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Hey there!

 

I'm a 37 year-old French bloke leaving near Manchester since 2011, and I've been a vegan for 2 years now.

I'm 1.75m and 69kl.

 

I'm quite active, so a typical week would be: weights 4 to 5 times, running twice (2 hours in total), swimming twice (1 hour-ish in total). I'm pretty average in everything (half-marathon time = 1.45 for instance) but really enjoy my sport and doing various things.

 

However I've been stuck for a while when it comes to weight lifting, so I'm taking a 12 week challenge to seriously work on that, and improve a slew of other things (sleep, hydration, coffee addiction) on the way.

 

They say you must have a goal when you start a plan, I'm not sure what mine is right now. I suppose that at the end if I see improvements in major lifts, it will be a success. So say, if I progress from my usual 15-16 hammer grip pull-ups to 20, I'll be happy. Need to think more about it.

 

So starting this Monday 28.03.16, I'm committing to:

 

Weights: follow the program created by trainer Nick Mitchell, as detailled in the book:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Your-Ultimate-Body-Transformation-Plan/dp/0008147914?ie=UTF8&psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=ox_sc_act_title_2&smid=A3BY5A3P8V9XJD

 

I'll provide more details later, but to sum things up it involves per week:

2 days focusing on a specific area (arms, chest, etc) and 2 days for 2 different areas.

Do that for 3 weeks, then start another cycle, focusing on a different area.

Switch again after 3 weeks, and do that for 12 weeks.

 

Program and exercises don't focus a lot on the weight you can lift, and give priority to proper form and correct timing.

 

Nutrition: follow the following nutrition macros every day.

2800 kcal (conservative estimate for weight gain, might take it up if need be), spread as follows:

- prot 25% 170g / 680 kcal

- fat 25% 80g / 720 kcal

- carb 50% 350g / 1400kcal

 

I'm a small eater, so spread that out over 7 meals. Still dreading it a bit though.

 

Hydration:Drink a couple extra pints of water every day

 

Sleep:Get at least 7 hours of quality sleep every night.

My sleep as been quite bad, I wake up at night or very early (3/4am) and not getting enough rest.

Anyway, to improve that I will:

- get darker curtains My curtains are white and let all morning light in. Not great.

- get to bed at regular times 9.30 -10 pm

- get pc and phone out of the bedroom.

 

Caffeine addiction: Drink only 1 cup/coffee day, and switch to decaff green after 5pm.

Quite a change from my daily 5-6 cups of black battery acid

So the daily cup is kept as a pre-workout boost.

 

Post here at least a weekly update with

- 1 photo

- stats update like bodyweight.

- report on the work done at the gym, nutrition, hydration, sleep and caffeine intake.

 

So there, thanks for reading! Any advice or feedback along the way will be appreciated.

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Cheers Alex. So...

 

Week 0 - starting point !

 

Stats

I'll use a Von Haus body fat scale for tracking. Those figures are not always 100% accurate, but they are still good enough for reference and progress assessment.

Turns out I'm not 69kg as the scales at the gym read, but then I had shoes and clothes on.

 

Week 0

 

Weight 67,4kg

Body fat % 15.3

Hydration % 55.4

Muscle % 41.7

Bone % 15.7

 

Photo

http://i63.tinypic.com/w8lxqt.jpg

 

 

So I look athletic and ok, but 'ok' is not great

 

So I'll set my goals as follow:

- improve strength and lift more: go from 16 pull-ups to 20. Pull-ups has been the same for about a year, really want to improve that. Will provide later a longer list of lifts to improve.

- go from 15,3% Body Fat to 12%. Sounds realistic.

- go from 41.7% Muscle mass to 45%

 

Nom nom nom

And in order to achieve those goals, I'll start with the following diet for the first 3 weeks, to be tweaked if needed depending on progress - if any! :

carb-cycling

4 high carb days at 2600 calories on weight days

2 medium carb days at 2200 calories on cardio days

1 low carb day at 1800 calories on rest day

 

Details of the meal plan. Figures have been rounded up.

