3 weeks Post Competition

69-frank-17-of-30This past week I increased my macros and continued training with the superset program.  I had one day that was a higher and somewhat looser re-feed.  It was still not an all out free for all with eating everything under the sun.  Instead it was just being a bit more free with my choices and mostly increasing serving sizes of foods I was already going to eat.   Then on my 3 lifting days I had increased my macros, while on the 3 remaining days, I kept those macros where they were from the previous week.

My goals is to increase size and strength in the gym, consume more calories, keep my metabolism burning the extra intake efficiently while keeping the increase in bodyfat down.  I have been using the scale and mirror once a week to judge my progress as well as taking notes of my clothes and how my strength and energy levels are in the gym and throughout the day.

As of this week, again my weight has remained unchanged from the previous weeks, even though I am increasing calories.  In the gym, the weights and or reps are increasing on every exercise and I feel good in there.  The weights themselves are lighter but the intensity is there with the supersets and we are making the most of every rep and set.

Again this week I kept my cardio session down to one 20 minute jump rope session.  The routine I have been doing is a bit more intense than just jumping straight for 20 minutes and involves a variety of jumps including double unders.

In this week’s evaluation, my conditioning is still there; the striations, definition and vascularity.  My strength levels have gone up, as evidenced in the workouts.  A few weeks before Worlds I had to add a notch to my belts to better keep my pants up as I was leaning out.  At the moment, I am still using those same notches.

All in all I am happy with the progress of this reverse.  I have been changing up meals, using a variety of foods to meet my nutrition goals each day.  My energy levels are good and consistent and the training is right on track.

This coming week is Thanksgiving and my birthday in the same day.  I will use that as my high refeed day so I can enjoy all of the foods I want.  I will keep my lifting macros the same and perhaps a bit higher, while keeping the 3 off days at the lower levels this week. Cardio will remain the same this week too, with just one cardio session.

After this week, it will be time to increase macros again depending on how this week goes and also I will end the superset program and write up the next workout program to start building muscle and making improvements.

 

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Post Worlds…the reverse diet

pro-men-middleweight-posedown-winner-90-of-141It has been just over 2 weeks since I placed 5th in the Pro Men’s Bodybuilding Lightweight Division at the  DFAC World Finals down in Miami, Florida.  The contest prep was the best yet and different than any other – as each prep seems to be its own unique experience.  The transformation this time was slow and steady and a very natural part of my lifestyle.  Taking as much time as I did in preparing for this contest, I also took the time long before Miami to plan and set a course for what happens after this contest in terms of my nutrition, training, and conditioning.

Over the years, I have read, learned, seen, and experienced all sort of post-competition strategies from the all out free-for-all food fest, to a very calculated reverse dieting program. For me, I have come to value the reverse diet  for many reasons.

Even when I am not preparing for a contest, my eating is consistent and decent.  I am not one to binge eat or pack in a ton of treats or meals on an average day and so that just doesn’t fit my lifestyle.  The idea of eating at every restaurant in town, choosing the best desserts, and having tubs of ice cream, chocolate anything, and pizza, sounds appealing, but if given the opportunity, it wouldn’t ever really happen.  I eat for goals, but don’t really deprive myself of food or use food as a reward/punishment along the way.  I have been learning to include a variety of meals throughout this contest prep and over the past few years.

Which brings me to this time frame post contest.  I knew I wanted to stay on track with my nutrition and carefully start to bring up calories and macros after this competition.  I want to do this for several reasons.  First, my metabolism is already slowed from being in a somewhat restricted state while I prepared for Worlds.  Overloading it with a ton of food, especially high processed foods and sugars would only serve to slow it down even more and wreak havoc on my system.  My goals after this contest are yet unclear as I process how I did in Miami, listen to and evaluate the feedback from the judges, and then use it to plot a course to improve, be better than I was, and decide where I want to go from here.

Another thing I want to do is take advantage of the post contest period of growth and strength as the muscles are primed for this according to what I have read and studied.  So my goal would be to use this time frame for the weeks and few months after this contest to increase size and strength while keeping bodyfat increasing at a slower rate.  There is no need to stay in contest level conditioning year round and I don’t think that is the healthiest or best way to meet my goals anyway.  But I do want to keep careful track of my bodyfat levels, strength levels, etc year round.  It may just be me, but I am extremely meticulous like that.

The day after Miami I had packed a few meals that were measured and weighed, but also left room in my day to enjoy some meals with my daughters while in Miami.  Monday we were traveling back home and so I had somewhat the same plan for the day – to eat mostly my usual planned meals, but also take into account that the girls had an Ultimate Cannoli Cheesecake waiting for me for dessert that night along with dinner.  So those two days were looser as compared to my usual nutrition where I have every meal written out, macros calculated and aim to hit a certain total each day.

