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Is staying lean easier when you've done it?

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  • Is staying lean easier when you've done it?

    I've never been able to get below 10% body fat or so. It's not that I think I'm incapable of doing so, but generally when I get to that point my strength starts to diminish, calories get ridiculously low and cardio gets really high. I'm sure I will do it when I'm bigger but I still want more size at this point.

    Anyway, I have seen a number of guys who used to be pretty fat who now maintain between 4% (when competing) to 12% or so year round. Even guys who don't compete but just choose to stay leaner year round. So my question is for those who are not naturally lean, once you have gotten to the point where you're ripped do you find it easier to stay lean? For example is staying in the 8-12% range as easy as maybe 14-18% range once you've gotten that lean? I would hope so and it seems to be the case but I'd like to hear your experiences with this. For all I know these guys are staying that lean but aren't gaining size well at that point which wouldn't be OK for most people still looking to gain.

  • #2
    What are your stats now? What were your stats at 10%? Was it a true 10%, tested via what method?
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    • #3
      My hunch is that you likely don't need to make your kcals as low as you think or do as much cardio as you think, you simply need to stay on your diet longer. Yes, having the piece of mind of doing it before makes it easier again because you have an expectation of what it takes, but it's often helpful to have the accountability of a contest as a motivational tool to keep you working. Without a deadline goal, it's difficult to stay motivated to get too low, at least for me.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Knickerbocker24 View Post
        My hunch is that you likely don't need to make your kcals as low as you think or do as much cardio as you think, you simply need to stay on your diet longer. Yes, having the piece of mind of doing it before makes it easier again because you have an expectation of what it takes, but it's often helpful to have the accountability of a contest as a motivational tool to keep you working. Without a deadline goal, it's difficult to stay motivated to get too low, at least for me.
        Originally posted by CJ Hartley View Post
        What are your stats now? What were your stats at 10%? Was it a true 10%, tested via what method?

        Thanks for the replies guys, but I didn't mean for it to seem like I was looking for advice on my situation. Basically what I was wondering is for you guys (and I can see you've both gotten very lean)

        1. Is it easier to get really lean again after the first time and
        2. Is it easier to maintain a lower bodyfat year round once you've gotten really lean? (i.e. you were generally in the high teens but now that you've gotten super lean it's easier to stay around 8-12%, for example)

        I listened to an interview/blog tv session of Exmgtoo from this site and he mentioned he used to be fat but now that he's gotten super lean in the past it gets easier to do it and from what I've seen he stays relatively lean year round. Hopefully that would be the case for me/most people as well.

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        • #5
          Not sure if you're interested in guys' input only. My experience has been "yes" to both of your questions (though the bf% range is a bit higher for #2, which is to be expected due to typical bf% ranges for females vs. males, competition vs. "fat").

          I think part of it is due to the development of discipline that goes along with taking bodyfat extremely low which comes in handy for "offseason" eating. Another thing is that, typically, LBM will have also increased over the course of a season, allowing for more food to be consumed overall. Also, it seems the body can adapt to more efficient/desirable nutrient partitioning and metabolism through the process.
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          • #6
            FWIW, here is my experience as is relates to your two questions. I was once a fat ass, around early high school days, and I had absolutely no muscular definition for the life of me. Once I lost the weight it was and is much easier for me to control my weight fluctuation and when I want to lose weight I can do so pretty easily.

            For the second question, I do feel it is easier for me to maintain a low bodyfat year round and never let it get above 12% (my highest in the past two years has been 11.5% using 9 site test). I think the discipline and knowledge that you acquire through dieting and learning about your body makes controling your weight much easier and you begin to learn what you need to eat and how to manipulate calories through nutrient timing to get the most bang for your buck.

            This is just my personal experience and other may have different stories but it general, I think most would agree the more you learn about your body through various dietary approaches the easier it is to obtain your desired physique and conditioning level.
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            • #7
              Originally posted by phoenix13 View Post
              Not sure if you're interested in guys' input only. My experience has been "yes" to both of your questions (though the bf% range is a bit higher for #2, which is to be expected due to typical bf% ranges for females vs. males, competition vs. "fat").

