Friday, May 24, 2013

3rd Month Progress Fat to Fit Dad

It’s been about 6 weeks since phase 2 of my fat to fit dad experiment and I have learned some great lessons along the way that I hope share with you today such as being honest with yourself etc… but first let’s look at the results!

There were setbacks such as my son getting sick for a week then I get sick for a week and then followed by a neck and shoulder pains uggghhh. Having said that, I was still able to get some gains in the last 6 weeks and I am going to extend this cycle for another 3 weeks to make up for the weeks that I was sick.

Starting Stats
Weight: 148
Waist: 32”, Navel 33.75”
Squat 225 lb x 5
Bench press 135 lb x 5
OHP 80 lb x 5
Deadlift 185 lb x 5
Dips: 12-12-10 (body weight only)
Chin ups 5 - 4 - 3

Results  after 6-7 weeks
Weight: 147
Waist: 30.75”, Navel 32.75”
Squat - 255 lb x 4
Bench press - 155 lb x 4
OHP - 85 lb x 5 ( I know yuck)
Deadlift - 215 x 3 reps
Dips: Weighted 35lbs - 8 - 8 -10
Chin ups: 9- 6- 5

I only lost one lb! This would have really sucked up all my motivation but good thing I was also measuring my waist at the navel and on the true waist (pelvic) and I have improved my strength to weight ratio. I removed the body fat as I felt it was inaccurate sometimes jumping +/- 2 points which is not right.

Progress so Far …

Original Goal: Weight Loss
End Goal: Gain Strength. Result: Same weight, less fat, more muscles, more strength, win?

Some observations:
  • Man boobs …. I don’t even ...
  • You could see I was trying to flex really hard on the 3rd picture(look at the neck) while I was more relaxed on the last one.
  • Although my waist seems the same on the last two pictures, my pants are actually falling off since last week, I guess my body reduces body fat on my glutes first lol.
  • Muscles looked more dense on the last picture, possible from the heavy sets I usually do 3-6 reps.

Lesson Learned # 1

Be honest with yourself. Know your goal!

There came a point where I had to choose what I want to focus on. Lifting heavy with enough volume and trying to set new personal records  is tough to pull off while restricting calories, at best I would get marginal results in both strength and fat loss.

I had to be honest with myself and asked the following questions:

  • Do I really want to lose weight that bad to the point of sacrificing strength gains?
  • Do I really need to lose weight right meow? Why am I in a rush?
  • What do I really want to focus on strength or weight loss?

I decided to choose increasing my strength as my priority so I slowly started upping my calories and man I felt some weight taken off my shoulders. I didn't go wild on my food intake, I just wasn't worried if I went over my calorie requirements for that day.

Just honest with yourself. Do you really want to get big bodybuilder style or focus on aesthetics just like Abercrombie models or you don't give a damn about anyone of those and want to be strong as fuck. There is no wrong answer, be honest with yourself and plan accordingly.

I started this journey with vague goal of being fit which shifted to losing weight and again to gaining strength. Once I get a decent strength base I will move onto something else be it focus on aesthetics, bodyweight training, or martial arts.

Lesson Learned #2

When it comes to programs, be like water. Experiment!

Don’t be tied to a program, it’s a means to an end not the end itself. Just like the amount of weight on the bar, it’s a tool. Yes, you have to give most program at least 8-12 weeks to work but as soon as your goals change and it’s not panning out you take what you have learned and move on.

Most of us gets bogged down on the little details of the program. You have to look through the complexity and see the what the program is really about. You need to be able to explain it to someone else in 2 sentences max such as Lift heavy, lift fast, get big or some shit like that. Of course I’m over simplifying but you get my point.

I actually like reading about different programs be it bodybuilding, powerlifting, mma, or any other sport specific training.  There will be commonalities on some programs such as rep range, intensity, volume and frequency etc. Isn't it better to understand why the programs works rather than just copying and pasting it?

You have to learn to study the program being shown.
Who is the main audience of the author? Bodybuilders? MMA fighters? Powerlifters?
What is the end goal of the program?
What are the main principles of this program?
What are the concerns/complaints that are usually brought up by people who are against the principles. Is it valid, or are they just blindly following their own faith on a different program?

