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Please keep questions on topic, write clearly, concisely, and don't post diet calculations.

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Patrick
Patrick
January 22, 2020 02:02

Hi, I went from obese to skinny fat (lost 65+ lbs via diet/cardio) since 2017 (ran a marathon in 2019).

My question: as a beginner/novice, I understand it’s possible to lose fat/gain strength while in a deficit. Does it follow that you can be at maintenance and still lose (slightly less) fat but build more muscle vs being in a deficit?

Thx Andy!

Cameron
Cameron
November 12, 2019 09:32

Hi Andy,

My stats are as follows:
6’6″ tall
226 lb
39″ waist

Based on the navy calculator, I am 21% body fat.

I have been following Starting Strength for a couple of years and getting stronger. However, it definitely hasn’t helped my aesthetics. I was pretty bad and go up to 265 lb in the name of “increasing my squat!” However, I got really fat! I’ve since gone down in weight, but I think I am definitely in your “purgatory” stage. I’m not very muscular, but I also have high BF%.

Do you recommend I cut down to at least 15% BF and then try to “slow bulk” my way to more muscle mass? I don’t think Starting Strength has helped me put on much muscle mass, but only a lot of fat.

Maneesh Sethi
Maneesh Sethi
August 25, 2019 02:48

Just read this post and realized it’s you, Andy. Awesome post, and hope we get to hang out again soon!

Angelo
Angelo
August 10, 2019 02:33

Amazing, clear like water, thanks Andy 🙂

Angelo
Angelo
August 10, 2019 20:59
Reply to  Andy Morgan

Another buddy here trying to scape from the purgatory, finishing a small recomp, 12-13% bf (but not very well muscled) and almost iso caloric diet.
Then going for 8-12 weeks of diet, and after that slow bulking for some months.
Regards from the limbo

Nikos Kontogeorgis
Nikos Kontogeorgis
June 23, 2019 07:53

17 y/o male, ~62kg, 162cm, ~15% body fat, training since last August. I have put on some muscle, so I am ok with cutting. Come September I will have school and other responsibilities so I won’t be able to precisely follow a diet and training program. With this in mind, I though about doing a quite drastic cut, in order to get to around 10% before August and then aim to lean or slow bulk until September, so I have more freedom from September on. I know a cut like this wouldn’t be healthy, but how much muscle can I expect to lose if I get to 10% in 2 weeks, 3 weeks or more (optionally with diet breaks once week or so because of the large deficit)?

Nikos Kontogeorgis
Nikos Kontogeorgis
June 24, 2019 06:29
Reply to  Andy Morgan

Thanks for your answer. Would you think trying to recomp indefinitely would be a better idea? (Probably with a focus on losing fat until I reach my body fat goal and then it might turn into a lean bulk for as long as I can maintain it).

Nikos Kontogeorgis
Nikos Kontogeorgis
June 24, 2019 22:06
Reply to  Andy Morgan

Thsnks for the input!

Miguel
Miguel
June 23, 2019 01:45

I definitely identify myself with the purgatory diagnosis. I’ve been training for 5 (!) and spent the first 2 being too skinny (56kg at 174cm) but afraid to bulk because I couldn’t see my abs, to finally gain some weight but get stuck again at 67kg and ~14% BF, without abs and much muscle either and thus endlessly trying to recomp without visible results, not knowing whether I should bulk or cut. Finally decided to slow bulk to 73kg and ~17% BF during 9 months and am now cutting (~0,6kg of weight loss a week, currently back at 69kg) until I get my waist to 0.44% of height (someone else’s recommendation) and/or can clearly see my abs (your recommendation). Will slow bulk again after that.

Adam
Adam
April 25, 2019 06:00

How tall is Chandler? I think we have similar stats.

And, even at 14% I have little definition in my abs. I’m wondering if this is because my abs need to be bigger to be seen through the fat.

Thanks!

