I recently read a great forum post by a lifter on bodybuilding.com. Check it out here. It’s called the 80/20 Rule for Lifting and calls your attention to reality: 80% of what you do doesn’t matter.
Supplements, routines, macro nutrient minutiae: all that is distraction to a degree. You should focus on the 20% that matters and I’m calling that 20% “The 3 C’s: Challenging, Consistent, Clean.”
The 3 C’s are what you must do to achieve any growth or body change result:
Lift weights that challenge your muscles to failure and keep increasing weight as you gain strength.
Keep at it. This is how results happen. It takes time, but if you keep at it you will see your body change.
What you eat matters. Lean protein, complex carbs, natural fats. Don’t eat crap or else you will never get where you want to be. Your body is made in the kitchen – no joke on this one.
Follow the 3 C’s above, see results, repeat.
I’m changing my outlook on this bulking period and sticking with it until March: Screw the details.
Lift heavy, lift often, eat enough, rest enough. Oh, and have fun.
What does your bulk look like?
Off we go!
This morning I took my initial set of measurements and stepped on the scale for the first time in a long while.
During the warmer months, I’m usually about 5 pounds leaner with my legs being tighter and more defined; however, after the holidays, being sick for 2 weeks without working out, and being on creatine and increasing carbs for the past week, I’m a little soft in the lower body and abs.
Regardless, this is the start – not the finish – and I’m looking to add size, so the weight gain and temporary discomfort are all part of the game. I had to look back on my post here to remind myself that this whole process has a beginning and an end.
Here are the results from today (all measurements are relaxed):
When I look back at my 2012 numbers, I had finished my bulk with close to the same measurements as above but with 10 more pounds.
I’m hoping to add about 1″ back to my shoulders and arms during this bulk and keep my hip and thigh measurements relatively similar to where they are now, although gaining some size in those areas is inevitable.
Below you can see the comparison of where I stand today at 145 pounds and were I was in 2012 at 150. In the 2012 photo, I was about 3 weeks into the cutting phase after a 4 month bulk and was much fuller and rounder than I am now. Granted, I was posing and in heels in the photo from 2012 and am relaxed and in bare feet in the photo from today, but I was certainly bigger.
Right now I’m rocking the lean, runner / dancer look, which is fine, but I definitely want to push to balance out my muscular lower half with a more rounded, full upper body.
This past week I executed the 45 carb /40 protein /15 fat breakdown that I referenced in my previous post; however, my mood and libedo plummeted. I was quickly reminded how flat and emotionless I felt during my 20 week cutting phase before my competition over a year ago and immediately knew that I needed to shift my macros – bulking should be fun!
I did some additional research and found this great article on Simply Shredded, one of my favorite sites. I highly recommend reading this if you’re in – or starting – your building phase.
I discovered that the cause of what I was experiencing was due to too drastic a reduction of my dietary fats. Fats are responsible for normal hormone function (including testosterone) and if they are reduced too much you risk experiencing the effects like those above and you can inhibit your body from reaching an anabolic state.
I have since revised my macros to the below and will follow this breakdown this week:
I have stuck to my 3 day / week split, although I truly miss being in the gym 6 days a week. I’m focusing on getting plenty of rest on my off days and trying to get at least 8 hours of sleep a night (I was getting about 6).
I’m not sure if it’s because I have been sick recently and my body is still recovering, or if it’s because my lifts are more complete, heavier and more taxing, but I have definitely felt shot after each gym session this week.
I’m working out each body part during each workout and am doing 5 sets of 10 reps per exercise, failing on the last 1 or 2 sets. I’m focusing on lifting heavy with excellent form.
While I was hell-bent on maintaining at least one program for a solid month, I have been wanting to challenge myself mentally and physically and so on Monday (1/6), I’m starting CrossFit.
Based on the fact that I have been doing regular bodybuilding lifts for over two years, this change to more olympic, dynamic movements will surely shock my system and hopefully fuel growth.
