Training For Physique & Fat Loss pt. 1 - Getting Ready For My 2nd Physique Show
I started a new training phase today. My first workout was a few hours ago and I can already feel the soreness kicking in. Advanced German Body Composition (GBC) has never been my favorite. It's never been my favorite because when you do it right you feel like your heart is going to beat right out of your chest. Just when your heart rate starts to come down a bit you tackle the next set and send it soaring again. The basic tenants of GBC are "big-bang" exercises that have a high metabolic cost paired with short rest intervals. This produces one heck of a lot of lactate (lactic acid). This will lower the pH in the blood subsequently demanding your body make more growth hormone. The more growth hormone you make the faster fat loss can happen .The advanced version just uses a bit more advanced exercises with reps approaching six rather than eight, ten or twelve.
So let's put one thing on the table from the start - I'm not a physique pro nor am I an aspiring one. I moved to Austin a year ago tomorrow and met a guy who started a non-profit that helps returning US military veterans fight PTSD by paying for their gym membership for 90 days. They've found that training helps combat this disorder even better than prescription drugs. The guy who started this non-profit, called Make A Vet Sweat (MAVS) loves training himself. So this guy, Justin, thought to himself he would work in collaboration with a bodybuilding federation called the Naturally Fit Federation and put on a body building show where the proceeds would benefit his non-profit. I found all this out last June when my wife introduced me to Justin. Ironically, they went to high school together in Washington state.
So here I am, this guy trying to help people have optimal well-being and live an optimal life and what's more optimal than having a healthy brain and being mentally strong? "I've never done a fitness show of any kind", I say to myself. "And I only have 6 1/2 weeks!". But after only a few hours, because I couldn't spare any more precious time (!!), I decided I would do the show. I wanted to support Justin, MAVS, and our veterans. And I also wanted to be able to say that I competed and know what it's like going through that process. I had done it one time before. I also trained a few gals to get ready for shows. But going at it myself would be a different experience.
So last year I got on stage with a physique that I thought was definitely worthy of presenting. At the show there were only five of us guys total. So they put us all in the open men's physique division. After seeing all the guys and going through my first ever walk on stage I thought to myself I would place 2nd. And that's just where I landed.
It was a great experience.
Having gone through that process has significantly increased my ability to help others do the same. It greatly increased my own self-confidence. And I practice what I preach. I live pretty lean - I tend to hover around 212lbs at or around 10% body fat.
So this year my goal is to improve on the physique that I showed last year. This year I'm starting my prep about two weeks earlier which is a good thing. The added time will give me more time to cut down and hopefully get even leaner than last year.
I'm also doing something much different with my eating. I've struggled with gut issues my whole life. Recently, a fellow practitioner turned me on to a book called The Plant Paradox and it's author, Dr. Steven Gundry. In that book, as well as many podcasts and online articles, Dr. Gundry explains why lectins are the main cause of inflammation and leaky gut in the body. Lectins are a class of proteins - gluten is a lectin actually - and lectins destroy the tight junctions of the stomach lining creating intestinal permeability - more commonly known as leaky gut. In the photos above, at the leanest I've ever been, I still showed signs of inflammation. And my suprailliac pinch (love handle site) never dropped to the level that I expected it to with the fat staying pretty firm - a sign of possible inflammation.
Also, my bowel movements were never consistently firm - a clear indicator of abdominal distress. For more info on lectins, what they do and why check out this podcast.
If you want to read more on lectins check out this article from Dr. Gundry: 15 Ways To Reduce Lectins In Your Diet
Regarding my food, besides avoiding lectins, I've reduced my calories putting myself in a caloric deficit. While "calories in calories out" isn't the only concern when wanting to shed some fat, it definitely is the biggest piece of the pie.
*I personally believe supplements to be a bigger portion as we can pinpoint specific areas of concern and send an all-out attack to combat that specific problem.
I also adjusted my macros accordingly. One thing I do with macros for all my clients, as well as myself during times like these, is carb cycle. While there are several different ways of carb cycling I typically enjoy more carbs on training days and less on non-training days. So calories will go up on training days, and vice versa, but also so will the percentage of carbs I consume. Now before you go all IIFYM on me, I am NOT a "flexible dieting" coach. This is a sore spot for me because the IIFYM historically has gotten very good results! But of course they have look at the chart above! They've taken care of 75% of the problem!
