My New Program: 5/3/1

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As of this week I am revamping my training program. It’s time for a change, and I’ve been hinting or mentioning that in post after post lately. I have four desires for the new program: (a) It should support a higher level of conditioning. (b) It should provide a routine that can allow me to make consistent and measurable gains in strength over a longer training horizon. (c) It should provide a greater variety of movements, supporting general physical preparedness and hardiness. (d) The workouts should be doable in an hour or less.

The program philosophy that best meets these desires is 5/3/1 by Jim Wendler. This is a famous and widely recognized program that has been used, successfully, to support strength and conditioning, by many athletes.

At its heart, 5/3/1 is an intermediate powerlifting program, designed to help intermediate or even advanced powerlifters simplify and focus their training. It uses sub-maximal weights and higher volume, but promises to keep a lifter in a position to enter competitions and still lift heavy. It cycles intensity in a logical mathematical progression, building in a natural curve of increasing intensity followed by periods of deloading, to assist in recovery and longevity in the program. Yet it is also designed to let powerlifters bring some balance to their programming, including conditioning and “bodybuilding” auxiliary work for symmetry and muscular development.

I’m not a true intermediate, in terms of my strength. At best I’m advanced novice. But at nearly 44 years old, having spent most of my adult life as a slow-distance runner and a skinny-fat academic with a dysregulated diet, I perhaps present a special case for programming. I do think that 5/3/1 is the way to go. It is probably the way to go for most lifters who may not be advanced, but who have advanced past their 30’s and that life-stage where they have a peak capacity for muscle building, recovery, and athletic attainment. In other words, 5/3/1 promises not only to be a young man’s intermediate/advanced program, but an older, experienced lifter’s program too.

In my case I have three days a week to train. That is it. My schedule isn’t ever going back to five days a week, like it was when I got “really into CrossFit.” In other words: I’ve tried “training more” as a path to greater fitness and, it just burns me out. So now what? Well, I’m stronger now than when I left CrossFit (in the spring of 2011), because I’ve been training the basic powerlifting lifts consistently for 18 months. But at this point I’ve played out the various other approaches I’ve tried and I need something that I can follow, adhere to, and make progress with, at least over the next 12 months. Up until now I feel like I’ve tapped out several programs: I did what I could with a simple 3 x 5 starting strength regimen. I’ve tried self-designed “intuitive” beginner linear progressions. I’ve tried maxing out all the time (a “Bulgarian” approach) for about 15 weeks… and in truth I didn’t respond all that well to it. You’ve seen the charts on this, most recent experiment. I got stronger but once I’d stalled out, it was like banging my head against a brick wall. In every case, these non-periodized, high volume, do the basics all the time approaches tend to lead to me injuring myself in some way, getting sick, burned out, bored, whatever; bottom line is, they have stalled out for me.

I have hope for 5/3/1 and, at least during the next year, until my 45th birthday in January, 2014, this is my new program. We’ll compare where I was in Jan. 2012 with Jan 2013 with Jan 2014 at that time.

18 Weeks of Maxing Out Squats, Presses, and Power Cleans

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For the past 18 weeks I have given over my programming to Zach Bijesse, my young friend, who is smart, super strong (he is a superheavyweight class weightlifter), and dedicated to a programming philosophy that is “Bulgarian,” in that it prescribes constant reiteration of the training lifts, at maximal efforts. Usually, the day’s workout prescribed more than I could accomplish in the time I had available for training, involving, ideally, maxing out on three lifts and adding volume in one, two, or all three. This chart, the latest and last iteration in a series of check-ins on the program, doesn’t reflect the volume work, or the overall volume attained, or the average intensity, nothing like that. It does just one thing. It plots my best single rep effort in each lift attained over three workout sessions each week. During a week for which there is no data, it means that for some reason I wasn’t able to attempt the lift, or Zach didn’t program it. There was a brief switch out to Front Squats, not reflected in this chart, a very brief dalliance with deadlifts.

