Category: Health & Fitness

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barbell deadlift

When I first started working out it was for health and to loose the belly fat. Something that I was successful at through running, and later through BodyBeast and Intermittent Fasting. Since changing to Strong Lifts/Starting Strength however, I have gained more weight than I ever have before.

A lot of that is muscle, I am incompatibly stronger now than when I started but a lot of it is also fat. So it’s time to do something to cut that fat again, but Ill get to that a bit later.

My barbell and plate set totals 300lbs, which I believe should be enough for anyone for general fitness. If you want to train for power lifting you will need more, but that’s not my purpose. So when I started I set my strength goals as:

GoalCurrent
Squat 5×5300lbs300lbs
Dead lift 1×5300lbs295lbs
Bench Press 5×5225lbs200lbs
Row 5×5no goal215lbs
Seated Over Head Press 5×5no goal130lbs
  • Seated over head press because my ceiling is low and the weights hit it, otherwise I would be standing.

Its been about 10 months now and I am getting so very close to hitting my goals on my primary lifts. But I feel like it’s time to make some changes. First, I’m sure I can hit my Dead lift goal. But with the structure of the program by the time I get to the dead lifts I am already exhausted from the squats and ohp, and I am finding squatting 3 times a week at that weight to be too much to properly recover from.

With that in mind I’m changing up the program. My “B” workout will no longer include squats, and I only want to dead lift once per week and do those first. This means my Wednesday workout will look like: Dead lift, OHP, Need to add an additional exercise here.

I’m confident that this change will not only allow me to hit my dead lift goal, but the benching twice per week (Monday and Friday) will help me hit that goal as well. Once those are hit, the plan is to shift to a hypertrophy style program (yet to be determined). I may just stay with the program, deload and raise the rep ranges + some other accessory lifts.

Now, as for the cutting of the fat. The last time I managed to get my body fat ratio down it was by intermittent fasting 20/4 5 days a week. I could easily do that again, but I worry that the lack of calories would be really detrimental to my progress over all, so I’m going to only do it on my non-lift days. Specifically Tuesday, Thursday and maybe Saturday. I find the weekend the hardest time to stick to this, its much easier to NOT eat when at work.

As of this morning, I weight 203lbs. My ideal weight is around 170, though at 5’9″ I could go lower, but I think that would be pushing it.

Thats it for now, wish me luck. Have any comments, questions or advice please comment below!

Update:

I’ve decided to change things up a bit more. I mentioned above that I was going to change things up to a more hypertrophy based workout once I had hit my strength goals, but I think I can do both at the same time.

I’m going to keep the basic format of the program, but instead of 5×5 I’m going to borrow from Martin Berkhans Leangains program and adopt Reverse Pyramid Training.

The way this works is after your warm up, you do a set at your heaviest weight for AMRAP(As Many Reps As Possible) with a goal of 8 reps (6 for dead lifts). You then take 10%(5% for Bench & OHP) off and again do another set AMRAP, then take 10% off that and do another set AMRAP. If you hit your 8 rep goal then you raise the max weight on that lift 5lbs the next time.

This, according to its proponents, allows you to both hit strength and hypertrophy ranges while also speeding up the workout, so you can get out of the gym faster.

Wish me luck!

Getting Stronger!

July 10, 2019 | Health & Fitness | No Comments

barbell deadlift

I’ve been through a lot of different fitness and exercise programs over the years. Military PT, half-marathons, DVD programs like TiBo, P90X, BodyBeast, etc. The latter, BodyBeast I did for two years… 6 days a week.

It worked well for me, I built muscle lost body fat, got stronger. However, after watching the same videos 6 days a week for two years, I got bored and reached a point where those dumbbells just weren’t doing it for me any more. I had maxed out my weights, so progress was stalled.

At that point I started looking for something else, something that would allow me to keep progressing. I found StrongLifts 5×5 which is based on Starting Strength, a program focused on the “main” heavy compound lifts. I invested in a 300lb barbell and plate set, and a squat rack.

I’m very glad I did.

The program is broken into two workouts A and B, and is run three days a week alternating between the two as such.

