April 27, 2011

Perverse incentives

Are created by every new welfare law. Obamacare is no exception.  This is what happens when legislators hurry in their efforts to thwart the will of the people: the laws they write are even worse than usual.

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April 24, 2011

Workout Log, LACAMP, week 2

Monday (4-18-2011)
squat 250 lb 5x3
press 115 lb 5x3 (iffy reps)
chin-ups 11, 6, 4

squat 250 lb 4x4
bench 200 lb 3, 3, 3, 2
bench 185 lb 4, 3
deadlift 295 lb 2x3

squat 250 lb 3x5
press 105 6x3
pull-ups 11, 8, 6
hanging leg raise 3x20

Weight (Friday): 186 lb
Waist (Thursday): 35"

Notes:  My recovery was poor this week.  I'm really noticing it on pressing exercises, but I couldn't do a full set of 5 reps on the deadlift this week either.  Bench-pressing on Wednesday was rough.  I'd meant to do 4x4, but even on the first set the third rep was hard enough to convince me otherwise.  I got trapped under the bar and needed a rescue on the fourth set.  It really sucked.  My plan for Friday was 4x4 at 115 for the press, but my warm-up set at 105 for 3 was hard enough to convince me that that wasn't happening, so I just did 5 more sets of 105.  Ugh.

I feel under-nourished and weak most of the time now.  I don't know if it's the lack of carbohydrate or the lack of milk, but I'm starting workouts sore, even 48 hours later.  I've heard -- anecdotally, but from a half-dozen sources -- that milk can make a huge difference in recovery time.

So, I'm torn:  I'm losing strength, I'm not losing weight, but my waist is slightly smaller, at least at the end of a long fast.  It's been two weeks, so it's not too soon to re-evaluate the approach I've taken.  It's unlikely that I can plow through 11 more pounds in the next 4 weeks, so maybe I should just be focusing on a longer-term approach.  Priority-wise, maintaining or increasing strength is more important to me than the vanity of seeing a six-pack, and from a pure health and longevity standpoint, having a single-digit body fat hardly critical.  Also, I've dieted and trained down to a fit weight about 4 times as an adult, and each time, it gets harder.  Trying to rush it won't help, and is objectively making it worse.  It's entirely possible that my problem isn't energy intake, but energy output.  My weight training is fairly intense, and takes a lot out of me, but I'm fairly efficient at the movements themselves, so I doubt I'm really burning up serious fuel, even with 75 minutes in the gym.

For now: milk comes back, but only post workout, and I have to -- have to -- start doing some regular cardio.  Not high-intensity, barn-burning stuff, but something, maybe just a walk every day, or a short set of sprints or tabata intervals.  I'll loathe it, but it's the only tool left in the shed, and it's worked in the past.  Oh well.

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April 18, 2011

Workout Log, LACAMP, week 1

Monday (4-11-2011)
squat 245 lb 5x3
bench 200 lb 5x3 (some iffy reps)
chin-ups 11, 7, 5

squat 245 lb 4x4
press 115 lb 3, 3, 2
press 95 lb 3x3
deadlift 295 lb 2x3
hanging leg raise 3x20

squat 245 lb 3x5
bench 200 lb 5x3
pull-ups 10, 7, 6, ... 7
press 95 lb 3
press 105 lb 3, 2

Weight (Monday): 186 lb
Waist (Monday): 36"

Notes: No movement on weight this week, but I had two birthday dinners to attend and veered quite a bit off plan for 2 out of 14 total meals for the week (wheat and cheese at both meals), so no movement is better than I was expecting.  Because I took the previous week off from the gym and didn't do any real de-load on presses, I was sore for much of the week, and it shows.  Monday's bench was considerably harder than the first time I did 5x3 at 200lb, and I flat-out failed at pressing 115lb for 5x3 on Wednesday.  The third set was barely 2 reps, and I could not get it off my chest for a fourth set.  So, after Friday's planned barbell work, I basically took the next 20 minutes and hammered my shoulders in vertical press movements.  Standard presses, hammer machine shoulder press (weights/sets/reps not recorded, heavy and a lot), and then one more set of pull-ups for good measure.  Will the extra volume help?  No idea.  I'll find out later today when I make another attempt at 115lb for 5x3.

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April 09, 2011

Rest Week (lower back rehab)

This was supposed to be my first LACAMP week, but my lower back was still dodgy on Monday, so I decided to take the week off from the gym and get my diet and fasting schedule back on track.  Dropped 5 lb.  We'll see on Monday whether any strength went with it.

Weight (Saturday): 186 lb

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April 07, 2011

Huge update to Fight Aging!

I don't know how often my 4 readers actually look at the sites on my blogroll, but it should be noted that Reason over at Fight Aging! has just done a very cool site re-design.

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April 01, 2011

Leon's Awesome Cutting and Maintenance Program

Because every program needs a name.