The chart has clear and inescapable implications. It demonstrates the following points. (a) Maxing out Press day after day three days a week got me absolutely nowhere. Yes my press is stronger now than it was at the beginning of the program, but not by much. I peaked out on the press early on, in my sixth week, and then bounced against that glass ceiling for the next twelve weeks. (b) Maxing out on squat continuously helped me to get my HBBS up to where my LBBS was … back in January. I obviously need some other approach to squatting to make appreciable gains in it. Bottom line is: my squat sucks. Maybe I just lack the testicular fortitude to really squat heavy. That may be the case but the bottom line is: this program didn’t bring me a heck of a lot closer to my goal. What it did do was build confidence in me that I can do heavy singles day after day. That’s something. Yet, since I don’t feel much closer to my long term goal of a 1.5 x bodyweight squat (now 315 lbs) than I was last December, I am left underwhelmed. (c) Maxing out my Power Clean day after day got me ABSOLUTELY NOWHERE. In the first six weeks I made about 5kg progress; in the next six weeks I made 1kg progress; in the final six weeks I made no progress, and ended up consistently able to pull only what I’d pulled at the beginning. BOO.

By no means are my results to be regarded as a repudiation of “Bulgarian” training methods. I am the trainee here, and I am responsible for my own results. It isn’t the program, it’s me. There is no denying the validity of the Bulgarian concepts: effort drives adaptation, and, if you want to get better at something, do more of it. Why then didn’t I succeed following Zach’s program?

Well, I think that I might have had better results following this philosophy if I was younger, had more time to train, had better opportunities for recovery, especially sleep (i.e. wasn’t a full time professor and father of small children), and was able to do more like 10 training sessions a week, instead of 3. All these factors limited my gains and, disappointingly so. I know nobody is more disappointed in my failure to thrive on this program than my buddy Zach. SORRY ZACH. But it is where it is.

For me, then, is there any benefit to “Bulgarian” methods? Yes, for about six weeks. I do believe, and this is a well-known truism in the strength training world, that just about any program can bring you good results … for about six weeks. I believe Dan John is the one who made this concept famous. So, if I was looking to boost my numbers in lifts that I was stagnating in, I might, repeat, MIGHT, choose to do a six week program of daily maxes. But then I would switch it up. I see no value in pursuing this method for longer cycles, without interruption. But then, I’m not an Olympic style weightlifter from Bulgaria, or even one of our competitive Bulgarian style lifters at Asheville Strength and Conditioning. I’m just some old professor guy and I have to choose my programs wisely, based on what works for me.

cycle I evaluation

I am currently on a 19 week training program, consisting of four cycles of four weeks each, with interstitial “play weeks” between cycles. I have just finished the first cycle (from Aug. 6th to Aug. 31st) and, before I embark on a “play week” I thought I’d post a short analysis of my progress this past cycle.

The following table lists the true working “max” I achieved over the course of the three workouts of each week of my first cycle. Since the whole goal here is just to increase my max or personal best in these three lifts, all that is necessary, for each week, is to look at the bottom line, or rather, the top-of-the-line results.

  Week I Week II Week III Week IV
Squat Max (Lbs) 240 250 250 255
Press Max (Lbs) 130 (PR) 135 (PR) 130 135
Power Clean Max (KG) 79 (PR) 82 (PR) 83 (PR) 81

As the table shows, I did manage to achieve at least one new max or PR every week (my new squat maxes are not true PRs but they are HBBS PRs). I think I made good progress in spite of too many bad workouts, especially in the past week and a half.

In terms of quantifying how much I improved my capacity in the lifts, in just four weeks I added +10 lbs to my previous HBBS max (245, achieved over the summer), +10 lbs to my previous press PR (125, achieved a LOOOONG time ago), and +5 kg to my Power Clean PR (78, achieved over the summer). I want even more! but I’ll take this. Pretty happy.

I look forward to the next cycle, which starts Sep. 10th, officially, although I bet Zach B. will have me working hard next week during my “play” week too.

