Setting expectations for fat loss and muscle gain

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April 27, 2018

I started StrongLifts on everyone's recommendation a few weeks ago and am really enjoying it. My goal is to hit 200 pounds and 12% body fat as soon as is reasonably possible. I'm setting monthly and yearly goals for 2018 and 2019 and want to make sure I'm setting realistic expectations for myself. Can anyone who has been on a journey from 30% body fat to 12% body fat take a look and let me know if my numbers and time frame seem reasonable? Here they are:

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Title Setting expectations for fat loss and muscle gain
Author pursuing_the_ideal
Upvotes 7
Comments 27
Date 27 April 2018 05:09 PM UTC (2 years ago)
Subreddit askMRP
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[–]Red-Curious7 points8 points  (12 children) | Copy

True gains are not achieved in a linear fashion, so I'd be cautious on that. You want to go through cycles of bulking and cutting. This is much more effective at body-sculpting, whereas linear gains usually develop more of a runner/swimmer build. That's cool if you want to be the skinny guy who pops a few veins. But if you want to be impressive and stand apart, you're going to want actual muscle mass and not just weight loss.

I started with 28% body fat just under a year ago and am sitting at 14% today. So your template going from 29% to 17% in a full year seems to be selling yourself short. But I also don't know what your schedule looks like and how much time you have to commit to this or how devoted you can be to dieting. I eat like crap most of the time, so my improvement is even with only about 2 months of actual cutting. If you can diet more consistently, I'm sure you could do much better.

As far as lifts go, tarting from a bench of 135, for the first 6 months I saw my bench press go up by about 5-10lbs per week. After 6 months I had a series of illnesses and a surgery that made me go in a cycle of having to constantly rebuild up to my previous max again. I presently bench 285 as my ORM. My goal for next month is 300, after which I'll start a heavy cut-diet again.

Similarly, my squat started at 155 and my deadlift at 135. I upped those incrementally until now, where I'm sitting at 365 for a 3-rep max on each. For some reason illness and surgery really don't cause me to lose much in the way of leg strength, so that wasn't much of a problem and I have been able to increase steadily.

I mention the lifting side more because given your starting weight most of your improvements will come not from losing weight, but from gaining muscle. It's doable, just be committed. If losing weight is a priority to you, though, then add a bit of cardio at the end of each lifting session. I try to run 2.5-5 miles after my SL 5x5 routine, which functions as a calorie dump to offset some of the trash I eat with my kids :p

[–]red-sfpplusHard Core Red4 points5 points  (11 children) | Copy

Next time you are in the gym load up 415 on DL and pull it up.

With a 365 squat you should be pulling more than 4 plates.

Nice progressions.

[–]Red-Curious0 points1 point  (10 children) | Copy

If I bought some straps, I might try that. Right now I'm capping out what my fingers can hold before the bar slips out of my hand.

[–]red-sfpplusHard Core Red4 points5 points  (2 children) | Copy

Just buy straps. I strap up for anything over 455. Your grip will keep improving. Dont let it limit your DL progress.

[–]Red-Curious0 points1 point  (1 child) | Copy

Good point here too. I remember when my grip capped out at 315. I'll have to start using my grip clamps more often.

[–]BobbyPeru0 points1 point  (0 children) | Copy

I’ve found wrist curls can help here. Builds the forearms, wrists, and grip simultaneously. I’ve noticed it’s helped my bicep curls also

[–]mindfulbutgutlessRed Beret2 points3 points  (4 children) | Copy

Hook grip, straps should be used only for supplemental and accessory lifts

[–]Red-Curious0 points1 point  (3 children) | Copy

Thanks for the tip, I'll have to try that out.

[–]mindfulbutgutlessRed Beret0 points1 point  (1 child) | Copy

I had the same issue at 345, then switched to the hook grip. FYI you might want to deload a bit to get used to the hook grip, it will be very uncomfortable at first. Once your thumbs get used to it, it becomes second nature.

[–]Red-Curious1 point2 points  (0 children) | Copy

Cool. Using gloves might help too. Our gym just got new equipment and the new gripping on their bars is a whole line of metallic diamonds points that dig into your hands. It's quite painful and makes a tight grip almost impossible and may even draw blood. Some people are asking them to file it down. It's pretty frustrating, especially for deadlifts and squats.

[–]BraveryDave0 points1 point  (0 children) | Copy

If you aren't a competitive powerlifter just use straps on heavy sets and train your grip separately. You're handicapping yourself by letting your grip strength dictate the amount the rest of you can lift.

[–][deleted] 0 points1 point  (1 child) | Copy

Straps help if your grip is really the limiting factor, but make sure you use chalk and aren't just throwing in the towel because of slippery hands. If your gym is anal about getting it all over the equipment, use liquid chalk. You can buy like a year's supply of chalk for eight bucks and it's night and day for deadlift grip and farmer's carries. I had a hard time holding 365 without chalk with sweaty hands, but can rack pull well over 525 with some chalk.

[–]Red-Curious0 points1 point  (0 children) | Copy

Good to know.

[–]paterfamilias784 points5 points  (1 child) | Copy

I have tracked all of this for myself and done the research. You will probably gain faster than you have assumed in the first year, and less than you have assumed in the later years.

