I changed lunges from dumbbells to barbells. I feel like this is easier to progress on from a strength standpoint and also feels a bit different than DB’s. So pretty much every exercise is done with barbells at this point. I’m also really getting into the standing shoulder press. Just feels like a good exercise to get strong in and feels much more beneficial for core strength then sitting down.
One of my bowflex Db’s gave out this week and I think its done with. That means I’m doing everything with barbells which honestly only changed out a few exercises. Incline press was affected, but I kind of like doing it with the barbell for a change. I just make sure to squeeze the shoulder blades together to prevent my shoulder from taking over the movement.
I do enjoy this split though as I have lots of energy and drive for each session. I do miss some of the higher rep work just from an energy/pump standpoint, but my strength is going up, so I’m not going to mess with it. The best part about this split is the motivation I have to lift more weight every workout. The workouts are more organized this way.
On the rest days, I just walk to get at least 5 miles and make sure to hit my 100 pushups. I know I have done at least 100 pushups each day, but some if not all days were closer to 150 pushups. I usually do sets of 20 unless its a push day, then I drop down to 10-15 a set.
Average Intake was about 2200 calories with two high days on the Friday and Saturday. A decent amount of those calories came from alcohol, so not the most beneficial sources towards body composition.
I’m also going to play around with my macros a little bit and add more carbs at night and take down fat a bit. I want to keep fat around 55-65 grams and carbs up to 150-180 grams a day. Protein is the same, but may end up dropping that a bit as well. Most of these carbs are going to come from fruit and potatoes at night. I found a real quick and easy way to make homemade french fries and they taste incredible. Not to mention potatoes are incredibly filling and cheap source of food. They also have a lot of potassium, which could eliminate excess sodium and water retention. I may include some white rice some days, but probably will stick to potatoes from a satiety standpoint.
Protein will be higher during the beginning of they day and around dinner, I may just get in 30-40 carbs and probably double that in carbs. Carbs release serotonin, but eating too much protein with carbs can interfere with that. So the goal is to eat enough protein, but allow the carbs to “go to work” at night. I will admit its hard to not eat a lot of protein haha. If I dont have at least 5-6oz it just doesnt feel like enough, but to make room for more carbs I will drop them a bit.
Sample Dinners would probably be:
Pasta with marinara, veggies and 2oz of chicken
Pizza with reduced fat cheese and low fat pepperoni
3-4 potatoes cut into fries with 4oz of chicken and veggies
Again the goal is reduce protein a bit at night and really get the serotonin release from carbs.
Average Weight – 176.6lbs Average Calorie Intake – 2300 calories
This was my first full week on my new split. I really enjoyed it and even though each workout was only 5 moves, it took about an hour to complete. I lifted more than I have in a long time on my key exercises.
So 3 different workouts, with each workout focusing on two main moves. I also added an hypertrophy move right after I do the first two main moves. I have this move structured so that you use the same weight each week for 3 sets of 6-10 reps. Once you can do 3 sets of 10 total reps, you can increase the weight. For example, if I’m doing DB rows for 3 sets of 6-10 and I get 3×10,9,8, I would use the same weight next week and aim for 3×10,10,10. If I dont achieve 10 reps on ALL 3 sets then I continue using the same weight until you do.
I really like the simplicity / minimalism of this type of workout. It eliminates the unnecessary exercises that may even be working against you. I also achieve a really good pump since I feel like the quality of my form has improved since I dont feel like I need to save strength for later movements.
Every day this week, except for days I train Push muscles, I have done at least 100 pushups a day. I started with sets of 15 reps, but not I’m knocking out 20 reps a set. As long as I get 100 it doesnt really matter how many sets it takes. I knocked out 40 in a row yesterday and my form has gotten much better overall on pushups then in the past. Its also a really good way to get a good pump.
By focusing on the essentials, I’m hoping to slowly walk my lifts up a good 2.5-5lbs up each workout. By reducing the unnecessary volume and decreasing the days I was lifting from 6 to 4 days, and also hitting each muscle group at least every 4-5 days (except legs), I expect my strength levels to respond favorably. I also noticed increased enjoyment during my lift days, by cutting back to 4 days. I feel refreshed and ready to go instead of the drag type feeling I experience on some days when I try to do 6 days.
Here are goals I hope to achieve by the end of the year:
Bench Press 225×5 reps
Standing BB Press 125×5 reps
Chinups 60×5 reps
Hang Cleans 135×5 reps
BB Squats 250×5 reps
DB Lunges 75×5 reps
Bench Press is the most important to me. I really want to get that going. Also standing BB press as well because usually when that goes up, it means your core is getting much stronger as well. I forgot to mention I do Abs on Leg Days and usually add one move for 3 sets of 6-10 reps at the end of at least one other workout during the week. Usually a heavy cable crunch.
