The Road To Lean Muscle: Nutrition

Now that I’ve put my workout program out there, I figured it’s time I share with you my diet and how I’m approaching my nutrition.

During my bulking phase I would fluctuate anywhere between 3,500 and 4,000 calories per day.  As someone who is trying my workout program for the first time, you’ll be very tempted to consume…and consume…and consume some more.

My approach to leaning out has been to first target my caloric intake.  With the help of MyFitnessPal I’m at a steady 3,000 calories per day now.  With this, I plan to be at 210lbs in 2.5-3 months coming down from my current weight of 223lbs.

Here are my macros:

  1. Protein: 200g
  2. Carbs: 300g
  3. Fat: 100g

Now let’s compare this to my bulking macros:

  1. Protein: 180g
  2. Carbs: 400g
  3. Fat: 120g

The philosophy for my leaning out phase is simple: increase the protein intake and cut the carbs and fat intake.

Keep in mind that this is very experimental because I’ve never had to lean out before.  Prior to bulking, I was always lean and sat at a healthy 180lbs.

Moving on, let’s check out exactly what I’m eating.  Here’s my food diary for Thursday, September 29, 2016:

Breakfast:

  • 1 cup of cottage cheese
  • 1 cup of plain greek yogurt
  • 1 cup of quick oats
  • 2 sesame bagels with peanut butter

Lunch:

  • 2 breaded chicken cutlets
  • 1 cup of rice
  • 1 cup of green beans
  • 1 beef patty

Dinner:

  • 1 breaded chicken cutlet
  • 1 cup of rice
  • 1 cup of green beans

Many of you may be aware that a healthy diet usually consists of 5 smaller meals.  Most of the time I would agree, however, being in school limits me tremendously in terms of when I can and cannot eat and I refuse to eat in class.

If I end up with a diet more permanent I will certainly share that with you but for now this is generally what I’m eating.

Stay tuned!

 

The Road To Lean Muscle: Leg Day (Deadlift Heavy)

For those of you who have checked out my squat heavy leg day you may notice something here.  Check it out:

  1. Body Weight Squats: 2 Sets of 15-20 Reps.
  2. Barbell Squats: 6 Sets of 12, 12, 12, 12, 10, 10.
    1. 135lbs x 2
    2. 140lbs x 2
    3. 145lbs x 2
  3. Romanian Deadlift: 16 Sets of 10-12 Reps.
    1. 135lbs x 2
    2. 140lbs x 2
    3. 145lbs x 2
    4. 150lbs x 2
    5. 155lbs x 2
    6. 160lbs x 2
    7. 165lbs x 2
    8. 170lbs x 2
  4. Leg Extension: 6 Sets of 10-12 Reps.
    1. 60lbs x 2
    2. 65lbs x 2
    3. 70lbs x 2

As you can see all I did for my second leg day this week was switched around the workout.  Instead of doing 16 sets of squats I’m now doing 16 sets of deadlifts.  I still managed to finish at my usual time which is 1.5 hours.  I even added in an extra exercise which I’ll try to incorporate to my squat heavy day.

The Road To Lean Muscle: Abs

Usually, I couple this circuit with my shoulders and arms workout because I’m exhausted after working my shoulders and arms.

Again, the philosophy here is high volume and little to no rest.  Here we go:

  1. Ab Machine: 50lbs @ 12 reps/Leg Raise @ 12 reps/Mason Twist @ 20 reps
  2. Ab Machine: 50lbs @ 12 reps/Leg Raise @ 12 reps/Mason Twist @ 20 reps.
  3. Ab Machine: 60lbs @ 12 reps/Leg Raise (unsupported) @ 12 reps/Mason Twist @ 25 reps.
  4. Ab Machine: 60lbs @ 12 reps/Leg Raise (unsupported) @ 12 reps/Mason Twist @ 25 reps.
  5. Ab Machine: 50lbs @ 12 reps/Leg Raise @ 12 reps/Mason Twist @ 20 reps
  6. Ab Machine: 50lbs @ 12 reps/Leg Raise @ 12 reps/Mason Twist @ 20 reps
  7. Ab Machine: 60lbs @ 12 reps/Leg Raise (unsupported) @ 12 reps/Mason Twist @ 25 reps.
  8. Ab Machine: 60lbs @ 12 reps/Leg Raise (unsupported) @ 12 reps/Mason Twist @ 25 reps.

