Month: April 2014

Spring Cleaning Week 2 (JE- 121)

Weekly Stats

Average Weight – 185lbs;

Bodyfat % – 11.5% (down .5-1mm from last week);

Waist Measurement – 32 inches

I’ve added a few more measurements at the top, since as you know I’m not a big fan of relying only on scale weight for anyone that wants to accurately track improved body composition progress. Weighing yourself is fine, relying on it soley is a mistake. Anyway I’ve added a skinfold body caliper measurement, which decreased from last week (even when measured on a day I weighted 187lbs my most all week) about .5-1mm. It’s right at about 10 – 10.5, down from 11 last week. Waist is about 31-32 inches.

FYI – I predict the bodyfat to go down to about 8%, which is around 7-8 mm pinch at the end of the 12 weeks. (still have 3-4 mm to go)

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Workout

  • Su – Off
  • M- Chest
  • T- Back
  • W- Legs-
  • R- Shoulders
  • F- Arms
  • Sa- 5 mile run and Abs

Personal Bests set this week – Squats 255lbs x 3 reps; Chin-ups 185 + 30 lbs = 215lbs for 4 reps; Standing BB press 110 x 6 reps; Close Grip Bench Press 145 x 6 reps; Ez- bar curl 85 x 5 reps

Lot of record setting this week and I’ve actually been losing fat these past two weeks. Pretty awesome to be getting strength gains while fat loss occurs.

This my fourth week of the bro split and still loving it. 5 days a week and no deadlifts seems to suit me pretty well. Again I cut out deadlifts due to the massive amount of fatigue I experienced the day after doing them. So I cut those out and never experience it anymore.

Learned an awesome tip for traps this week. Basically squeeze your shoulder blades together then shrug the weight up to your ears. This annihilates the upper traps from two different angles. I usually do traps on Back and Shoulders day.

Nutrition

Mongolian Grill

Mongolian Grill

Chocolate Oatmeal with bananas, berries and pancake toppings

Chocolate Oatmeal with bananas, berries and pancake toppings

3 oz red meat 3 oz chicken White Rice Vegetables Eat this for dinner almost every single night

3 oz red meat
3 oz chicken
White Rice
Vegetables
Eat this for dinner almost every single night

Sunday – Thursday – Calories 1800; Carbs 200; Protein 150; Fat 40

Friday – Saturday – Calories 2400 – Same macros with a slight bump to carbs and a few drinks

My weight fluctuates during the week, usually going down to about 182lbs and up to 187lbs on the weekends.

Since I’m running a 600 calorie deficit on the weekdays and more or less maintaining on the weekends, my total weekly deficit is: 3200 calories a week. This means I’ve roughly cut about 1.5-2lbs of fat so far in my spring cleaning. I’m giving myself a good 12 weeks to lose all the fat and at least 6 weeks to notice major changes in the mirror. I’m also going slow enough so that I can eat more food, maintain and gain strength and still take the weekends off.

This has been the most enjoyable cut of my life though. In the past I always made the mistake of rushing things too fast with calorie cuts and especially carb cuts. Now that I’m smarter I eat much more calories, way more carbs that help with increased strength and especially overall energy and find myself looking forward to the end of the cut in 12 weeks (I used to dread every minute) and looking my best ever. Some of the mistakes I’ve made in the past really make me shake my head in disbelief of how naive I really was. Never again.

So far as for visual improvement I look my best on Thursday after 5 days of cutting and then the weekend comes and blurs some definition. As for major improvements so far, not incredible from a definition standpoint, but again I’m taking it slow and expect these to show up around week 6 after roughly 5-6lbs of fat have been lost.

Food Finds this week:

Had some tuna cado roll this weekend, which was awesome. Took out the avocado and avoided the sauce, to keep the fat down, but it still tasted incredible. I’m becoming a huge fan of white rice, especially with my normal dinners of meat and vegetables. Mixes perfectly into the meal, much more so than potatoes.

Also found some silver dollar pancakes from Trader Joes. Little fork sized pancakes that I chop up and put on my oatmeal and they are really good. Not dry like a lot of pancakes turn out.

