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I'm about to finish a very successful 6 month strength training (5x5 variation) run. I went from 200 to 225 pounds with a moderate fat increase 10% to 13%. I'm about to hit 300 in Squat and already at 400 in deadlift. Doing PR in all mayor compound lifts.

I can feel that I'm reaching my limit in terms of recovery and desired body fat. Based on your experience, what should I do next in terms of training, diet, supplements (if any) to get ready for a next strength training cycle and loose some fat.

Consider I'm 36 years, 6 foot 4 inches, not an athlete, have a full time desk job. Don't particularly like cardio but don't hate it. Love lifting heavy (for me) stuff.

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What is your goal, just general strength and conditioning? –  Dave Liepmann Dec 12 '13 at 18:42
    
My primary goal is strength. I also don't want to increase my body fat too much, and that is just vanity. Am I asking too much? –  Felz Dec 12 '13 at 19:30
    
No, more strength without gaining mass (particularly fat) is a common goal for many athletes in weight-class sports. You're in good company. –  Dave Liepmann Dec 12 '13 at 20:37
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3 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

You have made solid progress. Congratulations, keep up the hard work.

If I were you I'd switch to a program that adds weight weekly or monthly, such as Rippetoe & Kilgore's Texas Method from Practical Programming, or 5/3/1, or another similar program. That will keep you adding strength for quite a while longer.

I'd consider switching up exercises, to gain the benefits of variety: mobility, strength in different areas, injury and burnout prevention. For instance, switch one or two days a week from back squats to front squats, or switch entirely to front squats for eight weeks. The same goes for deadlifts (try RDLs, snatch-grip deadlifts, etc.), pressing (vary bench, overhead, dumbbell/barbell, maybe throw in some Turkish get-ups) and so on. Be careful not to add to much weight too soon on new lifts, even if they're very similar. If you get antsy working with temporarily lighter weights, keep at least one heavy workout a week using the lift you're more experienced with.

I'd do one short cardio finisher for one to all workouts in a given week. Ross Enamait has some great material for metabolic conditioning, including his Magic 50 (5 rounds with 1 minute rest: 5 dumbbell snatches per arm, then 5 dumbbell swings per arm, then 10 burpees). I'm also partial to Glenn Pendlay's conditioning recommendations, which tend towards heavy kettlebell work for 5 to 10 minutes. Or, just run and do sprints.

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Thanks Dave. Does your cardio finisher help you with controlling body fat when gaining strength? How does it affect your recovery? –  Felz Dec 13 '13 at 0:04
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@Felz Yeah, the finisher is for both conditioning and fat control. It takes a recovery toll, so it's best to ease into it--one a week for a month, then two a week for a month, and so on. You can also do them on the off days. Regardless, they slightly (on the order of 10-20% is what I've seen in some studies) detract from strength gains, which is part of why you want a program where weight is added weekly or monthly instead of daily. –  Dave Liepmann Dec 13 '13 at 8:13
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First thing - take a week off. Strength training tears down tissue before it's built back up. Especially heavy training. I've often heard it said that you're not really making gains while you're in the gym - you make gains while you're at home recovering from your training. Be smart and learn to integrate "time off" during your training. This will give your body and central nervous system a chance to recharge. Try taking a break every 6 to 8 weeks.

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Thanks! Good advice. I'm looking for something a bit more comprehensive. –  Felz Dec 12 '13 at 17:45
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A week off is overkill, I'd say three days at most assuming you have no injuries. Your body is tougher than you think. If you show signs of overtraining, then yes, I would agree, take time off. If you aren't, then there is no need for time off.

A good article on it: http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/fawnia33.htm

Try changing your routine up, I'd suggest drop-setting. It gives you a great combination of powerlifting and bodybuilding.

The general jist of Drop Sets http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drop_set

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