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How lean should you be?


Cornfed

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I've been shedding fat quite rapidly lately, and I'm confident that within 3 or 4 weeks I will have a male modelesque physique, or at least as close as my genetics allow me to come. Ideally I would maintain this physique indefinitely, but as I've never been both lean and muscular for any length of time before, I don't know whether this is possible. Does anyone know how lean it is possible or healthy for the average natural lifter to be on a daily basis? Is it, for example, realistic to expect to have a pronounced six-pack all the time?

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Nice going Cornfed... sounds like you'll have to post some pics soon!

The way you phrase it almost makes it sound like you're getting leaner accidentally - I'm assuming it's really a result of hard work?! Are you doing cardio/dieting/using supps to help you? Have you lost much/any muscle mass?

Now to answer your question, here is my completely uneducated opinion... :D

You should be able to maintain low body fat and still hold onto muscle mass. I don't think the levels reached by competitive bodybuilders is sustainable long-term - but a fairly lean model physique certainly could be. The key would be speeding up the metabolism so you didn't have to spend the rest of your life on a stringent diet or doing cardio 24x7. If you can boost your metabolic rate, while still keeping a high protein intake, you'll end up one of the lucky few who are effortlessly lean with muscle. In theory. :wink:

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Nice going Cornfed... sounds like you'll have to post some pics soon!

Yes, but I think I'll wait until if or when I reach my target look. At the rate I'm going that should be in about a month, though I may of course plateau off before then.

The way you phrase it almost makes it sound like you're getting leaner accidentally - I'm assuming it's really a result of hard work?! Are you doing cardio/dieting/using supps to help you? Have you lost much/any muscle mass?

No cardio or supplements. I'm just on a Paleolithic diet and doing four shortish whole-body workouts a week. It has been fairly easy so far. I plan to maintain this regime indefinitely, although I may eat slightly larger portions when I reach my target fat level. There hasn't been any great loss of muscle mass and most of my lifts are about the same.

You should be able to maintain low body fat and still hold onto muscle mass. I don't think the levels reached by competitive bodybuilders is sustainable long-term - but a fairly lean model physique certainly could be.

Yes, well some rugby players and suchlike seem to manage it, at least during the playing season. Then again, they probably have better genetics than me and perhaps some of them are on roids.

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In my experience (although I am an ectomorph, so it isn't too difficult for me to stay lean!!!) it is possible to stay lean indefinately. The key is, like Pseudonym said, in keeping your metabolism revved.

I found I would mix it up every couple of weeks -

moderate cardio, low calories, standard 12-15-rep weights;

low cardio, low calories, lower reps/heavier weights;

high cardio, moderate calories, standard weights;

low cardio, low calories, light weights;

no cardio, high calories, heavy weights

(with calories, low is a few hundred below what you would burn in a normal day, moderate hits it on the money (or as close as you can get) and high is upto a thousand over.)

Mixing it up keeps your body guessing and helps keep your metabolism up there (plus keeps it different). I usually throw in a cheat day every other week as well - but I concentrate more on overloading good quality calories rather than McDonald's for breakfast, Denny's mid-morning, Pizza Hut for lunch, Wendy's mid-afternoon, Burger King dinner and Hell pizza for supper...

Not an educated opinion by any means, but one from personal experience.

Hope this helps! Good luck with your progress, keep us posted on how you go!

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moderate cardio, low calories, standard 12-15-rep weights;

low cardio, low calories, lower reps/heavier weights;

high cardio, moderate calories, standard weights;

low cardio, low calories, light weights;

no cardio, high calories, heavy weights

That looks like a good system - but very complicated! Do you constantly count calories to make sure you're on track, or do you go "by feel"? Is this a long-term routine or one you just use for a cutting phase?

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Hey Pseudonym,

It's not as complicated as it sounds. I do watch my calorie intake like a hawk, but I do go on look and feel alot too. This is the approach I use when cutting (which I do for the summer - Haven't plucked up the courage to compete yet! Would want some more meat on my frame first...)

I found the first few times I tried it, I'd get a haedache from all the planning and constantly monitoring everything, but once you get into it, it does get easier. It was born from the fact that I hate being so fatigued when training whilst cutting, and my poundages would slowly decrease, so throwing in higher calories and heavy training every now and again kept my enthusiasm and drive high, and the constant changing does keep it fresh and make me look forward to the training sessions.

When I'm on a bulk, or doing maintenance work, I will follow a lot more basic system. Every 3 months I'll change my routine around to do different splits, different exercises, etc... At least once a year I will have 3-6 months (at different points in time) dropping the reps and upping the weights, as I have found doing a routine more like a powerlifter has helped me punch through some sticking points in the past.

I will be trying the DC training method at some point this year though, as I like the way it is structured. If I make good gains on that, I will just incorporate bodybuilding/powerlifting switches into that framework - which will keep things even simpler.

Hope I haven't babbled on too much, and you catch my drift here... Sorry to hijack your thread a lttle Cornfed!!!

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Hi Cornfed,

I know I've been lazy, and haven't checked the nutrition board as yet, but do you have any info on your paleolithic diet you are using?

Also, hauling this back on track - How long would you want to maintain the cut body? I know after a few months of cutting and staying lean, I'm itching to try and add a couple more kilo's of lean mass...

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Hi Cornfed,

I know I've been lazy, and haven't checked the nutrition board as yet, but do you have any info on your paleolithic diet you are using?

I wrote about the diet in the second post of the "Optimal Workout" thread of this board. I eat essentially what I said there every day. Usually:

Breakfast: Large cup of natural yogurt with fruit smoothie stired in.

Lunch: Bacon & eggs.

Dinner: Fatty fried meat of some sort, sometimes with salad.

I've also given up beer altogether :cry: I sometimes drink a small amount of red wine though.

Here is a good intro to the idea behind paleolithic eating:

http://www.earth360.com/diet_paleodiet_balzer.html

Also, hauling this back on track - How long would you want to maintain the cut body? I know after a few months of cutting and staying lean, I'm itching to try and add a couple more kilo's of lean mass...

Provided I can maintain a reasonable amount of muscle and strength, I'd like to be cut indefinitely. I've pretty much given up any aspiration to be a competitive bodybuilder or set powerlifting records, and I'm tired of generally being overweight.

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Thanks for the info Cornfed, much appreciated! Anything that lets me eat bacon sounds worth a go in my book!

Sounds reasonable enough about the leaning out permanently. You could always do a short cycle of uping calories and training harder every now and again if you start to find your strength/size diminishing a little more than you would like.

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The diet does sound a lot like Atkins, although the reasoning behind the caveman diet is a lot more sound and believable.

How long have you been on this diet Cornfed? Is it working well for you?

I'm not sure if a seasoned bodybuilder could make gains with it, unless you applied the principles but still ensured you ate every couple of hours - might be worth a shot...

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