Summary of the week:

  • Strength and muscles are getting stronger
  • Scale weight is either up or staying the same and bodyfat is going down
  • Carbs are amazing not only for increased fat loss, but gaining/maintaining strength while losing fat
Williamsville Spring Time

Williamsville Spring Time

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Rolling Along (JE – 120)

Average weight – 185lbs

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Workout

  • Su – Off
  • M – Chest
  • T – Back
  • W- Legs
  • T- Shoulders
  • F- Arms
  • Sa- Cardio and Abs

I believe this my 3rd week of the Bro split and only hitting muscles once a week and I’m still loving it. I do have the urge to bench press twice a week, because I really love the movement, but for now I’m sticking with one day. All my lifts went up this week except for bench press. I’m on one of the worst plateaus I have ever been on with bench press and I dont know why. How can all lifts go up, but bench press get worse or stay the same? – Really frustrating, but I’m hoping its just a temporary phase that I snap out of real quick.

As for everything else its going good. Pullups went up and I attached a 25lb Db around my waist for 6 reps at a bodyweight of 185lbs; Dips were 75lbs for 6 reps; standing barbell press was 105lbs for 6 reps, which is up from 95lbs last week. Standing barbell press is actually a weak link for me and I could do much more sitting down, but to get good at something you have to work your weaknesses.

My Arms workout this week was insane and my arms felt like they were going to explode from the blood flow. Always a good feeling. 😉

Really like this split though and I can see myself running it for a long time.

Nutrition

Honey bunches of oats with almond milk and 2 tbs of protein powder

Honey bunches of oats with almond milk and 2 tbs of protein powder

Sour Patch Kids gum (epic)

Sour Patch Kids gum (epic)

Cabernet Sauvignon from Trader Joes

Cabernet Sauvignon from Trader Joes

I ran an interesting experiment this week to prove a point. I wanted to lose a pound of body fat in 5 days, while eating as many carbs as possible. I was able to achieve this easily by eating 1800 calories a day and around 200 grams of carbs. At the end of the week (Friday) I woke up weighing 186lbs, which was the most I weighed all week (according to the scale). On Friday night I went out for a few drinks and weighed 183lbs the next morning. The point I was trying to prove is just how worthless the scale actually is. Drink a bottle of olive oil and nothing else for a week and the scale will shoot down by about 10 lbs since your not eating carbs. But your calorie intake will skyrocket and you will put on fat even though the scale tells you differently.

I measured my body fat with caliper and took my waist size and while the difference was small it still proves those are superior ways to track progress and scale weight is so largely irrelevant. The main reason I still weight myself every morning is out of pure habit. I dont live and die by the scale anymore though, so I have a “healthy” relationship with it and dont let it get to me, as many people do.

Anyway I liked the way I looked at the end of the week with a little less fat. My nutrition has been pretty lax for the past few months and I’ve mainly been focusing on eating enough while loosley tracking intake. I think I’m going to run an 8 week cut to lose some goo. I always maintain a lean physique, but I may try to get back to 10% body fat or under and I now currently sit at 11.5% . Not overweight by any means, but I wouldn’t mind a bit more definition.

My plan is to eat around 1800 calories on Sunday – Thursday and maintain at 2500 on Friday and Saturday. It may take an extra week to get results, because the weekends are maintenance, but its much easier this way. I’m going to nickname this cut “Spring Cleaning”. Fitting name as its nothing drastic, just trying to sharpen up and get leaner. I’m also eating enough to the point where my strength may increase of at the very least stay the same across all lifts.

I did a lot of research this week on protein intake, by studying people I trust and also by vegan bodybuilders. (some of these guys are huge) I came to the conclusion that I was really overdoing it and most other people are as well. Research basically proves that 1 gram per pound is basically an insurance policy, but is not needed to make progress. 1 gram per pound is more of an upper limit. Research shows that .7 grams per pound is all that is needed to make awesome results, even as low as 120 grams a day according to some sources. It makes perfect sense too when you read the research. Protein is a building block, not an energy source. That being said you dont want to take in minimal amounts and compromise results, so I’m going to stick to the .7-.8 x Body weight. That should be plenty and prevents me from overdoing it on a very expensive food. (Protein aint cheap, especially compared to carbs). For me its an easy switch, drop 50 grams of protein and add in 50 grams of carbs. This is better from a metabolism standpoint, a monetary standpoint and maybe from a health standpoint as overdoing it on protein can actually have some nasty metabolic waste products when consumed in excess.

