Journal Entry 318 – Just Keep Getting Stronger / Diet Philosophy Update / This is a Long One

Recently, I have been getting stronger on one of the most minimalist lifting routines known to mankind. After looking at my workout logs today, I have increased my bench press from 185lbs for around 6-8 reps to 225lbs for 6-8 reps. This increase of 40lbs has been done over the course of around 2 months. When people ask me how I am getting so much stronger, I tell them my routine and they act very surprised when they hear it. “Wait, you’re benching 3 times a week?” “You’re lifting every day?” “That’s all the volume, you’re doing?” “Where is legs?” Name a comment and I have heard it. At this point in my life, I do not care about looking like a bodybuilder and honestly except for a few points in my life never really wanted to. I like to look muscular don’t get me wrong, but looking muscular and strong and looking like a bodybuilder are two different things.

Bodybuilding is incredibly boring and monotonous. I just have no interest in it anymore, but I still love lifting and increasing my strength. It’s very rewarding to go into the gym and continually get stronger. Also, if you don’t go to the gym at all, please don’t ask me why I don’t train legs. I have my reasons. But if you don’t exercise or lift at all, then you don’t have a leg day either. So you really have no room to talk or criticise what I am doing.

Anyway, I love the results I have been getting recently. Simplifying the complex is always something I take great joy in. The only thing I have not been getting stronger on is chin-ups. So, just like the bench press, I’m going to start doing them every day. Here is my routine at the moment:

  • Day 1
    • Barbell Bench press 3 sets of 6-8 reps (Current 225lbs)
    • Chinups 3 sets of max reps
    • Cable Crunches (Heavy) 3 sets of 6-8 reps
  • Day 2
    • Dumbbell Incline Bench 30 deg 3 sets of 6-8 reps (Current 90lbs DBs each)
    • Chinups 3 sets of max reps
    • Cable Crunches 3 sets of 6-8 reps
  • Day 3  (Or off if I feel like I need a break – usually don’t take an off day)
    • Dips or Pushups 3 sets of max reps
    • Chins 3 sets of max reps
    • Cable Crunches 3 sets of 6-8 reps
  • Repeat
  • Weekend Routine
    • Pushups 5 sets of max reps
    • Chinups 5 sets of max reps
    • Prisoner Squats 5 sets of 25 reps (See I do train legs)
  • Weekend Alternative (If I feel like I need to take the day off)
    • Cardio for 30 minutes (usually once a week)
    • OR
    • Yardwork

Pretty simple. The daily volume is low for sure. But the weekly volume actually adds up. Day 3 acts almost as a rest day for me from heavy lifting. I think the biggest reason why this works though is the increased frequency and lower volume per day. I’m never overly sore with this routine and soreness is highly overrated. If you want to get good at something, would you do it every day or only once or twice a week? I think we all know the answer to that one.

Diet Update

Just like lifting, I have tried a lot of different diet schemes over the years. This blog is proof of that. I have found certain things that seem to work for me no matter what. My diet is probably more organized than most, but far from perfect. I had a consult with Menno Henselmans not too long ago and he subtly insulted my diet at the time. It kind of p*ssed me off, because I thought it was pretty good, but apparently not up to his standards. At this point in time, I could care less what an expert thinks of my diet. If you study nutrition long enough, you will notice that there are plenty of nutrition experts that are saying polar opposite things in terms of what they think is healthy and optimal. I’m smart enough in this area to form my own opinions, just like I did with my lifting routine. Once I finally stopped listening to other people or “experts” and designed my own routine based on my goals, I actually started to get results.

My current diet is as follows most of the time:

  • Go to work
  • 2-3 12oz Coffee’s with Cream and Splenda
  • Protein Shake – 25 grams of protein
  • Gym – 2 Hardboiled Eggs with pink salt before lifting
  • Protein Shake – 25 grams of protein
  • Get off work
  • Dinner – 3/4 pound of meat (usually 93/7) and 2 servings of vegetables with cheese and some kind of sauce
  • Dessert – Protein Pudding or Protein Shake with Berries

There are a few points I want to bring up here.