So why is IIFYM a sore spot for me? Because while many proponents of IIFYM will say that you should eat "healthier" foods before unhealthy ones, everyone that I know who eats this way see it as a way to eat junk food when they want to "because it fits my macros bro!". Well, I don't claim to be an expert in reading blood work, but I have taken several courses on functional medicine and have a basic understanding of functional medicine blood chemistry biomarkers. And what I know is sugar, artificial sweeteners and much of the other junk in modern food is robbing us of our health and subsequently our happiness.
"Sugar, artificial sweeteners and much of the other junk in modern food is robbing us of our health and subsequently our happiness."
So one reason I am doing this is to help the fitness industry see the need for optimal health - not just an optimal physique. Can you have both? I think it's possible. And I did a pretty damn good job last year. This year I plan on getting blood work done around the time of my event which, by the way, is August 5th here in Austin, Texas.
I had an instructor a couple years back whose entire business was working with fitness pros, both male and female, and he told me himself that he doesn't know of a more unhealthy population as a whole. This isn't an indictment. But just go looking around Instagram or fitness blogs and see what people are eating and drinking. Diet soft drinks because there's zero calories. Kraft American cheese slices because, you guessed it, zero to no calories. Bang energy drinks, what?!?! Candy ... because it fits their macros.
Really?!?! REALLY?!?!?!?! really?
Again, not an indictment, just an observation. None of those foods I just listed have any business being inside a human's body. I definitely don't eat perfect 100% of the time. But if you feed yourself a steady diet of those types of foods it will inevitably catch up with you.
Wow ... what a rabbit trail.
So here's a current breakdown of my training day food intake @ 2,450 calories on top and non-training day @ 2,268 calories on bottom:
See how I increase the percentage of carbs I have on my training day versus my non-training day? There are several reasons but the main one is because anaerobic training greatly increases insulin sensitivity. If you don't know what this is it's basically your body's ability to dispose of blood sugar molecules inside your muscle instead of fat. When you eat your blood sugar rises and insulin is secreted by the pancreas, picks up the glucose "hitch hikers" and takes them somewhere. If you're insulin sensitive there's a spot for the hitch hikers to be dropped off in the muscle. If not then the insulin keeps driving around without a spot for the blood sugar. This is called insulin resistance.
"When you train anaerobically you increase insulin sensitivity - your body's ability to shuttle glucose into your muscles instead of in to fat or in your liver."
For this reason I prioritize the majority of my carbohydrates after my workout and in the PM. Yes, you should eat your carbohydrates later in the day, not in the morning. Go back up and look at that chart again - nutrient timing plays a role. And most people have been told to eat carbs early in the day then none later. This can disrupt circadian rhythm and blood sugar levels. Now, am I opposed to people having some carbs early in the day? No. But I think it's a case by case basis. But as a general rule of thumb eat your fats in the morning and save your carbs for the evening.
"As a general rule of thumb eat your fats in the morning and save your carbs for after workouts and in the evening."
This will help lower evening cortisol and can even improve your night's sleep. Fats in the morning really help to fire up your brain and get it working optimally from the get go. Have kids? Make sure they get plenty of fat in their diet! Those brains at school don't want to work sometimes. Their grades could improve as well as their behavior. It's a win-win all around!
So besides my GBC workouts I'm also doing about 30 minutes of cardio somewhere during the day. I don't normally do cardio so since it has a short shelf life my body should really respond to adding in some "fat-burning" cardio. I like to stay between 65%-70% of total heart rate. Yes, it's boring. And no, we weren't made to do steady state cardio often. But for this phase of my life I'll be doing it! I'm a fast-twitch guy, like most of us. I love to do sprints and play sports. Cardio? Not so much.
If you were curious what the first two days of my workout routine looks like here they are:
*This one got me goooooooood!!!
If you've never done a bench press to neck, you've got good shoulder mobility and you're looking for a bigger upper chest check it out!
*The subscapularis pull up is no joke. It's crazy tough and may leave your abs sore for several days after.