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Background:

For the past 6 months, I've gone from 89kg to 81kg bodyweight, while doing mainly 8-rep sets on most exercises. Keep in mind, before I started working out a couple years ago, I was at 65kg, so my background is skinny/weak, and not obese, even though my last few months have been weight loss oriented.

Right now, I want to remain at a bodyweight between 80-85kg, but I'm ready to start changing up my workout regimen a bit. Namely, I wish to start lifting heavier weights for fewer reps.

Question:

As the title suggests, I want to remain at this weight (or close to it), while lowering my body fat percentage, and becoming leaner.

Usually when I hear about people who are lifting heavy weights for few reps, they are bulking, and one of their primary goals is to increase their bodyweight.

Essentially, I'm looking for some tips, guidelines and/or rules-of-thumb for this endeavor. Bonus points, as always, for credible sources, but experience is also valuable, of course.

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Strength programs like 3x5, 5x5, or other low-to-mid-rep heavy lifting programs are well suited to maintaining the same weight while doing body recomposition. Just don't eat a tremendous amount.

The other option, which I like quite a bit, is to eat as much as possible of high-quality foods (meat, veggies, fish, eggs, dairy) while maintaining a high proportion of protein and adding two or three conditioning workouts to my weekly strength training regimen. The conditioning workouts don't have to be long or complex: just a ten minute high-intensity finisher after the strength workouts, plus something like a mile or two run some other time during the week, is plenty. I find this approach really powerful for body recomposition. The strength training encourages muscle mass, but the additional cardio work helps make your body get rid of fat rather than just get bigger.

An example week of such training:

  • Monday: squat heavy 3x5, deadlift heavy 1x5, 3 sets weighted strict pull-ups, weighted dips. Finish with five minutes of burpees, aiming for max reps.
  • Tuesday: Rest, or go for a jog
  • Wednesday: same strength workout as Monday, perhaps with heavier weights on some or all of the exercises. Finish with four rounds of a circuit for conditioning: 25 air squats, 10 push-ups, 10 pull-ups, 10 kettlebell swings.
  • Thursday: Rest, or sprints (preferably up a hill or stairs)
  • Friday: same strength workout, again maybe adding weight.
  • Sat/Sun: Rest, or maybe go for a hike for fun.

The exact conditioning workouts should change frequently, and don't need to include running or any other particular thing. The point is to make yourself tired without risking injury or incurring too much workout volume. For theses purposes, simple kettlebell work is great, as are running and swimming and rowing and bodyweight exercises.

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