Marc
Marc
April 2, 2019 16:52

Hi Andy,

I don’t know if you’re going to read this but… I’m 6’1, 165lbs (13,5% bodyfat). Been training for 3 years now, before that I was fat, then skinny-fat and now I’m in the limbo. I’ve been yo-yo dieting trought bulking and cutting cycles and never happy with how I look…

I don’t know what to do anymore, when I bulk I get strong (210kg deadlift, 150kg squat, 117kg bench) but doesn’t look like I lift, mostly fat, when I cut everybody tells me that I look skinny (like how I’m looking right now).

Now I’m taking a two weeks break from dieting because I was loosing my libido and motivation to train…

What should I do? Thanks for your time and I hope you can read this.

(excuse me for my english, I’m from spain)

Marc
Marc
April 3, 2019 17:30
Reply to  Andy Morgan

I think that I’m cutting slowly… being on my cut since August 2018 to now. When I started the cut at 187lbs my 1RM lifts where 210kg deadlift (now 180kg), 150kg squat (now 120kg), 117kg bench (now 105kg).

Now at 165lbs I’m still carrying on some fat, I need to flex to see my top 4 abs. I look like your client Brad in the second picture.

I would like to cut down to a 10% body fat and then start a slow bulk. But now I’m feeling always tired, low libido and lethargic. I don’t know if the best approach would be to take a couple of weeks off dieting and then keep up with the cut?

Thanks for your time and work!

Marc
Marc
April 5, 2019 00:15
Reply to  Andy Morgan

Thanks Andy!

Ketan Kate
Ketan Kate
March 17, 2019 23:02

Hello Andy,
When I look in the mirror in a relaxed state my stomach looks bloated. But as I flex it’s flat with visible upper abs! ( I have decent muscle frame)
Why is this? Why it can’t be rigid or firm like my other muscle groups ?

Thanks you .

Gilad
Gilad
November 17, 2019 01:44
Reply to  Andy Morgan

Hi Andy,

I have the same situation – then does that mean that one should go on a cut or do some abs work?

About myself – I’m 5’9”; 155 lbs

Thanks,
Gilad

Hiral
Hiral
February 12, 2019 00:22

I don’t understand my next steps in regard to gaining or maintaining, im still learning about macro’s etc

In 3 months I dropped 27lbs…i was unhappy with my size and the weight loss made me happy with my size.
I then hit the gym….on a 5 day schedule rotating light weights and cardio. Weight was pretty stable..losing a few lbs here and there… I do 5 days a week pure weights/resistance, track my macro’s and LOVE the gym.

My goal is to get stronger and build defined muscle. My weight is 102lbs, 5-1 height, my BF is 19%.
Over the last 8 weeks I have seen an improvement in strength and am lifting heavier or longer almost every session. I can see improved muscle definition. However, my weight and body fat have stayed the same over these 8 weeks.

So to continue seeing results…should i be trying to MAINTAIN weight or GAIN weight?
I don’t understand how my stats haven’t changed but my performance and ‘look’ has changed.

William
William
January 31, 2019 05:43

Andy, does “THE MUSCLE & STRENGTH PYRAMIDS TRAINING & NUTRITION” include scientific references? I’ve read a ton of your articles and indeed it seems that you know what u’re talking about, but most of the articles lack of references. I just want to get detailed information of the stuff.

William
William
February 5, 2019 20:18
Reply to  Andy Morgan

I knew I’ve read it somewhere but I couldn’t find it! Thanks for your time, keep working out on this incredible site 💪

Alex
Alex
January 15, 2019 04:24

Hello Andy,

I have been in a calorie deficit diet and lifting last 6 months to lose weight and went from 190lbs to 142lbs. I am around 14% body fat, 5’8″ and 31.6″ waist. I look OK with some definition but I want more lean mass and sit around 12-15% body fat. I am not a pro, just a regular guy who wants to look good with some abs definition and most importantly stay healthy. What should I do?

Alex
Alex
January 16, 2019 03:37
Reply to  Andy Morgan

Thank you Andy! So according to it the best option would be to eat at maintenance and train hard with free weights.

