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 315 – 3 Week Hiatus

Today marks the end of my 3-week hiatus. I’ve had a lot going on recently and never really had a chance to sit down and write a post. Over the past 2 weeks, Sarah and I bought a dog! It is a shih-tzu / bichon mix that is 100% hypoallergenic. This was more for Sarah than for me as I’m not allergic to any dogs. We named him Luke after Luke Skywalker. Coincidentally he was born on 5/4/2018, which is Star Wars day and the date of our rehearsal dinner. Not going to lie, he is a lot of work. More work than I thought it would be and I’ve had dogs my entire life, but it has been awhile since I had a puppy and I forgot the amount of energy these dogs have. Also, he’s a lot of money. I know startup costs are high, but if you are running low on money and are thinking about getting a pet, I highly recommend thinking again.

I do have good news to report in terms of my lifting progress. I set a personal record on the bench press for 225lbs at 6 reps. The bench has felt fantastic recently and I actually did that with a cold. I’ve been sick since I left the beach last weekend, but it did not seem to affect my lifts. Recently I’ve been prioritizing the bench above all else in the gym. The prioritization has paid off. My goal is to get my bench press to 225lbs for 3 sets of 8 reps with ease. Once I hit this, my bench lifting goals will pretty much be complete. Funny enough my weight has been going down as well. I’m sitting at roughly 179lbs. I’m benching more at this weight than I was at 185lbs. My goal is to get down to the 170-175lbs range, while continuing to increase my strength. My overall volume in the gym has been low recently. My diet consists of a ton of protein and little carbs and moderate fats at the moment. This is my go-to when trying to lose fat and look my best. Since my volume is low, my strength has still been going up as there isn’t a ton of muscular damage to repair. I have barely run at all recently as well. I think once in the last month.

My workout schedule is heavy bench 3 sets of 6-8 reps 3 times a week every other day. I then do a Pull movement for 4 sets of 6-10 reps (heavy) and then an abs movement for 3 sets of 6-10 reps.

On the days, I’m not doing a bench I do the same setup scheme, but usually either an Incline Dumbell Press or Pushups instead of flat bench. I’ve found that by keeping the volume low each day, I can come back the next day and hit it hard regardless of what I did the day before. Obviously works since my bench has been skyrocketing recently.

My diet is pretty simple at the moment:

  • 2 12oz Coffees with half and half
  • Protein Shake
  • 2 hardboiled eggs
  • WORKOUT
  • *Our Little Rebellion Protein Crisps 1 5oz bag (eaten throughout the day)
  • Nicotine Gum
  • 12oz of either ground Turkey Meat or Beef with cheese and small amounts of vegetables
  • Protein Pudding with blueberries

That is pretty much it almost every single day. Sounds boring, but I really like it. It’s helping me shred fat and increase my lifts at the same time. Don’t mind if I do.

 

Journal Entry 311 – Putting In Work

Training:

Had a really good week in the gym. I did a 5 day Push/Pull/Legs/Push/Pull workout setup with cardio on the weekend. Hit my heavy bench press and heavy rows early in the week and finished the week with higher volume and lighter moves. Not sure why, but I was really feeling EZ bar skullcrushers and curls. I got a tremendous pump towards the end of my workout from those.

Overall my strength is still slowly increasing. At this point, I really just want to be consistent with my workouts. It feels like the more I go to the gym the stronger I get, especially with back.

I also did some cardio twice this week of around 30-40 minutes.

Diet:

I have been going pretty low carb recently with good results. My weight was at 185.6lbs at a high early this week (not sure how as this is high for me) and is now around 182.2lbs. I have noticed though that I do look leaner at a heavier weight, which is always a good sign in terms of body composition.

My diet is pretty simple during the week. I have two protein shakes during the day with one being mid-morning and the other in the afternoon when I get back from the gym. I also have some Our Little Rebellion Protein Chips almost every day. This gives me a ton of protein and not a ton of calories. At night I then usually eat a pretty large meal, which is usually low carb, but not always. I then finish the night with another protein shake with berries in it. I really enjoy that protein shake. It tastes better than ice cream to me.

