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Old 02-16-2009, 03:11 PM   #1
Sarah Markle
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Question Leanness v. Strength- for chicks

I know this has surely been addressed before, so I apologize in advance if this seems redundant. I am a 12B, 2x girl, 5'6", bw these days about 135. Pretty tight Paleo/Zone, 4-5B carbs/day, skinning the zone on fat, love my diet for the most part. Loving CF goes without saying- suffice it to say I dig the Kool Aid from all aspects. Back in Sept 08, I was pretty dang lean, dropping down to 126 lbs, finally starting to see the lower abs I knew were there- but didn't feel strong, and after lots of tinkering and talking with my cf coach, realized that I prolly was as strong as I would be at that weight/body comp. My TOTAL is 470 (11/1/08)- not all that impressive to many, and currently, I'm not losing any sleep over it, but am interested in getting more (breaking 500 would do for starters). Decided a few months ago to drop all extra running outside of WODs, bump fat to 3x, and focus on lifting and strength work as we entered the New Year, all efforts to get stronger. I have noticed my 1RMs now are 3 & 5 RMs, more visible upper body mass, good stuff! But, also what's happening is thickening of thighs, midsection, and biscuits (butt)....not good for me. Just recently (last week) reeled my fat back to 2x because I was not digging those secondary side effects, and am here to ask the question: Is it possible to get stronger and keep lean? Am I even thinking correctly that scaling back fat is the way to go here? (given the diff between 2x and 3x is 324 cals/day). I am starting to get that 'fat does not make us fat', although I gotta say there's many years of old propaganda in my head that I am purging these days! I always try to make sure I have my full 12B protein/day, and keep carbs and fat a little more of a moving target, but always keeping carbs low. I have dabbled in IF, and plan to learn more about it and do more of it this year. I want to get stronger, but LOVE being lean. Can I have both simultaneously? THAT is the question!
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Old 02-16-2009, 06:41 PM   #2
Blair Lowe
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Anabolic diet comes to mind which I only know a smidgin about. I'm not sure about training with lots of metcon on so little carbs but I know next to nothing when it comes to nutrition.

I think it was basically 5 days of less than 50g/d carbs with carb load on the weekend. Sounds like it might be ok for strength training but again, I dunno. As we used to say in philosophy...B'dunno.
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Old 02-16-2009, 06:50 PM   #3
Steven Low
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But, also what's happening is thickening of thighs, midsection, and biscuits (butt)....not good for me.
Is this FAT or is it muscle gain? Or is it part both?

See the problem with getting significantly stronger is that it's easier to do while putting on muscle and some fat at the same time which it looks like you were doing.

Keeping an isocaloric diet and doing heavy strength work will make you stronger but it will be significantly slower. On pure CF you might not see that much strength gains, heh.
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Old 02-16-2009, 07:06 PM   #4
Derek Weaver
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Sarah,
I don't know everything, but I know a little bit. Here's my take:

One, don't sweat your carbs. If you want to get stronger and perform more, you'll need carbs. Insulin is important, but people tend to skip over the fact that protein causes a decent insulin spike on its own. Coupled with carbohydrate it's a bigger insulin spike. If you are insulin resistant, then reduced carbs make perfect sense. Fat doesn't make you fat, eating too much does. Try keeping carbs targeted around workouts a bit if you have trouble managing hunger and insulin the rest of the day

Like Steven said, is your increased mass in the thighs, midsection and "biscuits" fat, muscle, combination?

And to answer your question a little bit more directly. Yes, you can get stronger while staying lean, but linear gains may or may not happen (it sounds like it wasn't happening if I read your post correctly). You're not going to gain muscle in a deficit, but you can get stronger through other means.
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Old 02-16-2009, 10:19 PM   #5
Blair Lowe
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My ass and legs have gotten only bigger with the lifting which makes me look more ape-shaped than I naturally do ( long limbs while being really short and wide ). I wouldn't say they are fat as most of my body fat is around my middle still.

My old track coach used to say look at all the sprinters and don't be ashamed of the booty. Whenever I have gals who are getting self conscious about their thighs and rear, I tell them this ( as gymnasts tend to develop big thighs and glutes in some gymnasts ). I'm not even talking about cottage cheese thighs and big muscles ( as in some of the college gals ) but just big muscles period.
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Old 02-17-2009, 01:40 AM   #6
Gittit Shwartz
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Some carb cycling or targeted carbs approach might work for you to gain strength without too much fat. You'll have to play around with the carb numbers a bit to find the right amounts.

More protein comes to mind too - 12 blocks on the Zone is not that much.

Big glutes are awesome. (I'm female BTW)
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Old 02-17-2009, 02:15 AM   #7
Sarah Markle
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Thanks, guys and gals....I always assumed (I know) my 'gain' was fat, not muscle....esp. the umbilical/abdominal thickening...that being said, that's what I chalked up the legs and rear to be, as well...it's as if they are widening...jeans def fitting tighter. As a woman, it seems there's a delicate balance between working for muscle gain and keeping the desired level of leanness...for me, at least. Again, thanks so much for the comments.
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Old 02-17-2009, 07:25 AM   #8
Blair Lowe
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470 CFT would put you in the advanced category according to Rip, so that's very good. Yeah, the smaller CF gals are pushing some insane numbers but compared to most CF gals you are probably crushing them...and pressing them.

Most of the CF elite gals are pushing about mid 500s to 600 besides Gillian and Tamara ( who are roughly your size ).

Play with numbers and compare your CFT to where it would be at 3-5rm instead of 1rm. Big difference methinks. Gillian and Tamara are like tigers compared to the other smaller CF elite gals who are more like leopards.

Only way to really know whether it's muscle gain or fat gain to settle it would be a BodPod or DEXA scan. However, you could calculate how much stronger you are by that 3-5rm in place of the extra 9 pounds.

Do you do as much as metcon while adding more of the strength work or have you ditched the metcon stuff?
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Old 02-17-2009, 03:26 PM   #9
Sarah Markle
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Blair- thanks for the words. Did not know Coach Rip's categories! And, yes- I'd ike to think I am more like the leopards!

My metcon these days is pretty much just from daily WODs. I am 5d/wk, with an occasional Sat WOD. Back in the Fall, I was doing some cyclic running (first week, 2mi; second week, 3mi; 3rd, 4mi; etc. up to 6mi/wk) as well as additional bw work ON TOP OF WODs. Pushing overtraining; insulin and cortisol levels were up. This was bringing me into Dec 08, when my trainer and I decided to reel it back in to only daily WODs- period. (more rest during the holidays.) As of the New Year, a few of us (Crossfit Ft. Myers, by the way- check us out) have started adding in more lifting, in addition to our daily WODs which now also have more emphasis on weights...all in an effort to get stronger. So, to answer, not near as much metcon since I've been told it interferes with strength building....so I 'get' that the weight gain is from all of these things in combo...I know that if I start running again, I'll lean out fast, I just don't want to undo any gains in strength just yet....but am so tempted! (sick, I know)
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Old 02-17-2009, 05:16 PM   #10
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All about the diet. If you don't wanna gain mass don't eat for it.

If you know your BMR only eat slightly above it so most of the cals will go towards building muscle.
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