Day 66 Part 2, Good News and Bad News

Bad news first, always bad news first.

In short, something popped in my left hip as I attempted to squat 215. It was the last warm up set and I was going for depth for just one rep. It wasn’t debilitating, just not a normal feeling. I rested for 3 minutes, stretched and put 225 on the bar. With 30 seconds left in my rest I looked at the bar and said, “Are you crazy? If 215 pops your hip out, what do you think 225 is going to do?!” So I pulled off a plate and tried to squat 135…

No go dude. Time to quit.

Part of the problem is that everything is sore. My traps, delts, lats, lower back and knees. Clearly this is fucking with my form. Ok, I get the message. Time to take a break.

And now the good news. I always remember that one of the benchmarks of strength is to be able to bench your own weight. Well, today that happened!

  • 200 x 5
  • 200 x 6
  • 205 x 4

Ok, technically I didn’t bench my weight because I currently weigh 207, but who cares!

So lets see where we are. On May 15th I set the following goals:

  • Weight: 203 (-7)
  • Squat: 235 (+20)
  • Bench: 200 (+10)
  • Press: 115 (+10)
  • Dead: 275 (+20)

In retrospect it appears that these were a little too optimistic. Here’s what reality will likely look like by June 3rd (the last day of lifting before my break).

  • Weight: 205
  • Squat: 225
  • Bench: 205
  • Press: 115
  • Dead: 270

But anything can happen between now and then so I really need to spend the next 2 days focusing on diet, rest and stretching.


Day 64, Back to the Gym

Yesterday’s macros were not as difficult to stick to as I thought. I logged everything as precisely as I could, including trace macros. The only thing I excluded was the green veggies from the 2 salads I ate. Here is the final tally:

  • Protein: 183
  • Carbs: 60
  • Fat: 80

The largest amount of carbs (22g) came from the 1/2 cup of brown rice that I added to my eggs and turkey sausage for my first meal. The interesting thing was that at no time during the day was I ravenously hungry. In fact I needed to force myself to eat my afternoon snack.

This morning I returned to the gym after 4 days off and did

  • Deadlift: 265 x 5 x 2, 265 x 4
  • Overhead Press: 110 x 5 x 3
  • Cable Rows: 100 x 10, 120 x 8, 140 x 8

2015-05-27 07.01.19The deadlift and press are new PRs, but I failed to get the last rep on the last set of deads so I will do 265 again next time. I haven’t done cable rows in a long time and didn’t know where to start. 140 seems to be a good weight to stick with for next time.

And now the rest of the day will be cake. My workout is done and I have 200 grams of carbs waiting for me to consume!

Day 59, Squat Goal Reached!

It finally happened. This morning I squatted 225!

2015-05-22 07.08.07Ever since I started doing linear progression barbell training (StrongLifts, Starting Strength, Big 3, etc.) I’ve fantasized about putting 2 45 pound plates on both sides of the bar. For some reason 2 plates seems like graduating to the next level.

After about 6 warm up sets, I loaded up the bar and sat down and stared at it for 3 minutes. The first set was a little shaky, my form was a bit off. I think I was nervous. But by the 3rd rep I realized that I wasn’t going to fail. The 2nd set was strong. By the third set I had worked up the courage (I have a bit of social anxiety) to ask one of the two college seniors working out next to me to film my final set.

There was something about the fact that they were watching or that the video was rolling (or both) that gave me confidence. When I dropped down for the first rep the bar felt abnormally light, almost as if I had lightened the weight. In retrospect after watching the video I realize that I didn’t drop low enough. In fact just about all of my reps were above parallel. After finishing the set its clear  that my form is pretty much right on. I don’t lean forward too much, the bar path is pretty straight. The bar is in a good place (for low position) and I’m breathing correctly. So really the only thing I need to work on is getting lower. From the advice of one of the guys at the gym it seems that pointing my toes out further should help this.

Here’s the video, I added annotations for where the descent didn’t go low enough.

After squatting I attempted 200 on the bench. The problem here is that my arms were completely toasted from the deep tissue massage that my wife gave me 2 nights before. I managed 5 reps on the first set, 4 reps with very little help from the spotter on the second set and 3 reps on the last set. Given the soreness of my arms I’m confident I would have gotten 3 sets of 5 had they felt normal. But I will stick with 200 next time. Regardless this is another PR even though I failed to get 3 x 5.

After that I contemplated a deadlift, but changed my mind. I was done!

So starting today, I’m back to eating via the LeanGains approach. My new macros on training days are:

  • 175 protein
  • 200 carbs
  • 30 fat

Which should work out to 1770 calories. These macros were derived by my coach on the Fitocracy program and while I think they might be a little low I’m going to go with it for now and see what happens.

