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Mini-Cut Week 3

Week 3 Starting Weight: 161.9 lbs

End of Week Avg. Weight: 161.1 lbs

Macros:

  • 5 Days @ 300 carbs, 177 protein, 75 fat
  • 2 Days @ 468 carbs, 177 protein, 86 fat

This week I saw my weight stall at around 161 lbs. There was only 1 day this week I dipped into the 160’s, but for the most part I seem to have hit a small plateau. This was to be expected after the first 2 weeks of this mini-cut’s calories still being relatively high. At some point, the body eventually adapts and changes need to be made. That being said, this upcoming week, I will be making a few changes to my macros in order for the fat loss to continue at a good pace.

Training:

  • This was our second week on Get Stacked 22 off of corygfitness.com. As mentioned last week, the #4amcrew is a week ahead of most of the world on these programs. Definitely ready to get another solid week of training under way!
  • My personal training highlights from this past week included at 455lb Sumo Deadlift off of 1 inch mats on Monday (huge PR for me), and a 335lb Paused Lowbar Squat without a belt on Friday (+10lbs over previous PR WITH a belt). I’m very confident I could take 455 off the ground, being as the mats decrease your leg drive. The only lift that is not holding strength at the moment is my bench. However, I don’t believe it is from the calorie deficit, but rather from our programming having a heavy emphasis on other variations of bench press besides a normal, competition style lift. Just out of my “groove” with the lift, that’s all.

 

Cardio: 

Because I was seeing my weight begin to stall early this week, I decided to implement a little bit more cardio rather than decrease my calories in the middle of the week. Here’s what this weeks cardio looked like:

  • 1 session of 800m lunges (First 400m w/ weighted vest)
  • 1 session of 400m weighted lunges
  • 2 sessions of LISS of 150 calories burned each (300 total)

I will keep this cardio for the upcoming week and will rely on the decrease in macros to get the train rolling again!

Progress Photos:

Again, these were taken this morning after having a high calorie day yesterday so I felt a little softer than normal. When I can eat pizza, homemade chipotle bowls, and brownies on a cut, I’m cool with it. As long as I’m consistent with when I take my progress photo’s then all is good. Even with my body weight stalling this week, I’m feeling tighter and tighter, especially in my legs and back.

**I apologize for the less than ideal back pictures. I had some work done on my rhomboids/mid traps by Dr. Kelly this week and he’s still got me taped up**

#Squatlife Changed Me

For those unfamiliar, myself (and many of my training partners) tend to squat every single training session after our main workout for the day. Each day is a different, conjugate style squat, meaning we rotate between Front Squats, Back Squats, Pause Squats, Box Squats, etc. working up to a daily max. The OG Cory Gregory has been squatting every day now for over 3 years, and has convinced thousands of people around the world that they could do the same. The benefits of doing so cannot be argued. I’ve experienced them first hand, and I’ve never had better strength across the board.

Enter the #Squatlife.

This past Sunday, March 26, 2017 marked my 1 year anniversary of taking some form of a squat every single day. Training days, off days, it didn’t matter. For 365 consecutive days I performed the most basic, yet most (in my opinion) fundamental movement that most every human should be able to do correctly. Sure, there were days that felt absolutely terrible. But the number of days that got me excited to get under the bar far outweighed the former. Other days it was just body squats for 100-200 reps when dealing with injuries or when traveling. Regardless of the weight on the bar, the style of squat performed, or the intensity at which the exercise was taken, I accomplished something I had been pursuing for quite some time.

So let’s talk about some of the benefits I’ve reaped over the past year from living the #Squatlife:

  • 1)  Mentality – This was, and still is, the biggest benefit for me personally. Knowing that no matter the circumstances I had to get under that bar, was a mental test. As mentioned above, there were days that I would  have rather eaten soap than go squat, but I knew I had no choice. This mindset compounded over time and has definitely given me a different perspective into not only training, but to everyday life (how cliche right?). Sometimes you’ve got to do the things you simply just don’t want to do
  • 2) Strength/Size – Without a doubt, squatting every day has increased my numbers across the board and made me entirely much stronger in the Big 3 lifts (Squat/Bench?Deadlift). The amount of work your Hips, Glutes, Quads, and Hamstrings get is second to none, and certainly play a crucial role in how much weight you can add to your total. For example – When I started squatting daily, my max back squat was 305lbs, my deadlift was at 405lbs, and my bench was 195lbs. After 1 year of the #squatlife I’ve seen these increases: +80lbs on squat, +50 lbs on deadlift, and +50lbs on bench. The results don’t lie. I’m not going to get super scientific here either, but the squat being a full body compound movement automatically forces your body to release more growth hormone, and in turn leads to some pretty unreal results. Lastly, the size in my legs has dramatically increased as well. I attribute a lot of this to the hypertrophy/volume work I tend to do on separate Leg Days, but it would be near impossible to say that my pants haven’t fit much tighter than at this time last year. More specifically, my quads & glutes have seemed to grow the most, which again I can contribute to the amount of work they do when performing squats.
  • 3) Camaraderie – This is one most people don’t think about.  Having a solid group of training partners plays a major factor here as well. Not everyone is going to feel 100% each day, but everyone can give 100% effort at will. After a tough training session, there’s a lot of times the majority of my crew, myself included, don’t feel like squatting. However, we all know it has to get done. This is where the camaraderie comes into play. The amount energy the #4amcrew can pull off of one another when loading up for a big squat is something I had never experienced before. Never once have I seen someone in our crew hope that another member misses a lift. Everyone is on your side pushing you to be your best, and with the amount of hype some of our sessions generate, you’d think it was a Saturday afternoon at a powerlifting meet with someone going for a World Record. This type of support can’t be replaced.

So whether you currently squat 500lbs or 50lbs, I encourage you give the #Squatlife a try. I get it, it’s not for everyone. The first couple of weeks suck, not going to lie. You’ll be more sore than you’ve probably been in a long time, but if you push through, I promise you the results will come. I’ve experienced it first hand, and thousands other have to. It’s hard to fully explain to someone who hasn’t tried it for some period of time, but as of now I have no plans to quit squatting every day. Until my leg is broke, you’ll find me under the bar. It’s time to dive in head first and give the craziness a shot. Be about that #Squatlife. 

Reverse Diet Week 5…Full out “Off-Season”

What’s up everyone, keeping myself in check and getting a blog post up this week like I said I would. Another solid week of training was put in, stayed on top of my nutrition, and hopefully (and most importantly) made some life gains in the career department, which I have some follow ups with in the next few days. Anyways, from this point out I wouldn’t really even consider this to be a “reverse diet” anymore. From here, it is simply adjusting my macros and training sessions week to week to ensure that I am making steady progress in my strength, size, and the number on the scale. I guess you could say I’m comfortably getting into an “off-season” lifestyle with training and nutrition, although I believe if you are a competitive athlete there is no “in-season” and “off-season”…It’s a year round sport! Check out how this past week went down below and hit me up with any questions, ideas, or topics you guys would want me to touch on in the future. Thanks for reading!

End of Reverse Diet Week 4 (5/14/17) Avg. Weight: 157.9

End of Reverse Diet Week 5 (5/21/17) Avg. Weight: 157.83

Macros:

  • Once again, my weekly average of my weigh ins came out to be lower than the previous week. Despite having my weight shoot up a bit towards the end of the week due to a few free meals I had (Ice Cream, Wings, etc.) the overall trend for the week is what matters the most.
  • Since the primary goal is to gain a bit of weight each week on this “lean bulk” that only means one thing —> Increase the calories!
  • This upcoming week, I’m going to take a little different approach to my daily macros, and they will vary a tad depending on the intensity and body parts being trained that day. Here’s the tentative plan:

– 4 days @ 400c 175p 100f — Larger body parts / Higher volume days

– 3 days @ 300c 175p 125f — Smaller body parts / Rest days

Training:

  • These last few weeks I have REALLY been enjoying the higher volume bodybuilding style of training. I believe my mind to muscle connection is improving with nearly every workout, and I am able to target the specified muscle group much better with a greater exercise selection.
  • Just because I am taking a different approach to my training, this doesn’t mean I’m not still training HEAVY. I’m a huge advocate of always training heavy year round, in order to really build that density in the muscle. A few PR’s from this past week included: 315×6 lowbar squat after working up to 330 on a 3×3 scheme, and another volume PR on sumo deadlifts of 405×4 for 2 sets.
  • This upcoming week, I may look to change up my training split, but nothing is for sure yet. Considering going back to the old “Arnold split” for a few weeks of Chest/Back, Legs, Shoulders/Arms…but of course with some modifications. We’ll see what happens.

