12 weeks: How I added 20kg to my lifts while on diet

Getting stronger always have been my passion, lifting heavy weights make you feel powerful and resilient. I’m doomed lifting in the range of 1-5 repetitions in the big lifts, beyond that, it starts to lose its groove. Because of that, I always try to work around that curse, to stimulate the gains that comes with lifting heavy weights. For those who know, constantly lifting heavy comes with a price and that usually is either the joints, nervous system or in worse case scenario, both. It really sucks when you can’t move on when everything starts to work against you, specially on a diet.

The Diet vs. Strength

Very important! I need to address the most overlooked aspect in weight lifting before we get to the gold. Dieting is not only for bodybuilders, its for everyone! You are not a special creature, we all need to figure out the amount of energy we need in order to make the gears work the right way.

If your body weight is going up faster than your lifts, your doing it wrong. Unless you’re strategically planning for an event like Strongman. That bump in body weight will give you a temporary increase of strength, but as soon you drop off, everything starts to suck and you will never want to diet. That’s why some folks stay permanently in bulk mode. Don’t be in “permabulk”.

My brief during these 12 weeks

I am sharing with you the result of many failures and burnouts. By personal choice, I lift my weights without any accessories apart from chalk, which I believe it to be obviously indispensable. If you lift equipped, I believe that you’ll have more chances of being successful. I had my days where my body was not in sync with my mind, and every single repetition was an amazing struggle at same time I was trying to have my core as stable as possible.

During the course of those 12 weeks, I’ve lost 8kg in body weight, my strength and speed went up together while I was eating under regulated diet. I must advise, the setup of this workout was meant to be a true strength builder. Therefore, expect very little drops in the scale.

My diet was nothing special. I’ve sticked with foods that made me feel comfortable and least hungry as possible. Dieting shouldn’t be about starving and neither feeling like crap. Be moderate on your deficit, it shouldn’t be radical.

I did this with 5-6h of sleep every single day apart from weekends which are my days off, where I compensated my body with extra rest.


The Gold

I’ve set up a program where you are able to stimulate your gains while on a diet. I’ve tried other programs with protocols like 3×3, 5×5 or 5/3/1 and with this one, it was able to prove to be more sustainable and efficient in the long term while losing body weight and getting stronger at the same time.

The key for this program is frequency. I recommend to hit the gym at least 5 times week. I was able to practice between 6 to 7 times a week without any weaknesses. If you can do the same with quality, you’ll be ahead of the competition, granted.

The program was composed to lift heavy, up to 75/85% RM, without compromising your recovery. Each session has a duration of 40/60 minutes and should have only the necessary warm-ups. Expect to feel it short but effective. Its with the frequency where you will reap the gains. You will have an increased coordination with each lift, more explosive, stronger and a denser muscle.

The Program

Each cycle should last 3 weeks if you hit a minimum of 5 times a week.

Choose 6 big compound movements and group them in 3 pairs. The setup for each day will follow the protocol below,

Workout 1 – Lift A 5×1 (85%) , Lift B 1×3 (75%)

Workout 2 – Lift A 6×1 (85%) , Lift B 1×3 (75%)

Workout 3 – Lift A 7×1 (85%) , Lift B 1×3 (75%)

Workout 4 – Lift A 8×1 (85%) , Lift B 1×3 (75%)

Workout 5 – Lift A 9×1 (85%) , Lift B 1×3 (75%)

Workout 6 – Lift A 10×1 (85%) only

You’d then increase 2,5kg for upper body movements and 5kg for lower body movements to your RM for the next cycle and restart again. I recommend sticking with the same exercises for as long possible. I would say 12 weeks is good number.

My favourite routine for 5 times a week looks like this,

Monday – Press 5×1 , Bench Press 1×3

Tuesday – Squat 5×1 , Deadlift 1×3

Wednesday – OFF

Thursday – Pendlay Rows 5×1 , High Pulls 1×3

Friday – Press 6×1, Bench Press 1×3

Saturday – Squat 6×1 , Deadlift 1×3

Sunday – OFF

Important keys for this program

  • Execute each repetition as fast as possible and contract all your muscles as hard as you can.
  • Each repetition is a set. Always reset after each set and avoid doing doubles. I understand that you should be able to do 3 repetitions with that weight but the focus is on the explosiveness, the quality and the accumulation of volume.
  • Aim to rest as little as possible without compromising the quality of the set. I usually shoot up to 60 seconds when it starts to challenge. This will improve your conditioning.

Feel free to add at the end of each session an isolation exercise that you feel the need to work with. Remember, the money is in the big movements, anything else is just to sharp a loose end.

Any questions related to this program, feel free to drop an e-mail at thestandard225@gmail.com

Lauro Carvalho

Founder of Standard 225 and ambitious writer, he's also a madman. He likes to drive around Europe with his Citroen C1 to prove that anything is possible. Also a fitness fanatic, he believes that lifting heavy builds a strong body and resilient mind. Loves to share great ideas that might be helpful to other folks.

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