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I'm male, 5ft 10in, 187 pounds, unknown fat %, and I've been strength training for a while, and while I've definitely increased in strength, I want a cut aesthetic. I have a bit of fat in my belly (hips mainly) and legs that I want to get rid of. I believe a combination of intermittent fasting, alteration of my diet, and continued strength training without cardio will allow me to cut fat and build muscle. I would like some input on this plan.

The method for eating will be intermittent fasting: between 12PM and 8PM on each day, I will eat all of my calories. The number of calories I eat will now be depending on whether I strength train that day. I will eat maintenance (2200) calories on days when I strength train, and a deficit (1800) on days where I don't. I got these values by calculating my TDEE. On the last day of the week (Sunday), I intend to do a total fast eg only 50 calories and only water for the day.

My current strength training program consists of three days, five exercises each, two sets in Reverse Pyramid Training format per exercise: first set is heavy, few reps; second set is light, higher reps. I have gained in weight on each exercise doing this. Exercises focus chest, triceps, legs, shoulders, and back. Specific exercises are weighted chin-up, seated dumbbell shoulder press, seated cable row, dumbbell lateral raise, hanging straight leg raise, barbell squat, preacher hammer dumbbell curl, Romanian deadlift, calf press on the leg press machine, dumbbell bench press, standing dumbbell overhead triceps extnesion, incline dumbbell chest press, dumbbell rear delt row, and dumbbell side bend.

My intention is to add another strength training consisting of higher volume across many sets with different exercises targeting the same areas. I will alternate between my current strength training program and this new program.

My major questions about my plan:

1) Is a total fast on the last day of the week a bad idea for a strength trainer who's trying to cut fat and retain muscle? I received this tip from another strength trainer. My understanding is that it's like hitting a restart switch on my internal system. What I expect to receive is a major loss of fat.

2) Is alternating between RPT and high volume going to increase strength and muscle size?

3) Should I add cardio to this program? Besides my strength training, I work at a desk job for five days a week and go to school at night, so I don't have a lot of exercise beyond my strength training. I'm concerned about losing muscle by adding cardio, and if I need to alter my calories when I do it.

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Your TDEE honestly sounds like it should be higher (2200 from what you’ve described is a cut). Also, stick with the same amount of calories each day, cutting every other day is silly. As far as intermittent fasting goes, if it works for you that’s fine, keep doing it. If it doesn’t, then don’t do it. It doesn’t seem to make any difference from the research that draws a fair comparison.

1.) It’s not a beneficial idea at the very least. When aren’t exercising, your muscles are recovering and rebuilding themselves. You want to provide your body with the fuel necessary to make the most of that recovery process.

2.) RPT and High Volume Training are great for building muscular endurance (a type of strength), but they aren’t as beneficial towards explosive strength and increasing one rep maxes. Something like a five rep set (near or to failure) would be better suited towards building a higher one rep max, and a 10-12 rep set (near or to failure) strikes a balance between endurance and max strength.

  • To clarify, any/all strength training will increase both your one rep max and muscular endurance. Training in different ways simply tends to favor one more than the other.

3.) Cardio won’t make you lose your gains. Doing HIIT two days a week (sandwiched between your strength days) would be beneficial. Or instead of generic HIIT routines, you could do anything that gets your heart rate up (sports, hiking, swimming, etc). You could also do LISS everyday if you have time for it. Something like a walk in the park, or a nature trail for an hour or more. Regardless, cardio of any form can help to shed fat (and it’s more likely to just be fat if you are feeding yourself properly and doing strength training).

  • 1) I won't do that then. 2) I'll swap out the High Volume Training exercise program for one focusing on one-rep maxes. Thanks for the tip. 3) I'll do HIIT two days a week as my cardio. I definitely can do that. – Eternal Learner Apr 16 '18 at 18:25

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