View Full Version : Should I cut fat or gain muscle?

Jonas Cronfeld
10-05-2007, 01:15 PM
Hello fellow Crossfitters. In years I haven't managed to REALLY change my body-composition, even though I of course looks fitter now than before I began to work out. My problem is that I have way to little muscle, and my body fat percentage aren't low either. Every time I've said to myself: "NOW it's time to gain" I've only done it for maybe a couple of weeks and then said to myself: "Really, you should cut fat away instead". I've done it over and over again, and therefore I haven't seen any real results. I intend to do something about it right now. But what would you recommend - to get really low body fat and then gain, or gain a lot of muscle and then cut all the fat away? If the last one, how much fat would you allow before you begin to cut it away? Of course you CAN gain muscle without fat, but when I need so much I think it will be pretty hard.

I'm 21 years old, 86 kg (189 pounds) and 200 cm (6'5").

This is the newest picture that I have:


I really appreticate your help!

PS. And no, I don't care about it because I want to look buff or "better", but because I think it would really help on my strenght if I had way more muscle.

Frank C Ollis
10-05-2007, 01:49 PM
If you focus on boosting your clean food intake, and strength excercises, the fat will take care of itself.

Multi joint excercises, heavy.

6'5" is your curse/blessing. Your body type is hard to fillout, but it can be done.

I am 6'1-2" depending on time of day, and weigh 235. I am on the other end though, my body wants to weigh around 260, and I want to weigh 225.

Gorm Laursen
10-06-2007, 02:14 AM
Hej Jonas

... and then the rest in english, just in case some one else could benefit :) :

If the main reason for your wish to gain musle is strength gain and not aestetics a reasonable long term plan would be NOT focusing on muscle gain in the first phase, but rather strength gain 1-3 rep RM for sets of 5-15 etc., you probably know how. Once you've obtained a good increase in strength it'll be easier for you to build muscles, since you're able to move more weight and thus 'pump' more hypertrophy. So a good power cycle (where you can also cut, because strength gains are more associated with neural adaptations than actual muscle mass) followed by a more traditional muscle gaining approach, where you can increase food intake to support growth.

A good approach for muscle gains not one I've followed deliberately, but that I can deduct works from observing myself is working different lifts/movements targeting the same musclegroups. For instance if you want bigger back muscles work the deadlift on day 1, back extensions and db/kb swings one day 2 and cleans, powercleans and snatches on day 3. It have induced some pretty good (unintended) muscle growth in my case, since I'm practicing alot on the clean, snatch and the deadlift, alternating these exercises and blending with some swings, back extensions and pullups.

Breast musculature could be worked with benchpress on day 1, weighted pullups on day 2 and weighted dips and/or one arm pushups on day 3 ... you get the general idea.

...and always finish with some good solid sets of squats or deadlifts, as these give you a good growth hormone/testosterone boost, that'll further help growth.

Brandon Oto
10-06-2007, 03:09 AM
Hey Gorm... just a quick remark... in English we'd call it "chest"... "breast musculature" is uh... a little funny :D

Gorm Laursen
10-06-2007, 06:44 AM
LOL!!! Ofcourse...

Jonas Cronfeld
10-07-2007, 01:37 PM
Thanks for all your good advices guys! I start right now(!), eating a lot more (of the good stuff), and changing my training in a couple of months by cutting down a little on the cardio stuff and instead putting more focus on the heavy lifting. At the Crossfit Charlotte certification december 1-2 I'll be heavier and stronger than ever before! :) The main challenge will be to do it continuously, but this time it's for real!

Emily Mattes
10-07-2007, 03:10 PM
From what I've heard, it's much easier to build muscle and then cut fat than the other way around. The bulking phase of muscle-building inevitably will add a little fat on.

But Frank and Gorm are right though, if you are focused on fitness and strength, eating clean and working out will get you there (and eventually bring the muscle mass, too).

However, if you are looking for opinions based on pure aesthetics (I'm guessing you are, since you haven't posted your MR for any lifts!) your body fat percentage looks quite fine, not scary-ripped, but ripped like Daniel Craig from the latest James Bond movie, if not a few percentage points less. So if you're having trouble with bodyweight exercises, it probably isn't extra fat that's weighing you down, it's simply that you are a big guy and it takes more muscle to throw yourself around.

Jonas Cronfeld
10-07-2007, 11:45 PM
Emily, the picture was just to show you what I'm talking about. With my level of muscle mass there should be no doubt that I'll be stronger if I gain some, no matter how much I lift now. My strenght is actually partially decent (for example I can deadlift 396 pounds, squat a good amount too, do L-pull ups for reps and rope climb without using my feets etc.) I just think that I can get much stronger with more muscle mass :)

Franklin Shogie
10-08-2007, 10:32 AM
for gaining strength an excellent method is to follow the WOD but on the 2nd day do a Starting Strength (http://www.****************.com/) routine. The link is wfs and the book was written by Coach Rippetoe who supports the Crossfit methodologies.

Rob Harris
10-23-2007, 03:34 PM
Do both: http://www.thepaleodiet.com/ (WFS)

Aaron Shaffer
10-23-2007, 06:54 PM
I feel for you. I went through the same vicious cycles many times before finding a home in CrossFit. Now I do the WOD religiously.

I've since changed my goals from gaining muscle and losing fat to things like having a 3 min Fran or 20 rounds for Mary. I try to suggest this change in mindset to people who are open to it because I think it is more productive but also healthier psychologically speaking. The body of a man who can pull a 3 min Fran is something I will be happy with - I think you would be too. I'm going to focus on going hard and eating right. Fat and muscle percentages are something for my body to monitor and decide, not me.

Damon Stewart
10-25-2007, 02:28 PM
It's been said before...but I'd eat like a horse and do heavy compound movements 3x a week. Order starting strength, do that program for 6 weeks, and drink a gallon of milk a day. Then lean out.

Nicolas Kizzee
11-22-2007, 08:22 PM
I am also around 6'4" - 6'5" .... I wish I could be that muscular ha! I am only around 174lb...One day I will post my pics for coaching... I have no expertise in this area but I agree with what Gorm is saying.