 

High carb day, 2,600 kcal

prot 25% 160g / 640 kcal

fat 30% 80g / 720 kcal

Carb 45% 300g / 1200kcal

 

Breakfast Green smoothie with hemp protein powder

350kcal 30prot 10carb 20fat

 

Post-workout shake Soy Milk and vegan chocolate protein powder

215kcal 31prot 4carb 8fat

 

Breakfast 2 Bowl of oats with currants, nuts, and a banana

624kcal 19prot 105carb 15fat

 

Lunch Large salad with tofu and toasted beans

255kcal 24prot 9carb 10fat

 

Breakfast 3 Bowl of oats with currants, nuts.

428kcal 15prot 57carb 13fat

 

Tea Bowl of quinoa and beans...

489kcal 28prot 67carb 12fat

 

...and a green smoothie with hemp protein powder

353kcal 26prot 39carb 9fat

 

 

Medium carb day: 2,200 kcal

apart from the high-carb post-workout breakfast, dropping carbs for other meals

prot 35% 170g / 680 kcal

fat 35% 90g / 810 kcal

Carb 30% 160g / 640kcal

 

Breakfast Green smoothie with hemp protein powder

350kcal 30prot 10carb 20fat

 

Post-workout shake Soy Milk and vegan chocolate protein powder

215kcal 31prot 4carb 8fat

 

Breakfast 2 Bowl of oats with currants, nuts, and a banana

624kcal 19prot 105carb 15fat

 

Lunch Large salad with tofu and toasted beans

255kcal 24prot 9carb 10fat

 

Breakfast 3 Glass of soy milk and handful of nuts

428kcal 15prot 57carb 13fat

 

Tea Large salad with tofu and toasted beans

255kcal 24prot 9carb 10fat

 

...and a green smoothie with hemp protein powder

258kcal 27prot 13carb 9fat

 

 

Low carb day: 1,800kcal

dropping all carbs for other meals including fruit, only keeping veggies.

prot 40% 170g / 680 kcal

fat 45% 90g / 810 kcal

Carb 15% 60g / 240kcal

 

Breakfast Green smoothie with hemp protein powder

350kcal 30prot 10carb 20fat

 

Post-workout shake Soy Milk and vegan chocolate protein powder

215kcal 31prot 4carb 8fat

 

Breakfast 3 Glass of soy milk and handful of nuts

428kcal 15prot 57carb 13fat

 

Lunch Large salad with tofu and toasted beans

255kcal 24prot 9carb 10fat

 

Breakfast 3 Glass of soy milk and handful of nuts

428kcal 15prot 57carb 13fat

 

Tea Large salad with tofu and toasted beans

255kcal 24prot 9carb 10fat

 

...and a green smoothie with hemp protein powder

258kcal 27prot 13carb 9fat

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Week 1 / Session 1

 

LEGS

 

Exercise Sets Reps Tempo Rest Weight

 

1A Machine Squat 10 10 4010 90 83 kg

1B Lying Harmstring curl 10 10 4010 90 10 plates

2A Seated calf raise 2 12 3011 75 n/a

2B Standing calf raise 2 30 2010 60 n/a

 

 

- Exercises with the same number are supersets, for instance 1A and 1B are done one after the other.

 

- Tempo: I'll add a word about that as I've never seen that code used anywhere else.

Take 4010

4 is the time in seconds you take to lower the weight

0 is the time at the bottom of the movement

1 is the time taken to lift the weight

0 is the time at the top of the movement.

So osbviously: strong emphasis on the eccentric phase!

 

- that many sets (10) per exercises is quite new to me, I was used to keep to 3 sets, rarely going up to 4 or 5.

 

- resting times feel quite long, I usually keep only 30 secs between 2 exercises back to back in supersets, with no rest in between.

