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Journal Entry 283 – Bench and Chins

Workout:

My strength is starting to go up after I made an important change on my rep range. Recently, I was trying to get 8 reps for 3 sets before moving up in weight. This was largely to keep form very good and not letting sloppy form take over when the weight was too heavy. I decided to drop the range to 3 sets of 6 reps to break a plateau and the difference has been dramatic. I’m already up 10lbs on the bench and 5lbs on Chins. The first time I benched 205lbs with 3 sets of 6 reps, I thought I had the wrong weight on the bar it felt so easy.  My workout is as follows:

  • Push (Day 1 / Day 2)
  • BB Bench Press 3 sets of 6 reps
  • DB INC Press 3 sets of 8 reps / Dips 3 sets of Max reps
  • Lateral Raises 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Flys 3 sets of 10 reps / Skull Crushers 3 sets of 10 reps

 

  • Pull (Both Days)
  • Chinups 3 sets of 6 reps
  • Preachers 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Face Pulls 3 sets of 10 reps
  • DB Curl 3 sets of 10 reps

I found this way of working out to be the best for my current schedule. I can easily complete this on my break from work. The first move takes the longest, but the last two are a breeze and I superset them. It’s also very easy to tweak certain things to keep strength going up.

I have also added in Cardio 2-3 days a week and I swear I feel like it made me stronger in my lifts. (At least last week)

Diet:

My weight is right around 185lbs right now. It fluctuates between 182-187lbs. I think I may have found a connection between processed sugar and my psoriasis flaring. Not necessarily carbs, but processed sugar. It was the same feeling I had when I had my Bachelor Party. I’ve been reducing, so my carbs are at more of a moderate range and I have increased fat and protein a little bit. Recently I have been eating Sardines, which are very good. They may stink, but they are nutritional powerhouses and have a really nice texture. I may try to cut out the excessive green vegetables and stick to more simple meals as well.

Life:

Last weekend Sarah had her bachelorette party. She was gone for 4 days, but I missed her a lot! While she was gone, I actually took off early on Saturday and went to the Wine Festival in Powhatan. It was actually pretty good.

Giants finally won a game last night. They actually played really well on defense. Offense still looked pretty inconsistent, but they scored a modest 13 points against a really good defense with a ton of injuries. So it could have been MUCH worse.

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Journal Entry 282 – The End of Elite XT / Less Meat

Life:

I have used the same protein powder as my main source for probably around 5-6 years at this point. The changed the formula again that apparently is “new and improved.” Not even close. They completely changed the texture of the protein and now it basically looks and tastes like the cheap whey protein you can find at Walmart. It tastes way worse, has less protein, more carbs, and the BCAA profile is worse. It has also risen in price to $40 for 4lbs. It used to be $32 for 4.4 lbs and that was back when it actually tasted good. What a shame. 😦

I have recently switched to Cytosport 100% Whey Protein from Costco. Six pounds of protein for $39. That’s $0.50 a serving and about as good as it’s going to get for a high-quality protein powder. It doesn’t mix thick like Elite XT USED to mix, but it still tastes very good. Casein can also give a lot of digestive upset when consumed too frequently, so since this is 100% whey it avoids this.

I have been eating way less meat recently, so I really think it’s important to find a high-quality protein powder. After doing more research into factory farming and its dramatic impact on the planet, I really have found myself eating close to a vegetarian diet with very small amounts of meat. I don’t even think eating meat is a bad thing if you are hunting in the wild for fresh game. But this is far different from factory farming, where animals are seen as food and not animals. Unfortunately, if you buy meat at a grocery store or restaurant, then you are eating factory farming. I still eat some meat, but it is drastically reduced from where it used to be. Not to sound like a hippy, but I wonder how much better the planet would be doing if all livestock farming ended. Almost get to the point where if you want meat, you need to go out and hunt for it.

Workout:

I have decided to change up my workout to something entirely different than what I have done in the past, but still allow me enough to complete my workouts on my lunch break. I really want to increase my volume for size, but I also don’t want to burn out or spend hours in the gym. I have designed a workout where I mainly focus on one move a day and do lots of volume for that one move. I plan to do roughly 10 sets of each move each day for about 8 reps.

An example for Bench Press would be to warmup, then start with a weight I can get for about 8 reps. If this feels heavy, I take off weight and then get 8 reps with the new weight. I continue this pattern until I have done 10 sets. I did this on Saturday and got down to 155lbs on the 10th set. My arms were shaking afterward. I also seem to be able to get away with eating a lot more food training this way.

I also plan on doing at least 100 pushups every day (spread throughout the day) in addition to the one move of the day in the gym.

  • Sunday – Pushups only
  • Monday – Chinups 10 sets
  • Tuesday – Dips of Inc Press 10 sets plus pushups
  • Wednesday – Chinups mixed grips 10 sets plus pushups
  • Thursday – Bench Press 10 sets plus pushups
  • Friday – Chinups or Rows 10 sets plus pushups
  • Saturday – Bench Press 10 sets plus pushups

Diet:

As I have alluded to above, I’m eating much less meat than before. Protein is still adequate, but since I’m eating very quality whey protein, I need way less protein than you would think. The higher the quality the less you need overall. My carbs are pretty high, which is at least double the protein. Fat is always at a moderate level. I have been eating a ton of fruits and vegetables recently and make those the bulk of my diet.

 

 

 

 

Journal Entry 269 – Heavy / Light Day

Another week in the books and strength is still going up. I’m down to about 179lbs of scale weight and feeling leaner than previous weeks. I decided to add in a light day for both push and pull workouts to replace one of the heavy workouts. I’m doing less cardio than in previous weeks at maybe 3 times a week. Sarah and I have also started playing tennis on the weekends, so while not formal cardio, it still counts, especially when it’s hot out. Diet has been around 2100 calories a day with Protein at 145 grams / Carbs 250 grams / Fat 65 grams.

