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  • Advice Going Forward

    Hello Jordan,

    What you would suggest I do in my situation. I am a 190lb male in his mid 20s, sitting at about 20% bf (estimate) with a 35inch waist measurement. My lifts are currently Bench: 265 x 1@9, Deadlift: 365 x 5 @9, Press: 170 x 1 @9, Squat: 225 x 5 @6. I am currently LPing the squat and deadlift because I am recovering from a recent stress fracture in my foot. In addition, I am also slowly building up to doing conditioning twice a week, one 35 min SS session and one HIIT session.

    My goal is to hit the 200/300/400/500 mark this year on the four lifts while keeping my BW under 200lbs and staying under 20% BF. I was planning on doing the Bridge program once I exhaust the LP for the lower lifts and then doing the HLM (already purchased). To get to my goal I understand that I will need to try to gain weight slowly. In my situation, do you think I would benefit from first getting my BW to about 180lbs and then slowly gaining weight from there for the next 6-9months or cycle back and forth by gaining a little weight (12-16 weeks) and then losing a little (for 6-8 weeks). I understand that limiting myself to not going above 20% bf and 200lbs will slow down my progress but for personal I'd rather not do that.

    Thank you for your help and I look forward to starting the two programs you and Austin put out.

  • #2
    I would stop doing conditioning until you finish your Squat LP up. I would gain a little bit of weight slowly over the year. I would also stop caring about your body fat percentage. If your waist is good and your appearance is something you're okay with, the % matters little. Right now, you're in development mode and you aren't going to wind up shredded and strong in a year. Let's get strong now, cultivate some mass, then we can work on this lean thing after.
    Barbell Medicine "With you from bench to bedside"
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    • #3
      Jordan thanks for the fast response.

      I do conditioning because I am currently in the military and need to maintain a certain base level of performance and BW for the PFT. Taken that into consideration, would you still suggest that I slowly gain weight until I hit around 200lbs (my BW limit for my height) and then focus on coming back down? The reason why I ask, is because there is a school of thought that says its more optimal to gain weight while staying within a certain bf%.

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      • #4
        If you don't have a PFT in the next 3 months, my reply stands.

        You gain more muscle when your body is not prone to getting really fat, but if you're prone to getting really fat it's not going to help you to try and lean out prior to gaining muscle other than you'll just be less fat....
        Barbell Medicine "With you from bench to bedside"
        ///Website /// Instagram /// Peri™ Rx /// Whey Rx /// Barbell Medicine Podcast/// Newsletter /// Seminars ///

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Jordan Feigenbaum View Post
          If you don't have a PFT in the next 3 months, my reply stands.

          You gain more muscle when your body is not prone to getting really fat, but if you're prone to getting really fat it's not going to help you to try and lean out prior to gaining muscle other than you'll just be less fat....
          So do you disagree with the claim that a greater % of weight gain will come from fat if you start at a higher BF% to begin with? Say, starting the weight gain at 20% vs at 10%?

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Tim K View Post

            So do you disagree with the claim that a greater % of weight gain will come from fat if you start at a higher BF% to begin with? Say, starting the weight gain at 20% vs at 10%?
            Depends on the context. In someone who is very overfat that's probably true- though there is a genetic component there too. For someone who is in the 10-20% range there's probably not a difference until they're way outside their body fat set point, but that probably works opposite of how we think it should when someone is very lean (they'll probably gain more fat initially until getting back to their normal body fat level).
            Barbell Medicine "With you from bench to bedside"
            ///Website /// Instagram /// Peri™ Rx /// Whey Rx /// Barbell Medicine Podcast/// Newsletter /// Seminars ///

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            • #7
              I have a comment on the above exchange between Tim and Jordan. The notion that you need to be at a low-ish body fat level to support optimal muscle gain seems to be old bodybuilder lore. As far as I can tell, it originated from work of Gilbert Forbes. See for example "Lean body mass-body fat interrelationships in humans," 1987.

              However, if you inspect this paper, the claim is that *absolute* body fat, not body fat percentage, is what determines the ratio of lean mass gain to fat mass gain. So we might suspect that a 140 pound man and a 200 pound man, each at 20% body fat, would have different responses to a caloric surplus.

              This work was (apparently) done on people who did not resistance train and who did not diet down (or bulk up) beforehand, so there are some obvious concerns about generalizability. But again, it is interesting that the absolute, not relative, amount of body fat is what seems to matter.

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              • #8
                Good feedback, Patrick.
                Barbell Medicine "With you from bench to bedside"
                ///Website /// Instagram /// Peri™ Rx /// Whey Rx /// Barbell Medicine Podcast/// Newsletter /// Seminars ///

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by PatrickD View Post
                  I have a comment on the above exchange between Tim and Jordan. The notion that you need to be at a low-ish body fat level to support optimal muscle gain seems to be old bodybuilder lore. As far as I can tell, it originated from work of Gilbert Forbes. See for example "Lean body mass-body fat interrelationships in humans," 1987.

