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  1. #1
    Registered User mpht's Avatar
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    Post Fat loss target not reached but caloric deficit is already high

    Hi, I have a goal of getting to 10-12% bf (or when abs are clearly visible without flexing) and am 10 weeks out from my cut.

    I started at 180lbs at 25% bf (just measured with a scale and I know it’s not accurate but I am just using it as a reference point). I am now at 165 at 22% according to the same scale and have hit 65% of my maintenance cals. Maintenance cals from the start are 2600 I believe, as I didn’t stick to 180lbs for long before cutting. I bulked for 4 months prior to get to 180lbs from 157. Currently my cals are at 1690.

    Ideally I was hoping to get to 160 or 165 with 10-12% bf but now it looks like I am far from my desired bf %/ appearance yet I have nearly dropped 1000 cals already. I am now dropping my cals at 2.5%/week, but am concerned at what point should I stop dropping my cals and how should I continue cutting then if I haven’t reached my target weight/ bf%? I have seen some visual progress and can clearly tell my clothes are feeling looser. I have lost some muscle and strength already and am worried the end is still nowhere in sight.

    I am also wondering whether given my situation, I would be able to even get to 160 or 165 at 10-12% bf as a long term sustainable body composition. I am 5’8 and have been lifting for a long time ( at least 8-10 years) but never took my diet and training seriously until this year.

    Any help/ advice would be greatly appreciated! Thank you in advance!
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    You say you know the silly toys/machines/scales that tell you your body fat are inaccurate, but are using them to gauge your progress. Why?

    Post pictures to your body space if you want advice customized/geared specifically for you.

    How tall are you? What workout program are you following?
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    Coffee cupin the big time rectifryer's Avatar
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    It takes about 3 weeks before you can really call it a stall. You should also be tracking some other metric as well to keep your sanity, something like waist size or skin fold measurements. I rarely cut just looking at weight alone because it's more of a 3 week trend than weekly.
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    Registered User mpht's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by CommitmentRulz View Post
    You say you know the silly toys/machines/scales that tell you your body fat are inaccurate, but are using them to gauge your progress. Why?

    Post pictures to your body space if you want advice customized/geared specifically for you.

    How tall are you? What workout program are you following?
    Well I was just using a scale w/ that function to get a general idea so I can check where I am relative to when I started. Visually I look a lot flatter now and my arms, belly, and chest are notably smaller in size.

    I am 5' 8" and have been following a push pull split for 3 days/week. I started mixing in some steady state cardio, HIIT and conditioning gradually starting from weeks 5-6.
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    Registered User mpht's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by rectifryer View Post
    It takes about 3 weeks before you can really call it a stall. You should also be tracking some other metric as well to keep your sanity, something like waist size or skin fold measurements. I rarely cut just looking at weight alone because it's more of a 3 week trend than weekly.
    That's true, once I reach 60% of maintenance - which is 1560 cals - I'll monitor my progress using other methods like you suggested, before I continue to cut any more cals. Great advice!
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    Calories are not everything either,

    Insulin levels will dictate whether you are burning stored fat or just your glycogen in your blood.

    Try Keto and Intermittent fasting, It's worked really well for me.
    Ignore body-space photos... they are very old.

    Try doing cardio in a fasted state... Then you know you are burning fat.
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    It's not uncommon to realise you have to cut to a lighter weight than expected to have abs. I'm 6'1" and had to get down to 155lb last year for my abs to show while flexing.
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    OP unfortunately we’re just taking stabs in the dark without a photo to go off of...but based on numbers, I’m also 5’8 and last time I was 6 pack lean I was right around 160lb.

    Were you lean when you started your 4 month bulk? If not, you’ll probably have to go to your starting weight or lower to get those abs...reality is unfortunately in your 4 month bulk of gaining 22lb, most of that weight was fat - there’s a limit to how fast one can grow muscle and you overshot it...
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    Originally Posted by bluejay83 View Post
    Calories are not everything either,

    Insulin levels will dictate whether you are burning stored fat or just your glycogen in your blood.


    Try Keto and Intermittent fasting, It's worked really well for me.
    Ignore body-space photos... they are very old.

    Try doing cardio in a fasted state... Then you know you are burning fat.
    I am afraid it is in all healthy individuals. How would it make any difference?

    Would you magically no longer burn fat because you have glycogen in your diet. You do now that that glycogen is the preferred source of energy for the body.especially the brain that is why the human body converts fat and protein into glucose when carbs are unavailable first and foremost. It just prefers not to use fat to convert as it's wasteful and fatty acids can be used instead as energy.

