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 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 260 – Aldi / Weight Cut

Weekly Routine

Workout:

  • Sunday – Cardio 30 minutes / Abs
  • Monday – Cardio 30 minutes / Chest and Tris
  • Tuesday – Cardio 30 minutes / Back and Bis
  • Wednesday – Cardio 30 minutes / Shoulders and Traps
  • Thursday – No Cardio / Chest and Tris
  • Friday – Cardio 30 minutes / Back and Bis
  • Saturday (Today) – Cardio 20-30 minutes / Shoulders and Traps

Diet: (Calories Low: 16-1800)

  • Protein Pudding with berries and Coffee
  • Popchips 3-4 servings and 1 Quest Bar
  • Ton of veggies, lean meat, low calorie toast
  • Protein Pudding with berries

Last weekend my brother visited and it was a big eating weekend. Restaurant eating and full on buffets at my house. My weight ballooned to 187lbs on Monday morning and I was noticeably bloated/fat looking. I decided to do a mini-cut and take that bloat off. I stayed around 16-1800 calories a day and got down to about 179lbs. In the past, this was my normal intake, but I haven’t gone that low in calories in awhile. Especially 5 days in a row, maybe went that low on occasion. So, took off roughly 8lbs of bloat (mostly water, but some fat). My energy was good all week til Friday, which I felt really run down. Basically felt like I got hit by a train. So got some extra sleep Friday night and feel much better right now. I plan on eating around maintenance today and then will likely cut the following week too. After I assess where I am at the end of next week, I will most likely bump up my calories back to maintenance.

No Pr’s were set this week, but wasn’t really expecting it either. My lifts didn’t go down, though. I got a feeling 195lbs on my bench is going to be a sticking point for me that only big eating will take care of. Really enjoying the cardio, though. I could easily go more than 30 minutes, but I’m really trying to moderate myself so that I don’t burn out and get tired of it. 3o minutes is a sweet spot, where you can get almost of all the benefits with none of the downsides. Also, cardio is done in the morning and my lifting is done in the afternoon, so they don’t interfere with each other.

There is a new Aldi built very close to my apartment. This place is a grocery wonderland. It’s like Costco, but you don’t have to buy in bulk. You can literally stack your grocery cart with food (mainly whole foods) and pay like $50. Seriously, it’s really awesome. Probably cheaper than Walmart and the quality is much better. I can’t get everything I need from there, but all of my whole foods (frozen veggies, fresh veggies, fruit, yogurt, meat) I get from here. Saves a lot of money.

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 256

Another week of grinding. I have really been bumping up the carbs in my diet recently. I’ve noticed a lack of hunger way more often and the feel of being truly satisfied after eating. Really nice feeling. Workouts have been good as well. Strength is still slowly increasing, although I feel like my muscular endurance could be better. After my 4th – 5th set of a compound move, I’m basically done at that point. I can hammer out some light reps with an iso move, but it still feels pretty tough at that point.

Weekly Split:

  • Chest / Tris
  • Back / Bis
  • Shoulders
  • Chest / Tris
  • Rest
  • Rest
  • Back / Bis

Cardio was done on 4 days a week. Got the runners high every single time too. I’ve started to mix in an incline walk after a couple of miles or so just to mix it up. I’ll probably add back in some cardio every day again, though. Really feel mentally sharp at work, when I do this.

Had a high weigh in of 185lbs this morning. Been hovering around 180-182lbs, but I had a lot of food yesterday, easily exceeding 3000 calories. Since my focus is building muscle, I really don’t care that much. I still look just as lean as I usually do. 😉

Journal Entry 254 – PC issues, Madden and Diet Update

This week I have done zero cardio in the mornings. I was having a lot of computer issues and had to do a system restore and then do a ton of updates, which I did when I got home from work and the morning before I left for work. I somehow picked up a virus that attacked my drivers. This disabled my external mouse, trackpad and displays. It also prevented me from doing updates, so I had to restore the whole system back to factory settings. This wiped out ALL files. Luckily I backed up all my files a couple of weeks ago, so I lost nothing. I took the time to organize all of my files on the external hard drive and now my computer is running better than ever. I put all the files on my computer into 4 different folders. Pretty organized looking. 😉

So, the PC trouble was a pain, but ultimately it turned out drastically boosting my computers performance. I also bought Madden 16 for the Ps3 for the first time in 5 years. Fun game, but I remember why I stopped buying it; it’s the exact same game with the exact same playbooks and plays as Madden 12! Buying that game every year is a complete waste of money. All you really need is to download the rosters and load them in the game. Problem solved. Also, Michael Vick is still WAY too good in that game. I like the man because he’s a Hokie, but unfairly good. I was playing on a low difficulty setting though.

As for training this week, I did zero running this week. I lifted every day during my lunch break and have been steadily increasing my strength. My split:

  • Chest/Tris
  • Back/Bis
  • Shoulders/Traps
  • Chest/Tris
  • Back/Bis

Both the chest and back workouts were exactly the same except for a couple of moves. The most important factor of each workout is getting bench press stronger and chinups stronger. Right now I’m benching 190lbs for 8,6,5 reps. This is also going all the way down to my chest. For back/bis, I do chinups with 25lbs between my feet for my around 3 sets of 6 reps. I’ve been feeling these very good, so I should go beyond that this week. I plan on doing my cardio on back to back days this weekend, along with some abs.

Diet has actually been consistent this week, at least in the early part of the day. Really been enjoying it too. I’ve also been eating way more carbs and less protein. Fat is more or less always the same, between 55-70 grams.