MondayWednesdayFriday
Week 1ABA
Week 2BAB
Week 3ABA
Workout AWorkout B
Squat 5×5Squat 5×5
Bench 5×5Press 5×5
Row 5×5Deadlift 1×5

The reason this is effective is because of the consistent, progressive overload. Starting the program, I began with the empty barbell which is 45lbs. Every workout you put another 5 lbs on the bar, when it eventually gets too heavy you keep the same weight for a couple workouts. If you still cant get through them, take 10% off and work your way back up.

I’ve been at this now for 9 months and I can squat 300lbs. Something that was mind blowingly heavy just months ago. My body weight has gone up, but my waist size has gone down. Chest is bigger, arms are bigger, legs..

I feel and look way better than I did. The only thing really holding me back now is diet and beer. I go through phases where I cut back the beer and lock down my diet, but it never lasts long. Have to get more disciplined.

If you’re looking for a effective fitness program that is only 3 days a week and simple to follow, this is the one.

caveman

One million years.  That’s how old the oldest known human fossil is measured.  That’s a long time, longer than a lot of people can fathom.  By contrast, the industrial revolution was only two hundred years ago, the dawn of agriculture only ten thousand.

Let’s put that into a bit of perspective.  For at least 990,000 years(up until now, yes there are still tribal cultures that live this way) our ancestors lived on what they could hunt, fish and gather.  Meaning, meat, fish, nuts, berries, fruit, vegetables.  Those nuts, berries, fruit and vegetables weren’t even available year round.  The winters of northern Europe are long.

This means, 99% of our history, our primary energy source from food was from meat and fish.  Animal fats.  High carbohydrate foods simply were not available year round or in high quantities.

Ten thousand years ago, along comes agriculture.  Humans start settling down into communities and farming.  Grain and dairy start making it into our diet at a higher level,  which was still okay.  It was a lot of work to turn that grain into bread.  Only the wealthy could afford to have bread and pasta on a daily basis.  Through this time in history, we see an interesting development.  Obesity as a sign of wealth.

Along comes the Industrial Revolution and with its high volume of processed sugar, grains, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome etc.  It’s not surprising when you think about it.  We shifted our energy balance from primary fats to primary carbohydrates(sugar).  I’ve written before about how our body prioritizes energy sources and why.

So, how do we correct this, how do we grocery shop like a hunter-gatherer?

  1. Natural foods.  If it doesn’t exist naturally, avoid it.  Caveman does not recognize twinky or skittles as food.
  2. Avoid sauces, they are loaded with sugar.  Learn to use spices.
  3. Keep bread, pasta, rice and dairy to a minimum.  They are okay, just don’t let them be a staple of your diet.
  4. Drink more water.

Basically, stick to the fresh produce and deli sections.  How simple is that?

Note: This post was recovered from an old, now defunct, blog.

veggies

There is no shortage of diets, eating plans, eating patterns and body hacks available.  Some more healthy than others, some easier to stick to than others.  From Atkins to Weight Watchers, six meals a day to one meal a day, they all have benefits and weaknesses, pros and cons.

Over the last few years, I think I’ve tried most of them, some are really similar to others, some very different.  For the most part, they just line someone else’s pockets.  Ever seen the price of an Atkins bar or looked at the price on Vegan supplements?  It’s enough to make your bank account scream for mercy.

I’ve distilled everything down to some simple rules that are working for me.  They may not work for you, or fit your lifestyle.  Play with them, see what works for you and make adjustments.  Our biology is extremely complex, there is no one size fits all.

The first thing you need to know, and this is the part that sucks the most, is how many calories you need in a day and to track them.  The average adult male requires around 2000 calories a day, this varies by how much muscle mass you have, height, overall weight, etc.

” Fun Fact: While you may need 2000 calories a day a McDonalds Double Big Mac Meal is 1580 calories. Leaving you little room for anything else to eat that day!

The good news is the internet has no shortage of TDEE calculators.

TDEE stands for Total Daily Energy Expenditure.  Google one and enter your data.  If losing weight is your goal make sure to check ‘sedentary’ for activity level, even if you are working out.  Otherwise, it will add too many extra calories and you will never drop the body fat.

