Question of the Week - Size, Strength and Getting Lean – Jim Wendler

Question of the Week - Size, Strength and Getting Lean

Question of the Week - Size, Strength and Getting Lean

The new forum has been crazy this week and the questions have been really good.  Here is the question of the week:


Jim, I read the question below titled Staying in a Weight Class and was writing a reply / comment which was really another question and realized I was going to hijack his thread so here goes.... Can you lose body fat, put on muscle mass, and gain strength all at the same time? I've heard supplement companies and internet experts try to sell this, the original poster in the "Staying in A Weight Class Question" talks about it. I've never seen anyone actually do it. I can lose about a pound a week and look more muscular at a lower bodyfat by focusing on conditioning, but when I really crunch the numbers (yeah I'm a nerd) I haven't gained any muscle, it just looks like it because you can see a shoulder, tricep, and bicep instead of just an arm. Anyone actually accomplished all three of these things without PEDs? I think I have decided to eat for mass and strength for about the next two years and see where I am. I plan on having 30ish pounds to work off then but I also feel like its the best way. After reading 5/3/1 I feel like this is probably the only way to really gain appreciable size and strength. Am I wrong or did I miss somthing somewhere? I'd love to not gain any fat and build muscle only but I don't see this as a real possibility. Thoughts?


Jim Wendler: I'm sure you CAN. You'd have to do everything correct (which is going to require you to work with some experts or you simply get lucky) to do this though. There are people who are VERY fat, inactive (just lifting weights a couple days/week isn't very active, let's all be honest) who can do it. But again, this is rare. But to hit the Holy Trifecta without PED's is pretty tough unless you are VERY persistent and you have the patience to wait. Now there are some lifters out there that may be drug-free and are both lean and strong - but those are always the exceptions. Your statement, "Can you lose body fat, put on muscle mass, and gain strength all at the same time? I've heard supplement companies and internet experts try to sell this..." is brutally true. This is the kind of thinking and salesmanship that keep ignorance in this industry ablaze. I'm sorry but it's true - how many infomercials/ads/ebooks employ the "gain 30 pounds of mass and get insane strength in 60 days!" Or promise other such non-sense? There is a reason why these guys get countless of followers and are still in business. People really want to believe! Judging by the hate mail I get on a daily basis, I know I'm not very well liked but at least I don't promise anything that stupid. And I still get shit on for the "slow but steady" ideas I'm trying to get into people's head. I'm going to have my wife, Juliet, chime in on this as she has answered this question probably more than I have. While I was speaking at a seminar, my wife came to pick me and we sat down and started to bullshit with some of the attendees. Some guy asked a very similar question and my wife just started going off - told him everything he needed to hear i.e The Truth. After 30 minutes of her pouring her heart (and mind) out, this guy shrugged it all off and still made excuses about his approach. Literally, got so defensive and got mad at her for helping him out. Her ending statement was this: "Why do you choose to fail at 2 things when you can be incredibly successful at 1?" Listen, this answer is going to inspire all kinds of "well, I know this one guy..." or "this one time, I gained 30 pounds on my bench and lost 15 pounds..." But for everyone of these stories, there are thousands of failures. Personally, I think the NOV template solves a lot of these problems - when you want to gain some weight and strength, swap out the hard conditioning for some slow cardio (30 minutes or so) to keep your conditioning on par. But it's not perfect (I know that) and long as you keep some sort of conditioning in and gain some weight/fat, you are setting yourself up to shed some of the fat very quickly. My advice to you (and anyone else) is to do this: * Increase your whole food protein to 2 times/bodyweight. Yes this is hard/difficult, but no one said any of this is going to be easy. * Keep pushing your main lifts - make it an absolute priority. * Keep 2-3 assistance exercises per workout and bomb the fuck out of them with volume. * Keep some sort of conditioning in there (4 days/week). Ben, I don't know exactly what you are going for but don't be afraid to toe (and jump into) the