Here it is. The long awaited progress update I’ve been talking about posting for quite some time.
On December 14th, I started what I dubbed as “Project Heavy” – a combination of Layne Norton’s PHAT program and the StrongLifts 5x5 routine. By combining the two, I thought I was following a program that better suited my personal “needs.” These needs, of course, were “wants” as I did not want to let go of the 5x5 routine that had brought about, what I thought were, some exceptional gains. Of course, these gains were largely the result of still being a weight training newbie as I only had one cycle of StrongLifts under my belt (though, I’m certain even that was probably hindered by my haphazard nutrition).
So, in true “D. Knows Best” fashion, for the first week, I ran my program as I had written it. And all it took was that initial run-through for me to realize, if I wanted to do the smart thing (i.e. actually progress) I had to pick between another full cycle of StrongLifts or committing, fully, to PHAT. In case you haven’t been paying close attention, PHAT won out. Since December 26th, I’ve been running the program as closely as I can with the only major alterations being that I subbed traditionals for stiff-legged deadlifts as they’re 1/3 of my powerlifting goals. I’ve also swapped out some accessory work but I was extremely careful in the changes – bent over rows for Pendlays and front squats for hack squats, for example, because of what I feel comfortable with at my current level of training.
Here are the comparative results from these endeavors.12.14.11Estimated One Rep Maximums
Bench: 69 Total: 339.25
Bench: 60 Total: 29501.18.12Estimated One Rep Maximums
Bench: 86.25 Total: 427.95
Squat: 150 (+20)
Deadlift: 155 (+50)
Bench: 75 (+15) Total: 380 (+85)
Yes, that’s right. In five weeks, I’ve added 85 pounds to my total. To be fair, not having to use smaller plates for deads has played a huge part in allowing that number to increase so rapidly and I don’t anticipate it to continue to do so for much longer. I’m already starting to feel the drag from the volume this program requires and, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I can feel a deload coming on much quicker than I anticipated. But more on that in a bit. Instead, I want to say something I rarely have the chance to say: I am proud of myself and the progress I have made.
Now, onto nutrition and weight. To refresh everyone’s memories, I increased calories from 1,800 to 2,000 on January 5th and vowed not to look at the scale for two weeks to stave off Former Fat Kid anxieties. I was scheduled to weigh-in January 19th, but as I knew it was going to be a rest day and I don’t own a scale, I opted to weigh myself yesterday.. Here are the comparative figures and circumstances:January 5th (fasted but hydrated): 122lbs
January 18th (not fasted and pumped full of caffeine): … 122lbs
I’d like to pretend it’s still a post-alcohol “whoosh” miracle situation and that, magically, the scale will jump up on Thursday. Why do I like to pretend that this is the case? Well, I actually photographic proof that something has been going on with my body composition, even if the scale leads me to believe otherwise.
The photo on the right is from mid-December; the photo on the left is from this past weekend; same weight, according to the scale, but even I can’t deny the visible differences despite being taken under the same circumstances, though I wish the lighting in both photos was better.
To find a more “accurate” weight, though, I am going to weigh myself all three of my hypertrophy days this week under as close to the same circumstances as possible to see if the lack of change is, in fact, a result of Monday’s shenanigans or if I have, finally, found my maintenance. If the latter is true, I have two options: continue this apparent “re-comp” until my BF% drops enough that I start losing weight or move onto something I’ve been both dreading and looking forward to – a mass gaining phase.
So, without further ado, how I plan to proceed for the next few months …
01.) Continue PHAT but drop weight before February. Why?
Because I walked away from both of this week’s power days feeling completely zapped, mentally and physically. I know my form is starting to break down on certain lifts because I can feel myself hitting a plateau on the Big Three. I’m giving myself two more weeks to determine if this is because I’ve been tinkering with my nutrition and sleeping patterns or if it really is because my body needs some extended recovery time.
02.) When necessary, deload with the following for one to two weeks:
Squat 3x10-15 @75% of my max
Deadlift 3x10-15 @75% of my max
Leg press 3x10-15 @75% of my max
Bench press 3x10-15 @75% of my max
Standing overhead press 3x10-15 @75% of my max
Squat 1x12 @65% of my max
Squat 3x10-15 @75% of my max
Stiff-legged 3x10-15 @75% of my max
Bent over barbell rows 3x10-15 @75% of my max
* I will do accessory work if I feel like it but those lifts will be determined on feel.
03.) After the deload takes place, test my one rep maximums on squats, deadlifts, standing barbell shoulder press, bent over barbell rows, and bench press.
04.) Use these numbers to determine if I will begin another 12-cycle of the PHAT program or if I am ready to try out 5/3/1 and/or Smolov Jr.
I’ve spent the last two weeks with low fat/high protein/high carbohydrate macros in order to see if I’ve gotten over my inability to eat large amounts of CHO. Of course, as I’ve bemoaned, my caloric needs aren’t really that “high” to begin with and I get most of my carbs from greens, fruits, and ice cream so it hasn’t been a struggle. What has been a struggle, though, is figuring out what to eat when so that my energy levels and muscle growth is maximized while also keeping me satiated and sane.
And this is what works best for me:
01.) No “set” schedule for eating.
Why? Because some days I really dig on some fasted training; other days I need the carb-up boost after working a full shift before hitting the gym; most power days I want to slam “fast” carbohydrates as soon as I get home and save my shake for after dinner. I’ve learned it’s all about what works best for me, not everybody else.
02.) Calorie/carbohydrate cycling.
Work Day macros: ~50/180/230 = ~2,090 calories.
Rest Day macros: ~80/180/115 = ~1,900 calories. Why?
Because on rest days I have a harder time getting hungry and the higher fat will help me hit my numbers. The variance in calories takes into account the calories I’m not burning from not hitting the iron. These numbers are approximations until I determine if 2,000 calories is my maintenance.
03.) Daily weigh-ins to find the weekly average for more accurate tracking of weight gain/maintenance.
Note: If I ever start losing weight, I will bump up calories.
04.) Bi-weekly measurements of biceps, waist, and hamstrings, flexed and unflexed for “truer” progress tracking.
Note: If I continue to see growth while losing weight, calories will remain the same. Expect measurements sometime this weekend.
* Today also marks the last day that I eat any gluten-based protein sources (i.e. seitan) as I may or may not have a slight intolerance to it/it skyrockets my sodium levels/makes me feel pretty terrible. To celebrate, I made a pretty banging lunch for myself to be eaten on my break. Bye, bye, chipotle sausages.
So, there you have it. I’ll also leave you guys with this shitty little progress photo-set I put together. Each photo was taken, roughly, every two weeks beginning September 5th, 2011 and ending the first week of December 2011.
Then, of course, here’s the photo from about a week ago where, yes, I look fluffy but even I can’t deny that there’s been a lot of growth in both my tris and bis.
Of course, full-body photos are much more accurate ways to track growth but I’m saving those for when the deload comes/I feel more comfortable about showing off pictures of me in my skivvies. And I'd like to say thank you to everyone who bothered to read this whole thing and who has been following my training journal thus far.
Lifting alone is something I've always preferred but it's really great to have found a group of people who are encouraging, helpful, and inspirational. Means the world, seriously. Cheers, everybody - I raise my spoonful of "Voodoo" to you.