Spring Cleaning Macros –

  • Sunday throough Thursday = Calories 1800 Carbs 225 grams/ Protein 135 grams / Fat 40 grams
  • Friday and Saturday = Calories at 2500

I plan to run this for 8 weeks to lean up. If after 4-5 weeks, I start to plateau, I plan on implementing a refeed day on Tuesday with a ton of carbs and boosting my calories to slightly over maintenance at around 25-2600. Since i’ll be dropping only 1 lbs of fat per week and I’m keeping a high ratio of carbs in my diet, I plan to track my progress through body fat calipers and waist size like I stated earlier. The scale is too unreliable and is not an accurate portryal of progress. I wouldn’t be shocked if my the scale went up by the end of the 8 weeks, while my fat mass would have dropped by 8lbs. We will see. 😉

Rolling Along (JE – 119)

Average Weight – 187 at highest and 182 at lowest

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Workout

  • Monday – Chest
  • Tuesday – Back
  • Wednesday – Legs
  • Thursday – Shoulders and Abs
  • Friday – Arms
  • Weekend – Off (no exercise, besides walking)

Third week of the bro split this week. I was able to bust two PR’s on dips and chinups. Dips I was able to get 65lbs x 6 reps and and chinups 20lbs added to my weight of (185) for a total of 205 lbs. Also my arms workout was awesome this week.

Found a rep scheme that seems to effective at achieving all the pillars of muscle growth: (for each muscle group)

First exercise is 4 x 6 reps (focusing on strength and mechanical tension to target fast twitch muscle fibers)

Next two exercises 3 x 8 reps (focusing on tension and cellular swelling (AKA the pump))

Last exercise is 3 x 12-15 reps (metabolic stress, lactic acid, burning sensation)

All of these rep ranges attain muscle growth in different ways, so only training in one rep range exclusively means that you are greatly missing out on the range of benefits all these ranges offer.

Nutrition

Lean meat and rice with veggies

Lean meat and rice with veggies

Egg Whites and Potatos

Egg Whites and Potatos

Lean Meat, brown rice, small sweet potato, baked beans with broccoli

Lean Meat, brown rice, small sweet potato, baked beans with broccoli

Mongolian Grill (love this place)

Mongolian Grill (love this place)

Calories 2200; Carbs 220g; Protein; 180g; Fat 50 grams (Roughly)

I may try to do some carb cycling this week. Its pretty easy for the most part, but I want to emphasize certain muscles (Chest and Back) so I plan on doing a high carb day with 300+ carbs,  On Legs and Arms day I’ll eat what I usually eat with around 200g carbs and on Shoulders and Cardio day, I’ll eat around 100 grams of carbs. Shoulders day doesn’t really burn too many calories, thats why I picked that for a low day. Just a trail period with this, mainly cause I like the idea of going high carb certain days just to upregualte metabolism and prevent stagnation. The low days also serve a good purpose for getting rid of excess bloat and some days when my appetite is lacking, I dont feel like I need to stuff myself to get in the calories.

As for nutrition research this week, it appears that 30-40 grams of protein per meal is necessary to turn on the anabolic response and build muscle. Pretty interesting considering eating less didn’t turn on the anabolic response and eating way more than amount didn’t further promote additional gains. So basically, it make sense to divide your total daily target for protein into however many meals it takes you to hit that sweet spot. Since I’m 185lbs 185/5 = 36 grams of protein per meal. So 5 protein feedings a day and protein shakes make this much easier. But again as long as your not eating under 30 grams per meal and not eating once a day with all of your protein for the day then it likely doesnt matter too much.

Journal

No training this weekend, because I went to visit Adam Saldana one of my friends from high school that I hadn’t seen in awhile. He’s still at Longwood, so it was nice going somewhere different from VT for a change. Only problem is I got about 2 hours of sleep in the last 48 hours, so my energy levels today are not that great. But the weekend was so fun it doesn’t matter too much.

Rolling Along (JE – 118)

Morning Weight – 185lbs

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Workout

  • Su – Chest Day
  • M – Back Day
  • T – Leg Day
  • W- Cardio and Abs Day
  • R – Shoulders Day
  • F- Arms Day
  • Sa – Cardio and Abs Day

Bro split week 2 and I’m really enjoying this split more than any split I’ve done in a long time. Cardio is done 13 minutes everyday before lifting and then I spend 30-45 minutes on one body part. The only change I made was to add one tricep movement to chest day and one bicep movement to back day for some extra volume.

I decided to give abs their own day and hit them in a circuit fashion. I also picked moves that take the hip flexors out of the movement, so that I can better isolate the rectus abdmonius and TVA. I’m definitely guilty of throwing my legs under a bar in order to lift more weight, but doing abs without the leg support is a humbling experience.

As for chest, I backed off max weight this week and changed my grip slightly in order to get the form down. I was using a wide grip to hit the chest a bit harder, but the plateau was getting to me, so I move the grip slightly inward and lowered the bar all the way down to my chest for full ROM. My weight dropped slightly, but I feel doing the bench with perfect from and backing off the max weights will benefit me in the future.

