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Old 08-04-2009, 11:15 AM   #1
Mike Kerce
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Question Maintaining Strength during weight loss

hello all, i've been crossfitting for close to 3 months now...i'm 5'8" and 270 lbs. I have never been an ideal weight, and i have a good deal of muscle weight, but it is my assumption that i need to drop at least 70 lbs.

what i'm wondering is - is it possible to lose that much weight and maintain my strength? I've been told that as you lose weight you should expect for your lifting numbers to drop as well. is this true, and if so is there any way to avoid it? or is strength ultimately relative to size?

to explain my current program, i go to a box 4-5 times a week, but this is essentially all the exercise i get. for diet, i have started strict paleo.

perhaps my question is too vague, but i'll start by asking for any suggestions on maintaining (or ideally, increasing) strength as i lose weight...any other suggestions on tweaking my current program for optimal performance would be awesome as well. Huge thanks in advance.
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Old 08-04-2009, 12:07 PM   #2
Brian Bedell
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Re: Maintaining Strength during weight loss

The short answer is "yes," you will lose strenght. Both from losing size/weight and simply from dieting which is a stress on your body and will probably lead to at least some degree of overtraining.

That being said, I don't know what your current numbers are. If you are currently DL'ing 300x1, then this is perfectly reasonable for a 200lb male. However if you are DL'ing 2x body weight, or about 540lbs, I think you will have severe trouble keeping this level of strength up at 200lbs and dieting.

I would be seriously more concerned about losing the weight for my health as opposed to how strong I was.

You could limit strength loss by doing a SS type program, but again, I think I would worry about my weight first; that's not healthy.
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Old 08-04-2009, 12:19 PM   #3
Mike Kerce
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Re: Maintaining Strength during weight loss

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Originally Posted by Brian Bedell View Post
The short answer is "yes," you will lose strenght. Both from losing size/weight and simply from dieting which is a stress on your body and will probably lead to at least some degree of overtraining.

That being said, I don't know what your current numbers are. If you are currently DL'ing 300x1, then this is perfectly reasonable for a 200lb male. However if you are DL'ing 2x body weight, or about 540lbs, I think you will have severe trouble keeping this level of strength up at 200lbs and dieting.

I would be seriously more concerned about losing the weight for my health as opposed to how strong I was.

You could limit strength loss by doing a SS type program, but again, I think I would worry about my weight first; that's not healthy.
great points Brian. i'm currently at 866 on CFT...376 deadlift, 315 squat, 175 press. ultimately i'll be happy with losing weight even if it does mean losing strength "numbers"...i'd just rather not go backwards if at all possible. being that my numbers aren't that high, i would think it would be reasonable to maintain them, but i'm really just a beginner and don't have much of a clue about what to expect.
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Old 08-04-2009, 12:25 PM   #4
Dimitri Dziabenko
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Re: Maintaining Strength during weight loss

No, I don't think you have to lose strength, those numbers are very possible for a 200lb male. The SP might go down, 175 is almost BW at that point. The rest could even go up as you train more. 380lb deadlift at 270lb, means you got tons of strength potential that is yet to come aka. linear progression. As long as you lose the weight in a moderate, reasonable way, you will be fine. If you starve yourself and don't rest properly, you'll get weaker.
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Old 08-04-2009, 12:36 PM   #5
Mike Kerce
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Re: Maintaining Strength during weight loss

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Originally Posted by Dimitri Dziabenko View Post
No, I don't think you have to lose strength, those numbers are very possible for a 200lb male. The SP might go down, 175 is almost BW at that point. The rest could even go up as you train more. 380lb deadlift at 270lb, means you got tons of strength potential that is yet to come aka. linear progression. As long as you lose the weight in a moderate, reasonable way, you will be fine. If you starve yourself and don't rest properly, you'll get weaker.
thanks for your response, Dmitri. in your opinion is there anything i should do in addition to what i'm already doing to help me along the way? i'm not in a huge hurry to drop weight...my main focus is improving my performance and losing the weight is really a means to that end, albeit one with great added benefits. on your last sentence i am struggling a bit with how much i should be eating on paleo. my typical thinking is eat less, but i know that is not necessarilly the answer.
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Old 08-04-2009, 12:43 PM   #6
Carlos Cristan
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Re: Maintaining Strength during weight loss