I used the rest of the week as a reset week, meaning I kept my macros at a certain level, reverting back to about a week or so out from Miami.  One difference this time around was that I was back in the gym in that first week.  Typically, the competition signals the end of the workout cycle and I use the week after or longer as a rest and recharge period.  That didn’t happen this time.  I felt great heading in to the competition and just as good after, so I decided to keep going and continue this workout cycle.

After the first two weeks, I can say that my weight has not increased and in fact has returned to its lowest state before peak week.  As I enter the 3rd week post competition, I have increased my carb levels a bit and will continue to train in the gym this week.  My conditioning, at least when posing in front of a mirror is still there, and looks the best it ever has this far after a competition.  I will weigh in again on Sunday and evaluate how the increase in carbs this week has affected my conditioning, my strength levels, energy levels, and weight.  From there I will set the goals for next week, which will include Thanksgiving.

Heavy and Intense Training Program

Those of you that have followed my posts and know my training style, know how much I love following in the Blood & Guts/Heavy Duty style of lifting.  This program that we are in now is no different.  So far it has been intense and all of the lifts and reps have been all out effort. 

If you haven’t read some of my other routines, please know that while we are only doing 1-2 working sets, we are definitely doing several warm-up sets leading up to the two all out sets.  At the end of each workout, we are completely spent and have put every ounce of energy into each and every rep.  It is an all out fight – but that is what I love about it.

My leading thought for most of this cycle has been – as long as I can move the weight, without breaking form, I will keep fighting for one more rep.  This mentality has led to some awesome workouts – especially surrounding squats.  I start preparing mentally at least a day ahead of time and repeatedly tell myself that until my form breaks or I can no longer stand back up I will keep going.  My sets have ended on a few occasions with me holding steady just above the bottom of a rep but unable to stand it back up.  Thankfully I am flexible and so failing at the bottom of the last rep is not a big deal to squat down even deeper when I can no longer fight the resistance and let the bar catch the rails we set in the rack. 

I know it has been a while since I posted a workout but this one has been great both mentally and physically.  This cycle has really been pushing us hard.  While we are aiming to use a weight that limits us to the 6-8 rep range, we are continuously trying to push through that range or working til failure on the 2 working sets. 

Day 1 Back and Biceps

Barbell Rows (overhand grip) 2 sets 6-8 reps

Weighted Pull-ups 2 sets 6-8 reps or as many as possible

Barbell Curls 2 sets 6-8 reps

Preacher Curls (with an EZ curl bar) 2 sets 6-8 reps

Day 2 Chest and Triceps (we gave shoulders a break this time from any direct work)

Decline Bench Press 2 sets 6-8 reps

Incline dumbell bench presses 1-2 sets 6-8 reps

Overhead tricep extensions (with a dumbbell) 2 sets 6-8 reps

Weighted dips 2 sets 6-8 reps

Day 3 Legs

Squats 2 sets 6-8 reps

Lying leg curls 2 sets 6-8 reps

Why do we do this?

I am sometimes asked this question – usually by people close to me who just don’t understand why I want to train or eat like I do, or take it to the extreme of getting stage and competing. I never feel the need to try to answer this question, because there is never an answer to convincingly explain why I do what I do.

It seems we, and I mean those of us that are pursuing general health and fitness goals and lead a healthy and fit lifestyle are viewed as different, or out of the norm. Can you think of anyone asking a person who watches tv for hours each night, why they are doing that to themselves?

We got in an unbelievable leg workout today that really pushed through the limits of anything we thought possible. I loved every minute of it including the feeling of being completely drained the rest of the day. I am sure you know that feeling too. But let’s face it – why do we do it? No one is forcing us to push ourselves the way we do, or to eat the way we do, or to even go to the gym. No one cares if we do or don’t.

But we care. We have made a commitment to ourselves and hold ourselves accountable when we miss a workout or skip out on a healthy meal. We want more for ourselves.

I find it interesting that as “health conscious” as society has supposedly become, no one thinks twice about spending hours on Facebook or in front of the tv, but we get questioned or looked at differently for living a better life and holding ourselves to a higher, healthier standard.

Maybe it’s just me. Maybe the blood is still stuck in my legs and my brain is slightly off-balance,but as I go through workouts, cardio sessions, meal preps, contest prep, and I have my days where I question why I do this- I just absolutely love the amount of self – discipline, determination, and drive it takes to do what we do. Regardless of how different our goals may be there is just something great about striving for fitness and health goals that are simply for ourselves. We do it for ourselves, because we want to, because we can, and because we have made a pact within ourselves to hold ourselves to a set of standards and we won’t let ourselves off the hook until we reach our goals.

Train hard. Make yourself accountable to yourself and keep reaching higher!