    So no at the end of the day calories are the most important aspect. IF is a eating schedule and keto is a restrictive diet naturally produced by dietetic individuals due to faulty insulin levels.
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    Originally Posted by hardyboysare View Post
    I am afraid it is in all healthy individuals. How would it make any difference?

    Would you magically no longer burn fat because you have glycogen in your diet. You do now that that glycogen is the preferred source of energy for the body.especially the brain that is why the human body converts fat and protein into glucose when carbs are unavailable first and foremost. It just prefers not to use fat to convert as it's wasteful and fatty acids can be used instead as energy.

    So no at the end of the day calories are the most important aspect. IF is a eating schedule and keto is a restrictive diet naturally produced by dietetic individuals due to faulty insulin levels.
    ^ This

    Confusion over what the body's endocrine system does is very common. If you lose weight, it's because of the calorie deficit. If you like IF or keto, it's because those setups help you comply with a calorie deficit. No other reason - sorry - been there myself, read all the articles etc. etc.
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    Registered User mpht's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by bluejay83 View Post
    Calories are not everything either,

    Insulin levels will dictate whether you are burning stored fat or just your glycogen in your blood.

    Try Keto and Intermittent fasting, It's worked really well for me.
    Ignore body-space photos... they are very old.

    Try doing cardio in a fasted state... Then you know you are burning fat.
    I have been doing fasted steady state cardio 1x/week so far. I think I will have to watch my insulin levels more too, I haven't been paying any attention to them. As a rule of thumb, how do you keep your insulin levels in check?
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    Originally Posted by mpht View Post
    I have been doing fasted steady state cardio 1x/week so far. I think I will have to watch my insulin levels more too, I haven't been paying any attention to them. As a rule of thumb, how do you keep your insulin levels in check?
    There is no evidence of fasted cardio doing anything special - and you don't need to give a second thought to insulin. Read the two posts above this one.
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    Registered User mpht's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by sunsean View Post
    OP unfortunately we’re just taking stabs in the dark without a photo to go off of...but based on numbers, I’m also 5’8 and last time I was 6 pack lean I was right around 160lb.

    Were you lean when you started your 4 month bulk? If not, you’ll probably have to go to your starting weight or lower to get those abs...reality is unfortunately in your 4 month bulk of gaining 22lb, most of that weight was fat - there’s a limit to how fast one can grow muscle and you overshot it...
    I was not lean when I started the bulk. I was hovering around 20% b.f I think.

    Yeah I realized I overshot it. First time trying lean bulk and it went a little fast.. Would you recommend doing some steady state type of cardio to help keep it a lean bulk?
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    Registered User mpht's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by hardyboysare View Post
    I am afraid it is in all healthy individuals. How would it make any difference?

    Would you magically no longer burn fat because you have glycogen in your diet. You do now that that glycogen is the preferred source of energy for the body.especially the brain that is why the human body converts fat and protein into glucose when carbs are unavailable first and foremost. It just prefers not to use fat to convert as it's wasteful and fatty acids can be used instead as energy.

    So no at the end of the day calories are the most important aspect. IF is a eating schedule and keto is a restrictive diet naturally produced by dietetic individuals due to faulty insulin levels.
    Originally Posted by SuffolkPunch View Post
    There is no evidence of fasted cardio doing anything special - and you don't need to give a second thought to insulin. Read the two posts above this one.
    Thanks for the clarification guys! I want to make sure I'm on track and to know if my goals are attainable.
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    Originally Posted by mpht View Post
    Thanks for the clarification guys! I want to make sure I'm on track and to know if my goals are attainable.
    i agree with the above, when I do my cardio doesn’t dictate my weight at all, I like post work cause I am at the gym and motivated. Also after meeting minimum protein and fat macro health needs for the day, all that matters is cals in for weight change
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    Originally Posted by mpht View Post
    I was not lean when I started the bulk. I was hovering around 20% b.f I think.

    Yeah I realized I overshot it. First time trying lean bulk and it went a little fast.. Would you recommend doing some steady state type of cardio to help keep it a lean bulk?
    Ok real talk, if you started the bulk at 157 20% body fat then gained an additional 15ish lb of fat...you’re most likely going to have to dip down into the 140s to get to 10%. You don’t have nearly as much muscle as you think (common for all of us when we cut).

    I would continue your cut and get lean. Then focus on a simple solid weightlifting routine with progressive overload.