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!

Surf Safari 2012

New Four Week Training Cycle begins today, July 1st, and extends until July 28th. Twelve MWF workout are planned, but the main point of the cycle is to surf as many times as possible.

Training plan is simple. Focus on doing triples. Deal with the equipment limitations of being at the beach, which are as follows: I have a jumprope, some rings, an 8 foot pull-up bar, 300 lbs of rusty Chinese iron, and that’s about it. I’ll do RDLs on Monday, Squats on Wednesdays, and Hang Power Cleans on Fridays, plus burpees, presses, ring dips, and chin ups every day. Like my last cycle. I will condition as I feel capable. But surfing could happen on training days or rest days and it will likely leave me WIPED. So no pressure. Not looking to set any PRs this month.

From a body recomposition perspective the point is to not lose ground, and to be more serious and focused than I was, for example, during the last week, this last “play week,” in which I may or may not have gained a pound or two, but during which I definitely didn’t treat myself well.

To that end I have devised three super simple rules that will help me maintain a weight in the 199-201 range, which is where I was at the end of my last cycle.

Rule 1: don’t eat after 8 pm or before 9 am. Duh. Just don’t do it. 7 days a week. Stop with the post dinner, late night snacking.

Rule 2: don’t watch TV or movies. Read instead. Don’t think this has anything to do with body recomposition? Well, my worst behavior around food and skipping sleep is all centered around watching TV late at night. So skip it.

Rule 3: sleep, motherf***er, you got to surf tomorrow.

summer solstice 2012 four week wrap up

Four weeks ago I announced a new plan for training and body recomposition, which I initially viewed as a “challenge” cycle (see “new four week cycle: summer solstice 2012″ from May 27th). I had great ideas for dietary self discipline in there, including: daily IF, weekly 22 hour fast, whole-foods Michael Pollan style eating, low alcohol, and more sleep. But I failed to keep to all of those ideas. At least I didn’t gain a lot of weight. Diet wise, the cycle turned out to be more of a regular old “maintenance” period.

Shorter Training Cycles: Thumbs Up

On the bright side, I did complete almost all aspects of my training plan and I feel good about it.

Having just finished this four week cycle, I can report at least some positive results. First off, I should say that I love love love my new approach to programming! It feels much more respectful to my aging body and easily distracted mind. I am speaking, of course, of my latest idea to keep training cycles short, and to optionally take rest or play weeks between cycles (see “the idea of a shorter training cycle”, also from May 27th).

By the end of four weeks of 3x per week of strength, auxiliary work, and conditioning, i.e. about 12 workouts and probably 9 conditioning sessions, I was burned out. But it was so meaningful and helpful to know that I could take a week of playing around if I wanted to (and would do so), and then would also be changing up my training routine for the next cycle.

I can stay focused on training for four weeks. I can make measurable gains. Then rest and recover, if needed. And then move on to something new, without losing sight of my larger goals, and benefiting physically and mentally from changing up the routine.

Summer Solstice 2012: Notes On The Work

My Numbers from May 27th to June 23rd, 2012
Summer Solstice 2012, The Data

My work this month was pretty good. I started out with a plan to drop about 7 pounds of fat, to move my body from 202 lbs (on the first day) to 195 lbs (on the last), but THIS DIDN’T HAPPEN. Basically, I flubbed the “challenge” part of the plan. I cheated, broke IF windows, and didn’t eat the vegetable heavy diet that I originally thought was so important. I also drank way more often than planned (3-4 times per week instead of 1). So, the challenge aspect died. Instead, I found myself settling for a quick “weight-loss” of about 2.5 pounds, and thereafter, maintenance.

