The Importance of Holding Phases: Letting the Gains Marinate! with Austin Stout
The body is constantly trying to remain in a state of homeostasis. In fact, the feedback loops within and between or body systems are designed to maintain balance. From a mechanistic standpoint, gaining larger amounts of muscle or losing large amounts of fat isn’t a priority to our body. This is where the term “set points” comes into play. These set points can be our friend. Constantly pushing bodyweight up or down without holding phases isn’t always the best way to achieve lasting progress.
Where might these phases come into play?
There are two main instances where these phases are especially important. First is after a large growth phase before attempting to drop bodyfat. Take contest prep for example. You just had a very successful offseason and you want to compete again. Your weight has been climbing for the last several months. Should you jump right into prep or should you hold your current bodyweight for a bit before doing so. In most cases, holding at the high weight set point is a great idea before dropping calories. Even if its just for a few weeks to a month.
Scenario two would be the opposite end of the spectrum. You have just lost a lot of bodyfat and you want to keep it off long term. Inevitably, you can’t stay at the low caloric intake forever, you will need to build up to avoid severe metabolic adaptions. However, holding that low set point or at least close to it, before raising calories is helpful. In most cases, the person is even able to very slowly add in some calories while holding that set point. On paper this sounds like a very slow reverse diet, which isn’t beneficial to most folks. However, in a case where someone has just lost large amounts of fat these holding periods are helpful. This isn’t so much applied to post show as it is to someone who wants to attempt to hold a leaner physique long term.
These holding phases can be especially important for enhanced individuals. The last thing you want to do is complete a growth phase in a high hormone environment then drop the hormones down while pulling calories at the same time. Let hormones stabilize and REMAIN stable for a sufficient amount of time before attempting to drop fat.
Holding phases can come into play during other periods as well. Though the scenarios above tend to be the most common.
There are times when it is perfectly fine to remain at the same body weight. In the long run, you CAN get better that way. Its not always a matter of having to constantly push up or push down in weight. There are certainly instances where letting the gains marinate matters!
Without this you may very well find yourself not retaining the progress you worked hard to attain. A holding phase isn’t stagnations, it’s solidification!
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