    What have you been doing for the last 8-10 years of lifting? You should be further along by now (I say this as someone with an identical height and same number of years training.)
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    Registered User mpht's Avatar
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    There’s a good chance I’ll just go below 15%, hopefully around 150s then do a real clean bulk for a month or 2 before I cut again. As long as there’s minimal fat gain during that time, perhaps with combinations of mini-bulks/ mini-cuts I can finally get to 160-165 with 10-12bf? This sounds like the most realistic and common way of going about it once I’m closer to my target.

    I have been doing programs and taking random breaks at times. I’ve done a variation of wendlers 5-3-1 before, full body work, other higher volume routines on bodybuilding.com before I finally realized I needed to bulk to pack on some serious muscle and cut after to get the aesthetics I want.

    I’ve always enjoyed lifting and the gym in general.
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    Originally Posted by bluejay83 View Post
    Calories are not everything either,

    Insulin levels will dictate whether you are burning stored fat or just your glycogen in your blood.

    Try Keto and Intermittent fasting, It's worked really well for me.
    Ignore body-space photos... they are very old.

    Try doing cardio in a fasted state... Then you know you are burning fat.
    No.....

    You only burned stored fat when overall calories are below burned calories. In a deficit insulin has nothing to do with it. Fasted cardio can end up causing fewer calories overall to be burned and no, it doesn't just go in and start eating away at stored fat and no, IF has no benefit over a diet with the same weekly calories.

    Fatloss is a product of a sustained, consistent weekly calorie deficit over time and nothing more. People need to stop watching youtube videos and reading Gary Taube's books.
    Last edited by Tommy W.; 09-09-2019 at 10:53 AM.
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    Originally Posted by mpht View Post
    There’s a good chance I’ll just go below 15%, hopefully around 150s then do a real clean bulk for a month or 2 before I cut again. As long as there’s minimal fat gain during that time, perhaps with combinations of mini-bulks/ mini-cuts I can finally get to 160-165 with 10-12bf? This sounds like the most realistic and common way of going about it once I’m closer to my target.

    I have been doing programs and taking random breaks at times. I’ve done a variation of wendlers 5-3-1 before, full body work, other higher volume routines on bodybuilding.com before I finally realized I needed to bulk to pack on some serious muscle and cut after to get the aesthetics I want.

    I’ve always enjoyed lifting and the gym in general.
    Yes, bulk/cut cycles are what most of us use to reach those aesthetic goals...but again, real talk: if you’re currently 150lb 10% body fat (just as a hypothetical point of reference) then it’s going to take a lot more than a 1-2 month bulk to get to 160lb 10% body fat. You’re vastly underestimating the amount of time and hard work required to build muscle, especially after the noob phase of lifting.

    My $.02 would be to cut down now while you’re already cutting, to that 10-12% range, no matter the scale weight, and then bulk from there. That way you will have a reference point to know if you’re improving after each bulk/cut cycle. For example, if you cut down to 145lb now at 10%, then after a bulk/cut cycle, you’re 148lb at 10%, you know you’ve packed on a few lb. of muscle.

    Going back and forth between bulk/cut every couple months is just going to have you spinning your wheels without major progress one way or the other. And re: bulking, best case scenario for most lifters under optimal conditions is about 2lb/month. So to gain that extra 10lb you’re looking at minimum 5 months but realistically probably 8-12 months because real life rarely works out like we want it to.
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    What are your lifts at? Sounds like you don't have as much muscle as you think. If your body fat percentages are anywhere near accurate, 10% would be around 140. But that's with 100% fat loss, which never happens. More likely you will have to go down to 135ish, which is tiny.
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    Originally Posted by mpht View Post
    There’s a good chance I’ll just go below 15%, hopefully around 150s then do a real clean bulk for a month or 2 before I cut again.
    You are drastically underestimating the time you need to build muscle. In 1-2 months you'll be lucky if you put on 1-2 lbs of actual muscle, and that's if you do everything right. You want to put on 10-12 lbs of muscle you're talking a year of eating in a surplus and lifting properly.
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    Registered User mpht's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by sunsean View Post
    Yes, bulk/cut cycles are what most of us use to reach those aesthetic goals...but again, real talk: if you’re currently 150lb 10% body fat (just as a hypothetical point of reference) then it’s going to take a lot more than a 1-2 month bulk to get to 160lb 10% body fat. You’re vastly underestimating the amount of time and hard work required to build muscle, especially after the noob phase of lifting.

