Journal Entry 263 – Push/Pull & Gym Weigh In

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:

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.

Journal Entry 262 – Shoulder Strain / Organizing My Plan

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).

Journal Entry 260 – Aldi / Weight Cut

Weekly Routine

Workout:

  • Sunday – Cardio 30 minutes / Abs
  • Monday – Cardio 30 minutes / Chest and Tris
  • Tuesday – Cardio 30 minutes / Back and Bis
  • Wednesday – Cardio 30 minutes / Shoulders and Traps
  • Thursday – No Cardio / Chest and Tris
  • Friday – Cardio 30 minutes / Back and Bis
  • Saturday (Today) – Cardio 20-30 minutes / Shoulders and Traps

Diet: (Calories Low: 16-1800)

  • Protein Pudding with berries and Coffee
  • Popchips 3-4 servings and 1 Quest Bar
  • Ton of veggies, lean meat, low calorie toast
  • Protein Pudding with berries

Last weekend my brother visited and it was a big eating weekend. Restaurant eating and full on buffets at my house. My weight ballooned to 187lbs on Monday morning and I was noticeably bloated/fat looking. I decided to do a mini-cut and take that bloat off. I stayed around 16-1800 calories a day and got down to about 179lbs. In the past, this was my normal intake, but I haven’t gone that low in calories in awhile. Especially 5 days in a row, maybe went that low on occasion. So, took off roughly 8lbs of bloat (mostly water, but some fat). My energy was good all week til Friday, which I felt really run down. Basically felt like I got hit by a train. So got some extra sleep Friday night and feel much better right now. I plan on eating around maintenance today and then will likely cut the following week too. After I assess where I am at the end of next week, I will most likely bump up my calories back to maintenance.

No Pr’s were set this week, but wasn’t really expecting it either. My lifts didn’t go down, though. I got a feeling 195lbs on my bench is going to be a sticking point for me that only big eating will take care of. Really enjoying the cardio, though. I could easily go more than 30 minutes, but I’m really trying to moderate myself so that I don’t burn out and get tired of it. 3o minutes is a sweet spot, where you can get almost of all the benefits with none of the downsides. Also, cardio is done in the morning and my lifting is done in the afternoon, so they don’t interfere with each other.

There is a new Aldi built very close to my apartment. This place is a grocery wonderland. It’s like Costco, but you don’t have to buy in bulk. You can literally stack your grocery cart with food (mainly whole foods) and pay like $50. Seriously, it’s really awesome. Probably cheaper than Walmart and the quality is much better. I can’t get everything I need from there, but all of my whole foods (frozen veggies, fresh veggies, fruit, yogurt, meat) I get from here. Saves a lot of money.

Journal Entry 259

Weekly Routine:

  • Sunday – Cardio 60 minutes
  • Monday – Chest
  • Tuesday – Back/Bis
  • Wednesday – Shoulders / Traps
  • Thursday – Chest/Tris
  • Friday – Back/ Bis

Added a few reps to my bench press and I’m getting very close to the 200lb mark for 3 sets of 6-8 reps. Shoulder press was stationary and chin-ups I was able to gain a couple of reps. I played around with some rep schemes on my accessory exercises, but I think I found one of my all time favorite chest workouts.

  • Chest or Chest and Tris
  • Barbell Bench 3 sets of 6-8 reps
  • Dumbbell Incline Bench 3 sets of 8 reps
  • Dips (weighted) 3 sets of 8 reps
  • Flys or Skullcrushers 3 sets of 10 reps

Always get a massive pump after a day like this even though the reps are on the heavier side. The tension from the sets feels incredible. Not too heavy and not too light. Sometimes by dropping the weight too light, I feel like I’m moving the weight, but not really getting much of a pump. I also feel like I can gas out pretty quick even with the lighter weight.

Diet has been more or less the same. Calories fluctuate between 2000-2500 calories a day and I really have not been emphasizing protein in the least. If anything I have been emphasizing carbs. Some days my protein has fallen below 100 grams and has not even remotely affected my strength levels. I have been drinking a lot of caffeine during the day at work, but has really always been high in my diet.

My weight is still hovering around the low 180’s at the moment.

 

Journal Entry 257 – Carbs

Another week in the books. Strength levels more or less on par with last week. Nothing really gained or lost. I cut back cardio a little this week to see if it would help my strength gains and it did not. I may add in some depletion workouts this weekend just for fun and variety in my routine. Probably like 5 sets of 15 reps with one exercise per muscle group on both Saturday and Sunday.

