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Staying Lean and Getting Strong

Going from one extreme to the other... I had just taken first in a novice bodybuilding show and had decided to compete in powerlifting just weeks later. I stayed cut and still improved my lifts, setting PRs and also securing a national pure-raw record...


Many people claim you cannot cut fat while getting stronger. Over the last six years, I have stayed lean while getting stronger for a half-dozen competitive sports. It is possible to maintain and even build strength while staying lean. Here are some important details to consider during your training:


  • Study What The Pros Do - There is a ton of misleading info out there on how to train for sports… my advice, study what the real professionals do and make it work for you. There isn’t any magic 12-week online program that is going to make you into a top athlete… it’s going to take years of dedication (just like what the pros went through).

  • Nutrition and recovery - staying lean requires caloric restriction; this will limit your ability to recover between workouts and limit your energy during workouts. Being sure to ingest the right amount of protein and not to take caloric restraint to the extreme will help. Depending on your goals and experience, between 0.5 and 1.0 grams of complete protein per pound of lean body mass has been shown to be optimal. Branch-Chain Amino Acid Supplements are helpful to reach your required nutritional needs without adding unnecessary calories.

  • Do not fear carbohydrates - There are many coaches who preach zero carb diets for contest. While carb intake can affect your body fat retention, timing your carbohydrate intake around your workouts will help keep your glycogen levels at optimal levels. Aim to get the majority of your carbohydrates in your post workout meal.

  • Hydration - while dehydration is a big part of bodybuilding and weight class sports, your hydration levels directly affect your electrolyte levels. This can negatively affect your neurological system during heavier lifts and leave you “flat” on stage. Being sure rehydrate appropriately pre-contest for better performance.

  • Don’t screw up tomorrow’s workout - Your workout should not leave you wrecked for future workouts. Monitor your health and workout volume. Soreness is a poor indicator of a good workout. Be sure to follow a logical training strategy… Remember, Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail.


So, dirty bulking is a thing of the past. Know there is no reason you cannot be lean and setting PRs. All you have to do is get out there and train smart.


~Coach Rick Tarleton


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