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Waldo

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Posts posted by Waldo

  1. I had been slacking on measurements for a while, so Friday's set were the first time I really evaluated the progress I made maingaining.

     

    First off, in general, maintaining to me is the effort of lazy cutting.  I'll pass up extra desserts and be portion mindful, but not overly harsh.  Maingaining is when I pretty much eat whatever I want, follow my body's cues.  Bulking otoh requires eating when already full to hit a consistent day to day surplus.

     

    When bulking I hit gain rates on the scale around 1 lb/wk; some of that is refilling glycogen (which adds a lot of easy weight early bulk), I try to target a gain rate of half a pound a week or so.  This round of maingaining I gained about 5 lbs total in 3 months.    I gained around 3-4 lbs of fat.  Not a lot of lean mass gain, 1-2 lbs (but also a coming off creatine offset, so possibly an extra 1-2 lbs).  I chose to maingain specifically because lower loads meant lesser leg workouts for a while.  But I was able to work hard with DB's in the upper body and my arms measured as big as they ever have.  Chest and leg size is around what it was when I hurt my back, though I feel like I gained a bit in the lats and chest from the heavy DB reps.  I'll chalk it up as a win, upper arms gaining size is not something that even happens doing a regular bulk anymore.

  2. Hello all its been a while; the last post I made was the day before a back injury took me out for a while.  I actually injured it during the last series of posts, the original injury occurred when benching, I overarched to hit that last rep and felt something in the vertebrae area.  The reason is so clear in hindsight, I was trying to hit the reps in the program while simultaneously coming off creatine and running a steep deficit  But, after that rep it didn't hurt anymore, I didn't think anything of it.  Flash forward a week to that 405 rep; I felt it at 405, not in the mid 300's, but that 405 rep I felt it.  Enough that I decided to modify my workouts and switch to DB's for benching, superset with tuck lever rows. Something in that next workout, likely the motion into and out of the rows, dramatically made it worse, been recovering since.  The first week was rough, I basically laid down all day.  I've been in I can feel it but it doesn't otherwise doesn't really affect me mode for a few months, trying to get back to full activity, slowly adding things back and upping loads.  Not fully in the clear yet, had a couple setbacks lately, but getting there.

     

    I've also been dealing with stomach ulcers in the last few months, probably a long covid symptom.  They are in the same general area as the back injury, only a couple inches away, which has made for some mental overloads at times. 

     

    At first I heavily modified workouts doing nothing spinal loaded, and only using DB's for load.  Leg workouts were lunges and step ups, eventually adding DBs for loads.  Because the golfers elbow still hadn't/hasn't fully gone away and lever rows contributed to my back injury, I've pretty much only done DB rows for pulling exercises.  I've added back in the barbel for deadlifts, front squats, and overhead pressing, but I'm still at much lower loads, really only at my old warmup weights.

     

    The setbacks I've had; First time I was hauling some heavy lumber on my shoulders for a good ways.  I had thought I was fully in the clear, really hadn't even felt it for a little while.  But after that the soreness came back, I could definitely feel it again.  Then a couple weeks ago I was doing a set of DB bench, realize I forgot to pick up my feet (been keeping them up so I can't arch) mid motion and did so while holding the DB's, felt the spot in my back directly in a way I hadn't since early injury.  But recovery from that has been much quicker, still feeling it though.

     

    I figure I'll be modifying workouts at least though the new year, and semi-modifying for a good bit longer.  I don't think I'm ever going to arch during benching again.

     

    Back injury happened when I was right on the precipice of finishing my spring cut, as lean as I've ever been.  Sucks, cut pretty much ended right there.  I did my best to maintain where I was at much of the summer, but by late summer I'd felt my workouts were back enough that I was good with some maingaining, been doing that since.  Its time now to start cutting for Chirstmas at the beach.  Did some measurements today, looks like I've got about 5 lbs of fat to lose to get back to where I was when I hurt my back.  Very do-able by the holidays.

     

     

     

  3. Starting the final week of 531 for a while, I hit 405 on the dead, which is my previous tested (relatively recent) PR.  Was tough.  Do still feel like I've lost strength lately.

