Programming for lean body mass maintenance during weight loss Programming for lean body mass maintenance during weight loss

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Thread: Programming for lean body mass maintenance during weight loss

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2022

    Question Programming for lean body mass maintenance during weight loss

    • starting strength seminar february 2023
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    Stats: 6'2" 25-year-old male, initially 405 lbs.

    Training history: started messing around with some random 5x5 program on the
    internet mid-September of 2021. Switched to SSNLP (estimated) around
    mid-December of 2021. Trained with SSNLP (modified to substitute bent-over row
    for power clean because it's what I was doing before and concerns about knees,
    forearms, etc) until mid-September of 2022. Trained with Texas Method (again,
    with rows substituted for cleans) from there to present (Nov 21, 2022).

    Initial (had no clue what I was doing): deadlift 43x5x5, press 43x5x5, squat
    0x5x5, bench 53x5x5.

    Immediately after switching to NLP: deadlift 135x3x5 (I don't know where I read
    3 sets for deadlift, probably misremembered it, but it got corrected soon
    enough), press 75x3x5, squat 105x3x5, bench 90x3x5.

    Immediately before switching to Texas Method: deadlift 290x1x5, press 97.5x3x5,
    squat 242.5x3x5, bench 135x3x5.

    Current: deadlift 300x1x5, press 102.5x1x5, squat 260x1x5, bench 140x1x5. Body
    weight down to 360 lbs.

    Question: I've gotten a fair bit stronger while losing a moderate amount of body
    weight. This can't continue forever, and I suspect I'm hitting that limit now. I
    believe this because even with intermediate programming, my press is pretty
    stuck, and bench is nearly stuck. I am resting plenty long, I think - 12 minutes
    before a 5-rep max on intensity day, 8 minutes between sets on volume day. I
    keep failing press and bench on intensity day, and even recently started failing
    squats on intensity day. I have been advancing all of these only in 2.5-pound
    increments, and only advancing after succeeding at the prior weight (should be a
    given). I haven't kept close track of how much sleep I've been getting, but it's
    not uncommon for me to lie awake for hours on end. I don't know what can be done
    about that. I am still slowly losing weight, so I must conclude that I am eating
    at a caloric deficit.

    The first goal I set when I started training was to do an unassisted pull-up,
    and AFAIK this basically requires further weight loss. Does my assessment of the
    above seem accurate, and if so, how should I best modify my programming and diet
    to retain lean body mass while losing weight?

    I've read
    “Fat Loss Training” is Not Training | Robert Santana
    where it says

    If you are a legitimately obese lifter that needs to lose large amounts
    of bodyweight, plan for a minimum of one year of cycling between fat loss and
    weight maintaining diets to minimize long-term muscle loss
    but what are the details of these cycles? How many times should I be lifting
    weekly? What rep scheme should I be using? Will there be light days, heavy days,
    etc? How long should a cycle be? How steep a calorie deficit should I aim for?
    I'm sure someone has written about this somewhere, but my searches for "weight
    loss", "weight loss cycle", "preserving lean body mass", etc with
    Starting Strength haven't found it yet.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Phoenix, AZ


    How have you structured your calorie deficit? It is clear that you went through phases of Not Doing The Program and I think that is in large part responsible for why you are not making progress. Common issue with unsupervised training.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2022


    I haven't really structured my calorie deficit at all, just observed that it's there and I keep dropping weight. In hindsight, I probably should have been monitoring macros and counting calories and making sure I get enough protein.

    Re: Not Doing The Program, I thought I was doing it about as closely as I could from mid-December 2021 to mid-September 2022, aside from the row substitution and a brief period of confusion about deadlift sets. My results suggest I haven't been, but I don't know where else the deviation is. I went into it not really thinking of myself as part of a "special population", but after reading some articles about obese trainees / emergency weight loss trainees, I'm not sure. They all seem to suggest that the power clean shouldn't be done by obese trainees. During that period, I lifted three times a week, with the exception of two weeks where I was sick IIRC. Looking back on my log, I see that there were some times where I didn't go up in weight on squats after succeeding at the previous weight (something I was afraid of doing due to certain equipment issues here at home that have since been resolved), but on press and bench, I honestly tried to go up every time I succeeded, and I failed over and over and over, bouncing between a weight I could do and a weight I couldn't. I took 5-pound jumps on deadlift except a couple times when I thought I should try to focus on form.

    I don't know why my press and bench keep getting stuck, but I don't see an apparent causal link between the ways I've Not Been Doing The Program (row substitution, not always going up on squat and deadlift) and them getting stuck. The main explanation I arrive at is that I'm not eating right, but I can't find any place in the blue book where it describes eating at a caloric deficit, so I'm not sure what "eating right" even is or if I'm even capable of doing The Program.

    Anyway, all this is not to disagree with your assessment - I probably haven't been Doing The Program - but to say that I'm not sure what I should've been doing differently.


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