Advice for weight loss

Hi all,

Sorry if this isn’t in the right place or similar has been discussed already. I’m looking for a bit of advice on reducing some upper body fat/mass while keeping up the strength.

Here are my vital statics:
Height: 183cm (6ft)
Weight: 81kg (178lb)
FTP: 249 = W/kg 3.07

From consistent training over the past three years, my weight has dropped down from 94kg (207lb) this has happened organically. However, I’m now static at 81-82kgs.

My first 70.3 triathlon is in 16 weeks, and I’m looking to reduce my upper body mass, this has stemmed from being between a Large and Medium trisuit size, I picked the medium… of course:)

Ideally, I’d like to get my W/kg closer to 4 for the summer, so maybe 79kg (174lb) with an increased FTP of 316.

I think I’ve got a shot at getting the weight down with maybe a slight increase in FTP with a better focus on fuel and diet. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

My main question is: as a triathlete, I have to maintain upper body strength, especially as all the pools are closed due to COVID. So, to reduce upper body fat/mass while keeping lean muscle, should I opt for low weight and high rep or high weight and low reps?

Any help and advice would be welcome.

Thanks all:)

I think you should rethink this plan. You don’t want to diet 16 weeks before your event. This is your peak training and preparation time. You’ll short circuit the training with a negative energy balance.

BTW, I’m also 6 ft tall. At 204, I wish I were 178. :slight_smile:

The lowest I ever got was 165 and that was in my 20s while riding 250+ miles per week and racing.

At 54, I’ve found it almost impossible to lose that last 15-20. Last winter I did 12-13 hours per week of base training while counting every calorie for two months and only lost 6-7 pounds, 4 of which came back immediately after I stopped counting.

If you have low hanging fruit (chips, soda, pizza, burgers, alcohol, etc) then cut those out and replace them with whole foods. Otherwise don’t diet.

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I’ve reduced my food intake and just eaten less junk, cut out fizzy drinks, do 10 mins of exercises a day. Dropped 10lbs in the last month and dropped 3inches off my stomach. Happier already.

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Depends on how much muscle mass you actually want to keep. All of it or grow some? Target 8-15 reps per set at 0-4RIR (reps in reserve… ie. reps from failure or form breakdown) for 3-6 sets per movement.

The two biggest drivers of hypertrophy are cumulative muscle damage, and time spent under high muscular tensions, specifically dynamic (moving) tension. Both of these far outweigh any contribution from metabolic disturbance. The very best way to accomplish a large degree of muscular damage and tension, in a repeatable way so that adaptations can be chronic and continuous is: high volume resistance training that involves progressive overload from week to week. (More training each week, followed eventually by a deload week).

Deload serves three purposes:

  1. Psychological recovery, for which a week of shorter workouts is a generally-accepted and reasonable time frame to allow for some much needed mental down-time. Not to mention catching up on life (or sleep!)
  2. Physiological recovery: This involves glycogen restoration in the muscles as well as hormonal recovery (reduction of chronically elevated stress hormones and a concomitant increase in testosterone). Generally, reducing training volume is the most important factor for this, and taking a week of lowered training volumes allows for good restoration.
  3. Physical/mechanical recovery: This is the physical repair of your tissues to prevent injury. Cumulative microtrauma, if added up for many phases without reducing the load on the bar, can lead to injury. This is why the second half of deload week can be so crazy-light. :slight_smile:

But… I’d recommend letting just a wee bit of the muscle disappear if you’re mostly concerned about:

  1. Tri performance
  2. Cycling performance
  3. Longevity and orthopedic health
  4. Secondarily, aesthetics/muscularity

If you go with a lower volume approach like:

  • 3-6 reps per set
  • 2-4 sets per movement
  • 1-7 RIR, most of the time
  • 4-6 movements per session
  • 1-2 sessions per week

…You can maintain the vast majority of muscle with less total work and actually slightly improve strength with the same or minimally less muscle mass. You’ll have less indiscriminate hypertrophy (non-productive muscle mass for swimming and everything else) and less total fatigue to dissipate/recover from before each endurance training session.

And including explosive movements and a bit more core work is probably a good idea for movement economy in all three disciplines. (well… explosive stuff isn’t going to benefit the tri swim… but everything else holds true).

