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Teg4e Progress Log

Discussion in 'Fitness Journals' started by Teg4e, Mar 12, 2010.

  1. Teg4e

    Teg4e Well-Known Member

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    Hi all, just wanted to (re)introduce myself here. I was a semi-active member back in the end of my college days (2004), but never maintained a regular workout fitness blog like I plan to do here.

    So, here's a summary of my workout history up to this point. I played several sports casually as a kid, but never did any weight training until the summer going into college, 1999. I became friends with some guys who had played four years of varsity lacrosse, and they taught me some of the basic exercises. We figured out my bench max at this point was 95 lbs... I was a natural :)

    Anyway, enter college and with access to the university's expansive gym and plenty of free time, I began a regular lifting program. As you might have have guessed, this mainly consisted of upper-body exercises, with occasional nods to legs with some leg press or calf raise.

    I got plenty of rest, but hardly paid attention to nutrition. I ate when I was hungry, usually three usual meals a day and a prodigious amount of alcohol a few days a week. My calorie intake was probably close to being on target, but I'm sure I wasn't getting enough protein at the time.

    As I've shown, my approach wasn't perfect, but I learned pretty quickly I was what many label a 'hard gainer'. My bones are very thin (6.5" wrists, 8.5" ankle) so this is to be expected. No matter, I resolved to workout harder than the rest! I didn't follow up with a sound nutrition and got frustrated with progress. Additionally, I tore the labrum in my left shoulder sometime Junior year requiring two surgeries. This stopped all workouts for a couple years.

    Once recovered, I started a new workout and nutrition plan I was hoping would pack on the pounds... and it did! But it was mostly fat. I left college at about 195 lbs. and 24ish% body fat at 6'2" height. Not awful, but not good either.

    I moved to NYC for a couple years where I hardly lifted a weight, then back to DC where I have been now for the past four years.

    As of now I have been on a fairly strict nutrition and workout plan for the past year. I'm very happy with my progress in that time and can't wait to see what I can do in the following. I maintain an Excel spreadsheet with every food I eat and my monthly stats (weight, body fat, some measurements, workout poundages) I also use it to keep track my workouts. This is a bit extreme for most (not for John, of course) but I've found it to be so valuable for evaluating how my body uses calories when I'm bulking or cutting.

    To summarize, at the start of March 2009 I was about 185 pounds and 22% bf. In four months I lost about 20 pounds of mostly fat, arriving at 165 pounds and 12.5% body fat. I then started a bulking phase nutritionally, averaging about 3000 calories per day, with a 40/40/20 split (pro/carb/fat). This netted me a 5 pound muscle gain coupled with a 9 pound fat gain (Doh!).

    I wasn't fitting into some clothes I bought at 12.5% so I decided to cut again, this time from a high of 16.5%. I'm down to 14% at the moment, and will start to eat a slight excess (~2800) calories a day once I hit 12% body fat.

    Not only is my nutrition much more on point, I'm happy to say my training is also much better executed. Freshmen year college saw me training chest and arms two or three days a week, some rows or lat pull downs once a week, and legs maybe once a month or less frequently. I found by senior year I needed to hit each muscle group just once a week, and had added an appropriate amount of back to the mix. Legs remained completely neglected.

    Now, my schedule is as follows:

    Sun: Chest
    Mon: Back
    Tue: -
    Wed: Legs
    Thu: Arms
    Fri: -
    Sat: Deadlift (every other week)

    I feel my workouts have entered a new competence. I have a handle on how my body is using the foods I put it in it and can adjust as needed. My lifting is also more rounded than it has ever been. Legs are hit just as hard as arms. I feel I'm always treading that line between workout intensity and potential injury. Knowing this I always maintain good form and know when enough is enough. Stretching, icing, and as much rest as I can get serve me well after too :)

    I started doing the deadlift as part of my back day, but moved it to its own day because it deserves special attention. If you're not doing this already, and have a healthy lower back, try it! I gave it a shot only about five months ago and wish I learned it back in high school. It's the king of all exercises. Nothing else hits my lower back, gluts, hamstrings, traps, or forearms as well as The Deadlift. To a lesser extent you will also involve lats, calves, shoulders, abs, and well every other living muscle you have strapped to you. It's the most horrific exercise I can't wait to do every time I get the chance. I used to do it once week, but have read the advice to space it out to every other as a safety precaution.

