Strategy For Long Term Bodyfat Management Strategy For Long Term Bodyfat Management

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Thread: Strategy For Long Term Bodyfat Management

  1. #1
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    Default Strategy For Long Term Bodyfat Management

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    I'm new here and thought I'd see what Mr. Santana though of this particular strategy. This is not something to combine with LP. It's more like parameters under which the lifter would guide his training and nutrition decisions once they are an intermediate and beyond.

    So, for a lot of us, it's really easy to put on and hold excess bodyfat. Maybe we were former fat guys like me, or we just happen to partition our calories in an unfavorable way. Either way, the standard answer of just continuing to eat more to grow and get stronger continuously begins to be a poor choice as many of us drift up over 20-25% bodyfat. It is of course always being argued whether or not re-composition is possible, but even the proponents of that admit it's not possible for long. That being said, if you're training consistently, caloric intake is going to matter quite a bit with regard to your recovery capacity, so you can't just diet whenever you feel like it. Many people find themselves stuck in the middle for years in the notorious "should I bulk or cut" grey area. This strategy aims to eliminate that.

    I like to think in the following terms. You have a "fat ceiling" which is a bodyfat percentage that you really shouldn't be crossing on the top end. We aren't talking about competitive lifters here, so this is probably around 20%bf for a lot of guys depending on how you hold weight. You also have a "fat basement", which is the lowest bodyfat percentage you really shouldn't be crossing on the low end. This is probably 12-15% for a lot of guys. The goal is not to have abs or look "lean" because you won't stay here for long. It's just to get off excess fat and prime for another muscle growth period.

    So it seems to me, that the most productive way to organize your diet and training is as follows(again, post-lp).

    Step 1 - Diet to "fat basement". This will not only give you the longest window to grow when you go back to a surplus, but also sets up your muscles to be more sensitive to growth. It's also likely that if you start with massing, you'll have to stop to diet almost immediately and won't have gained significant lean mass anyway.
    Step 2 - Maintenance phase. Just maintain this weight for a short time. A couple weeks or so.
    Step 3 - Slowly (1/2lb/week gain or so) mass to "fat ceiling". If done properly with a small surplus and appropriate macros, this should give you quite a long window of time to continue to get stronger and grow muscle.
    Step 4 - Maintenance phase.
    Wash, Rinse, Repeat.

    Now, this isn't anything new of course. This is just simple bulking and cutting that we all know about. However, it gives you defined endpoints and strategies to make this work. I know I've personally gone on "bulks" that were just stupid, going from 185 and 18% bf to 225 and 26% in far to short order, which required a substantial delay in my training process to take the fat back off. There guard rails would have prevented this.

    You can then go one step further and align your diet stages with how you're programming your training. Mike Israetel PhD has a great video on this: YouTube

    Hope this is helpful to someone.

  2. #2
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    This approach works quite well and I've been applying and coaching it for several years now. You are talking about Nutritional Periodization. It is the best way to manage body composition if that's what you are concerned with. What I will tell you is that the ceiling and basement varies across individuals and there are plenty of "fat" guys whose basements are "still fat" simply as a function of genetics. So while I'd love to tell everyone that they should hang between 12% and 20% body fat, I know from experience that for some this is simply not feasible. Lastly, this absolutely does not apply to a novice, especially an underweight novice, which is who we primarily serve here.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Santana View Post
    This approach works quite well and I've been applying and coaching it for several years now. You are talking about Nutritional Periodization. It is the best way to manage body composition if that's what you are concerned with. What I will tell you is that the ceiling and basement varies across individuals and there are plenty of "fat" guys whose basements are "still fat" simply as a function of genetics. So while I'd love to tell everyone that they should hang between 12% and 20% body fat, I know from experience that for some this is simply not feasible. Lastly, this absolutely does not apply to a novice, especially an underweight novice, which is who we primarily serve here.
    Nutritional Periodization, great, now I have a word for it haha.

    Totally agree that the endpoints are individual. 15-20 were just ballpark figures. I for instance carry a lot of weight in my lower body which is not typical for a male, so I can carry more bodyfat without looking overly fat.

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    Hey Robert,

    I was just listening to one of your interviews on the Barbell Logic podcast and they were discussing your propensity to put on quite a bit of fat mass while gaining weight. Do you have any considerations or alterations that you would make to the above strategies for someone in a similar situation to yourself?

    I always figured that when I got quite fat from "bulking" it was because I did it with too large of a surplus, too much sugar and/or fat, and if I would have just taken things slower I could have put on good weight while reducing the % of weight gain that was going to fat. Is this generally correct in your assessment? I'm coming to the end of a diet currently, so it won't be long before I'm testing out this hypothesis first hand.

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    The conclusion that I came to is that I just was not training properly and I took bad advice at certain points of my life. I basically figured out that for me I need to stay between 14-22% body fat. Right now I'm at 182ish and @ ~18-20% except it looks much better than it did years ago when i was closer to 23%. The single biggest change for me was getting a stronger press and deadlift. Completely transformed my body composition.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Santana View Post
    The conclusion that I came to is that I just was not training properly and I took bad advice at certain points of my life.
    Could you elaborate a little more on that? Are you saying that with a different training philosophy you were able to gain weight in a larger surplus without getting as fat?