 

Cardio: 

Not much to talk about on the cardio side of things as the routine is about as bare and basic as it can get at this point. One thing I have done is completely cut out lunges, as I feel with the intensity and volume I am training my legs right now, they would not be beneficial. A huge goal of mine is to really pack some meat on my legs, so lunging for cardio just does not make sense to make at the moment. Here’s the current cardio schedule:

  • 2 sessions of LISS @ 250 calories each

 

Progress Photos:

Monday (5/22/17) first thing in the A.M. Very happy with the leanness I have been able to maintain while increasing my calories significantly, and also with the small changes I’m beginning to see in my back and arms. Constructive criticism is ALWAYS welcome!

Where Have I Been?

So it’s been a few weeks since I’ve updated everyone with exactly what’s going on gotten a new blog post up. I apologize for that, but this last month for me life has been pretty crazy. Since the last update, I have flown back to Georgia for my best friends wedding, MOVED back to Georgia from Ohio, and traveled to North Carolina to help my brother and his family move into their new house….all in consecutive weekends. During this time however, I have done my absolute best to stay on top of my training and nutrition, as I viewed at it as a good test to see how I could handle less than ideal situations. Detailed out below is what direction I have taken with my training during this past month, as well as where my nutrition/macros stand. I’m hoping to get back into being more consistent with my posts, so stay tuned and thanks for reading!

End of Reverse Diet Week 1 (4/23/17) Avg. Weight: 159.0 lbs

End of Reverse Diet Week 4 (5/14/17) Avg. Weight: 157.9 lbs

Macros:

  • As I explained in the last post, Reverse Dieting is strategically increasing your calories over a period of time in order to keep your metabolism in check. Over the last 3-4 weeks, I have been able to increase my current daily macros to: 375c 175p 100f, while actually DROPPING weight. This is actually a blessing in disguise as I am currently looking to add lean muscle mass, but this simply means my metabolism is doing it’s job. There will eventually be a time where I reach a good caloric surplus where I am steadily gaining a little bit of weight each week.
  • One thing I have been doing also is implementing “Free Meals” on the weekends. During the week, I will hit my macros as close as possible. Then, usually on Friday night I will go out for a meal of whatever I want, and again for 1 more meal on Saturday or Sunday. Notice I said MEAL, and not DAY. This has allowed me some more flexibility in my diet, all while staying on track with my goals.

Training:

  • Having finished up a really short, but very intense 4 week program a good friend of mine had put together during the last couple of weeks, my strength is still at its highest point given this bodyweight.
  • However, these past 2 weeks – and moving forward for the foreseeable future – I am putting 100% of my focus into bodybuilding style training. I know I have mentioned this before, but it has always been secondary to my strength training and do not feel like I have been able to get all out of it that it’s worth. My main priorities still remain the same – to grow my arms, back thickness, and legs.
  • No significant PR’s have been hit, or probably will be hit in the near future (besides rep PR’s) but I will still train my heavy compound movements 1-2x each per week.

 

Cardio: 

Another huge change since the last update and the first week of the reverse diet is the amount of cardio I have been doing. I have DECREASED to a great degree the amount and intensity I have been implementing, all while seeing the changes on the scale as outlines above. The goal is to eventually be doing ZERO cardio and rely solely on weight training as my aerobic base. Last update my cardio was at:

  • 1 session of 800m lunges (First 400m w/ weighted vest)
  • 1 session of 400m weighted lunges
  • 2 sessions of LISS of 150 calories burned each (300 total)

Currently, my cardio sits at:

  • 1 session of 15 minutes weighted lunges
  • 1 session of LISS of 250 calories burned

 

Progress Photos:

These photos were taken Sunday morning (5/14/17) straight out of bed. I know the angles and lighting of the progress photos aren’t the best, but for the time being it is what we’re working with. Or until I find a better spot at my parent’s house! Ha!

End of Mini-Cut? Reverse Diet!