  • Notice the carbs are very low. You do NOT need carbs to grow muscle or strength. It is a huge myth. You want a workout secret weapon: SODIUM. Sodium and carbs have VERY similar functions in the body. The reason many people complain of lifting on low carb diets is because sodium gets flushed out with the lower insulin levels. The solution would be to eat a lot more salt. This way you can maintain and get stronger on your lifts and get cut at the same time.
  • The calories in this diet are not high. It provides me with enough protein and fat, but very little carbs. This is because during the week I want to use some of my body fat as fuel source. If you eat too much this is impossible. Excess carbs also obscure definition and make me feel and look bloated.
  • The above is what I consider a Control Day. This day is meant to be consistent and lower calorie in order to keep losing fat. I like to maintain lower body fat, so these days are essential. I have about 3-4 of these lower calorie days each week.
  • Here are some tips that I have always found incredibly useful through my years of dieting:
    • Drink caffeine throughout the day. It increases drive, focus, boosts your metabolic rate and accelerates fat burning. It is also one hell of a pre-workout. (Note – I’m referring to coffee. Not the BS supplements that GNC sells.)
    • Undereat during the day. Undereating shuttles more fuel to your brain and greatly assists you with a cognitively demanding job. Too much food can not only leave you feeling bloated, but mess up your mental focus.
    • Eat a big meal at night. You can’t have a fast without the feast. The feast will replenish you for the day to come and will help you sleep better. Try sleeping on an empty stomach and see how well that works out for you. (Not good.)
    • Eat a higher protein diet. Enough said.
    • Animal foods are  > (greater than)  plant foods. Due to the way humans digest food, animal based foods can result in much better assimilation of nutrients and relieve digestive issues fairly quickly versus if you eat too many plants/grains/carbs. Not that you should be a carnivore, but the diet can be a godsend for some people.
    • Save carbs for dinner. This plays into the factors I talked about above, but I feel like most people should eat under 150g of carbs a day. If you eat zero carbs during the day, you can still smash some Mellow Mushrooom Pizza at night and be under your 150g mark.
    • Have at least 3 Control days in your week. I explained these above, but the benefits of these are immense. By going low calorie during your week, especially 3 times a week, your diet will automatically include healthier foods and you really can start to make a dent into your fat stores on a weekly basis, without sacrificing too much else the rest of the week.
    • Too much fiber is bad. Besides from the obvious reason of being overly bloated and gassy, too much fiber can bind to important nutrients and render them useless. Some is good more is not better. Yes, this includes my beloved Quest Bars, which I have cut down to once a week.
    • Never take a food you love out of your diet. There is a time and a place for everything. Anytime a person goes on a diet, where they completely exclude something, 99% of the time, they are a ticking time bomb until they give into that craving. If I tell you that you can’t eat pizza ever again, you will dream about pizza until the day you finally eat it again. This again plays into the beauty of Control Days and also undereating during the day. You still have 4 days a week where you can pretty much eat whatever at dinner and since you underate during the day, you have a pretty large amount of food and calories you can play around with. That is winning in my book.
    • I personally think alcohol once or twice a week is great for a human when consumed responsibly. Alcohol directly influences GABA in the brain and can “take the edge off” and help you relax. After a hard week of working this can be a godsend for people. Alcohol is obviously a social drink, so best consumed with friends, which can relax you ever more.

This post was way longer than I was expecting, but I had a lot I wanted to say!

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Journal Entry 176 – Adding in Pushups

Log:

IMG_1957 - Copy

2/28 -174lbs – 2900 calories – 6600 steps – 3.3 miles

3/1 – 176.2lbs – 1950 calories – 6000 steps – 3 miles

3/2 – 176.2lbs – 1950 calories – 8700 steps – 4 miles

3/3 – 175.6lbs – 2100 calories – 12000 steps – 5.5 miles

3/4 – 175.8lbs – 2150 calories – 10700 steps – 5 miles

3/5 – 175.6lbs – 2000 calories – 9500 steps – 4.5 miles

3/6 – 175.8lbs – 2250 calories – 9000 steps – 4.3 miles

Average Weight – 175.6lbs – Average Calorie Intake 2185

Training

  • Saturday – Push
  • Sunday – Pull
  • Monday – Legs
  • Tuesday – Push
  • Wednesday – Pull
  • Thursday – Off – 100 pushups
  • Friday – Chest/Back/Biceps – 1 move each – 100 pushups

I think my boredom with my routine has reached an all time high. I think I’m going to try something completely different this week. I like working out everyday, but traditional routines make this difficult without burning out. Traditional routines just really don’t appeal to me at the moment. I’m thinking of doing a high frequency routine, where you hit each muscle group 3 days a week at a greatly reduced volume each session. This is the first time I’ve done something like this, but I think it will bring in some much needed variation into my training. Basically one move for each body part each workout and the reps will be a pyramid scheme so all muscle fibers are taxed each day. Here is an example to illustrate what I’m talking about:

  • Day 1
    • Chest – BB bench press – 15, 10, 8, 6, 4, 15-20 reps
    • Back – BB Row – same reps
    • Biceps – BB Curl – Same reps
    • Abs – Cable Crunch – same reps
    • 15 pushups between sets – At least 100 a day
  • Day 2
    • Legs – BB Squats – 15, 10, 8, 6, 4, 15-20 reps
    • Shoulders – BB Press – same reps
    • Triceps – Dips or Close Grip Bench Press – same reps
    • Traps/Rear Delts/medial delts – Same reps
    • 15 pushups between sets – at least 100 reps
  • Day 3 – repeat Day 1 with different exercises for each body part
  • Day 4 – repeat Day 2 with different exercise for each muscles group
  • Day 5 – same as Day 3
  • Day 6 – Same as Day 4
  • Day 7 – OFF or start cycle over