Also on leg day, when I was squatting 215, I forgot to put the safety pins on the ends and while the weight was on my back and the weights slipped off the sides and made a loud crashing noise. Embarrassing and the first time that ever happened, but lesson learned. At least it didn’t fall on me instead. On a positive note I did rep 235lbs for 6 reps, which is my best in awhile.

Nutrition

Lean Meat Rice and Vegetables

Lean Meat
Rice and Vegetables

Lean meat  Ezekiel Toast

Lean meat
Ezekiel Toast

Typical Lunch this week Lean Meat, veggies and fat free cheese Butter Bread Fat Free Pringles

Typical Lunch this week
Lean Meat, veggies and fat free cheese
Butter Bread
Fat Free Pringles

Lean Meat  White Rice Peppers and Onions Crab Rangoon

Lean Meat
White Rice
Peppers and Onions
Crab Rangoon

Egg Whites Red Potatoes Fat Free Cheese

Egg Whites
Red Potatoes
Fat Free Cheese

Egg white flatbread from Subway

Egg white flatbread from Subway

Calories in the 2000-2400 range; Carbs 220 grams; Protein 180 grams; fats 40-50 grams

New food find – Firehook baked crackers – sweet potato and chive flavor. These are made from sweet potatoes and baked into crispy strips. Their huge crackers and you can eat 7 of them for 90 caloires and 0.5 grams of fat and the fat comes from olive oil. Awesome find and even though I’m not as diehard as I used to be on ingredients, it is nice to have these around.

Other food this week – imitation crab meat mixed into stirfrys are really good and I have really been enjoying just plain white rice more so than ever before, especially with the right sauce and meat. Also been making homemade pizza once a week with organic pizza shells from Trader Joe’s. Very low fat and the fat used is from olive oil. I usually top it with fat free cheese, low fat pepperoni, chicken and use a good amount of sauce, because I hate dry pizzas.

Journal

Pretty good weekend and went up to VT this weekend and went to Texas Roadhouse for my mom’s birthday.

Also saw a DBZ gym shirt that I’m going to have to get or my life will be incomplete. 😉

 

Getting Results: The Pillars of Success

Nutrition and exercise is a vast field filled with endless amounts of information. Just when you think you have everything figured out, something comes along that challenges the foundation of your knowledge. I have studied nutrition for a large part of life and have learned a lot, but I know that there is no way I know everything and I don’t pretend to either. I want to remain open minded and after trying out many different things myself, I feel like I have a good grasp on what works and what does not.

In this article, I want to lay down some pillars that I feel are what everyone needs to use to evaluate their progress. These are much more useful than arbitrary instructions that cant possibly apply to everyone. Just because something works for one person, doesn’t mean it works for another. I feel like these are good general guidelines that almost anyone can follow to achieve success. Also, these pillars are not in order meaning each pillar is just as important as the other, no matter where they fall in the list.

Pillar 1 – Enhance Fat Mobilization:

Unless your genetically gifted, maintaining a low body fat is going to take some work. People look much better at a low body fat and maintaining this will increase confidence and improve self esteem. Many people know this already, but go about it the wrong way. To burn fat at a healthy and sustainable rate you need to eat around a 10-20% calorie deficit from your total maintenance each day. This is the sweet spot.

Why not go lower? –  Lots of reasons. When the energy balance gets too low, especially once you dip below your BMR (Bodyweight x 10 for most people) negative things start to happen.

  1. Cortisol increases too much leading to decreased testosterone or progesterone and increases stress hormones
  2. Increases cravings
  3. Increases muscle loss
  4. Increases chances of rebound weight gain (yo-yo dieting) (many people guilty of this)
  5. Short term results long term weight gain
  6. Plateaus are likely to occur
  7. Leptin a chief fat burning hormone is lowered after 3-4 days after which your fat burning effectiveness is decreased by 50%
  8. Your body can’t synthesize all energy it needs from bodyfat. This means if you eat zero calories your body and brain needs glucose that it literally cannot get from body fat. So it borrows from your muscles instead. This means that your body can only burn so much fat on any given day, so to prevent muscle loss it literally needs glucose from protein and carbs.
  9. Induces depression
  10. Many, many more…

This is a short list, but many people attempt to get ripped or skinny by starving themselves, because they want results NOW. Unless they are prepared to face all these negatives and live on their low calorie diet for the rest of their life, its not a wise idea.

By eating a small deficit and eating over their BMR, it may take them a bit longer to reach their goal, but they get to keep their results once they reach them. By the time the person that takes their time and does things right reaches their goal, the person that tried to rush things will already be experiencing rebound repercussions and rebound fat gain.

