Here I go again…

If you don’t care about my fitness and diet stuff, stop reading now. 🙂

The past year has been a mixture of frustrating and fun. Fun because I have made some reasonable gains in size and strength. Found a new gym that is much more suited to my needs. I’m generally happy with how some major aspects have moved.

But frustrating because I’ve had on-and-off injury issues, the worst being my arm pain. That forced me to take 6 months away from benching, and while I managed OK, if you look at “year over year” data, I look to be sitting still. That’s probably been the most frustrating thing for me is when I look at yearly snapshots, it seems like I’ve made no progress. One cool thing about the in-gym app I use, RepCount, is the data/statistics and graphic features it has, and if I look at that data, I have progressed because the lines are overall an upward trend. Just not the rate I wanted. I mean, last year my goal for the end of 2017 was to bench/squat/deadlift 315/405/495, and I’m no where near that due to all these problems. If I 1RM tested today, I’m guessing I could do 275-285 bench, 365 squat, and deadlift I have no idea but probably mid-400’s. That seems good, but relative to where I was a year ago? It’s not great at all.

What’s also been frustrating is my bodyweight. About 2 years ago I ended a big “defattening” phase, dropping 66 lb and landing at a bodyweight of 199. Today? I’m about 250 lb. Some gain I expected and allowed for given my goals, but I never should have gotten above 230. My trouble was my focus has been about building strength and lawdy you gotta eat to accomplish that goal. If I wanted to take some time to drop some fat, it would set back my strength goals, so I kept eating. I got stronger, I got fatter. Fuck.

What also is happening is I’m finding myself more beat up. I love powerlifting-style lifting, but it’s taking a toll on me. When I took a break the past few months and did a more bodybuilding style, that was so much nicer on my body despite being more intensive in other ways. And I must admit, I am appreciating the hypertrophy gains.

While I still want to get stronger, I have to change my greater goals.

Going back to my foundational goal for all of this: I do all of this because I don’t want to become decrepit. I don’t want to stay young and avoid death, because I cannot. I just want the ability to live whatever live I have (left) to the fullest. Seeing people my age struggle to pick things up off the floor or climb a flight of stairs, no thank you. I really don’t want a wheelchair nor a walker when I get older. I want to be like Sonny.

So I need to change my approach.

See, I’ve been chasing strength goals. For example, setting a goal of 3/4/5 in bench/squat/deadlift. So I start on 5/3/1, I see how in 12 months I can put X amount of pounds on my lifts, and I just chase that number. Trouble is, I can’t chase it the way I’m chasing it. Maybe if I was 20 years younger I could, but I’m not and I can’t. I need to look at this quite differently.

I’ve been starting to sow those seeds, but I haven’t taken the full-on plunge because I was still exploring and figuring things out. I won’t say I have things figured out, but I can say what I’m going to try.

I’m going back to my friends at Renaissance Periodization.  They just released version 3 of their Diet Templates, so I’m going to try the templates out (again) and see if I can drop 20-ish pounds in 12-ish weeks.

One difference? I’m going to strongly commit to the templates. So I’m going to do serious food prep. Like Sunday afternoon is 2-3 hours of just cooking and packing my meals for the whole week in plastic containers. The containers follow the template, and if it’s not on the template and not in the containers I don’t eat it (with minor exceptions, like whey). I’m expecting this should help me in a number of ways.

But then, I’ve been wondering how to contend with the gym work. I know I will lose strength, but I really want to work to maintain muscle. If I do that, getting the strength back is no biggie. And it’s not like I’m planning on a 16-month cut, just 12-ish weeks. So instead of trying to roll my own program, I’m trying RP’s Physique Templates, the 4-day, whole-body approach. Why this? especially why this vs. the RP Powerlifting Hypertrophy templates? Goal is to build/preserve muscle mass during the cut, so naturally some sort of hypertrophy work is what I want. And then, I want to try this out, as a change of pace from the powerlifting-style work that’s dominated my approaches for the past some years. And having a totally different style and approach to the gym should also give me some deeper insights into this approach.

I plan on starting this soon. I’m thinking right here after Thanksgiving, but I may not if I’m not fully prepared. Basically, things like ensuring I have enough containers for a week’s worth of food prep and so on. But I do want to start on this a.s.a.p. because there’s really no reason to wait.

Long term, my thinking is to take a longer-view and probably start to move away from strict percentage-structured templates. To look at mesocycles, like 6 weeks hypertrophy focus, 6 weeks strength focus, 6 weeks peaking. Repeat. This is vs. just pounding away on a 5/3/1 BBB template until it’s time to reset (which could be 6-9 months). I may go back to 5/3/1, because I love it, but I could see something like:

  • 6 weeks on a 5’s PRO, lots of assistance work, cut-style diet (aim to drop like 5 pounds or at most maintain).
  • 6 weeks on a 5/3/1 BBB or SST style approach, keeping it simple, building strength.
  • 6 weeks on 5/3/1 FSL type of thing to “peak”
  • Repeat

Something like that would allow me to cycle well, even taking some time to do “mini-cuts” to help keep fat gain in check.

Anyways, we’ll see.

First things first. Gotta get back in control of things.