This is the first week of the company gym challenge. I have gone to the gym as normal every day of the week so far. I have also busted some plateaus on bench this week, which felt really good. I finally moved up to 200lbs on bench press after hitting 195lbs for 3 sets of 8 reps on Thursday. Very satisfying feeling. My pull workout also saw increases of reps across the board on all exercises. I added a high rep / recovery / isolation day after each push/pull workout. In other words, I do a push workout, next day is pull, next day is recovery, then repeat. The point of this recovery day is to do all the exercises I don’t have time to do on my push/ pull days. I also really liked it. The moves are 3 sets of 12-15 reps and no heavy lifting. Its main goal is to squeeze in some isolations and really just get rid of soreness. It was also really effective at reducing my soreness, because for some reason this week, I was feeling DOMS pretty d*mn bad. Cardio has been done 4 out of the 5 work days this week.
My diet this week has been around 2300 calories a day. High protein, moderate to high carbs and low to moderate fat. Nothing special in terms of macros, but mainly just making sure I eat enough to fuel my workouts. If you are running in the morning and lifting in the afternoon and don’t eat enough, trust me you ain’t going to be feeling too hot. 😉
Monday – Cardio and Push
Tuesday – Cardio and Pull
Wednesday – Cardio and Recovery isolation day
Thursday – No Cardio and Push (same as Monday) – PR achieved
Friday – Cardio and Pull (same as Tuesday)
Saturday – Recovery Isolation day
Sunday – Cardio only
Plaza Azteca Chicken Salad
Cardio – averaged this each session
Burgers with veggies and bread
Chicken and Rice
Chicken, veggies, fries, hummus, toast
Panda – Orange chicken, chicken teriyaki, veggies
Kickback Jacks – Santa Fe Salad also had beer and cheese fries
On Monday of this week, I went to the gym and did a weigh in and body fat test for an upcoming company gym challenge. My stats were 187lbs (Midday, fully clothed including shoes) and 14% body fat. My weigh in that morning on my scale was 185lbs. I wanted to weigh in on Monday because my weight always peaks on Monday’s after always eating big on the weekends. I dropped down to 179lbs within 3 days of weighing in and I definitely will go low carb and high protein right before the final weigh in just to get some extra points from losing weight. You get 1 point for every pound you lose and 1 point for every time you go to the gym. You also get points for better body composition, but since changes like that take way longer than 21 days, chasing after that would be a bad idea. The winner gets 1-year free gym membership. The body fat they tested was not the most accurate instrument. I asked the trainer how accurate it was and he said 3% error and usually measures high. I agreed with this as I feel I’m around 12-13% at the moment.
The last time I did one of these tests I was 166lbs at 10% body fat. Although this was a bod pod test. Meaning I had roughly 150lbs of lean body mass at the time. This time I was around 185lbs and let’s say 13% body fat. This means I know have 161 lbs of lean body mass. Which means I gained roughly 10-12lbs of lean body mass and 6-8lbs of fat. Not terrible, but not great either. Looking at photos of these times, though I can see a tremendous difference. A much bigger difference than these stats represent:
YIKES. Last offical body compoistion test: 166lbs – 10% body fat
Picture taken last week. 185lbs at 12-14% bodyfat
My diet was a bit lower in carbs this week and damn did I feel it in the gym. My last pull workout this Friday was really bad. I dropped reps on every exercise and I only did 4 exercises. I carbed up with some pizza to make up for it. Other than that last workout I really enjoyed the 4 day split this week and found myself over eager to hit the gym on my rest days, which is a good thing. I’m still playing around with the exercises, but think I have really figured out the ones I want to do. Now it’s just a matter of grinding.
For this 21 day challenge, I plan to bump up my carbs pretty high during the beginning 2 weeks and keep protein high as well. Fat will be more or less normal 50-70 grams. The final week I will cut down on carbs just to drop water for the weigh in.
10oz steak, Veggies, Whole egg, egg roll
Chicken Philly with side salad, (Ordered cheese fries for appetizer)
The routine I wrote about last week is no bueno. My left shoulder into my chest has a slight pain when I start benching now and I’m not sure exactly what it is, but common sense tells me that if I continue to keep on with it, it will be an injury waiting to happen. After really taking a hard look at my routine, I really started to question where the rationale came from. Sometimes I get ideas that I think would work well and in reality, tfall flat very quickly. After going back to the drawing board, I’m going to do a 4 day push / pull workout loosely based on Lyle McDonald’s (the man) hypertrophy workout. This looks really good on paper and also allows me much more rest time.
