Journal Entry 245 – Morning Workouts

This marks the third week of my push/pull split. I have been making slow and steady gains in strength across the board on all exercises. The minimalist nature of it allows me to put full effort into all of my exercises. My push workouts are hands down my favorite of all time. I have reduced my first move from 4 work sets to 3 work sets and kept the second move at 4 sets. I considered the DB incline press the main muscle builder and wanted to allow a little more energy for that. Although, the barbell bench is still of prime importance to me. I also plan on switching chin-ups with DB rows, so heavy chin-ups will be my main move and DB rows will be my main accessory. DB rows remind me more of a DB incline press and I don’t think going too heavy feels all that good or effective. Chin-ups are easier to add weight as well, by just putting weight between your feet or wearing a weight belt. I also changed shrugs and cable rows out for T-bar rows and standing lat preachers. Biceps are still the same. If I have time at the end of the pull workout (or any energy left for that matter) I will add in shrugs one day and rear delts on the other.

I will admit though these workouts as simple as they look can be very draining. I even bonked out at the end of my push workout yesterday doing DB skullcrushers. Meaning I couldn’t even lift the 20’s for reps haha. I have also been running at least a mile before each session. I missed one day of working because I stayed up to watch the election, but it was just a cardio day, so it wasn’t a huge deal.

My diet has averaged 2500 calories this week with 287g Carbs / 77g Fat / 172g Protein. These are shear estimations with lots of potential error factored in. The way I have been eating recently has been pretty relaxed. My main focus is body recomposition with mainly muscle gain. What this means is my goal is to gain muscle, but if I notice I start getting fat then I will scale back a couple of days to drop some fat and water and then resume normal eating. Pretty effective way to eat. I have noticed though I have lacked control over my appetite at times. For example, put any dip such as cream cheese / hummus / salsa / sour cream and I will devour it in seconds with no regard. Especially hummus. I’m not sure what my deal is with that stuff, but I have zero self-control when it is around. Pizza is the same way and recently sweets have been going down in similar fashion. I can think my girlfriend Sarah for some of these issues ;). Don’t really mind at the moment though. Muscle gains occur mainly through eating enough food, so as long as I get my 4 lifting days spread throughout the week then I’m sure a large percentage is going to muscle.

Journal Entry 240 – Low Protein Challenge

I have been playing around with my diet this week in that I have been purposely eating more carbs and fat and way less protein. I’m trying to keep protein between 110 grams and 140 grams on the high end. I have honestly been shooting for the low end by literally just not eating lean meat. This is very difficult for me due to the way I’m wired, but somewhat fun nevertheless. Carbs have been much higher and I’m trying to keep fat at about 50% of protein intake. So between 60-70 grams. Carbs make up the rest of my diet after protein and fat has been met. Calories have been around 2500 calories this week. Still weighing in around the 170-174lbs.

I noticed that I have been suffering from “protein guilt” a lot of the time. Which simply means that if I don’t eat a high protein meal or a meal with out SOME protein in it, then I have guilt about the meal. This week has been somewhat different and I noticed without even worrying about eating enough protein, I usually get enough in. Basically trying to sub out chicken for fattier chicken or egg whites for whole eggs. Using more starches and cheese to make hitting this easier. I’m not going to lie I haven’t really noticed a lot of benefit from doing so as of yet. It definitely puts more food back on the menu though, which is nice. A lot of the bloating issues I used to get from too many carbs and calories are starting to go away though. Especially from cheat days. It used to take me 2-3 days to clear  that bloat at least. Now I can wake up the next day and look fine. My volume in the gym is pretty high though. I have been adding in A LOT of pullups and pushups everyday. Also I should mention that usually when I go to be with 200+ grams of protein I have a bloated stomach. Lowering it down to this level I have noticed this has gone away.

I hit my chest day on Tuesday and it was horrible. I felt extremely weak in the gym, even with ample amounts of protein. This is why I decided to start this experiment. Fat tends to get too low in my diet and I feel like I was just way to unbalanced with the excessive amount of protein. It didn’t seem to helping too much either. So I wanted to bump up the fat and lower the protein. Obviously need to keep carbs and sodium high though for gym performance. The rest of my week has been really good though in terms of strength in the gym.

