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shoshin.onryu

I want to get smaller... Is powerlifting a bad choice for me?

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Hey, folks.

 

I am a big guy (6'0", 285 (down from 330!)), and I've been dabbling in powerlifting for a few months now.  I have had some weight loss, and I've seen that my body is restructuring, but I'm not losing size.

 

I'm worried I'm just replacing fat with muscle, and I'll stay this size forever.

 

Is that reasonable?  Is powerlifting just not for me, with regards to my goals?  Or is this just a temporary transition and eventually I'll potentially lose size in addition to weight?

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At an athletic body fat percentage, a 6' dude can still easily hover around the 200lb mark. But your frame physically couldn't sustain your current weight at lower bodyfat percentage (ie. replacing fat with muscles 1:1) without steroids and a lot of effort.

 

Powerlifting can only help you, both in increasing muscle and preserving it in a caloric deficit. If you're still consistently losing weight, keep on keeping on. 

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Most people can add 1 full pound of muscle mass on every 4-6 weeks, with strict diet control and training.  

When it comes to body fat, your diet is the biggest factor.  You can powerlift all you want and slim down if your meal plan reflects that.  

That being said, if you find yourself truly enjoying the sport of powerlifting and wish to excel at it, you will need to make some educated decisions about your goals and body composition.

I strongly suggest looking for someone (wether at the YMCA, health clinic, or whatever you can find) to do periodic body fat measurements with skinfold calipers (don't do it on yourself, too much bias) and keep a regular weight log (don't focus on the numbers, just look for a trend).  I am in a very similar boat to you, brother.  Pester me with questions all you want.

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On 12/2/2018 at 6:45 PM, Defining said:

At an athletic body fat percentage, a 6' dude can still easily hover around the 200lb mark. But your frame physically couldn't sustain your current weight at lower bodyfat percentage (ie. replacing fat with muscles 1:1) without steroids and a lot of effort.

 

Powerlifting can only help you, both in increasing muscle and preserving it in a caloric deficit. If you're still consistently losing weight, keep on keeping on. 

Last time I had my body fat% measured, I was told that at around 260# I will have 10-12% body fat :P  #orcmode  

The scale is not the be-all-end-all.

 

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8 hours ago, Rusk said:

The scale is not the be-all-end-all.

 

I 100% agree. But, as you mentioned earlier, it's still a useful METRIC to keep an eye on. Being 'overweight', depending on your activity level and body composition, isn't necessarily a health concern - but being obese IS.

 

For example, a meta analysis in 2010 gathered BMI and BF% data from thousands of people. Now, they used a bio-impedance analysis for the BF%, so we'll take it with a grain of salt - but what they found is that generally speaking, if your BMI is over 30, you're probably obese. Full stop, no additional consideration for muscle mass required. While there are obvious exceptions amongst the genetic elite who train heavily (eg. professional athletes), for most of us the 30BMI cut-off is reasonably accurate.

Which makes it a good guideline for those of us that need a hard line of 'that's fat, not muscle'. (and I'm mostly speaking of myself here, I hate having to admit that it's not just because I have a larger frame ;)

 

If I'm considering obesity based on other metrics, it's typically >25%BF for men and >30%BF for women. Or looking at waist circumference, USA guidelines suggest >40" in men and >34.5" in women, but Europe says anything >37" for men and >31.5" in women correlates to higher risk factors in regards to cardiovascular disease and a correlation to metabolic syndrome. I've used calipers, DEXA, bodpod, and bioimpedence BF% measurement strategies - the easiest/cheapest/sufficiently accurate methods I've settled on is actually the US Navy BF% Calculator. It's close enough, free, and without the same variation as other methods (so when I'm using it as much for trend as the number itself, there aren't the same irritating fluctuations).

 

I also like to look at stats of ripped/highly muscular individuals with similar stats to myself, as a guideline for what's realistic (ie. how much muscle can I ACTUALLY sustain at a lower BF%) - it's easy to carry more LBM at a higher weight and bodyfat (eg. strongmen as a category, who seems to prioritise strength over abs). 

 

For dudes around the 6' mark, easy examples could be:

- Arnold Schwarzenegger, who at 6'2" was ~235lbs when he won Mr Olympia

- Bret Contreras, at 6'4" and age 40 weighed around 240lbs

- Any number of movie guys that hover around 6'-6'2" like Chris Pratt, Chris Evans, Henry Cavil, etc. that are all under 200lbs in their peak condition for playing super heroes on screen. Even adding 15-20lbs of fat to their muscular frames (eg. taking 5-10%BF to 12-20%BF) for 'off season' indulgences, that still has them likely staying under 220lbs (BMI 30 is ~222lbs for 6'), for the most part.

 

All of which is a far longer post than I had originally planned on, but I think it's an important conversation. I mention it mostly because of my own personal experiences when losing fat (5'2" female, 165lbs starting, goal weight of 135lbs) - I figured I could lose 30lbs of fat and keep most of my muscle if I did it properly, but I'm still working on it and finding that it's pretty damn difficult to maintain/grow muscle while dieting down like that.

 

If you're curious about losing fat while maintaining BMR (ie. avoiding the worst of adaptive thermogenesis) and trying to pack on a bit of muscle, there was a new study out earlier this year that suggests a 'two weeks 30% deficit, two weeks TDEE, rinse & repeat' strategy - which handily feeds very well into micro-periodised programming to gain/maintain muscle while losing weight.

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