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I have been weight lifting for almost 12 years already I was very fit and very lean but with loads of muscles.

But with time I started getting lazy, around 3 years ago, and not care about my eating habits that much. So I went from 74Kg to 81Kg, I am 1.73m, until last December when I decided to start losing weight even though it could mean losing muscles too. So I went down from 81 to 74 and I am maintaining it for 2 weeks now but I still have a little bit of fat over the belly. I would like to reach 71Kg.

My goal is to gain muscle without fat but also being able to ditch the meal plan during weekends and perhaps once a week as well. I gotta live sometimes right? ;)

Here are some details:

Monday/Thursday Gym training for 45 minutes + 45 minutes of Spinning= +-1000 calories burnt

Tuesday/Friday Gym training for 45 minutes + 20 minutes of boxing + 20 minutes of rowing = +-1000 calories burnt

Wednesday Gym training for 20 minutes + 45 minutes of Spinning= +-800 calories burnt

So on a week I burn around 5000 calories.

Here is my meal plan:

Breakfast

  • -1% Meal+400ml 1% milk

27.3g Carbs 5.7g Fat 40.4g Protein 322.1 Calories

Lunch

  • -300g of chicken breast+100g of cottage cheese+1 egg+200ml 1%of Milk

18.7g Carbs 19.5g Fat 130.4g Protein 771.9 Calories

Dinner

  • -1% Meal+400ml 1% milk

30.8g Carbs 15.6g Fat 48.6g Protein 458 Calories

I also sleep about 8 hours a day, by the book. During the weekend I tend to hibernate a bit over than that.

I would like to have tips and improvements thrown at me and also some criticism of what I am doing and why you think so.

Cheers.

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1 Answer

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Without knowing your gender, starting weight and goal weight, it's hard to know if this is reasonable or not. However, there are a couple warning flags that I see here. You want to preserve muscle, and possibly build more if that's OK.

Diet

Looking at the proposed diet, you have roughly:

  • 1550 Calories/day
  • 219g Protein/day
  • 77g Carbs/day
  • 41g Fat/day

If you are a woman, that might be reasonable. However, when I see that coupled with 1000 Cal/day exercise during the week that might not be enough even for a woman. If you are a man, it's entirely too much of a deficit.

You may want to consider carb and calorie cycling. Essentially, what that means is you have a higher amount of carbs on training days, and a lower amount of carbs on rest days. Similarly you do the same with Calories. This helps rebuild the glycogen reserves your muscles need and aids recovery so you can do it all again.

Exercise

I'm not sure what "gym training" involves, but it appears that your training regimen is at odds with your stated goals. Just repeating your goals:

  • gain muscle, not fat
  • lose the belly
  • Enjoy food on the weekends

The thing is you have a lot of steady state cardio work. That helps build endurance, but not muscle. If "gym training" is using the machines, doing body weight exercise, or even lifting weights, the two activities are fighting each other. Your body will do its best to make a reasonable compromise, but endurance doesn't build muscle. It burns fat, but doesn't improve your muscle mass.

If you want to improve muscle, you need to focus on activities that force your muscles to work. And then keep increasing the effort your muscles have to exert so they do get stronger. The only thing in your conditioning you listed that doesn't conflict with that is boxing. You would do better with Tabata training than cycling.

I lift free weights, and routinely spend at least 1000 Calories per session doing it. The key is to go heavy and improve on that. However, to go heavy you need rest days so you can recover. Your current routine is 5 straight days of work with no rest. That's not good because it will cause you to have elevated levels of Cortisone. That in turn burns muscle, and since you aren't giving your muscles a chance to fully recover and rebuild you will be burning more muscle than you build. Muscles increase during rest, after you put them through heavy work. I would reduce your training days so that you have no more than 2 days in a row. I would also look at more efficient use of conditioning.

Summary and Recommendations

The long story made short is that it looks like you are eating too few calories and exercising too much. This is a recipe for losing muscle. That combined with elevated Cortisone levels will keep more fat around your belly that you are trying to get rid of. Even if you do an epic refeed over the weekend, the combination is likely to force you to overcompensate.

  • Be more moderate with your exercise. At least 3 times a week, but no more than 4. Focus on resistance training and High Intensity Interval Training for conditioning. That will help build muscles and improve conditioning in a way that helps resistance training.
  • Learn the importance of rest. Muscles cannot grow when they are constantly torn down. A good training session will elevate Testosterone levels and associated growth hormones naturally. Rest allows them to do their job.
  • Try a different tact with your diet. The basic principles are there, but it needs some fine tuning.

You might want to experiment with intermittent fasting. If you fast one day a week (a rest day), then you'll set up your diet so that on any given day you are at a 500 Calorie deficit. The day before the fast, you double up the food. You are eating two day's worth of food in one day, and nothing on the next day (aside from green tea and vitamin supplements). This allows you to have a free day a week and still lose weight.

Alternatively you can increase calories and carbs on training days (carbs should be at about 1g/pound body weight on training days), and reduce on rest days. At the end of the week you should have a calorie deficit. 20% up on training days and 20% down on rest days. If you need to adjust the amount of protein you have to make that work, do it. However, there are no free days with this approach.

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Indeed I have omitted some important information:<br/> -male 28 years old<br/> -goal weight 72Kilos, starting weight 81Kg<br/> -gym training == weight lifting divided by 2 muscle groups/day. <br/>For example: monday/thursday = chest+biceps, tuesday/friday = back+triceps, wednesday=legs+shoulders. And now I am doing 3 sets of 12-10-8 reps. I change my program every 2 months and soon will be time to do it again. Something like 8 reps.<br/> I also lift free weights but I am not a heavy lifter so I dont reach the 1000 calories you do unless I do a lot of spinning. –  user981916 Feb 16 '12 at 12:26
    
It still looks like you are eating too few calories for all the work you are doing. I provided alternative types of conditioning that complement resistance training. You'd be surprised how quickly you'll burn calories with these alternatives as well. You may try barbell complexes (think superset without putting the bar down). It's light weight, but grueling, and can also accelerate burning calories. –  Berin Loritsch Feb 16 '12 at 12:42
    
okay, thanks mate :D great tips... you are very helpful and friendly. –  user981916 Feb 16 '12 at 13:28
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