Fitness over-arches a number of physical skills we can improve on, including things like stamina, coordination, balance, strength, speed, agility and so on. Each skill has particularly specialised characteristics which can be improved through consistent practice, trial and error; however, when it comes to sports which require you to hit certain weight criteria such as powerlifting and boxing, it’s widely misunderstood how you should go about altering your training in order to drop body fat and maintain/gain strength.
For instance; people may think that a boxer should incorporate more runs into their training regime in order to burn more calories, when instead they could just increase the time they spend sparring which will have the same effect in burning calories and be more beneficial to their sport.
Fundamentally, the way in which you train for a certain skill (which in this case, we’ll be looking at strength) does not have to be changed in order to burn body fat; although, by increasing the intensity it’s possible to burn more calories in a shorter frame of time.
Ways of increasing the intensity of your strength based training could include taking shorter rest periods, or incorporating more working sets.
Training for Strength |
+ Losing Body Fat
As for losing body fat, the method used by people who train for strength is identical to the method used by those who train for hypertrophy, endurance or any other physical skill.
Your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) will determine whether or not you burn fat (bearing in mind you have an effective split of macronutrients), so as long as you’re in a caloric deficit you’ll be able to lose fat.
Your training method should not change dramatically when in a deficit of calories, however it’s natural to feel less energised than usual when training due to your body lacking in the usual amount of calories it consumes.
Training for Strength | Beginners
When training for strength as a beginner, it’s likely that you’ll be able to make strength gains while losing body fat for the first few months, especially if you’re overweight, however this is not sustainable.
More experienced? For those who are more experienced and are in a caloric deficit, it’s possible to maintain your strength or even possibly increase it slightly while losing fat but only for a couple of weeks until your body adapts to having a lower intake of calories and your testosterone decreases slightly.
This will also depend on your actual body fat percentage; the higher it is to begin with (for example >25%) the easier
it will be to maintain or gain strength while losing fat, as there is a greater percentage to lose. As for those who already have a lower body fat percentage (for example <15%) the likelihood on maintaining strength is less, and gaining strength even smaller.
Minimise strength losses
In order to minimise the amount of strength you lose, I would suggest using a creatine supplement. Creatine Monohydrate is the most commonly used form of creatine which is also very cost effective.
It enables increased physical performance in short-term, highly intense bursts of exercise (such as strength based training); by supplementing 5g per day creatine will definitely help you maintain as much of your strength as possible.
In terms of specific training methods for strength you may want to use, methods such as the popular “5×5” or “Wendler’s 531” have numerous positive reviews. It’s definitely worth noting that while you may lose a slight amount of strength while trimming body fat away, once you begin to eat in a surplus you should see a spike in your performance due to your elevated energy and testosterone.
As well as this; cutting fat usually takes less time than gaining muscle, which would suggest that the period of time you’re in a deficit for should not be very extensive; a good way to measure your rate of fat loss is by factoring -500 calories from each day which equates to 1lb of fat per week (3500 calories).
Training for Strength | Summary
If you’re looking to gain strength, the easiest way to do it is in a caloric surplus, however if you’re following an effective strength training programme and a personalised nutrition plan which splits your macronutrients efficiently, you may be able to maintain your strength for longer or even make slight gains in strength for a short period of time while losing body fat.
However, it must be understood this is not sustainable for a long period of time.
For optimal results, cut down on body fat while sticking to your programmes until you’re at a happy body fat percentage (which may result in you losing some strength gains) and then alter your macronutrient intake into a slight surplus and watch your body fat percentage closely, making sure you don’t over indulge on food and increase your body fat percentage unnecessarily.
Take Home Message
Maintain your consistency in training throughout all alterations of your nutrition.
This should enable you to gain strength while putting on minimal amounts of body fat!