That’s how I’ve written the Endurace Sport Lifting Templates

They’re just a good strength training program with better fatigue management for endurance athletes who don’t plan on taking time off of, or reducing, volume of endurance training while touching on and developing strength and power in the gym. If you’re a triathlete and that’s a primary goal, 2d/wk lifting is plenty, FYI. Feel free to ask questions.

Does anyone know if TR offers/sells strength training programs? If so, I’ll remove this post immediately because I don’t think that would be kosher! (I profit from the sales of those programs)

These 2 articles were all I could find:

PS. Target 0.7-1.0g of protein per pound of lean mass you have, if you’d like to hold lean muscle well during a hypocaloric diet phase. More on that and other muscle retention and training quality nutrition detail the my book listed here: Recommended Books / Reading Thread

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I’m not sure that’s the best method as 30% less could be significant and if you cut the whole foods could lead to muscle wastage too. Also seems a bit steep or high daily percentage.

To lose one pound of fat in a week you need to reduce your caloric intake by around 3500 calories over that week or in other words 500 a day. To lose more or less you adjust the caloric intake compared to your caloric expenditure.

I believe that the 10,000 steps came from the marketing of a certain Pedometer and not scientific research.

If you can point us to a paper be good to know where this 30% came from. Cheers.

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I think the red flashing warning sign on that post was somehow being able to specifically target ‘belly fat’. The lie continued to be perpetuated by many parts of the diet and fitness industry.

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Yeah, it’s easy to want to believe it though. I’m pretty lean: 181cm, 66-67kg, but still there’s still a bit of tummy fat. I will pray to the pagan gods to make sure my alchemy starts working on it.

Someone also mentioned supplements. I can recommend a really good one which works everytime - carrots. :+1:

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It’ll come down to diet. You haven’t mentioned whether your weight is stable, has been increasing, decreasing or anything else. If your weight is stable then it’s nicely balanced and just a small reduction in the amount you take in will see weight loss.

For me to lose weight I just need to cut the beers back and the weight falls away. I’m 184cm and 71kg.

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Same for me. I was pushing 150kg 15 years ago and it takes incredible effort (and not drinking beer!) to maintain my weight anywhere sensible with the added complication that after I had part of my bowel removed, lots of healthy options are not available to me. Got into bad habits during the first lockdown and it’s been a slog just to get back to 95kg now. No science to it other than cutting down by 500kcal a day and allowing myself a couple of extra treats at the weekend.

I feel my best at around 85kg and any lower I just look ill. At least I’m hitting my best ever ftp so hopefully those next few kilos will make all the difference to my outdoor riding this summer.

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There are many ways to lose weight on the Internet, but you shouldn’t use them without consulting your doctor. Many diets can harm you and lead your body into exhaustion, so you shouldn’t risk your health to lose weight. First of all, it’s important to find the right approach to weight loss and find a diet that will satiate you, with a small amount of calories in it. Many healthy and effective options can be found, for example, at https://reverse.health/. I believe that losing weight should be gradual and without damaging your health.

Water weight you can lose quickly, but this is just a mirage.

There is no real substitute for making lifestyle changes, really. Sit down, look at your current consumption, where you would like to optimise, and go from there.

I can give some anecdotal tips from my experience(s):

  • Eat more fruit and vegetables. The fact the calorie density of these is so low, you will 100% optimise body composition.

  • Adhere to an eating schedule, i.e., try to eat meals at a fixed time. This can extend to Intermittent Fasting, though this is not for everyone. Personally, I like it as it gives my body a “rest” after eating mountains of food when training.

  • Track you intake approximately.

Apart from that, no silver bullet. Fast weight loss is not advised.

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Rule of thumb from Anita Bean is limiting yourself to a maximum deficit of 500 kcals per day. This works out as 2kg loss per month, which is pretty rapid.

You know you have the balance right when you can still ride the bike. If your muscles are too tired, you aren’t eating enough.

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I like this quote.

@whojammyflip

Genuine question though - if your muscles are still tired does it mean you’re not eating enough of the right stuff?

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can mean potentially you are glycogen depleted. Depleting carb stores during say fasted work has a role, but low glycogen stores can manifest in stronger hunger signals, hence the need for lower density whole foods to not overindulge, in say oreos :wink:

I am planning weight loss strategy for next year. Should I go for lower weight or just continue working on the raw power?