Here are my workout notes starting from last Thursday.
Nothing special in nutrition this week. Added an extra 200 calories (averaged out over the week) to my baseline to hit around 2300 calories. Average weight stayed about the same.
Protein usually around 180-210 grams
Fat usually 75-90 grams (usually mid 80’s)
Carbs usually 90-150 grams
I also usually carb up on Saturday. I dont really do a carb refeed, but mainly just eat more starches than usual starting at lunch time. Protein is a bit higher than necessary, but again I just like eating a lot of protein with each meal and prefer the taste over carbs. I’m sure some of the excess protein converts to carbs, but it doesnt bother me. I like eating this way and only plan to mess with it if my lifts start to stall. I do think adding an additional 50grams of carbs to workout days is a good idea though. This week I consumed it as oatmeal right before bed, but I may get some roasted potatoes from trader joes and eat it with dinner. I like buying premade potatoes though, because they are a huge pain to fix and cook raw haha. Oatmeal is much easier to prepare than potatoes, because I dont heat it. I use the low sugar instant oats mix it with a little protein powder and almond milk and eat it like that. Tastes incredible.
I also aim to consume at least 3 whole eggs a day. Usually 1 in the morning with my vitamins and 2 in my lunch. My vegetable intake is high as always with lots of broccoli and spinach. My fruit intake is always at least 1 cup of berries a day and sometimes I eat a banana. Been eating a lot of avocado recently too, but these things are a pain. You have to wait until they ripen and then eat them at least within 2 days. So you almost feel forced to eat it or else its going to go bad. I still like cheese and eggs as my main fat sources, because they dont go bad nearly as fast. Also tried some Trader Joe’s Bolognese sauce and it was incredible. Very thick texture and almost tasted like a cream based sauce. It has a higher fat content than most, but less sugar so its fine with me. Been eating Kim-Chi before my vitamins each morning too. Food Lion has a good brand for about $4, which is much less than most places sell it for.
Average Weight 176.2lbs – Average Calorie Intake – 2178 calories
Earlier this week, I burned my self out on lifting weights for the first time in a really long time. Not that I couldn’t have “handled it” from a physical standpoint, but I just lacked the motivation to lift. The workouts felt too similar, my strength wasn’t really increasing and I felt the workouts were becoming a chore that I really just didnt feel like doing. I took two days off and just did some light walking. This was mainly to just take a break and most importantly not lift. My motivation came quickly back and I felt myself wanting to lift again. But I did a lot of thinking about being too disorganized in my goals and workouts are all over the place. I need a clear goal and a clear plan that I stick to for a long time. The best way to stay motivated when lifting is to try to break PR’s every time you go to the gym. If your going to the gym to build muscle and your not setting PR’s then your plan most likely isn’t going to work.
I decided to go back to the drawing board and scrap the workouts I’ve been doing recently. I do like trying things out, but right now I want proven workouts and to start busting PR’s again. I realized that even though I love to lift, 6 days a week just doesnt allow for proper strength and CNS recovery. I ended up buying a program that was based around strength gains. This is a very interesting plan because it explains a lot of the reasoning why lifting too often can hold you back. It talks a lot about CNS recovery, local nerve fatigue and how long it takes these to recover for maximal lifting, a pyramid scheme and warmup for maximizing strength and focuses on minimalism, while reducing unnecessary movements. It also takes a lot of volume out of the program, because doing too much volume can actually limit recover and impede strength gains. Since lifting more weight over time (progressive overload) is the single most important factor in myofibrilliar muscle growth (not sacroplasmic) this needs to be the primary focus and not on pump sets. The reps of this program focus on 5-8 reps. Lower than that doesnt stimulate enough muscle growth and higher than that is just too light. The point of this plan is to back off a lot of the movements and focus on the big moves.
It has a very interesting setup though and it recommends two different workouts rotated over a 3 day split every other day. The funny thing is, is even though you lift less days per week, your actually hitting your muscles more often or every 4th day. Since you wont use the same muscles and allow for two rest days in between each workout, your ready to attack the muscles with full strength. The schedule works as follows Week 1 – Workout A, Rest, Workout B, Rest, Workout A, Rest, Rest – Week 2 – Workout B, Rest, Workout A, Rest, Workout B, Rest, Rest.
There a couple of modifications I will make to this plan though. Workout A is push muscles and Workout B is Pull muscles. However it doesnt include a leg day. Its focused on upperbody strength and the creator of the program already had too much leg mass and didnt want anymore. That being said I think not training legs is a mistake and lame haha. I’m going to add a leg day that is very similar to the other two workouts in the plan. This can actually be easily implemented into the plan without screwing up the schedule, by training the 3 main workouts on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday each week and then having a leg day fixed on Sunday. This way I can still rotate Workout A and B every week, but still hit legs each Sunday without impacting recovery. He does caution against lifting Back to Back days, but as long as I dont overdo the volume, work different muscles and still allow enough rest time between hitting the same muscles again I dont see it being a big deal. I’m also adding an additional exercise for 3 sets of 10 reps to both days to satisfy my ego. He recommends making the Incline Barbell Press your main pushing movement, but I want to get my flat Bench press up. So I’m making that the main move and adding in one volume based move for DB incline press.
