Powerlifting For Fat Loss: How To Do It (Ultimate Guide)

Powerlifting For Fat Loss: How To Do It (Ultimate Guide)

Do you wish it were possible to get stronger and leaner at the same time? Well I’m here to tell you that it’s totally possible with powerlifting. 

Hi, I’m Amanda – A certified nutritionist and National-level powerlifter.  

By incorporating powerlifting style training along with nutritional modifications, we can get stronger, lose fat, and potentially build muscle mass along the way.

Here’s are the steps for powerlifting for fat loss:

  • Make Sure To Follow A Periodized Powerlifting Program
  • Use Accessory Work For Increased Energy Expenditure
  • Adjust Nutrition To Control Caloric Intake
  • Include Cardio When Necessary
  • Prioritize Recovery, Including Sleep

To be successful in our fat loss phase while powerlifting we need to first understand how powerlifting can help us with fat loss, how to structure our training accordingly, and how to optimize our nutrition for our goals. 

By the end of this article you’ll learn:

✅ How-to program your powerlifting workouts for fat loss (with sample workouts)

✅ How to adjust your nutrition for fat loss while powerlifting

✅ What other factors we need to consider for successful fat loss while powerlifting

✅ How much progress we can expect to see when powerlifting for fat loss

✅ How-to avoid the most common mistakes that people usually make

Why Powerlifting Can Help With Losing Weight

Powerlifting Builds Muscle Mass Leading To More Calories Burned

The more muscle mass we have, the more active our metabolism is. Our metabolism refers to how effective our bodies are at burning calories. When we have more muscle mass, our body will naturally burn more calories, both during exercise and throughout the day.

So, we first need to assess whether we have enough muscle mass.  If not, we actually need to spend time eating in a surplus to gain muscle, then switch to eating in a deficit to lose body fat. 

If we jump straight into losing body-fat without muscle mass first, we end up just looking “skinny fat”.  

Research suggests that 1kg (~2.2lbs) of muscle mass burns around 13 calories per day at rest (not including while exercising), so each kilogram of muscle mass we add to our frame can add 13 more calories burned throughout the day while resting. 

While this might not sound like a lot initially, the extra calories burned from having additional muscle mass will add up.

Powerlifting Burns Calories During & Following Training Sessions

With powerlifting we will not only be burning calories/expending energy while we are training, but also burning calories after our training as the muscles recover. 

This is because when we’re powerlifting we are using the anaerobic energy system, which is a system we use to produce energy when we need it quickly, like in movements that require us to produce force at a faster rate (think: powerlifting, sprinting, jumping).

The main thing that we need to understand about using the anaerobic system for energy is that it gives us this energy without the use of oxygen. We need to know this only because after exercise we will have created an oxygen deficit, which you can learn more about HERE.

So, after a powerlifting workout our body is going to want to repair this oxygen deficit, but to do this it requires energy. So the process of taking in more oxygen to bring our body back to its normal levels of oxygen will burn more calories. 

The more intense our powerlifting sessions are, the higher the oxygen deficit will be, and therefore the more calories we will burn during and following training. 

While the majority of our training sessions for powerlifting will consist of high intensity, we must remember that we can’t always train in this manner because it’s not sustainable in the long run.  

This is why you need to have a periodized program that includes both high intensity powerlifting workouts, as well as low intensity recovery workouts.  I’ll give you examples of this later in the article. 

Powerlifting Alters Our Body Composition For A Better Physique

When most people state that they want to lose weight/lose fat, typically what they’re wanting is to look better and feel better in their body, and typically the plan of attack is to simply eat less calories.

However, if we only focus on eating less and we don’t include any strength training, then there is a huge potential to just look skinny or “skinny fat” (where you look thin but still have fat distributions on parts of your body), and not toned.

To get the “toned” look that we’re going for, we need to include powerlifting to build muscle mass, because that “toned” look is only achieved by having muscle mass.

Powerlifting Will Make Us Excited To Keep Going To The Gym

Many people turn to powerlifting for fat loss because even though fat loss is the goal, it is more exciting and motivating to train for strength and performance. 

