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 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.

 

Journal Entry 255 – Grinding

Pretty basic week in terms of nutrition and exercise. I did zero cardio in the mornings and lifted every day during lunch. Strength marginally increased most days. There is one small change I want to make to my current routine, but other than that I have been really enjoying it. I still may add a few more cardio days in the routine, but for now I’m just keeping it to the weekend. I also have a stiff neck, which I think I may have tweaked on shrugs, but not sure. It’s really annoying though and affected my lifts on Friday.

Current Routine:

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

I want to make Thursday a rest / cardio day and Saturday a back/bis day. I feel like I need the extra rest between Shoulders and Chest.

Current diet is basically:

  • Meal 1 – Coffee and Protein Pudding
  • Lift
  • Meal 2 – Bag of Popchips and a Quest Bar
  • Meal 3 – Chipotle, Panda Express, Kickback Jacks (Basically whatever)
  • Meal 4 – Protein Brownie (protein pudding with baking powder and nuked for 30 seconds)

Overall pretty consistent and now I’m just more or less grinding. 😉

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 253 – The Big Move

Last weekend from about Friday at 3 PM to Sunday 5 PM, Sarah and I moved into a new apartment. If it was just my belongings we would have been done in about half a day ;). But we decided to use the majority of Sarah’s stuff and she had a lot of things that she wanted to bring. I’m very much a minimalist, but not to an extreme. I like to eliminate things or belongings that I feel provide no value to my life. If I feel like something is just in the way, I either give it away or trash it. I convinced Sarah to part with some of her things before we moved. We gave A LOT away to Goodwill and threw away a lot of crap. Nevertheless, it still took the whole weekend to move, but it was worth it. The new place looks very good and has a huge kitchen and bathroom. We got a really good deal on rent and for the area we live in, it doesn’t get much better than what we got.

Luckily after all the chaos that comes with moving and after basically living in two places for the last 6 months, I can finally get some consistency back in my routine. I want this to be a big year for me in terms of progress. My focus will be on lean gaining and really upping my strength and size. I also plan on doing cardio at least 3-4 times a week just stay in shape.

My split will have 2 chest/tri days, 2 back/bi days, 1 shoulders/traps day and 2 days of cardio and some abs. These will likely be longer cardio days. Most days I keep cardio around 30 minutes or so in the morning. My strength has really been going up consistently at the moment and I’m really seeing some size gain improvement all over my upper body. My weight has increased to 182lbs, but I have really increased carbs a lot, so a lot of it is glycogen weight. I have also seen a nice muscular increase in my core. My bodyfat has not decreased, but it’s more or less stationary at the moment.

Diet has been really inconsistent, though, especially last week. Not that it really matters though, because it’s been working for me. My goal at the moment is just to keep protein adequate around 120-200 grams, carbs pretty high at least 200 grams and fat more or less as tag along food of whatever I decide to eat. A prototypical balanced diet. Nothing exciting, but working for me.

 

Journal Entry 252 – 5:2 Diet Revisited

I’m at a much different point in my life that I was in 3 years ago when I started this blog. The idea of tracking every calories, carb, protein and fat gram no longer appeals to me. Neither does turning down every bad cheat food offered to me that I can’t track or doesn’t fit into my rigid meal pattern. I still want to get results and stay lean, but I want to do so in a much different way than I have done in the past. After a pretty chaotic eating pattern the past year, I still want some type of organization that won’t impede my lifestyle and also help me fit my goals. After trying to figure this out, I have basically narrowed it down to one eating style … the 5:2 diet.

The 5:2 diet is pretty damn simple. 5 days eat your normal diet (for me anywhere between 2000-3000 calories depending on the day) and  2 days a week take in under 800 calories on non-consecutive days. These days don’t sound like fun, but after drawing up a meal plan I think it’s going to be incredibly easy. The best way to handle these low calorie days is to basically eat nothing, but vegetables or low sugar fruits. Doing these on a work day also helps a lot since your busy working all day and not sitting around, thinking about food. I plan on doing these days Monday and Thursday. These two days appear right before and after the weekend. It is much easier to eat lower calorie right after a big day of eating. They are non-consecutive and will be cardio only days.

The meal plan will look something like this:

  • Meal 1 – Berry Smoothie with Cashew Milk and Greens Powder
  • Meal 2 – 2 bags of raw veggies for lunch (maybe some low cal ranch on the side)
  • Meal 3 – Vegetable Stirfry (massive pile of non-starchy vegetables)
  • Meal 4 – Berry Smoothie

This chimes in at around 6-800 calories. I will also drink any zero calorie beverage I want on these days, like coffee with light cream and diet coke.