Let’s discuss the insanity.

I find the best way to see results in your abdominal area is to do circuits.

I used to do the P90X 15 minute ab workout but with my new program i wanted to switch it up.  It’s a fun and challenging ab circuit to do.

Of course, for those of you reading this adjusting is key.  You don’t have to copy exactly this workout or do the same amount of weight or whatever.  The point is getting the same volume and knocking out those sets.

Time to get shredded!

The Road To Lean Muscle: Shoulders & Arms

Continuing my updated fitness routine, I bring to you today my shoulders and arms workout.

Usually after my shoulders and arms workout I like to do an ab circuit which will be discussed further in the post immediately following this one.  Stay tuned!

Keep in mind that the idea for this routine is high volume meaning a lot of reps and a lot of sets.  Let’s get into it:

  1. Shoulders/Biceps/Triceps Circuit: 14 sets of 10-12 reps per exercise.
    1. Dumbbell Shoulder Press/Bicep Curl/Lying Tricep Extension x 2
    2. Dumbbell Shoulder Press/Bicep Curl/Seated Leaning Tricep Extension x 2
    3. Dumbbell Shoulder Press/Bicep Curl/Dips x 2
    4. Dumbbell Shoulder Press/Bicep Curl/Tricep Extension x 2
    5. Ez-Bar Shoulder Press/Ez-Bar Bicep Curl/Tricep Extension x 2
    6. Ez-Bar Shoulder Press/Ez-Bar Bicep Curl/Tricep Extension x 2
    7. Ez-Bar Shoulder Press/Ez-Bar Bicep Curl/Tricep Extension x 2
  2. Rear Deltoid Press: 6 Sets of 12 Reps.
  3. Lateral Raise: 8 Sets of 10 Reps @ 15lbs.

Now, let’s discuss the workout.

The shoulder press and bicep curl remains consistent throughout the whole 14 sets because that’s the way I enjoy it.  In designing this workout I knew I wanted it to be dumbbell-heavy and the shoulder press and bicep curl are very enjoyable for me especially as I climb to higher weight.  At the 9th set I transition into the ez-bar because by then I’ve reached a comfortable yet challenging weight with the dumbbells that if I were to go any higher I would do more harm than good to my muscles.  What you’ll find is that doing bicep curls on the ez-bar feels comfortable as opposed to the straight bar which may tweak some people’s wrists like it does mine.

The triceps part of the 14 set circuit was tricky for me because originally I wanted to incorporate shrugs into the circuit.  However, I found more variety was needed.  The triceps exercises are entirely up to you to decide which works best.  The best way for me to get the most out of my triceps is variety.

The rear deltoid press can easily be substituted with a cable or dumbbell variant.  I choose to use the machine for this workout because I enjoy it more.

For the later raise, you may have noticed it’s the only exercise where the weight is pre-set.  Don’t go any heavier than 15lbs.  Why?  The muscle you’re targeting while doing this exercise is tiny in comparison to your entire shoulder.  You’ll get the most out of this exercise by going light but hitting a lot of reps.

 

The Road to Lean Muscle: Leg Day (Squat Heavy)

For the past year I’ve been in the process of bulking/maintaining a steady 220lbs.  Until recently, I thought that I had great size despite having a bit of a gut (a typical result from bulking).  However, I was recently told that as a 23 year old I shouldn’t have a gut because maintaining abs and losing your gut is a lot harder when you get into your 30s and 40s.

Thus, I made it my mission to change my routine, diet and lifestyle in an attempt to lean out and get that washboard stomach.

In this installment, I’ll be sharing my workout routine and in later posts I’ll provide updates to said workout.