              I think part of it is due to the development of discipline that goes along with taking bodyfat extremely low which comes in handy for "offseason" eating. Another thing is that, typically, LBM will have also increased over the course of a season, allowing for more food to be consumed overall. Also, it seems the body can adapt to more efficient/desirable nutrient partitioning and metabolism through the process.
              Given your experience I don't care if you're a girl or guy lol the info is still good thanks for the input

              Originally posted by mentalflex View Post
              FWIW, here is my experience as is relates to your two questions. I was once a fat ass, around early high school days, and I had absolutely no muscular definition for the life of me. Once I lost the weight it was and is much easier for me to control my weight fluctuation and when I want to lose weight I can do so pretty easily.

              For the second question, I do feel it is easier for me to maintain a low bodyfat year round and never let it get above 12% (my highest in the past two years has been 11.5% using 9 site test). I think the discipline and knowledge that you acquire through dieting and learning about your body makes controling your weight much easier and you begin to learn what you need to eat and how to manipulate calories through nutrient timing to get the most bang for your buck.

              This is just my personal experience and other may have different stories but it general, I think most would agree the more you learn about your body through various dietary approaches the easier it is to obtain your desired physique and conditioning level.
              This is interesting as you were in a similar situation to mine then (previously fat and unmuscular around early high school days). What I have noticed a lot of guys seem to do in this situation (in fact, almost every one I can think of) is they get really lean first without worrying too much about muscle loss, and then go up from there. I did get really skinny first, but not really lean. Basically anorexic looking way back then (but probably 12% bf or so). I guess you have been able to gain significant muscle mass staying under 12% year round? My plan this summer was to get leaner than in the past but with some serious issues coming up I ended up getting only as lean as before (but ~10lb heavier than last year which is nice) so I can't really say how the theory works on myself yet.

              My calipers put me around 8.5-9% now but that's laughable since I can only see a rough 4-pack if flexing hard (and I have thick abs), realistically I'm closer to 12% or so at the end of my cut. I plan on bulking back up the next 4 months, depending on how it goes I may continue cutting after those 4 months (rather than going my usual 9-10 months straight) and take the cut even further which I imagine I'd be more OK with at that point since I'll be at my strongest and biggest.

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              • #8
                [QUOTE=Pumped340;899437]Given your experience I don't care if you're a

                This is interesting as you were in a similar situation to mine then (previously fat and unmuscular around early high school days). What I have noticed a lot of guys seem to do in this situation (in fact, almost every one I can think of) is they get really lean first without worrying too much about muscle loss, and then go up from there. I did get really skinny first, but not really lean. Basically anorexic looking way back then (but probably 12% bf or so). I guess you have been able to gain significant muscle mass staying under 12% year round? QUOTE]

                I was actually very unhealthy in high school when I started wrestling. Imagine a complete starvation diet (I had no idea what was the correct thing to do) while training for many many hours in 105 degree plus heat. So, yes I did get very lean...but not the right way. Once I learned the right way to diet I realized I like the weight training more than the wrestling so I took up powerlifting and bodybuilding. I guess I am lucky because once I began eating right I gained good weight back and looked normal again. From then on out I found it much easier to manipulate my bodyweight depending on my goals.
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                • #9
                  Originally posted by mentalflex View Post

                  I was actually very unhealthy in high school when I started wrestling. Imagine a complete starvation diet (I had no idea what was the correct thing to do) while training for many many hours in 105 degree plus heat. So, yes I did get very lean...but not the right way. Once I learned the right way to diet I realized I like the weight training more than the wrestling so I took up powerlifting and bodybuilding. I guess I am lucky because once I began eating right I gained good weight back and looked normal again. From then on out I found it much easier to manipulate my bodyweight depending on my goals.
                  good stuff, so how lean do you get when you decide to cut down and how long does it generally take you/how much weight is gained from the time you hit your leanest to the time you get back to 12%? I assume you use pretty standard nutrition protocols. How much cardio typically while cutting and bulking?

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                  • #10
                    I've competed a few times in college and was down around the 4% mark. Right now I am adding size (up from low 120s in April to mid 140s now) and I have maintained sub 8% bodyfat. Using the calipers and electrical impulse I was 7.1% Sunday morning.

                    I was so light in April because I got injured and just leaned out and get obsessed with getting lean. I was pretty cut up but had no mass.