Training to be strong and athletic is much more fun than training to be “as small as possible”, which can be the difference between wanting to go to the gym and dreading going to the gym. 

Having a strength/performance goal can keep us motivated in times when fat loss may be slower than we expect, by serving as a reminder that progress is still being made, even when we feel like no changes are happening.

I always tell my clients that the scale is only one measure of progress, and that if we’re improving in other areas – then progress is still being made and the effort they’re putting in is still paying off.

How To Use Powerlifting For Fat Loss: 5 Factors To Consider

1. Follow A Periodized Program

There are few actors that we need to consider when it comes to following a periodized powerlifting program: 

  • Training frequency
  • Length of training
  • The type of training block

Let’s cover each of these now.  

Training Frequency

The more days per week that we spend in the gym, the more calories we will burn throughout the week. 

However, we also need to plan for time to recover because if we’re not recovering, then our performance will decline – leading to less gains in strength and hypertrophy and an increased risk of injury.

For this reason, it is recommended to train 3-5 days per week – depending on our availability and what’s realistic for us to do consistently.

The training frequency that we select will affect the organization of the main lifts throughout the week. 

Ideally we’re aiming to train each main lift (squat, bench, and deadlift) twice a week.

Using this as our template, a frequency of 4 days per week could be organized like so:

  • Day 1: Squat, Bench Variation, Accessories
  • Day 2: Rest
  • Day 3: Deadlift Variation, Accessories
  • Day 4: Rest
  • Day 5: Squat Variation, Bench, Accessories
  • Day 6: Deadlift, Accessories
  • Day 7: Rest

For more information on how many times per week you should train the powerlifting movements, check out: 

Length Of Training

It is recommended to only be in a caloric deficit (i.e. burning more calories than you are consuming) for 12 to 16 weeks in order for fat loss to be the most effective. 

If we’re in a fat loss phase for too long then we may actually cause our metabolism to slow down so that we end up burning less calories throughout the day. 

If we’re burning less calories throughout the day, it would be hard to continue to lose fat. 

Therefore, it makes the most sense to plan our powerlifting training cycle for fat loss for 12 to 16 weeks.

Check out my other article that answers the question “Do Powerlifters Eat Whatever They Want”.  Here I explain that, while powerlifting is not an aesthetics-based sport, powerlifters still place a high priority on nutrition.  

Training Blocks

The training blocks that should be included in a powerlifting for fat loss program are:

  •  a hypertrophy block to increase muscle mass (for beginners) or to increase training volume to preserve muscle mass (for experienced lifters), 
  • a strength block to gain strength with our current level of muscle mass, 
  • a testing period (if desired) to evaluate our progress and keep motivation high. 

Let’s discuss each of these types of training blocks below.

General Preparatory Block

The first 3 to 4 weeks should be focused on developing a strong foundation of movement and a base level of strength by incorporating a wider variety of movement patterns – so a general preparatory period is likely the best option for the first phase of training.

In this block, we won’t use percentages of our 1RMs because we likely won’t be doing the squat, bench, and deadlift as our main lifts: instead, we’ll be performing more accessory/isolation movements to build our foundation. 

So we could organize our training days a bit differently from the rest of the program and make it more bodybuilding-esque:

  • Day 1: Upper Body
  • Day 2: Lower Body
  • Day 3: Upper Body
  • Day 4: Lower Body

This is called an Upper Lower split, which you can learn more about HERE and HERE.

However, it is important to ensure that we are implementing some progression week-to-week by increasing loads, volume, or time under tension – so that we can continue to challenge ourselves to increase our fitness. 

A sample workout for a general preparatory period could be set up like this:

  • Neutral Grip Dumbbell Bench Press: 4×10-12
  • Pullups or Pulldowns: 4×8-10
  • Single Arm Shoulder Press: 3×8-10/side
  • Single Arm Dumbbell Row: 3×10-12/side
  • Seated Rope Face Pull: 3×20
  • Plank: 3xMax Seconds

As you can see, there is nothing “powerlifting-specific” in this block, as that will come in subsequent phases of training. 

