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Project Heavygan: Eat Plates To Move Plates

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love me some Melt! Haven't eaten there since becoming vegan so that gives me a reason to go now!


Do it! It's definitely worth supporting their vegan endeavors. I've only ever gone twice but both times have been worthwhile. Also, it's nice to see another Clevelander on here! If you ever do decide to hit Melt, we should hang - we can talk about our fitness goals over greasy bar food! Ha.


For sure! I grew up in C-town but actually live in Sandusky now. But I work at the Cleveland Clinic downtown so I'm there 3x/wk. Nothing like talking fitness while indulging in a beer and food!

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all your lower body lifts are so heavy!!!! awesome! i want to see the squat video!!!


Lower body power days are my addiction. I always walk (crawl?) away from them as drained as I am pumped.


On the next one I'm hoping to get one for all three of the "big" lifts that day - squat, deads, and leg press. I just have to remember to charge my phone the night before since using it for music and videos tends to drain it quite fast (especially now that I've joined the world of Twitter and have started using it probably far too much).

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Upper Body Power Day

I slept poorly Tuesday night (approximately six hours of tossing and turning), worked an unnecessarily draining 7.5 hour shift at work, ate haphazardly throughout the day, weighed-in at the same weight I was two weeks ago, when I got to the gym I realized I left my headphones at home, and, despite my personal conviction of “leaving it all outside,” this combination of things most certainly affected my performance in the gym. I have no excuses so, in order to keep the negativity to a minimum, I’m just going to throw this workout into the tank, put it behind me, as I slept big last night, am already getting in some good rest day nutrition, and hit lower body hypertrophy harder than ever on Friday.


I’ll be posting a pretty big update in a bit regarding my one month progress with PHAT, my plans for the future, and all kinds of awesome things to balance out the sheer lack of awesome that is this post, both attitude-wise and numbers-wise.


Work out


Barbell bent over rows







Notes: Something about these felt incredibly off today. The 85s were a struggle which was extremely surprising since this is a lift that rarely gives me too much grief. Not a great way to start out my sessions.


Barbell bench press




5x75 (Two rep increase)




Notes: My one serious goal today was to get in a set of 5x75. It is the one thing that made today’s session worthwhile.


Standing barbell shoulder press







Notes: While there were no rep increases, I’m at least getting more consistent which is progress since this is my least consistent lift. Making the effort not to keep my back straight, and not arched, definitely helped out and I think my accessory work on hypertrophy days has been extremely beneficial.


Long pulls




5x100 (Ten pound increase)


Notes: Even these were more difficult than they have been previously.


Tricep pushdowns with rope attachment






Notes: When I first tried these with 80, my arms simply locked up. I proceeded to prowl around the gym, huffing and puffing for about 45 seconds, and then just blasted my tris. Felt good then, feels bad now.


Wide grip lat pulldowns






Notes: Again, these were a pain in my ass today. Nothing more, nothing less.


Close grip lat pulldowns



Notes: See above.


Cable chest press





Note: I think I’m going to replace these with a free weight lift.


Chest press machine





Note: See above as these numbers are proof that machines do not accurate reflect the amount of weight one can actually push – my chest is not that strong.


Cable shoulder press



Note: Increase in frustration with the session = increase in unnecessary and useless work. I cut it short because I knew I should do skullcrushers.


Machine triceps extension





Note: I tried doing skullcrushers but my elbow joints weren’t having it yet again. I need to roll some foam.


Seated cable rows




Notes: I’ll take these. They felt good and gave me the “burn out” feeling I was looking for and didn’t feel I had reached quite yet.


Macros: 55/177/220


After coming home from the gym, I made myself a pretty tasty dinner. Scrambled hickory-tofu burrito and chipotle sweet potato fries.

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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.



Estimated One Rep Maximums

Squat: 149.5

Deadlift: 120.75

Bench: 69

Total: 339.25


Working sets

Squat: 130

Deadlift: 105

Bench: 60

Total: 295



Estimated One Rep Maximums

Squat: 172.5

Deadlift: 169.2

Bench: 86.25

Total: 427.95


Working sets

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:


Day 1

Squat 3x10-15 @75% of my max

Deadlift 3x10-15 @75% of my max

Leg press 3x10-15 @75% of my max


Day 2

Bench press 3x10-15 @75% of my max

Standing overhead press 3x10-15 @75% of my max

Squat 1x12 @65% of my max


Day 3

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.

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Wow the first photos are crazy...in a very short amount of time too!


do you use creatine? that really helped my strength and size!


Thank you! And, no, no creatine. I've thought about it but don't know if I should commit to adding it in just yet, mostly because I need to look into it a bit more.


Great journal you should be proud of yourself and what you have acheived, some great progress!


Thank you for the kind words! I am definitely proud of myself, and I rarely say that. Can't wait to see what else 2012 holds in terms of progress.


You are doing great.


Thanks you!

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I think there's fluff on your glasses or something ...You look great!


Well, I haven't cleaned my glasses in quite some time ... I suppose saying I look "fuller" would be a better way to phrase, though, I think I've grown to use the word "fluffy" in a positive way recently. Seriously, though, thank you!


Awesome progress!


Creatine: I highly recommend kre alkalyn. It won't make you bloat like monohydrate will. Aaefx and sci fit brands of kre alkalyn powder are vegan.


Thank you, first off, for the kind words and, secondly, for the information. I will definitely look into it - the bloat's definitely been my biggest turn off from it as I'm already prone to do so whenever I increase carbs (which is probably going to be happening yet again in the near future) but if there's a way around it, I'm a little more inclined to at least try creatine out.