I also made this into a vegetable day instead of PSMF day, because I honestly think it is easier to cut calories using vegetables than eating nothing but lean meat. This day also acts as a detox day from all macros including protein. I have spoken about protein fasting in the past, but have recently ditched it. I honestly think though it does have merit and may even help my body respond more favorably to protein when I do eat it. I like the idea of a vegetable only day for health reasons, especially now that my diet isn’t as healthy as it used to be.

The other 5 days are easy. There is no food restriction or food rules. I simply eat whatever I want as part of my normal diet. The idea isn’t to overeat on these days or feel like your dieting at all. The diet is done on two days a week and then it is over. This way of eating has also been proven to be way more effective at ongoing and maintaining fat loss than traditional dieting or food rules/restrictions because these plans are not sustainable and eventually suck. Even if you are on a diet for 5 years, which is a very long time for most, once you break that diet and start eating a normal balanced diet again with normal calories the weight will return. 5 years is still short term when compared to a lifespan of a human being.

I have also moved my training schedule around this plan. I will lift weights 3 sets of 6-8 reps here recently on just about everything, on all days I eat normally. I also may do some optional morning cardio on those days and simply eat whatever I want, making sure to eat enough. On the diet days, I will only do cardio and no lifting. The goal is to keep my intake under 800 calories and resume normal eating the next day.

Simple and effective. I have also done this to help Sarah lose some stubborn pounds. She is not fat by any means but would like to drop a few pounds. She also feels like she has to be in constant diet mode to see any results, but it’s really not working at the moment. I think this plan will be what she needs to relax on her diet and still get really good results.

 

Journal Entry 251 -Weekly Update

Weekly Update

A big snow storm last weekend canceled my trip to Chicago. We tried to rebook the flights 4 times, but all of them were canceled. I watched the airport website periodically through the day to see what time the flights started to take off and it wasn’t til about 7:30 PM before the first flight left from Richmond. Although, even if the flights didn’t get canceled, I still wouldn’t have been able to get to the airport. The Giants ended up getting destroyed by the Packers so I really didn’t miss much. I also didn’t have to freeze to death in Wisconsin as I watched my favorite team’s season came to abrupt end. So there was some positive to the whole situation.

I ended up spending the weekend with Sarah snowed in. We didn’t go anywhere all weekend, except the gym, which we can walk to her from her apartment. I just ended up doing some cardio. Considering we couldn’t really go get food, we basically cooked all of our meals. I think it’s the most cooking we have done in a long time. I didn’t mind at all being snowed in. It was relaxing to just to stay in and not go anywhere. Especially with my favorite person ;).

Workouts

I did a leg workout for the first time in a long last week. My legs hurt so bad I could barely walk down the steps. Going on a decline hurt worse than going on an incline. I also had a hardtime even standing up from the couch. I was somehow able to do cardio pretty easily though and the cardio actually helped to recover my legs quicker than complete rest.

This week my setup was the same as the previous 3 weeks, but I missed my leg day on Wednesday this week. Sarah and I had to go sign an application for a new apartment, which we will be moving into in a couple of weeks. Really can’t wait for that. I decided to skip leg day though after that brutal aftermath of my last one.

My setup this week was:

  • Monday – Chest / Tris
  • Tuesday – Back / Bis
  • Wednesday – Cardio (Morning)
  • Thursday – Push (Shoulder focus)
  • Friday – Pull
  • Saturday – Cardio / Abs
  • Sunday – Cardio

Strength was good most days, although a couple of workouts I felt gassed out very quick. I have only done cardio 3 days a week too.

Next week I plan on doing 2-3 miles cardio every morning (30 minutes max) and then lifting at lunch. I want to work on increasing my speed (MPH) when running, so I think I’m going to cap it to a 2 mile run and just slowly increase speed each day.

Nutrition

Still been taking the moderation approach. Calories still in the 2000-2500 calorie range. Protein has been lower recently at around 120-140grams. I used to average in the 180-200gram range. Carbs have been in the moderate range of 150-250grams. Fat is usually around 50-70 grams, but usually in the mid 60’s. Nothing has really been off limits. Panda Express and Chipotle are probably my two new favorite places to eat.