Here are the numbers, etc., from the notes file I was keeping during the program:

Week I totals:

Highest Squat 230 (Total vol/reps/average: 3340/21/159)
Highest Deadlift 315 (3030/14/216)
Highest Powerclean 72kg (158.73 lbs)
Burpee Volume Total: 105 reps
Chin-Up Volume Total: 24 reps
Dips Volume Total: 15 reps
Press Weight and Reps: 70 lbs (2 x 35 lbs KBs) x 54 reps = 3,780 lbs.
Start weight (Sun): 202
End weight (Sat): 199
Average weight: 199.57
Dietary notes: kept to plan for the most part. Drank only on Memorial day.

Week II totals:

Highest Squat 235 (Total volume/reps/average: 3530 lbs/19/185)
Highest Deadlift 325 (5170/24/215)
Highest Powerclean 73kg (160.93 lbs)
Burpee Volume Total 3 x 5 x 8 reps = 120 reps
Chin-Up Volume Total: 22 reps. (-2 vs. week 1)
Dips Volume Total: 23 reps. (+8 vs. week 1)
Press Weight and Reps: 70 lbs (2 x 35 lbs KBs) x 11 sets x 7 reps = 5,390 lbs
Start weight (Sun): 200
End weight (Sat): 198
Average weight: 199.71
Dietary notes: got off track with IF at various times. Ate late into evening on 3 nights. Had some bites of processed foods and a taco lunch (tortillas, chips, etc.). Had a tremendous cheat night on Thursday. Did drink alcohol Thursday (Beer and Wine), Friday (Beer) and Saturday too (Liquor).

Week III totals:

Highest Squat 240 (vol/reps/avg: 3025/16/189)
Highest Deadlift: 345 (3495/15/233)
Highest Powerclean: 76 kg (167.55, less than 2.5 lbs from PR)
Burpee Total Volume: 3 x 5 x 9 = 135 reps
Dips Volume: 8 + 10 + 9 = 27 reps (+4 vs. week 2, +12 vs. week 1)
Chins Volume: 8 + 8 + 9 = 25 reps (+3 vs. week 2, +1 vs. week 1)
Press Weight and Reps: 70 lbs (2 x 35 lbs KBs) x 9 sets x 8 reps = 5,040 lbs.
Start weight (Sun): 201.5 (+1.5 lbs from week 2, -0.5 lbs from week 1)
End weight (Sat): 200.0 (+2 lbs from week 2, +1 lbs from week 1)
Average weight: 199.64
Dietary notes: not too bad the first half of week. Fasted a long day from Sat to Sun. Kept regular IF schedule Mon and Tue. Mostly good quality, non processed foods, but had Pizza for dinner on Sunday. Had alcohol on Tuesday evening, and ice cream too; also Wednesday. Alcohol again on Saturday evening… a lot. And cheated with crappy foods Friday and Saturday nights. The numbers don’t lie. In spite of pulling my average daily weigh in down slightly this week, the numbers probably show I’ve gained about a pound over the past three weeks, or they show that I’ve been eating very close to isocalorically.

Week IV totals:

Highest Squat 245 (vol: 3,125; 16 reps; avg: 195)
Highest Deadlift 325 (failed on 355) (but much higher volume: 6100/24/254)
Highest Powerclean: 78kg (PR!)
Burpee Total Volume: 2 x 5 x 10 = 100 reps. Skipped third day.
Dips Volume: 12 + 9 = 21. Skipped third day.
Chins Volume: 10 + 8 = 18. Skipped third day.
Press Weight and Reps: 3 x 3 x 9 x 35 lbs KBs ( 70 lbs) = 5,670 lbs
Start weight (Sun): 201 (-0.5 lbs from week 3, -1 lbs from week 1)
End weight (Sat): 200 (0 lbs from week 3, +1 lbs from week 1
Average weight: 199.86
Dietary notes: started off on Sunday in a bad place, hung over and overstuffed from the previous day. Ate light all day. IF’d into Monday. Monday did huge breakfast, skipped lunch, good dinner, but cheat eating into the night. Tuesday did bulletproof coffee, skipped breakfast and lunch, good dinner, alcohol, IF’d into Wednesday. Wednesday bulletproof coffee… ate light on Thursday and kept IF; bulletproof fasted most of Friday too.