  1. Body Weight Squats: 2 Sets of 15-20 Reps.
  2. Barbell Squats: 16 Sets of 12, 12, 12, 12, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 8, 8, 6, 6, 6, 6.
    1. 135lbs x 2
    2. 140lbs x 2
    3. 145lbs x 2
    4. 150lbs x 2
    5. 155lbs x 2
    6. 160lbs x 2
    7. 165lbs x 2
    8. 170lbs x 2
  3. Romanian Deadlift: 6 Sets of 10-12 Reps.
    1. 135lbs
    2. 145lbs
    3. 155lbs
    4. 165lbs
    5. 175lbs
    6. 185lbs

The philosophy of this workout as will be seem with the rest of my routine is high volume.

I find that I get the most out of myself when I’m in the gym for long periods of time and just killing it.

What Makes an Effective Martial Art?

What Makes an Effective Martial Art?

This will be the first actual post of this blog and I can’t think of a more appropriate post than my philosophy of martial arts.

First and foremost, a martial art has to be effective.  I don’t mean to rule out that martial arts cannot be focused on entertainment or finding your inner zen, to each their own.  However, the effectiveness of your martial art will greatly increase your odds of surviving a street fight should one ever happen and let’s set the record straight here that martial arts should prepare you for street confrontations.

So, what makes a martial art effective?  Long-range weapons, counterattacks and footwork are typically the variables I examine when determining the viability of a martial art.

Long-range weapons, generally, ensure your survival since you can attack and defend as far as your weapon will allow.  When you think of long-range weapons you might jump right to swords and spears but realistically, you wouldn’t be carrying those around in public.  Aside from attracting unwanted attention, martial arts are meant to be subtle forms of deep expression.  So, then, what are your options?  Out on the streets, anything could be your weapon if you have the mind for it.  A stick on the ground, your ruler that you use for school and if those are out of sight, even your car keys will suffice!  Now, this is assuming your opponent isn’t using a gun or some other projectile weapon.  In my experience living in Toronto, CA, people like to carry around pocket knives for self defense or other purposes.  Against someone holding a knife, your long-range weapon should provide enough distance for you to prevent him from slashing you.

Counterattacks and footwork really go hand-in-hand.  In other words, one doesn’t necessarily come before the other.  Whenever I think of counterattacking I think about that old saying about how the best offense is a good defense and that couldn’t be more true in martial arts.  Continuing with the image in your head of holding your long-range weapon up against your opponents short range weapon, if your opponent is smart he’ll call it a day and leave you alone.  However, if we’re preparing for a real life confrontation, always assume the worst.  Again, typically, if your opponent is using a knife, he’ll do the predictable move of raising his arm upward and running toward you trying to get that overhead stab.  To most experienced martial arts practitioners, this may seem ludicrous but it’s rare to find someone who actually knows what they’re doing and is why they may be using a weapon in the first place.  Although, these days with MMA being the cultural phenomenon that it is, you never know who knows what.  Anyways, arm raised and running toward you like a madman will leave your opponent’s arm completely exposed for your long-range weapon to do some damage.  This isn’t disarming damage by any means.  The point is to counter his attacks.  So, as your opponent tries and tries again each strike from your long-range weapon will weaken that arm and eventually render it useless.  The nerves will be so damaged from your repeated strikes that your opponent won’t be able to hold the knife any longer, especially if you continue to strike the same spot which is an entirely different skill that can be covered in the future.

No good counterattack comes without excellent footwork.  Think of fencing.  Someone is always on the offensive and moving forward, while the recipient is on the defensive and moving backward.  Not to exclude the footwork of other martial arts, fencing just happens to be one that I find exceptionally useful.  Applying this to our ongoing example, your opponent continues to try and swing down with a knife to stab us and you’re repeatedly striking the same spot on his arm that’s wielding the knife.  All this being done while you step back as your opponent steps forward.  Usually, the sequence is as follows: opponent steps forward, opponent begins attack, you step to the side to flank or step back, you attack the arm wielding the knife and any other body part in the process and reset.  Now, the ball is back in your opponent’s court.  That sequence doesn’t follow through in every fight that will ever happen, it’s just an example.  There are many possibilities in fighting and it might not always work out.

I hope this post has provided readers with some insight and if not don’t hesitate to comment on why it didn’t.  Also, what do YOU think makes a martial art effective?  Do you think martial arts should have a different focus?  Let me know!