Where I’ve been, where I’m going

If you’ve been following along, the past 16 months I’ve been on what I named “The Defattening Project”. Back in August 2014 I woke up, realized that I got fatter and heavier than I’ve ever been in my life, and I was most unhappy that I let myself get that way. So the past 16 months have been a journey of “defattening” myself. I will write more on that part of the journey soon. Right now I want to write about where I’m going.

See, I’ve gotten to a point now where the “downward journey” is more or less over. It’s not really – I’m not 100% where I want to be, but I’m pretty close. Close enough that it’s better for my goals to start “waving”. Taking a sort of “2-steps-forward, 3-steps-back” type of approach. Spend a few months massing/bulking, gain maybe 10-15 lb. (water, glycogen, fat, muscle), then spend a few months cutting/leaning, lose maybe 15-20 lb. (water, glycogen, fat, hopefully no muscle). The end result is that I gain some muscle and lose more fat than before I started, which should wind me up in a pretty good position. Yeah, this’ll probably take a good 10-12 months to accomplish, but that’s fine.

It used to be that “getting strong (and big)” was my goal. When I hit a 1000 lb. total (sum of my squat, bench press, and deadlift amounts) it was a goal accomplished. The next goal was Defattening. I’ve made solid progress on that, but since I haven’t hit my ideal, it’s still a goal but it can start to take a backseat and my next goal start to come forward a bit.

My next goal? To bench/squat/deadlift 3/4/5. The “3/4/5” can mean a couple of things. It could mean: 300/400/500 lb.. Or it could mean “wheels”, a 45 lb. plate being a “wheel”, thus 315/405/495 lb. on the bar. I actually want “wheels” because that looks cooler. 😉 And the simple reality is that you have to hit 300 and 400 to get to 315 and 405, so 300 and 400 are milestones along the way; the 495 vs. 500 is no big – just 5 lb. which can be easily worked.

To get to that point? I need to rebuild my strength. I have lost a lot of strength during these 16 months of cutting. It’s all there tho; the cellular structures and so on. During my 16-month cut we took a small break to do a mini-mass and my strength came back pretty well during that. So I expect with this more “waved” approach that I should be able to regain my strength and maybe even make a little forward progress from my all-time bests. It will be slower than if I was dedicated strength-building, but that’s OK as my goals are still mixed.

One part of it? I need to spend time not on pure strength building, but on good old hypertrophy. I lost muscle mass (hard not to on a lengthy cut like I did), and I need to build some back up.

So whereas my fallback desire is to just start into strength-building protocols, what I really need is a more periodized approach: a period of mass-building, a period of strength building, a period of peaking.

The cool part is that the long-term diet discussions I’ve been having with Nick & Renaissance Periodization, everything should dovetail just peachy here. I spend something like 6-12 weeks massing, 4-8 weeks mid, then 8-12 (maybe a wee more) cutting. So that gives a good time on a “not-cut” diet to mass, rebuild strength, and even peak. Then when I cut just do mass-building with some strength focus in there too, to just work to retain all I gained. Plus if things are timed right, I can actually keep gaining on the early weeks of the cut; if the cut doesn’t go too long, then I should be retaining all I gained (may stall, but at least not regress). So, this could work out alright. No I don’t expect to hit my 3/4/5 goal, but I expect to be laying a good foundation — which does include being at a lighter weight when I hit those numbers.

Yeah… goals are planned on a yearly basis, even longer. Days, weeks, months are merely indicators.

So how am I planning on getting there?

Well, again, the general plan of periodizing things: mass, strength, peak; lather, rinse, repeat.

In the concrete, here’s what I’m going to start with: Inception.

I’ve been digging into my own program writing, and finding things that work for me. I really enjoy that, and see little reason to stick firmly to someone else’s modes. But there’s no question that I’m still enjoying exploring Paul Carter’s approaches. He believes in being strong, but also being jacked and looking good. He’s had a long lifting career that’s gone through many phases, and he’s a student of the game, so he has many good insights and perspectives. He appreciates true science, but also bro-science; both have a place. And the simple fact that I make good progress with his approaches and don’t get nearly as beat-up? Gee, I’ll take that. I love me some 5/3/1, but that shit beats me up hard.

Thing is that so much of my LRB exploration has been during this cut, so it’s hard to really say how it works for me. But what I have done has been good. Strong-15 full-cycle has worked well for me. The Guaranteed Muscle Mass was productive and very insightful. So I’m still enjoying exploring Paul’s approaches.

And his new “Inception” program has just had a pull to me ever since he released and I read it. No, it wasn’t what I expect it to be, and I’m still not totally sure it’s right for me, but I think it’s right for right now. Maybe in the future no, but now? Yeah.

Here’s why.

I’m coming off a long cut. I have no idea where my strength lies, but I do know I am weaker and I need to rebuild muscle and strength. This program is all about a phase of hypertrophy followed by a strength phase.

I know that when I come back like this, my strength will vary. Following a highly-structured program of percentages is inappropriate because I may exceed and need to progress faster, or I may still be hurting and need to progress slower. Inception is based around some general guidelines of the weights and how hard to work. Sure I could do this with a percentage-program, but it can screw it all up. Being able to have more flexibility right now ought to be good.

Of course, it starts with hypertrophy, which is what I need after the cut. I need to build back my work capacity, I need to get my body used to things again. This is the type of work I need at this point.

There’s a 2x/week mode to it: you squat twice a week, and you do “pushing” movements twice a week. I’ve been really wanting to explore this for mass building. When I did GMM, it kicked my ass but I grew some. There’s also so much bro-science out there about lifting twice a week when you really want to grow. Look at the 3-day splits like “push/pull/legs” and running A/B versions of that (e.g. squat one leg day, front squat the other leg day; flat bench one push day, incline bench the other push day) on a 6-day/week cycle. You don’t have as much volume during the session, but over the course of the week you get more total work — and you grow. Any program work I’ve been thinking about for this “post-Defattening” has all been gravitating towards this sort of program, and Inception provides it.

It dovetails into a strength phase, with a good way to figure out values and progress that should be helpful for me where I don’t know where I lie any more.

The duration should work out just peachy with how we’re planning the diet to run.

There’s no deadlifting. Yeah, I love deadlifting, but some bodyparts aren’t happy with me. So this keeps me from getting too beat up in that way. But there will be deadlifting.

See, Inception is just the first 2 periodization phases. What I then intend to do is run the 2nd strength phase, figure out my 1RM there, then add a few modest pounds and run the Strong-15 Short Cycle to peak. That phase will include conventional deadlifting. And again, it should dovetail nicely with the diet, because workload won’t be as intense and neither will food consumption.

And there’s other little things, like Inception has dips and chin-/pull-ups, which I’m very happy to get back to. Granted, i could write my own program, but again, I’m still exploring Paul’s methodologies and running his as-written programs are a way to gain insight into if his shit works for me or not; or what of it does work and what doesn’t. So it’s all good learning.

But that’s my plan going forward. That should carry me for a few months. After this runs its course, what will I do? I’ll figure that out when I get there. It will depend upon how everything stands come that time.

We’ll see how it works. 🙂

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