So a few simple changes I have made is to replace one of my protein bars (which are expensive anyway) with a Poptart. Poptart is mainly carbs and a little fat. Another change is instead of jerky at lunch, I take a bag of rice cakes or popchips for about 400 calories. This is mainly carbs and a little fat. Dinner is highly variable, but is almost always my biggest meal of the day with a lot of carbs, fats and protein. A lot of my daily protein comes from this meal. Because I’m not trying to go low protein, just cut it down to where it needs to be. Although eating this amount to me feels like super low protein. 😉

Downed about 3000 calories yesterday due to a trip to Mellow Mushroom. Protein actually got high up to 180 grams which is the highest its been since I started the challenge. Not too worried about it though. Mellow Mushroom is hands down my favorite restaurant at the moment. Carbs were around 280grams and fat got up 100grams.

Going to try and keeping working some “funner” foods into my diet for the following week. Only requirement to keep eating this much is to just to exercise for an hour a day. As long as I do that, weight gain doesnt seem to be an issue. 🙂

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 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 239 -Cardio Time

This past week I have been doing cardio for 30 mins a day at least and have really enjoyed the benefits. In the past I have typically stayed away from all forms of cardio except walking because I just didnt see the point. My diet was has been much cleaner in the past than it is now, but currently my diet is still good, but not what it used to be. I want to be able to eat more food and eat more relaxed without it negatively impacting my physique. So if you can’t control calories as easily through diet, the only other method is to do more work in the gym. Since lifting is very beneficial, but doing it too often leads to burnout, boredom and f*ckarounditis, the only solution is cardio.

Cardio has been a very welcome surprise though. It takes way less time than lifting, you can do it anywhere, if you feel bloated running gets rid of the feeling almost instantly, allows me to eat more food without getting fat, actually increased my strength levels (eating more and burning more calories), has improved my relationship with certain foods, increased my energy levels, sleep has improved and also decreased my anxiety I get from time to time. I love the sweat you get only with cardio as well as it makes a huge visual impact on your definition all over your body.

My squats felt amazing this week and got 255×6 and then 235×8 8 reps. Bench was 200lbs for 5 reps and 190x 8 7. I’m going to get back into the heavier lifting with a minimalist style template. I plan on doing 3 days a week but may do 4. As long as I can get in 30 minutes of cardio a day I’m happy. Not going to lie though I have been very disorganized in terms of what I’ve been doing recently. Thing is though my strength has been going up so its not all bad.

Certain things I always seem to like doing though is to workout everyday, lift heavy (5-8 reps seems to be what suits me best), eat a lot of food while getting results. If I can put all those variables together and get results then I’m happy. I should also mention that I have been doing 50-100 pullups everyday for the past month and have really enjoyed those as well.

Diet has been around 2100 calories with protein and carbs around 180 grams more or less and fats around 50-60 grams. Scale weight is right around 170lbs.

New Routine for lifting:

A – Thursday

BB Bench 3×5-7 reps

DB Rows 3×5-7 reps

DB Lateral Raise 3×8-10 reps

DB Curl 3×5-7 reps

Planks / stretch / hip ex

 

B – Friday

BB Squats

INC DB Bench

Rear Delts 3×8-10

Skullcrusher 3×5-7 reps

Planks / stretch / hip ex

 

C – Monday or Tuesday

INC BB Bench 3×5-7 reps

BB Rows 3×5-7 reps with shrugs

DB Lateral Raise 3×8-10 reps

EZ bar curl 3×5-7 reps

Planks / stretch / hip ex

 

D – Optional – Monday or Tuesday

Trap Bar Deadlift

DB Press

Rear Delts 3×8-10 reps

Dips 3×5-7 reps

Planks / stretch / hip ex

 

Every Day 30 mins of cardio (3 miles)  minimum

50-100 chinups

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.

Journal Entry 231 – Spreading It Out

My schedule at work is still in flux so trying to arrange my split is still difficult. I really don’t like going to the gym after work because of the sheer volume of people that all work out then. It makes doing certain exercises that you’re trying to get done very difficult. But after playing around with my split, I can see one of two new setups looking very good.