As you can see from this, I managed to keep my average weight below that of my weekend weight. Basically what happened was that I lost control of myself on Fridays and Saturdays and tended to undo the good work I had done during the week.

One of the numbers that I didn’t keep track of in these notes was skinfold measure. This actually improved slightly during the month (see table above). But I think my love handles must have been growing, because my waist did not improve.

If I had kept more carefully to my eating plan and had SLEPT MORE, I think I would have been able to document better progress in improving body composition. Instead, I maintained.

Lifting wise, I did not accomplish as much as I wanted to, but I felt like I pushed myself hard and helped to build a foundation for pushing into the next cycle. I did get one true PR, on the last day of the cycle, when I pulled a 78 kilo power clean.

I can do better, and will, during the next cycle.

new four week cycle: summer solstice 2012

My new training cycle will be four weeks long, running from May 27th to June 23rd.

The cycle includes the following training and body recomposition goals.

Body Recomposition Goals

At the end of my previous training cycle I got off track with diet, and had a surgical procedure, and ended up flat on my back for a week, eating GORP, and bloating up like a madman. At my peak I had gained 10 lbs from a low that was only three weeks prior! So, the new training cycle is all about tightening up the diet and returning to my goal weight. I started the first day of the cycle at 202 lbs, and will probably end up with an average weight for the week of 199-198 lbs. But my goal is: I will end the four week cycle with an average weight of 195 during that final week. My average waist size and skinfold measure will also decrease, because I will lose fat, not muscle.

The process for doing this reflects my larger motives for training and recomposing my body. Health and longevity are diffuse, but real, long term life goals. So the process incorporates drinking less alcohol (only one day per week!), eating Michael Pollan style (“eat real food, not too much, mostly vegetables”) while still getting my protein, sleeping responsibly, and doing IF. I’ll provide details in my weekly summaries (published Saturday nights).

Training Goals

The training template for this four week cycle is super simple. I am going to focus on doing work with heavy singles on Squat (High Bar, unfortunately), Deadlift, and Power Clean. My medium term goal for the period is to take whatever I can lift in the first week and add 15-20% to that total by the end of the cycle. So, for instance, if I can squat 1 x 230 on Monday of week 1, I’m looking to squat 275 (an all time PR) by week 4. That’s my medium term goals. I’ll discuss these medium term goals in more depth on Saturday of week 1, when I’ve seen what I can do this week.

Also, following Dan John’s advice, I paraphrase, “if it’s important to your development, do it every day,” I will be doing burpees, chin-ups, dips, and presses at every workout. I will also be doing some conditioning at every workout. Those are what Nick Horton would call small goals.

My only relevant long term training goals remain roughly the same as they have since the fall: squat 315 and deadlift 405. I’ve added a few pounds to both goals because, what the hell is the sense of coming so close to three wheels (at 300) or to four wheels (at 400) but not to go all the way? I revised the goals upwards and I believe I can reach them … some day. Those are my long term goals, and I think Nick Horton would approve of them as such, because they still scare me a bit. These long term goals aren’t relevant to a four week training cycle except that my programming has been selected because it may help me progress towards the goal.

The weeks look like this:

MONDAY: warm-up, heavy squat singles, b/p/pu/d, conditioning, and auxiliary optional

WEDNESDAY: warm-up, heavy deadlift singles, b/p/pu/d, conditioning, and auxiliary optional

FRIDAY: warm-up, heavy power clean singles, b/p/pu/d, conditioning, and auxiliary optional

And…

And nothing. That’s the plan! Four weeks. It’s going to fly by.

When I’m done, starting on June 24th, I will take a week between cycles. The next cycle will involve surfing and heavy triples. I know that much. But not much more. So, more on that on July 1st!

the idea of a shorter training cycle

Trial and error. That’s been my training plan and my coach. Really. Because although I have relationships with coaches, and I do a little bit of coaching myself, I just don’t pay anyone else to be my coach or to program for me.

