Journal Entry 270 – Short One

Another week in the books.  I had a really good time at the company party but was pretty out of it on Sunday. I also spent a large part of the weekend getting maintenance done on my SUV. What started as a tire alignment and oil change, ended as a new battery and 4 new tires. Still only cost around $600 total for what I had done to it. Not bad at all and I don’t have to worry about those things for awhile. Three of my tires were absolutes garbage. If I had hit a sheet of ice, I would have gone sliding because there was zero tread on my tires. I also learned a useful tip about AWD cars and that is that all four tires need to be the exact same tire or the alignment gets really thrown off. Getting air in your tires every month will also help prolong the life of your tires as well as tire rotations every oil change.

Nothing special in terms of working out this week. Cardio was done a couple times during the week and I played tennis on the weekend. All lifts were about the same this week, expect I was able to bump up DB INC PRESS to 70lbs for 3 sets of 12 reps instead of the 65’s I was using earlier. I also gassed out fast on BB BENCH PRESS and on my third set I got a whopping 3 reps. This was also on Monday, so I was still recovering from the weekend. Diet this week was around 2300 calories on average. Carbs 270 grams / Protein 140 grams / Fat 70 grams.

Journal Entry 269 – Heavy / Light Day

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

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

As for my workout, I moved some things around:

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

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

Journal Entry 267 – Protein

Last week was way better in terms of working out. I finally felt strong again and got back to where I was before that weird performance decrease took place. I have done cardio everyday this week, except for Wednesday.

For dieting this week, I have changed my breakfast back to protein pudding instead of oatmeal. I usually drink a decent amount of caffeine in the morning before my workouts and have increased the size of protein pudding to about 40grams worth. I actually think this has made a tremendous difference in terms of working out. I really feel stronger with this breakfast vs doing the exact same thing with oatmeal. I think the carbs preworkout may not be the best thing for me, so I will just eat them later in the day.

It kind of got me thinking though, about my protein intake. It has been on the lower side recently and I wonder if I should bring it back up to a gram per pound at least. I know all the science of protein and it does seems to be on the firing block here recently, but it does have tremendous benefits that can’t be ignored. Especially in terms of body composition, even blood sugar levels, taste, volume of food at meals, very high TEF, and never being stored as fat. A Recent study has found that people were able to lose more body fat and build muscle by jacking up their protein intake to 1.5 grams per pound vs .8

A Recent study has found that people on a very high protein intake were able to lose more body fat and build the same amount of muscle by jacking up their protein intake to 1.5 grams per pound vs eating .8 grams while also eating 500 more calories a day. While it may be true that you only need .8 grams per pound to build muscle, that says nothing about burning fat at the same time. Also, the other two macros are way more likely to be stored as fat, especially in a surplus, so take what you hear with a grain of salt.

 

Journal Entry 265 – Challenge Update / Pork Rinds

I missed my post last week because Sarah and I went to Greensboro NC so that we could visit her family. We also had to pick out some wedding cake and get a few things straight. I missed my training signup at Gold’s last Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. That means I’m already 4 points down just from missing signing up. I’ve been monitoring the signup names and there is only one other person that has been as consistent as me in signing up. He did miss yesterday though. So I can still win as long as he drops zero weight and I can manipulate the scale by at least 5 pounds. Monday morning I will get up and clock 5 miles or so, just to sweat out a bunch of weight. I will then eat a super light breakfast and probably go the gym early so that I can weigh in before really eating much of anything.

 

I’ve been doing some more reading on the benefits of glycine. Which if taken regularly can have TREMENDOUS benefits: Dr. Axe – Glycine Benefits and Valtsus Blogspot. Turns out pork rinds are one of the best sources of this critical amino acid. For optimal benefits, you want to have 10-13 grams a day. Pork rinds have 12 grams per 3.5oz. They also have zero carbs, 5 grams of fat with a mix of mono and saturated fat and 7 grams of protein per serving of 1/2 an ounce. A perfect food for a higher fat and lower carb diet. It also has decent sodium, which is really important on lower carb diets to prevent flushing electrolytes out of your system and really feeling like crap. The only thing about the protein is it does not have essential amino acids in it. This isn’t a huge deal though, because this protein spares the essential protein and taking in more of this protein and less “essential amino acids” has been shown to have better anabolic potential anyway. Glycine is also extremely anti-inflammatory and if there are negatives to eating a bunch of muscle meat, glycine seems to balance this out. Something tells me switching to pork rinds over popchips for lunch may have some interesting benefits. 😉

My workout split is still exactly the same and the goal is just to keep increasing in strength.

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 263 – Push/Pull & Gym Weigh In

On Monday of this week, I went to the gym and did a weigh in and body fat test for an upcoming company gym challenge. My stats were 187lbs (Midday, fully clothed including shoes) and 14% body fat. My weigh in that morning on my scale was 185lbs. I wanted to weigh in on Monday because my weight always peaks on Monday’s after always eating big on the weekends. I dropped down to 179lbs within 3 days of weighing in and I definitely will go low carb and high protein right before the final weigh in just to get some extra points from losing weight. You get 1 point for every pound you lose and 1 point for every time you go to the gym. You also get points for better body composition, but since changes like that take way longer than 21 days, chasing after that would be a bad idea. The winner gets 1-year free gym membership. The body fat they tested was not the most accurate instrument. I asked the trainer how accurate it was and he said 3% error and usually measures high. I agreed with this as I feel I’m around 12-13% at the moment.

