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  #1   ^
Old Sat, Apr-28-12, 20:39
aj_cohn's Avatar
aj_cohn aj_cohn is offline
Senior Member
Posts: 3,948
 
Plan: Protein Power
Stats: 213/167/165 Male 65 in.
BF:35%/23%/20%
Progress: 96%
Location: United States
Default Get lean but not lose weight?

I've arrived at maintenance. According to the age- and gender-adjusted Jackson-Pollack body fat chart, I'm at a healthy BF%, and my weight is OK, 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. 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.

I suppose I could reduce my calories (I bounce between 1900 and 2500), but I'm not sure that would do anything but lower my metabolism.

Any ideas for breaking through this plateau?
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  #2   ^
Old Sun, Apr-29-12, 06:29
anthonyc anthonyc is offline
Senior Member
Posts: 886
 
Plan: Primal Blueprint
Stats: 389.6/222.6/225 Male 6'2"
BF:24.6%
Progress: 101%
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Default

Intermittant fast, eat a lot and lift heavy things
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  #3   ^
Old Sun, Apr-29-12, 10:41
aj_cohn's Avatar
aj_cohn aj_cohn is offline
Senior Member
Posts: 3,948
 
Plan: Protein Power
Stats: 213/167/165 Male 65 in.
BF:35%/23%/20%
Progress: 96%
Location: United States
Default

Anthony, thanks for your suggestions. 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.

Also, 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!":

Warmup
10 min. recumbent bike (low-speed)
Lat-pec stretch on foam roller
Shoulder Circuits (3 sets)
Band pull-aparts (15x3)
Wall slides (10x2)

Superset 1
DB split squat (25x10x3)
DB incline press (30x10x3)

Superset 2
Plank push-ups (10x3)
Close-grip front lat pulldown (70x12, 85x10, 100x6)

Superset 3
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.)

Superset 4
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)


Superset 5
DB bicep curl w/ shoulder press (12.5x12, 15x10, 17.5x8, 20x6)
Standing Push/Pull

HIIT cardio, 20 min.

Does this qualify as lifting heavy things?

I've built up to my current weight amounts and pull-up lifts over the course of 6 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).

Still, I'm stuck. 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?

*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.
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  #4   ^
Old Sun, Apr-29-12, 15:48
Sam Knox's Avatar
Sam Knox Sam Knox is offline
Registered Member
Posts: 47
 
Plan: My own
Stats: 211/179/175 Male 6'3"
BF:
Progress: 89%
Location: Richland, Washington
Default

AJ,

Just based on the information you've posted, my first thought is that you're lifting too often. (Sets and reps are another conversation.) It may be that your performance is limited by lack of recovery time.

Optimum frequency is a matter of trial and error. For me, lifting no more often than every 5 days seems to work best.
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  #5   ^
Old Mon, Apr-30-12, 20:15
aj_cohn's Avatar
aj_cohn aj_cohn is offline
Senior Member
Posts: 3,948
 
Plan: Protein Power
Stats: 213/167/165 Male 65 in.
BF:35%/23%/20%
Progress: 96%
Location: United States
Default

Hi Sam,

Thanks for the feedback. The master trainer I worked with to make sure these routines were sound, though, advised a 3x/week schedule. I can put 2 rest days in between each workout session, but I'd feel like a slacker going less frequently than that.
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  #6   ^
Old Tue, May-01-12, 08:59
Seejay's Avatar
Seejay Seejay is offline
Senior Member
Posts: 3,025
 
Plan: Optimal Diet
Stats: 00/00/00 Female 62 inches
BF:
Progress: 8%
Default

I agree on the lack of recovery time. Respectfully disagreeing with your trainer - There are other master trainers who advise that the more muscle you have, and you exhaust them 100%, you naturally need more time for repair - which is where the growth happens.

Here is an article pointing to the last 10 years of research. It is now common knowledge that more recovery time is not slacking.

http://saveyourself.ca/articles/str...g-frequency.php

You could also do a google search on "strength training plateau" and see if anything resonates for you.

Also have you seen Mark Sisson's guidelines? He has strength training 2-3 times a week and high intensity only once.

If you are even slightly overstripping your recovery it's like blowing up a tire while standing on it.
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  #7   ^
Old Tue, May-01-12, 18:53
aj_cohn's Avatar
aj_cohn aj_cohn is offline
Senior Member
Posts: 3,948
 
Plan: Protein Power
Stats: 213/167/165 Male 65 in.
BF:35%/23%/20%
Progress: 96%
Location: United States
Default

OK, guys, message heard. At 21% BF, though, I didn't think I *had* all that much muscle to begin with. I also don't regard the weight training I do as high-intensity, but no one's ever given me feedback about that. I suppose, though, that needing to use BCAA before and after workouts is one sign of a heavy workout.