    I didn't understand the idea of CNS shock until the morning after my first deadlift workout. That night got my usual 7.5 hours of sleep, but I woke up feeling like I'd had about three. You will move more weight in this exercise than any other, and you will know it the next day. It kicks your ass and rewards you for it.

    Anyway, I've also discovered legs as I mentioned and have also learned the finer details of a proper squat. Doing legs is maybe even more exhausting than deadlift, and they're still not my favorite muscle group to workout, but they're important as any other.

    Another favorite besides deadlift is pullups. In the past year I've worked up from being able to do two to now ten with good form. They are my first exercise every back day.

    In addition to the visual I very much am aiming for strength. I never max but do keep track of strength with recording what I can complete six reps of for my favorite exercises for each body part.

    Those numbers are as follows:

    Bench: 165
    Deadlift: 275
    Squat: 185
    Dumbbell Curl: 42.5
    French Press: bar plus 2 10's on each side (65 pounds I think, if bar is 25...?)

    Currently I'm 168 pounds and 14% body fat, moving down to an even 12% as I mentioned, hopefully by April 1. Goals are several... in the next year I'd like to put on 10 pounds of lean mass and having 15" arms at 14% body fat before a Spring '11 cut. I want to hit six reps at 225 in bench and squat and 315 in deadlift at some point. Bench may have to wait... I work chest and shoulders cautiously still due to the surgeries.

    Anyway, that's where I'm at, I look forward to updating this and keeping track of others too!


    [​IMG]
     
    #1 Teg4e, Mar 12, 2010
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2010
  2. Teg4e

    Teg4e Well-Known Member

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    Just finished my arm workout and closed out six reps of 45 lb dumbbells! During this cut for the past two months or so, I plateaued pretty hard on almost all my exercises. Upping the poundage on curls (with a cold) is encouraging.

    Otherwise I wanted to put down here another strength goal I've been working on. Summer Olympics is the time every four years when I actually pay attention to gymnastics. And like each time previous I'm blown away by the upper body development of the mens team, especially the guys who specialize rings. I read up a little on their workouts and apparently most of them hardly do any weight training! That fantastic arm and shoulder mass you see is built from bodyweight exercises in the gym. Reading more I learned about the planche, front and back levers, and my favorite, the cross.

    Training the cross delivers a chest, lat, bicep, and forearm workout. It also greatly strains the ligaments of elbow and a slow progression is necessary to acheive one unassisted. And when it comes down to it, the iron cross is just plain cool. So, I researched how to train it and came up with a number of costly (gymnastics gym membership) and complicated (hanging upside down from pullup bar with gravity boots and holding dumbbells) training schemes that wouldn't work for me. So, I came up with my own invention that I built for about $25 at home depot.

    Two pieces of wood cut to size for me (59" high and 8" across) with plumbing on top to act as the handle. I place these on either side of my bathroom scale and then do reps to a certain negative weight. For example, when I started I could only comfortably do a few short holds of 30 or 40 pounds. Now, my workout is three sets of three reps of five second holds with 80 pounds. I hope to work up to my body weight within the next year or two.

    I should also mention these solid supports will be easier to use than a full rings setup. Like using ropes on a tricep pressdown versus a solid v-handle, you won't be able to generate as much force on ropes. I suspect there will be some relearning in the transition between the two 'apparati'. But, let's worry about that when we get there :)

    [​IMG]
     
  3. Teg4e

    Teg4e Well-Known Member

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    Can't sleep for some reason and wanted to make a post here on training regimens.

    If you've been reading forums, guru's sites, books, and articles on bodybuilding for enough time eventually you will begin to see contradictions. One guy says to grow you must lift with heavy weights to put on muscle, another, no reps lower than 8. One article reads bicep and tricep exercises are the best way to build up your arms, another says basic compound movements are all you need. Arnold professed you need to squeeze tight at the top of a curl to develop a peak. Other articles say this is all genetic. One lifter says you need atleast 1.5g protein for each pound of body weight, another says anything over 1g per is excessive and potentially could harm the kidneys. I could go on for dozens of examples.

