Calisthenics to Reduce Muscle Mass...doable???

JohnDoeman

Double-Digit Post Count
I believe I have covered this before or something similar but either I have forgotten or the question has not really been answered. So here is the scenario.

I am 5' 6" and 250lbs with a fairly ample amount of muscle mass from power lifting and strongman. I have, in the last few years, done mainly calisthenics in hopes of reducing my size, getting off my CPAP and generally have a better sense of well-being and strength. I am fully aware that a lot of weight / mass loss comes from the kitchen and this is being controlled. Yet, I am concerned that my efforts with calisthenics is actually counter-productive to my goals.

Being that I am 250lbs, most calisthenics movements are going to generally be more difficult and could potentially keep me in that muscle-building rep range. I've done some research on the matter and have gotten two vastly different answers. One of easy movements for very high reps or another of more difficult movements for low reps. Or maybe a combination?

Currently I have dropped everything and have switched to doing long duration cardio where I may start sprinkling in some HIIT work. Suggestions would be appreciated.
 

pet'

More than 5000 posts
Hello,

@JohnDoeman
As you are already doing, muscle mass is - among other things - built in the kitchen. Reducing the amount of calories will make you lose weight. One of the main thing to play with here is the amount of carbs.

However, when doing so, even if you maintain a fairly high protein diet, my guess is that in medium / long term, you will lose strength as well.

From my experience, high repetition training maintain an "acceptable" level of strength but does not increase my weight, provided I do not eat more. If I use reduced rest period (about 20s), I get some conditioning training in the meanwhile. For instance, high rep training (push ups) maintain my pressing power (both bent and military press). A few repetitions here and there of harder variation, such as OAOL PU just to dial technique and keep more or less my max strength. Nonetheless, this is just how my body works.

LSD / HIIT may be good choice to maintain good cardio-conditioning while using fat.

To a certain extent, I think you will improve your strength to mass ratio (meaning you will be stronger, pound for pound).

Kind regards,

Pet'
 

Marc

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
Why would you want to reduce muscle mass?
Getting your body fat in check (if this is a concern) while progressing in calisthenics should take care of everything.
 

North Coast Miller

More than 2500 posts
Having done just this, losing 30+lbs of lean mass, it is all about the diet.

IMHO if your body comp is already in a good zone, you need to cut all your macros across the board - extreme portion control.

@pet' you will lose some strength in the process, but nothing any crazier than just dropping calories is needed along with a solid dose of self control. Keep exercising however you have been to keep the metabolic demands up there and cut calories. It might take a few weeks to begin showing but you will lose mass if you stay at it.

Adding stuff like HIIT might weigh it more toward fat loss and if so now is as good a time as any to lean out if that is a goal, but 90% of this is done in the kitchen - you have to be comfortable being hungry and after a few your stomach won't even growl as much - it becomes quite bearable. My wife actually had to tell me to start eating more when I hit 150lbs or I might have kept on going it had gotten so easy.
 

Bro Mo

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
I find HIIT increases or at least maintains muscle mass for me. The fast twitch muscles want to stay fed for what you demand of them and retain hypertrophy just for the energy tank. I trained for triathlons for a while and everything got smaller and lighter. If I recall, you're plenty strong that you won't get weak relatively from training endurance sports only for quite a while. Perhaps see if the library has a copy of Joel Friel's book, Triathletes Training Bible.
 

WhatWouldHulkDo

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
I sure wish I knew the answer, because then I'd do it too...

you have to be comfortable being hungry
I suspect this is huge. And I know I'm not good at it.

A lot of us are comfortable being uncomfortable in terms of pushing training and fatigue, but not so much in dealing with hunger. We train hard, the body wants to eat and recover/rebuild. I wonder if the key to really kick things off might be to let training slide, and focus all mental/physical energy on just learning to be hungry for a while. Then afterwards, start integrating training back in at a level where you can still accept some hunger.

Dan John said in one of his books that "fat loss is a war". I think that might be the way some of us will have to approach it - all out, forsake other pursuits for a while.
 

Glen

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
I believe I have covered this before or something similar but either I have forgotten or the question has not really been answered. So here is the scenario.

I am 5' 6" and 250lbs with a fairly ample amount of muscle mass from power lifting and strongman. I have, in the last few years, done mainly calisthenics in hopes of reducing my size, getting off my CPAP and generally have a better sense of well-being and strength. I am fully aware that a lot of weight / mass loss comes from the kitchen and this is being controlled. Yet, I am concerned that my efforts with calisthenics is actually counter-productive to my goals.

Being that I am 250lbs, most calisthenics movements are going to generally be more difficult and could potentially keep me in that muscle-building rep range. I've done some research on the matter and have gotten two vastly different answers. One of easy movements for very high reps or another of more difficult movements for low reps. Or maybe a combination?