If you want a 12-week periodized powerlifting program for fat loss, then I highly recommend you check out our training app, and start with the Level 1 Powerlifting Program.  The program comes with exercise demos and step-by-step instructions on how to progress each week. 


Hypertrophy Block

The next block for those powerlifting for fat loss is the hypertrophy block, which we could do for another 4 weeks. The hypertrophy block is important for beginners because it provides the potential to become more proficient in the main lifts, and to build more muscle to increase their metabolic rate. 

For experienced lifters, it will provide a boost in training volume that will help with muscle mass retention while in a deficit, so that our metabolic rate doesn’t drop from losing precious muscle mass.

The volume for this block will be higher because total volume is the main driver of hypertrophy, followed by metabolic stress, and increased time under tension. 

For this reason the general rep scheme for a hypertrophy block is between 8-12 reps for our main movements, which will generally require us to use loads that are between 60-75% of our 1 rep maximum. 

We want to use loads that allow us to complete all our desired repetitions but are moderately challenging for the last few repetitions of the set. For progression week-to-week, the goal is to increase the total volume by either adding sets, reps, or time under tension.

A sample workout for the hypertrophy block could look like this:

  • Squat: 4×8 @ 65%
  • Tempo Bench (3-0-1-0): 3×5 @ 60%
  • Reverse Lunges: 3×6-8/side
  • Dumbbell Alternating Incline Bench: 3×8/side
  • Face Pull: 3×10-15
  • Deadbug: 3×10/side

Strength Block

Following the hypertrophy block, we will want to include a strength block that will last 4 to 5 weeks – because now that we’ve built additional muscle mass or increased our training volume for muscular retention, we want to teach our muscles how to express more force to lift heavier weights. 

Lifting heavier weights is important for fat loss, even if we have no intention to compete in powerlifting

This is because the stronger we are, the more muscle mass we will have, which will help us continue to challenge ourselves with heavier weights in training, and allow us to burn more calories throughout the day.

For the strength block the volume will be lower because intensity will be our main focus – this is because we need to use heavier loads in order to teach our muscles to produce more force and become more efficient. 

For this reason, the repetitions will be lower at 1-5 repetitions with loads that are between 80-93% of our 1 rep maxes. The goal in this phase isn’t to “max out”, but we are going to be moving heavier weights to get our body to adapt.

For week-to-week progressions, we want to increase the intensity of our main lifts, which will likely involve decreasing our repetitions, but potentially adding additional sets.

The following is a sample workout for a strength block:

  • Deadlift: 6×3 @ 84-87%
  • Hip Thrust: 3×6-8
  • Pullups: 3×8-10
  • Single Arm Cable Row: 3×8/side
  • Rear-Foot Elevated Romanian Deadlifts: 3×6/side

Testing Phase

Although the testing phase is unnecessary for those who aren’t interested in their strength progression, I think it’s important to include because it helps us to recognize just how far we’ve come, and can help to keep our motivation high as we wrap up our fat loss phase for the time being.

The testing phase can last from 1-2 weeks in order to ramp up our intensity the first week, and space out our rep max testing throughout the second week.

During the testing phase our goal is to decrease volume even further, so that we can bump up our intensity to maximal levels. This will involve minimal sets and reps (1-3) with intensities of 95-100% of our 1 rep maxes. 

The goal here is to progress to a rep maximum to test our strength – it can be a 1 rep max, 2 rep max, or 3 rep max depending on our comfort level at heavier weights.

The following is a sample workout of a testing block for a 1RM bench press:

  • Bench Press
    • 1×8-10 @ 45 lbs or 20kg
    • 1×5-6 @ 30-35%
    • 1×4-5 @ 50-60%
    • 1×3 @ 60-70%
    • 1×1 @ 77-87%
    • 1×1 @ 93-97%
    • 1×1 @ 100-105%
  • 2-3 upper body and/or core accessory movements you enjoy

2. Use Accessory Exercises For Increased Energy Expenditure

Accessory work is important in any powerlifting program because it helps us to build up our movement capacities by including movement patterns that we wouldn’t use if we only trained the main lifts. In this way, they help us to address any weaknesses that we may have.