The last time I did one of these tests I was 166lbs at 10% body fat. Although this was a bod pod test. Meaning I had roughly 150lbs of lean body mass at the time. This time I was around 185lbs and let’s say 13% body fat. This means I know have 161 lbs of lean body mass. Which means I gained roughly 10-12lbs of lean body mass and 6-8lbs of fat. Not terrible, but not great either. Looking at photos of these times, though I can see a tremendous difference. A much bigger difference than these stats represent:

My diet was a bit lower in carbs this week and damn did I feel it in the gym. My last pull workout this Friday was really bad. I dropped reps on every exercise and I only did 4 exercises. I carbed up with some pizza to make up for it. Other than that last workout I really enjoyed the 4 day split this week and found myself over eager to hit the gym on my rest days, which is a good thing. I’m still playing around with the exercises, but think I have really figured out the ones I want to do. Now it’s just a matter of grinding.

For this 21 day challenge, I plan to bump up my carbs pretty high during the beginning 2 weeks and keep protein high as well. Fat will be more or less normal 50-70 grams. The final week I will cut down on carbs just to drop water for the weigh in.

Journal Entry 262 – Shoulder Strain / Organizing My Plan

The routine I wrote about last week is no bueno. My left shoulder into my chest has a slight pain when I start benching now and I’m not sure exactly what it is, but common sense tells me that if I continue to keep on with it, it will be an injury waiting to happen. After really taking a hard look at my routine, I really started to question where the rationale came from. Sometimes I get ideas that I think would work well and in reality, tfall flat very quickly. After going back to the drawing board, I’m going to do a 4 day push / pull workout loosely based on Lyle McDonald’s (the man) hypertrophy workout. This looks really good on paper and also allows me much more rest time.

The one thing I really didn’t like about the workout I made was repeating the same workouts that often. Talk about boring. Again this is something I should have seen coming but didn’t. I was so focused on how to get as much benching as possible in my routine, it was as if logic flew out the window. Anyway, I have two push workout and two pull workouts and each will be slightly different. Shoulders will also be added back into the workout (direct shoulder movements).

My plan for cardio is to do 2 days on the weekend with some abs on either Saturday or Sunday. I will then probably to cardio only on Wednesday (rest day from lifting) and take Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday off. Lifting will be prioritized on these days.

I kind of delved back into some reading this week about various diets, splits, rest periods, weight fluctuations, etc… After getting a large headache from the contradictory information ;), I tended to see a few things I still agree with and think is very important to your success without these things taking over your life.

  • Progressive overload is far more important than how frequently you train, how many sets or volume you have in your workout, or what kind of split you have.
  • Protein has numerous benefits and can be increased to very high amounts without fat storage. People that gain fat easier can use this to your advantage when bulking, but it is not the only macro you should eat. Higher protein diets may have additional fat loss benefits when recomping.
  • Carbs are highly individual and may or may not be hugely necessary for the diet. All sources are broken down to the same end product (sugar) and most people get better results with moderate amounts (compared to either very low or very high) especially in the long term.
  • Fat – some is good, more is probably not better.
  • Bulking is highly unnecessary and so is cutting for that matter. Eat enough (varies drastically) to progressively overload your muscles and you will gain muscle and may even lose fat if your calories and training are adequate.
  • Lyle McDonald is the man. He has really interesting podcasts and basically knows everything. Every time I found myself listening too much to the opinion of others, I usually return back to him.
  • Protein synthesis varies based on training status (Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced). For intermediates, protein synthesis is heightened for 24 hours and slowly returns to baseline after 48 hours. Structuring training to ride these waves is very important for progression.
  • I think undereating (mainly referring to PSMF) on rest days is a pretty dumb strategy. I never liked it and never worked for me. I think consistent eating no matter what day it is very beneficial for progress. I think PSMF style days can be very effective, but mainly if they are used after a day or two of overeating. So it is more or less used for balancing things out.
  • Personally, I noticed that starting and ending my day with a high protein, but lower calorie meal is a very good strategy. It’s very good for energy purposes, staying lean, decreasing hunger and feeling good in the gym. Once I have these two bedrocks in place, lunch and dinner become highly variable. I also like eating at least one high-quality protein bar (almost always a Quest Bar) during the day. This gets me 3 protein servings of very high-quality protein and then I don’t have to stress too much about getting a ton of protein at lunch and dinner.
    • If I had to pick an ideal eating strategy for myself based on current research, it would be to regularly eat not intermittent fast, by eating a high protein breakfast (300 calories), a small lunch (4-500 calories), a large dinner (600-1000 calories) and a high protein dessert (150-200 calories).

Journal Entry 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 259

Weekly Routine:

  • Sunday – Cardio 60 minutes
  • Monday – Chest
  • Tuesday – Back/Bis
  • Wednesday – Shoulders / Traps
  • Thursday – Chest/Tris
  • Friday – Back/ Bis

Added a few reps to my bench press and I’m getting very close to the 200lb mark for 3 sets of 6-8 reps. Shoulder press was stationary and chin-ups I was able to gain a couple of reps. I played around with some rep schemes on my accessory exercises, but I think I found one of my all time favorite chest workouts.

  • Chest or Chest and Tris
  • Barbell Bench 3 sets of 6-8 reps
  • Dumbbell Incline Bench 3 sets of 8 reps
  • Dips (weighted) 3 sets of 8 reps
  • Flys or Skullcrushers 3 sets of 10 reps

Always get a massive pump after a day like this even though the reps are on the heavier side. The tension from the sets feels incredible. Not too heavy and not too light. Sometimes by dropping the weight too light, I feel like I’m moving the weight, but not really getting much of a pump. I also feel like I can gas out pretty quick even with the lighter weight.

Diet has been more or less the same. Calories fluctuate between 2000-2500 calories a day and I really have not been emphasizing protein in the least. If anything I have been emphasizing carbs. Some days my protein has fallen below 100 grams and has not even remotely affected my strength levels. I have been drinking a lot of caffeine during the day at work, but has really always been high in my diet.

My weight is still hovering around the low 180’s at the moment.

 

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.