So the above has very consistent elements, but dinner also allows me a lot of flexibility. I can pretty much eat whatever I’m feeling at dinner. It’s almost always a healthy meal, but not always. Eating like this I don’t really feel the need for cheat days, because I can eat whatever I want every day at dinner. I’m pretty busy during the day at work, so I really don’t like messing with meal prep anymore. I enjoy undereating during the day so I can eat a big dinner when I can sit down to enjoy it.

This may seem like common sense, but the more I workout the better I look. Even when I eat healthy and don’t workout I don’t look nearly as good as I do when I do some sort of exercise every day. To me it’s pretty noticeable. It also benefits my mental health and allows me to eat more food as well.

Life:

I had a company function at place called the Circuit Bar in Richmond, Virginia. Very fun place and it had tons of old games and a ton of craft beer that was self-serve. I got the high score in Skee-ball with 320. Also, played some Tekken 3 and Madden. Sarah and I then went out to a place called Dont Look Back after with some friends and played some pool. I was out from 4-12 PM yesterday and worked from 9-2 PM. Busy day, but fun. Only thing that sucks is I really only have one day off of free time to relax.

I watched the NBA finals this year, which is something I almost never do. Not a huge basketball fan anymore, since Kobe Bryant retired. He was always my favorite player. That being said Lebron James is a beast. He carried a very mediocre team to the Finals. I almost felt bad for him.  His team was so bad, he almost had no chance of winning against Golden State. Also, not a big Golden State fan. Draymond Greene is probably the most annoying player I have ever seen and his talent is way smaller than his ego. He is just along for the ride, while Steph Curry and Kevin Durant carry the team. Klay Thompson is also one of the most consistent shooters I have ever seen. I think he gets overshadowed by Curry and Durant and probably by Greene, but only because Greene is an obnoxious loudmouth. Not surprised by the outcome of the NBA Finals, but the Playoffs were enjoyable to watch.

Journal Entry 282 – The End of Elite XT / Less Meat

Life:

I have used the same protein powder as my main source for probably around 5-6 years at this point. The changed the formula again that apparently is “new and improved.” Not even close. They completely changed the texture of the protein and now it basically looks and tastes like the cheap whey protein you can find at Walmart. It tastes way worse, has less protein, more carbs, and the BCAA profile is worse. It has also risen in price to $40 for 4lbs. It used to be $32 for 4.4 lbs and that was back when it actually tasted good. What a shame. 😦

I have recently switched to Cytosport 100% Whey Protein from Costco. Six pounds of protein for $39. That’s $0.50 a serving and about as good as it’s going to get for a high-quality protein powder. It doesn’t mix thick like Elite XT USED to mix, but it still tastes very good. Casein can also give a lot of digestive upset when consumed too frequently, so since this is 100% whey it avoids this.

I have been eating way less meat recently, so I really think it’s important to find a high-quality protein powder. After doing more research into factory farming and its dramatic impact on the planet, I really have found myself eating close to a vegetarian diet with very small amounts of meat. I don’t even think eating meat is a bad thing if you are hunting in the wild for fresh game. But this is far different from factory farming, where animals are seen as food and not animals. Unfortunately, if you buy meat at a grocery store or restaurant, then you are eating factory farming. I still eat some meat, but it is drastically reduced from where it used to be. Not to sound like a hippy, but I wonder how much better the planet would be doing if all livestock farming ended. Almost get to the point where if you want meat, you need to go out and hunt for it.

Workout:

I have decided to change up my workout to something entirely different than what I have done in the past, but still allow me enough to complete my workouts on my lunch break. I really want to increase my volume for size, but I also don’t want to burn out or spend hours in the gym. I have designed a workout where I mainly focus on one move a day and do lots of volume for that one move. I plan to do roughly 10 sets of each move each day for about 8 reps.