The one thing I really didn’t like about the workout I made was repeating the same workouts that often. Talk about boring. Again this is something I should have seen coming but didn’t. I was so focused on how to get as much benching as possible in my routine, it was as if logic flew out the window. Anyway, I have two push workout and two pull workouts and each will be slightly different. Shoulders will also be added back into the workout (direct shoulder movements).
My plan for cardio is to do 2 days on the weekend with some abs on either Saturday or Sunday. I will then probably to cardio only on Wednesday (rest day from lifting) and take Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday off. Lifting will be prioritized on these days.
I kind of delved back into some reading this week about various diets, splits, rest periods, weight fluctuations, etc… After getting a large headache from the contradictory information ;), I tended to see a few things I still agree with and think is very important to your success without these things taking over your life.
Progressive overload is far more important than how frequently you train, how many sets or volume you have in your workout, or what kind of split you have.
Protein has numerous benefits and can be increased to very high amounts without fat storage. People that gain fat easier can use this to your advantage when bulking, but it is not the only macro you should eat. Higher protein diets may have additional fat loss benefits when recomping.
Carbs are highly individual and may or may not be hugely necessary for the diet. All sources are broken down to the same end product (sugar) and most people get better results with moderate amounts (compared to either very low or very high) especially in the long term.
Fat – some is good, more is probably not better.
Bulking is highly unnecessary and so is cutting for that matter. Eat enough (varies drastically) to progressively overload your muscles and you will gain muscle and may even lose fat if your calories and training are adequate.
Lyle McDonald is the man. He has really interesting podcasts and basically knows everything. Every time I found myself listening too much to the opinion of others, I usually return back to him.
Protein synthesis varies based on training status (Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced). For intermediates, protein synthesis is heightened for 24 hours and slowly returns to baseline after 48 hours. Structuring training to ride these waves is very important for progression.
I think undereating (mainly referring to PSMF) on rest days is a pretty dumb strategy. I never liked it and never worked for me. I think consistent eating no matter what day it is very beneficial for progress. I think PSMF style days can be very effective, but mainly if they are used after a day or two of overeating. So it is more or less used for balancing things out.
Personally, I noticed that starting and ending my day with a high protein, but lower calorie meal is a very good strategy. It’s very good for energy purposes, staying lean, decreasing hunger and feeling good in the gym. Once I have these two bedrocks in place, lunch and dinner become highly variable. I also like eating at least one high-quality protein bar (almost always a Quest Bar) during the day. This gets me 3 protein servings of very high-quality protein and then I don’t have to stress too much about getting a ton of protein at lunch and dinner.
If I had to pick an ideal eating strategy for myself based on current research, it would be to regularly eat not intermittent fast, by eating a high protein breakfast (300 calories), a small lunch (4-500 calories), a large dinner (600-1000 calories) and a high protein dessert (150-200 calories).
Saturday – 20 minutes of cardio / Shoulders and traps
Sunday – 30 minutes of cardio
Monday – 30 minutes of cardio / Chest and Tris
Tuesday – 30 minutes of cardio / Back and Bis
Wednesday – 30 minutes of cardio / Bodyweight exercises
Thursday – no cardio / Full body
Friday – 30 minutes of cardio / Full Body
Protein Pudding or Oatmeal
Chipotle, Panda Express or something homemade
Protein Pudding or Greek Yogurt with protein mixed in
So I think it is time to change a few things up. My workout will be changed to a fullbody approach done every day. I will have two different workouts (A and B) and rotate these every other day. I plan on taking away all direct shoulder exercises for the time being. After doing some research I think they are a waste of time. They also slow me up in the gym on my lunch break and I have been a little late getting back to work. The main reason is I want a bigger bench and direct shoulder days and exercises just make my bench weaker overall.
BB bench press 3×6-8 reps
Tbar Rows 3×10-12 reps
Close grip chin-ups 3xmax
Ez skulls 3×10-12
Chinups 3×6-8 reps
Inc DB Press 3×10-12 reps
EZ curl 3×10-12 reps
These are my two workouts that I will switch between every day. Arms are highly variable and can change daily. The first exercises of each workout will not change and neither will the accessories for the time being.
I do a lot of cardio every week, which is why no heavy legs are being done. Cardio is always done in the morning and lifting in the afternoon.
I’m going to bump up my calories as well to try and get my bench rolling. Progressive overload is the main driver of this workout as well as increased frequency.
Longhorn Napa Chicken
Chicken and a ton of vegetables (many are not pictured)