Pillar 2 – Increase Muscle and Decrease Protein Breakdown

This is an overlooked part of a diet. As I just stated there is more to keep in mind than just a drastic cut in calories for health and hormonal reasons. The next step is to increase lean muscle and drastically decrease protein breakdown by eating enough calories and protein.

If protein synthesis is greater than protein breakdown, lean muscle can be built. So yes muscle can be built on a calorie deficit if the deficit is small enough and protein, carbs and calories are high enough.

How to achieve this?

  1. Eat enough protein to match your bodyweight. If you are overweight than eat your goal weight in protein.
  2. Maintain a small deficit under 15% of maintenance, to burn fat while building muscle.
  3. Eat enough carbs to spare the protein and prevent protein breakdown. Eat the same number of carbs as protein.
  4. Eat regular meals with protein to supply a steady stream of amino acids to muscles and prevent blood sugar from getting to low an increasing cravings for fattening food.
  5. Oh and the most important step is to lift weights. 😉 (No matter how much protein you eat, if you dont lift weights you won’t maintain or gain muscle mass)

Pillar 3 – Maintain Metabolic Rate

If I had to pick the most important pillar this would be it. The one thing that everyone ignores when trying to successfully lose fat and keep it off. You have to keep the deficit small enough to allow your body to burn fat while maintaining metabolic rate.

How to do this? (this is going to be a very similar list to the previous two lists)

  1. Eat enough calories and maintain a small deficit (10-20% under maintenance)
  2. Eat enough carbohydrates (you need at least 120 grams a day to maintain brain glucose. Please do not fall victim to low carb information. Every major researcher I see that preaches low carb is overweight and for good reason, because the diet is ineffective and provides only short term results.)
  3. If you feel start to plateau attempt a carb refeed every 1-2 weeks.

Pillar 4 – Hormonal Health

This is another big one people ignore. Constant calorie deficits, especially large in nature hurt hormones.

  1. If your sex drive sucks, then your not eating properly. This is one of the best ways to test whether your dieting a little too hard.
  2. You start to crave and obsess about food. This means cortisol is getting too high and your blood sugar is starting too get low. It also means your body needs food and is sending you that signal.
  3. Thyroid health. Go too low in carbs is the fastest way to tank this. The best way to tell this is getting low is feeling tired all the time, no motivation and start to feel cold in warm conditions.
  4. Fighting your hormones on a diet is like trying to fight Rocky with two hands tied behind your back. You can try, but you will lose. Your much better working with your hormones, not against them.

Pillar 5 – Consistency and Patience

This step took me awhile to master, but is critical to success. Some motivational phrases: Changing your body is a marathon not a sprint; Rome wasn’t built in a day neither was your body;  A 10,000 mile journey starts with a single step. These mean a lot. It shows that achieving something great takes time. Nobody wins a marathon by sprinting from the starting line, these people are usually the ones you see passed out on the side of the road after 4 miles.

By eating a smaller deficit, you are ensuring your body makes slow and consistent progress without negative repercussions. You may not notice changes immediately, but 1-2 months down the road you will look and feel incredible with more energy, less fat and more muscle tone.

This is also a time to learn more about your own body. There are people around my weight and height that eat over 3000 calories to maintain their weight. I maintain on about 2300 calories a day. If I took calorie advice from this person I would gain weight. But after learning my own body, I know what works for me and what does not.

One final thing to note is to master the mirror test. Forget scale weight, focus on the mirror. In a successful body recompostion plan, you should wake up each day looking better than they day before. If you wake up looking bloated and puffy, you ate too much. No need to take drastic measures just eat a bit less to make up for it. On the other hand, if you wake up and look pale, muscles look flat, skin is dry and wake up starving, then you ate too little and need to increase calories to get back to the sweet spot.

The Summary of Getting Results:

  1. Eat at a small calorie deficit (10-20% from total maintenance) to enhance fat mobilization. (Ex – Total calories with exercise = 2500 calories. 2500-500 = 2000 calories to lose fat)
  2. Maintain metabolic rate and muscle mass by eating your bodyweight or goal bodyweight in protein and carbs. (Ex- Bodyweight is 180 lbs = 180 grams of protein and 180 grams of carbs)
  3. Keep hormones in check by maintaining a healthy sex drive and preventing big calorie deficits.
  4. Be patient and consistent with your plan and don’t rush results.
  5. Use the mirror for biofeedback and skip the scale.
  6. If all of these pillars are achieved results should come.