The 5 Pound Rule – Staying Lean For a Lifetime

I have a rule that I follow that allows me to stay lean year round without getting too obsessed with food and counting calories.

You see, I like to drink beer and eat tasty foods, but I also like to have visible abs and a lean youthful appearance. I will talk about a simple and realistic approach to insure that you never have to worry about racing to get in shape for the summer ever again.
carribean beach vacation
[With the increase in beach pictures, you can probably tell that I’m dying for a tropical vacation. People who live in the upper latitudes like me can probably relate. This picture just sums it up perfectly. Suntanning and swimming. My idea of an ideal vacation.]

So What is The 5 Pound Rule?

It is simply this…never allow yourself to get over 5 pounds over your “ideal weight”. When I talk about ideal weight, I’m not talking about the weight you are at when you have busted butt in the gym for 3 months straight and have dropped every last ounce of fat (this is more of a “event weight” which I will talk about later).

Your ideal weight is a realistic weight where you look great in and out of clothes. You aren’t chubby – you lean and toned, but maybe not a ripped as many movie stars get for their special roles.

Your Ideal Weight Depends Upon a Few Factors

To be honest, your ideal weight is defined by you. What weight does it take for you to be comfortable in a swimsuit? What is the weight where clothes fit really well? What weight does your face take on an attractive appearance? There isn’t a “weight calculator” or formula that will figure out this number for you.

For me, my ideal weight is 190…someone else my same height my look better at 200. You may have to experiment a bit to find out your ideal weight.

Find Out Your Ideal Weight and Stay Within 5 Pounds

Do what it takes to stay within 5 pounds of that weight year round. Once you are 5 pounds over that ideal weight mark, tighten up your diet and do what it takes to work back down to your ideal weight.

As long as you follow this rule you will look great year round. It is as simple as it gets.

This Allows a Lot of Flexibility to Eating and Exercise

This is a way of life for me. I can eat those bar nachos and drink beer on occasion and easily stay within that 5 pound zone. If for some reason I go from 190, up to 195 then I tighten up my diet and increase my activity levels…until I get close to 190 again.

I know that people like to get really complex with measuring body fat percentage, but once you know the weight that you feel is the best or you…then you don’t really need to complicate things.

“Event Weight” is Typically 5 Pounds Less Than Ideal Weight

Certainly 5 pounds is just a bit of an estimate, but if you go about 5 pounds lower than your ideal weight…you will reach what I call “event weight”.

I called this event weight, because this is the weight to reach for vacations, weddings, photo shoots, etc. I wouldn’t call it ideal, because it isn’t a realistic condition to hold year round. It is fun to push your body to the limits now and then, but attempting to do this year round is bordering on obsession.

Eating Healthy is The Goal the Majority of the Time

Even if you could stay lean on a junk food diet, that isn’t the goal. Ideally you want to eat a diet that is largely based on vegetables and healthy whole foods. If 75% of your meals are healthy and full of great nutrients, then you are on the right track.

If You Have More Than 10 Pounds to Lose…

If you have a lot of weight to lose, I would recommend that you work hard and allow yourself to be a bit “imbalanced” for a short period of time.

Seriously, just do what it takes to get down to your ideal weight and then make the point of never having to lose a lot of weight again. Once you reach your ideal weight, then use this more balanced approach and live a little.

Note: I was compelled to write this post, because I don’t want people to get too obsessed with fitness.

As long as you stay within a 5 pound range and not let things get out of hand, you can live a well balanced life and stay extremely fit for the rest of your life.

48 thoughts on “The 5 Pound Rule – Staying Lean For a Lifetime”

  1. Rusty,
    I’ve been following your visual impact course for about 6 months now (i stayed on phase 1 longer) But I was just wondering if you had an easy way to figure out your ideal body weight when you’re finished with phase 3. Do you go on feel or is there a little equation involved?