Each workout is only 4-6 moves max. It also places two heavy movements at the beginning of each workout (your main focus) and the rest is volume for shoulders and arms and such. Workout days are Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday (favorite day to train) and Sunday. This will allow me two lifting days in Golds gym and two lifting days at work.
Here is a better visual depiction
Workout A – BB Bench and Standing BB Press focus – Push
Workout B – Pullups and Hang Cleans – Pull
Workout A – BB Bench and Standing BB Press – Push
Workout C (my modification) – BB Squats and Lunges – Legs
Repeat Week 1
So the focus is on Quality over Quantity. 4 focused sessions per week striving for PR’s every workout vs 6 workouts per week that just tends to burn me out. More rest between each session and hitting each muscle as frequently as possible to make better strength gains, while still allowing for adequate recovery. I’ve always liked minimalist style approaches, so this should do nicely.
Also My leg day will probably be setup like this:
BB Squats – Warmuup then 5, 6, 8 reps
DB lunges – 5, 6, 8 reps
Leg Press – 3 sets of 10 reps
Cable Crunch – 3 sets of 10 reps
Cable Woodchoppers – 3 sets of 10 reps
I’ve also done about 100-150 pushups everyday this week, except on Thursday I did 50 because I worked out Push muscles.
Been listening to a lot of podcasts this week. A lot were on training, but also a lot on nutrition. One was by Ori Hofmekler the creator of the Warrior diet. Very interesting listening to what he had to say, especially in regards to undereating during the day and feasting at night. He said you dont have to all out fast (not eat anything), but to undereat and take in a decent amount of protein and low sugar berries and vegetables, but no direct sugar energy sources and limited fat sources. Then loading up at night after you exercise, will make your body far more receptive to those foods without storing them as fat. This has a lot to do with certain hormones that burn fat effectively and sometimes eating can screw these signals up. AMPK was particularly interesting in regards to fat burning. However some of the stuff he was saying made no sense. Especially in regards to insulin, because he said carbs are the only thing that spike insulin. Umm not quite. Protein spikes insulin more than carbs do. Protein releases glucagon in relation to it, but its still sparks insulin. Either way I learned some interesting facts from it.
Other podcasts were talking about ketogenic diets which are very interesting, but I still still think you need some carbs. I just dont think you need nearly as many as people think. Especially the way some experts recommend a very low fat intake and very high carb intake. It just doesnt work for my body and in my opinion negatively impacts energy levels and overall fat burning and isnt nearly as anabolic as people think. Yes you need some insulin to trigger muscle growth, but protein does this just fine and it only takes an extra 30 grams of carbs to barely increase protein synthesis rates. Very high insulin levels do not lead to very high rates of protein synthesis. More is not better. Once your glycogen is full, I just dont see the point of extra carbs, when fat has way more to offer in my opinion. Yes you need calories to grow, but not necessarily carbs. They seem to ignore a lot of benefits that fat can bring as well. Like for example the liner relationship dietary fat has with testosterone levels. Given the fact that testosterone is the chief muscle building hormone in males, I think you want this on your side. Plus eating low fat makes most meals really bland tasting.
In my opinion, the best diet would have about 1-1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight, 1 gram per pound of carbs on workout days and maybe 100-120 on rest days and the rest would be healthy fats. This would work far better for me. Protein being spread evenly through the day. With carbs being less than or equal to protein in almost all meals or eating a very small amount of carbs all day then eating a large amount at dinner as this can help energy during the day and maximized fat burning hormones. Omit the extra carbs on rest days. Calorie totals depend on goals. I plan on keeping mine around 2400 calories average. I dont like cycling calories or carbs that much, so I’m just going keep it the same more or less every day and focus more on the weekly average vs daily fluctuations. This intake is right around maintenance for me.