I have really been pushing the carbs high as of recently. I want to see its effects on my mood, energy, motivation, strength levels, etc… So far it’s been pretty good in terms of everything except strength levels. Not that strength has gone down, but it hasn’t increased either. Funny enough as my carbs go up, so does dietary fat intake. Protein has really been going down. In my current eating schedule, most of my protein is at the end of the day before bed. I have noticed some pretty interesting effects in terms of bloating with the extra carbs. Bloating has been greatly reduced, especially at night. I used to go to bed looking like buddha some nights and would wake up with a flat stomach. Now I go to bed with a flat stomach and wake up the same way. I noticed better energy during the day and the ability to go longer without food. My appetite has gone way up though with more carbs. To be really satisfied after a meal, I need to put down a good 700-1000 calories a meal. The small 400 – 500 calories meals just don’t do it. Even though my appetite has increased, my cravings for “cheat” style food has gone way down. I used to really look forward to the weekend to put down some cheat food, but not really anymore. I mean I still look forward to it, but it feels like any other day in terms of food.

Weekly Routine: (workout)

  • Sunday (last) – Cardio Only – 5 miles
  • Monday – Chest/Tris
  • Tuesday – Back/Bis
  • Wednesday – Shoulders
  • Thursday – Chest/Tris
  • Friday – Back/Bis
  • Saturday (today)- Depletion workout

Still benching around 190lbs (touching chest to full lockout) for about Repsx8 7 6. Chins are 30lbs (full range of motion) reps x 8, 6, 5. Had to switch to DB shoulders for 55lbs for reps x 8, 7, 6.

Weekly Routine (diet)

  • Oatmeal 2-3 packs (made with Cashew milk), 1/2 tbsp peanut butter, 1/3 scoop protein powder, coffee
  • Popchips (whole bag 5 servings)
  • Quest bar
  • Dinner – Varies, but a large balanced meal. I noticed the more balanced this meal is the more satisfying from a mental and physical standpoint.
  • Dessert – Banana ice cream or Protein Pudding

Average Calories 2400 / Carbs 300g (fiber 40g) / Protein 140g / Fat 70g

My weight is around 182lbs at the moment. It spiked to 185lbs after a big cardio and big eating day. It then dropped to 180lbs after a lighter eating day on Monday.

Journal Entry 256

Another week of grinding. I have really been bumping up the carbs in my diet recently. I’ve noticed a lack of hunger way more often and the feel of being truly satisfied after eating. Really nice feeling. Workouts have been good as well. Strength is still slowly increasing, although I feel like my muscular endurance could be better. After my 4th – 5th set of a compound move, I’m basically done at that point. I can hammer out some light reps with an iso move, but it still feels pretty tough at that point.

Weekly Split:

  • Chest / Tris
  • Back / Bis
  • Shoulders
  • Chest / Tris
  • Rest
  • Rest
  • Back / Bis

Cardio was done on 4 days a week. Got the runners high every single time too. I’ve started to mix in an incline walk after a couple of miles or so just to mix it up. I’ll probably add back in some cardio every day again, though. Really feel mentally sharp at work, when I do this.

Had a high weigh in of 185lbs this morning. Been hovering around 180-182lbs, but I had a lot of food yesterday, easily exceeding 3000 calories. Since my focus is building muscle, I really don’t care that much. I still look just as lean as I usually do. 😉

Journal Entry 247 – Thanksgiving Aftermath

Average Weight –

  • Last Week – 180lbs
  • This Week – 176lbs

Routine this Week:

  • Sunday – 50 minutes of cardio / high rep lifting
  • Monday – 45 minutes of cardio
  • Tuesday – 30 minutes of cardio / Back and Biceps
  • Wednesday – 35 minutes of cardio
  • Thursday – 30 minutes of cardio / Shoulders and Traps
  • Friday – 20 minutes of cardio / Arms
  • Saturday (Today) – 30 minutes of cardio / high rep lifting

Average Nutrition –

  • Last Week – 2600 Calories / Protein 140g / Carbs 300g / Fat 85g / Fiber 40g
  • This Week – 1952 Calories / Protein 150g / Carbs 225g / Fat 63g / Fiber 52g

I missed last week’s post due to Thanksgiving and lots of travel. I went to North Carolina on Wednesday, down to South Carolina on Thursday and then back to North Carolina on Friday. We stayed most of the day Saturday and returned to Virginia Saturday night. I had a lot of errands and football watching to do on Sunday, so I didn’t have much time to post.

