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  1. #1
    Registered User TryingBB's Avatar
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    Deload / reset or increase calories? Or both?

    Summary: Currently cutting at 2100 calories. TDEE used to be 2300 before I started serious work out 3 months ago beginner full body routine 3 times a week. Last rep of every set is to failure. If i hit target reps on last set, I increase weight on next workout - so I think my workouts are pretty hard. Last 3 workouts, recovery is sucking, workouts are sucking and weights/strength going backwards a bit or staying the same. Feeling a bit sick too like a cold. Not sure if I should up calories and come close to maintenance or reduce volume to help with recovery?
    GOAL: Issue is I want to be 15% bodyfat or below before I start bulking but I also want to use my newbie time to loose fat and gain muscle. Its been working slowly so far - I have dropped from 24% bodyfat to 21% bodyfat and gained muscle at the same time.
    Want to be big and not get too skinny anywhere along the way if possible.

    What do??

    **************** MORE DETAILS BELOW IF YOU HAVE TIME TO READ ***************

    I am currently 21% body fat - 168 lbs skinny fat (pics in the gallery)... 5 feet 8 inches

    Been cutting for over 9 months from 192 lbs (30% bodyfat) down to 168 lbs (21% bodyfat). Took a 2 month break back in April due to injury and 1 week break in July.

    Approx TDEE is 2300 calories and currently slow cutting at 2100 calories. Body is transforming slowly. I can see and feel fat getting less.

    Seriously working out on a full body 3 times a week beginner routine for 3 months and loosing fat and gaining strength and perhaps some muscle also.

    - June: Was eating at 150 above maintenance. Weight stayed around 168lbs
    - July: Took one week off vacation and consumed almost 900 above maintenance PER DAY. Messed up bad and put on some fat.
    - End July: Started cutting at 1750 per day. Within 10 days, stalled / recovery was bad.
    - August: Upped calories to about 2000/2100. Workous better - progressing.

    - September CURRENTLY now I'm again stalled. Same thing as what happened in July when I was cutting at 1750. Feel almost sick like I'm getting a cold and not recovering well. Lifts are staying the same and some lifts are going backwards.

    Bodyweight has been almost the same from June through now. I'm feeling like crap now, workouts are sucking and I am not sure what to do?

    ===> Should I lean out to 15% or lower and continue my cut and reduce my workout volume? Maybe reduce volume AND lower calories to 500 below 2300 and get to 15% quickly? Stop dreaming of progressing during this time?

    OR

    ===> Should I eat more so I can recover better? Maybe my TDEE has gone up and I need to just eat more. This will mean I'm at or above my TDEE but I'm scared to put on fat. I would like to use my newbie period to gain muscle and loose fat - it has been working so far...but now I've stalled.

    Isn't three months too short a time to come out of newbie gains phase? I lift hard - almost every exercise, last rep I hit failure. If not, I increase weight on the next workout. My total lifted volume is going up about 800 to 1000 lbs every workout (total weight lifted according to JEFIT app).

    I’m starting to feel little sick like a cold is trying to get me for the last four days. It’s not full blown sickness but I did feel this back when I stalled at 1750 calories.

    Apologies for the long essay here and thanks for your input!
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  2. #2
    Registered User rdf1988's Avatar
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    I mean, maybe you actually do have a cold forming. It's certainly a possibility.

    Given the goal, my inclination would be to continue with the nutrition plan and run a deload week, then come back with reset weights (10-20% lighter than what you've been using).

    Or, if you actually do have a cold, just take some time off from training to let it run its course and return to training when you're healthy again.
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  3. #3
    Registered User TryingBB's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by rdf1988 View Post
    I mean, maybe you actually do have a cold forming. It's certainly a possibility.

    Given the goal, my inclination would be to continue with the nutrition plan and run a deload week, then come back with reset weights (10-20% lighter than what you've been using).

    Or, if you actually do have a cold, just take some time off from training to let it run its course and return to training when you're healthy again.
    I normally don’t get sick a lot. I’ve had this feeling before and I think it’s connected to workouts and recovery. I will take a day off from the gym and see what happens. That should give me a 4 day break.
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  4. #4
    Registered User Nicksosure1's Avatar
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    You'll likely have to try out many things to bust through, so to speak. No one size fits all solution to this, especially if you don't know what exactly is causing your symptoms.

    If you are indeed under-recovering, hell even if you're not, I would most certainly stop taking every set to failure. I'm not sure if you mean absolute failure or technical failure, but studies show that people training to absolute failure not only do not benefit more than someone leaving 1-2 left in the tank, but can actually decrease size and strength in the long run. I can only assume this is even more notable for someone who doesn't have the calories to support optimal growth. I understand it makes tracking of progression a lot easier, but you're probably doing yourself a disservice. Up until 2 months ago, I was doing the same. Not only has my progression consistently gotten better, but my mood and life outside of the gym has improved as well. Just something to keep in mind. "Stimulate, don't annihilate".
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    The OG 1MANU's Avatar
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    Don't overthink.

    Feeling run down, think you have a cold, etc.. Your body is telling your something. Take 3-5 days off from gym. Eat at maintenance.

    Come back and kick ass in a few days. Fully recovered.
    Strong mind + Strong body = UNSTOPPABLE
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  6. #6
    Registered User TryingBB's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Nicksosure1 View Post
    You'll likely have to try out many things to bust through, so to speak. No one size fits all solution to this, especially if you don't know what exactly is causing your symptoms.