    My $.02 would be to cut down now while you’re already cutting, to that 10-12% range, no matter the scale weight, and then bulk from there. That way you will have a reference point to know if you’re improving after each bulk/cut cycle. For example, if you cut down to 145lb now at 10%, then after a bulk/cut cycle, you’re 148lb at 10%, you know you’ve packed on a few lb. of muscle.

    Going back and forth between bulk/cut every couple months is just going to have you spinning your wheels without major progress one way or the other. And re: bulking, best case scenario for most lifters under optimal conditions is about 2lb/month. So to gain that extra 10lb you’re looking at minimum 5 months but realistically probably 8-12 months because real life rarely works out like we want it to.
    Yea I’m starting to get the newsflash that there’s a hard limit to how much muscle can be put on and how much fat can be lost in a period of time. I also suspected whether lifting only 3 days/ week on a push pull split was enough volume for muscle building/ maintenance, since I’d only hit some areas once a week. Do you think these goals are attainable with a 3 days/week split?

    It’s great to know what’s the best case scenario though, so I know what’s the target. Seeing as you’re similar in height/ weight to me, what’s your current stats look like and how long did it take to get there? What kind of program did you do?

    Being 6 pack lean at 160 is right where I want to be lol. It would be a pretty solid long term weight for me
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    Registered User mpht's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by woofermazing View Post
    What are your lifts at? Sounds like you don't have as much muscle as you think. If your body fat percentages are anywhere near accurate, 10% would be around 140. But that's with 100% fat loss, which never happens. More likely you will have to go down to 135ish, which is tiny.
    At the peak of my bulk:
    Squats: 215lbs - 4x5
    DL: 295lbs - 3x5
    Bench: 205lbs - 2x5, 1x4

    Yeah I agree, I’m losing strength gradually now. Squat dropped by 15lbs, DL by 20lbs, bench dropped by 20lbs.

    The lowest I’ll drop is 140-145, so I’ll just see where I’m at by then and go from there I suppose.
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    Originally Posted by xsquid99 View Post
    You are drastically underestimating the time you need to build muscle. In 1-2 months you'll be lucky if you put on 1-2 lbs of actual muscle, and that's if you do everything right. You want to put on 10-12 lbs of muscle you're talking a year of eating in a surplus and lifting properly.
    Yea when I re-did my calculations from my 4 month bulk (which I somewhat messed up from the start), it’s probably around 5-6lbs of muscle gained during the bulk only... gained insane amts of belly fat.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think the most muscle one can pack on a week is 0.5lbs?
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    Registered User mpht's Avatar
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    Would it be correct to assume that once I hit around 1500cals, which is around 60% or less of maintenance, I should stop cutting cals and just add more HIIT / conditioning during my rest days ?

    Or, do bodybuilders just keep cutting cals from diet along with doing those things until they hit their goal? Seems like one could reach quite suboptimal levels (possibly even malnourished levels) of nutrition if this keeps on going. I have a long ways to go in my cut and already am at 1690 now.
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    Originally Posted by mpht View Post
    Would it be correct to assume that once I hit around 1500cals, which is around 60% or less of maintenance, I should stop cutting cals and just add more HIIT / conditioning during my rest days ?

    Or, do bodybuilders just keep cutting cals from diet along with doing those things until they hit their goal? Seems like one could reach quite suboptimal levels (possibly even malnourished levels) of nutrition if this keeps on going. I have a long ways to go in my cut and already am at 1690 now.
    when cals don’t allow for proper nutrition then more activity must be introduced. Your body composition can suffer when cals get too low and protein is compromised. Look up G Flux principle. It will explain things well.
    If you don't get what you want you didn't want it bad enough
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    Originally Posted by mpht View Post
    Yea I’m starting to get the newsflash that there’s a hard limit to how much muscle can be put on and how much fat can be lost in a period of time. I also suspected whether lifting only 3 days/ week on a push pull split was enough volume for muscle building/ maintenance, since I’d only hit some areas once a week. Do you think these goals are attainable with a 3 days/week split?

    It’s great to know what’s the best case scenario though, so I know what’s the target. Seeing as you’re similar in height/ weight to me, what’s your current stats look like and how long did it take to get there? What kind of program did you do?

    Being 6 pack lean at 160 is right where I want to be lol. It would be a pretty solid long term weight for me
    6 pack lean at 160 is about where I am right now, maybe 165 (I'm mid-bulk right now so my weight is up around 180).