Average Weight – 175.6lbs – Average Calorie Intake 2185
Saturday – Push
Sunday – Pull
Monday – Legs
Tuesday – Push
Wednesday – Pull
Thursday – Off – 100 pushups
Friday – Chest/Back/Biceps – 1 move each – 100 pushups
I think my boredom with my routine has reached an all time high. I think I’m going to try something completely different this week. I like working out everyday, but traditional routines make this difficult without burning out. Traditional routines just really don’t appeal to me at the moment. I’m thinking of doing a high frequency routine, where you hit each muscle group 3 days a week at a greatly reduced volume each session. This is the first time I’ve done something like this, but I think it will bring in some much needed variation into my training. Basically one move for each body part each workout and the reps will be a pyramid scheme so all muscle fibers are taxed each day. Here is an example to illustrate what I’m talking about:
Triceps – Dips or Close Grip Bench Press – same reps
Traps/Rear Delts/medial delts – Same reps
15 pushups between sets – at least 100 reps
Day 3 – repeat Day 1 with different exercises for each body part
Day 4 – repeat Day 2 with different exercise for each muscles group
Day 5 – same as Day 3
Day 6 – Same as Day 4
Day 7 – OFF or start cycle over
An unorthodox split, but very interesting and fun. Muscle growth is still the priority and all rep ranges are hit with each exercise. Dont let this split fool you though. Its much harder than it looks. The good thing with this split is greatly reduced soreness after each session. I do like feeling sore, but it doesn’t necessarily lead to more muscle growth or indicate an awesome workout. The last set of 4 reps is where I will try and push for a PR on each exercise, while the other sets are meant to stimulate muscle size and blood flow. I’m also going to start adding pushups everyday. I plan to start with about 100 total spread through the day and add about 15 between each set. Pushups give me incredible energy and pump my muscles up very effectively, so I want to implement way more of them in my routine; not every now and then either, but every day. The volume of this split is likely very similar to a traditional split, its just spread out differently over the week. Again this is more of a trial to prevent boredom. This could be a horrible failure, which sees a quick return to a normal routine haha. I’ll take my chances.
Same old, same old in my diet. I did hear a very interesting fact this week about how big of a role height plays in your overall lean body mass and metabolism. For every 1 inch of height, you have about 7 more lbs of lean body mass then someone shorter than you. So lets take two people, both at 5% bodyfat (about as low as it gets for males) and one guy is 5ft 8in and the other is 6ft 0in tall. The 5ft 8in guy would have 150lbs of lean body mass and the guy that is 6ft tall would have 178lbs of lean body mass, even with the same amount of body fat and muscle mass. The lean body mass in this case refers to bone size, muscle length, total body mass, etc.. Very interesting considering your total lean body mass is very important for a high powered, high calorie burning metabolism. This means that taller your are the easier time you have of losing weight and vice versa. This is why men lose weight far quicker than smaller females. Again its not overall weight than influences metabolism, but most likely the extra lean body mass due to increased height that plays the biggest role. You also burn more calories moving around a bigger body, so that’s also a factor.
Also read some interesting info on sodium intake in regards to boosting the metabolism and muscle growth. Sodium is very important for cellular hydration in regards to energy and muscle mass. When you go on low carb diets and especially on Ketogenic diets, sodium gets flushed much more readily and this can cause the body to dehydrate. Many people think that “low carb flu” of giving up carbs is due to a lack of carbs, but this is not the case. The biggest reason is because when you cut carbs, they are cutting out a lot of hydration from their diet. Every gram of carb holds 3 grams of water. Go from 300 grams of carbs down to 50 grams and a lot of the body’s water stores vanish. What the “low carb flu” really is, is dehydration. This brings on light headedness, foggy thinking, low energy levels, high cortisol and low T levels and other undesirable consequences. Even a sluggish thyroid if inadequate salt is consumed (thyroid needs iodine). You need about 3 times the amount of sodium on low carb diets as you do on high carb diets. Once the sodium issue is corrected, most people feel just fine. I think this is why some people hate “the switch” to a low carb diet, while others have no problems at all. If you use too many “health, clean foods” with no sodium as many have been told to do, you will feel the effects of dehydration. If you consume adequate sodium, your body will hold onto more water and you will feel just fine. So its not the carbs, its your hydration level. I feel like this is often overlooked when people say they hate low carb diets. There’s also some research showing that low carb diets reduce testosterone levels compared to high carb diets. But again when sodium is too low nasty things happen. Sodium has been show to retain hormone levels and adequate minerals (magnesium and zinc) in the blood, so it could have been the people in the study just weren’t hydrated enough, weren’t consuming enough sodium to compensate for the lack of carbs and were most likely losing precious minerals from the amount of water they were flushing out. Again you probably need at least double the recommended 2400 mg of sodium of a low carb diet and maybe triple if your on a Keto diet. So to sum this up, people really do feel bad on low carb diets, but this is due to cellular dehydration and not a lack of carbs. Consume more sodium to promote cellular hydration and your energy levels will be just fine. Sodium is often overlooked in the macro-nutrient war, but it is highly underestimated.
There’s also a recent study showing that ketogenic diets build just as much if not more muscle than high carb diets, when adequate protein is consumed on both diets. Although their results were pretty close. This goes to show that overall calories and protein are likely the most important, while the distribution of carbs and fat depend on the individual. Most people still do better with moderate amounts of each macro in their diet.