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.
I am about 6 weeks out now. I am 147 pounds and need to be around 138 before I’m totally dried out. I have about 9 pounds to lose, about 2 pounds a week and so I’m really hunkering down to strip down.
I have been struggling lately with the amount of coaching I have been paying for and the amount of coaching I have been receiving. I can’t help but feel like I have been an afterthought throughout this whole prep and am worried that I won’t be fully prepared or prepped.
The thing that gets me is that there have been a lot of dollars involved and I feel like I haven’t really gotten what I anticipated / need.
This does not do a lot for me in terms of trusting what is going to happen over the course of the next 6 weeks. Am I going to get to show day and not be ready? Will there be a show?
My cardio was increased from 2 hours a week to 6 hours last week, so I am now on the cardio train almost every day. I am riding my bike around the city, running, attending spin classes and doing the stairmill either in the mornings or after my lifting sessions.
My diet is at 1500 calories a day now (45 protein / 40 carb / 15 fat). I am taking vitamins and other supplements, along with creatine and will add in a recommended fat burner once it arrives in the mail.
Cravings are starting for food that I would never crave normally, only because I want to taste something. The foods I have been eating are bland, which I never minded before but now since there is no leeway for the off-diet food choices, I am wanting everything from hot dogs to Pop Tarts to Snickers bars.
Progress is being made, though. My trainer said that I was looking tighter when he saw me on Wednesday. I see it mostly in my upper body, but my abs are coming out and I can tell that in about 3 – 5 pounds they will be completely there.
Yesterday when I took a spin class I could see my abs in the mirror as I sweated my behind off. Good to know there is muscle underneath my skin.
In terms of mood, I am snappy like a turtle and tired. My energy is low and I’m trying my best to stay happy and positive.
The thought of having a cheeseburger with bacon and mushrooms and a cold draft beer at the end of this all is helping me get through.
I’m doing my best to keep pushing. My coach said to work on my core, my trainer said to work on my legs, I think I need to work on the whole damn package.
Today I have legs on the agenda along with sprints and steady state stairmill. I’ll post my workout later today.
Where was everyone else at 6 weeks out? What does your coaching consist of? What are you getting for your buck?
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 recently read a post on someone’s blog informing readers that just because she hadn’t been posting didn’t mean that she wasn’t making progress.
And here I am, stating the same.
I have been waking up early (read 5:30AM) and riding my bike downtown with a change of clothes, makeup, meals for the day, post-lifting and post-cardio workout drinks and a change of shoes on my back. I usually get to the gym in midtown by about 6:05AM and start working out by 6:15.
After a good 45 – 60 minute lift, I down my BCAA’s and head upstairs to the cardio area where I bang out 30 minutes of either walking on an incline at 15% at about 3.3 – 3.8MPH (2 times a week) or I do 20 minutes of walking with 10 minutes of HIIT sprint intervals (only 2 times a week).
After the cardio I’m pretty sweaty, so I hit the showers, dress for the day, and walk my bike (along with all my other stuff) to work where I kick through an 8 hour day of retail new product development.
I have to say that I am really tired of feeling like a sherpa every day of the week. Toting around at least 4 Tupperware containers and a change of clothes and shoes at all times is kind of a pain in the behind. Does anyone have suggestions for how to cope with this?
There has to be a better way!
I am taking my progress pics for this week tonight; however, here are my pics from Week 2 (today starts Week 5 of cutting).
I am nervous to see what the photos from tonight look like, only because my weight has been dropping ever so slightly, although I feel like I see changes in my overall appearance. We will see what the evening brings!
I will post the photos from tonight tomorrow so you can see the difference. I’m kind of terrified but I have about 11 weeks, so if I ned to kick it up a notch again, so be it.
Get ready for more updates soon!
That is no longer the question.
Last Saturday I met with my coach for measurements and a final weigh-in. After 8 months of eating a clean, consistent diet of about 2400 calories and working out hard, my bulking phase was about to end.
I had gained 10lbs since I saw my coach the first time over 6 months ago. While my body fat had increased a few percentage points over those months, when I met her last week I was back to my original BMI.
That was good news: I had gained muscle, not fat. In order to prepare for a competition in either October or November, it was time to get started dieting right away.
To celebrate the beginning of the other half of my journey I bought my shoes: The Stiletto Heel Two-Band Mini-Platform Slide 5″ Heel LIP-102 ($38.99) from Sinful Fashions online.
Things are gettin’ real!
Monday (7/30) I started in with my new diet plan. I was directed to reduce my calories by about 800, start in with four 30-minute cardio sessions a week and am now on the path towards “the stage” (wherever that may be).
I have dropped about 4 pounds this week and feel remarkably slimmer, but for some silly reason I keep thinking I should look way different right away.
Why don’t I look cut yet?! I asked myself in the gym the other day, and then I thought: This has only just begun. It takes time, remember?
I took a minute to laugh because when I was bulking I felt the same way, asking myself why I wasn’t getting bigger faster, but I eventually got where I wanted to be.
Every part of this journey takes patience. Progress comes with time and does not happen instantly: This is important to remember in bodybuilding and in real life. If progress were so quick and easy, we would all be miles from where we are today. The key to making it through is your determination to succeed. Keep pushing and it will be progress that you make.
I can see glimmers of how this whole package is going to come together. I definitely have a long way to go, but I’m going to get there!
Here I am at one week in.
Where are you in your journey to the stage?