    What are these opinions based on? Who do we believe? I wish it were as simple as asking the best developed man how he did it, but that's like asking Bill Gates for business advice or Usain Bolt how to run faster. What works for them may not necessarily work for you.

    I believe genetics plays a massive role in your progress and overall potential for mass gain and body fat levels. So for a well-developed lifter to be giving advice, largely based on their own personal experience, may not be terribly valuable. I think for the genetically gifted any routine will work well for them. That routine then becomes the one they think is right. People ask them how they 'did it' and that experience gets passed on as 'the way'.

    Unfortunately I don't know of any empirical studies done over the long term on different lifting techniques which could serve as a guide. I've mentally tried to find some consensus on training technique and diet, but find only trying things for myself to be of any value. In the end, if something works for me and no one else in the world, I'll have to keep doing it my way.

    In that vein, I've become a little bored with my routine of late. I've not added any weight to exercises during this cut, as can be expected, but I am looking to start my bulk with something fresh. I found a Youtube 'guru' username vicsnatural who has several free vids showing basic exercises. His sets use very light weights relative to his size, high reps, and little rest between sets. He focuses an active concentration on engaging the muscle involved and keeping that muscle engaged throughout the set with not locking out and using strict form. He's also a dead ringer for Bob Saget if instead of sucking dick for coke, he pumped iron and juiced. He claims he's natural too, :)

    Anyway, aside from some dubious claims that preacher curls gave him his bicep peak (i'm a believer that it's a matter of mass, low body fat, and high insertion) I'm interested to try his ideas for approaching the workout. His focus is obviously on building muscle which is really the number one goal if I'm honest with myself. If it doesn't work, I'll just add this to another one of the 'guru' methods which happen to not work for me.

    Wish me luck!
     
  4. Teg4e

    Teg4e Well-Known Member

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    I'm still on a cutting diet until April 1, but I tried out the techniques from that Youtuber, Vic Costa, for my back and chest workouts. I dropped the weights and focused very intently on just using the particular muscle(s), the latissimus dorsi and the smaller muscles for back and the pecs for chest. I also really concentrated on keeping the other muscle connecting me to the weight like my hands, forearms, and shoulders as relaxed as possible. I found I got an entirely different workout. I suppose all my trainer before has really been as a weightlifter. I used good form, sure, but the main goal was always to get the weight from point A to B. I measured progress in upping weights or getting more reps. Weightlifting is fun but I'm seeing sometimes it can actually work against a bodybuilding goal. Doing rows I probably would use some lat but also plenty of shoulder and bicep to get that weight moving. Now all that matters is the main muscle group I'm attacking.

    It's a very different feeling but something that does come fairly naturally to me with my lifiting experience. I imagine this focus would be difficult for a beginner without much understanding of where exactly the lats are and where they're not. After my chest workout today, my pecs feel completely drained, but my triceps still quite fresh. I'm happy with my transition.

    The test comes with results, though, and I'll give it atleast two months before moving on. I"m happy that I haven't lost any size off my arms with the ten pounds I've lost so far in this cut. I hope I can add some size and hit that 15" goal with this "bulk". I use quotes because I am going to track my nutrition very carefully to keep fat gain to a bare minimum. I gained two pounds of fat for every one of muscle last time, and I don't need to do that again. A little wishful thinking led me to believe my body could process an extra 3-400 calories a day into muscle. I put on a pound of muscle per month, and I think a 100-150 calorie surplus will still get me there, without the fat. The target for that I believe is somewhere in the 2700-2900 cal/day and I'll start on the lower end first. Looking forward to ending my diet soon :)
     
  5. Teg4e

    Teg4e Well-Known Member

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    Ok, that new workout style lasted all of two weeks. I know I said I'd give it atleast a couple months, but my arms shrank 1/4" in that short amount of time and I freaked. :O So I'm mostly back to my usual weights, but paying a bit more attention to form and really usinig the muscle.