So here's the plan, heavily based on the PPNP:

Bench Press/Overhead Press (Alternating)Bench Press/Overhead Press (Alternating)Bench Press/Overhead Press (Alternating)

With abdominal work 1-2 times per week, time permitting.

But Leon, this is exactly like PPNP.  What's different?
The set and rep scheme.  The first occurrence of a higher weight is met with 5 sets of 3 reps, the second occurrence with 4 sets of 4 reps, and the third occurrence with 3 sets of 5 reps.  Target weight only goes up if the current weight has been successfully lifted at least 3 times, once with each scheme.  Failure to hit a set/rep target is met with up to 2 retries, after which the reset is to the last successful scheme with the last successful weight.  The exceptions to this overall scheme will be deadlifts and chin-ups/pull-ups. Deadlifts will increase after successful lifts with 2 sets of 3 reps, and 1 set of 5 reps.  Chin-ups/pull-ups are always 3 sets to failure, with weight added if failure occurs after 15+ reps.

If all targets are consistently met, this means squat and deadlift targets will increase by 5 lb per week, and press and bench press targets will increase by 5 lb every two weeks.

My starting lift values for the program are as follows:
Bench Press
245 lb
295 lb
200 lb
115 lb

First, lose no strength, that means no backsliding from the starting weights.  As of right now, I weigh in at 191 lb, and have a waist measurement of 37".  My body fat percentage is somewhere between 20 and 25%, meaning a body weight of 175 lb (assuming no loss of lean mass), will put my body fat at in the 13-18% range, so that weight will be one of two possible goals.  As a caveat, there is always the chance that I'll somehow manage to grow muscle in the midst of the food deficit I'm intending to accompany this program.  It's unlikely, but possible, so my other possible goal will be a waist measurement of 33".  So: a waist measuring 33", or a body weight of 175, while meeting -- minimally -- the initial weight targets on each exercise.  Those are my win conditions.

Low carb paleo.  Strict.  Far stricter than I have been.  Milk and cheese are off the menu, and absolutely no breaded food or sugary sauces.  Intermittent fasting as circumstances permit, with a 16-hour daily fast to begin immediately following tonight's dinner.  Meat and colorful vegetables will constitute the bulk of the diet, with small amounts of fruits and nuts.  If you subscribe to the "calories in/calories out" accounting for weight loss (I don't, but it's not awful for rough estimates), I should only need a deficit of about 10000 kcal/week.  That oughtta be easy, considering I'd estimate my recent intake at somewhere north of 5000 kcal/day.  All I should have to do is "starve" on 3500 kcal/day, on average.

I've always said "I can do anything for 6 weeks", so there we go.  Losing 16 lb in six weeks seems pretty reasonable, as it's slightly less than 3 lb a week, and at least some of what I'm currently carrying is almost certainly inflammation from dairy and small amounts of wheat.  That sort of weight falls off very rapidly when the offending compounds are no longer present.

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Workout Log, PPNP, week 4

Monday (3-28-2011)
squat 265 lb 3x5 (terrible form, hurt my lower back)
press 115 lb 4, 3, 2, 1 (failed at 3x5)
chin-ups 12, 8, 6

squat 265 lb 5, 5, 3 (better form, first try at third set was a down-only)
bench 200 lb 5x3
deadlift 295 lb 2x3

squat 240 lb 3x5 (10% deload to improve form and rest my back)
press 115 lb 5x3
pull-ups 10, 6, 6

Weight (Friday): 191 lb

Notes: I spent most of the week in pain from a bad rep in the last set of Monday's squats. I also ate, heartily. Switched to 5x3 on presses for the week because it seemed safer (at least for bench) and because I suspected I might actually be able to complete that many reps/sets for the overhead press at 115 lb.

At this point, I really wish that I'd started with this routine back in May of last year, rather than StrongLifts. I think I'd have made vastly more headway with a lot fewer resets and off weeks if I'd started with 3x5 as a goal rather than 5x5. That said, I think this is the right time to quit doing this, too.

Why? Because I'm strong enough. By the standards from Starting Strength, I'm "intermediate" or better on deadlift, squat, and bench press, and very near it on the overhead press. I tried a few cleans this week (tricky because my gym lacks bumper plates), 135 lb was no trouble, and I'm pretty sure I could hit 165 lb without much effort, and surely 195 lb with some training in the movement (and a bar I'm allowed to drop). Anyhow, what this means is that it's time to stop procrastinating and actually drop some of this ballast I'm lugging around.  I know for sure that I'm either at or past the point where I can realistically add weight to each barbell exercise every workout.  Time to slow down and find my abs again without losing all this beastly new muscle, if possible.

A follow-up post will detail my planned cutting-and-maintaining program, as well as my goals for the cut. As recommended by the Starting Strength wiki, such goals should and will be SMART:

Time and Resource Constrained

More to come shortly.

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