If you goal touches qualities of different sports, wouldn't it make sense to study programs and possibly integrate them to your program such as mixing in some hypertrophy work even if your main focus is on lifting? Wouldn't it be more ideal to know why it works and not just blindly following it?

Don’t dismiss a program because it goes against your held beliefs and don’t have an unwavering faith to it either that you are stubborn to adapt. Experiment! Find what works for you.

Lesson Learned #3

Performance First! Your Body Will Follow.

If you focus on performance, your body will naturally adapt to what you are doing and follow. Whether you train to be marathoner or a sprinter, your body will adapt to it. This just makes total sense from an evolutionary standpoint.

Genetics aside, your body’s shape and conditioning is what it is right now because of the environment and consistent stimulus you have exposed it to (or lack thereof). Which is why athletes on a given sport have some commonalities such as boxers having muscular shoulders or why swimmers have well developed lats.

Currently I am focusing my training on performing better on lifts and also have been improving my conditioning by cycling short rest (40-90 sec) with long rests (2-3 min). I've also been slowly adding sprint high intensity interval training, going all out for 15-20 seconds then rest as long as I can right before my heart goes into resting state.

If you are getting depressed because your body is not changing, focus on improving on other aspects if you are doing some sort of training. Give your body a reason to change.

But there was another lessons learned when I finally decided to have weight loss take a back seat on my priority list .…

Lesson Learned #4

Favor increasing Metabolic Capacity when not in a rush for weight loss.

In the last 6 weeks, I have actually upped my calories(my wife can verify this), gained muscle, gained strength, lost fat, with about the same exercise volume/week  and even losing one pound.

If your goal is strength/sports training and lose weight slowly consider not cutting calories at first but gradually increase volume of exercise and maintain needed calories and slowly up the calories, teaching your body to burn calories as they come in.

The advantage of having a large metabolic capacity is this:
When you finally decide to focus on losing weight, you have a lot of room(i.e. calories) to play with.

If you want to lose weight and you have  starting point of a maintenance of 1200 calories and working out 8-10 times a week, where the hell do you go from there?

But if you have more maintenance calories say 1800-2000 you can slowly reduce your calories by 150-200 weekly and adjusting it as necessary without feeling like shit and actually see results.

Jason Ferruggia  even goes on to say that you shouldn't even think about losing weight(ie cut calories) if your metabolism is not functioning properly. You can take your body temperature on certain times of day to easily check this. Dr. Layne Norton has videos on metabolic damage on YouTube, search for biolayne. Rusty from has a series on repairing metabolism.

Of course the really serious metabolic damage doesn't just happen in a 2 week time frame, it actually takes months/years of abuse. But why even go there? If there is a high school reunion or a wedding that you need plan on attending on a short notice, I understand low calorie restriction could be one of your options. But usually those kind of diets are generally not recommended to last more than a 4-6 weeks.

Other Stuff

  • Chin ups everyday is OK! Just vary the grip so you spare your joints. Went from 5 chin ups to 9 just by doing chin ups. Don’t go to failure.
  • Currently experimenting with high frequency training. I’m doing chin ups, push ups, and lateral raises everyday. I started with a base # of reps and I just keep adding 1 rep per day. I’ll do this for 28 days. Already seeing some increase width on chest and back after a week.

What’s next for me?

I’ll continue strength training for the next 2-3 weeks and back off for a week. From there, I have to re-evaluate my goals if I want to switch it up a bit and start gaining some mass, not bulk, but just slowly add mass. I’m back to Grad school and work is starting to get hectic so I might have to change the frequency and program to what works for me.

It’s been a fun and interesting 3 month journey. I didn't really knew what I was getting myself into, back then I just wanted to get fit, although I wasn't sure then what that really meant, I just wanted to be a better me both physically and mentally.

On my next posts I plan on laying a plan after following a linear progression(starting strength/stronglifts). I would also like to discuss different training techniques that I have read about and maybe hopefully create some discussion on it. Thanks for reading and I’ll see you next time!

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