In addition to this, accessory movements in a powerlifting program can help us to increase the amount of energy that we expend during our workouts. Despite the fact that powerlifting training is taxing, the main lifts do not burn as many calories as we may think! 

In order to increase the amount of caloric expenditure from training we can include accessory work for higher repetitions at lower weights following the main lifts.

Neglecting our accessories not only increases our odds of strength imbalances, but it also decreases the amount of energy we expend, which we would have to compensate for by eating less calories, if we wanted to keep ourselves in a caloric deficit. 

Some people use tabata squats to help burn more calories. Check out my other articles discussing Tabata Squats: How-To, Common Mistakes, & Sample Workout.

Structuring Your Accessory Exercises For Fat Loss

There are generally two ways you can structure your accessory exercises in powerlifting if your goal is fat loss.  

  • Put 2-3 accessory exercises after your powerlifting movements

We should always perform our powerlifting movements first to ensure that we’re performing our best in our main movements, and then add in our accessory movements afterwards to increase the amount of work we do in a training session. 

This method of structuring our accessories will help us to get the most out of our main movements, while also increasing the amount of calories we’re burning.

  • Dedicate an entire training day to accessory exercises.   

Another way to ensure that we can structure our training to include accessory exercises is to dedicate an entire day to accessory exercises and keep the rest of our training sessions focused entirely on the main movements.

Some exercises we could include are:

  • Goblet Squats
  • Pullups
  • Deadbug

Tips For Burning More Calories With Accessory Exercises 

It’s not enough to add a few more exercises to your workouts, you should also consider the following tips if your goal is weight loss: 

  • Use short rest intervals 

Keeping our rest intervals under a minute can help us to increase the intensity of our accessory movements and allows us to include more movements in a shorter amount of time. This is helpful to increase our calorie burn because the more work we do, the more calories we burn.

  • Use reps between 10-20 

Using higher repetitions with our accessory movements is another way to ensure that we’re getting the most out of our accessory movements. By incorporating 10 to 20 repetitions per set, rather than 5 or less, we can expend more calories which will help us with fat loss.

  • Take advantage of supersets 

A superset is a structured way of incorporating accessory movements that involves performing one exercise followed directly by another exercise with no rest in between.

Incorporating supersets as part of our accessory movements can be useful to increase our calorie burn because it allows us to accomplish more work in a shorter amount of time and we could do this with higher repetitions which would incorporate both of the strategies above.

3. Adjust Nutrition To Control Caloric Intake

Caloric Intake

In order to lose fat, we need to be in a caloric deficit.  

This means that we need to be burning more calories than we are taking in. While some individuals try to do this by only manipulating their activity levels, this is inefficient because by not factoring in our food intake, we will be leaving out a massive part of the equation.

There is a method for implementing a caloric deficit because we don’t want to be too aggressive in our approach, as this can impact our performance, and cause us to lose muscle. When we lose muscle it will actually cause us to burn less calories throughout the day which would make fat loss much harder to achieve.

We also don’t want to be too gentle in our approach because we should only be in a deficit for 12 to 16 weeks and if we aren’t decreasing our calories enough, then the changes we get will be minimal and it may feel like a waste of time.

To avoid these situations, I suggest starting with a 200-300 calorie deficit.  

This means decreasing our calories by 200-300 per day from our maintenance level of calories (the number of calories that allow us to maintain our weight). Based on the changes we see week-to-week, we can use this feedback to adjust our deficit as needed to work towards 0.5-2lbs of weight loss per week, or changes in our measurements.

But before we can start implementing these changes we first need to get a good representation of our maintenance level caloric intake. 

This is because in order to create a caloric deficit, we first need to know how much we are currently eating. Ideally this would be the intake that we are currently eating, and we could simply manipulate the amounts of food that we are currently eating.

So how do you find your maintenance calories?  

