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.

Workout mistakes: Part 3 – You’re not eating to support your goals

In part 2 of this series, I covered the fundamentals of training and physique transformation to help get you focused on the things that matter most. In this post, we explore nutrition and eating to support your training goals.

Eating is an emotive subject, much abused in the industry with terms like “clean eating” and “eating healthily”. They make sense as abstract statements, but they do little to help you translate that into practical advice.

How has something so simple as eating to meet your needs become a veritable minefield and major cause of confusion for so many people?

Bombarded with vague, misleading and sometimes purposefully incorrect information, more and more people are struggling with diet and nutrition.

There always seems to be some new diet or eating protocol to follow, and even the common sense approaches have now been sufficiently debased so as to leave the most pragmatic among us confused.

Well I’m here to help, and with this post I plan to cover:

  • Energy balance
  • Understanding your maintenance calories
  • Food quality
  • The importance of consistency

Read more…

I owe you an apology

I just wanted to say sorry, James.

When we talk of diet and exercise, we often joke about bulking and cutting and generally have a bit of a laugh. It’s what we do.

And yet, deep down, we know there’s a more serious part to the conversation; I mean, health matters.

But mostly, we just let of steam, using humor and hyperbole to lighten the conversation and color our daily discretions.

But the other day, I let you down. You. My son. Someone I love more than life itself.

After poking fun at each other as we often do, the conversation changed. You were being sincere about wanting to shed a few pounds, lose some weight, get fit. You started to describe some perfectly reasonable steps as to how you’d do it, and I shot them down.

Read more…

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.

Read more…

Cravings, failings and goals

Goals help you control your cravingsI got an email from a good friend over the weekend who is struggling with lack of progress, and in particular with food cravings. Moreover, the psychological impact of both stalling on progress and giving in to cravings is starting to take it’s toll on his well being.

Now, anyone that’s been around the iron long enough will know that cravings and disappointment with progress are commonplace and effect all of us from time to time.

What’s important is that we learn to embrace these things as part of the life-style and not “label” ourselves as weak or failures.

Read more…

Bodybuilding diets made simple

Bodybuilding Diets Made SimpleI see a LOT of posts every day about the minutiae of dieting; macros, calorie tracking, food journaling, nutrient timing, feeding the anabolic window, fasting, carb cycling … the list is possibly endless. And, truth be told, I’ve tried some or all of these techniques over the years as I work toward my physique goals.

However, over the last six months in particular, I’ve come to the realization that bodybuilding diets are, in fact, incredibly simple.*

Read more…

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?

Read more…

The journey to 190lb is over… for now

Screen Shot 2015-05-27 at 10.51.46 AMAs most of you are are now painfully aware, I’ve been pushing hard on this latest bulk to reach 190lb. Alas, my window closed this morning with 187.75lb showing on the morning scale.

Still, I’m not disappointed.

I’ve learned a lot about my body this last six months and managed to add quite a bit of size to my frame. Said differently, I’ve created a really solid foundation for the upcoming cut, and ultimately for another run at size in the new year.

Read more…

Tenets of my upcoming cutting program

Helmut Strebl
There are few leaner than Helmut Strebl!

Just three weeks or so now until the next weigh-in, and unless something changes between now and then, the plan is to up the density of my workouts and start a cut. Hence, my attention is slowly shifting to what that workout and diet will look like and how I’ll approach the overall process.

Based on what I’ve learned over the last year or so of training, here’s what I’m envisioning as the key tenets of my cutting regimen:

  • Build an enjoyable program
  • Focus on density
  • Eat as much as possible while still making progress
  • Minimize cardio

Read more…

Top tips to help you reach your physique goals

arnoldAs those of you who follow me know, I am VERY passionate about health, fitness and in particular, bodybuilding. You’ll also be quick to note that I am no expert, and I am certainly not yoked (at least not by my own high standard).

However, I have learned a lot from working with and following some of the industry’s leading authorities (like Adam Bornstein and Bryan Krahn), and perhaps, most of all, through wide experimentation.

In fact, of late, I’ve even had modest success, pushing my lean body mass to its highest point yet while holding an all-time personal-high bodyweight of 180lbs. And as I begin to flirt with success, a number of friends and family have asked for a little help and guidance in pursuit of their own physique goals… something I am more than happy (and flattered!) to do for them.

Read more…