An example for Bench Press would be to warmup, then start with a weight I can get for about 8 reps. If this feels heavy, I take off weight and then get 8 reps with the new weight. I continue this pattern until I have done 10 sets. I did this on Saturday and got down to 155lbs on the 10th set. My arms were shaking afterward. I also seem to be able to get away with eating a lot more food training this way.

I also plan on doing at least 100 pushups every day (spread throughout the day) in addition to the one move of the day in the gym.

  • Sunday – Pushups only
  • Monday – Chinups 10 sets
  • Tuesday – Dips of Inc Press 10 sets plus pushups
  • Wednesday – Chinups mixed grips 10 sets plus pushups
  • Thursday – Bench Press 10 sets plus pushups
  • Friday – Chinups or Rows 10 sets plus pushups
  • Saturday – Bench Press 10 sets plus pushups

Diet:

As I have alluded to above, I’m eating much less meat than before. Protein is still adequate, but since I’m eating very quality whey protein, I need way less protein than you would think. The higher the quality the less you need overall. My carbs are pretty high, which is at least double the protein. Fat is always at a moderate level. I have been eating a ton of fruits and vegetables recently and make those the bulk of my diet.

 

 

 

 

Journal Entry 183

Log:

IMG_2194 IMG_2150

Week 27

4/18 – 174.8lbs – 2650 calories – 9300 steps – 4.5 miles

4/19 – 176.8lbs – 2250 calories – 6200 steps – 3.2 miles

4/20 – 175.8lbs – 2200 calories – 11500 steps – 5.5 miles

4/21 – 176.6lbs – 2100 calories – 18500 steps – 8.7 miles

4/22 – 175.4lbs – 2100 calories – 12600 steps – 6 miles

4/23 – 175.8lbs – 2050 calories – 11200 steps – 5.33 miles

4/24 – 175.2 lbs – 2100 calories – 14000 steps – 6.7miles

Average Weight – 175.7 lbs – Average Calorie Intake – 2200 calories

Workouts:

  • Saturday – Chest/Tris
  • Sunday – Back/Bis
  • Monday – Legs
  • Tuesday – Cardio
  • Wednesday – Chest/Back
  • Thursday – Shoulders/Arms
  • Friday – Cardio / Abs

Did more of split based workouts this week. I havent done chest/back and shoulders/arms in a while, but actually really enjoyed it. I was able to superset every move and got the workout done in relatively quick period of time. I was worried after doing chest/back that my shoulders and arms would be sore, but they weren’t really at all. I stuck to about 3 exercises of 3 sets each for each body part with roughly 6-8 reps on the first move and 8-12 on the rest. My goal was to hit roughly 10 reps though since that’s is the perfect middle ground. Next week I plan to have 2 chest/back days and 2 shoulders/arms days spaced about 3 days apart. I will also have one legs day and 2 cardio only days.

I actually really liked supersetting moves though, because I got a pump that I havent gotten in a long time. It kind of made me miss the “bodybuilding” style workouts vs the strength oriented power workouts. I was also able to move through each move much faster without so much waiting around. Also I feel its important to control the weight and not let the weight control you. Powerlifting is good for strength, but I have seen very small and strong powerlifters that displayed pretty small amounts of muscle size. For example, they were around 180lbs and could deadlift over 600lbs. On paper you would assume this person would be extremely muscle with a big back and traps. In reality, they looked like an average lifter at best and with clothes on you probably couldnt even tell they lifted.  If you want to look like a bodybuilder, then you should probably train like one.

