Powerlifting and cutting

I’ve been lifting for a few years and just switched to powerlifting, planning to do my first meet in October.

Obviously getting stronger is a goal right now but from the physique side I’d like to cut about 10% bodyfat (not necessarily by October, just in general, I’m around 28% now).

Any advice for doing both?

Replies

  • Stockholm_Andy
    Stockholm_Andy Posts: 739 Member
    Hi Melissa getting to 10% BF as a lady and getting stronger at the same time are somewhat opposing goals. IMHO you need to prioritise one or the other.

    For a female 10% is pretty shredded which good power lifters are not usually....
  • PWRLFTR1
    PWRLFTR1 Posts: 324 Member
    steveko89 wrote: »
    having been lifting for a few years you'll need to balance being in a deficit with your performance aspirations more than a novice lifter would. Probably should try to stick close to maintenance calories or at a slight deficit between now and your meet. After the meet you'll have more flexibility to cut a little more aggressively without worrying about losing strength so much.

    This.
  • Chieflrg
    Chieflrg Posts: 9,081 Member
    edited July 2018
    Since it's not a short term goal it attainable though there are definitely holes in the path.

    From a more optimal performance angle, powerlifters tend to be on the higher body fat range. I myself as a male hang in the 15-16% oppose to my usual 11-12% of when I played football or baseball for 30+ years. Females will be higher depending on how male they are genetically.

    The problem lies with losing weight with a goal of gaining strength. It will happen for a quick moment depending how trained you are, but most people tend to stall out because of lack of understanding of what is needed or they running a program that they don't respond to well.

    Your programming will be key and hopefully it will have autoegulation incorporated in some fashion. For strength, volume at a useful intensity is the motor. People who lose weight and begin stalling will sometimes drop their volume when they should be adding a set at a appropriate intensity. If the weight loss is slow and programming and revovery is on point, gaining strength will not be a issue until you must gain more muscle or need more advanced programming.

    I would look at your lifting logs and don't stray to far from what works and add things with specificity to powerlifting as well as direct accessories. Adjust volume at the appropriate intensity and not chase numbers rather look at the long term. Strength gains are not linear and can be just the opposite with bad advice or coaching.
  • sgt1372
    sgt1372 Posts: 3,973 Member
    edited July 2018
    The powerlifters I've seen (both male and female) are not interested in cutting. They are all big/heavy for their height because, in general, the more you weigh, the more you can lift.

    So, if you truly want to maximize strength, you should be bulking, not cutting.

    If you just want to get stronger than you already are during a cut, that's possible provided you don't lose any muscle mass during the cut and haven't yet maximizesd the strength of your existing musculature but otherwise your expectation during a cut should just be to maintain your existing strength and muscle mass as much as possible.

    Good luck!
  • MelissaSheklian
    MelissaSheklian Posts: 141 Member
    Thanks all, very helpful!

    To clarify, yes I meant lose 10%, my goal is 18-22% body fat. I was mostly afraid that I was being entirely unrealistic but understand that gaining strength and cutting fat should be done in cycles
  • moogie_fit
    moogie_fit Posts: 279 Member
    I would find out what weight class you are going to be in before changing your weight substantially
  • LiftHeavyThings27105
    LiftHeavyThings27105 Posts: 2,104 Member
    moogie_fit wrote: »
    I would find out what weight class you are going to be in before changing your weight substantially

    Agree....100%.....and I would suggest, generally speaking, that for your first Power Lifting competition I would not even think about cutting. The first Power Lifting competition is all about becoming familiar with the rules and the format and the lifts. It is different in the gym vs. in a competition.

    If I might ask, in what "federation" are you? I am in USAPL (don't do Power Lifting any longer....that might change at some point...we will see).

    And, how is your training? What does that look like?
  • billkansas
    billkansas Posts: 267 Member
    I'm doing my first cut as an intermediate powerlifter. It's miserable... I've lost 10 lbs so far, but all of my lifts (squat, deadlift, press, and bench) are down by 10% or more. Since you say you "just switched" to powerlifting, you might be able to increase your lifts a little while cutting. I'm looking forward to the future and getting my bodyfat down so I can start another bulk... hopefully it will push me over the hump and I can hit the 1000lb club before I turn 50.
  • LiftHeavyThings27105
    LiftHeavyThings27105 Posts: 2,104 Member
    billkansas wrote: »
    I'm doing my first cut as an intermediate powerlifter. It's miserable... I've lost 10 lbs so far, but all of my lifts (squat, deadlift, press, and bench) are down by 10% or more. Since you say you "just switched" to powerlifting, you might be able to increase your lifts a little while cutting. I'm looking forward to the future and getting my bodyfat down so I can start another bulk... hopefully it will push me over the hump and I can hit the 1000lb club before I turn 50.