Currently I have dropped everything and have switched to doing long duration cardio where I may start sprinkling in some HIIT work. Suggestions would be appreciated.
Hello,

Think the answer will somewhat depend on your BF% levels. If your lean then you'll want to focus on the modality of exercise to help reduce weight.

If your carrying fairly high levels of body fat it won't really matter as its probably not the main issue at present. If your BF% is above high teens/low twenty percent then do anything exercise wise and focus on shifting the BF rather than the lean mass.
 

North Coast Miller

More than 2500 posts
I sure wish I knew the answer, because then I'd do it too...



I suspect this is huge. And I know I'm not good at it.

A lot of us are comfortable being uncomfortable in terms of pushing training and fatigue, but not so much in dealing with hunger. We train hard, the body wants to eat and recover/rebuild. I wonder if the key to really kick things off might be to let training slide, and focus all mental/physical energy on just learning to be hungry for a while. Then afterwards, start integrating training back in at a level where you can still accept some hunger.

Dan John said in one of his books that "fat loss is a war". I think that might be the way some of us will have to approach it - all out, forsake other pursuits for a while.
I dropped the weight when my twins were born. Was only getting 3-3.5 hrs of sleep per night, working long shifts - the only thing I could do for exercise was a mile or two jog with the dog. Plus my back was acting up at the time, I knew I'd get pudgy if I maintained 185lbs without training, and honestly I was exhausted all the time, taking weight off felt very much the right thing to do even though I was at a good body comp.

It is not easy at first getting used to being hungry, but after a relatively short time, you just don't recognize it the same way. I dropped a T shirt size, took about 2 inches off my waist, was swimming in all my clothes. It was virtually all diet, a mile run 5 times a week isn't going to do anything but help keep you limber.

Wife finally stood me in front of the mirror "look at your neck, you're shrinking away". The kids had started sleeping better, I had just gotten into KBs, alright, back to it.

Was a heck of a learning experience, the only other time I ever intentionally lost weight was when I was wrestling.

Edit to add:
the strongest recollection I have was how fast it started coming off once the ball got rolling. Took less than 6 months to drop over 30lbs, more than a pound a week like clockwork. Might have even been quicker than that, but absolutely no longer - I don't remember a lot of details from those days...
 
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WhatWouldHulkDo

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
I dropped the weight when my twins were born. Was only getting 3-3.5 hrs of sleep per night, working long shifts - the only thing I could do for exercise was a mile or two jog with the dog. Plus my back was acting up at the time, I knew I'd get pudgy if I maintained 185lbs without training, and honestly I was exhausted all the time, taking weight off felt very much the right thing to do even though I was at a good body comp.
Finally, the easy answer we've all been looking for - have a couple of kids, stop sleeping, and injure your back! :D
 

JohnDoeman

Double-Digit Post Count
I will certainly be fine being hungry. I sometimes only eat once a day, sometimes two to three times but usually only depends on me that day. Usually I am only noticably hungry post workout (like last Friday when I did 90 mins of cardio).

I hover between 16-20% BF (unknown of exact). I want to get to MAYBE 180lbs. I know I do not have enough fat on me to do that, so I must drop muscle mass.

@North Coast Miller - I appreciate you have done this so I may pick your brain on occasion. I have been at it for about two weeks and I think I am getting results. Doing 4-6 days a week of hour long cardio sessions. I've dropped all strength work for now so I do not maintain my muscle (which is super easy for me to do).

@Marc - Excess muscle mass is tough to deal with physically. Its harder on the heart and lungs and has caused sleep apnea for me. I want it all gone so I can come off my sleep apnea hopefully and do more physically with calisthenics.

Thanks all for the ideas!
 

JohnDoeman

Double-Digit Post Count
I'm playing with an idea to perform some sort of sub-maximal calisthenics movements during my cardio sessions. For example, stopping every 1000M rowing or 800M running and performing 1-3 pull-ups (or another movement). I figure I should maybe focus on one movement during each cardio session to not over complicate things.

I bought a program (from Stew Smith) that should prep me for the US Marshals later, for now I want to focus on dropping fat / muscle.
 

offwidth

More than 5000 posts
I'm playing with an idea to perform some sort of sub-maximal calisthenics movements during my cardio sessions. For example, stopping every 1000M rowing or 800M running and performing 1-3 pull-ups (or another movement). I figure I should maybe focus on one movement during each cardio session to not over complicate things.

I bought a program (from Stew Smith) that should prep me for the US Marshals later, for now I want to focus on dropping fat / muscle.
John,
When you say you are doing 1 hour cardio sessions... at what level of exertion? Heart Rate?
 
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