Starting The Lean Gains Approach

So this week, I’ve started the leangains approach to dieting and exercise. Really, it’s not so much dieting as it is changing the time periods where I eat my normal food amounts. Though in my case, I am eating around 1000 calories a day, so I specifically am on a diet. The exercise approach calls for low volume high intensity compound exercises. The diet approach calls for a 16/8 intermittent fasting method of eating where one eats during an 8 hour window, then does not for the next 16 hours. There are a few other odds and ends to the lean gains approach which I only realized yesterday that I’ve been leaving out. Specifically, my fasted workout pre-workout supplementation. So, I will have that fixed by my next workout tomorrow.

One thing that stands out from lean gains, which I’ve already started doing, is setting goals and tracking one’s progress in the gym. I’ve changed my primary routines to squats, deadlifts, and bench presses. I may add in weighted chin ups later to my gym workout, for now I just do the chins at home. Aside from the bench press, I hadn’t done any of the others in the gym until either this week, or shortly before the Christmas break. And even the bench press, until this week, the last time I’d done any non-machine presses was over a year ago. Despite all that, while I’m going to log my starting weights at each exercise starting with this week, I think for the purposes of monitoring my progress, I will consider my true start to be my current levels at the end of this week.

Why you may ask? Well, since I’ve not done squats or deadlifts, my initial results at those workouts will be much lower than my actual strength. So using the results from my first exercise would portray a much larger than actual increase in strength. In my first go at deadlifts, I went from 135lb sets to 195lb. I will likely increase by another 20-40lbs tomorrow. So even choosing 195lbs as my starting best would still skew the numbers too much.

My current plan is to stay on lean gains through the end of February, then make a decision on continuing for another two months (before then deciding on continuing for the rest of the year). My first checkpoint will be at the end of January. I’ll evaluate where I am strength, weight, and fat-wise, and decide whether I want to try to drastically increase my fat loss at the potential cost of strength or continue at my current pace through February. Strength-wise, assuming that I’m able to increase, not just maintain strength, I actually expect to reach (or exceed) 280lbs on squats and deadlifts and 230lbs on the bench press. Then if I continue through April,  325lbs on squats and deadlifts and 265lbs on the bench press. My stretch goal by the end of the year is 400lbs on squats and deadlifts and 325lbs on the bench press. Writing it all down seems ridiculous now, pretty much doubling my current strength on all those items, but those are my goals and I’m going to stick to them.

Beyond strength goals, I want to be at 10% bodyfat by the end of April and 5-8 by the end of the year. Aesthetically, I want nice 6-pack abs while not being ridiculously skinny. I expect it will be tough, until I start seeing results, I’m going to be too obsessed over whether things are working, what I’m eating, if I’m pushing myself enough in the gym, not to mention dealing with stress from school and life. I’ve also wondered if this is a backup plan for my sanity – having something else to succeed at so if things go bad with school, I’m not a complete failure at life. So, no pressure me. . . no pressure.

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