  2. Rusty, Just downloaded your Vacation Body Bluprint. It’s like you created that exactly for my wife and I. We are avid SCUBA divers and travel every 6 months to some place tropical. Always scrambling trying to get into shape. We’re headed to Cozumel in Dec.

    I was going to try the warrior diet, or Eat Stop Eat, but I want the fasted way of shedding fat (doesn’t every one!). I’m been working out for a few months, but I’m just not loosing body fat. It’s my diet I know!

    I’m 39, 5’11” and weigh 183 and a few days ago 23% BF. I’m doing light resistance training 5 days a week (2 day split) and HIIT after each workout just started HIIT yesterday (treadmill adding .5 to runs). We have 7 weeks before vacation.

    I was considering doing the Eat Stop Eat (Mon and Thurs), then switch to a protein shake for breakfast and lunch (and dinner hour after workout) every day two weeks prior to vacation while still encorporating Eat Stop Eat on the same two days. Oh, and I work out at night after work, resting on Wed and Sun (although we’re trying to at least walk on those day’s too)

    Any suggestions for best results in 7 weeks for 39 Year Old, 5’11”, 183 lbs and 23% BF?

  3. Rusty, your site is the best! I love your outlook on life and fitness. I have lost 55 lbs over the last year and am only a few lbs away from my ideal weight, 140 at 5’10”, thinking event weight at 135 – never to exceed 145. My body fat right now is 24% – how low do you think I should get it? I weight train 3x/wk and cardio 3xs, mostly intervals.

    Thanks again for a great post!

  4. myra,

    I don’t think you have a problem getting too light. The body seems to naturally slow the fat loss down once it reaches the right weight. I don’t think you need to dedicate a day to eating junky food. When you know you are going to eat junky just prepare the body a bit by eating lighter meals a day or two before the higher calorie meal.


  5. Hi Rusty
    What good advice you give hon!! I will be sticking to the 5lb rule once i reach my target of 136 lbs (which im getting there, gradually).

    what i need to know is how do i maintain the weight and not keep losing once i hit my target? im worried of not getting the balance right. i love gyming it makes me feel refreshed and alive, so dont want to cut it down think im addicted to the results im getting!!!!!!!! also i want to stick to healthy eating. when i give myself a day free to eat what i want im finding id rather stick with healthier options. can you advise me on this rusty please?

  6. Dan,

    Warp Speed Fat Loss is the best course for losing body fat quickly and Eat Stop Eat is the best way to eat long-term for low body fat. I really like them both.


    Creatine is the last breakthrough the supplement industry (over 15 years ago). The best muscle building supplement without a doubt. I don’t take it because I don’t want to build muscle. The funny thing is that you don’t have to mix it with fruit punch as recommended by so many people (unecessary calories).


    That is really hard to say unless I saw you in person. My estimate is 140-145 range, but it depends upon how big your frame is.


    It sounds like you are doing what you need to do to get lean. Make sure you go into your workout in a fasted state and on some ocassions you will want to add 15-20 minutes Steady State Cardio after the HIIT. At the bottom of my site there will be a link that says “Low Body Fat Percentage”. Click that link for a detailed explanation of the type of cardio I recommend. Have fun on the beach!


    Please understand that I do my best to reply to as many comments as possible, but on any given day I can get 50-100+ comments. I love comments and do read them all, but can’t respond to everything. I rarely delete comments. When you post a comment it will appear as if it has been deleted until I “approve” it. The ones I do delete are from when a Bodybuilding forum picks up one of my posts (they can’t stand my site). Typically the bodybuilding forums are out of control…they throw around racial slurs, homo-phobic remarks, profanity, etc. I created this site so you guys could avoid all that nonsense. So to your question…”is fasted cardio essential?”. No it’s not essential, it just makes it a bit more effective. You will reach your fat loss goals a bit faster if done in a fasted state.

    Hope that helps,


  7. Sounds like a good approach Rusty. However, I think it’s more suited to people who are looking to lose body fat. If your ideal weight involves you building muscle I think it’s a bit more difficult than this.

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