An unorthodox split, but very interesting and fun. Muscle growth is still the priority and all rep ranges are hit with each exercise. Dont let this split fool you though. Its much harder than it looks. The good thing with this split is greatly reduced soreness after each session. I do like feeling sore, but it doesn’t necessarily lead to more muscle growth or indicate an awesome workout. The last set of 4 reps is where I will try and push for a PR on each exercise, while the other sets are meant to stimulate muscle size and blood flow. I’m also going to start adding pushups everyday. I plan to start with about 100 total spread through the day and add about 15 between each set. Pushups give me incredible energy and pump my muscles up very effectively, so I want to implement way more of them in my routine; not every now and then either, but every day.  The volume of this split is likely very similar to a traditional split, its just spread out differently over the week. Again this is more of a trial to prevent boredom. This could be a horrible failure, which sees a quick return to a normal routine haha. I’ll take my chances.

Nutrition

Same old, same old in my diet. I did hear a very interesting fact this week about how big of a role height plays in your overall lean body mass and metabolism. For every 1 inch of height, you have about 7 more lbs of lean body mass then someone shorter than you. So lets take two people, both at 5% bodyfat (about as low as it gets for males) and one guy is 5ft 8in and the other is 6ft 0in tall. The 5ft 8in guy would have 150lbs of lean body mass and the guy that is 6ft tall would have 178lbs of lean body mass, even with the same amount of body fat and muscle mass. The lean body mass in this case refers to bone size, muscle length, total body mass, etc.. Very interesting considering your total lean body mass is very important for a high powered, high calorie burning metabolism. This means that taller your are the easier time you have of losing weight and vice versa. This is why men lose weight far quicker than smaller females. Again its not overall weight than influences metabolism, but most likely the extra lean body mass due to increased height that plays the biggest role. You also burn more calories moving around a bigger body, so that’s also a factor.

Also read some interesting info on sodium intake in regards to boosting the metabolism and muscle growth. Sodium is very important for cellular hydration in regards to energy and muscle mass. When you go on low carb diets and especially on Ketogenic diets, sodium gets flushed much more readily and this can cause the body to dehydrate. Many people think that “low carb flu” of giving up carbs is due to a lack of carbs, but this is not the case. The biggest reason is because when you cut carbs, they are cutting out a lot of hydration from their diet. Every gram of carb holds 3 grams of water. Go from 300 grams of carbs down to 50 grams and a lot of the body’s water stores vanish. What the “low carb flu” really is, is dehydration. This brings on light headedness, foggy thinking, low energy levels, high cortisol and low T levels and other undesirable consequences. Even a sluggish thyroid if inadequate salt is consumed (thyroid needs iodine). You need about 3 times the amount of sodium on low carb diets as you do on high carb diets. Once the sodium issue is corrected, most people feel just fine. I think this is why some people hate “the switch” to a low carb diet, while others have no problems at all. If you use too many “health, clean foods” with no sodium as many have been told to do, you will feel the effects of dehydration. If you consume adequate sodium, your body will hold onto more water and you will feel just fine. So its not the carbs, its your hydration level. I feel like this is often overlooked when people say they hate low carb diets. There’s also some research showing that low carb diets reduce testosterone levels compared to high carb diets. But again when sodium is too low nasty things happen. Sodium has been show to retain hormone levels and adequate minerals (magnesium and zinc) in the blood, so it could have been the people in the study just weren’t hydrated enough, weren’t consuming enough sodium to compensate for the lack of carbs and were most likely losing precious minerals from the amount of water they were flushing out. Again you probably need at least double the recommended 2400 mg of sodium of a low carb diet and maybe triple if your on a Keto diet. So to sum this up, people really do feel bad on low carb diets, but this is due to cellular dehydration and not a lack of carbs. Consume more sodium to promote cellular hydration and your energy levels will be just fine. Sodium is often overlooked in the macro-nutrient war, but it is highly underestimated.

There’s also a recent study showing that ketogenic diets build just as much if not more muscle than high carb diets, when adequate protein is consumed on both diets. Although their results were pretty close. This goes to show that overall calories and protein are likely the most important, while the distribution of carbs and fat depend on the individual. Most people still do better with moderate amounts of each macro in their diet.

Some pics from the week:

Shrimp and Broccoli Crab Rangoon Steamed Dumpling Whole Egg
Shrimp and Broccoli
Crab Rangoon
Steamed Dumpling
Whole Egg
Potatoes, meat and veggies
Potatoes, meat and veggies
same
same
Potatoes, 2 whole eggs, meat and veggies
Potatoes, 2 whole eggs, meat and veggies
Meat, cheese, veggies, an egg
Meat, cheese, veggies, an egg
PB Oatmeal Balls - These are awesome
PB Oatmeal Balls – These are awesome
Meat and Veggies with Alfredo Sauce
Meat and Veggies with Alfredo Sauce