Just track what you’re eating for about 1-2 weeks and average out how many calories you’re eating per day.  You can use an app like MyFitnessPal, which easily helps you track your calories.  

Once you’ve found your current caloric intake, you can then subtract 200-300 calories from your baseline and then ensure that you’re eating the right ratio of macronutrients (see below).  

Macronutrients

While caloric intake is key for losing weight, if we want to maintain as much muscle mass as we can, we need to also pay attention to our macronutrient distribution,  which is essentially what the calories we’re consuming are made up of.

Macronutrients are made up of protein, fat, and carbs and they are “macros” because they are needed in larger amounts in the body, as the body does not produce them naturally. 

Every food is made up of its own distribution of these macronutrients, and we will use these distributions to help us decide which foods to eat and in what quantities.

Protein

Protein is an important macronutrient because eating enough of it can help us preserve muscle mass, and helps to repair damage to our muscles that occurs when we’re training. Protein is found in meat, fish, beans, legumes, dairy products, and sometimes added to other products as well.

It is recommended to eat at least 1g/lb bodyweight when in a deficit because this will ensure that we’re eating enough protein to preserve our muscle mass while we’re in a fat loss phase.

It’s also recommended to consume our protein intake throughout the day, and not all at once.  

So what we can do is take how many grams of protein we need to consume per day, and divide it by the number of meals we plan to have. This way we’re having a serving of protein at every meal in sufficient quantities to reach our daily protein goal.

For example, if we weigh 160lbs, then ideally we’re eating 160 grams of protein/day. Divided up into 4 meals throughout the day, this would equal out to around 40 grams of protein per meal.

Fat

Fat is important for regulating our hormones, is our body’s preferred fuel source while at rest, and helps keep us full for longer periods of time because it takes a longer amount of time to digest.

Fat should make up around 20-30% of total daily intake, which we can adjust based on our preferences. If we enjoy eating foods with more fat, then we can make fats 30% of our total intake. If we find it hard to get enough fats in or we prefer carbs over fats, then we can keep fats closer to 20% of our total intake.

Some examples of some healthy sources of fat are avocado, peanut butter, olive oil, avocado oil, cheese, and nuts.

Carbohydrates

Carbs are really important for performance and our energy levels because they are the body’s preferred fuel source when we’re exercising. They are also required to help us meet the recommended amounts of fiber to encourage proper digestion.

Some examples of some healthy carbs are rice, potatoes, whole grain bread, and pasta.

The amount of carbs we should aim for while in a deficit, will be the amount of calories left over after we subtract the calories that we have already allocated to protein and fat from our total daily intake.

Total intake (calories) – Protein intake (calories) – Fat intake (calories) = Carb intake (calories)

To find out how many grams of carbs we should be consuming per day based on this calorie amount, we can take the carb calories and divide it by 4 because carbs have 4 calories per gram, and this will give us the number of carbs per day we should be consuming.

Example Calorie & Macro Breakdown

From our maintenance calories we subtract 200-300 calories to create our caloric deficit. From this we take 20 to 30% to give us the amount of calories allocated towards our fat intake.

If our maintenance is 2000 calories, and we’re implementing a 200 calorie deficit, then our total intake for our deficit will be 1800 calories. If we’re going middle of the road and allocating 25% of our intake towards fat, then 450 calories of our total 1800 will be for fats.

To calculate how many grams of fat 450 calories worth is, we can divide it by 9 – because fats have 9 calories per gram. So continuing on with the example we would be aiming for 50 grams of fat per day.

Next up, we will have to calculate how many calories are allocated towards protein. This can be calculated by taking the number of grams of protein we’re eating per day and multiplying it by 4 (because protein has 4 calories per gram). 

For example if we’re eating 160 grams (meaning we weigh 160lbs), then we will multiply it by 4 to see that we are allocating 640 calories of our day towards protein intake.

Now that we have calculated our total calories, fat calories, and protein calories, we can use them to figure out our carb intake for the day. 

To do this we take our total number of calories and subtract the number of calories we’re allocating to protein and fats. However many calories remain will be allocated towards our carb intake for the day.