 

- overall, felt more demanding that my usual leg session

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Week 1 / Session 2

 

ARMS

 

http://i63.tinypic.com/2ut0wf8.png

 

Forum removes some formatting, so uploading a screenshot of the session. Bit of a hassle!

 

Anyway, good session and had some energy left for a few dropsets.

I had never done wrists exercises before, the superset is killing, even with a very low weight!

Defo some lots of room for progress there.

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Week 1 / Session 3

 

CHEST / BACK

 

http://i63.tinypic.com/2e34a9s.png

 

High sets workout.

Had never done cable face pull, but that's a another nice exercise I had never tried before.

 

Did some cardio yesterday as well.

 

Morning: Tabata on bike + cross trainer and stair climber for a total of 45 minutes.

I'm running a half-marathon on May 15th, but my ankle is playing up, so replacing runs with other forms of endurance training.

 

Afternoon: 30ish minutes swimming at the pool. I need to practice my front crawl.

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Week 1 / Session 4

 

ARMS

 

Same as arms session 2, but with a different number of reps.

A bit too early to use heavier weights, but I managed a few weighted dips and chin-up.

 

http://i68.tinypic.com/2hmqbeu.png

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Week 1 - ASSESSMENT

 

Good first week, completed all workouts and reached many objectives regarding nutrition or hydration.

I do feel my muscle are working harder. Feeling generally tired.

Strongly doubt my scales are really reliable, as shown in the stats. Considering getting better ones.

 

Stats

Weight 66,6kg -1,2kg, compared to last week How did that happen without a massive cut down in calorie intake ? Hum, hum...

Body fat % 19 +3.7? These scales are a joke.

Hydration % 55.6 +0.2

Muscle % 41.8 +0.1 Will eat a bit more to take that up and see how it goes.

Bone % 15.7 15.8 +0.1

 

Photo

http://i66.tinypic.com/2u9kefq.jpg

 

Nutrition

Followed plan without slip-ups, even my meal at indian restaurant (chickpeas and rice, fuck it was good!!) fit into the macros.

Feeling quite hungry after training, so going to increase the size of of the two meals that follow lifting times.

Realized that I'm having soy pretty much all the time... Not sure that does any harm, but for the sake of variety I'll have only 2 servings a day and use more rice and almond milk

Adding +50g carbs/on high days as feeling and looking tired. Protein and fat stay about the same (170g and 80g)

 

So now the macros are:

 

High carb day, 2,800 kcal (+200)

prot 25% 170g / 680 kcal

fat 25% 80g / 720 kcal

Carb 50% 350g (+50g) / 1400kcal (+200)

 

Medium carb day: 2,200 kcal

prot 35% 170g / 680 kcal

fat 35% 90g / 810 kcal

Carb 30% 160g / 640kcal

 

Low carb day: 1,800 kcal

prot 40% 170g / 680 kcal

fat 45% 90g / 810 kcal

Carb 15% 60g / 240kcal

 

 

Hydration:

Success, had my extra 2 or even 3 extra large glasses of water a day.

 

Sleep:

hum, could still better. Managed 6 to 7 hours of good enough sleep and kept regular bed times.

Still waking up at 2.30-4am though, and not always manage to get back to sleep.

 

Caffeine addiction:

Success. First 1 day with only 1 cup was SHIT But had no problem the rest of the week.

Drinking decaff green tea from lunch time on.

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Week 2 / Session 1

 

ARMS

 

Things are getting harder - each exercise has an extra set

My wrists just give up in supersets with no resting time, that's definetely something I need and want to improve.

 

Feeling better and less tired with a larger shake and meal post-training

 

http://i68.tinypic.com/2jboemu.jpg

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Week 2 / Session 2

 

CHEST / BACK

 

http://i63.tinypic.com/2eusums.jpg

 

Nice improvements, managed to add +2 kg to the dumbbell neck press, the rows at 18kg went relatively well while I struggled last time.

