things that most women have and never completely goes away. However, I can tell you that since I've been strength training following sound programs focused on my goals (and not over-training), I have gotten rid of a lot of it (or it shrunk, I guess). My upper body typically responds more quickly to strength training, which is fairly common among women. Because of that, more of my focus on my lower body (glutes/hips, hammies, especially), and less upper body. Ab work is 10-15 minutes 3 x/week, and I also do some stuff throughout the day that helps with my transverse abs, a really weak spot for me. I'm also now sitting at 139, but actually think I've lost some muscle despite training regularly and progressing.

    I also want to say that seeing results from strength training (especially our "problem" areas), takes quite a bit of time. As a newbie, you may be able to see strength trains relatively quickly, but as you get stronger and more advanced, it will take longer. Just an FYI.
    edited April 24
  • vpeachesvpeaches Member Posts: 18 Member Member Posts: 18 Member
    There is a idea that you shouldn't bulk unless you are at a "proper" body fat percentage because otherwise the ratio of fat vs muscle gain for each pound gained would lean more towards fat.

    However, that is for a bulk, where you eat more than maintenance. A recomp, however, would have you eating AT maintenance. And I think that is a solid next step as well. It's what I'm doing.

    Thanks! I guess I’ve been looking at the wrong forums haha. This is the first time I’m learning it’s okay to eat at maintenance for recomp. Much appreciated
  • vpeachesvpeaches Member Posts: 18 Member Member Posts: 18 Member
    If you were to cut calories, I wouldn't cut more than 250/day. However, training *smartly* can really help with looking like you've leaned out....even if the weight stays the same.

    I'm your height and have almost exactly the same body shape as you, but maybe with slightly wider shoulders. I have always struggled with my lower abdomen are, butt, hips and thighs. Unfortunately, cellulite is one of those things that most women have and never completely goes away. However, I can tell you that since I've been strength training following sound programs focused on my goals (and not over-training), I have gotten rid of a lot of it (or it shrunk, I guess). My upper body typically responds more quickly to strength training, which is fairly common among women. Because of that, more of my focus on my lower body (glutes/hips, hammies, especially), and less upper body. Ab work is 10-15 minutes 3 x/week, and I also do some stuff throughout the day that helps with my transverse abs, a really weak spot for me. I'm also now sitting at 139, but actually think I've lost some muscle despite training regularly and progressing.

    I also want to say that seeing results from strength training (especially our "problem" areas), takes quite a bit of time. As a newbie, you may be able to see strength trains relatively quickly, but as you get stronger and more advanced, it will take longer. Just an FYI.

    Really detailed answer, thank you! I was hoping to get an answer from someone with a similar body type/ experience, so this is especially appreciated.
  • cupcakesandproteinshakescupcakesandproteinshakes Member Posts: 844 Member Member Posts: 844 Member
    OP why not get on a structured well designed hypertrophy programme first.
    Perhaps maintain ur weight for a few months.
    You don’t need to bulk and cut to see some progress and change in body comp. Especially if you haven’t done structured resistance training before or for very long.
    I just wonder if the bulking and cutting may trigger disordered thoughts about eating if that’s in ur history. Of course I don’t know that, but it would be a concern if I were in ur shoes.

    Have you been following a programme?
  • cupcakesandproteinshakescupcakesandproteinshakes Member Posts: 844 Member Member Posts: 844 Member
    Also, cellulite is to some extent genetic.
    I had it when I was 100 pounds at 175 cm.
    I have an ED in my past. It’s ancient history now. But I’ve been hesitant to bulk and cut because of it. So I’ve been lifting while maintaining at 135 ish pounds for 4 years. My results are good!

  • davew0000davew0000 Member Posts: 85 Member Member Posts: 85 Member
    Hello.

    I liked this article. Bret Contreras seems pretty balanced in his views on the subject. My wife liked his book Strong Curves.

    https://bretcontreras.com/to-bulk-and-cut-or-not/

    Dave
  • wiigelecwiigelec Member Posts: 481 Member Member Posts: 481 Member
    which is why I was asking whether or not I should reduce calories vs. start training
    Start training five years ago!

    Seriously though it’s never too late to start. Don’t stress too much about a program right now. If doing the machine circuit at Planet Fitness (or heck even Crossfit) three times a week is what keeps you coming back, then by all means do that.
  • happyness4mehappyness4me Member Posts: 49 Member Member Posts: 49 Member
    I think maintaining your weight and adding in strength training will give you good results. As for the cellulite, as above posters have stated, it's genetic. I'm 5'2" and even at 112 pounds I still had cellulite on my legs. I'm about 127 pounds now and honestly it looks the same. Mine is similar to yours, mainly on the back of legs.
  • vpeachesvpeaches Member Posts: 18 Member Member Posts: 18 Member
    OP why not get on a structured well designed hypertrophy programme first.
    Perhaps maintain ur weight for a few months.
    You don’t need to bulk and cut to see some progress and change in body comp. Especially if you haven’t done structured resistance training before or for very long.
    I just wonder if the bulking and cutting may trigger disordered thoughts about eating if that’s in ur history. Of course I don’t know that, but it would be a concern if I were in ur shoes.

    Have you been following a programme?

