I started my fitness journey in 2002. I wasn’t taking measurements at the time, but I seem to recall typically weighing somewhere around 185 – 190lbs. I had no muscle development, so even at a fairly low scale weight I was noticeably out of shape.
Armed with zero knowledge I did what a lot of people do; I purchased a treadmill and started eating less. The thing with me is that I am very disciplined. I set up a running schedule and stuck to it. The weight started to melt off and at first I felt pretty good. Long story short, I ended up somewhere around 162lbs – leaner, but still no muscle definition. I was starting to look emaciated. Definitely not the look I was going for.
This is when I became passionate about learning everything I could about bodybuilding fitness, nutrition, and supplementation. I purchased a Bowflex and started a strength training program. Soon after I hired an online coach and joined a real gym. Since then I’ve experimented with countless nutrition and training programs. Some were successful. Some were not. But I learned something each time.
Fast forward to today. I just ended my latest experiment – a program called the ABCDE diet. The gist of this diet is to take the typical bodybuilding bulk / cut cycle and shorten it to two intervals. The science behind this was interesting. In theory insulin sensitivity should remain pretty good as you are not going for weeks with high carbs and the aggressive 2-weeks cuts should offset any loss in sensitivity. The first round went ok. I gained ½ lb of lean mass and lost 1 lb of fat. However, the following 2-week bulk turned into a disaster. I gained 10 lbs of what appeared to be mostly fat / water.
One the best tools in tracking progress is periodic photos. Fortunately (or maybe unfortunate) I have a set of photos from July 2014 where I am in fantastic shape. The brutal reality is that I have not only failed to progress since then, I’ve actually taken a couple of steps backward.
I’m now at a point where the “experiments” need to come to an end. I have collected plenty of data that should start to paint a picture of what works for me and what doesn’t. So I’ve combed my nutrition, training, and measurement logs looking for the best proven methods.
Here is my plan:
- Get lean and stay lean. No more “bulking” under any circumstances.
- Once truly lean (abs fully visible), slowly add calories, no more than +200 calories per week, while keeping close track of composition changes.
- Incorporate mini 2-week diets any time my waist measurement goes above 32”.
- Use a calorie / carb cycling diet where at least two days per weeks are below 100gm of carbs.
- I seem to respond best to high frequency training. Therefore, I will be using a slightly modified version of a program called Fortitude Training. This is basically an intense 4-day full body training program. On day 5 I’ll train calves, abs, and do high intensity intervals (sled runs).
- At least two steady state cardio sessions per week – adjusted as needed.
My best guess is that I’ll achieve the getting lean part of the goal by the end of March. I’ll probably end up somewhere around 178lb. My goal is to be 195lb at the same level of leanness, so I’ll have a lot of work ahead. The idea is to slowly build on this base in a steady and systematic manner.