something new…

My Summer Surf Safari 2012 is over. It was four fun training weeks and one play week. All went just about according to plan (I did miss 1/12 of the workouts, though); close enough! as far as training results and body recomposition goes. I am satisfied.

And now I begin a new semester at work, and a new season in the gym, healthy, whole, motivated, and excited for something new.

What’s new is the following.

(a) Zach Bijese is taking over my strength programming. I will continue to program auxiliary lifting and conditioning for myself but I have committed to following Zach for a season. Zach has promised to help me reach my goal of a 300+ lb squat, so, I am looking forward to giving him the chance.

(b) Periodization scheme is as follows. I am still going to be using four week “cycles,” with one week “play” weeks between cycles. These are my “mesocycles.” My macrocycles are clusters of mesocycles. The large-cycle I am working on right now is 19 weeks (4 x 4 weeks, plus 3 “play” weeks) and will continue from today, Sunday Aug 5th, until Saturday Dec. 15th, 2012; the entire 19 weeks is given over to Zach’s strength programming, so, the “play” in play weeks is limited just to what I decide to add or take away from Zach’s plan. I have asked him to respect my need for occasional breaks from hardcore training… but… he’s the coach and… “Bulgaria!” as we are fond of randomly shouting at Asheville Strength and Conditioning.

(c) New Body Recomposition goals are as follows. I am done trying to lose weight for now, in fact, probably for the next 16 months. I am willing to gain weight and go up to 210 lbs by my 45th birthday, in January 2014. I plan to gain between 0.5 and 1 lb of mass per month, while holding waist and caliper measures steady, or while improving these measures. Each “cycle” has a target average daily weigh-in, so I will sometimes need to eat more, sometimes less, to make those numbers. For the first mesocycle of the current macrocycle my target average weigh in is 201, which is (+/- 2 lbs) already where I am, so, all I have to do is eat to recover and to maintain or lean out. Longer term, my goal is to maintain an average of 202 in cycle II (Sep. 9th to Oct 6th), 203 in cycle III (Oct 14th to Nov. 10th) and 204 by the fourth of the mesocycles (Nov. 17th to Dec. 15th). It doesn’t matter what happens in the play weeks, because the target average of the following cycle is what it is, and so, if I have to “lose” weight or bloat going into a month, that’s just what I’ll do. Then in 2013, over a 12 month period, I will probably increase the target weight by a scant 0.5 lbs per month. I may scrap this whole plan if my waist starts to bloat up or my skin-caliper measures “go south.”

That is all!

week six recap

Week VI of my 8 week training cycle was… weird. It was finals week, my last week of the term, starting with exams, continuing with grading, and ending with graduation. As a college professor, my life is naturally broken into cycles, and, I need to learn to build my training schedule around them, because, as I saw this week, these kinds of transition periods really hammer my routine and my resolution.

Body Recomposition: My average weight bumped up by two pounds (to 198 lbs) as I ate off plan, abandoned IF, and drank more than I should. And slept less. My waist also balooned (to an average of 36.5″, up by 1/4″). Skinfold remained unchanged (at 8mm). So I was bloated and inflamed, obviously, and not recovering well. I saw a high point of 200 lbs during the week and had only two days at the low, 196. Saturday morning I woke up with a resolution in mind to fast and get myself back on track, which I proceeded to do. So, at least the week ended with my wresting control back from the capricious “id” that had taken control of my behavior.

Training: I’m still nursing that injured back. This makes three full weeks of disrupted training. Not that I didn’t do nothing… as the blog attests. This week actually had an extra training day in it — I completed a swim workout on Tuesday! First in a long time. That was fun. Swimming on Tuesdays will be a regular feature of my week going forward in the weeks ahead. I also had a very active Thursday (doing work around the house and yard); so active, in fact, that my strained back flared up mightily by the evening and was still sore on Friday. I had done some good conditioning during the week, and felt ok about everything, but by Friday I was spent and drained and… that was it. My workout didn’t go far beyond what I call “warm-up” and my “rehab” work.

Starting to look forward to finishing out this current cycle and shifting gears in the next, especially since this particular eight week stretch really didn’t go as planned, what with an “injury” stopping me from heavy lifting during its second half. I have some good thoughts about where I’m going next, though, so, yeah.

after fifth week

Currently I am slogging my way through an 8 week training and body recomposition cycle, and just finished the fifth week. But I am starting to regret not simply cancelling my current cycle after injuring my back on the first workout day of week four. Because since that day, Monday, April 23rd, things have not gone great. My body recomposition plan has continued on without the benefit of being able to do my full strength and conditioning plan, but it has also been hindered by my discomfort and the general malaise that pain brings. I haven’t stopped exercising but I’ve stopped training. And I haven’t abandoned my goals in either training or body recomposition but I am more or less holding steady in the latter while I undoubtedly have regressed in training over the past month or more since I was already engaged in a reset — i.e. working with weights well below PR territory — when I injured myself and have now, I’d wager, lost real strength.