    What 3 day split are you running? If it's one of the full-body routines, then it's fine...but if you're only doing push/pull/legs then you'd want to do that twice/week (so 6 days/week, e.g. M/T/W-Thur OFF-SA/SU/M-Tue OFF). Different routines/splits have different schedules, they can all work depending on how they're structured. Progressive overload + proper nutrition + rest = gains.

    I've done different routines myself over the years, so it's not a one-size-fits-all thing. As long as you're getting stronger, it's working.

    I'm not a great example of how to do it the "right" way because I am a dirty bulker. I like to eat, so when I bulk I go overboard and gain more fat than I should. Typically, I might bulk for about 5-6 months, then cut the excess fat for 2 months before going on another bulk...I never get too fat, e.g. it's never more than I can lose in a couple months, so I don't let it get out of control. It has worked over the years, allowed me to build some muscle and remain fit...but I'm not lean year round.

    Your lifts aren't far from where I am, I lift similar weight just for more reps. I still say to cut now...with those lifts you probably have some muscle and may be pleasantly surprised when you remove the fat. Plus, like I said, getting lean is a faster way to see results than bulking when you're already carrying extra fat. First time I got lean was a huge confidence bump/motivator.

    Also bro: you should really upload a pic (doesn't have to show face) on your body space so we can give you proper advice...to advise bulk/cut one picture would be more relevant than 100 posts trying to explain....
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    Registered User mpht's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Tommy W. View Post
    when cals don’t allow for proper nutrition then more activity must be introduced. Your body composition can suffer when cals get too low and protein is compromised. Look up G Flux principle. It will explain things well.
    For sure, that’s what I’ve heard and been concerned about too. That’s why I wanted to know at what point should I stop decreasing my cals. G flux is a pretty interesting concept, I’m definitely going to increase my output.

    However, I’m still not too clear on what is a generally accepted final level of cals that one should cut to. I’ve heard up to 60%.
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    Registered User mpht's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by sunsean View Post
    6 pack lean at 160 is about where I am right now, maybe 165 (I'm mid-bulk right now so my weight is up around 180).

    What 3 day split are you running? If it's one of the full-body routines, then it's fine...but if you're only doing push/pull/legs then you'd want to do that twice/week (so 6 days/week, e.g. M/T/W-Thur OFF-SA/SU/M-Tue OFF). Different routines/splits have different schedules, they can all work depending on how they're structured. Progressive overload + proper nutrition + rest = gains.

    I've done different routines myself over the years, so it's not a one-size-fits-all thing. As long as you're getting stronger, it's working.

    I'm not a great example of how to do it the "right" way because I am a dirty bulker. I like to eat, so when I bulk I go overboard and gain more fat than I should. Typically, I might bulk for about 5-6 months, then cut the excess fat for 2 months before going on another bulk...I never get too fat, e.g. it's never more than I can lose in a couple months, so I don't let it get out of control. It has worked over the years, allowed me to build some muscle and remain fit...but I'm not lean year round.

    Your lifts aren't far from where I am, I lift similar weight just for more reps. I still say to cut now...with those lifts you probably have some muscle and may be pleasantly surprised when you remove the fat. Plus, like I said, getting lean is a faster way to see results than bulking when you're already carrying extra fat. First time I got lean was a huge confidence bump/motivator.

    Also bro: you should really upload a pic (doesn't have to show face) on your body space so we can give you proper advice...to advise bulk/cut one picture would be more relevant than 100 posts trying to explain....
    I’m running push/pull/legs for 3 days a week. That’s what I’ve also been hearing too, that a push pull legs split should be done 6x/week but I can only commit 3-4 days/week max, which I believe should be enough.. but I probably need to change up my programming. I was making gains during my bulk but during the cut now I obviously didn’t expect any. Should I switch to a full body routine in the middle of my cut though? I’m already 10 weeks out and it’s a significant change.

    Yeah I’m going to make it a goal not to go overboard in my bulks anymore too lol. I’d like to be lean at least for most of the year.

    Same here, I do believe cutting is the right time now that I have some muscle and strength foundation. I’m positive once I get lean enough I’d also get a big confidence boost.

    Haha for sure, I’ll post a picture tonight. Haven’t gotten around to it
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    Originally Posted by mpht View Post

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think the most muscle one can pack on a week is 0.5lbs?
    Yeah, AT BEST. And that number drops the further you get into your training, so in the first year you could see that with optimal training and nutrition but after that you might only see 1 lb per month in the 2nd year, and maybe 0.5 lb per month in the 3rd year, etc.
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