     

    I think I'm going to drop under 200 lbs here one of these days.  Been as low as 200.8 a couple weeks ago, last few days have been 201's and 202's.  It was a big goal of mine last year at this time.

     

    I've had a few a ha moments with the book I'm reading thus far, its really good.  A lot of looking at things I already know a different way.

     

    Building on my point with the last book, the importance of refrigeration, I think post-humans will look back on our time as one of our key physical change points.  The ability to control fire caused our pre-human ancestors to physically change; head size and gut proportions, we self-domesticated, can no longer survive without fire.  Well we are about 6-8 generations downstream of the first hints of the ability to control lightning and about 3 generations downstream of widespread refrigeration, something incredibly important for us physically that lightning can do.    Would love to see the consequences 50K years from now.  People have been getting bigger pretty rapidly (in the grand scheme of things).

     

    One of the points it makes about diet is a concept that underpins paleo as well, that the hunter-gatherer or herder diet is superior to the early grain state diet nutritionally (by a good margin too).  This isn't a new concept to me, but I hadn't really thought much about the masters of their environment point the book makes about hunter gatherers; they know dozens of plants and growing details, animal movement and reproduction patterns, and all of the seasonal changes.  All of those details, a large mental bandwidth is applied to eating.  But at the same time, its something that we are very good at.  Farming changes that to focus on just the crops/livestock, greatly reducing the bandwidth.  But I think in general memorizing the calorie density and primary nutrients of foods is something we should be able to with relative ease (we are 1st-2nd generation here understanding it) simply due to how similar it is to the mindfulness the hunter gatherer has over diet.  We have helpful instincts, our oldest ones that agriculture has muted a bit. 

     

    On that same point, controlling your physique comes from that same mindfulness; fitness being key to survival for a hunter gatherer and not strictly a consequence of it, but actively managed.  I think people have understood the relationship between food quantity and body fat for a very, very long time.  And also the relationship between exercise and fitness (the army was a physical fitness training system until the invention of gunpowder).  I don't think its a stretch at all for it to become a cultural norm for people to always be "dieting" and to do daily exercise;  a general level of mindfulness about both increasing in response to refrigeration and other consequences of controlling lightning.


     

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  4. Tonights workout continued the trend this week, I'm horribly missing reps on my final set, this week should be 5's, I've been hitting 3's and now today only 2 reps on the OHP.  I did get a fresh creatine batch, but I think that's only part of the story, and the deficit is showing its face. 

     

    Next week is the final week of the 351 sequence, after that I plan to retest my maxes then switch to a new workout.  I know mostly what I want to do, but I haven't assembled the workouts yet in Strong.    I'm not going to change my day sequencing, just exercise and rep range selection.

     

    Measurements today told the tale of a bit of loss in the waist and in muscle measurements.  Overall at 10.6% BF now per calipers (9.5% per navy tape formula).  Fat is in the squishy part of the cycle; I feel like I'm on the cusp of a whoosh and big visual change.  Plan to keep cutting hard through next weekend then evaluate when/if refeed is needed, hope to hit 12mm in the belly on the calipers next week.

     

    I finished the book I was reading just after a new one arrived at the door.  I've quit playing video games on my phone and have tried to cut back on social media, the result is that I've had a lot more time to read.  Just finished "How We Got To Now" by Steven Johnson, a history of science and technology book.  I rather enjoyed it, very easy to read book, not overly complicated and to the point, while still quite in-depth.  Cold chapter, about the history of refrigeration, was my favorite.  I've long considered refrigeration to be the start of and root cause of the modern obesity "epidemic".  I'm about to start "Against the Grain" by James C Scott; I think its very heavy on the diet side of things in paleo history.  Its part of the modern history canon that I haven't yet got to, I expect it to be much heavier reading than the book I just finished.

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  5. This past new year one of the things I decided to change was to move on from paper logs to using app based logging.  Decided to go with Strong.  Quite happy with it.  That was one thing I realized last year, I need to log my workouts or they turn to crap.  The app has been quite awesome.  I had to create a bunch of custom stuff for front lever work, but once set up its so easy to use and adjust.  I like that it has a running 1RM calc for each exercise.

