Advice on getting lean without losing more weight
I've arrived at maintenance. According to the age- and gender-adjusted Jackson-Pollack body fat chart, I'm at a healthy BF% (21%) for my age (51), and my weight (158) is OK for my height (66"), too.
The problem is that I want to be lean (16% BF) to show some muscular definition. The obvious suggestion is to do weight resistance training + HIIT, but I do — nearly 7 hours a week of it (see example workout below). I've hit a plateau, and I don't know how to get stronger. I changed up my routine about a month ago, and I'm only slightly stronger than I was. For example, I can lift only than about 40% of my body weight in a bench press, and only 6 reps worth of that.
I adopted a form of intermittent fasting about 4 weeks ago after reading the leangains.com site. I eat only in an 8-hour window, and only 2 large meals per day, with a high-calcium snack like yogurt or cheese every 3rd day. I'm not perfect with this protocol, but I stick to it 5-6 days each week. I eat closer to 1900 calories on non-workout days, and closer to 2500 on workout days. When I deviate, I'm still low-carb/primal, but I "graze," eating for more than 8 hours and with smaller meals and snacks. I suppose I could reduce my calories, but I'm not sure that would do anything but lower my metabolism.
I'm lifting as heavy as I can 3x/week. Here's an example from my most recent workout, adapted from "I Want to… Do a Pull-Up!":
10 min. recumbent bike (low-speed)
Lat-pec stretch on foam roller
Shoulder Circuits (3 sets)
Band pull-aparts (15x3)
Wall slides (10x2)
DB split squat (25x10x3)
DB incline press (30x10x3)
Plank push-ups (10x3)
Close-grip front lat pulldown (70x12, 85x10, 100x6)
Pushups (15 shoulder-width, 15 elevated, 15 spiderman)
Plank sets (3 sets, L. side w/flexing 30 sec., front 30 sec. . R. side w/flexing 30 sec.)
Band-assisted pullups* (10, 8, .5, 6); I estimate I'm lifting 50% of my weight
Standing wide-grip cable row (23x12, 27x10, 30x8, 33x6)
DB bicep curl w/ shoulder press (12.5x12, 15x10, 17.5x8, 20x6)
HIIT cardio, 20 min.
*I stand on a huge rubber band slung over 2 parallel posts, then do a pull up where my hands grab 2 small handholds above me.
I've built up to my current weight amounts and pull-up lifts over the course of 4 weeks, and I've hit my plateau. I have some limits on how much weight I can safely lift in the DB squat, due to knee problems (crepitus, aka crunchy knee syndrome) and shoulder/deltoid exercises (tight rotator cuffs). I can do 1-2 unassisted pull-ups or chin-ups, and I can't make any progress in my bench press or military press. Am I just being impatient, or is it possible I've already reached my genetic potential?
Any ideas for breaking through this plateau?
Last edited by acohn; 04-29-2012 at 11:45 AM.
Did I offend people?
I've had 76 views on this post but zero responses. Did I say something offensive or incredibly ignorant? Should I just RTFM/RTFB?
Huh... That is odd. Maybe no one really knew the answer?
Originally Posted by acohn
No, not offensive or ignorant to me. Just WAY too dang much exercise. I couldn't think after reading all that. Made me tired. :-)
I'm a 45 yo dude, lost 48 lbs in 30ish weeks, 274 to 226. Used to play football and bench press and squat zillions of lbs and what not. Then got old and fat. When I was more conventional and more fat, I used to do push ups 2-3 times per day, morning, noon and night. Now I do push ups 1-2 times per week. Usually one set of 35-50 depending on how I feel that day, occasionally 2 sets of 25-30 instead if I tire quickly. I also do squats, pull ups and occasionally planks (hate em). I sprint every 2-3 weeks and I walk 2-4 miles 4-5 times per week. That is my entire exercise program start to finish. My muscles are developing more this time around then they ever did when I went to gyms or exercised every day. I don't know if it is rest time or lots of protein and fat. Those are my only two variables. My guess is you either need more rest time and/or make sure you eat lots of protein and fat to give your body the raw materials it needs.
Congrats on making your goal weight!!! And good luck with the leanness!
Yeah, you are doing IMO way too much! I'm 47 and I train for about 20-30 minutes a week at most and I'm in the best shape I've been in in a long time. You are doing all those sets of all those exercises, then doing HIIT??? My weight training workout lasts all of about 12 minutes and I can barely walk afterwards much less do HIIT!
Please understand that exercise is only meant to be a stimulus. Your body does the rest. But to do that first the stimulus must be intense and deep enough then the recovery time must be long enough to not only build back what is depleted but then to overcompensate i.e. growth stronger, bigger muscles. If these requirements are not met you will get at best mixed or no results. 7 hours a week training is insane! Unless you are some genetic freak and or on steroids that is looking for serious systemic breakdown trouble. More is NOT better! The right amount is perfect.
Another thing is your intensity level while training. I simply can't believe that you are training all that hard on that schedule. If you were, you'd not be able to do near that much.
[QUOTE=Another thing is your intensity level while training. I simply can't believe that you are training all that hard on that schedule. If you were, you'd not be able to do near that much.[/QUOTE]
That's true. Last night I really wanted to do 50 push ups in one set, but I could only do 35, I waited about 10 seconds and did 15 more. My arms and pecs were numb and I could barely move for 30 minutes or so. Pecs are feeling pretty buff right now! And I'm not doing any pushups tonight, I can still feel it.
If you (Buffdv) can normally do 50 pushups in a set and you could only get 35 last night, you are clearly doing them too often! Give your body some time to adapt! It is a MUST! Do the pushups twice a week and see what happens!
Increased recovery time? At age 51, you might just be working out too much. Body by Science and Drew Baye both have some good explanations of how easy it is to overtrain and how/why it happens. Increased age also requires increased recovery time. You might just be doing too much. If you work a muscle before it has recovered completely, you are tearing down what was half built up, and there are limits to how long you can do that.
Originally Posted by acohn
But yes, it is a complex question and there are a tone of variables. The best you'll get is a few ideas of things to try.
You shouldn't be hitting a plateau in 4 weeks, so that tells me something is pretty wrong with your plan or you are simply impatient. It takes a long time to build muscle, even when you are young and have high testosterone levels.
1. Deload, and work out less often. Muscles get built during recovery time, not during the workout. If you aren't increasing your weight after every workout then you aren't recovering.
2. Work on healing your joints- MobilityWOD, glucosamine, bone broth, physical therapy... That will help you more than anything else, I bet, because then you can *hopefully* start doing the lifts that get the real results, such as squats and deadlift.
3. If you can stand an HIIT workout for 20 minutes, then your intensity is not high enough. The toughest HIIT workout I've ever seen (Tabata sprints) are 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off, for four minutes. The hardest one I've ever done was 20 seconds on, 40 seconds off for 15 minutes, and I felt like I was going to die. Get off the machines and run, or maybe swim. The machines are holding you back.
Are you sure you're eating enough? 1900/2500 kcal sounds a bit light. You might try eating more and doing less cardio. There is a lot of truth to the technique bodybuilders use to cut...they bulk first. Put on some lean muscle before you try to reduce bodyfat. Besides, a redirection on your training and diet will make you feel good! Have fun and enjoy the experiment.
I do not think you're too old to do this. Master class bodybuilders do it.
You have conflicting goals. I want to get stronger... I want to get leaner. It is very difficult to do both.
I'd start using barbells. Follow starting strength and gain some strength for a while. Then focus on dropping the bf%.