The eating was a straight up feast though for 4 days last weekend. Saturday was by far my lowest calorie day. Wednesday through Friday was full of all kinds of junk. Cheese dips, crackers, taco dip, apple crisp, deep fried turkey, stuffing, and countless desserts. The average nutrition I posted below was a simple estimate. It was most likely far worse.;)

This week I really wanted to clear some bloat and water weight, which I more or less did. 4lbs of scale weight, but I also look way better than last week. I ran at least 3 miles every day, except for yesterday. The only reason is because I went Christmas shopping and had a ton of walking already and hit the gym late, so I just felt like doing one mile. The reason I didn’t have a chest day this week was because I hit it on Saturday of the previous week.

I haven’t been going to the “real” gym expect for a couple days a week. I have mainly been using Sarah’s apartment gym in the mornings out of convenience. For shoulders and arms this is very doable, but chest and back workouts can get very limited in this gym. I may just start driving to Gold’s early so I can get some better lifts in again.

At the moment I have been doing a bro split with one muscle group a day. The main reason for this is because I want to run 3 miles a day and this is the only way I can squeeze a lifting session into a 30-minute block of time to keep the workout at a total of one hour. I have been reducing rest periods and lifting quicker. I always lift after I run due to personal preference. I haven’t been feeling the super heavy weights and greatly prefer the volume of 8-12 reps right now. The great thing about this range is you need way less down-time between sets and can move fast. I’m usually drenched after my workout and after I take a shower feel like a million dollars.

Journal Entry 241

So this week has been the most consistent in awhile in terms of hitting workouts. I got in 20-30 minutes of cardio everyday at least. I run at 6 mph so I hit one mile every 10 minutes. Sounds slow, but I get a really good sweat going and this pace feels very comfortable for me. I don’t really breath heavy anymore after I’m done with this run, but its not supposed to be overly exhausting since I still have to lift. The goal is to get the benefits of cardio, enjoy the blood flow and warm-up the body for lifting.

My workouts last week have been structured with cardio first (highly preferable to cardio after) then I lift for 30 minutes after. My split last week was Chest, Back, Biceps, Shoulders (raise) and the second day was Legs, Shoulders (press), Triceps, Abs. I alternated these days for a total of 6 lifting days with 3 for each group of muscles. Reps for the beginning of the week were at 12-15 for 4 sets, the second workout was 4 sets of 8-10 reps and the third was 4 sets of 6-8 reps. I like the heavier workouts on the weekend because I have more time since they take longer. I really liked this way of traning  though since muscles got hit so frequently. I also strongly considered doing a bro split with only one muscle group a day after cardio. My reps for this would have been 4 sets of 6 reps on the first move, 4 sets of 10 reps on the second and 4 reps of 15 on the last which would have been isolation. The main reason I didn’t do this was because 4 sets of 6 reps everyday would likely lead to burnout for me. So I only put two of those heavy days in my current split. I also like the idea of hitting muscles more frequently.

My diet was once again very disorganized this week. Not on purpose to be honest, but I’m trying to adjust my diet to my new training volume. Protein and veggies just aint going to cut it anymore. My body lets me know this because after a meal that used to satisfy me, it just dont seem to satisfy me anymore. I need more fuel. I also sweat a lot now as well, so that increases salt needs as well. Sometimes my protein gets a little too high in my opinion. I have been reaching for protein bars at work because my meals leave me hungry, especially at night and that’s the only thing worth eating that’s around. I dont want to eat 2-3 protein bars a day though. In my opinion, the reason I’m doing that is just a lack of quality food leaving my hungry. So my plan is to eat less protein and increase my starch intake. That or just to eat more food at each meal and less bars. It would be far cheaper and more realistic to eat starches though, because eating too much meat I feel could is kind of waste and gets really expensive. Also 4-5oz of meat satisfies me just fine. I dont need 10oz to feel satisfied and the rest feels like overkill.

I have been eating oatmeal at breakfast before the gym because protein pudding just isn’t enough to hold me over. I will likely save the protein pudding for after dinner. Lunch and dinner are eaten around 3pm and 8pm will likely need to get a least a serving of rice or starch added to it. Rice is by far the easiest starch to make and mix into meals, but I do like potatoes (especially made into fries). The only problem with rice with me is its not my favorite tasting carb. Sometimes it tastes awesome, but other times insanely bland and I wish it wasn’t even in my meal haha. Sometimes when I get lazy (which has been a lot here recently) I will just make protein and vegetables and grab some of those firehook crackers to eat with it. It may not be the healthiest choice, but I do enjoy bread. Especially as roll eaten on the side far more than other carbs, so I may have to throw these in as well. Also as much as I love vegetables, sometimes I feel like they overpower my meals and they just dont have enough calories to fuel me anymore. When I was lifting 3 days a week with walking on the other 4 days, my old diet seemed to work just fine, but the calorie burn and intensity of training 7 days a week doesn’t work too well on that intake.

Calories have been around 2100 this week with 230 carbs (50 fiber), 172 protein and 57g of fat. Other than that, strength is about on the same level, but I have noticed an increased amount of vascularity in my muscles. Especially in my arms and shoulders. I think this has a lot to with cardio. Also been looking up a lot of advice from Alex Viada. Pretty inspiring guy. I myself have placed an emphasis on becoming more fit then I have ever been in the past, which is why my routine is so much more balanced now than in the past.

Journal Entry 240 – Remotivated

After watching some old documentaries of old school bodybuilding and reading some more simply shredded IFBB pro model workouts, I have become remotivated to pursue more bodybuilder style of workouts. I noticed a few things all these guys have in common and that is high volume (sometimes very high), moderate weight (heavy enough to stimulate muscle growth but not so heavy that your CNS gets wrecked after every workout), daily workouts with a couple of rest days and pretty high calorie and high protein diets. These are common points though. Almost everyone had a different workout, exercises, diet, but these points held true.

I have in the past few months been almost lost in deciding what I want to do, mainly because I’m just not enjoying lifting the way I have been anymore. I have rediscovered a love for cardio and I have decided that 20 minutes before every lifting workout is probably a good idea. It’s just long enough to get the benefits without becoming bored and worn out for the workout. During my lifting session I easily walk another mile just by walking around the gym lifting. On my two rest days each week I plan to either do a 30 minutes or longer run or just walk. I want to start getting results again though from a muscle growth standpoint. I don’t think that strength is enough, because it has been my main focus for a while and I have looked about the same. Higher volume is different than what I have done in the past and I think its what I need to bust out of my rut.

My diet has been roughly 1800-2600 calories a day. I eat based on hunger and what I feel like I need. Very balanced overall in terms of macros. These workouts are pretty demanding and I don’t want to underdo it in terms of food. Also my diet recently has been nothing special. I eat a lot of food I enjoy, but I wouldn’t say its organized and probably wont get that way. I just eat based on what I feel like I need and its been working so far. I will say I have been craving protein bars big time recently. Maybe a craving for more fat, but I feel I could eat 2-3 a day at least.

I have been around 170lbs consistently and my waist size (paint size has dipped under 32 inches.) I have been losing fat, but not weight and I can easily tell this by the way my clothes fit. Good feeling though because at 6ft – 6ft 1 inches tall I really dont want to go below 170lbs, but I would like to keep dropping fat.

As for my strength goals I plan to leave one heavy set of bench and one heavy set of squats and that is it. The rest is going to be 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps on everything. Strength is not my priority at the moment but pumping and feeling each muscle is. Anecdotal evidence shows it seems to work better.

Journal Entry 236 – Busy Week

Next week is my final week of training at work and I will move back to my old schedule soon. I will likely only be here for a month before returning to the 9-6 schedule but unfortunately going to have to transition back once again to a different schedule. My workout split will stay the same though.

Last week I was able to squat 250lbs for 6 reps and then 225lbs for 9 8 6 reps. Bench press was 200lbs for 4 reps and then 185lbs for 8 6 reps. Bench is slowly going up, but still slower than I would like. I actually went to the gym Wednesday morning instead of after work and it was empty for the most part. Since I only go one day a week I may have to make this a routine thing once my schedule changes back.

I may have to reduce the volume from 4 sets to 3 sets on my main moves though. Leg day destroyed me to be honest and on paper it was not a whole lot of volume but was very intense. Also from Sunday to Tuesday afternoon this week, I feel like I had chronic fatigue syndrome. I have no clue why. Nothing really changed, except a high calorie day with a decent amount of alcohol on Saturday night. But it almost didn’t make sense how bad I felt. I was also holding extra water of around 5-8lbs and weighing in at 177lbs. Not sure what the problem was, but it quickly dropped back down to 172lbs where it stands now.

Diet this week was 180 grams of carbs 160 grams of protein and 45 grams of fat; Calories were around 1890 calories. Pretty status quo to be honest haha.