Also performed the 3x120 secs plank, way better than last week : 90sex x 2

 

Sessions requires a lot of focus to keep the lifting tempos and the form right at every rep.

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Week 2 / Session 3

 

ARMS

 

Uneven session. On the one hand I managed to lift a bit more for some exercises, on the other I lost concentration on the way so last sets were half-hearted. Also managed dips and pull-ups for only 30 secs, instead of the 40 required.

 

http://i67.tinypic.com/5jtzq9.png

 

Did 1h cardio yesterday as part of endurance training for half-marathon mid-May:

- 20 mn Tabata on bike

- 20 mn cross-trainer medium pace

- 20 mn stair climbing medium pace

I like Tabata intervals, they're very humbling. By the 4th rep, I'm badly panting and want to put my head in a fridge

 

Ankle is getting better so might run on Sunday or maybe next week, no hurry really.

Running the half with my gf and she's not a fast runner yet, her target is about 2h30. Should feel quite easy for me.

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Week 2 / Session 4

 

LEGS

 

Good session, managed 10% more weight on leg press, and with room for extra.

Should push myself more on leg days.

Had to be careful with calf raises as I dislocated my toe back in December (on a cross-trainer ), and I could feel some discomfort.

 

http://i67.tinypic.com/330sh75.jpg

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Week 2 - ASSESSMENT

 

Good second week, I managed on the whole to lift heavier weights, and my grip is stronger.

Not much change visually yet.

Sleep is still a problem.

Got new fancy scales, pricey but so much better than the old (crappy) ones!

 

Stats

As I'm using new scales I won't do comparisons with previous figures.

Muscle weight seems strangely high, even if according to the manufacturer that includes heart and digestive muscles, and the water in them. Well that's still useful for reference.

 

Weight 65.7kg

Body fat % 7.9

Hydration % 61.7

Muscle weight 57.8 kg

 

Photo

Eh, I had not realised the bathroom was so dark. Will take better pictures the following weeks.

 

http://i68.tinypic.com/155m79t.jpg

 

Nutrition

More energy with the extra calories and larger post-workout meals. Also dropped a swimming session on Thursday evening so that helped a bit too.

Noticed than my appetite is regulated now that I stopped eating 2 to 5 pieces of fruits a day (just 1 at the moment) and pouring raisins on my cereals. Cravings for food are a lot weaker, my appetite feels more even.

 

No change in macros, I'll tweak next week depending on stat variations.

 

High carb day, on training days, 4 days/week : 2,800 kcal

prot 25% 170g / 680 kcal

fat 25% 80g / 720 kcal

Carb 50% 350g / 1400kcal

 

Medium carb day, on cardio days, 2 days/week: 2,200 kcal

prot 35% 170g / 680 kcal

fat 35% 90g / 810 kcal

Carb 30% 160g / 640kcal

 

Low carb day, on rest day, 1 day/week 1,800 kcal

prot 40% 170g / 680 kcal

fat 45% 90g / 810 kcal

Carb 15% 60g / 240kcal

 

 

Hydration:

No issues there.

 

Sleep:

No progress

Still wake-up 1 or 2 times per night for bathroom brakes and really hard to get back to sleep after that. Also feel a bit peckish when I wake up. Going to drink less in the afternoon/evening and eat a bit more in the last meal.

 

Caffeine addiction:

No issues there. Caffeine jolt is a lot stronger now and I feel really warm and energetic with the single strong black cup pre work-out.

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Week 3 / Session 1

 

ARMS

 

A shorter session, with fewer sets, less exercises, and longer resting times.

 

It was basically begging for heavier weight

 

So of course I took it up a bit, but on a couple of exercises I fell into that old trap of lifting too much and letting down tempo and form.

Added a couple extra dropsets and chin-ups at the end.