I’m extremely curious to see how my body reacts and, if needed, I’ll shift my calories and regular lifting sessions (if I still need them) accordingly.
Will definitely keep you posted.
It’s a new year, and while that doesn’t mean it’s time to start over, the beginning of a new year is a good place to start.
I have been training myself since my competition last November, and while I have positively changed the appearance of my physique (stronger, more define abs, better glute structure), I have not gained the upper body size I have been chasing after for two years.
Over the holidays, I got the urge to compete again in order to have a focus, a plan, a goal; however, after reviewing the pure financial cost associated with pursuing another competition – forget about the opportunity cost – I just can’t swing it this year.
While chatting with my targeted trainer / coach the other week, I told her how I had been lifting for over a year but hadn’t gotten the size gains I wanted. She mentioned that I probably needed to stimulate my body in new ways – more dynamic movements and a modified diet, consisting of more carbohydrates.
So while I save up the funds to hit the stage in 2015 – if not sooner – I have resolved to make some shifts in my overall training / diet regimen starting this week to see where it takes me.
The Plan: Clean bulk over the next 3 months, starting the cutting phase in April
The Diet: 45 carbs / 40 protein / 15 fats
– Starting with 2000 calories, making adjustments as I review my measurements and weight every week
The Workout: 3 days instead of 6 days
– Incorporating more rest days
– Targeting all body parts each work day with more dynamic / power movements
The Results: Will keep you posted with photos and measurements
Show day finally arrived on November 18 and I felt ready. I got up at 5AM and by 6 I was in lower Manhattan for hair and make up.
I was amped up, dried out and ready to go. Looking at the images below, I can see how small I started to look after the hours of cardio that I put in. This is why it’s so important to have a really strong and thick muscle base to start with when you begin to lean out. You will always lose some.
My boyfriend commented to me, “I didn’t think you would get this skinny.” I didn’t think so, either. Regardless, I felt good.
I got to the venue around 11AM, checked in and then waited for them to let us backstage. Once we were allowed into the dressing area, I got my final buff down and grease up from my amazing coach and was ready to hit the stage.
I ate rice cakes, almond butter and honey during the morning and you can see how I filled out in the shoulder area from the morning photo above.
I walked on stage, executed my poses and felt confident. You can see all the contest photos here. I guarantee my hair did not look as messed up as it does in all these photos – just bad timing.
I placed 8 out of 10 with some clear areas of improvement: Larger upper body, more defined and lifted glutes and hamstrings.
Regardless, I was happy with the results.
After the show my best of friends came to support me at the show with homemade tee-shirts and a big sign. It made my night.
I felt fit and fab for the next week as I travelled to SFO for Thanksgiving.
My full tan hung around for a good week post show (I am usually my mom’s color) and parts of my tan are still hanging around on my feet and thighs 3 weeks later.
I was surprised how unhappy my digestive system got after incorporating long forgotten foods into my diet again: stomach cramps abounded as I ate things I hadn’t eaten in almost a year, but after about a week, they dissipated.
It was nice to take a break from the gym and be outside in the sunshine for a while. But I was ready to get back to NYC and ready to get back to clean eating after a few days of fun.
I’m back to lifting now and am having an amazingly FUN time in the gym again. Working out for yourself is sometimes so much easier than working out because you MUST.
Throughout prep I feared that I would never want to lift another weight again, but now it’s clear to me how important fitness is in my life and how much I want it to stay a big part of it.
I have been pretty easy on myself in terms of diet. I’m eating frequently and cleanly but have little cheats here and there. My six pack is just a glimmer of what it once was, but that’s okay. I’m not freaking out. I’m not out of control.
I have decided that I want to work on my overall physique to obtain the proper proportions that a figure competitor needs. I’m going to spend the next 6 months or so building for ME and not necessarily building for a show. If, towards the end of the year I want to compete again, I will, but for now, living a healthy, fit lifestyle and feeling amazing about myself is my goal.