    I've been averaging about 2900 calories a day, and my weight has remained fairly steady. It seems to fluctuate up and down three pounds, so it's hard to tell if I'm on track when I want to gain an average of 1-1.5 pounds per month. If I take a mental average, I'd say my low for the day now is around 169. If last bulk is an indicator I can't gain any more than one pound/month in muscle.

    I find my biggest problem with sticking to a diet are my cheat days. I do well during the week getting about 2700-2800 calories of quality foods, in the right ratio (40/40/20) of macronutrients. Then I go to a birthday at Fogo de Chao and eat, I'm guessing, 2500 calories in one sitting alone! When I'm averaging 2900, that's because my normal diet is strict and a little under what i need, then I have a semi-binge at a restaurant or HH. I won't even get into the occasional drinking competitions I find myself once or twice a year. Anyway, my point is it's tough to maintain an active and occasionally debaucherous lifestyle while staying on track with the fitness goals. I have cut back in the past year though, and am atleast more conscious of my food choices. We shall see if I need to sacrifice more though, in order to build muscle and not get fat.

    Otherwise in athletic endeavors I'm starting up tennis again, which seems to have left me with a little 'tennis elbow' on the right side. I haven't played in about 10 days now, with some stretching and icing, and it seems better. I'm hoping to play a couple sets this weekend, so we'll see how it reacts.

    Tennis is my only 'cardio' activity I do, and it's really more for fun. I'm not convinced doing cardio keeps a person leaner, given the same caloric surplus/deficit, so I'll continue on with what I'm doing. I do up the calories to 3100 or 3200 on tennis days, since I think an hour or two of tennis should burn me an extra 300 calories or so.

    Hair continues to be shortened:
    [​IMG]
     
  6. Teg4e

    Teg4e Well-Known Member

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    Long overdue update:

    Tennis elbow pain in right elbow is still present, even with no tennis since my last post (3+ months), and no direct arm work. I have read this injury is something that does take a while, and I have felt improvement. I will continue to ice and rest, hoping for some improvement.

    Anyway, my workouts otherwise have been pretty good :) My usual routine is reduced to a chest day Sunday, legs Wed, and deadlifts Saturday. I've held off on back as well as arms, because of all the grip needed for back exercises. I may start to reincorporate these soon.

    My squat has jumped 40 or 50 pounds to fairly easily getting 6 reps of 225 and deadlift is up to 285 of 6 reps. I did 3 reps of 295 the other day, which felt heavy but comfortable. I think I can hit my goal of 315 deads in the next six months :)

    The last three months has seen my weight steady around 170 pounds. Calories average just under 3000, which surprises me. I am adding some more calories to get my goal of adding a pound a month. The strength increases are encouraging even without added weight. Strength and size don't always move at the same time. When my squat jumped the 40 pounds I did at the same time notice added size on the outside of my quads. Probably the lost muscle in my arms is offsetting that somewhat, ah well! I'd rather have strong legs and back than just arms :)
     
  7. Teg4e

    Teg4e Well-Known Member

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    Been almost a couple months since my last post, and to update, not too much has changed. Six rep squat max is up 10 pounds to 235 and deadlifts also up 10 to 6x295. These weights feel pretty heavy to me and moving past them means using poor form. I've been a little lax with diet and weight is now 174, and most of that four pound gain is probably fat unforunately. I'm getting pretty close to wanting to cut due to clothes not fitting as well. I wasn't planning on a cut until the Spring, this is way too soon! I'm gonna aim to clean up the diet some or atleast be better with total day's calories.

    I should mention that I'm basically 100% over the tennis elbow I was dealing with. I'm easing back into arm workouts and playing tennis itself with good results. My schedule before of three exercises each for back, chest, tri's, and bi's, may be too much for those joints. I'm maintaining the same for chest and back, but only doing one exercise of 3/4 sets for bi's and same for tri's.
     
  8. Teg4e

    Teg4e Well-Known Member

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    On a cutting diet now, aiming for 1800-2000 daily to bring me back in check. Diet got a little out of control and the last five pounds I gained were fat and not too much strength to go along with it. I've added a little weight to squat now, 245x6 and deadlift at 295x6 feels pretty comfortable. 315 this year seems like a reasonable goal, going for 305 Thu/Fri this week. My strength and of course size tend to drop a bit during a cut, so I won't be devastated if I plateau at these numbers.