 

http://i64.tinypic.com/sqhwg8.png

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And this is what healthy vegan b*st*rds eat

 

http://i65.tinypic.com/33wta9g.jpg

 

From left to right: spinach, red pepper, red cabbage, avocado, almonds, basil leaves, toasted beans, cherry tomatoes.

 

A nutrient bomb! Bon appétit.

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Nice work dude. Questions re: waking up in the middle of the night. Do you stretch legs ever? I sometimes wake up because my legs are tight from not stretching enough. Feels like I've been standing too long or something similar.

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Week 3 / Session 2

 

CHEST/BACK

 

Tough one, used heavier +2kg dumbbells for chest press and incline row, real progress there.

Also the form on chest press is improving, joining my shoulder blades when going down and keeping my back on the bench.

Great for abs!

 

Was totally spent though for the final plank and my left toe does like pressure, so had to take it down a bit.

 

http://i68.tinypic.com/wmc7fb.jpg

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Nice work dude. Questions re: waking up in the middle of the night. Do you stretch legs ever? I sometimes wake up because my legs are tight from not stretching enough. Feels like I've been standing too long or something similar.

 

Yeah I strech and foam roal legs after cardio, so that's twice a week these days. I'm not very flexible but no problem there I guess.

Drinking less in the afternoon/evening and eating more in the evening as helped a bit this week.

 

What helped the most was cardio or gym after work, I was spent and slept better but I really prefer training early/very early before work now.

 

Still might try a walk in the evening and see how it goes, plus weather in the UK is finally getting almost acceptable, so it's the right time!

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Week 3 / Session 3

 

ARMS

 

Shorter session, pretty much the same as the previous arm one this week.

 

Did ok and avoided my previous mistake to lift too heay and focus on proper form and tempo instead.

Still I think my lifting form is far from perfect on the bench press, I'll take a step back, use lower weight and make sure to get it spot on before going up again.

Left shoulder is a fairly painful too, but will be fine with a few day's rest.

 

http://i67.tinypic.com/w0t3dl.png

 

 

Yesterday: cardio

Ran for about 1 hour in the woods. Feeling great, no knee pain whatsoever

Swimming for 1/2 hour in the evening, but it was a bit shit, very crowded pool, kids running around and screaming. Hard to get any serious work done.

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Week 3 / Session 4

 

LEGS

 

Good session, managed +10kg on the leg press and really struggled to complete the last 2 sets, as only managed 7 reps.

Swapped standing calf raise with legs extension to give my toe a rest. Will have x-ray soon to find out what#s wrong with it.

 

http://i66.tinypic.com/nzevzb.jpg

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Week 3 - ASSESSMENT

 

OK third week, all workouts completed and followed nutrition plan just fine.

 

Managed to lift more on the whole and I feel stronger. Form is not always perfect though and needs improving.

 

Not much change visually, and according to stats, I've lost a bit of weight and muscle - while not dropping body fat.

That was not the plan

 

It's odd as I could swear my legs are bigger and my boxers feel tighter. Same for back, pecs and arms.

 

Anyway, course of action:

- calories up, +250/day on average.

- drop 1 swimming session, and keep the remaining one under 40mn.

- will take running down to 30-45/min twice week, when half marathon is done.

 

I'm aware I'm chasing 3 different goals at the same, each pulling in it's own direction: lift more/better, swim better, get back in running and do a half marathon.

Thing is, I love all of them in a different way.

 

Still for the time being, I'll give priority to lifting with all it means it terms of rest and nutrition.

 

Stats

 

Weight 65.4kg (-0.3kg)

Body fat % 7.9 (no change)

Hydration % 61 (-0.7 %)

Muscle weight 57.2 kg (-0.6kg)

 

Photo

 

http://i67.tinypic.com/161dycw.jpg

 

 

Nutrition

Need more calories as the idea is to gain strength, so at the very least keep muscle mass muscle the same, or even better, take it up, and lose some fat in the process too.