Given decent genetics, smart training, no injuries, and starting relatively untrained, a 6' tall man should be happy to gain the following:

Year 1: 20 lb lean mass

Year 2: 10 lb lean mass

Year 3: 5 lb lean mass

Year 4: 3 lb lean mass

Year 5: 2 lb lean mass

Lifetime Total: 40-45 lb lean mass

I have been lifting for 2 years and tracking with measurements every 4 weeks. I've managed to gain at the rate listed and am very happy with it.

[–]gameoflibidos1 point2 points  (0 children) | Copy

This is pretty accurate with the most of that year one growth coming in the first 6 months. Dramatically slows down after that.

[–]Seangar2 points3 points  (0 children) | Copy

I'd recommend working on fat loss first, it's impossible to both build muscle and lose fat at the same time (outside of newbie gains). Muscle = more calories; Weight loss = calorie deficit. If I were you I'd look into the keto diet combined with intermittent fasting. The fat will melt off, once you get to the body fat your comfortable with (12%), increase to a caloric surplus and try to aim for about 15%. Once there, go back to caloric deficit. Rinse and repeat. All while continuing stronglifts 5x5 with a bit of cardo ;) Good luck

Also.. toss that spreadsheet in the trash. No point in trying to predict your results, keep track of them as they happen. You'll see a huge difference in the first 3 months that will probably go beyond your expectations if you stay disciplined/motivated and put the work in.

[–]justpickanyusernameRed Beret2 points3 points  (0 children) | Copy

Cool chart. But, it doesn't mean shit. It's kind of like just talking, but using Excel. Acta no verba.

I'm not going to pick apart your chart. I don't know your past history with lifting, former collegiate athlete, nutrition, drive, determination. I would say that putting on 47lbs of muscle would put you in rare company without anabolics especially since much of that time you will be in a caloric deficit.

Focus on shorter term goals to start with. Just get thru StrongLifts to begin with and trying to drop body fat to at least 15% and then you can re-evaluate.

[–]CaptJohnLukeDiscard2 points3 points  (2 children) | Copy

Focus on dropping fat % first as much and as quickly as possible (while still retaining what little muscle you have). Then add muscle back. You will thank yourself.

[–]NoCoast821 point2 points  (1 child) | Copy

Reasons this is the vest plan:

-If your new to weight training you can drop fat a good rate and will still add some muscle mass

-if you get lean, you can add muscle mass without a ton of fat gain. If your much above 10-12% bf the majority of weight gain will be fat.

-skinny guy with abs is more attractive then strong but fat, to most women... aim for the former first, aspire to strong guy with abs.

[–]CaptJohnLukeDiscard1 point2 points  (0 children) | Copy

Women don’t care how strong you are. 99.99% have no appreciate for the difference between benching 3 plates and 4. They want a man who looks good.

[–]Reach180Red Beret1 point2 points  (0 children) | Copy

Username checks out?

[–]amalgamator1 point2 points  (0 children) | Copy

Plan on trying to lose 1% of your body weight a week. Your numbers are way off for fat loss. You probably won’t add much muscle during the fat loss phase - but you will add a little during the beginning for your newbie gains.

[–]gameoflibidos1 point2 points  (0 children) | Copy

That time line is pretty much impossible without stacking roids. If you stack roids sure. But I suggest you avoid them.

Only top tier (top 1%) genetics and perfect training with no set backs can consistently put on 1lb+ of lean muscle every month. The first part being very rare and the 2nd part being impossible.

What you want will take 5 years at least and that's if you even have the genetics to support that. Some people simply can't get that far without roids.

200lbs and 12% body fat is like a big NFL cornerback. Richard Sherman for example is 6 foot 3 and 195lbs. Probably 10-12% body fat.

He looks small next to a NFL Linebacker.. but look at him here individually;

if you're coming from 30-35% body fat, which is most moderately overweight people, and about 6 foot tall... don't expect to be 200lbs of mostly lean muscle until 2023 or so and that's with a good training program the whole time, really good clean diet of whole foods, and supplementation with the correct stuff that actually works. (which is pretty much just protein powder and creatine, everything else is garbage)

[–]screechhaterRed Beret0 points1 point  (0 children) | Copy

wholly fuck lift your 3 days load like a fucker and push hard

then, look @ your intake and make damn sure your macros are where they need to be, specifically in the day of lifting

eat whole foods and avoid protein bars and all the rage

make damn sure you are lifting and doing some HIIT cardio to kill the fat (I perform 15 mins of burpees @ 4am, 12 noon and 6pm)

a lot will post on here not possible, but for the lay person, it's doable. I have weight gain cycle from immune deficiency steroid intake, and I am working toward my abs showing again and it's literally watch everything I eat and make damn sure my muscles are fed the minimum to keep intact, but no more

read the following diet detail BTW this should not be all time consuming this is a major portion of your MAP, but not your entire life

[–]SteelToeShitKickerRed Beret0 points1 point  (2 children) | Copy

If I had to do it all over, before starting my journey, I'd get my T checked. You can get it done for 35$ ( and make sure your T is at least mid-range. If it isn't you are going to have a hard time making gains and losing fat. I have spun my wheels for years, now that I'm injecting, it's a whole different game.

Certainly worth the 35$ just to know.

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