    I started doing Keto (because of high A1C) while I was doing Power Lifting...I had to do Carb Timing to have a chance. I would eat a Sweet Potato about one hour before...otherwise the training session that day was horrible.

    I am 51....had not squatted since high school (started Power Lifting some 18 months ago...well, 20 months ago at this point) and never deadlifted before (as in never) and these are the best numbers I had:

    Squat: 5x5 @ 295lbs.
    Dead Lift: 5x5 @ 365.
    Bench: 5x5 @ 225lbs.

    6'0" @ 205lbs....

    I did that shortly before turning 51 (end of April). So, if my noggin is working right, that is a total of 885lbs. And, not 1RM. Five sets of Five Reps each....so, maybe 1,000lbs was attainable? Point is, if I can do this (or come really close) then I know that you can!

    Cutting is going to kill the performance. No doubt. And, you know this. So, don't let it discourage you.
  • billkansas
    billkansas Posts: 267 Member
    LiftHeavyThings- fantastic 5x5's. What program are you on? If I squatted 295x5x5- pretty sure I wouldn't be walking for a few days (and I'm among the best "old man squatters" at my gym).
  • broseidonkingofbrocean
    broseidonkingofbrocean Posts: 180 Member
    sgt1372 wrote: »
    The powerlifters I've seen (both male and female) are not interested in cutting. They are all big/heavy for their height because, in general, the more you weigh, the more you can lift.

    So, if you truly want to maximize strength, you should be bulking, not cutting.

    If you just want to get stronger than you already are during a cut, that's possible provided you don't lose any muscle mass during the cut and haven't yet maximizesd the strength of your existing musculature but otherwise your expectation during a cut should just be to maintain your existing strength and muscle mass as much as possible.

    Good luck!

    Powerlifters are very interested in cutting, maybe not in the traditional bodybuilder sense but there are weight classes and weigh ins.

    @OP You really are going to have to decide what you want to do. I see two options that you have right now.

    Option 1 and I personally would do this one. Don't worry about cutting that body fat% right now and focus on your first power lifting meet. After this do your cut and see where you are and if you want to do more in the future.

    Option 2 is cut now and figure out where you'll be weight class wise as you approach your meet date.

    Overall do what you feel is best for you and have fun at your first meet! Good luck on both of your journeys!
  • LiftHeavyThings27105
    LiftHeavyThings27105 Posts: 2,104 Member
    billkansas wrote: »
    LiftHeavyThings- fantastic 5x5's. What program are you on? If I squatted 295x5x5- pretty sure I wouldn't be walking for a few days (and I'm among the best "old man squatters" at my gym).

    I was following Strong Lifts for a few months...and then started doing my owm programming. Which is why I am not doing power lifting any longer (have not for some three months). I was training balls to the wall all the time and would do great until I hurt myself. No bueno. I was at 85% of 1RM all day, everyday. Dumb dumb dumb. Learned my lesson. I tone it down and do planned de-loads and listen to my body...anyway, I could not do those numbers again. Not now. Will see if/when I do dead lifts and squats again.
  • LiftHeavyThings27105
    LiftHeavyThings27105 Posts: 2,104 Member
    sgt1372 wrote: »
    The powerlifters I've seen (both male and female) are not interested in cutting. They are all big/heavy for their height because, in general, the more you weigh, the more you can lift.

    So, if you truly want to maximize strength, you should be bulking, not cutting.

    If you just want to get stronger than you already are during a cut, that's possible provided you don't lose any muscle mass during the cut and haven't yet maximizesd the strength of your existing musculature but otherwise your expectation during a cut should just be to maintain your existing strength and muscle mass as much as possible.

    Good luck!

    Powerlifters are very interested in cutting, maybe not in the traditional bodybuilder sense but there are weight classes and weigh ins.

    @OP You really are going to have to decide what you want to do. I see two options that you have right now.

    Option 1 and I personally would do this one. Don't worry about cutting that body fat% right now and focus on your first power lifting meet. After this do your cut and see where you are and if you want to do more in the future.

    Option 2 is cut now and figure out where you'll be weight class wise as you approach your meet date.

    Overall do what you feel is best for you and have fun at your first meet! Good luck on both of your journeys!

    I like Option 1. The first competition is all about the experience and learning what happens when and how. Cutting would not be something I would want to do. But that is me.
  • MelissaSheklian
    MelissaSheklian Posts: 141 Member
    Honestly just cleaning up my nutrition and increasing training volume is already changing my physique (not much movement on the scale but looking leaner and feeling stronger).

    I like the idea of just training for the meet and enjoying what my coach calls "newbie gainz" from developing proper form with existing muscle.

    Federation is USAPL, lifting 4 days a week (split 2upper, 2 lower days) with a separate conditioning day.