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Help me get to 10% BF

Posted: Thu May 23, 2013 3:38 pm UTC
by dimochka
Hi everyone,

I'd really appreciate some help in the matter. I used to be in much better shape and I'm taking steps to get to where I want to be, but I just want to make sure that I am doing things correctly.

So a quick background. I'm male, 26 years old, 160 lbs (down from 175 maybe two months ago). Those (extremely unreliable) electronic scales put my bodyfat somewhere between 16-18%. I'm looking to get down to around 10%, and I'm willing to put in the work. Here's what I'm doing, or attempting to do now (and for the last couple of months):

Diet: I've cut out most carbs. I don't eat sweets, I don't eat snacks. Once every week or two I have a few drinks over the weekend, but usually that stops at around 2. I'm following some combination of ketosis/atkins, though I can't say that I'm doing it to the point. I'm usually keeping carbs under 15-20%, and my protein intake makes up somewhere between 0.6-0.8 grams per pound. Protein mainly comes from eggs, chicken breast, tilapia/salmon (I'm slowly making an effort to cook and I am buying no prepared food whatsoever), and various veggies. Plus I take a protein shake per day (Jay Robb's) and possibly a low-carb protein bar, or at least one in which most of the carbs come from fiber. Fats come from eggs, avocado, walnuts, cheese, cottage cheese/yogurt. As of last week, I've been making an attempt to produce a calorie deficit, though I'm thinking this may not be the right thing anymore as I don't want to drop more weight.

Workout: I play volleyball in several leagues, usually twice a week for 1.5 hours, and an additional 2.5 hours on the weekend. I also try to run on a treadmill at somewhere around 6.5mph for 45min-1hr. Twice a week, and hopefully soon 3 times, I do a full body workout, specifically aiming at 2 sets / 8 reps per exercise. I'm thinking of possibly replacing one of these activities with interval training, but have only tried it once so far.

My goal is not to build huge amounts of muscle, but I do want to get to see my abs again, and then build a bit of muscle on top of that. Any ideas on what I should be doing or changing are greatly appreciated. I take suggestions/criticism very well. I do want to stay committed to the diet/workout, but I don't want to go to the extreme point of making everything revolve around them. Cheating a bit once in a while should be fine.
Also, how long do you think it'll take to reach my goal?


Re: Help me get to 10% BF

Posted: Thu May 23, 2013 3:41 pm UTC
by Izawwlgood
I think climbing is a really fantastic nearly full body workout, that seems to coincide with your fitness goals. It won't build huge muscle, but it will lean you out.

It sounds like you're already being fairly active and eating pretty well, so, I dunno, depending on your metabolism, you might meet your goal within a month? Two? Three?

Re: Help me get to 10% BF

Posted: Thu May 23, 2013 4:08 pm UTC
by dimochka
I somehow need to work on speeding up my metabolism...

Climbing as in indoor gyms? Or mountain climbing?

Should I continue a calorie deficit? Or will that just make me drop more weight? I'd prefer to stay at 160ish.

Re: Help me get to 10% BF

Posted: Thu May 23, 2013 5:38 pm UTC
by philsov
Your activity level is excellent, as is the quality of food intake.

I think you should stick to the deficit, yes. It will make you lose more weight (by definition.) But eating at maintenance (accounting for your activity) and losing fat through the activity alone is slow. Or relying on pure muscle gain is even slower.

As for "speeding up your metabolism", it's not as easy as you think. You're better off just adjusting diet/activity. Going pure math on you, it'll take 12 weeks at 1 lb fat lost/week (and 0 lbs LBM loss net) to get to 10% BF (and you'll wind up at 148ish pounds) from 17% BF. By eating at maintenance and relying on activity alone, on a guess it'd be closer to 6 months.

Re: Help me get to 10% BF

Posted: Thu May 23, 2013 6:05 pm UTC
by dimochka
is it possible within those same 12 weeks to get down to 10% BF without going down that low in weight (ie building muscle while losing fat)? If so, what's the best way to go about that?

Or am I better off building 10lbs of muscle first and then going on a diet to get rid of the fat?

Re: Help me get to 10% BF

Posted: Thu May 23, 2013 9:28 pm UTC
by philsov
I can't seem to dig up the rates on which people can both lose fat and gain muscle at the time same. Most people prefer to swing to caloric deficit for fat loss and then caloric surplus for muscle gain. I guess in general it's net faster to do that method. I'm finding some ancedotes about people on light caloric excess managing to do both due to high activity level (that is, weights + cardio, which is what you're pulling) -- it's not impossible, but the consensus is that it's slow.

If you're going the muscle first route, I think the figure of max muscle gain is about 0.5 lbs per week. I can't say if you're "better off" going that route, but if you don't want to drop below 160 lbs you will want to gain mass and then lose mass (hopefully gain muscle and lose fat, which you should do again given your food quality and activities). The time necessary for this venture is too multi-axis for me to mess with at this point to find the optimal duration on either step for minimum time to reach 10% BF while being 160 lbs. You might be able to graph it or something.