Jonathan
Jonathan
November 3, 2018 11:00

Hi Andy,
I used to think that I was in a purgatory state (around 57 kg, 163 cm and 15-17% bf), but stopped lifting for some time. Now I’m looking to get back into it and I’m sitting closer to 60 kg and 20% bf. The increase in fat is mainly in the stomach area, so I feel like I fit more into skinny fat 1. I’m planning to start lifting 3 days/week with a pure strength focus and 1 day of cardio (about 30 mins treadmill/walking) What’s your advice on where I might fit in and what could be a good next step for dieting?

Charles
Charles
September 11, 2018 09:39

Hi Andy,

I am in the fat and weak category, how can I expect to gain muscle if I have a calorie deficit? I am aware of newbie gains but can’t relate them to fat loss i.e. to lose fat you need to be in a calorie deficit and to gain muscle you need to be in a calorie surplus.

I am beginner to weight training, 5’11” weigh 87kg with 27% BF and my goal is to lose fat and gain muscle (ultimately, but it would be nice if I can achieve both at the same time). Do I cut my calories, stay at maintenance or increase them slightly?

What I am really asking is, how can milk the newbie gains when I am overweight?

Thanks.

michiel smets
michiel smets
September 4, 2018 01:25

Hi

Any advice on : 155 lbs, 5 feet 10 , 15% fat? Lean bulk?

Thanks in advance

Alex
Alex
June 19, 2018 16:05

Hello Andy, and thank you for the great content as always. I’ve been in purgatory for about 2 and a half years, and this time I decided to stick with a cut until I see results and then start a proper slow bulk. I’ve reached the point where my 4 abs are almost clearly visible and defined without flexing, so I believe that there is not much fat left to lose. In the past I would have stopped the cut here, but now I know better thanks to your site and information. My question is this: Regarding body fat percentage, would you recommend the navy method in order to evaluate progress and know where to stop a cut or a bulk? I know you recommend it as a cheap and reliable solution, but I took the test and my results averaged from 6.5% to 8.5% which seems a little low to be honest. Thanks!

Alex
Alex
June 21, 2018 18:36
Reply to  Andy Morgan

Thank you very much Andy, I appreciate the fast response and the advice! Thanks to your valuable information, I was able to finish a proper cut, and now I’m ready to bulk.

Khoa
Khoa
March 24, 2018 03:47

Hey Andy, a great article as usual!

I have a question regarding your strategy for the guy in the ‘skinny-fat type 1’ category. You state here the strategy is to recomp (build muscle and lose fat simultaneously). And that “most people in this category will be best to go with a slight calorie deficit, while pushing hard with your lifts so that you gain strength, which will drive the muscle growth.”

My question is this: Given the current scientific literature, we know that training volume is the key driver for muscle growth/hypertrophy (correct me if I’m wrong). Would it therefore be viable for an intermediate level lifter in this category to train with a bodybuilding style approach, with less of an emphasis on strength progression, however still doing the big 3 exercises along with isolations while following progressive overload through intermediate periodization techniques?

When you say “pushing hard with lifts so that you gain strength” are you referring to progressive overload in terms of a novice lifter? I am asking because I believe a late-novice / early-intermediate lifter who has stalled on the main lifts (i.e. their nervous system has learnt the movements) may not be able to make further strength progression while eating at a caloric deficit. Or perhaps the situation I describe in my question is actually a person in the ‘Purgatory’ or ‘skinny-fat type 2’ category as they can no longer continue with this ‘recomp effect’ ?

Thanks Andy!

Liege Kluppel
Liege Kluppel
January 16, 2018 22:47

Hi Andy, very nice article!
I’m currently in purgatory and after reading this article I decided to start cutting and, after reaching 12% bf (I’m female so I think 10% is too low bf for me) I’ll start slow bulking.
I want to use your calculator on How To Calculate Your Leangains Macros for the cutting and slow bulk as well, but there is only the bulk option there (Increase TDEE by 20%.). How would the slow bulk be? Increase TDEE by 10%?
Thanks in advance!

Benny
Benny
August 16, 2017 06:25

Very informative. Do you have the knowledge/experience to update the given bf%s and other data to include ranges specific to females?

Benny
Benny
August 17, 2016 06:25

Very informative. Do you have the knowledge/experience to update the given bf%s and other data to include ranges specific to females?

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