Progress on my cut: Master of straight lines?

Just a progress update and some observations as I push deeper into this cut. Between my hamstrings and body weight charting, I am proving to be the master of straight lines.

As progress on this cut continues, I hit a new low weigh-in this morning of 188.5 lbs.

At the the start of this cut, I was torn. Do I simply drop the chub or look to push deeper into lean this time around? However, I ended-up deferring that decision, opting instead to change the nature of the game and see how far I could get without any kind of food tracking or unnecessary restriction.

So far, so good, and a full account of the cut will be posted at the end – whenever that is. But for now, I wanted to share a few thoughts and observations from my progress so far, ten weeks and three days into my cut.

For reference, in terms of hard data, 5.5 lbs ago, I was 10.4% body fat at 194lbs. So my guess, assuming minimal loss of lean mass, is that I’m very roughly 8.5% body fat at 188.5 lbs.

  1. I am the master of straight lines.
    Joke. Kind of. I mean, beyond my weight-loss progress, my hamstrings, too, are the shortest distance between two points!
  2. Notice how body weight change moves in waves.
    Loss, loss, flat, increase, loss, loss, flat, increase. And even then, the magnitude of the tides vary greatly in the Scalar Sea.
  3. 8.5% body fat, and not an ab in sight.
    Seriously. There are people that can walk around at 10 or 11% body fat with a nicely defined midsection, but genetics have a huge roll to play here. This is in part why I have always wrestled with the commitment to getting lean enough to have a six-pack. I have to go really deep into my diet to see those kind of results.
  4. I’m going to keep pushing, for now.
    Despite the likelihood I will not be entirely happy with the visual results at the end, I am feeling more and more inclined to go deeper into this cut. Bottom line: We’ll see.
  5. Tracking schmacking.
    20lbs down from my bulking peak, and absolutely no food tracking at all. Just diligent monitoring of body weight and a common sense approach to hunger management.

There’s likely a lot more to discuss on some of these points, and a full account of the bulk and cut will eventually be posted. Just wanted to drop a short update and bring people along on the journey in something close to real time.

If you want to discuss my approach or ask questions about my diet or data, hit me up in the comments, or find me on Twitter or Facebook.

Final body composition test of the year

I had my final hydrostatic test of the year yesterday at the FitnessWave mobile testing unit that visits my office. It was my tenth test in almost exactly two years, and it’s been a fun and informative process.

The numbers from this final test are not all that impressive when considered in isolation, but when I add a little narrative and consider the longer journey, they stack-up pretty well.

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What I learned in the last three months

It’s been 75 days since the last time I posted, and frankly, a lots happened.

If you’re a regular reader you’ll know that what I put up here is somewhat of a mixed bag; part journal, part training log and probably two-parts waffle … and no, not the good kind. Still, I’m not making you read, that’s on you.

So, given I could cover a lot here, we’ll keep it focused on training, diet and what I’ve learned in the last three months. And for those of you that want to bail early, here’s the summary:

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Exactly one month into the cut

IMG_20150607_085456It’s been almost a month to the day since the end of my last bulking phase. If you recall, I ended the bulk at 187.75lbs, a couple of pounds shy of my 190lb target. Truth be told, I have far from mastered the art of the bulk, and I was grateful to see it end. Still, we’ll do better next time.

As bodybuilders, we say a lot of things that need added context to make complete sense, especially to the novice trainee. For example, consider some of the things I say regularly:

  • “I’m not even dieting yet”
  • “I don’t do any cardio at all”
  • “I don’t track my macros”
  • “I pretty much eat what I want”

All of these things are both completely true, and yet, very misleading without context and some added narrative.

Hence, the goal with this update is to be very specific about what I’ve done during the last month, and evaluate where we are as we head into the second half of this cutting phase.

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Progress update: Week two of the mini cut

Today marks the end of the second week for my cutting phase, and I was both pleased and unnerved at the result. I weighed in at 184.5lb on the morning scale, that’s about 3.5lb down from the start of the cut.

Pleased?

Well, this is a cutting phase after all, so seeing the scale move is both desirable and appropriate. I was also largely happy with the number. While 1.75lb per week is a little on the high side, I’d expect to see that rate of loss drop-off in later weeks… at least not without another significant change.

But why unnerved?

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Full cutting program

arnold-bicepsOver the last couple of weeks, I’ve been posting individual workouts I’ve been testing as part of a new cutting program.

Today, as promised, here’s a write-up of the entire program, largely for your convenience.

Before I’d finished the last bulk, I was already thinking ahead to this next phase and how I’d approach it. I shared my thoughts in a post as the tenets of my cutting program. So far, I’ve held true to those tenets.

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Last of the cutting workouts tested

IMG_20150122_172105Ran through the last of the new cutting routines last night, a row oriented back, traps and biceps session.

I didn’t have time for a full run-through, partly due to a time crunch, and partly because my gym partner wants to move the chest session to Monday.

My solution was to run through the back routine last night and test the programming, with the view to repeating it again on Wednesday for real.

The routine as written breaks-down like this:

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Lord of the flys

IMG_20150530_082241Now that the bulk is complete, I’ve switched over to a three-day split routine run six on, one off. The splits are back, traps and biceps, legs, and chest, shoulders and triceps.

Yesterday (Saturday) morning was the final chest workout of the new cutting program, a chest, shoulder and triceps routine oriented around flys and cable work to counter the heavier pressing work of the previous session.

Overall, the workout went well, although the volume does eventually get to my left shoulder. I’m on the fence with this one, so I’ll be playing with it a little more.

Here’s the breakdown:

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Second round of legs, all in the back side

tom-platz-hamstringsThis week, I’m testing six new routines as part of my upcoming cutting program. The plan is to use a 3-day split run 6-on, 1-off, with Sunday as my rest day.

Last night was the second and final leg workout for the week, and unlike Tuesday’s leg session, this one was all hamstrings and glutes.

Truth be told, my legs, and especially my glutes, were still pretty sore from Tuesday… that workout was off-the-charts hard. Still, after a little light stretching and a couple of warmup sets, it didn’t seem to interfere with my ability to move through this workout.

I followed the program as written. Here’s how it breaks down:

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First of the back, trap and biceps sessions

IMG_20150410_163026Worked through the first of two back, trap and biceps workouts last night. This session was largely oriented in the vertical plane, so lots of pulling work.

With all of the workouts in this cutting phase, I am focused on density; getting more work done in less time with just enough stimulus to maintain lean mass. That means all rest intervals are kept to sixty seconds or less. As a result, the routine looks a little light on pure lat work, with only one pull-up movement programmed.

Here’s the routine as written:

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