This has been first year with structured training after two years cycling and the progression has been good. I have been healthy and slept well whole year. Overall stress has been a little lower too. So the result is that I have gone from 93-95 kg to 85 kg, but my FTP has gone from 360 W to 385-390 W. Estimated FTP by intervals.icu is 402 W which puts me to 4,72 W/kg which is a bit overestimated as it is based on shorter duration efforts. I can do about 90 minutes at 370 W if it’s a good day though. Nevertheless I feel like I am at a new level now. I have been doing mostly TTE work at threshold whole year with two short VO2max blocks. VO2max power has gone up about 40 watts too. Weight loss has been steady, I try to eat healthy and train so much I can.

I am a amateur gravel racer and with all time and life constraints I would like to see what would be the absolute fitness for me next year. I would like to aim for 5 W/kg which would be good for a large guy like me. In the races I have entered I have been able to climb quite well with the lighter guys, but the short accelerations are maybe my weakness. I think that won’t still be a limiter in the longer races because I can ride fast and steady on flat terrain and catch (or drop) the others there.

As I am quite muscular there is not so much anymore to lose. There’s maybe 5-7 kilos extra if I really bite my teeth and cut down the calories, then I would be very lean. I fear though that it would dent all the endurance I have acquired with hard training. On the other hand lower body mass would need a little less calories. The goal for next year will be Gravel Worlds in Nebraska (150 miles). There’s a lot of short and steep hills where lower body weight will help with saving energy.

Do you guys have any opinions for how should I progress? I know that the weight loss should be done carefully, as I have done now. I will have time to drop the weight from October to December when I won’t have to train at high intensity. I need to eat a lot though that my brain can function in a demanding job so I can’t be on calorie deficit during workdays, and in the evenings I need the energy to train.

I would carry on with what you’re currently doing, it’s clearly working! If you’re already pretty lean and muscular then further weight loss (if any - this might already be your optimal weight for gravel racing) should be quite incremental.

I wouldn’t think about trying to lose another 5+ kg. I would think about carrying on with good sleep habits, fuelling your workouts well, and your body will find it’s natural weight in response to that training stimulus. I see a lot of lean muscular people come into cycling who gradually shed some of the muscle mass over a couple of years as their body responds to doing lots of endurance training. If you really do feel you can lose weight and still be healthy and nailing your workouts, then with the time frame you’re talking about you can target small deficits e.g. Losing 1kg a month (or 0.5lb/week) is slow enough to give you time to dial back if you’re starting to see a negative impact on health or performance, but still plenty enough to get you in best shape for next season.

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Yeah this is what I’m thinking about too. This year results in racing has been quite ok already and I haven’t lost so much time in the hilly parts, in fact the most gains I would get from riding the singletrack and technical sections faster.

Because I do this for fun I won’t like to go full monk mode with food for whole winter. There’s a risk for burn out if I train hard and cut the calories. Maybe that calorie deficit will come naturally with longer workouts as I try to fit one 3-4 hour long ride on Tuesdays or Thursdays plus a longer one in weekends.

I am not as fit nor as big as you are. I found myself with too much of a spare tire after the winter I have not significantly decreased calories, and have managed to drop from 75 to 70 kg by adding a 1 hr morning walk right out of bed before coffee or breakfast. Best part is that my wife has joined me. I have lost the bulk of my body fat without loosing any muscle or power.

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That sounds like a good plan. I have been doing some walks with my wife too, but these have been in the evenings. In the morning I just want to sleep :smile:

That’s massive. If you can do 370 W for 90 minutes, I think an FTP of 400 W (370 W = 92.5 % of 400 W) is much more plausible than 390 W (= 95 % of 390 W, i. e. threshold).

For a guy as “heavy” as you, these numbers would not be good, they are spectacular. To give you some perspective, world-class sprinter Marcel Kittel peaked at 4.9 W/kg in his career. Yes, he was more powerful, but he was also a few kg heavier than you are now.

On the flip side, aiming at 5 W/kg might be out of reach. But I think you are just setting yourself the wrong goal.

Are you nuts? I wouldn’t try to lose any weight if I were you. Whatever you are doing is clearly working for you! :smiley: Cutting weight could be very risky for your training. I’d continue what you are doing now and just race according to your strengths. I reckon few if anyone in the field can match you in terms of raw power. Even in terms of W/kg you’d like be at or near the top of the peloton. Plus, raw power helps offroards, because you need to overcome friction between tires and the road surface.

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