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 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 254 – PC issues, Madden and Diet Update

This week I have done zero cardio in the mornings. I was having a lot of computer issues and had to do a system restore and then do a ton of updates, which I did when I got home from work and the morning before I left for work. I somehow picked up a virus that attacked my drivers. This disabled my external mouse, trackpad and displays. It also prevented me from doing updates, so I had to restore the whole system back to factory settings. This wiped out ALL files. Luckily I backed up all my files a couple of weeks ago, so I lost nothing. I took the time to organize all of my files on the external hard drive and now my computer is running better than ever. I put all the files on my computer into 4 different folders. Pretty organized looking. 😉

So, the PC trouble was a pain, but ultimately it turned out drastically boosting my computers performance. I also bought Madden 16 for the Ps3 for the first time in 5 years. Fun game, but I remember why I stopped buying it; it’s the exact same game with the exact same playbooks and plays as Madden 12! Buying that game every year is a complete waste of money. All you really need is to download the rosters and load them in the game. Problem solved. Also, Michael Vick is still WAY too good in that game. I like the man because he’s a Hokie, but unfairly good. I was playing on a low difficulty setting though.

As for training this week, I did zero running this week. I lifted every day during my lunch break and have been steadily increasing my strength. My split:

  • Chest/Tris
  • Back/Bis
  • Shoulders/Traps
  • Chest/Tris
  • Back/Bis

Both the chest and back workouts were exactly the same except for a couple of moves. The most important factor of each workout is getting bench press stronger and chinups stronger. Right now I’m benching 190lbs for 8,6,5 reps. This is also going all the way down to my chest. For back/bis, I do chinups with 25lbs between my feet for my around 3 sets of 6 reps. I’ve been feeling these very good, so I should go beyond that this week. I plan on doing my cardio on back to back days this weekend, along with some abs.

Diet has actually been consistent this week, at least in the early part of the day. Really been enjoying it too. I’ve also been eating way more carbs and less protein. Fat is more or less always the same, between 55-70 grams.

  • Coffee – 7:30AM – 11:00AM
  • Meal 1 – 11:00 AM-  2 packets of oatmeal with berries and small scoop of protein powder
  • Workout from 2-3PM
  • Meal 2 – 3:00PM- Bag of Popchips with a Quest Bar
  • Meal 3- 7:00PM – Varies daily – Always a big meal though
  • Meal 4 – 10:00PM – Protein Pudding with Peanut Butter

Carbs between 200-300 grams, Protein 100-120grams, Fat 55-70 grams. Calories between 2000-2200 during the week. Usually much more on Saturday and Sunday.

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 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 235 – Sticking with Full Body and New Breakfast

I decided to stick with the full body approach vs the split routine. I did cardio on Sunday, Monday and Wednesday. On Tuesday I did Full Body and I have done Full Body on Thursday, Friday and will finish on Saturday. I actually organized my workouts this week into a template that I really like. It’s fatiguing, but avoids super heavy weights in order to prevent neural (CNS) fatigue. I read a very interesting article (based on hypertrophy) that was talking about how you can overdo strength training and all your really doing is making your self super fatigued from stressing out the nervous system, while the muscles can actually handle way more volume. The way around this is to avoid heavy weights. Since I have the tendency to overdo it, I decided to stick with 10 reps to stay away from those heavier weights. I have been pretty sore, but it feels awesome to train this way.

My setup looks like this:

  • Push Move – 5 sets of 10 reps (one of the below)
    • BB Bench, INC DB Bench, BB Shoulder Press
  • Pull Move – 5 sets of 10 reps (one of the below)
    • TBar Rows, DB Rows, Chinups
  • Legs Move – 5 sets of 10 reps (one of the below)
    • BB Squats, Leg Press, Lunges
  • Upper Shoulders – 5 sets of 10 reps (one of the below)
    • Lateral Raise, Rear Delt Raise, Shrugs
  • Fluff – 3 sets of 12- 20 reps (pure pump) (one exercise for each)
    • Biceps
    • Triceps
    • Abs

This routine has a lot of volume, but due to the reps being lighter and staying the hell away from heavy weights, its actually very fun to do. My midweek workout was all on machines which was alright, but I do like using free weights for at least 2 of the 3 main moves. Hard to tell, but I usually do free weights with 2 out of the 3 main movements and a lighter move for the third. For example, if I did INC DB Bench for Push and DB Rows for Pull then I did a lighter leg press move so I don’t overwork myself.

I do 3 of those in a row during my weekend and one during the week. I think going above 4 days may lead to some burn out. I do some big eating after these workouts to compensate. One thing I don’t do though is overdo it on carbs. I really don’t think you need to stuff yourself with excess carbs to recover and grow. I do think you need some but just balance it out with the rest of your diet. I think I’m done with the whole “refeed” like crazy after your workouts. I just eat the same all the time, which is just straight balanced. Also I have heard the more you do Keto, have a history of low calorie diets or your genes are subpar, then you are far more efficient with glucose than others. Meaning I may not need nearly as much as other people. Anecdotally I have noticed this. Yet protein seems to be an endless fuel for me and I feel fantastic after eating higher protein meals. So instead of leaving protein the same or even lowering it on a bulk like many people do. I plan on raising it, while still keeping moderate carbs and fat in my diet. Just they way I like to do it ;).

New go to breakfast though which almost always ends up being my preworkout meal. Two 100 calorie packets of oatmeal (roughly 30 carbs) cooked in 1 cup of water for 1-2 mins in microwave. Mix in 1 scoop of protein powder after cooked and top with berries. This mean has like 350 calories and literally is like rocket fuel for the gym. Its also very volumetric and if you get the cooking down, it tastes  like cake. I also noticed after eating this and hitting the gym I’m literally full for like 7 hours after eating it. Pretty amazing to be honest. I then usually feast at night on protein and veggies and have a big protein type dessert.

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.