How to Lose Weight and Gain Strength
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How To Lose Weight And Gain Strength
Some of the basic principles behind losing weight have to be covered before we can go into losing weight and gaining strength. If we keep it as simple as possible, and use a see-saw metaphor, we can consider calories in and calories out; so, if we are burning 2k calories a day and eating 2.4k calories a day, we will be in a caloric surplus and most likely gain weight over a longer period of time. On the flip, if we consume 1.8k calories a day and burn 2.4k calories a day we will most likely lose weight.
To gain strength, we want to look for neurological adaptations. We want to do movements that improve intermuscular coordination. We also want to do movements that increase lean muscle mass by achieving hypertrophy to stimulate muscular growth to lead to an ability to produce more power from a general fitness perspective.
Six Week Experiment
At Garage Strength, we decided to do an experiment. I workout five to six days a week and decided I would alter my nutrition to try and lose weight. And one of my employees, Trevor Stutzman, will alter his nutrition and start to workout consistently again; it has been about three years since Trevor was steadfast with his exercise. We ran some tests in the beginning, altered our nutrition, altered our training plan, and that led to the results we will be supplying centered around losing weight and increasing strength.
We started with day zero. I built up to a heavy back squat for a max set of three reps. Trevor front squatted for a max set of three reps. Then we went and tested our bench press for a max set of five. We had a lower body test and an upper body test. We wanted to see what happen over the span of six weeks to see the gains made.
We also factored in an aerobic capacity test on the assault bike. The test was simple. We tested how many calories we could burn within the five minute time frame.
We also checked our body weight at the beginning of this six week experiment. Trevor weighed in at 242 lbs and I weighed in at 245 lbs. I back squatted 180 kilos for three and Trevor front squatted 110 kilos for three (which is ironic, because when Trevor was in really good shape he could snatch 110 kilos for a triple). With the five rep bench press, I hit 380 lbs and Trevor hit 285 lbs. And for the calories on the assault bike over a five minute time frame, I hit 76.9 calories and Trevor 72.2 calories.
Remember, calories in and calories out for the basics behind weight loss. Think about the see-saw. We knew we were burning about 3k calories a day so both of us knew to stimulate that weight loss we had to eat under 3k calories. Typically you won’t see too much of an adaptation unless you are in a deficit of 400-500 calories to really see the weight shed.
Both of us also decided, based on the research, to keep the protein consumption higher. We both tried to keep our protein consumption around 220-240 grams of protein to stave off hunger and maintain lean muscle mass.
We also both decided to keep carbs in our diet. It is a common misconception that cutting carbs leads to sustained weight loss while having a long term implementation into our lives, we knew we needed to have a balanced diet. The only thing we differed from is that I ended up fasting throughout the entire day for nearly 18 hours. Trevor followed a normal, sensible diet. I chose to fast because I wanted to play around with it. I don’t foresee fasting being a quick fix and sustainable over the long haul, but saw it as a way to experiment.
Halfway Into It
Three weeks in we checked in how we were feeling. As we started to train and do more strength work, we felt pretty good. We were pushing it on the assault bike and I never felt like I was run down during the strength work. That helped me with motivation.
Trevor was able to really drive the spark with his exercise and fitness level. Trevor in his day was an absolute machine. He could bench 405 lbs for rep. That spark returning helped him stay motivated as the weight loss transpired. He stayed motivated, for sure.
Establishing a sound nutritional plan allowed us to recover from our strength training, feel good, and be able to push our strength training while losing the fat mass. A key concept behind the strength work is getting at least ten sets per week per exercise. Trevor made it a point to hit the bench at least twice a week with five sets a day. Some days he might do eight sets on one day and two to three sets on the second day. Making sure to get at least ten sets of strength work per exercise per week will help maintain or increase strength. Going below it will be tough to increase strength. Going above it, make sure to get enough protein, and people will probably get even stronger.
I dropped down to a bodyweight of 231.6 pounds. Trevor dropped down to 228.6 pounds. We lost the exact same amount of weight poundage wise. I lost 5.4% of my body weight and Trevor lost 5.6% of his body weight.
With the lower body, I back squatted 187 kilos for a triple and Trevor front squatted 120 kilos for a triple. I had a 3.7% increase and Trevor saw an 8.4% increase. Trevor’s lower body strength gain is dramatic in tandem to his body weight loss.
The bench press, I hit 385 lbs for five, a 1% increase, where Trevor hit 335 lbs for five. That is a 15% increase in his upper body strength. That is insane.
Finally, we were interested to see what happened aerobically. That brings us to the five minute assault bike test. The test that brought me the most anxiety. Trevor hit 86.3 calories. That is a 16.4% increase in his test score. Now when I tested out, I hit 90.9 calories, which ended up being a 15.4% increase for myself.
We both saw a pretty substantial body weight loss over the time frame. Science would say it is a healthy cut. We also managed to have an impressive increase in all of our strength levels as well as our aerobic capacity. I fasted and Trevor had a balanced diet but we both were diligent with our carbs and protein.
With Trevor, him starting to work out consistently and regularly again worked. It triggered a spark for him to prioritize his health. Now for both of us eating less helped. And to increase our strength gains, we have to get ten sets of strength work per exercise per week. That is a foundational concept that everyone can follow. Another key factor with increasing aerobic capacity, make sure to train the aerobic testing apparatus at least three days a week for twenty to thirty minutes. And finally, because exercise is increasing, make sure to get enough sleep. That means sleeping at least seven hours a day to improve recovery.
Another key aspect we learned about was being aware of our triggers. Think of triggers like cravings. For instance, I love chocolate. I figured out that when a chocolate craving hit, I needed to figure out something to avoid the craving or, to create something more habitual, a replacement. Being under a lot of stress also requires doing things to alleviate that stress, like being prepared for the day by packing a lunch.
During the time of the experiment, I was traveling. The fasting fit into my schedule and helped with the stress of my travel. It helped me not drink and not pick at food throughout the day.
Remember, to lose weight and gain strength, start with doing at least ten sets per week per specific exercise. Make sure to exercise more in general and are in a caloric deficit. Optimize sleep to recover best and be more mindful. And finally, understand triggers that come up to sabotage the dieting habits needed to cut the weight.
Yo, It's Dane
Welcome to the Garage Strength Blog, where it is my goal to provide you with the experience and knowledge I've gained in the strength and conditioning world over many years of learning from both successes and failures. I train elite-level athletes in a multitude of sports from the high school to professional levels, already producing 5 Olympics and 30+ National Champions. If you want to be the next champion I train, check out my strength programs below!
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