Can I have your arms???!!! No seriously, great job!


This is one of the best compliments I've ever gotten - my arms have always been the area I've found to be lagging (even when I was at my heaviest, my arms looked like noodles) and, when I first put together the progress post, it didn't look, to me, like there was any real change. Comments like this, though, allow me to see the distance between those days and where I am now. Thank you!


great work! you can really see the progress. keep it up

As I've told you, you've been a huge inspiration so this really means a lot - thank you!

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Rest Day


Yesterday was, well, yesterday. The only thing really exciting was the fact that I met another poster from here - John V!


Food was solid, though, as I promised myself it would be.


Lunch celebrated my last Field Roast sausage/seitan consumption for the foreseeable future. I couldn’t have asked for a better way for it to end. So tasty.




And just when I didn’t think I could top lunch … Brilliance struck. I made a Vegan Elvis: hickory-smoked grilled tofu, tempeh bacon, PB2, and sliced banana packed into a spinach tortilla and grilled to gooey perfection.




MACROS: 59/172/198 (50)


Meaning, yes, I hit 2,000 even though I said I was going to shoot for 1,900 on Rest Days. However, I couldn't deny the King once I thought of him. Plus, 50g of fiber = 148 net carbs, so calories were closer probably to 1,900, when you think about it, but I'm not going to sweat it.

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HAha the food photos just made me cry.


You could probably actually fit the Elvis wrap into your macros if you didn't use a whole banana and used a low-carb wrap (like those Flat Out ones with flax). I think it ended up being something like 11/30/29 sans banana/wrap.


Wow, your consistency is so awesome and inspiring!


Me, inspiring? I don't know about that! You're too kind.

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Despite my best efforts to “sleep big” last night, I only slept moderately-sized, something around seven hours. However, instead of going straight for coffee this morning, I made myself slug back 32 ounces of water before taking in any caffeine. I was doing this every day from September until then end of October but, once I started working two jobs, hydration fell to the wayside. I’m going to go back to doing this every day as it helped boost my energy before I even took the first sip of coffee.


Of course, this could be psychological as I also probably had some additional “umpf” in my step – today was my “trial run” in a position at work that I’m really hoping I’ll be “promoted” into. There’s no pay increase that’s the appeal; it’s the increased pace and variety of tasks I’d have to perform that have me gunning for it. I think it went well enough but we’ll see what my superiors think as there are a few others who have applied for it as well.


While I was at work I heard that it was supposed to start snowing right when I was scheduled to clock out with the accumulation rate being something around an inch or two an hour. I immediately became anxious because I didn’t want to have to rush through today’s session just to beat out the bad weather. Luckily, the snow held off and I managed to get into and out of the gym without a single flake falling.


In terms of today’s session, I decided to go ahead and drop weight/ increase reps while also making sure I adhered to the “65-70% of maximum working sets” on squats despite the fact that I’d previously gone higher on them. While I was reluctant to do so, it ultimately worked out in my favor - today proved much more trying than previous hypertrophy days and I really did feel like I was going to have to crawl into my car. However, I made it there upright and with my dignity, for the most part, intact.* My legs, now, though, about three hours later … well, I did just have to limp to the bathroom but the only person who knows about this is me. And now everyone who reads this log.




Ah, the caveat.




Not only was I actually hydrated, but I also ate breakfast and lunch today. I might inquire as to how often the scale is recalibrated but I feel like that might seem a bit … neurotic. The thing is, I feel heavier even the scale doesn't say that I am. Definitely will be buying a tape measure this weekend to properly track growth and figure out what’s going on.


Work out

Barbell squat



Notes: I don’t think any previously labeled “speed” squats were actually “speed” until today. I literally gave myself enough time to rack the bar, take a breath, and then immediately went to the next set. Depth was also unreal today.


Barbell front squat



Notes: I think my ass touched the ground on these today. That is all.


Stiff-legged deadlifts



Notes: That moment when you have four reps left in a set of 12 and you feel like you’re about to pass out? Yep.


Seated calf raises


Notes: If my calves had mouths, they would have been screaming. 4 second pauses on each rep.


Incline leg press



Notes: In order for this to happen, I took my hands off the rails and put them behind my back that way there was no chance for “failure” before hitting the reps I wanted. I like to live dangerously, I guess.


Seated leg curls



Notes: My body wanted none of these after all the other high rep sets. Mind over matter, man.


Dumbbell lunges



Notes: I wanted to do these with the 40s or 45s but, again, I got through about three reps with the 40s and fell over. Seriously.


Macros: 53/173/210 (58) ~2009 calories

Considering dropping my protein down from 180gs to something closer to 140gs. This is probably going to happen because 1.) I’m not on a cut so the likelihood of me using protein as “fuel,” instead of for mass building, is less likely 2.) I don’t like drinking so many of my calories and it’s hard for me to stay within my (carb) macros otherwise and 3.) To be honest, getting 50+g from powders is getting pretty expensive.


Food n00dz

Late night snack


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Meech, I'm sorry for this post but, in my (fruitless) search for my squat video, I found all of these food n00dz I haven't posted yet ...


Everything home-made pizza (except the last of my free Daiya).



Home-made lentil and TVP samosa and lentil soup.



Super-spicy tofu, eggplant, beans, and onions with brown rice from High Thai'd.



And then copious amounts of Voodoo (for Nicholas, wherever he is).



This was actually breakfast. And when your breakfast looks like dessert, I think it's a win. Voodoo, peanut butter, granola, and blueberries.



And this, my friends, is IIFYM. Toaster pop, ice cream, and peanut butter.


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