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. 😉
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
Plaza Azteca Chicken Salad
Cardio – averaged this each session
Burgers with veggies and bread
Chicken and Rice
Chicken, veggies, fries, hummus, toast
Panda – Orange chicken, chicken teriyaki, veggies
Kickback Jacks – Santa Fe Salad also had beer and cheese fries
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).
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.
Duke vs VT Game
Eggs with apple crisp and halo top (breakfast)
Halotop with candy corn, apple crsip and a cookie 😉
The Mill on Macarthur – meatloaf on toast and fish tacos
First week of the regular schedule. The first two days I went to the gym after work and hit the gym around 6:15. Monday wasn’t bad at all and I was shocked. Then I realized it was Halloween and lot of people were with their kids. Tuesday night came and it was PACKED. My workout was still good though because all I did was cardio that day anyway. On Wednesday, I had dinner plans at 730 PM so the gym wasn’t really an option because I had to shower after and I wouldn’t have time. So I got up at 645 AM and there was like 10 people in the entire gym. So I think I found the time I plan on going. My strength was fine early in the morning, but I did do some cardio to heat up my body temperature and loosen up the joints.
I plan the schedule to look like this:
Monday – Cardio
Tuesday – Push
Wednesday – Pull
Thursday – Cardio
Friday – Cardio
Saturday – Push
Sunday – Pull
As for my lifts, Barbell Bench is up to 195lbs already from 185lbs. I’m touching the bar all the way to my chest for better form and range of motion. I got 5, 5, 4, 4 reps with 195lbs last Push workout. Pull workout I got the 115lb Db’s for 5, 5, 4, 3. I dont remember ever breaking the 115lbs with this exercise so looking forward to the 120s.
Cardio is a steady state jog for 40-50 minutes. On days I know I’m going to eat a ton and those days happen to fall on non-lifting days, I will also throw in some high rep (20 reps) depletion work on the machines. I also do 10-15 minutes of running before each lifting day.
Diet is as follows:
Supplements before work with a can of spinach
Meal 1 – Coffee > Protein Pudding/ Berries >Lenny and Larry Cookie (small size)
(400 cals – 30 grams of protein)
Meal 2 – Bag of Rice Cakes or Pop Chips (usually change the flavors up)> Protein Bar
(550 calories and – 25 grams of protein)
Totals around 1000 calories and 55 grams of protein at this point
Meal 3 – Lifting Days
Pretty much anything I want for around 1000-1300 calories
Chipotle helps a lot with this. So much customization options to hit the amount you want. It also tastes phenomenal and it really affordable for the food you get.
Meal 3 – Cardio Day
Pretty much anything for around 800-1000 calories
Meal 4 – Usually protein pudding, cottage cheese or ice cream
Totals – Lifting Days – 2500+ calories / Cardio Days – 2000 calories
So my diet is structured during the day because I find it keeps my hunger at bay nicely. Then very flexible at night, because I can pretty much eat anything I want. I usually go to Chipotle, but I may start throwing in small pizzas and subs as well. These tend to be loaded with protein, carbs and fat, which is what I want at that point. Macros are very balanced at the moment. Protein is around 120-140 grams, carbs is close to double that and fat is around 60-70 grams most days.
Pie Five custom pizza – 7 out of 10
Pie Five gluten free pizza – Sarah’s
Halloween at Sine’s
Early Holiday Spirit
Beautiful Cobb Salad (no chicken on this one) from Continental Westhampton
So this was the first week, I finally got back to a normal routine. I’m doing a 4 day Push / Pull split with two heavy benching sessions each day. DB rows are my heavy move for Pull. Here is the routine:
Day 1 – Push
BB bench 4x 4-6 reps
Inc DB Bench 45 degrees 4x 6-8 reps
DB Shoulder Press 3×8-10 reps
Ez Skull Crushers 3×8-12
Day 2 – Pull
DB Rows 4×4-6 reps
Chinups 4xMAX (with bodyweight)
Cable Rows 3×8-10 reps
Db Curl 3×10 reps
Day 3 – Push
BB bench 4x 4-6 reps
Inc DB Bench 30 degrees 4x 6-8 reps
Dips 3×8-10 reps
Ez Skull Crushers 3×8-12
Day 4 – Pull
Db Rows 4×4-6 reps
Netural grip chinups 4xMax with bodyweight
Smith Machine Shrugs 3×10
EZ curls 3×10
That is it. Very simple on paper, but very demanding in the gym. I also allow myself one move at the end of the workout to do whatever I want. This is usually abs, lateral raises, rear delt raises or flys. It just kind of depends on what I’m feeling. I already got my bench up to 190lbs after stagnating on 185lbs. I really want to increase this a lot over the coming months. I also really enjoy heavy benching twice a week. Once just isn’t enough and more than two is overkill. Its time I moved back into what has been shown to work for gains in strength in size for intermediate lifters like myself. I was also very sore after every one of these workouts. I also do cardio on the other days, which is usually just an easy jog on the treadmill for 30 minutes to an hour. I also run 1-2 miles before each lifting day to fire me up.