 If we use our example our total daily intake in our deficit is 1800, and we have allocated 640 calories towards protein, and 450 calories towards fats. So 1800 – 640 – 450 = 710 calories leftover to put towards our carb intake.

To turn this into the amount of grams we need per day, we can take the number of calories for carbs and divide it by 4 (because carbs have 4 calories per gram). 

Continuing on with our example, this would be 710 ÷ 4 = 178 grams of carbs per day.

So all in all, we would be aiming for 1800 calories per day, coming from 50 grams of fat, 160 grams of protein, and 178 grams of carbs.

Making Adjustments Over Time

It’s important to adjust our intake based on the rate of weight loss and/or body composition changes because over time our body will adapt to our current caloric deficit – making it less effective. 

Therefore, to continue seeing results we need to recognize when progress is stalling and respond accordingly.

We can adjust either calorie intake or energy expenditure, but there will come a certain point when it is hard to increase energy expenditure without compromising our recoverability. 

When adjusting caloric intake, it’s important to always keep protein intake constant because it’s important for muscle retention; instead, adjustments to our intake will come from either fat or carbs.

Other Nutritional Resources:

4. Include Cardio When Necessary

cardiovascular activities increased energy expenditure

Cardiovascular activities are useful not only for their health benefits, but also for the increased energy expenditure that they involve. 

However, as effective as they are for increasing energy expenditure, it’s important that we don’t go overboard because it will affect our strength levels and it can actually cause us to lose muscle rather than retain muscle.

When we’re programming to increase our energy expenditure we can do this in two ways:

  • Interval Style Cardio
  • Steady State Cardio

Interval Style Cardio

Interval training is a popular form of cardio where we’re working at higher intensities for a set period of time, followed by rest period for a designated amount of time. 

For example: Biking (30 seconds at an all-out pace, 60 seconds of light pedaling), repeated 5 to 8 times.

Interval training can be done at higher intensities because the work periods are shorter (generally 30 sec – 120 sec), and we’re able to rest in between bouts. 

Interval training is more time efficient as we’re able to get in more work in a shorter amount of time, than if we were to do a steady state activity, which is the same intensity throughout but for a longer period of time. 

Another benefit to performing interval style cardio is that it provides a similar stimulus to our body to the stimulus we get from strength training. This is ideal because it will not interfere with our efforts to try and get our muscles to grow larger and stronger – as long as we’re recovering adequately.

However, this leads us into the downside of doing interval training, which is that interval training is harder to recover from because of the intensity it requires. 

When we’re in a deficit we are already limited in the amount of energy that we have available, so we may not be able to properly recover from interval style training, which would affect our performance all around.

Steady State Cardio

Steady state cardio is any form of cardio that is done at a constant level of intensity throughout and is generally performed for longer periods of time (20-60+minutes). 

For example: Incline walking on a treadmill at a pace that is sustainable for 45 to 60 minutes.

Steady state is less time efficient than interval style training because it does not involve the same intensity and therefore to get the same caloric expenditure, we need to do it for longer.

However, if our goal is to retain as much muscle mass as possible we should not engage in long bouts of steady state cardio, or do it more frequently than necessary. This is because steady state cardio has an opposing effect to strength training and will atrophy our muscles if done in excess.

That being said, steady state is much easier for our bodies to recover from than interval training and therefore may be a better option when we’re in a caloric deficit and limited in the amount of energy we have available.

Research shows that if we perform steady state cardio in bouts of only 20-30 minutes as needed, we can minimize the interference effect that steady state cardio would have on our strength. 

So I would recommend starting out with one day a week of 20 minutes of cardio and seeing how the body responds. 

If in the future we need to increase the amount of cardio we need to do to increase energy expenditure for fat loss, then we could add another day of 20 minutes, rather than increasing the length of time.

For more information on doing cardio while powerlifting, check out our article on Powerlifting and Running: Should You Incorporate Both?