Diet has been around 2100 calories a day with Protein at 145 grams / Carbs 250 grams / Fat 65 grams. My energy and well being is much better with more carbs and fats in my diet without adding in super high amounts of protein. I also noticed I really don’t eat a ton of meat anymore. I have a pretty good sized serving once a day and that is about it. A lot of my protein comes from protein powder, vegetables, and protein bars. Not saying that I have been actively trying to cut meat out of my diet, it’s just that I have unconsciously reduced it.

As for my workout, I moved some things around:

  • PUSH – HEAVY
    • BB BENCH PRESS – 3 sets of 6-8 reps
    • INC PRESS MACHINE – 3 sets of 12 reps
    • DIPS – 3 sets by Max
  • PULL – LIGHT
    • CHINUPS – 3 sets of 6-8 reps 1 set with bodyweight
    • LAT PRAYERS 4 sets of 12 reps
    • SEATED INC CURLS – 4 sets of 12 reps
  • SHOULDERS/ABS DAY
    • DB LATERALS – 3 sets of 12 reps
    • REAR DELT MACHINE – 3 sets of 12 reps
    • CABLE PULLS – 3 sets of 12 reps
    • MACHINE CRUNCH – 3 sets of 12 reps
    • CABLE CRUNCH – 3 sets of 12 reps
  • PUSH – LIGHT
    • DB INC BENCH – 3 sets of 12 reps
    • CABLE FLYS – 3 sets of 12 reps
    • EZ SKULLCRUSHERS – 3 sets of 12 reps
  • PULL – LIGHT
    • TBAR ROWS – 4 sets of 12 reps
    • LAT PULLDOWN (VARIOUS GRIPS) – 4 sets of 12 reps
    • DB CURLS – 4 sets of 12 reps
  • WEEKEND
    • TENNIS, CARDIO OR LIGHT CALISTHENICS

Other than that Sarah and I are going to a company party this weekend. My company reserved Brown’s Island in Richmond for 4 hours and provided us a hotel to stay in downtown. Also, food and drinks are free. I think it should be a good time and my company is awesome. Probably go downtown after it ends, which is like a 2-minute walk from where we are. Should be a late night, but a really good time.

Journal Entry 266 – Strength Plateau / Carbs / Random …

This marks my 5th week at my current split. Last week started horribly in terms of lifting. Everything felt heavy as h@ll and I didn’t even want to go to the gym. I tried to go lower carb last week with higher fats and let’s just say that didn’t work out too well. Towards the end of the week, my strength was much better, but that is mainly because I started to slam carbs again. Also, the pork rinds experiment was kind of a fail, because they taste horrible. 😦

So, I decided to start eating carbs every meal and increased my calories. My weight has been a rock at 181lbs. I’ve eaten around 2400 calories every day this week with well over 200 grams of carbs a day. Fat has also been higher at about 70 grams and protein has been between 120-145 grams. I really want to start throwing up some heavier weight though. I’m tired of getting stuck on the same weights and the only way I see this is going to happen it to keeping bumping up my calories and carbs til I find every day in the gym see’s some type of progressive overload. I honestly think it is possible to see this if you are eating enough.

I have noticed some interesting benefits recently though. I can put down a serious amount of food and wake up looking pretty good. I used to diet super “clean” all the time and every time I had a cheat meal with too much “carbs, fats and sodium” I would look like bloated mess for maybe up to 2-3 days. And then I would then go back to the low-calorie diet and the cycle would repeat. I can only attribute this to higher testosterone. Carbs and fats increase testosterone and protein decreases it in a dose-dependent fashion. I like protein, but there really is no benefits to overeating it, when all you likely need is more carbs.

Random Reading:

https://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=157454583

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/gain-35lbs-in-6-weeks-naturally

If those aren’t interesting reads, then I don’t know what is. 😉 My goal in the not too distant future is to bench 225x 8 reps for 3 sets. I really want to hit this as soon as possible. Also, ran into an old friend yesterday who is probably 200lbs and under 10% bodyfat. He was one arm shoulder pressing 80lb dumbbells and benching 380lbs. Yeah holy sh!t. Made me feel like a weakling. I need to step my game up. 🙂

Journal Entry 264 – Challenge Week 1

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. 😉

Workout Summary:

  • 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

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 258 – Grind Update

Another week in the books. Very similar to last week in terms of diet and nutrition.

Weekly Routine:

  • Sunday – Cardio Only 4 miles
  • Monday – Chest and Tris
  • Tuesday – Morning Cardio / Back and Bis
  • Wednesday – Shoulders
  • Thursday – Morning Cardio / Chest and Tris (PR hit)
  • Friday – Back and Bis
  • Saturday – CaOnly ONly – 5 miles

I hit a PR on Thursday with Bench at 190lbs for 8, 7, 7 reps. This estimates my one rep max at 240lbs. Not bad. Chinups have increased to 35lbs between my feet for roughly 5 reps a set. Shoulder press is about 120lbs for around 8, 6, 6 reps.

Diet has been very similar to last week as well. More or less 5 days a week it looks like this:

  • Oatmeal with PB
  • Popchips
  • Protein bar of some sort
  • Varies Daily
  • Protein Pudding

There is no huge focus on protein in this diet. Mainly more of a focus on carbs. Fats are always incidental, but adequate. This is by no means a low-fat diet.

Average Weight is around 182lbs.