Injury: the injury to my back, now almost two weeks old, is already taking longer to recover from than I’d hoped and is starting to cause me real concern. I have not considered the possibility that this is an *orthopedic* injury… God forbid. I pray that it is not. I felt much better on Monday after doing some light squats at high reps, and chin-ups, so, maybe, I should do more of those. The romanian deadlift work I did on Wednesday either didn’t help or actually hurt. And the sandbag runs I did on Friday definitely hurt. So those are OUT going forward. Also, I’ve neglected soft tissue work in the second half of this week and really need to get after my back with a lacrosse ball and foam roller every day.

Exercise: the best I can say about this week is the following: I made my target numbers on burpees bringing the week’s total to 90; Wedensday’s workout made my glutes and hams sore as heck on Thursday, and my forearms got a blistering workout from the FatGripz and Fat Bar; and I got in my chin-ups on Monday with two more reps than I had the previous Wednesday. The injury is holding me back and I will need to change up my program again in the remaining 3 weeks of this cycle in order to baby my back. During the coming week, in addition to light high rep squats, look for me to note doing back-targeted floor work and calisthenics and mobility work.

Body Recomposition: average daily weight was up slightly this week, to 196.4 lbs, but overall, statistically, it has been flat through all five weeks of the current cycle, since it started out at 196.5 and has never fallen below 195.6 or gone above 197. The average weight for 5 weeks has been 196.3 and so I have stayed within a standard deviation of plus or minus .7 lbs, which is nothing. On the other hand, the evidence clearly suggests I’ve lost fat and gained muscle in this time, since my average skinfold measure dropped this week to 8mm, down from 10mm in week 1 and prior weeks (this suggests a reduction of BF % by 2% or more!). That tells me my plan is working. My average waist measure was up very slightly this week to 36.24 (from 36.17) but, besides being nearly “flat,” this is also down by 1/4″ to 1/2″ over the past five weeks. So things are looking good in the BR area… although it’s hard to take pleasure in it when I am hurting too badly to deadlift.

week IV catastrophe

That’s it for week 4 out of 8 of my current training program. This week sucked. Sucked!

Training: Instead of continuing to implement my plan, everything fell apart on Monday when I pulled a muscle in my back. I improvised my way through Wednesday and Friday workouts. The only area I can point to where my plan continued unabated was in shoulder rehab work and burpees. Sigh. I am still in a wait and see mode post injury so maybe in this upcoming week five I’ll decide what to do about my goals and my training.

Body Recomposition: I made progress in my average waist measurement (down to its lowest point yet at 36.11″) whereas my average weight was up slightly (to right around 196, or 1 pound over my goal), and my skinfold average remained steady at 9 mm. I’m happy with all this.

The literal meaning of “catastrophe” is actually just “downturn” so I’m actually not being dramatic by referring to this week as a catastrophe. The setback in my training will just put things on hold. It won’t stop me. More later.

week three recap

Week three of eight went well.

Training: except for a missed conditioning workout on Wednesday and another week of only 2 short sets of chin-ups, all was according to plan. I showed up, put more weight on the bar, worked on extension, did a huge volume of squats and a large volume of deadlifts, and what else need I say? I am getting stronger and I trust my plan.

Body Recomposition: I was in control and reasonable in my eating. The measures all looked better or continued to look good. Average weight for the week was down by over a pound from the past couple of weeks, and cameclose to my goal of 195, falling to 195.6. Average umbilical measure was also down, to 36.3″. Skinfold measure remained low at 9mm. I’m satisfied. Again, I trust my plan.

week second same as the first

Second Week of my new eight week cycle … it went ok.

Training: Training this week was entirely according to plan. I added weight, I did my reps; got that work in. Every set was completed except for the last two sets of chin-ups on Friday. Which I regret. But I was spent and out of time and they aren’t central to my goals. Speaking of goals: my deadlifts on Friday weren’t as crisp as I want them to be. My extension is still suffering, which is visible in the video. I gotta work on it. But video of my Monday deadlifts looked good. My squats were feeling weak this week. But the volume I’m doing is outrageous. So. I’m going to stick with my plan but beginning with the next cycle I have to try something new. No PRs in sight anywhere. But the plan is the plan and I’m sticking with it.