I’m moving back to a 9-6 shift Monday through Friday. I’m not sure of the exact days I will do this routine, but it will be done at some point during the week. Either way I will go to the gym everyday. I will more than likely go after work though and battle the crowds. This way I can feast at night and take advantage of nutrient partitioning. I will probably lift 3-4 days during the week and maybe once on the weekend. I actually like running on the weekends, because I can just sit there and watch football while I’m doing it. Makes time go by a lot faster.
Been taking my creatine and I already notice a very positive difference. Food is (and will be) structured during the week with the post I wrote about last week. Dinner will be a very large meal that I will probably buy out. Chipotle will be a main stay and I will probably just buy less groceries to counteract the cost, which is very fairly priced based on the food you get. I will also probably get some steak and cheese subs, which have about 1000 calories and good balanced between carbs, fats and protein. I’ve been eating a lot of Halo Top, which tastes amazing, but its also pretty expensive, so I will probably switch to more normal ice cream.
Rock Bottom Fries
Rock Bottom – Grilled Brushetta Chicken
Grilled Chicken Sub from Mellow Mushroom
Shrimp and veggies
Moes Burrito Bowl
Grilled Chicken Teriyaki with veggies
Omelete with veggies and crackers
Post Pull Day
Mellow Mushroom Calzone
Pumpkin Pie Protein bars
Gluten Free Cupcake
Stellas Hummus Dip
Stella’s Greek Plater
Stella’s lima beans (these all had names in Greek, but I don’t remember what they were called 😉
Shyndigz Cookie pie. Yeah I had most of it. It was massive.
Average Calories – 2200 calories – Average Weight – 175lbs
So last week I decided I was going to do a modified version of the V-diet. This is a low carb, full body plan. But I’ve feeling off for the past 2-3 weeks and I had no idea why. Been low carbing it pretty much 6 out of 7 days of the week, just due to taste preferences and making sure to keep the fat and protein going strong. After writing my blog post, I stumbled upon an article talking about body temperature and its relation to weight and metabolism. Very interesting research and it seems pretty clear that for every degree below 98.6 degrees you are, there is a good 5-10% reduction in metabolism and this is probably closer to 10%. Basically if your BMR is 1800 calories and then your metabolism is slow by about 180 calories a day. Your BMR is the main thing affected and I’m sure you could make up for the cratering of a metabolism, by walking or jogging a ton. But the point is the dropping of the metabolism shows something is off. Not enough energy is coming in and the thyroid is slowing down along with a host of other negative side effects for energy production. Decided to test mine out and it was 96.6 degrees. Thats a big drop off of about 360 calories a day.360 x 7 is about 2500 calories a week. I also noticed I wasn’t getting nearly as motivated to life anymore. I had a burn out feeling and no matter how many times I changed my workouts, it wasn’t enough to get me into it. Lowered base body temperature is good from a longevity standpoint, but not from a good being in the “present” standpoint and this is something I need to fix.
My plan is to do more of a bodybuilding routine and do a 5 day push/pull/legs routine. I noticed when I workout my body temperature heats up to 98.6 or higher and stays there for a few hours. Hot showers also achieve this and so do bigger meals with lots of carbs. The workout surge in temperature is likely due to adrenaline. This is still good, but you ideally want your temperature to be warm always and not have adrenaline and cortisol keep it elevated at all times. I also plan to increase calories mainly through carbs. My estimated maintenance due to reduced body temps is about 2250 calories a day. Is this number 100% accurate? – Probably not. My body temperature in the morning is right around 96.6-97.2. But this is a fair estimate of how much I’m burning roughly. I plan to eat at least this everyday and slowly increase till I reach higher body temps. I noticed a few weeks back that my estimated maintenance was right around 2500 calories. It didnt make sense to me due to my high activity levels, but now I realize it could have been a lowered body temp. I also noticed body temp can fluctuate a lot during the day. I’d say on average it hits mid 97’s during the day. Again not a huge decrease, but I still want it to be at least 98 where it should be.
I do feel that normal body temp is very important. Not only for general health, but for energy and putting on muscle and strength quickly. So the new plan is to do a new routine with roughly 3 sets of 8-10 reps on everything about 5 days a week, eat more carbs and less fat and protein, eat at least 2300 calories a day and monitor body temperature as I go. Not sure how long it will take to get back to normal, I guess it depends on much I eat. Definitely not going to combine too much food with a lowered metabolism as this will mean fat gain. I really do enjoy low carb diets from a taste and ease standpoint, but if this is one of the side effects, then I may have to wave goodbye to them for now and probably for good.
Saturday – Upper Body
Sunday – Bodyweight Circuit
Tuesday – Chest only
Friday – Pull
Strange split this week. Took most of the week off due to lingering soreness and lack of motivation. I realize now, why I’m sore all the time, due to lowered body temp impacting recovery.
This week I plan to introduce some more variety into my workouts, by not focusing so much on strength and including more overall exercises with reduce number of sets per movement. Haven’t done this in awhile and I think I’ll like the change.
