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.
On a Sunday evening when you might be reading the paper, cooking dinner or petting the dog, I am hard at work in the kitchen building my body.
It’s not a lie that almost 80% of your physique is made in the kitchen. Changing your eating habits gets you almost all the way there.
Last week I started eating more to propel my muscle growth and I’m already surprised at the changes I’m seeing. Yet after tracking my diet and looking at my macronutrient composition (percentage of carbs, protein and fat), I realized that I’m still consuming way too much protein.
I was eating about .8g of carbs for every 1g of protein.
My trainer told me that I absolutely had to increase this ratio to at least 1.5:1 to see results. So last week I welcomed Mr. Sweet Potato and his friend, Brown Rice, into my weekly meal plan.
I need to be precise about eating because there’s a lot of margin for error, so on Saturday morning I sat down with my coffee and an Excel spreadsheet and took inventory of all the foods that I eat on a regular basis from boiled chicken to cottage cheese.
I noted how many calories, grams of protein, carbs and fat were in each each serving by weight and created a food library. Then for the next hour I put together a diet that would get me to my target needs for each day.
After some more discussion with my trainer we landed on the following for me (143lbs, 5’10”):
Believe it or not, this was a tricky task, but I did it! I created a meal plan for days that I workout in the morning and one for days that I workout in the evening and then I set to work to make it happen.
After all, you can dream about making changes all you want, but at some point, you need to make the moves.
Below is a quick rundown of my food prep for the week that happens every Sunday starting at about 4PM. In our apartment, we like to call it “Chicken Time” because for the next 3 hours, that’s exactly what it is.
STEP 1: Buy the chicken and the fish!
– I start with about 14 pounds of chicken and 1-2 bags of frozen tilapia.
– Fish is a nice add-in for variety and it’s an easier protein to digest, so my body is happier when it’s in the mix.
STEP 2: Wash the protein…and the sweet potatoes
– I clean all my proteins and pop the chicken in a pot of water on the stove and throw the tilapia in the oven with my sweet potatoes.
STEP 4: Wait and pack
– While the chicken boils and the tilapia and sweet potatoes bake, I prep my portable meals and snacks for the next 2 days.
– Since I eat breakfast and my last meal of the day at home, I take 3 mid-day containers to work each day.
– I use my digital food scale and divvy out the proper measurements of frozen and fresh veggies and my fat (nuts or avocado).
STEP 5: Pack the protein and the potatoes
– Once the tilapia and chicken are done I start to dish out my protein for the week into each of the containers.
– When the entire meal prep is complete, I will also have about 4oz sweet potato and 4 – 4.5oz protein in each dish along with about 100g of veggies.
STEP 6: Store
– I typically have plenty of protein left over, so I store two of the three containers shown below in the freezer and keep 1 in the fridge. This way I’ve always got something clean to eat on hand.
So that’s it! You cook, you pack, you go live your life – and you eat!
How do you get ready for your week ahead?