    If you are indeed under-recovering, hell even if you're not, I would most certainly stop taking every set to failure. I'm not sure if you mean absolute failure or technical failure, but studies show that people training to absolute failure not only do not benefit more than someone leaving 1-2 left in the tank, but can actually decrease size and strength in the long run. I can only assume this is even more notable for someone who doesn't have the calories to support optimal growth. I understand it makes tracking of progression a lot easier, but you're probably doing yourself a disservice. Up until 2 months ago, I was doing the same. Not only has my progression consistently gotten better, but my mood and life outside of the gym has improved as well. Just something to keep in mind. "Stimulate, don't annihilate".
    I do that only for the last set of every exercise except deadlift and squat.

    Absolute failure in exercises I can do so safely for - e.g. bicep curls and tricep Press down

    For bench press, I have MAYBE one or maybe half in the tank when I stop.

    I try and tell myself every time that I will not take sets to failure, but the problem is, how do I know when to increase the weight?

    If I increase weight only when all reps of all sets of an exeexcise are easy, I’ll be at that weight for a whole month...how do I progress then?

    If I use built in prorgam progression of 5lbs a week, then I’m hitting failure. Confused...

    What has worked for you? I’m willing to give I a try. I’m 3 months into working out FYI
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  7. #7
    Registered User Nicksosure1's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by TryingBB View Post
    I do that only for the last set of every exercise except deadlift and squat.

    Absolute failure in exercises I can do so safely for - e.g. bicep curls and tricep Press down

    For bench press, I have MAYBE one or maybe half in the tank when I stop.

    I try and tell myself every time that I will not take sets to failure, but the problem is, how do I know when to increase the weight?

    If I increase weight only when all reps of all sets of an exeexcise are easy, I’ll be at that weight for a whole month...how do I progress then?

    If I use built in prorgam progression of 5lbs a week, then I’m hitting failure. Confused...

    What has worked for you? I’m willing to give I a try. I’m 3 months into working out FYI
    Okay well absolute failure on isolation-type or accessory exercises isn't as taxing as doing the same with major compounds, just make sure you're not overdoing it.

    What I do is have a max number of reps for an exercise, ensuring that I'm 1-2 reps from absolute failure. When I exceed this range, I increase weight by 5lbs on most exercises, then rinse and repeat.

    I'm bulking right now though, and have only ran into one major plateau or time where I thought I was underrecovering and I simply just ate my through it. There's many routes you can take.

    The biggest thing to keep in mind is to not get into too big of a rush to do anything. Fitness is a marathon. Recovery and how your workouts affect your life outside of the gym should be a very high priority. It's not worth being miserable, and often counter-productive long term.
    Life is constant learning. Give advice about things you know. Ask questions about things you don't.
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  8. #8
    Registered User TryingBB's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Nicksosure1 View Post
    Okay well absolute failure on isolation-type or accessory exercises isn't as taxing as doing the same with major compounds, just make sure you're not overdoing it.

    What I do is have a max number of reps for an exercise, ensuring that I'm 1-2 reps from absolute failure. When I exceed this range, I increase weight by 5lbs on most exercises, then rinse and repeat.

    I'm bulking right now though, and have only ran into one major plateau or time where I thought I was underrecovering and I simply just ate my through it. There's many routes you can take.

    The biggest thing to keep in mind is to not get into too big of a rush to do anything. Fitness is a marathon. Recovery and how your workouts affect your life outside of the gym should be a very high priority. It's not worth being miserable, and often counter-productive long term.
    Just read your signature. Love it. Makes so much sense!!

    You got to a really low bodyfat...can see in your pics. Congrats!!

    What workout routine do you use? I’m on Jeremy Ethier’s beginner routine for hypertrophy, I am however going to change to ICF 5x5 starting Friday once I recover from this stupid cold I got. It got worse yesterday and starting to get feel better today. Since I am on a cut I will be using the cutting routine (3x5 instead of 5x5).

    What routine are you on? Any experience, comments about ICF?
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  9. #9
    Registered User Nicksosure1's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by TryingBB View Post
    Just read your signature. Love it. Makes so much sense!!

    You got to a really low bodyfat...can see in your pics. Congrats!!

    What workout routine do you use? I’m on Jeremy Ethier’s beginner routine for hypertrophy, I am however going to change to ICF 5x5 starting Friday once I recover from this stupid cold I got. It got worse yesterday and starting to get feel better today. Since I am on a cut I will be using the cutting routine (3x5 instead of 5x5).

    What routine are you on? Any experience, comments about ICF?
    Yeah if people would be helpful when they can and let go of their pride when they don't know something, we'd have many more well-rounded people in the world lol.

    And thanks. Kind of got too lean at one point.

    As far as routines, I've done many in the past. Shortcut to Shred, Shortcut to Size, Novice F5, etc. These days I have my own programming just because I have a way better grasp on what I'm doing, and I think it's better once you reach an acceptable level of knowledge to tailor a program to your needs and not be married to your program. You learn your body and how you respond better than what a program can give you.

    However, at this point I'd recommend sticking to a proven program for you. Not saying you don't know what you're doing or how your body responds, but until you're absolutely sure, it's best to stick to a proven program. Unfortunately I cannot comment of Jeremy's or the ICF 5x5 program, no experience with those.

    Usually any program that has the major compound lifts incorporated (bench, deadlift, squat, weighted dips, etc.) is a good one to follow until you reach a level that requires more challenge, which you will. Again, the biggest thing to always remember is patience.
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