waters of greatness, even if you have to sacrifice something. People shit all over me (thank god for anonymous emails!) for my 1000 pound squat, a couple times/week. They say I was fat and all that shit. But you know what? I was so damn committed to my goal that I would (and did) everything and anything to get there. It may be a "stupid" goal, but it was a goal. And at least I went out and tried. I hope this helps. Answer 2: Juliet Wendler Jim turned me on to your post and we shared a lovely little flash back from a seminar years ago. I'm going to go ahead and respond WITHOUT reading his answer. First off, you certainly have the right attitude and the right idea. Two years is an appropriate amount of time to accomplish something worth while. Do I think you'll definitely have 30 lbs to lose when your done? Not necessarily but thinking that way will keep your head on straight and likely end with you pleasantly surprised. So is it possible? The holy trifecta? Without drugs it's tough but it heavily relies on someones' starting point. A skinny fat 185-er is going to probably fall flat on his face on this journey. Now take a husky 250lb beginner and the results are more promising. The best thing I could tell anyone is to not plan an overly complex trip to 3 different continents when you have yet to pull off a smooth day at Great Adventure. I believe that goals like these are specially built with trap doors to throw the finger at when failure rears it's ugly head. Like- "Ehhhh, my volume was too high in my hypertrophy workouts so I likely became catabolic and lost muscle instead of fat- that's why I look worse and am weaker than when I started- it's just that I worked TOO hard." I hope someone out there can benefit from our responses unlike that thick-skulled, weak-willed, mental-fat kid we were unable to reach a couple years ago. I just can't believe someone would be so eager to continue to reap minimal results forever than to pick one thing, enjoy success and most importantly- the life changing experiences and lessons that come with it. Answer 3: Mike Parilla I am not even close to being as qualified as Jim or Juliet but without going into a deatiled daily log for the past two years of my life, I would just like to throw in my thoughts and try and keep it somewhat short. I think what a majority of people do, is pick one goal and stay so zoned in on that goal that we throw everything to the side. You talk about eating for strength and size and having 30 lbs of fat to burn off. That's only if all you do is eat and train wrecklessly. I used to be the guy who thought I want to gain size so i should just eat every day the same way over and over again and not worry about the fat cause I'll do a "cutting phase". Don't be that guy. Why would you put in 2 years of eating one way with knowing you want to then burn off the 30 lbs you have put on. That's just like saying I'm gonna binge drink for 2 years become an alchoholic, then go to AA. When you could just have a drink or two a night occasionally have night of binge drinking and then revert back to no drinking for a while or back to a beer or two. We seem to live in a society of more is better when consistencey is better and the best. To me all more is better ever did to me was burn me out and make my life hard. Set up your eating to have more protein and carbs but good carbs. And keep it consistent but also listen to your body and the way you feel. If for 3 weeks you are feeling a lil heavy, maybe the pants are fitting tight in the wrong spots, then have a day or two of cutting out some starches, and upping the protein, then go back to eating how you did. Modify your diet to work with your feel and your training. If your feeling extra sore eat some more protein and some more carbs, or add a shake in. Just don't feel that you can't modify your diet a bit to accomodate how you are feeling and looking but modifying doesn't mean switching goals completely. I eat carbs every nite but if I feel I'm putting on some bad weight, I cut the carbs to only veggies and up my good fats for a few days then go back to eating how I was. Just cause I did that for a few days doesn't mean I'm low carbing or cutting, it just means I'm on top of how I feel and monitoring myself. At the end of the day just monitor yourself and stick to your goal of getting strong and eating fairly clean but eating alot. And it's really like Jim has always said, PERFORMANCE OVER LOOKS. If you can bench 405 for reps and have a slight tummy then so be it, it's better than being some lil guido who does 275 on the bench for half reps with his razor sharp abs. And yes I know this wasn't short at all. Sorry.

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