Well, the mini-cut came to an end this past week. My ultimate goal during this short, intense dieting period was to drop some unnecessary body fat, re-regulate my appetite, and most importantly, set myself up for a successful long term lean gaining phase. I believe I accomplished each of those tasks within this 6 weeks, so this past week I began to bring my calories back up, or “reverse diet”. In short, a reverse diet is simply bringing your overall calories back up to maintenance, or slightly above, over a few weeks time after a period of dieting. I decided to start by bringing my fats up significantly, which is something I have never done in the past. But that’s what this is all about! Trying different methods to see what works best for your body is the only way you’ll ever know what works vs. what doesn’t for your specific blueprint. I was only able to track my weight 5 days this week as I was out of town for a wedding this past weekend, but as you can see, my average weight actually DROPPED during the first week on higher calories. This often happens with people who begin to reverse diet usually for 2 reasons: 1) The Thermic Effect of Food (your body has to work harder to digest/process the extra calories, in turn burning more calories), and 2) Increased energy expenditure inside/outside of the gym. Over the weekend however, I did admittedly fall off the wagon diet wise Friday-Sunday, so my starting weight this week was very high in comparison to my average weight and will have a direct correlation to my average at the end of this upcoming week. But that’s life and I have no regrets of how much of a glutton I was!

Week 5 Starting Weight: 159.2 lbs

End of Week Avg. Weight: 159.0 lbs

Macros:

  • 5 Days @ 300 carbs, 175 protein, 100 fat

Training:

  • The second week of the new program I am on was even more intense than the first. But with the increase in calories, I feel like I was able to recover a bit better and definitely had more energy to push through each session.
  • Some big PR’s were hit this first week into the reverse diet, and I feel like my squat is the strongest it’s ever been, regardless of bodyweight. I was able to hit a rep PR on lowbar squats of 325×4 on Friday, after working sets of 10, 8, and 6 reps moving up in weight.
  • With an increase in calories, I expect to really see my lagging body parts start to come up. I will continue to push the volume for legs, back, and arms, while simultaneously focus on getting stronger in each of my compound lifts. On a side note, I feel like my bench press is finally coming back around, so as my body weight begins to increase over the next few weeks, I’ll be excited to start putting up some more weight there (just like every other gym bro).

 

Cardio: 

Cardio stayed same as it has been. The sole reasoning for this is because I didn’t want to change too many variables at once. I’m a huge believer in doing some sort of conditioning/cardio year round not only for heart health, but also for it’s abilities to help you recover, and eventually train harder and longer in the weight room. I will begin to taper back cardio this week though, most likely starting with reducing to only 1 LISS session. Stay tuned next week to see what adjustments I make. Here is what I have been doing the last 3 weeks for cardio:

  • 1 session of 800m lunges (First 400m w/ weighted vest)
  • 1 session of 400m weighted lunges
  • 2 sessions of LISS of 150 calories burned each (300 total)

 

Progress Photos:

**Disclaimer** – These photos were taken Saturday morning after consuming what I would estimate 6,000-8,000 calories worth of alcohol, BBQ, and cake throughout the day Friday. I’m not for one second saying this is okay to do, but I was actually pretty pleased how my body handled the amount of abuse I put it through. I was HURTING an hour or so before these pictures and had to use the restroom multiple times before it was possible to do any sort of posing (TMI?). But I wanted to keep myself accountable and get a few pictures up.

Mini-Cut Week 5

Week 4 Starting Weight: 160.6 lbs

End of Week Avg. Weight: 159.2 lbs

Macros:

  • 5 Days @ 275 carbs, 175 protein, 69 fat
  • 1 Day @ 330 carbs, 175 protein, 74 fat
  • 1 Day @ 380 carbs, 175 protein, 74 fat

Just like I had imagined would happen, I blew past the plateau that I hit last week. With the lower calories and smaller refeed, my body had no other choice. The original plan for this week was to go 6 days on regular macros before having a higher calorie day on Saturday while traveling. However, by Wednesday my body was really beat up, I was lethargic, and overall knew that I needed a small increase in calories for a day. What I decided to do was basically just take 25g of carbs and 5g of fat from my scheduled refeed on Saturday and apply those calories to Wednesday. Even those slight increase in calories made a world of a difference for my energy and training the rest of the week. By the end of the week I was still in an overall deficit after my 2nd higher calorie day on Saturday, which is all that truly matters, as is reflected in my 1.4 pound decrease in average bodyweight this week.