This week I was aiming for roughly 2200 calories 250g of carbs / 165g of protein / 61g of fat. I will bump this up if I noticed no change in body temperature. My main goal was to eat more carbs and less fat and protein while maintaining a calorie deficit. I plan to eat at least maintenance this week though. I noticed I’m actually getting leaner and pushing past plateaus by eating more carbs and less fat. I also eat most of my carbs at night, mainly for energy reasons. I dont like big carby meals during the day at all. Energy sucks and it leads to cravings. By eating all my carbs at night, I really dont care if makes me tired because I’m not doing anything anyway. Plus you get to make a really big meal and it also helps with sleep. I expected the scale to spike, but if anything it has gone down. I have lowered my fat intake a bit though mainly to incidentals, mainly because I’m trying to focus on carbs at the moment due to its effects on body heat. Still trying to figure my go-to meals with carbs and a lot of the time it ends up being random carby foods, mainly because I dont know what to make haha.
I’m hoping this is the key to getting me out the rut I currently find myself in.
Average Weight – 177.1 lbs – Average Calories – 2135
Saturday – Push
Sunday – Pull
Monday – Off
Tuesday – Off
Wednesday – Shoulders and Triceps
Thursday – Pull
Friday – Legs and Abs
I’m going back to the Push/Pull/Legs split probably training 6 days a week or if I feel good I may just keep the cycle going constantly. Hands down my favorite split as it allows me to train everyday without burning out. 4 days just isnt enough for me and on rest days I have withdrawal symptoms from not working out. The key to not burning yourself out on a daily schedule like this is to limit the amount of heavy lifts. In the past I would do every exercise for 3-4 sets in the 6 rep range and on the first move may even go down to 4 reps. Now I’m doing a reverse pyramid setup, where I do 6, 8,10,12 and maybe up to 15 reps on some exercises.
My goals are to get more muscle size and endurance. I noticed my endurance could use some work, because once I get to around 10 reps, my muscles just give out. By staying in the 6-12 range though, size gains should be better and also my central nervous system wont be nearly as taxed as it was when doing low reps for strength. I noticed by training everyday I wake up looking way leaner in the morning even when I’m eating more food. Nutrient partitioning at its finest. 😉
My lifts are also going up on every exercise. Barbell Bench is at 195×4 reps, Barbell Squats are at 225×6 reps, DB lunges were 120lbs for 6 reps each leg, Chinups about the same, DB shoulder press is at 60lbs in each hand for 6 reps.
I also noticed I seem to be leaner now than I have been in a long time and my weight is still hovering around the mid 170s. I thought I would have to drop lower in weight than this to be this lean, but obviously this means that I increased my muscle mass enough where I dont have to drop that low in weight.
This week I have really been bumping off the fat intake. Specifically from blue and goat cheese and adding in 4 whole eggs a day. After reading Anthonly Colpo’s article on cholesterol intake and strength gains, I felt obligated to add some eggs in. Basically he cited a study where there were 3 different groups with identical calorie intakes, but all had different amounts of cholesterol intakes. The group that ate the most cholesterol (I think it was 800mg a day) gained 50% more strength than the group that had the least amount of cholesterol. Pretty amazing results.
I noticed after eating 4 whole eggs a day, the weights I was using began to feel very light. Hard to explain, but my joints felt way better than usual and I just feel much stronger. There is also a substance called arachidonic acid in eggs that can greatly improve muscle damage and repair. I also added in the cheese for extra saturated fat. Not only is this good for the taste buds, but also improving free testosterone levels, which also greatly enhance recovery. Maybe this is why I feel unsatisfied doing a 4 day split. If I am adequately recovered, then what is the point of an off day?
Also read some interesting research by Layne Norton. He found protein intake (around 20-40 grams per meal and 3-5 grams of leucine) was the most important anabolic signal for muscle protein synthesis. Adding in 30 grams of carbs increased this slightly, but adding in 90 grams of carbs did not further increase protein synthesis past what 30 grams would do. This is important as it shows that some carbs are needed for better muscle growth, but excess carbs are not. He also found that BCAA’s between meals could help prolong protein synthesis and spreading out your intake over the day is superior to one or two big meals. He stated that a certain threshold hold of insulin needs to be reached to increase protein synthesis, but very high amounts of insulin are unnecessary and dont lead to more muscle growth, but probably more fat gains.
If you set up his research with 4-5 meals a day every few hours, then you would really only need 120-150 grams of protein and 120-150 grams of carbs per day to maximize protein synthesis. (this is obviously if you used high quality sources of protein) You would obviously need more calories, which could be added in with more dietary fat on top of this amount. Goes to show you that some carbs are important 120-150 grams, but slamming 400-500 carbs in unnecessary, especially if you don’t tolerate carbs well. I find I stay and look leaner and also feel way stronger, by adding in more dietary fat and keeping carbs lower. That being said I always have 1-2 days a week at a higher carb intake to fill out my glycogen stores. Training 6 days a week, a day like this is required.