What’s funny is until recently (last few years or so) most bodybuilders didn’t really stray out of the 8-12 rep range for 3 sets. The lines became crossed between strength and athletic training and bodybuilding. Also bodybuilders use a lot more variation with training, which can trigger overall more muscle because it hits angles that get ignored by compound only movements. There was an interview from Jay Cutler who basically said exactly this. He said I never really changed my training, because it never stopped working. He also never really trained for strength, which many people make seem like its a requirement now. Dont get me wrong increasing strength is very important, because progressive overload is a requirement, but you may not need to do this with brutally heavy weights that drain your CNS and energy levels. For example, your form and control of the weight is much better with a weight you can get at least 6-8 times or more. If you try to do 4-5 reps the form usually gets sloppy and its takes a long time to recover from, while also pounding joints and increasing your chance for injury. Not too mention it hardly builds muscle size.

I didnt realize how long its been since I did an old school bodybuilding style workout. I’ve been so focused on strength and heavy weights that training for the pump and variation took a backseat. Again progressive overload is still the goal, but just in a higher rep range.

Nutrition 

Averaged about 2200 calories this week overall. Nothing special in terms of meals.

Been listening to my weekly podcasts and had a good laugh over one comment I heard. The speaker basically said his high fat and very low carb diet led to superior digestion and energy levels. He also states that he eats very low vegetables, because veggies aren’t that healthy and are unnecessary (in his words). Right after he said this, he said he went to dinner at a friends house and had a salmon salad that of course had tons of raw vegetables in it. He said that salad wrecked his digestion for days. Think about that for a minute. If you have really good digestion, then you should be able to eat veggies and digest them just fine. If you cant digest them, then your digestion sucks. I would have love to know what would have happened if he introduced starches and fruit back into his diet. It probably would have sent him into a diabetic coma. Real healthy pal. In my view, a healthly digestive track is one that can tolerate just about everything with no trouble at all. Bowels should be large and regular. If your constipated or barely going then its usually a sign that your metabolism is slowing down or your not eating enough. Also restrictive diets only help your digestion if you never eat certain foods again. If you plan to ever have a piece of fruit or go for pizza with your friends and family again, then be prepared for a lot of bloating and discomfort. You can heal your digestion, by regularly consuming these foods again, but it will take a few months to adjust.

Also for people on high fat very low carb diets, I just dont see it being a good idea long term. Not unless you do them correctly, by cycling in carb refeeds. Again leptin is very important and its released in response to HIGH INSULIN. This is bad if your fat, but if your lean then you cant ignore this hormone or a lot things are going to shut down for you. So you can have a high carb dinner or have high carb days or whatever, but at some point your going to need that upregulation. Also carbs have been shown to increase digestive health as well due to certain bactertia it provides. I’d say every 3rd day would be good for cycling if your lean.

I’ve been enjoying the high carb dinners. It allows for more variation in the diet. I’ve been keeping fat around 70 grams or so, protein around bodyweight and the rest have been carbs. Sometimes I do find the carbs can increase my appetite, more so than if I didnt have any, but that’s why I keep them to one meal a day and not all throughout the day. Trust me I tried this in the past and it got me brutally hungry.

Also Quest Bar released a new flavor: Mint Chocolate Chunk. Looks amazing, but probably going to have to order it online, because it will be a few weeks before its in stores.

Pics from the week:

Leftover Bertuccis with mixed veggies and chicken
Leftover Bertuccis with mixed veggies and chicken
Shrimp and Broccli with cheese and a crag rangoon
Shrimp and Broccli with cheese and a crag rangoon
Lean meat, veggies and white rice
Lean meat, veggies and white rice
Gluten free pasta with pomodoro sauce and chicken and broccoli also added some low fat pepperoni
Gluten free pasta with pomodoro sauce and chicken and broccoli also added some low fat pepperoni
Lean meat, veggies and potatoes
Lean meat, veggies and potatoes
Lean meat, imitation crab meat, veggies and low fat vegetable fried rice
Lean meat, imitation crab meat, veggies and low fat vegetable fried rice
Lean meat, veggies and 3 whole eggs that turned into a thick pancake texture with pepperoni on top
Lean meat, veggies and 3 whole eggs that turned into a thick pancake texture with pepperoni on top