A couple of months ago I started strength training again and cleaned up my diet. I need to lose about 15-20 kg. I don't focus on the weight though, I want to reach ~15% bodyfat (currently ~30%), but having an approximate target weight helps.

At the moment I am losing ~0.3 kg/week. That's not a lot, but I don't know yet what exactly the composition of that amount is. I have also been building muscle even though I am in a deficit; thanks muscle memory.

Anyway, my question is what training program could I use? I am currently on 5/3/1, which is working fine, but I know there will come a time when the weights get too heavy to recover from in a caloric deficit. So when that time comes I want to have a program at hand which I can switch to.


I run 5/3/1 on a 2 day/week (usually Tuesday and Saturday) split, assisted with the BBB template.

So day 1 is:

  • Squat 5/3/1
  • Deadlift BBB
  • Bench 5/3/1
  • Press BBB

Day 2 is:

  • Deadlift 5/3/1
  • Squat BBB
  • Press 5/3/1
  • Bench BBB

After each workout I do some pullups or curls or anything I might like. Or nothing at all. I try to end every workout with a metcon component. Could be sled sprints, some barbell complexes, battle ropes, anything that uses muscle and is high intensity.

Diet is pretty clean, I try to minimise the junk and calories in general. Eat lots of veggies and some fruit. I aim for 150+ grams of protein per day. My diet is monitored by a nutrition specialist.

The final component: sleep. I sleep between 7 and 9 hours a day. Mostly based on how I feel.

1 Answer 1


Making sure that your workouts are properly spaced out in the week, and you are taking advantage of the deload weeks, you could probably run 5/3/1 for a long time. This also depends on what sort of 5/3/1 variant you might be following since 5/3/1 is very flexible and more of an approach than an actual program.

Nutrition-wise, since you're striving for a body recomposition, you'll want to make sure you're getting a lot of protein. There's plenty of questions on here about how much protein eat, so you can give those a search, but in a calorie deficit, a higher protein intake becomes more important. You'll also benefit from having more or your daily carbohydrates before your workout. The second key to retaining muscle in a calorie deficit is to use those muscles. Keep consistent with the workouts!

If you get to the point where you are no longer recovering and signs of overtraining are setting in, you are going to want to start planning your workouts in blocks rather than looking for a specific program. You could still run 5/3/1 but you may want to start splitting blocks into volume or strength. However, I know people that have been running 5/3/1 for years.

If you do want a new program, I would suggest anything that is RPE based. I personally like the Calgary Barbell 16-week program but I have a heavy bias. Any program that gets you lifting to intensity rather than a number of sets x reps will help in recovery.

  • Thanks for your response. I have edited my question to include more details about training, diet and sleep. Could you elaborate a bit more on the block programming you mentioned? I am not quite sure what you mean. It seems your suggested program can't really be run 2 days/week. Do you have other suggestions? Commented Nov 18, 2020 at 7:13
  • @DennisHaarbrink -- 5/3/1 is already a 3-4 days/week program so I just assumed. I think you would find yourself hard pressed to find any "template" program that runs 2 days/week. Spreading your two workouts into 3-4 could itself be a method of reducing fatigue.
    – C. Lange
    Commented Nov 18, 2020 at 15:22
  • Training in blocks, or cycles, is looking at your strength training more long term. Blocks are usually 4 weeks. The idea is that every block has a focus and this greatly varies depending on your goal. Say I was preparing for a powerlifting meet in 16 weeks. That could be four blocks where the focus could split between Deload, Volume, Strength, and then Peaking. I'll be honest, this sort of macro-level programming is where I hired a coach.
    – C. Lange
    Commented Nov 18, 2020 at 15:24
  • Thanks. With the limited data I currently have available I would need another 6-12 months to reach my target, let's see just how far I can get on this program! Commented Nov 21, 2020 at 9:18
  • @DennisHaarbrink - for sure! Make sure to keep a training log.
    – C. Lange
    Commented Nov 21, 2020 at 15:36

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