By around 2pm today the Memorial Day holiday weekend will kick in and I will be challenged to maintain my new rest day macros for the first time. If I can make it to Monday and stay on target I’ve decided to reward myself with a non tracking day on Memorial Day proper, but I will stay conscious of what I’m eating and not overdo it.

Day 57, Why can’t the diet be as easy as the workout?!

2015-05-19 11.48.31Let’s start with the good news. I busted through 2 new PRs today.

Squat 220 x 5 x 3 and Bench 195 x 5 x 3. Tuesday is an off day for me at the gym but I had to deal with some logistical problems that prevented me from renewing my gym membership until yesterday afternoon. But who am I kidding, I was happy to sleep in yesterday.

So I plan to be a little unorthodox this week and take 2 days off in a row. This will set me up for Friday morning where I will finally try to hit 225 on the squat. If I’m not too sore, I’ll also shoot for 200 on the bench. Otherwise 260 deadlift again.

Diet wise, I’m still struggling. Trying to eat at a 1000 calorie/day deficit is hard and I already knew this when I started doing it last week. But the scale still doesn’t budge and I really think it should have by now. I started day 1 at 210 pounds and today I weigh 210 pounds. I suppose I should be happy because my strength went up significantly but my weight stayed the same. But I’m so conditioned to see the loss of pounds as a measure for success. I know, I know. Muscle weighs more than fat, body re-composition, etc. But the reality is that I have seen the other side of 200 pounds many times and even the other side of 190 a few times. But now I just can’t get there.

Day 53, Cutting seems to be working

My home scale read 208 this morning, down from 212 on Monday morning. So at least initially the cutting is working. I kept to my calories yesterday but my macros were bad. The meatballs I had for dinner were too fatty so I skimped on the protein.


Also, I’m having a hard time finding an accurate nutritional profile for cooked pasta. The best one I could find was 158 calories for 100 grams (which is a very small portion, most “normal” sized portions of cooked pasta are probably around 300 to 400 grams!)

Today’s gym experience was a bit challenging. My train was late and the squat racks were all taken. So I started with overhead presses and then moved to squats. This was fine until I got to the deadlift because I failed to get 5 reps. I was just too burned out from the squatting. Here are the numbers:

  • Squat 215 x 5 x 3 (same weight as Wednesday)
  • Overhead 105 x 5 x 3 (same weight as Monday)
  • Deadlift 260 x 3 x 1 (a new PR but didn’t get the 5 reps so I will do 260 again next time)

Perhaps after this month is over I will switch to an AB split of Squat/Bench and Dead. I could probably do OP after deads. So something like this:

Workout A

  • Squat 3 x 5
  • Bench 3 x 5

Workout B

  • Deadlift 3 x 5
  • Overhead Press 3 x 5

So now the real challenge begins… trying to cut over the weekend!

Day 51, PRs keep coming!

As with Monday I slept in and didn’t get to the gym until lunchtime today. All the squat racks were engaged so I did bench first which ended up being pretty impressive:

190 x 5 x 2, 190 x 6 (I had a spotter for the last set and pushed really hard, but didn’t fail)

This is a new PR! I’m 10 pounds away from being able to bench my own weight!

2015-05-13 12.06.36-2After that was squats and although I hit a new PR for 215, I failed to get 5 reps on the first set. I’m not sure if it was just a break in concentration or if I just hadn’t fully warmed up yet, but the next set was better (after resting for 5 minutes) and the final set was the easiest of all (after resting for 3 mins). So it breaks down like this:

215 x 4, 215 x 5 x 2

Both the Stronglifts and Starting Strength programs have you repeat the same weight next workout if you fail to get all the reps so I will play along and do 215 again on Friday, which will push off my goal of 225 until at least Wednesday of next week. This doesn’t bother me at all.

2015-05-13 12.18.37I snapped a mirror shot after working out and I think I’m starting to show some improvement. Clearly muscle and strength is the key, but I’m really starting to believe that aggressive calorie cutting is going to help me blast through the first 5% of body fat. Most articles I’ve read warn that strength gains will decrease and muscle mass will be lost on an aggressive caloric deficit, but not necessarily people with a lot of body fat to lose.

I tried writing some new goals yesterday and here is the base I came up with:

By June 3rd (That’s 3 weeks from today):

  • Weight: 203 (-7)
  • Squat: 235 (+20)
  • Bench: 200 (+10)
  • Press: 115 (+10)
  • Dead: 275 (+20)

I think these are very achievable goals so long as I remain focused. Getting my weight down to 203 will probably be the hardest of all but I think that if I ignore all the temptations I might be able to do it.

Here are my macros from yesterday, not excited about the extra 100 calories, but I did go for a 30 minute walk so I suppose the difference is negligible: