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 261 – Fullbody Again

Workout:

  • 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

Diet

  • Protein Pudding or Oatmeal
  • Popchips
  • Quest Bar
  • 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.

Workout A

  • BB bench press 3×6-8 reps
  • Tbar Rows 3×10-12 reps
  • Close grip chin-ups 3xmax
  • Ez skulls 3×10-12

Workout B

  • Chinups 3×6-8 reps
  • Inc DB Press 3×10-12 reps
  • Dips 3xmax
  • 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.

Journal Entry 238 – Post Wedding / Bro Split

I was at a wedding in South Carolina last weekend and didn’t get a chance to blog. It was an awesome time and the wedding was really fun. I got to experience southern hospitality at its finest. I also ate a lot of food and most of it was junk haha. They actually passed out happy meals as parting gifts after the wedding. I ate my burger and left the fries which were pretty soggy at that point. I “roughly” threw my calories in myFitnesspal and I got about 3000 calories each day I was there. This included decent amounts of alcohol though as well. What’s funny is I got back and didn’t feel super bloated or guilty at all. I’ve been eating more food overall recently then I have in the past, so I attribute this to a faster metabolism.

If I had to guess my body fat is probably around 12-13% at the moment. I have noticed some interesting effects though visually. My muscles are bigger than they have been before, so even though I’m at a higher body fat, I look better visually. Especially my chest, shoulders, upper back and abs. This could be do to just a  higher testosterone level. A girlfriend, more carbs and fats and a higher calorie diet explains this well. I will say my lifting every day experiment may be coming to an end. The main reason is because my lifts are actually down strength wise and I don’t want to let that happen. I’m mainly talking about the 6-8 rep range, but still. I did bench press and could only manage 185x 6,6,4. That’s not very good. This was after a weekend of partying, but my DB rows were also down. I think I need more rest time.

I was also talking to Sarah’s (my girlfriend) uncle and the man is “jacked city”. He had at least 16-17in arms and said this was the smallest he’s been in a long time. He basically said he’s done a 4 day bodybuilder split with one muscle group a day most of his time lifting. At the moment he’s doing two a days, but that’s because he has time. He built most of his size on a 4 day split. It was funny though because I was talking to him at the rehearsal dinner and the wedding and noticed he wasn’t eating much of anything. He was drinking beer but not eating. Then when we got home he had a massive meal of Chickfila nuggets the first night and a huge bowl of chicken and rice the next night. I think he likes doing an  intermittent fasting style of eating.

I decided to modify my routine to get back on this style of lifting. I want to get my strength back up as well as my size. I have written out some plans of what I want to do and I think I have my lifting split down:

  • Chest/Tris
    • Only one move for Tris
  • Back/Bis
    • Only one move for Bis
  • Shoulders/Traps
  • Arms
  • Cardio or Off the other 3 days; Also do 1 mile cardio on each lifting day

As for diet I plan to eat a modified warrior diet style everyday expect Saturday. Saturday I eat at much as I want when I want. The other days though will be two scoops of protein powder with berries during the day and some beef jerky or Costco canned chicken at work. This is roughly 600 calories or so. I may thrown in a Quest bar as well for a grand total of 800 calories. This allows me to hit most of my protein for the day and a huge dinner full of carbs and fat. Not only does this work from a lifestyle standpoint is works well from an enjoyment, appetite control and food prep (or non food prep) standpoint as well. This big meal could be anything I want, either homemade or eaten out. I actually did this this week and had a big Chipotle bowl with all the toppings (Rice, chicken, double beans, veggies, salsa, corn, lettuce and sour cream) twice and a medium pizza from dominoes. Last night I had 4 slices of Mellow Mushroom medium pizza with light ranch and a Guinness. 😉

I wouldn’t exactly call it intermittent fasting, but pretty close. The enjoyment of that last meal sure makes it feel that way though. I will admit though, around 5-7 o clock I start to fantasize about food a little bit and my hunger starts to kick in big time. Luckily I eat soon anyway so it doesn’t really matter. Also I really don’t have a calorie goal each day either. If I had to estimate its probably in the 2000-2500 calorie range everyday with 1-2 days of being closer to 3000. At the moment I really dont care what it is. As long as progress is being made, I’m enjoying the meal plan and getting results.

 

 

Journal Entry 237

I missed my post last week due to vacation at the beach. I also have a wedding to go to in South Carolina next week so will unfortunately miss that post as well. But this week should be fine. 😉

I didn’t workout at all from Friday – Sunday last weekend. On last Thursday I did 30 minutes of cardio and the same on Monday. By Tuesday it had been 5 days since my last lifting session and not going to lie, felt a little stiff in the gym. My workout was fine after I got warmed up, but nothing special. The rest of this week I have done 3 upperbody workouts in a row and will continue this though the weekend. I have also done much less cardio this week. I would say a max of 15 minutes a day of pure running. This isn’t intentional, but for some reason haven’t been getting in the zone like in the past few weeks, so I figured I would just put more into lifting.

I have also been losing a lot of weight this week. I weighed in at 168lbs this morning and dropped 4lbs between Wednesday night and Thursday morning. My body usually doesn’t do that. If anything my workout volume has been less than it was. Nutrition has been about the same, expect I have been eating more carbs as of late. I was starting to get very high in protein intake to the point where I knew it was just too much. I’m talking easily hitting over 220 grams a day. So I dropped it down to about 120 grams mainly by cutting meat and eating more starch, beans (hummus) and vegetables. Also more rice cakes and ice cream to be honest. As a result my body has dropped weight. If I had to wager probably some inflammation from all the excess protein.Kind of fun though eating this way. I actually cut out most of my meat and mainly focused on dairy proteins from powder and protein bars. With all the protein in the other foods I eat, I easily hit 120 grams. Which according to Menno’s protein article, .64 grams per pound was more than enough protein even under extreme workout conditions. I dropped protein mainly based on feel though. If I feel like I need to eat more protein I will, but sometimes I think I greatly overdo it and need other macros to replace it.

Journal Entry 236 – Upper Body Gains

Another good week in training:

  • Sunday – 4 mile run
  • Monday – 5 mile run
  • Tuesday – 2 mile run and machine weights (upper body 3 sets of 10 reps) 1 mile walk
  • Wednesday – Same as Tuesday
  • Thursday – 2 mile run and Upperbody free weights (3 sets of 10 reps)
  • Friday – 3 mile run and Upperbody Free Weights (3 sets of 10 reps)
  • Saturday – 2-3 mile run and upper body free weights (3 sets of 10 reps)

Been focusing mainly on upper body, while saving my legs for running. I can’t stand when my legs are so sore that walking becomes difficult. In my opinion, big legs don’t look good anyway, so I don’t see the point in doing super heavy and high volume days with legs. My upper body has been responding nicely though. I think the reduced workload on the legs besides running has helped my upperbody progress a lot. I have mainly been focused on rep goals again and sticking with 3 sets of 10 reps, while hitting the upper body 5 days a week.

Rep goal means once you hit at least 30 reps with a certain weight, you then increase the weight used. So if I hit 34 reps (70lbs x 12,11,10 – total reps 34) with 70lb dumbbells on a flat bench press, I then increase to 75lbs and stay with that weight until I get at least 30 reps. This is good for size and strength and still focuses on progressive overload. I’m still steering away from heavy weights though. 10 reps feels good and I want to keep it around that. Also on the first set of each exercise I try to get as many reps as I can. So instead of stopping at 10 reps like a traditional 3×10 workout, I just go as many as I can get. I got this from Menno Henselmans and recently worked it back into my routine.

Diet has been high protein, moderate carb and low to moderate fat just like in other weeks. One day I ended up hitting close to 250 grams of protein. A little too much but whatever. I feel really good in the gym and my size seems to be improving without fat gain. If I had to estimate, calories are around the 2200-2400 calorie range for the week. Appetite is still very strong. I was thinking of doing an epic cheat day soon, because some days I feel like a bottomless pit, but I may let that day find me instead of planning it for a certain day. I honestly think with the work I’ve been doing recently, it would provide some favorable effects for me.

My weight is holding steady around 171-173lbs on average.

Journal Entry 244 -Running On

Another week of a relatively sporadic exercise schedule in terms of organization, but consistent in terms of hitting something everyday. I lifted about 4 days this week and ran the other three.

Cardio has become sort of a sanctuary for me recently. I can be completely alone, zoned out, decrease my anxiety, increase energy and positivity and it takes a whopping 10-30 minutes a day to achieve this. It has become almost a sort of meditation for me. I love it.  I plan to keep in at least 3 dedicated cardio only days in my plan. When I say “alone” my gym as become sort of overcrowded here recently and sometimes its hard to hit the “zone” when you have so many people in the way. When I go running I’m the only one on the treadmill, so I can hit this meditation without fail. I would like to hit a 3 day split so I can have at least 4 cardio days.