Body Recomposition: With my parents in town, and my little girl’s birthday this weekend, my diet has been sub-optimal. But not entirely so. Not all indicators were off. Average weight was about 2 lbs above my target weight and about 1/2 pound above week 1, at 197. Average umbilical circumference was very slightly up (bloating, I’d guess) to just over 36.5″. But my average skinfold measure was actually down, to 9mm. Something is working. Probably the increased conditioning. Overall I’m feeling optimistic and like the progress is tangible but I’d still like to get down to my target weight and maintain it.

good week (week 1 wrap)

So, my second training cycle of 2012 began this past week and I feel great. I just finished the first week of eight planned weeks and I’m optimistic about making tangible progress towards all my goals during the next seven weeks.

Training and Exercise: training wise, I started a new pattern of lifts that I will stick with for the entire 8 weeks of the cycle. I have committed as well to doing 3x per week conditioning. I will likely not be setting any new PRs in squat or deadlift during this entire time, which, at first, would not seem to be bringing me closer to my long term goal of 300 lb squat and 400 lb deadlift. But that appearance would be false. I have reset the deadlifts in order to fix ongoing problems with lower back extension, and I am already making progress in correcting my form. At the end of 8 weeks, if I can stay “on target” with my plans I will be moving a lot of weight and getting ready to do some more serious, PR territory lifting in my next cycle. And in the area of my squats, I had to change everything about how I do them when my right shoulder pain became so bad that Low Bar Back Squat turned impossible. So, it’s the Safety Squat Bar for me, which I love. But it’s different. Problems with extension have always held back my squat as well, so I have dialed back my squat as well and am working on being more strict with myself about how I do the reps. I’ve also bumped up squat volume AGAIN, bringing me to 65 work-set reps a week. I anticipate being much stronger at the end of the period. I don’t anticipate having much to report, week to week, on training during this cycle. So this will be the longest note (unless, as might be inevitable, the unforeseen happens and I have to explain changes) until my final week’s report, at which point I will do some comparisons in all the areas of training and exercise I’ve been doing, by comparing weights and reps in week 1 to week 8. All I hope to report is that I am on track and doing my plan, week after week.

Body Recomposition: my body recomposition goals are simple. And this week, I didn’t experience any measurable changes one way or the other. So, I guess you could say we wait and see. I am about 1.5 lbs above my target weight (avg. weight in week 1 was 196.57 lbs, .3 lbs down from last week), average circumference was very slightly up (very slightly, as in 1/16″ of an inch or so… 0.06″… to 36.56″), and my skinfold in mm was flat (at 10 mm). So, to move towards my goal of establishing an average weight of 195 and to improve measures of leanness, I still have to be careful about overeating. I’m close enough to my target weight that a few days of tight eating and clean IF during the coming week and I’ll probably reach it. And then the question becomes: how I can get leaner while maintaining weight? It’ll be interesting to try.

eight week training cycle for spring

Sunday, April 1st begins a new, eight week training cycle for me. I choose an 8 week cycle of monitoring and reporting this time around because I live and operate on an academic schedule, and I’m more likely to get through the next 8 weeks uninterrupted than I am to get through a 10 or 12 week period without having to disrupt training because of vacation or something. The next cycle after this one will have to take into account the fact that, wherever I am, I’m going to want to be surfing. But I get ahead of myself.

Training Goals: my training goals remain the same. 300 lbs (1.5 x B.W.) squat and 400 lbs (2.0 x B.W.) deadlift. But my training emphasis shifts slightly during this eight week cycle, from striving for pure strength gains to prioritizing form improvement in both deadlift and squat, and recovery for my painful right shoulder. I also add a goal of preparing myself for summer surfing (next cycle), which requires a higher level of conditioning than I’ve been maintaining. My deadlifts have been hampered by a form problem: lumbar rounding during lifts. So I have drastically reset the lift to a lighter weight, to work on extension, and have increased volume dramatically, and plan to include RDLs and supermans as a regular part of working out as well. I will continue to use the SSB for squatting, hoping my right shoulder continues to benefit from the break from LBBS and also that I can use the unique form issues involved in the lift to supplement my quest for control of “extension” in the lower back. I have rewritten my program to put more emphasis on the deadlift and to make room for conditioning. That will become evident as I march through the program over the next few weeks.