                    My cardio protocol varies and is adjusted every couple of weeks if I am either not gaining weight fast enough or not losing weight. I keep it in year round just because it helps keep me hungry and a little lean while gaining size.

                    I can't recall how long it took me to get my heaviest, but it wasn't over night or anything. More like several months.

                    Also, to note, I have been working with Homonunculus since April, which has played a huge impact in getting things right in terms of gaining weight and staying lean.
                    Be true to yourself and fuel your body with nothing less the highest quality supplements. Only available at TrueNutrition.com Use discount code: KSP945 to save 5% on your order!

                    Stickies...just read the damn stickies...

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                    • #11
                      If you stay leaner in the off season then it seems easier to get into contest shape just because your that much closer to that condition when you start rather then being higher %. I agree with the point of being disciplined year around. I eat pretty much the same prep or off season other then off season I dont sweat it if my wife wants to go out to eat or going to the lake for the weekend.
                      2014 NPC Mr MN State TBD
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                      2011 NPC Upper Midwest 40+ 1st and Super Hvy 1st
                      2009 Gopher State 4th Hvy and 4th Masters 40+
                      *11 Natural contest 1992-2000 placed top 4 of all
                      88 Natural Mr MN 2nd Teen
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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Pumped340 View Post
                        ...So my question is for those who are not naturally lean, once you have gotten to the point where you're ripped do you find it easier to stay lean?
                        Absolutely not any easier.

                        I've gotten very lean and 2 weeks after breaking the diet put on 3-4% bodyfat.

                        Doesn't get any easier, at least not for me but you understand what is required and tend to put the brakes on earlier before you get up to 20% bodyfat.
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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Andre Gregoire View Post
                          Absolutely not any easier.

                          I've gotten very lean and 2 weeks after breaking the diet put on 3-4% bodyfat.

                          Doesn't get any easier, at least not for me but you understand what is required and tend to put the brakes on earlier before you get up to 20% bodyfat.
                          I totally agree with this post...for me at least....I've dieted down plenty of times using different types of diets over the years and no it doesnt get any easier. One thing I will say though, if you diet down with carbs in your diet (anything not keto) your metabolism is in better shape at the end of the diet so it's a little easier to keep the weight off

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                          • #14
                            LOL I have gained back quite a bit of my weight (I'm sure a lot is water at this point, but some is definitely bodyfat), and I just got the leanest I've ever been before in my life 3-4 weeks ago.

                            Controlling yourself gets easier, and sticking with a diet gets easier - but eating bad foods and staying lean easier naturally, nope.
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                            • #15
                              Sorry guys, didn't see the other responses until now.

                              Originally posted by Andre Gregoire View Post
                              Absolutely not any easier.

                              I've gotten very lean and 2 weeks after breaking the diet put on 3-4% bodyfat.

                              Doesn't get any easier, at least not for me but you understand what is required and tend to put the brakes on earlier before you get up to 20% bodyfat.


                              Originally posted by fade View Post
                              LOL I have gained back quite a bit of my weight (I'm sure a lot is water at this point, but some is definitely bodyfat), and I just got the leanest I've ever been before in my life 3-4 weeks ago.

                              Controlling yourself gets easier, and sticking with a diet gets easier - but eating bad foods and staying lean easier naturally, nope.

                              Hm ok this seems different than what I've heard from some others. For the record I'm not talking about staying at contest levels here, but rather sub 10-12% or so. I'm just thinking of all these examples of guys who were fatter who now spend all of their time at less than 12% or so year round. And seem to have made good progress in that range. Fade and Andre how high do you two let your body fat levels get up to in the off season?

                              As I said I haven't gotten below 10% but once you're there is it just as easy to stay, for example, 8-12% as it is to stay 14-18%?

                              And on that note, something I have spent time thinking about is how theres that common "fact" that the leaner you are the leaner your gains will be and the fatter you are the more you'll put on fat relative to muscle gains. But if that is true then that is in stark contrast to the idea of the body wanting to get back to it's fat set point (as evidenced by the fact that a lot of fat gain is put on post-contest and possibly the fact that it's not easier to stay lean once you've done it....which some of you guys are saying). Personally in the last two years I have seen better results when fatter but as I may have mentioned the results from the first half of both of those years' bulks we're skewed due to other issues making things less than optimal so I can't say concretely if bodyfat levels were the determining factor.

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