    I've never really followed a specific structured programme before, usually just sporadic exercising sessions (or at least when gyms were still open, i'd cycle through different muscle groups like 'push, pull, and legs' but not very consistently). After reading your comment a few days ago I spent a few hours yesterday researching and building my own program! I have to test it out this week and see how it feels/ if it needs any tweaking. :)
  • langstontllangstontl Member Posts: 59 Member Member Posts: 59 Member
    davew0000 wrote: »
    Hello.

    I liked this article. Bret Contreras seems pretty balanced in his views on the subject. My wife liked his book Strong Curves.

    https://bretcontreras.com/to-bulk-and-cut-or-not/

    Dave

    I just suggested Strong Curves to another woman who is just starting out with weight training. I used the book when I started and loved it! I highly recommend it.

    @vpeaches Just be patient and don't expect results right away. I felt better before I thought I looked better. Cellulite issue here as well. Some of it went away, but not all of it. Cardio was not changing my body the way I was hoping so I went to weight training. It took me almost 2 years to get to where I noticed major results. Upper body developed much faster than lower body and abs. Of course I am my own worst enemy and harshest critic, so others saw it long before me :) Keep up the great work. You look amazing.
    edited April 26
  • DancingMoosieDancingMoosie Member Posts: 7,133 Member Member Posts: 7,133 Member
    vpeaches wrote: »
    OP why not get on a structured well designed hypertrophy programme first.
    Perhaps maintain ur weight for a few months.
    You don’t need to bulk and cut to see some progress and change in body comp. Especially if you haven’t done structured resistance training before or for very long.
    I just wonder if the bulking and cutting may trigger disordered thoughts about eating if that’s in ur history. Of course I don’t know that, but it would be a concern if I were in ur shoes.

    Have you been following a programme?

    I've never really followed a specific structured programme before, usually just sporadic exercising sessions (or at least when gyms were still open, i'd cycle through different muscle groups like 'push, pull, and legs' but not very consistently). After reading your comment a few days ago I spent a few hours yesterday researching and building my own program! I have to test it out this week and see how it feels/ if it needs any tweaking. :)

    Without a good program, you might not see the results you want. Working sporadically doesn't sound like the best idea. Recomp is a good option for now. You can see how your body responds to training at your current weight. After a few months you can decide if you'd like to cut further.
  • ChieflrgChieflrg Member Posts: 8,832 Member Member Posts: 8,832 Member
    vpeaches wrote: »
    2qgjdv3i0lm9.jpeg
    dysrflh0p9u4.jpeg

    Currently 24F, 150 lbs, 5’8.

    Hi everyone, I’ve been in a state of plateau for about 4 years. My starting weight was 210 and I lost most of the weight over 5 years ago and have been fluctuating around 150 ever since. I was doing a lot of cardio and I really hate it/have not been improving, so recently I began incorporating more weight training- and surprisingly have been putting on muscle in my arms pretty easily. However I still have quite a lot of soft jiggly fat on my arms and thighs. It’s really messing with my confidence. I have always had really visible cellulite on my legs/butt, ever since hitting puberty around 11 years old. It has never waivered even when hitting a personal low of 130lbs (I had an eating disorder at that time and have since recovered) 3 years ago.

    I am not sure what to do here, both calorie wise and in relation to my exercise routine? I would love to reduce the cellulite and slim down my arms. I don’t really gain weight on my abdomen but to eventually have a firm stomach would be a great bonus. Should I keep trying to drastically reduce my calories, or is it safe to begin training for muscle growth?

    Any and all advice appreciated.

    First off congrats on losing weight.

    It is always encouraged to resistance train for strength. Hypertrophy and Strength gains are beneficial not a risk or unsafe.

    We just need appropriate stimulus which if you are untrained any resistance training if novel can produce a strength adaptation...even riding a bike is useful. This period doesnt last very long but the idea is starting with a small amount is all that is needed opposed to going into the gym and training for 60-90min a day your first weeks.

    How you dose the stimulus is up to the equipment you have available and time.
  • vpeachesvpeaches Member Posts: 18 Member Member Posts: 18 Member
    Dancing moosie is correct.
    Don’t make up your own programme. It will give you less than optimal results. The vast majority of regulars on this forum either have specialist coaches who do their programming or the follow an established programme.
    You won’t see changes without a decent programme and consistency following it for months to years. Sorry this isn’t a quick fix!

    By an established programme do you mean something like PHUL?

    The programme i put together is just a modified version of a template I saw online, modified to suit the equipment I have available at home. I did a lot of research and wouldn't just make anything up off the top of my head! I do have a friend who used to be a personal trainer, I can ask him for his opinion maybe?
  • vpeachesvpeaches Member Posts: 18 Member Member Posts: 18 Member

    Without a good program, you might not see the results you want. Working sporadically doesn't sound like the best idea. Recomp is a good option for now. You can see how your body responds to training at your current weight. After a few months you can decide if you'd like to cut further.

    Sporadically is what I had been doing in my plateau state for the last few years- I intend to try a more rigid and structured routine, training 5 days a week to see how it feels (I have already started this week and though I'm a little sore I feel pretty good so far).
    edited April 28
  • cupcakesandproteinshakescupcakesandproteinshakes Member Posts: 844 Member Member Posts: 844 Member

    By an established programme do you mean something like PHUL?

    The programme i put together is just a modified version of a template I saw online, modified to suit the equipment I have available at home. I did a lot of research and wouldn't just make anything up off the top of my head! I do have a friend who used to be a personal trainer, I can ask him for his opinion maybe?

    What equipment do you have access to?
    edited May 6
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