    I do wonder if my long term goal of 405x6 with my body type is even realistic, but I'm encouraged by the steady progress I've seen over the past year going from 225x6 to 295+ now.
     
  9. Teg4e

    Teg4e Well-Known Member

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    Cutting is done for now. I lost an easy 7 pounds the first month without really trying, and then another 2 or 3 the following. I got to my previous best bodyfat % of 12.5. I was hoping for lower, but my progress plateaued hard and I think a harder springtime cut would be better timed. The main reason I cut anyway was my pants were too tight and I didn't want to go about getting things let out or buying new. So now that things fit again, I can work on making up for lost ground.

    Deadlift bests are down from 295x6 to 275 or so and squats dropped from 245x6 to 225. Squats are already back though, today I got an easy 245x7 followed by 255x5 :) :). Strongest leg day ever! Last deadlift workout was still at 275x6, but I suspect the next one will show marked improvement. It's interesting how the calorie increase immediately corresponds with strength increases.

    These improvements are well-timed; I get frustrated and angry when I'm not making deadlift or squat progress and losing ground even worse! I go easier on testing upperbody limits due to two shoulder surgeries which can be aggravated, but pullups and bench are at 11 and 165x6 respectively.

    I'm the happiest I've been with what I see in the mirror. It feels great! I wish the progress would come quicker, but I've learned to have patience and know that gains WILL come. My genetics keep me at a low bodyfat, but quick muscle gains just aren't possible.

    Since starting squat and deadlift 1.5 years ago, I've noticed better strength and size gains than ever before (no wonder people keep saying that). There just isn't any substitute.

    6'2" and 165 lbs. are the current stats. Early 2011 resolution, I will get 315x6 deadlift and 275x6 squat.

    Hope everyone's enjoying their holidays!
     
  10. Teg4e

    Teg4e Well-Known Member

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    I'm safely through the holidays without any fat gain, so.. success! I can now resume a stricter diet without as many hiccups the last couple months always throws our way.

    Strength however has recovered back to previous highs/personal bests:

    Bench has always lagged but I got at 165x6 reps last workout, will be going for a PR next time.

    Squat hit 255x6 and will be going for 265 next time.

    Deadlifts, my old pal, looks like it will be finally breaking into new territory. 295x6 went up pretty easy yesterday. 305x6 will happen soon. I'm hoping it's just another month or two until I'm banging 315 six times! :)
     
    #10 Teg4e, Jan 3, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2011
  11. Teg4e

    Teg4e Well-Known Member

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    Good gains on core lifts: bench is 185x6 and squats are at 275x6. I tried 315 with deadlifts, taken from the rack and got 4 reps. Not bad for a first attempt! Weight is up to 168ish and I think that gain is mostly muscle my pants feel about the same.
     
  12. carguy

    carguy Well-Known Member

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    Great job on your squat weight. That's 100 pounds over your body weight and damn good for an ecto (I'm one too). And gaining weight while waist remains the same is always a good sign. Keep up the good work!:nod:
     
  13. Teg4e

    Teg4e Well-Known Member

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    Workouts continue fairly well, though, some lingering injuries have me a little concerned. I'm feeling tennis elbow creep up again with the higher intensity I've put on arms lately. I'm back to just doing chest and back and no arm isolation. I want to be able to play tennis this season, so hopefully the pain fades. Likewise I've felt some pain on the inside of my right knee which comes and goes. I've taken off a little time with squat which seems to aggravate it the most.

    I also came down with a two week cold, which finally seems to be gone as of today. In the meantime I've only kept up my deadlift schedule. Somehow progress there continues, today I tried 325 for the first time, and it felt really comfortable. I got four reps and probably could have gotten more but my grip was slipping so I put it down. Next set was a strong eight or so reps with 275. Maybe 405 is possible a year or two from now? In the meantime 365 (3 plates plus a 25 on each side) for reps is the goal.
     

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