Strength gains while cutting / losing fat?
If you’ve been following me on this blog or on my Instagram you may know that I’m in the middle of my 8 week cutting program and today I wanted to talk a bit very briefly about strength and performance in the gym while cutting and what is my experience on this right now.
As I am writing this I weigh about 193 pounds and my starting point was 201 pounds, so I am down 8 pounds. Now let me show you below the changes I noticed in strength and performance on some of the most important exercises I do in the gym, since the start of my cut. Take into account that I have been lifting for about a year now.
No or very slight increase in strength. I am using the same weight, but I can fit one more rep or so into some of my sets. Right now I’m doing 90kg / 200lbs on the incline and 100kg / 220lbs on the decline.
Overhead shoulder press
This is an exercise that I started doing relatively recent and I am constantly making progress on it, so it may be irrelevant because it’s normal to make progress on movements that you haven’t really focused on before.
Dips work your triceps and lower chest and I am noticing a big increase in strength on this exercise. It feels so easy now.
I have been increasing the weight on my squats with about 10-11 pounds since the start of my cut.
In lat pull ups I can squeeze one or two more reps in my first couple of sets, so there is a slight progress on this exercise as well.
On all the other exercises my strength remained about the same.
Why bother tracking all this?
The reason I wrote this article was to stress the importance of tracking your progress in the gym, especially while cutting. You don’t want to lose any muscle and a good way of evaluating this is by looking at your strength. If you are losing strength you are losing muscle. If your strength stays the same of increases you are fine.
In fact, its a good idea to write down how you are doing on each exercise throughout your cut – how much weigh you are lifting and how many sets and reps you do. Keep an eye on this.
As you can see I made progress on my bodyweight exercises such as the squats, the dips and the lat pull-ups. In fact this doesn’t necessarily mean you are getting stronger, but it means that your body is weighing less so you can do more reps or add more weight to the bar on this type of exercises.
Making progress on the bodyweight exercises while cutting is something that should happen and it’s normal to happen. Practically, if you lose 10 pounds of body weight (fat) you should be able to add 10 more pounds to your squat.
If you are not making progress on the bodyweight exercises and the scale goes down you are not cutting the way you should. Up your calories and protein intake a little bit.
Right now I am cutting with about 500 kcal a day and take in around 130 grams of protein a day and this seems to work for me. These numbers might be different for you, you just need to test and figure out how you should cut.
I see my cut as a bit on the aggressive side, but I want to get lean in a relatively short period of time and so far I as you can see I did not noticed any muscle or strength loss.