Journal Entry 250 – Holiday Break

My first post in almost 3 weeks due to the Holidays. I’m also going to Chicago this weekend and then driving to the Packers vs Giants game on Sunday for the playoffs. My brother is a Packers fan and I’m a Giants fan, so the game should be very interesting. I have a feeling it will be very close. The temperature should be about 5 degrees, so I can’t wait for that. (sarcasm)

These past few weeks have featured a LOT of overeating on all kinds of crappy food. I’m almost glad the hectic holiday season is over, so I can get back on track and ditch some of the excess weight I have accumulated. I have what I consider to be a very good plan going forward and it’s the most organized I have been in terms of routine in about a year. I really wanted to create something that was basic and very simple in terms of programming.

My plan is as follows:

  • Monday – Chest/ Tri
  • Tuesday – Back/ Bi
  • Wednesday – Shoulders/Traps – AM Cardio
  • Thursday – Legs/Abs
  • Friday – Arms
  • Saturday – Cardio – Abs
  • Sunday – Cardio –  Abs

This is the basic layout. I will lift every weekday on my lunch break. I have been doing this for 2 weeks and really enjoying it. I drive to the gym and change (10 minutes), lift for 40 minutes then change and head back to work (10 minutes) and get done easily in an hour. By lifting with only two muscles I can easily finish in 40 minutes. I also do no cardio before to minimize sweating, so that I do not need a shower. I do not want to get rid of all cardio though and plan to do it 3 times a week for at least 30 minutes. During the week I plan to do it once on Wednesday in the morning and 2 times over the weekend, when I’m resting from lifting weights. I’m really looking forward to this setup and I honestly plan on keeping it for the entire year. And yes it’s a Bro split, but many use these with great success contrary to new research saying it’s very ineffective. Anecdotal evidence shows otherwise.

My goal this year is very simple; keep getting stronger with key lifts and keep my routine simple and consistent. I want to gain muscle and keep fat gains low consistently throughout the year.

As for nutrition, I plan to monitor gym performance and go from there. I do plan on eating less protein this year, because I think I always overdo it, but other than that my diet will be very balanced overall and not excessively high or low in calories. It will also include a lot of vegetables.

I also plan on maintaining consistent supplementation this year:

  • 3g of fish oil per day
  • 5000IU Vitamin D
  • 5g Creatine Monohydrate
  • Animal joint supplement (as needed)

 

Journal Entry 249 – New Plan

Average Weight:

177lbs

Average Nutrition:

2100 Calories / Protein 163g / Carbs 233g / Fiber 45g / Fat 65g

Blog:

My plan worked. I did nothing, but run this week and made sure to kept it between 30-40 minutes max. I actually had the urge to lift by Wednesday, but that’s when I realized I haven’t lifted in over a week. My last lifting day was Tuesday of last week, which means it has been 11 days of no lifting.

The goal of restoring my urge to lift has succeeded though. I stumbled on an article I read in the past called Grow Like a New Lift Again by Greg Nuckols. The article presents reasons why you can and should periodize your training to include a good week to a month off training every 6-10 weeks. You should then follow this with a month of heavy volume for each body part (bro split) and then a month of high frequency (full body) training. This not only provides variation but also prevents burnout (which I have experienced recently).

The whole thing looks like this:

  • Layoff
    • 12 days to a month
  • Bro Split
    • Week 1: 3 sets of 5-12 reps and 3-4 exercises per body part. The frequency for each muscle is done once a week.
    • Week 2: Same but do 4 sets of 5-12 reps for each exercise
    • Week 3: Same but do 5 sets of 5-12 reps for each exercise 
      • The Idea is to increase in intensity each week.
    • Week 4: Deload. Use the same exercises and layout, but do higher reps and light weights.
  • High Frequency Traning
    • Week 1: Hit muscles/movements 3 times a week at least
    • Week 2: Same, but increase intensity 
    • Week 3: Same, but increase intensity
    • Week 4: Deload
  • Repeat 

As for the nutrition for this program, he really only stated to be in a calorie surplus during the lifting phase. This means a small deficit during the layoffs and deloads would be a good idea to balance out the fat gains. So if the layoffs lasted 2 weeks the whole cycle would be 10 weeks. 4 weeks in a deficit and 6 weeks in a surplus.

I can see myself doing this. I tend to get very bored doing the same routine over and over and this provides a very simple template to structure training in a way that can provide ongoing gains and variety. I will probably start this at the beginning of next year.

I’m also 99% sure that I will cancel my Gold’s Gym membership and join Crunch Fitness. This is a new gym in my area and they are all new. It’s also very close to where I will live next year and what you get for the money (only $25 a month) is well worth it.

Journal Entry 247 – Thanksgiving Aftermath

Average Weight –

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

Routine this Week:

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

Average Nutrition –

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

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

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

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

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

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