Mike,
When I first started CF I was 216 and I had a 755# total. Im currently sitting about 190# with a 965# total. Long story short all my lifts went up except for my SP. It was at 195# and now it fluctuates about 175-185#. I don't train for heavy lifts specifically and I don't augment my CF with like heavy 5x5 days on BS, DL, or SP unless it comes up on the MP; so if I wanted to increase it I think I could if it was important enough, but I just do the WOD's. I can't say that this will be true with you but it is possible to lose some weight and maintain or even improve most of your lifts. Just a side note my FS, PC, PJ have all continued to increase as well. Good Luck and whatever happens stick with it. I think after some time you'll look back like some others have already posted and wonder why you were so worried about a minor loss of strength in a lift here and there when you realize how much your overall health and GPP have improved.
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Old 08-04-2009, 12:47 PM   #7
Mike Kerce
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Re: Maintaining Strength during weight loss

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Originally Posted by Carlos Cristan View Post
Mike,
When I first started CF I was 216 and I had a 755# total. Im currently sitting about 190# with a 965# total. Long story short all my lifts went up except for my SP. It was at 195# and now it fluctuates about 175-185#. I don't train for heavy lifts specifically and I don't augment my CF with like heavy 5x5 days on BS, DL, or SP unless it comes up on the MP; so if I wanted to increase it I think I could if it was important enough, but I just do the WOD's. I can't say that this will be true with you but it is possible to lose some weight and maintain or even improve most of your lifts. Just a side note my FS, PC, PJ have all continued to increase as well. Good Luck and whatever happens stick with it. I think after some time you'll look back like some others have already posted and wonder why you were so worried about a minor loss of strength in a lift here and there when you realize how much your overall health and GPP have improved.
great post and very true. hope i have similar results! thanks!
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Old 08-04-2009, 12:52 PM   #8
Dimitri Dziabenko
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Re: Maintaining Strength during weight loss

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thanks for your response, Dmitri. in your opinion is there anything i should do in addition to what i'm already doing to help me along the way? i'm not in a huge hurry to drop weight...my main focus is improving my performance and losing the weight is really a means to that end, albeit one with great added benefits. on your last sentence i am struggling a bit with how much i should be eating on paleo. my typical thinking is eat less, but i know that is not necessarilly the answer.
If you eat strictly paleo, following the guidelines in terms of protein and not overdoing it on the nuts/seeds and staying reasonable with the fruit, I can't imagine you not losing weight at 270lb. If you eat 10lb of broccoli, that'll probably not even cover half of your daily caloric needs. You can basically stuff yourself on paleo, as long as you watch the fat/meat.

I've been doing SS, and I can probably max out at around 320-330 on the 1RM squat, about 400 for deadlift, and roughly 150 for SP at a BW of 185, and I am still able to get linear gains (ie. improve every workout). Doing something like CFSB is almost guarantee that you'll improve your strength, if you don't eat too little (if that happens and you can't eat much more, add in some oatmeal/skim milk here and there).
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Old 08-04-2009, 01:01 PM   #9
Steven Low
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Re: Maintaining Strength during weight loss

Lift heavy + adequate protein = conserved muscle and strength in most cases
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Old 08-04-2009, 01:09 PM   #10
Mike Kerce
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Re: Maintaining Strength during weight loss

thanks to you all again...as usual this board helps me think "right"...i think my best bet is to continue on strict paleo, keep working hard on the WODs and everything will work itself out. i think about CF so much that i overthink it sometimes (most of the time)...my metcon and endurance stuff is so far behind my strength that i should really be more concerned with bettering those than with losing strength! thanks folks!
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