Weekend Update 2: A day late. . .

So, last week I departed from my 1000 calorie a day diet and switched to following Andy Morgan’s macros for a cut that he describes on his site. So far, things are going well. My strength is up, and I finally broke through my 185lb bench press plateau. My wake-up energy levels are up, I seem to get out of bed faster now without hitting snooze. While I’m sure this was definitely nutrition related, I will admit that there were other things going on in my life whose stress could have affected my waking energy levels as well.

Weight-wise, I’m at the same point. Part of the reason is that this week, due to various social events, I’ve actually went over my macros (though only on workout days) – pretty much every single workout day. So slightly disappointing, but still amazing when you think about it. See, I went from eating around 1000 calories per day to a diet which averages to 1750 calories per day, had several days where I exceeded that average by a lot (Saturday was a 5000 calorie day) and despite all that, did not actually gain weight.

This week should be much more low key, so I’m looking forward to seeing the scale move down and cutting more fat. Anyway, let’s look at my strength change just over the past week alone:

  • Bench press: 185 x 5 -> 190 x 2
  • Squat: 275 x 3 -> 275 x 5
  • Deadlift: 340 x 2 -> 350 x 4

The squat and bench press gains as written don’t tell the complete story. So I do a version of reverse pyramid training on my three main lifts (Which are the ones that I list for benchmarks {though I sometimes also list weighted chin ups for those who are looking at the strength goals listed by Martin on leangains, but I don’t do those as often as the big three}). Anyway, for example, I would aim for the following on squats: 275 x 5, 270 x 5, and 265 x 5. If I can achieve (rep-wise) sets of at least 4-5-3, 4-3-5, or 5-3-3 or better, then I move up the weight by 5lbs on the next day I do that exercise. I’d been stuck at 275lbs on my squat for over a week and only this week did well enough so that I’ll be moving up to 280lbs tomorrow. The same thing applies to the bench, I’d been stuck at 185 for almost two months and now only finally did well enough to move that up.

My deadlift has always been my strongest and continues to improve in leaps and bounds compared to my other lifts. One thing that I’m pretty proud of is being close to reaching specific strength benchmarks. So, for the purposes of talking about this, I’ll recap my current strength levels including weighted chin ups:

  • Weight 194lbs
  • Bench press: 190 x 2
  • Squat: 275 x 5
  • Deadlift: 350 x 4
  • Chin up: +40lbs x 7

So, copied from Martin’s leangains site are the following strength benchmarks:

Strength Goals: Intermediate

Bench press: body weight x 1.2

Chin-ups or pull-ups: body weight x 1.2 or 8 reps with body weight.

Squat: body weight x 1.6

Deadlift: body weight x 2

These numbers are for a raw (no straps, belt or knee wraps) single repetition.

The progress towards the intermediate strength goals should be fairly linear, meaning that there should be no plateaus that cannot be solved in an uncomplicated manner. By “consistent” training I do not mean never missing a training day, nor do I consider taking 2-3 months off from training consistent.

By “decent training routine”, I mean “not doing blatantly stupid shit” (training 5-6 days/week, 20-25 sets for chest and arms, etc.). I do not mean optimal and flawless.

Strength Goals: Advanced 

Under the exact same conditions as the previous example, 3 out of 4 of the following goals should be reached within five years, along with all of the strength goals listed under “intermediate”:

Bench press: body weight x 1.5

Chin-ups or pull-ups: body weight x 1.5 or 15 reps with body weight.

Squat: body weight x 2

Deadlift: body weight x 2.5

Strength Goals: Highly Advanced 

Under the exact same conditions, all of the following goals should be reached within ten years. Alternatively, 3 out of 4 should be reached, and one should be “Elite”:

Bench press: body weight x 1.5, or x 1.8 (elite)

Chin-ups or pull-ups: body weight x 1.5 or 15 reps with body weight, or x 1.8 / 20 reps (elite)

Squat: body weight x 2, or x 2.4 (elite)

Deadlift: body weight x 2.5, or x 3 (elite)

“Elite” denotes one lift that is often ahead of the others. For example, people who are natural pullers (long arms) may very well hit a 3 x body weight deadlift before a 1.5 x body weight bench, and vice versa for the presser (short arms, stocky and barrel-chested) benching 1.8 x body weight but not being able to pull 2.5 x body weight in the deadlift.

Excluding the bench press, I feel I’m within a few weeks of meeting all the Intermediate goals (I already meet the chin up one). If I can maintain my strength with slight improvements, excluding the bench press I would meet (or exceed) all the Advanced goals after losing 14lbs (bodyweight of 180lbs). I feel fully capable of being at this point by the end of April and cautiously optimistic that my bench would catch up within 4 months.

Weekend Update

I’m going to have to wait until Tuesday to get a phone that I’ve been waiting for since last week Wednesday. I won the auction for my very own Samsung Galaxy Note last week but for some reason, paypal would not allow me to make an instant payment. I thought it was because there were some uncleared items in my account. However, even after they posted on that Friday, I still was not given the option for an instant payment. So I went ahead with an e-check which was scheduled to clear this Wednesday. I’d assumed the seller would ship on Wednesday, however it would appear that he did not. Despite messages from myself, paypal, and ebay, he did not ship until today, when I sent yet another message asking for a tracking number.

Moving to other things, I’ve been on my 1000 calories a day diet since the start of February and I may have reached a plateau with my weight loss. My strength gains have also started to slow down and the slowdown seem more limited by my nutrition than other factors. Working with formulas suggested by Andy Morgan here which follows Martin Berkhan’s leangains protocol , I’ve decided to end my 1000 calories per day diet two weeks early and switch to a protocol that attempts to satisfy the macronutrient requirements for Andy’s cutting formula. Based on my body composition at the beginning of March (and change from this Sunday), I will decide whether to continue it through March or make adjustments as needed.

According to his calculator, my BMR (using an activity multiplier of 1) is about 2008.64 (I round that down to 2000). Using that as my base, I’m on the +10%/-35% split for training and rest days. I’ve also decided (independently of the change in diet) to reduce my training sessions to 3 days a week from every other day as I’ve been doing for the past two weeks. I may increase that based on how my workouts feel between now and March. Planning my meals is going to require a bit more work, since I’m now more focused on hitting macronutrient levels, rather than caloric ones. But I think, after the first week, I’ll have a better intuition or at least preference for where I get my low fat carbs. Picking low fat low carb food is easy – after doing Atkins, you have a pretty good grasp of that.

Anyway, in case I don’t update this blog to coincide with my video tomorrow, here are the stat changes from two weeks ago:

  • Weight: 198.6lbs -> 194lbs
  • Bodyfat: 21% -> 19.8%
  • Bench press: 185 x 5 -> still at 185
  • Squat: 250 x 5 -> 275 x 3
  • Deadlift: 295 x 5 -> 340 x 2