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
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!
I have to admit: I have had some doubts during the past few weeks of prep.
I felt sure that I was getting leaner but the scale was not moving progressively downward, which played some tricks with my head. I could see my abs coming out in the right light, my butt was tightening up, but as far as the scale was concerned…
One day I would be at 152, the next day: 151, the next day 153. It was like that for about 2 – 3 weeks. I thought for sure I was doing something wrong. I was probably eating too much, I was stagnating – what was going on?
In my head my thoughts were: I’m not making enough progress.
So yesterday I emailed the photo below to my trainer and my coach. This was the photo from last Sunday. I was checking my email every 5 minutes to see what they would say and when I did receive their responses, they were both incredibly positive.
I told them that I wasn’t losing weight and they both said that it was very possible I was still gaining muscle but that I definitely looked leaner.
Thank you, Figure Gods!
My coach said that I could up my cardio to 45 minutes a session from 30 for the next week before we have our in-person check in. I am also being extremely careful to keep my macros and calories in check. I never deviated far, but there were a few days where I was a little over.
Last night I did the full 45 minutes after my “resting day lift” of bis and tris. I followed macros to a T. This morning what did I find when I stepped on the scale? 150.6!
I have not seen that number since my weight was on the way up during the bulking phase. Although I know not to live by the scale, this means that my body is changing.
Last night, my boyfriend told me that my legs were definitely looking tighter and the other night in the gym someone who I hadn’t seen in a while came up to me and said, “Don’t take this the wrong way, but you look good! I remember when you first came in here and you look great! You’re consistent, making progress.”
I needed that.
Here we go! Finishing out the 5th week of cutting on Sunday. I am out of town this weekend, going home to visit my Grandmama for her 96th birthday! I will post a new photo early next week – looking forward to seeing what’s happening.
What’s going on with your prep?
I don’t know about you, but I like to make the lesser important things in my life happen quickly.
To me, efficiency is much better than not when it comes to things like: laundry, grocery shopping, commuting and meal preparation. You should see my kitchen on Sunday nights – it’s an assembly line.
I would spend all day making and decorating cookies because to me, that’s fun, but I do not want to spend all day cooking 12 pounds of chicken. So when it comes to taking supplements, which is a “must-do but not so enjoyable” thing, I want this to be quick, too.
My boyfriend prefers to take every bottle down from the cabinet each morning and evening, pour out the prescribed dosage and throw each pill back in his own time.
I, on the other hand, use this handy weekly pill separator and fill it every Sunday night (as my chicken is cooking) with everything I’m going to take for the week.
In the AM, I take the pills in the bottom half of the container and then in the afternoon I take the final amount (I bring that to work in a zip lock bag). When it’s time to take the pills, I throw all of them in my mouth at once and down they go (with water, of course).
It’s a mouthful, but it saves a lot of time.
How do you manage your pills?