I have learned a lot this past year and will recap my learnings soon. As for now, I’m enjoying life with friends, working through a transition in my relationship (why does it feel like we all go through that after our first competition?) and sorting some things out in my life.
Fitness, health and wellness don’t have to stop because I don’t have a show in my future at the moment; they are my idea of fun and one of my favorite parts of my life.
And I’m excited for them to continue to be. Every day. Every way.
So instead of celebrating my birthday on stage and then celebrating my birthday with a delicious and much awaited post-competition meal, I will continue on the straight and narrow path to competition (see previous post).
I took some serious inspiration from Abs of Steel (a fantastic and well-writtem blog if you haven’t yet subscribed) and woke up “early” this Saturday morning and was at the gym by 9AM. I kicked out a great workout:
Squats (6 sets)
Deadlifts (4 sets)
Plyo jumps super-setted with leg press (4 sets)
Glute bridge super-setted with one legged lunges (4 sets)
Leg extensions (4 sets)
Leg curls (4 sets)
All followed by a 45 minute spin class – very sweaty.
Back to the apartment for 6 egg whites, 140gm tilapia, 125 gm greenbeans (by that time it was 12:30PM and I had only eaten 1/2 a scoop of whey protein + supplements).
Onward we go today, tomorrow and the next 2 weeks, until the job is done.
Happy birthday to me!
So I was one week out… Then I was three days out… Then all of a sudden, I was 2.5 weeks out.
The Hurricane that took the East Coast by surprise caused chaos in NYC and caused my show, which was on November 3, to be pushed out to November 18. I understood. This change was all with good reason (no power, no public transportation, massive flooding), but this threw me for a loop.
Disappointment abounded. I was really looking forward to some pizza and some cake on the 3rd (my birthday) and I am admittedly tired of dieting.
So here I am, now 2.5 weeks out. I’m going to kick it back up again, re-set. I’ll be in a better state of mind this time to do the salt and water depletion that I have to do. I will get there – just a little more to go.
There will only be a more positive outcome because of it.
You know, I thought I would go into this whole prep screaming from the rooftops about my progress, telling everyone every detail of my life from how I was feeling to what I was eating to what I was working out and when.
But I didn’t.
By the time I was about 6 weeks out (my last post) I was overcome with doubt. I felt like I would never get to where I wanted or needed to be to take the stage. I wanted to give up and I wanted to convince myself that it just wasn’t worth all the trouble.
But for some reason I didn’t.
Instead of sharing my feelings with you all, I kept it inside. I kept quiet. I got frustrated, but I also got to work.
I hit the cardio hard. Hit the weights. I struggled through many fights with my boyfriend about the stupidest things because I had suddenly turned angry from all the dieting, all the exercise and none of the good stuff (sleep, sex or food).
I was allowed one cheat meal at about 5 weeks out during which I consumed lots of pizza: It was good.
I struggled with low energy at work while I transitioned to a new role within the company, which really ran me ragged. Trying to focus and learn a new area on very little food and very little energy is not an easy task. At about 4.5 weeks out I told myself, “This is just how you’re going to feel. You are going to feel shitty.”
I ate lots of chicken and lots of vegetables. I started carb cycling at 4 weeks out. I added some new supplements to my regime: a new thermo, more BCAA’s, L-Carnitine and some Glutamine.
On the weekends I worked out. During the week, I worked out. Before work I worked out. After work I worked out. And when I wasn’t working out I was at work. Or I was cooking chicken or at the grocery store.
And now here I am: 2 weeks out. I am 2 pounds away from my goal weight. I feel pretty damn good. I have been practicing posing. I have my hair and makeup appointment set. I have my bottles of tanner ready to go. I have my “tan plan” all set. I still need to get my jewelry.
The only cruddy thing is that I got my suit in the mail today and I think it’s too small…
On to the next battle, right? Let’s see if I can fix this one…