It seems to be the consensus that on a cut you should not change your training program and continue to lift heavy. Although it is also commonly stated that the body cannot gain muscle and loose fat at the same time.

How can a 5x5 program such as starting strength or strong lifts work on a calorie deficit? In theory you shouldn't be able to progress at all since your body does not have the calories to add muscle? Do people just stay at the se weight during the cutting phase?

  • 2
    If you are still a beginner (as you must be, if you're doing a beginner program), you might still progress from neurological adaptations. Nevertheless, I'm sure at least SS recommends not cutting when doing it.
    – VPeric
    Commented Dec 3, 2013 at 15:30
  • Definitely - the SS message boards are filled with people trying to do the program and not eat a bunch as recommended in the book. The answer is always YNTTP (you're not doing the program).
    – G__
    Commented Dec 3, 2013 at 22:49
  • That's fair enough for SS I guess, the YNTTP mantra is quite strong. Does that mean a program should change when your diet changes?
    – user7050
    Commented Dec 3, 2013 at 23:12
  • Definitely your diet must support your program!
    – G__
    Commented Dec 4, 2013 at 23:47

1 Answer 1



The presuppositions in this question are mistaken. A) It is possible to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time if the conditions are right. B) It's not true that one should not change one's training program while cutting--one should still do some heavy lifting, but the program should change.

The point of heavy lifting during a cut is to maintain (or lose as little as possible of) lean muscle or one's level of strength.

It is indeed possible to gain muscle and lose fat, sometimes. Many novices do it, and some people find it possible in other training scenarios. It's hard, it can't always be made to work, but it happens.

5x5 While Cutting

If you're trying to run a hypertrophy/strength program like SS or SL while not eating enough, you will hit walls faster than if you were eating enough to grow. That might be okay for you or it might not.

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