Body Recomposition: I still have body recomposition goals, so this is a recomposition cycle. So far, in week I of the new cycle my average weight is a few pounds above my goal weight of 195. So in terms of quantitative measures, my goal for the 8 week period is to reach and then maintain an AVERAGE daily weigh-in of 195 lbs. I have to bring down the average weigh-in somewhat, between 1.86 and 2.75 lbs, to reach that goal. The method is the same I’ve been using: 12-14 hours of IF daily, periodic, ad hoc longer fasting, and generally “clean” eating (= more or less paleo, + limited dairy, alcohol, cleaner grains, and occasional “cheats.”) I made good progress in the last two weeks of my most recent training cycle by cutting out all alcohol for two weeks. So I feel strongly that alcohol needs to be limited to weekends only in this new cycle. I will, however, make exceptions for drinking out with colleagues if invited, on a Mon or Wed evening only. If at any point during the cycle my average weight drops below 195, I will add in a planned weekly cheat evening, most likely Saturdays. Before that time, I will avoid deliberate cheating and try to stay out of the kitchen after dinner. Once I hit and maintain 195, my goal is to continue to see improvement in my waist measure and skinfold measure. If the most recent average measure was 36.4″, I’d like to see that at 35.4″ at the end of week 8. And if my recent average skinfold measure was 10 mm, I’d like to see it at 8mm by the end of the period.

This training cycle runs from April 1st, 2012, to May 26th, 2012. The next cycle after that will be “Summer 2012.” I will write up a weekly report on my progress towards the goals I have laid out here.

week twelve wrap up

I ended my twelve week training and body recomposition cycle in an ambiguous place. On the one hand, I had nominally reached my body recomposition goals (though the average weight, which counts more, still has a few pounds to move). On the other hand, being set back by my injured shoulder in the squat and by needing to correct form in the deadlift has meant that I haven’t set a new squat or deadlift PR in a few weeks. I definitely made progress towards my training goals during the twelve week cycle but it’s difficult to measure just how much stronger I am now than I was at the start of the period.

In terms of training, during the last week I actually reached a point of frustration with the deadlift that will have me moving back even further and switching to a two day a week program in the next (8 week) cycle. I will continue with the SSB squats, and move to a differently ordered three day a week program. But at least for the next cycle, I am going to worry less about pushing the SSB squats back into squat PR territory and worry more about perfecting form.

In terms of body recomposition, on Saturday I actually weighed in, for the second time, at my target weight of 195. Which seemed cause for celebration. So I had a higher carb (not high sugar…) high calorie, long eating window day on Saturday and allowed myself a few drinks too. The average weight for week 12 was 196.86, almost 2 pounds above target, but down 1.5 lbs from the previous week’s average and 3 lbs from the average of two weeks ago. This positive trend has been driven by a stricter practice of IF and restrictions on alcohol over the past two weeks. So I will continue to be stricter in these areas, but with greater flexibility to meet a colleague or friend for a drink if I should need to. The average waist for week 12 was 36.4″, down about .23″ from the previous week and 2.2″ from week 1. The average skinfold was 10 mm, down 1 mm from week 11 and 3 mm from week 5, when I started taking the measure. I declare success for my body recomposition goals but will continue to try to make progress in the next cycle.

week nine report

Week 9 of 12 of my current body recomposition and training cycle. Things went… not great. But not too bad. Sort of flat.

Training: I started squatting with the safety squat bar this week. So, I reset my linear progression; actually I am now doing three linear progressions simultaneously: mon, heavy; wed, light; fri, medium. Pumping the volume of squats WAY up. But it will take time before I am clearly back in PR territory and obviously progressing towards my goal, a 1 RM of 300 lbs. As far as deadlift goes, I didn’t set any new PRs this week, but my deadlift workout on Wednesday was a load/volume PR, as I did 3 x 3 x 315. So, summary is: no discernible progress towards goals, except what can be discerned when you look at the record and say: he’s still working.

Body Recomposition: I started out the week on Sunday with a heavy weigh-in (204.5), following last week’s excesses I was positively bloated no Sunday morning. For three days I was good, keeping clean and long fasting windows (22 hours Sun-Mon, 14 hours Mon-Tue, 18 hours Tue-Wed) and eating very very sensibly (no sugar, alcohol, gluten or snacks), so that by Wednesday AM I was down below 200 and feeling quite good about myself (198 lbs). I pigged out long on Wednesday, had a short fasting window Wed-Thu, consequently weighing in higher (200). Then a better food day on Thu, a longer fasting window Thu-Fri, and came in at 199 on Fri. But I pigged out Friday. And again on Saturday! Saturday weigh in was at 202, up 1/2 pound from the previous Saturday, and the heaviest Saturday since Feb. 19th. But overall numbers, on average, were still trending in the right direction: avg. for week was the lowest avg. yet at 200.21 lbs; average waist measure for week was 37.09, lowest yet; skinfold measure was flat, at 13 mm.

What I really need is a SOLID week of REAL, DISCIPLINED EFFORT.

Too bad week ten is also my SPRING BREAK. Oh well.