To some ways of thinking, that leaves just me, as coach of myself. But that’s not accurate. Actually, my coach is like a force of nature. I am always trying things out, and often failing to get where I think I’ve planned to go. Because while I always have plans, they rarely work out. I keep making trials, and then wandering off the path in error. Or, I get pushed from the path by random happenstance and accident. I’ve learned to expect this pattern, and even to benefit from it. My coach is thus “trial and error.” He’s relentless. He always says, “do it again.” And he often says, “there is no try, there’s what you did, you’re doing now, and what you’re going to do. That’s all.” So I plan, and I attempt to do X, and do X plus or minus Y, and end up where I end up. It’s important to pay attention to that.

My thinking has changed lately. I’ve rethought the way I go about planning for myself. Over the past three years that I’ve actively pursued “training,” I’ve deliberated with myself about how to periodize my training and how to deal with the inevitable cycles and ups and downs that come when life and training intersect.

I’ve used “training cycles” as defined periods of 8-12 weeks of focused purpose in pursuit of defined goals. But what I’ve found is that a 2-3 month period is just too long. It doesn’t allow for the dynamic nature of life, for the changes that life often brings, without warning. Injuries, illnesses, unplanned events, lapses in discipline, etc.

Experiencing this again and again has taught me something important. It has taught me that I need shorter periods in which to try and remain focused. And so, what I’m thinking now is: I want to try out a year of shorter periods, periods of 3-5 weeks in length.

These shorter training cycles of 3-5 weeks will, I hope, allow me to accommodate life’s shifting forces better in my training. I can choose, ad hoc, to put different cycles back to back, or to repeat the same training cycles, or to add single weeks of rest, conditioning, testing, or rehab between cycles, as needed.

The first of these new, shorter training cycles begins today, Sunday, May 27th, 2012, and continues through Saturday, June 23rd, 2012. It is four weeks long. It will very likely be followed by a week of light conditioning (June 24th to June 30th), and then by a totally different four week cycle while I am in Oregon later this summer (July 1st to July 28th). Another week of light conditioning (July 29th to Aug 4th) will be followed by a third four week cycle (Aug 5th to Sep 1st).

I will discuss, in this blog, each of these periods as they arrive.

week seven last week wrap up

I decided to end my current eight week cycle one week early, at the end of week 7, and to take the next week as a rest week, not an 8th week or a 1st week, and so not subject to a specific training cycle or plan. A week off.

This recap will look back on the entire mess and see where I’ve come and what I’ve done.

Seven Weeks of “Training”

Training wise this cycle was a bummer. It began on April 1st, and my first day of training was April 2nd. But I injured my back right on the first Monday of week four, on April 23rd. After that I abandoned all the carefully devised plans I had for deadlift and squat and auxiliary lifting, and resorted to light weights, high reps, and short workouts. I am probably weaker in my main lifts after seven weeks of this bullcrap. But I can positively attest to greater shoulder strength and stability and much greater capacity in burpees. So there’s that.

Seven Weeks of “Body Recomposition”

The goal laid out for this training cycle was to establish and maintain an average weight of 195 lbs and to improve skinfold and waist measures at that weight. That did not end up happening. The results were GOOD, though, so it is hard to be angry. My average skinfold measure improved from an average of 10mm in week 1, to an average 8mm in weeks 6 and 7. This means that my overall body fat % went down, which is an unalloyed positive. On the other hand my average weight each week has moved from 196.5 at the first week, to a low of 195.5 in the third week, to a high of 198.0 in the sixth and seventh weeks. So I have gained weight and remain three pounds above my target weight. My average waist measure has not improved. In week I the average was about 36.4″ and in week VI and VII it was about 36.5″. I wish I could bring it down (because that would mean reduction in size of my love handles!) but I haven’t yet.

That’s all I have to say with respect to the end of this training cycle. Out with a whimper.

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.