  • Coffee – 7:30AM – 11:00AM
  • Meal 1 – 11:00 AM-  2 packets of oatmeal with berries and small scoop of protein powder
  • Workout from 2-3PM
  • Meal 2 – 3:00PM- Bag of Popchips with a Quest Bar
  • Meal 3- 7:00PM – Varies daily – Always a big meal though
  • Meal 4 – 10:00PM – Protein Pudding with Peanut Butter

Carbs between 200-300 grams, Protein 100-120grams, Fat 55-70 grams. Calories between 2000-2200 during the week. Usually much more on Saturday and Sunday.

Journal Entry 250 – Holiday Break

My first post in almost 3 weeks due to the Holidays. I’m also going to Chicago this weekend and then driving to the Packers vs Giants game on Sunday for the playoffs. My brother is a Packers fan and I’m a Giants fan, so the game should be very interesting. I have a feeling it will be very close. The temperature should be about 5 degrees, so I can’t wait for that. (sarcasm)

These past few weeks have featured a LOT of overeating on all kinds of crappy food. I’m almost glad the hectic holiday season is over, so I can get back on track and ditch some of the excess weight I have accumulated. I have what I consider to be a very good plan going forward and it’s the most organized I have been in terms of routine in about a year. I really wanted to create something that was basic and very simple in terms of programming.

My plan is as follows:

  • Monday – Chest/ Tri
  • Tuesday – Back/ Bi
  • Wednesday – Shoulders/Traps – AM Cardio
  • Thursday – Legs/Abs
  • Friday – Arms
  • Saturday – Cardio – Abs
  • Sunday – Cardio –  Abs

This is the basic layout. I will lift every weekday on my lunch break. I have been doing this for 2 weeks and really enjoying it. I drive to the gym and change (10 minutes), lift for 40 minutes then change and head back to work (10 minutes) and get done easily in an hour. By lifting with only two muscles I can easily finish in 40 minutes. I also do no cardio before to minimize sweating, so that I do not need a shower. I do not want to get rid of all cardio though and plan to do it 3 times a week for at least 30 minutes. During the week I plan to do it once on Wednesday in the morning and 2 times over the weekend, when I’m resting from lifting weights. I’m really looking forward to this setup and I honestly plan on keeping it for the entire year. And yes it’s a Bro split, but many use these with great success contrary to new research saying it’s very ineffective. Anecdotal evidence shows otherwise.

My goal this year is very simple; keep getting stronger with key lifts and keep my routine simple and consistent. I want to gain muscle and keep fat gains low consistently throughout the year.

As for nutrition, I plan to monitor gym performance and go from there. I do plan on eating less protein this year, because I think I always overdo it, but other than that my diet will be very balanced overall and not excessively high or low in calories. It will also include a lot of vegetables.

I also plan on maintaining consistent supplementation this year:

  • 3g of fish oil per day
  • 5000IU Vitamin D
  • 5g Creatine Monohydrate
  • Animal joint supplement (as needed)

 

Journal Entry 247 – Thanksgiving Aftermath

Average Weight –

  • Last Week – 180lbs
  • This Week – 176lbs

Routine this Week:

  • Sunday – 50 minutes of cardio / high rep lifting
  • Monday – 45 minutes of cardio
  • Tuesday – 30 minutes of cardio / Back and Biceps
  • Wednesday – 35 minutes of cardio
  • Thursday – 30 minutes of cardio / Shoulders and Traps
  • Friday – 20 minutes of cardio / Arms
  • Saturday (Today) – 30 minutes of cardio / high rep lifting

Average Nutrition –

  • Last Week – 2600 Calories / Protein 140g / Carbs 300g / Fat 85g / Fiber 40g
  • This Week – 1952 Calories / Protein 150g / Carbs 225g / Fat 63g / Fiber 52g

I missed last week’s post due to Thanksgiving and lots of travel. I went to North Carolina on Wednesday, down to South Carolina on Thursday and then back to North Carolina on Friday. We stayed most of the day Saturday and returned to Virginia Saturday night. I had a lot of errands and football watching to do on Sunday, so I didn’t have much time to post.

The eating was a straight up feast though for 4 days last weekend. Saturday was by far my lowest calorie day. Wednesday through Friday was full of all kinds of junk. Cheese dips, crackers, taco dip, apple crisp, deep fried turkey, stuffing, and countless desserts. The average nutrition I posted below was a simple estimate. It was most likely far worse.;)

This week I really wanted to clear some bloat and water weight, which I more or less did. 4lbs of scale weight, but I also look way better than last week. I ran at least 3 miles every day, except for yesterday. The only reason is because I went Christmas shopping and had a ton of walking already and hit the gym late, so I just felt like doing one mile. The reason I didn’t have a chest day this week was because I hit it on Saturday of the previous week.

I haven’t been going to the “real” gym expect for a couple days a week. I have mainly been using Sarah’s apartment gym in the mornings out of convenience. For shoulders and arms this is very doable, but chest and back workouts can get very limited in this gym. I may just start driving to Gold’s early so I can get some better lifts in again.

At the moment I have been doing a bro split with one muscle group a day. The main reason for this is because I want to run 3 miles a day and this is the only way I can squeeze a lifting session into a 30-minute block of time to keep the workout at a total of one hour. I have been reducing rest periods and lifting quicker. I always lift after I run due to personal preference. I haven’t been feeling the super heavy weights and greatly prefer the volume of 8-12 reps right now. The great thing about this range is you need way less down-time between sets and can move fast. I’m usually drenched after my workout and after I take a shower feel like a million dollars.