 

So it's calories up a bit (+250/day in average), focusing on cardio and rest days as I already feel 'stuffed' sometimes on a high carb days.

Keeping prot and fat about the same, while increasing carbs as follows:

 

High carb day, on training days, 4 days/week : 3,000 kcal (+200)

prot 25% 190g / 760 kcal

fat 25% 80g / 720 kcal

Carb 50% 400g / 1600kcal (+50g)

 

Medium carb day, on cardio days, 2 days/week: 2,500 kcal (+300)

prot 30% 170g / 680 kcal

fat 30% 80g / 720 kcal

Carb 40% 270g / 1080kcal (*120g)

 

Low carb day, on rest day, 1 day/week 2,100 kcal (+300)

prot 30% 170g / 680 kcal

fat 40% 90g / 810 kcal

Carb 30% 150g / 600kcal (+100g)

 

 

Hydration:

Ok. Replaced the 2 extra pints of water with equivalent in decaff green tea, as water alone felt a bit flat.

 

Sleep:

Slightly better, it's becoming acceptable. I stopped looking and feeling tired.

 

Caffeine addiction:

Under control

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Week 4 / Session 1

 

BACK

 

Starting a new 3-week cycle, with 2 sessions/week focusing on back, and 2 sessions to cover the rest.

 

For more details on the plan, see Mick Mitchell's book:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Your-Ultimate-Body-Transformation-Plan/dp/0008147914/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1460999946&sr=1-1&keywords=nick+mitchell

 

So today was first back session.

A bit or a marathon (1h30) as I usually keep my sessions between 50min and 1h.

Demanding, but completed it ok, so pretty happy with it

A couple exercises I had never tried before, like the reverse incline one-arm arc row, and deadlifts which I had not done for a months, so form wasn't perfect.

 

My left shoulder is still not great but manageable. I lifted less than usual on bench press to give it a bit of rest. I'll see how it goes the rest of the week, but might swap some exercises so as not to stress it.

 

http://i66.tinypic.com/2pzyc0g.jpg

 

 

Picture from yesterday's run

 

http://i65.tinypic.com/s41176.jpg

 

Greater Manchester area, and Peak District in the back. Manchester is on the left somewhere.

I love running in the wood, it's peaceful and a lot more fun than roads! Also way easier on the knees.

 

Huge kudos to the old lady who I say cleaning her dog's mess, in the middle of the wood.

You wouldn't dream of seeing that in France!

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Week 4 / Session 2

 

LEGS

 

It had been a while since I had not done any squat as my left knee was not happy with those.

 

Had never tried front squat at all, so gave it a go with or without a rack. The former feels safer, so might stick to it for the time being.

 

http://i67.tinypic.com/wwkacm.png

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Week 4 / Session 3

 

BACK

Not the greatest session, felt tired and not really into it.

Kept the weight the same for deadlift, form is coming back and my back is more happy.

Still managed to lift a bit more on the lying sideways dumbbell pullover and the incline reverse 1 arm arc row.

 

http://i65.tinypic.com/1hbhh0.jpg

 

Yesterday: did 1 hour cardio, with 15mn each on bike/stairs/cross-trainer/rowing, and doing some Tabata and other random intervals.

Went well, I've got more energy with the extra calories. Feels odd to eat that much though, or eat when you're not actually hungry.

First world problem at best I guess

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Week 4 / Session 4

 

ARMS / DELT

 

Good session, slept a lot better and felt much more rested and focused as a result.

 

The close-grip curls are great to target the biceps.

 

Tried the dipping belt I bought earlier on.

So far I was just holding a dumbbell between my legs when doing weighted dips and pull-ups and that was ok.

The belt is great if you need to add more than 10kg, plus you can focus properly on the exercises instead of keeping your legs tight enough so the dummbell does not fall.

 

http://i66.tinypic.com/23r5ogo.jpg

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