I am on the fence between two routines at the moment. One is a 3 day full body setup. The other is a 4 day split routine. I have noticed heavy lifting too many days in a row saps me of energy. Which is why I will either to 3 days of every other day lifting (strongly leaning towards this) or a 2 on 1 off 1 on 1 off type approach. That way a rest day (or cardio only day) will be inserted in between heavy lifting sessions. The 4 day routine will be a basic bodybuilder split of chest/tri, back/bis, legs/abs, shoulders/arms. The 3 day full body workout will have 4 moves a major push, pull, legs and a compound – isolation move at the end:

  • Example – (each day is different in terms of exercises but the same in terms of layout)
  • Trapbar Deadlift – Legs
  • DB Inc Press – Push
  • Chinups – Pull
  • Dips – Compound Isolation
  • 4 x 8 reps with a single weight. If  30-32 reps are achieved increase weight next workout.
  • Easy enough. Always a big fan of simplicity.

On lifting days, I will do 10 minutes of running and the other days will be 30-60 minutes of straight cardio at 6 mph on a treadmill. May not sound like fun, but I have come to love it.

Diet wise has been roughly 2300 calories a day. Roughly 200 carbs / 200 protein and 50 fat and some alcohol :). This is a very loose estimate as well. Probably was a bit higher than this to be honest.

Journal Entry 243

Another week in the books. My weight was a little lower this week around 170lbs or so. My running was around 10 minutes a day and I decided to add a heavy move to the beginning of each day. I have had the urge to skip lifting some days and just go for a walk/run outside because its so nice out, but didn’t do that once this week.

I did go pretty heavy this week for and aimed for around 4-6 reps on the first move and 6-8 on the rest. My triceps were extremely sore all week, but everything else seemed fine. I do prefer sticking to a slightly higher rep range than 4-6, but I have really big urges to lift heavy someday’s so I just try to work it in. I do like the full body approach, especially with a big push, pull move each workout. I do not do legs everyday with running. It would wreck me unless the legs move was super light. I do hit a lot of shoulders though. They seem to be fine with the volume.

My diet philosophy here recently is basically just eat high protein, keep fat around 50-60 grams tops and carbs go up and down. Calories are eaten based on hunger, but as long as I stay around these macros I really dont care what I hit. When you train 7 days a week for at least 45 minutes and are active during the other points in your day, then diet basically just becomes making sure your eating enough. I seem to be able to eat much more so in the past, mainly due to the increased volume of my workouts. I have been enjoying some more oatmeal in the mornings, bananas for snacks (always seem to give me very good energy), still eating my fair share of protein bars ;), and eating big meals at night. I do snack a lot at work on jerky and popchips.

Nothing fancy this week though. I do have a company party today, which will have a lot of food and alcohol, but like I said, just going to get my training in and not really worry about it too much.

Journal Entry 242 – Making Gains

So this week has probably been my favorite in terms of working out. I run 10-20 minutes a day, which is down from 20-30 minutes but still really enjoying the cardio. After I then lift with upper-body every single day. My workout comes in right around 45 minutes to an hour and I feel awesome after and usually have a really good sweat going.

I have been sticking to 3 sets of 8-12 reps on pretty much everything. I find this to be a sweet spot of not being too heavy to strain the CNS or make you overly sore, but heavy enough to stimulate a pump and muscle growth. I noticed IFBB pros will do a very high volume for each muscle once a week. What is funny is if you look at their average volume then it almost always equates to doing 3 sets of 8-12 reps each day for  6-7 days of week. I would much rather distribute the volume in this fashion vs doing 7 exercises for 21 sets of chest in a single day and being brutally sore after. Protein synthesis is much better with the full body approach for naturals anyway.

I think I struck the jackpot with this approach though. I have been playing around with my workouts for awhile and I can say I honestly enjoyed this week of training far more than anything else I have done recently. My leanness has gone up, I’m way more vascular than before and my shoulders are starting to popout and gain size. It’s also very enjoyable to hit the gym everyday. My appetite has also gone way up. Sometimes I feel like my stomach is a bottomless pit for fuel. I went to bed after work one night and noticed I had this tired/wired feeling going followed by really intense anxiety. This was around 1:30am. Quickly thereafter some ravenous hunger pangs. I got up and fixed some oatmeal. It alleviated my symptoms almost immediately. I realized it had been a very busy day at work and I hadn’t eaten since about 8:30-9pm that night. As soon as I laid down to relax, the stress hormones went away and boom here comes the appetite haha. My calories have been in the 22-2400 range this week, but sometimes that doesnt even feel like enough. Good sign though because my metabolism is obviously going up and my gym work and muscles seem to be sucking most it up. As I ever said before meals that use to fill me up feel like snacks now.

 

 

Calories roughly 22-2400 this week. Carbs around 220 grams / Protein 190 grams / Fat 55 grams approximately. Still relied on a lot of bars this week, but a more organized meal planning schedule is on the way. At least during the week ;). Also my weight is roughly 172lbs on average.

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.