Once you know what your caloric max is for the day, you can start figuring out you can eat.  Our diet is basically broken down into three “Macros”  Protein, Fat and Carbohydrates.  The most important of which is Protein.  Fat and Carbohydrates(sugar) are energy sources.  You are going to need to use a tracking app to make sure you keep these right.  MyFitnesspal or Chronometer are good ones.

Prioritize your Protein intake.  Recommendations for how much protein you need very, generally from 0.8 grams to 1.2 grams per pound of body weight(or lean body mass, just go by body weight and keep it simple)  Remember.  Protein is a goal, fat and carbs are limits.

Fats are essential to our diet, they are used for proper brain function and hormone production.  The sugar industry spent billions during the eighties to vilify fat so they could make money.  Every time you look at something that has “low fat” written on it, it has a correspondingly high sugar content.  It’s the only way to make it taste good.  It’s really not surprising that since the eighties, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity have skyrocketed.  If you choose to eat lots of carbs, make sure to get a minimum 50g of healthy fats in your diet.

” There are essential amino-acids (proteins) and essential fatty-acids (fats) that we can only get through our diet.  There is no such thing as an essential carbohydrate (sugar).

Carbohydrates are a super easy quick energy source.  In natural doses, such as fruit and vegetables they are perfectly fine. However, in refined and processed forms such as white sugar, bread and pasta, evil lurks.

Let’s take a moment and break down a basic overview of how our metabolism works.  Our body has two sources of energy. Fats and Carbs.  Carbs are quick and easy, priority processing.  That may make you think its a great source of fuel.  Anyone who tells you that is a liar.

The reason carbs get priority processing is because they are TOXIC.  For most people it’s not to worry about, we have an excellent defence mechanism.  For people with metabolic disease & diabetes, it can be deadly.  That defence mechanism is insulin.

When we eat carbs, especially high doses of carbs, our blood sugar level spikes.  This can, in the long run, cause all manner of serious health issues, i.e. diabetic coma.  Insulin to the rescue.  Insulin grabs hold of the sugar molecules in our blood and shuttle them off to our fat cells for storage, energy to be used at a later date.  Our typical Western diet, however, rarely allows us to dip into that energy storage leading to obesity, heart, and metabolic disease.  It’s best to keep the sugar levels to a minimum.

Overall, for me, keeping the refined carbs out of the diet has been very effective.  That’s not to say that I never eat bread, pasta, pizza or drink beer.  I most certainly do but in moderation and certainly not on a daily bases.

So where are the simple rules I said I was going to put here before blasting you with knowledge overload?  Don’t worry, here it is.  Simple rules.

  1. Look at your food from an evolutionary perspective.  If our pre-agriculture ancestors wouldn’t recognize it as a food you probably shouldn’t eat it.  Stick to meat, fish, vegetables, fruit, nuts and berries.  Don’t drive yourself nuts with it though, have that slice of pizza or wings.  Just be reasonable and track what you eat.
  2. Prioritize Protein.  That protein macro can be hard to hit, especially if you go up to the 1.2g target.  But it’s worth it.  Getting all your protein while otherwise in a caloric deficit will prevent muscle loss while losing weight and even help you build it.  It’s also filling and slow digesting.  Keeping you fuller, longer.
  3. Eat a minimum of 50g of healthy fat.  You need it for proper hormone production and brain function.  Dietary fat is also a great energy source if you’re severely restricting carbs (ketogenic diet)
  4. Keep your Carbs clean.  Fresh fruit and vegetables, especially green veggies.  They are packed with vitamins, minerals and fibre.  Refined, processed sugars are okay occasionally but try to keep within your caloric goals and hit your protein goal first.
  5. I didn’t go into it above, but Intermittent fasting works great for caloric restriction.  I recommend 16/8 because it’s not too intense.  You’re basically just skipping breakfast. 16 hours no food, eat everything the remaining 8.  This isn’t mandatory, just a helpful hack to keep out the over snacking.

That’s really all there is.  4 simple rules, 1 helpful hack.  Track everything you eat and read all the labels on packaged foods.  Keep it clean.

Note: This post was recovered from an old, now defunct, blog