Split 1:

  • Sunday – Off
  • Mon- Push – BB Shoulder main move
  • Tues- Legs – BB Squats
  • Wed-Off
  • Thurs- Push – BB Bench
  • Fri- Pull – DB Rows
  • Sat – Off

Split 2

  • Sunday – Off
  • Mon- Off
  • Tues- Push
  • Wed-Off
  • Thurs- Pull
  • Fri- Push
  • Sat – Legs

I like them both a lot. It allows at least one lifting day during the week to help spread things out. I also really like 2 push days and still have a main focus on my four key movements. I would enjoy split 1 the most, but again at the current moment going to the gym at that hour just becomes hugely frustrating. Either way I’m still really liking this setup. I considered doing fullbody this week, but after thinking about it, I’m really trying to stay consistent with my current workouts.

I will say though, every lift seems to be going up except bench press. Yesterday’s workout was terrible. I felt weak and dropped reps on the bench press. These workouts happen, but it only ever seems to happen on bench recently. I smoked squats last week and did 225lbs for 9 8 7 reps. DB rows and BB shoulder press also went up. I’ve just reached the mother of all plateaus on bench and don’t know how to get it moving again. My friend who is also into working out is stuck on 185lbs. He’s bigger in frame than I am, but we have always had similar builds and strength in terms of lifting weights.

My weight and calories were slightly higher this week at 1950 calories and 172lbs weight.  This morning was 171.4lbs, but still heavier than I would have liked. My fats are getting too low on certain days. Some days are around 35 grams and that’s just too low even if my average is 50 grams. I may bump that up and see if helps with strength any. I’m still a little disorganized in terms of nutrition and meal prep. Some days I’m on point but others not so much. Social obligations and time are big factors that are throwing me off, but these are excuses that can be overcome. The problem is every time I hit a groove something changes again haha.

This is the meal plan I plan on sticking to most of the time:

  • 2 scoops of Elite XT with berries and Peanut Butter
  • 1/2 bag of broccoli with two chicken burgers or one chicken burger and 3 whole eggs mixed into an omelete
  • 1 and 1/2 protein bars – Usually a quest bar and a pure protein bar
  • 1/2 bag of broccoli, cabbage or onion, 8-10oz of chicken thighs, teriyaki sauce
  • 1 scoop of protein powder or pb2 fit powder before bed (If Hungry)
  • * – Usually snack on hummus, egg whites and spinach if hungry

Chicken burgers from Costco or Sams are awesome. They taste amazing, have healthy ingredients and very easy to make for lunch. Mixing one with some eggs is a recipe I have heard about, but haven’t tried yet. Sounds awesome though. I also like having a stir-fry for dinner. Just really easy to make, tons of volume and they taste awesome. Chicken thighs have 40 more calories per 4oz then chicken breast, but have more fat and less protein. I want to bump fat up, so this is very easy way to do it without using oil, which I really dont like doing.

Journal Entry 229 -Weekly Update

This week I took 4 rest days off essentially of no exercise for 4 days in a row, Sunday – Wednesday. The only exercise I got was standing and walking at work. I also played some ping pong at breaks during work and that can actually boost up energy pretty good. The next 3 days (Thursday – Saturday) I will be doing a push, pull, legs and shoulders workout.

My workouts are relatively minimalist style at the moment, but the goal is not to do too much volume that I can recover from. The goal is strength gains with a moderate volume per workout. A big focus on compounds and some isolations thrown in at the end.

My diet is low calorie during the week of between 1200-1600 calories. These are somewhat based on recommendations from Menno in which he stated that rest days should be somewhat around this amount for favorable nutrient partitioning when the focus is on staying lean. Pretty easy to do when you eat the right foods. Also the key when eating this amount is to rest. If you want to do cardio or lift during the week then bump up the calories on that day by 3-500 calories. Same end effect. My protein has been around 120grams, but I plan on increase this and seeing if they have better effect since my calories are lower.

