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Journal Entry 293 – Goals for 2018

Another busy weekend that literally flew by. I have a lot of stuff that I have been dealing with recently. Mostly due to the new year, finishing off payments, wedding stuff, travel and so on. Next week I will fly to Chicago with Sarah to see my new niece! I’m really looking forward to it. Once this trip is over though, my schedule should get a lot more relaxing.

I have been more or less still eating kind of whatever recently. I really want to get some organization back into my routine this year though. I’m strongly considering some Keto-ish type of diet to continue shredding some fat and water weight before the wedding. I want my routine to be more consistent as well and to continue making some strength gains in the gym.

Another goal I have is to max out my savings. I literally just finished off my auto payment and besides rent and insurance have zero debt. Considering rent and insurance is something you will always have, I consider that zero debt. I have maxed out my 401k this year to take advantage of the employer match and have continued funding my Roth IRA and Taxable account. The market has been amazing recently, so I already have a lot of earnings on these accounts. Even if the market was horrible though, I will still continue making savings payments. The market always fluctuates, but as long as you don’t withdraw money then you don’t lose anything.

I want to keep my grocery bill more consistent this year as well. Shopping at Aldi has already saved me a ton of money, but I would like to do even better this year.

I plan on making my diet very minimalistic. At least 5-6 days out of 7. Meat, eggs, cheese, berries, protein powder, peanut butter and alcohol will make up the vast majority of my diet. I will skip a lot of the extra carbs, snacks and fruit.

My workouts I plan on keeping pretty similar. I want to keep lifting heavy and until I find something better to change it with I want to keep it about the same. I’m still doing a Push / Pull setup 4 days a week. I also plan to do cardio at least 2-3 times a week.

 

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Journal Entry 283 – Bench and Chins

Workout:

My strength is starting to go up after I made an important change on my rep range. Recently, I was trying to get 8 reps for 3 sets before moving up in weight. This was largely to keep form very good and not letting sloppy form take over when the weight was too heavy. I decided to drop the range to 3 sets of 6 reps to break a plateau and the difference has been dramatic. I’m already up 10lbs on the bench and 5lbs on Chins. The first time I benched 205lbs with 3 sets of 6 reps, I thought I had the wrong weight on the bar it felt so easy.  My workout is as follows:

  • Push (Day 1 / Day 2)
  • BB Bench Press 3 sets of 6 reps
  • DB INC Press 3 sets of 8 reps / Dips 3 sets of Max reps
  • Lateral Raises 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Flys 3 sets of 10 reps / Skull Crushers 3 sets of 10 reps

 

  • Pull (Both Days)
  • Chinups 3 sets of 6 reps
  • Preachers 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Face Pulls 3 sets of 10 reps
  • DB Curl 3 sets of 10 reps

I found this way of working out to be the best for my current schedule. I can easily complete this on my break from work. The first move takes the longest, but the last two are a breeze and I superset them. It’s also very easy to tweak certain things to keep strength going up.

I have also added in Cardio 2-3 days a week and I swear I feel like it made me stronger in my lifts. (At least last week)

Diet:

My weight is right around 185lbs right now. It fluctuates between 182-187lbs. I think I may have found a connection between processed sugar and my psoriasis flaring. Not necessarily carbs, but processed sugar. It was the same feeling I had when I had my Bachelor Party. I’ve been reducing, so my carbs are at more of a moderate range and I have increased fat and protein a little bit. Recently I have been eating Sardines, which are very good. They may stink, but they are nutritional powerhouses and have a really nice texture. I may try to cut out the excessive green vegetables and stick to more simple meals as well.

Life:

Last weekend Sarah had her bachelorette party. She was gone for 4 days, but I missed her a lot! While she was gone, I actually took off early on Saturday and went to the Wine Festival in Powhatan. It was actually pretty good.

Giants finally won a game last night. They actually played really well on defense. Offense still looked pretty inconsistent, but they scored a modest 13 points against a really good defense with a ton of injuries. So it could have been MUCH worse.

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 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 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 244 – Getting Organized

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
    • 100-200 calories
  • 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.

Journal Entry 243 -Push/Pull

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.