Re: Help me get to 10% BF

Posted: Thu May 23, 2013 11:09 pm UTC
by Nath
I don't think your body is in a state of ketosis if you're getting 15-20% of your calories from carbs; IIRC, ketosis happens when you go under 30-50g of carbs a day. Now, some people do get results from a lowish-carb but non-ketogenic diet, and ketosis has its downsides, so maybe that's OK. But if you want to go the ketogenic route, check out Lyle McDonald's book and website.

Beginners can gain muscle while losing fat, but if you aren't a beginner, the changes will come very, very slowly. That's why bulking and cutting is so popular. Is there a reason you don't want to go this route? If you're really at 16-18%, I'd start with a deficit until I hit 10-13%, and then put on some muscle, and then cut to my goal composition. But when's the last time you had your body fat measured properly? If you're going to spend so much effort on this, it's probably worth getting an accurate measurement once a month or so until you meet your goal.

Re: Help me get to 10% BF

Posted: Mon Jun 03, 2013 8:31 pm UTC
by dimochka
Good idea, thanks everyone. i'll go get an accurate measurement sometime in the next week and go from there.
I didn't want to lose too much weight because I felt it would look bad on me, but maybe it makes sense. I'll definitely consider it. I guess it does make more sense to pick either fat loss or muscle gain (and then do the other once one is achieved), not both at once. Fat loss first is likely to be easier.

Re: Help me get to 10% BF

Posted: Mon Jul 01, 2013 10:36 am UTC
by nightbird
How tall are you?

Re: Help me get to 10% BF

Posted: Mon Jul 01, 2013 2:47 pm UTC
by dimochka
I'm 5'10". Also I guess let me provide a bit of catch up on that and if anyone else wants to do something similar, feel free to use anything I mention below.

I dropped to about 155lbs, now back up to just under 160 (had a few stressful weeks, so while I haven't been eating junk mostly, I haven't had a chance to work out, though still played volleyball). Bodyfat should be somewhere around 15% based on my estimates, maybe a bit lower. I spoke to one of my old personal trainers and here's the plan for the next 4-6 months:

Two day program, alternating cardio and resistance/weights.
Day 1: Interval training on treadmill (I just usually prefer that by default). 5-10 min warmup at about 7.5mph, then alternate 1 min at 10-12mph and dropping down to 2 min at 4mph, or 6mph if I'm feeling good (difference is fast walk at 4 vs. light jog at 6). Duration - 20-25 min.

Day 2: Super sets alternating upper body / lower body / core. Here's the workout I'll be doing for the next 3 weeks (and then I'll switch it up):
- First super set - 12 pushups [upper body], immediately do 20 squats (for now without weights) [lower body], immediately do 15 reverse crunches [core]. Rest 1 min. Repeat for a total of 3 sets. On all exercises concentrate on keeping core tight.
- Second super set - Dumbbell shoulder press 15 reps [upper body], then my gym (NYSC) has a machine that allows you to push a "sled" with weight on it - push sled + 45 lbs weight for 10 yards, then push back and repeat (total 40 yards) [lower body]. Then regular crunches while holding 25 lbs weight at chest level [core].
- Third super set - set up steps that you can jump on - first step 1ft, then a few feet distance after it, then next step 2ft. Jump from ground to step, then to ground after it, then to 2nd step. turn around while on step, and jump back. Repeat 4 reps. [lower body]. Then 12 barbell curls (with a weight that you could do about 15-20) [upper body], then plank for 1 min [core]
- Fourth super set - 12 Dips [upper body], 12 burpees [lower body], then i use a very big weighted ball (no idea what they're called) to throw against the ground, catch, and pick back up to lift above my head, and throw again [core and upper body] - 12 reps.
- Then finish with some light cardio for 10 minutes to cool down (about 6-7mph).

Diet is no longer going to be paleo/ketosis/etc, it will have more complex carbs so I could build some muscle, but the main purpose of this workout is to speed up metabolism.

All criticisms/comments/suggestions welcome. I'm starting this today, though I did a trial run once last week.

Re: Help me get to 10% BF

Posted: Wed Jul 24, 2013 4:23 am UTC
by Jorpho
A query: Do any of you folks actually bother with skinfold calipers?

On the one hand, it's a quantitative means of measuring "progress", and one potentially more accurate than the aforementioned extremely unreliable scales. On the other hand, if one is doing one's own measurement, it seems to me that it's very prone to subjective bias.

Re: Help me get to 10% BF

Posted: Wed Jul 24, 2013 5:28 am UTC
by Nath
You can get a professional to do it occasionally. It doesn't cost much, usually, and you don't need to do it frequently.

Re: Help me get to 10% BF

Posted: Wed Oct 30, 2013 3:18 pm UTC
by Joseph_Conradical
The calipers can be pretty handy. You just have to get pro at measuring yourself consistently, which is a bit difficult until it becomes habit. If you can then they're one of the better measurement tools.