    It would seem to me (someone with a little formal dietetics training but not much), that if you're massing and training with sufficient volume, there is a given number of calories required to maximize recovery and muscle building. Beyond that, there's no extra purpose for those calories except to be stored as fat. That would lead me to believe that one should try to mass on the least possible calories that they can while still moving the scale week after week. I know a lot of the ectomorph types need to eat ridiculous numbers of calories because their bodies just refuse to grow, but again...that large number might still be their minimum necessary. For me, I'm pretty confident I could eat like 3200 calories and ride all the way to 250+.

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    That is an oversimplification and one that I once subscribed to. The truth is that body fat plays a role in this as well. We store fat around our joints and connective tissues as well, which provides warmth and support. More importantly, extra body fat provides more leverage on lifts like the squat, press, and bench press.

    This isn't what I was referring to though although it's still relevant to the discussion. I'm saying that by training in the way that we advocate here and gaining weight slow I was able to build more muscle and look more defined at a higher body fat percentage as an artifact of having more muscle mass to spread out the fat. In other words @ 11% body fat I was deadlifting 440 lb @ 165. At 175 I was deadlifting 500 and right now at close to 185 I can pull 405 x 10 which means my 1RM is somewhere around ~540ish. My body fat percentage is likely in the low 20s or high teens at best. But my back and shoulder muscles are more visible and fuller than they were at 165/11%. In other words, if you think you need low body fat to look like you train chances are you just aren't strong.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Santana View Post
    That is an oversimplification and one that I once subscribed to. The truth is that body fat plays a role in this as well. We store fat around our joints and connective tissues as well, which provides warmth and support. More importantly, extra body fat provides more leverage on lifts like the squat, press, and bench press.

    This isn't what I was referring to though although it's still relevant to the discussion. I'm saying that by training in the way that we advocate here and gaining weight slow I was able to build more muscle and look more defined at a higher body fat percentage as an artifact of having more muscle mass to spread out the fat. In other words @ 11% body fat I was deadlifting 440 lb @ 165. At 175 I was deadlifting 500 and right now at close to 185 I can pull 405 x 10 which means my 1RM is somewhere around ~540ish. My body fat percentage is likely in the low 20s or high teens at best. But my back and shoulder muscles are more visible and fuller than they were at 165/11%. In other words, if you think you need low body fat to look like you train chances are you just aren't strong.
    I agree with everything you just said of course. I've never understood guys who wanted to be "lean" when they had no muscle mass. Put a shirt on them and they just look skinny and weak. Hell, I actually look better in many ways at around 20% than around 15% because I store some fat up around my pecs, delts, and traps and it enlarges their appearance slightly. Once the love handles start growing though I tend to start looking flabby and not very muscular without a shirt...at least at this stage of training advancement.

    When you say you "gained weight slowly", what sort of surplus did you run (or what sort do you prescribe to clients who gain weight very easily)? Did you aim for something like .25lb/week scale weight gain, or did you keep calories at maintenance until strength progress stalled and then just have them eat through the sticking points?

    For training I presume you ran LP and then did some sort of Intermediate programming like HLM or TM. Is that right?

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    I kept my carbohydrates over 300 grams, protein over 180 grams, and focused on eating low fat, nutrient dense foods (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, extra lean meats) most of the time. I didn't complicate my diet very much because i figured out rather quickly that once carbohydrates were increased to a sufficient quantity, my training program took care of itself provided it was carefully planned, which it was. I ran mostly block training with some DUP. I have been training continuously for 6 years now without interruption so it's fair to say that I am an advanced lifter at this point.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Santana View Post
    I kept my carbohydrates over 300 grams, protein over 180 grams, and focused on eating low fat, nutrient dense foods (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, extra lean meats) most of the time. I didn't complicate my diet very much because i figured out rather quickly that once carbohydrates were increased to a sufficient quantity, my training program took care of itself provided it was carefully planned, which it was. I ran mostly block training with some DUP. I have been training continuously for 6 years now without interruption so it's fair to say that I am an advanced lifter at this point.
    Makes sense. I mean at 300g/180g that means you're eating ~2000 calories in carbs/protein and if they aren't foods that also carry a lot of fats with them, then it's unlikely you were much over 3000 calories/day, depending on total fat intake...which would mean for a guy your size you probably were running what I would consider a small surplus (under 1000 calories daily). I'm glad to see you were able to make consistent progress without massive amounts of calories.

    I think I just got it in my head (from listening to people preach the virtues of eating big to skinny "hardgainer" kids for so long) that I wouldn't be able to make sustained strength/hypertrophy progress without substantial caloric surpluses. I can probably follow a path very similar to yours with great success, although I'm not yet at the stage of training advancement that block would be necessary.

    God, I'd love to string together 6 years of uninterrupted training. Now that my knee and shoulder are 95% healed up, hopefully I'll be able to do that moving forward with smart programming and a little good fortune.

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