My diet during the 3 day stretch is roughly 1000 calories more than during the week. So since I’m lifting, I eat more. I typically eat the same foods as during the week (protein powder, leaner meats, fruits and vegetables) I just eat more of those foods. One meal or one day a week usually has some junkier food in it. These days feel awesome though. Feels like your feasting, as long as you eat the same foods you usually eat. If you eat junk then 2500 calories feels like a very small amount.

I picked up a couple of reps on my bench press, skull-crushers and lateral raises, but dropped some on my dumbbell incline bench. Got pretty pumped towards the end of it though. I plan on making DB rows my main back move. As long as I dont go super heavy, these feel very good for me. I like these much more than deadlifts and its easier to setup. Chinups will be next. I also plan not to deadlifts because I like squats better and deadlifting too close to squats will royally screw it up.

My weight has hit 168.4 lbs. This is a low weigh-in and the scale has been staying around this amount recently. My goal is to hit around 165lbs (consistently) while keeping or maintaining strength.

Journal Entry 228 – Ending F*ckarounditis

After Menno’s routine gave me a general distaste for lifting, this week was more or less a week off. I really didn’t know what the hell to do and my strength was going down on his routine. The week was also super busy at work and I didn’t have a whole lot of time to lift. Not sure how I stumbled upon it, but I reread the article F*ckarounditis and I’ve never been so happy to read an article. Hands down the best article ever written and it pulled me out of my funk. I mean seriously not only is it hilarious and simplifies everything you need to actually be concerned about.

I’m going back to simple progressive overload with a simple 3 day split. Zero cardio besides natural movement. My goal is to lift 3 days in a row over the weekend and nothing on weekdays. My split will likely be Chest/Tris, Back/Bis, Legs/Shoulders. This was my workout earlier today:

  • 10 minute run
  • BB Bench 3×4-6reps
  • INC DB Bench 3×6-8 reps
  • Dips 3xMAX
  • Lateral Raise 3×10 reps
  • Skullcrushers 3×10 reps

Moving back to rep goals which is always something I enjoyed. For example, if the exercise says 3×4-6 reps, you pick a weight that falls in that range and you don’t increase until you get 3 sets of 6 reps. Then bump the weight up by 5lbs. Progressive overload and strength is the main goal.

Diet wise I got some helpful tips from Menno and will adopt some of his advice here, but mainly using my own method. I plan to start simplifying my diet and eat more meat. Chicken thighs and red meat being at the top of the list. Also lots of broccoli, spinach and onions to mix with the meat. Also going to slather my food in garlic, which after doing some research is amazing for immunity and staying healthy.

Weekdays will be lower in calories and the weekends higher. This means Sunday – Wednesday will be mainly meat and veggies with under 120g carbs, moderate fat and high protein. I estimate roughly 1200-1600 calories and this is regardless of workout schedule. The weekend will be higher and the macros wont be nearly as important. It’s essentially a 4 day diet over the workweek and 3 days off to eat more and build muscle on the weekend. Since Lyle Mcdonald shows that within 3-4 days leptin tanks and various hormones start to go down and it also takes more than a day of refeeding to bring these hormones back up (probably closer to 2-3 days), I would say 4 low and 3 high would work pretty well for both fat loss and muscle gain. Especially since with my schedule I would be able to fit 3 workouts into the high calorie weekend phase and nothing into the low calorie phase. This makes the plan very organized in terms of nutrient partitioning and balance. Fat and carbs will vary greatly on the weekend. But pizza is definitely on the menu at least one day. So is alcohol ;). Calories will likely be around 2500 calories or so. I dont too much about macros, but I still dont think super high fat is a good idea. It just seems to be overkill at a certain point.

Also the reason I dont plan on doing any cardio besides a warmup before I lift (feel like it makes me stronger and I enjoy it) is because I stand all day for 10 hours. This might not jack up the step count on a fitbit, but compared to sitting all day it burns 3-400 more every day.

Favorite foods at the moment:

  • Chicken Thighs
  • Avocado
  • Red Meat
  • Broccoli
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Hummus – Roasted Garlic
  • Cheat food – Pizza – any kind