I'll cut back to 2x/week this week, and I'm taking the next week off, since I do that once every two months anyway.

Thinking about cutting back, though, is raising some interesting emotional issues. I've become attached to getting well before dawn and working out thoroughly by the time most people go to work. It's become part of my self-image as a fit and trim person. The change will be "interesting."

Last edited by aj_cohn : Tue, May-01-12 at 19:03.
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  #8   ^
Old Wed, May-02-12, 09:23
Seejay's Avatar
Seejay Seejay is offline
Senior Member
Posts: 3,025
 
Plan: Optimal Diet
Stats: 00/00/00 Female 62 inches
BF:
Progress: 8%
Default

Aw that is soo cool about your new habits and self image.
Here's a challenge you can do well before dawn and every day - how about on your recovery days between really heavy workouts, you pursue movement sophistication. Are you limited to a gym? Can you get outside? There is a whole world of activity for lower intensity days. Like range of motion dynamic stretching - how good is your range of motion, is it fluid like a martial artist or clunky like a lobster on its back. How is your muscle firing sequence from the heels up - how are your batting, throwing, darts skills (only slightly kidding). That sort of thing. Can you pick up new things quickly like Tai Chi (can you see my admiration for the martial arts I guess). Or urban running or parkour - what a blast.
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  #9   ^
Old Fri, Jun-08-12, 04:33
Lean Ape's Avatar
Lean Ape Lean Ape is offline
New Member
Posts: 13
 
Plan: To Be A Ninja
Stats: 187/165/154 Male 70
BF:
Progress: 67%
Default

I am with Sam on this one. It sounds like you are overtraining by lifting too often. I also only train every fifth day, and progress keeps coming. But you may also just need a break as well.

I find that after about 12 weeks I simply cannot progress so take a fortnight off.

I would add in an extra rest day after each workout and see if your lifts improve. If not add in an extra day. Some people are real hardgainers and can't progress strength wise if they lift for a bodypart more than once every 7 to 10 days.

Everyone is different.

You may also find that some bodyparts can take more exercise. If so then you could trian them on days that are not main workout sessions, so you still feel like you are active. I think I could train my forearms every day if I wanted, they seem to react totally differently to the rest of me.

But the issue may well be nutrition as well. You need carbs after resistance training if you want to make decent progress in terms of size and strength. If you are not getting that then it may be it is the cause behind lack of progress.
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  #10   ^
Old Fri, Jun-08-12, 13:18
aj_cohn's Avatar
aj_cohn aj_cohn is offline
Senior Member
Posts: 3,948
 
Plan: Protein Power
Stats: 213/167/165 Male 65 in.
BF:35%/23%/20%
Progress: 96%
Location: United States
Default

Hi everyone,

Since overtraining was the unanimous diagnosis, I took nearly 2 weeks off, only walking for an hour each day. When I resumed lifting weights, I had lost about 4 lbs, all my muscular definition, and a fair amount of strength. I now lift only once every 3 days, in this pattern:
  • Day 1: stability ball routine
  • Day 2: weightlifting (35 min. max.) + cardio (varying resistance)
  • Day 3: walk 1 hour
After 3 weeks of this pattern, I'm up to 90% of where I was, but I still have no definition. I've lost 2 more pounds and 1% BF. That may be due to the stress of unemployment (9 mos. and counting) or my DW's recent health challenge (see my journal for details). I will try adding 1 more day to my pattern: a walking day after my stability ball day.

I should say that any extra strength I gain from this point is purely for vanity. I'm strong enough for my lifestyle, I've eliminated my low back pains, and I fit into normal-sized clothing. According to the charts and formulas I use, I'm at my ideal body weight and BF%. Only my BMI classifies me as overweight, and BMI is useless as an assessment of individual health, anyway.

Although I can get outside for exercise, I prefer the gym (walking excepted). I have bad knees, and my Kaiser PT has advised against putting a lot of compressive force (deep bending) or torquing force (twisting). Add very tight tendons in my legs and very flat feet to that recommendation, and the gym becomes the safest place for exercise.

I have tried learning Tai Chi from a DVD, but I didn't stay with it. I suppose I could try again. Although I know I should add some mobility exercises to my routing (MDA has good routines) I've had an aversion to learning them. I think I'm saying "I'm doing enough, already!" internally.

I already "carb up" the night before a workout (1 C chili w/ beans or 100g sweet potato) and will add 100g of sweet potato to my post-workout meal, too.

Thanks to everyone who's made suggestions.

Last edited by aj_cohn : Fri, Jun-08-12 at 13:27.
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