                  However, if you inspect this paper, the claim is that *absolute* body fat, not body fat percentage, is what determines the ratio of lean mass gain to fat mass gain. So we might suspect that a 140 pound man and a 200 pound man, each at 20% body fat, would have different responses to a caloric surplus.

                  This work was (apparently) done on people who did not resistance train and who did not diet down (or bulk up) beforehand, so there are some obvious concerns about generalizability. But again, it is interesting that the absolute, not relative, amount of body fat is what seems to matter.
                  I tried to find the article and I couldn't find one that was free to read but I did find this:

                  http://pubmedcentralcanada.ca/pmcc/articles/PMC2376748/

                  If you look up your hypothetical men on the chart Fig. 1a you'll find that if they are both losing weight the 140 lb man will lose about 50% lean mass while the 200 lb man will lose about 35%, a pretty significant difference. However, if the 200lb man is 6 feet tall then the 140 lb man would have to be around 5 feet, which is pretty uncommon. A 5'6" man who weighs 170 at 20% bf would only lose 40% lean mass which isn't much more than the 200 lb man.

                  But yes, of course I realise that data is from untrained populations, and also mostly women. It would also be interesting to know what effect dieting down or bulking about beforehand (as you mentioned) would have on the outcome. I remember hearing something in a video from Mike Isreatal lately where he said something about maintaining for a bit so "your body knows that the muscle is yours" after gaining muscle before cutting down. I've don't think I've ever heard about that before. Do you know anything about that or any possible studies?

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by neandrewthal View Post


                    But yes, of course I realise that data is from untrained populations, and also mostly women. It would also be interesting to know what effect dieting down or bulking about beforehand (as you mentioned) would have on the outcome. I remember hearing something in a video from Mike Isreatal lately where he said something about maintaining for a bit so "your body knows that the muscle is yours" after gaining muscle before cutting down. I've don't think I've ever heard about that before. Do you know anything about that or any possible studies?

                    I don't think that's necessarily well established in the literature at this point.
                    Barbell Medicine "With you from bench to bedside"
                    ///Website /// Instagram /// Peri™ Rx /// Whey Rx /// Barbell Medicine Podcast/// Newsletter /// Seminars ///

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by neandrewthal View Post
                      If you look up your hypothetical men on the chart Fig. 1a you'll find that if they are both losing weight the 140 lb man will lose about 50% lean mass while the 200 lb man will lose about 35%, a pretty significant difference. However, if the 200lb man is 6 feet tall then the 140 lb man would have to be around 5 feet, which is pretty uncommon. A 5'6" man who weighs 170 at 20% bf would only lose 40% lean mass which isn't much more than the 200 lb man.
                      How are you making these inferences about height? I don't see anything about height in the paper you linked. Being 20% bodyfat at 140 and 20% bodyfat at 200 pounds both seem possible for someone who is 5'10", for example. At opposite extreme ends of the bell curve, certainly, but possible.

                      Anyway, my point is just that the data do not support some popular folk intuitions about cutting and bulking. In particular, there are some people here (including myself!) who are underweight but not particularly lean and have posted concerns about gaining a bunch of fat while gaining weight (on a novice progression, for instance). If you look at the paper, you see that the difference between being 160 at 15% and 160 at 20% is really negligible and you should just go ahead and take the plunge.

                      Looking up the details helped me shake those concerns. Hopefully this information can be useful to someone else in the same situation.

                      As a side note, I think the research on sleep and body composition is really interesting, and that an underweight novice interested in maximizing their lean mass gain should focus their attention there instead of on their starting body fat percentage.


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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by PatrickD View Post
                        How are you making these inferences about height? I don't see anything about height in the paper you linked. Being 20% bodyfat at 140 and 20% bodyfat at 200 pounds both seem possible for someone who is 5'10", for example. At opposite extreme ends of the bell curve, certainly, but possible.
                        I'm just guessing about that part. Maybe I went a little to far with 5 feet but I still can't imagine a man who is 140lbs at 5'10" with 20% bf if they've ever looked at a weight.

                        Originally posted by PatrickD View Post
                        Anyway, my point is just that the data do not support some popular folk intuitions about cutting and bulking. In particular, there are some people here (including myself!) who are underweight but not particularly lean and have posted concerns about gaining a bunch of fat while gaining weight (on a novice progression, for instance). If you look at the paper, you see that the difference between being 160 at 15% and 160 at 20% is really negligible and you should just go ahead and take the plunge.
                        That's pretty much my point too. I just did the guessing about the heights to explain away the difference between your hypothetical men when looked up on the chart. Your new example is more realistic and the difference between those two is more negligible.

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