Training:

  • This past week I decided to take a break from the Get Stacked programming myself and the #4amcrew have been running for quite some time. A lot of my training partners are getting ready for the Old School Gym Push/Pull meet coming up this weekend, so everyone’s training has been a bit different anyways. A buddy of mine has been working on some custom programming, so I reached out to him for a program which would address my specific weak points (Arms/Back). Needless to say, the first week was brutal, but I think it will be more smooth going forward.
  • The highlight of my week workout wise was definitely training at Iron Valley Barbell (Indianapolis, IN – owned by @zachhomolpower). On Saturday, myself and a few friends were making the trip to Indy to support one of our training partners at his first Bodybuilding show, and we figured we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to train at another REAL GYM like IVB while we were in town.
  • Like I said above, with my programming changing a bit these next several weeks I am really hoping to bring up some lagging body parts. I will always be looking to increase my strength in the Big 3 lifts (Squat/Bench/Deadlift), but my priorities have began to shift more towards bodybuilding.

 

Cardio: 

Cardio stayed same as the previous week, and I will continue this same routine heading into next week. Cardio and Lunges are starting to become routine and don’t add too much extra stress to my body/training, so these are all good signs that I’m not over doing it. As a reminder, here’s what my cardio is looking like:

  • 1 session of 800m lunges (First 400m w/ weighted vest)
  • 1 session of 400m weighted lunges
  • 2 sessions of LISS of 150 calories burned each (300 total)

 

Progress Photos:

Mini-Cut Week 4

Week 4 Starting Weight: 161.1 lbs

End of Week Avg. Weight: 160.6 lbs

Macros:

  • 5 Days @ 275 carbs, 175 protein, 71 fat
  • 2 Days @ 468 carbs, 175 protein, 84 fat

As I talked about last week, I hit a small plateau in seeing my bodyweight drop. I decreased my calories slightly over this past week and it seemed to get me right back on track! Although my weekly average was not as low as I would have liked, that is simply due to two days having higher weigh-ins in the 162’s. Beyond that, I had a few days in the 159’s, so we are definitely headed in the right direction. However, a “mini-cut” is meant to be just that: mini, or short and aggressive. That being the case, I will again decrease my calories this week and will go from 2 high calorie days down to 1 in order to have as much consistency on the other 6 days of the week as possible. I’ll be saving my high calorie day for this upcoming Saturday as my homie Jay Azeltine (@jay_azeltine) will be competing at his first bodybuilding show in Indianapolis, and I’m positive there will be temptations for some higher calorie options in/around the show and while traveling there and back.

Training:

  • Continuing on #GetStacked 22 this week was a bit scattered. Although I stuck to the same split, I decided to change up a few exercises and rep schemes during the week. This upcoming week however, I’ll be jumping on a new program to really address my weak points (arms and back) to ensure that I am not losing any size in those areas during this mini-cut.
  • Highlights of my training week were a bit different than usual. No crazy weights being put up this week, but I was very satisfied with some rep PR’s. Wednesday saw some serious Highbar Squat volume during my leg workout which included two rep PR’s of 315×3 & 275×8. Getting stronger overall has definitely translated into being able to hit higher weights for more reps.
  • Biggest struggle for me currently is maintaining my bench press. I’m still putting on two plates (225), but my pressing strength is ALWAYS the first to go when my calories start getting lower. Please hang on, PLEASE!

 

Cardio: 

My cardio was kept the same as the previous week, and I will continue this same routine heading into Week 5. In my opinion, keeping cardio to a minimum while continuing to progress is a huge factor in how much muscle you’ll be able to retain and how high you can keep your performance in the gym. None of this is ultra taxing, which allows me to keep my lifting intensity as high as possible. As a reminder, here’s what my cardio is looking like:

  • 1 session of 800m lunges (First 400m w/ weighted vest)
  • 1 session of 400m weighted lunges
  • 2 sessions of LISS of 150 calories burned each (300 total)

With another decrease in macros this week and going from 2 days of high calories down to 1, I expect some serious progress this week.

Progress Photos:

My core has certainly begun to tighten up, as well as my upper quads. I’ve always been blessed with having very lean legs (and arms/shoulders unfortunately), but some new striations have made an appearance in my upper quads (top left picture). That’s when you know it’s getting serious!