5. Prioritize Recovery, Including Sleep

Getting enough sleep is crucial for success in a fat loss phase because recovery will be compromised when energy levels are low (which they will be when in a deficit), and therefore we have to really prioritize our sleep because this is when the body undergoes its recovery processes.

If we’re not getting enough sleep then our recovery will be severely compromised and our performance in the gym, and even in daily life will decline.

In addition to this, when we’re not sleeping enough our hunger hormones can easily get out of whack and cause us to feel more hungry throughout the day than we normally would – which is not ideal when we need to be in a caloric deficit.

It is recommended to aim for 7-9+ hours of sleep per night to ensure adequate rest and recovery to keep the body functioning optimally while in a fat loss phase.

Getting enough sleep is one of the key ways that we can avoid injury by promoting recovery. To learn other strategies to keep our bodies healthy, check out our guide on How To Avoid A Powerlifting Injury.

What Weight Loss Results Can You Expect With Powerlifting

If we’re in a fat loss phase for 12-16 weeks and we can expect a rate of weight loss of 1-2 pounds a week; therefore, it would be realistic to expect 12-32 lbs. However, we may not lose 2lbs consistently week-to-week and that’s okay. 

If we’re a beginner it is actually common for us to notice less changes on the scale.  

This is because we have likely built some more muscle mass that led to body recomposition. In which case, we may weigh a similar amount, but we could look entirely different. For this reason, I always encourage clients to take before and after pictures of their physique.

It’s also important to understand that losing more than 2lbs a week or 32lbs of total weight loss is too aggressive, and doing so would risk compromising our strength, performance, relationship with food, and metabolism.

Powerlifting For Fat Loss: Common Mistakes

When working with clients on their fat loss goals, here are the top 5 mistakes I notice: 

  • Training Too Hard
  • Adding In Too Much Cardio
  • Overestimating Caloric Expenditure

Mistake #1: Training Too Hard

training too hard

A common mistake that people often make is training too hard while in a fat loss phase, because we often think more is better; but it’s important to prioritize recovery as well. 

Recovery is especially important when we’re in a deficit because we will be taking in less energy, and therefore we will only have a limited supply of energy available to put towards refueling after a workout. 

Recovering from training requires a lot of energy, and if we’re already limited in the amount of energy we have available, then if we push ourselves too hard we will likely not be recovering well enough – which can lead to injury and/or burnout.

Mistake #2:  Adding In Too Much Cardio

Adding in too much cardio not only compromises our ability to recover, but it can also be giving our body too much of an opposing stimulus – rather than retaining muscle muscle, it may start breaking down muscle mass.

As we talked about previously, muscle mass is important to help us keep our metabolism from slowing down because our muscle mass requires a lot of energy to preserve. But if we overdo the cardio, then the body will break down this muscle as fuel because it does cost a lot of energy to preserve.

Mistake #3:  Overestimating Caloric Expenditure

Many people make the mistake of thinking that powerlifting itself burns a lot of calories to perform, but most of the time we’re seriously overestimating how many calories we’re actually burning. 

This is one of the reasons why some powerlifters tend to be overweight – they think they are burning more calories than they really are, so they eat more than they need to in an attempt to “make up for” what they’ve burned during their workout.

For this reason, it’s important to pay attention to how many calories we’re consuming throughout the day while training for powerlifting, and how it’s affecting our body weight/composition. 

Next Steps

To be successful in our fat loss phase while powerlifting, we should follow the general principles outlined above if we want the best outcome possible. So now that you have this knowledge, this is your opportunity to make the change you’ve been waiting for!

If you’re looking for an in-depth training program for your fat loss phase, check out our Level 1 Powerlifting Program that is great for fat loss!

If you’re ready to hire a coach and get more personalized programming and a nutrition plan to help you reach your goals, then sign up HERE to get a free 20 minute coaching consultation!


About The Author

Amanda Parker

Amanda Parker has a passion for competing and coaching in both powerlifting and weightlifting. She uses her knowledge from her Kinesiology Degree, CSCS, and Precision Nutrition certification to coach athletes and lifestyle clients for performance in training and nutrition. Connect with her on Instagram.