     

    I stopped taking creatine a few weeks ago (mostly ran out, the dregs are clumpy and mix like crap); started noticing last week.  Muscle sizes dropped a bit and strength is way down, I've been missing reps I'm not supposed to miss.  Its good to prove to myself that its useful.

     

    Right now I think a 10mm skinfold in the belly is about as lean as I'll ever want to get.  That should be something like 9% bf.  Incidentally also my cutting target.  Its the same epic quest goal I've been stringing along now since last year at this time, if it turns out that is finally where I'm satisfied with end of cut leanness.  Though there isn't a natural cutting terminus for a long time, unlike the end of the last 2 cuts (end of summer and christmas). 

     

    I'm just finishing a refeed, the first I've done in years.  Lately I've favored diet breaks; take a week off the diet, but I've been trying to reduce the time to make my cutting time more efficient.  Last diet break was only 3 days long.  This time I reduced it to 2 days and skewed the surplus heavy to carbs, more of a refeed than diet break.  Today is the first day back at cutting.

     

    I'm actually still dealing with the golfers elbow from last year.  I removed almost everything that could be causing an issue from my workouts in the fall and let it heal.  Still haven't felt 100%, yet, but by late winter there'd be days I couldn't' feel it at all, others where I had to press at the right spot to feel a little soreness.  I've been adding things back, first some curls, then limited hitting of the bag, recently a single set of pullups.  I'm still heavily modifying things, but slowly going in the right direction.  Since adding the pullups the sore spot has gotten a whole lot more sore (its still mild all things considered), hopefully its a case where stalled healing is being prompted get going again (happens to tendons).

  6. Continued from last night.

     

    I've always done geneology for quasi-religious reasons.  I've long believed that our ancestors speak to us, shaping our hopes and fears, telling us the right thing to do (a part of our instincts); geneology and tying it to history is a bit like tuning the antenna, attempting to strengthen the signal.  Which brings me to the y dna test.

     

    I've kicked around the idea of doing a y test for a few years now (they are a good bit more pricy than basic autosomnal).  My primary motivation was much as it was for the autosomnal test, to prove the things I found through paper geneology.  I was able to go 14 generations back, to the late 1500's, via paper geneology, and I knew that another decedent of the primary immigrant, a semi-important figure in New Amsterdam (York eventually) had already done a y test, so I could prove the link 100%.  There is one spot 7 gens back that isn't proven to full standards (I don't have proof of birth, I have lots of other strong evidence, but missing that key bit, I was only 98% sure), so I did the test more than anything else to be sure.  There is uncertainty in the 1500's, so I wanted to see if I could contribute to that (I'm by no means the only active researcher of the family line that far back).  After thinking about it for a while I ended up upgrading for the highest level test because it ties it in to archeology and because you end up getting logged in the international database; that will outlive any headstone; chances are we will maintain that database for eons going forward.

     

    The y test results like I said are mind blowing.  It did accomplish my primary motivation, proved beyond a doubt that I'm direct male descendant of that immigrant.  The theories about origin before that are totally wrong though; we came from a Scottish clan, changing name in the process of emigrating to the Dutch Republic prior to emigrating to New Netherlands a couple gens later.  The entire series of hapologroups going back further provides a framework, and many subclades are fairly well researched with archeological tie-ins.  I match the southern group of the clan, pictish lines, and can follow that group back to a celtic emigration around 500 bce.  We were in the general vicinity of hadrians wall in roman times.  Can keep following it back to steppe invaders and the original cow domesticators.  I have a chain of information, a framework, that goes back to pre-civilization, and matches with archelogical finds that go back to the stone age.

     

    Which goes back to tuning the antenna.  As I study the older groups what stands out is the general "heroic" people, they are believed to be deeply patriarchal societies that highly valued heroic accomplishment.  Its doesn't appear until the conversion to christianity in the middle ages that that is tempered, even then the thirst for the heroic lives on in western society.  There is a good reason my instincts tell me star wars is the good book; it is the most pure form of a modern heroic tale.  This place in many ways feeds off that instinct as well, challenges and epic quests are a form of heroic organization.  Personal epic questing has been intensifying.

     

    Many here subscribe to a paleo outlook on eating at least.  The y test gives me a personally tailored version; we never settled down to grow grain, we kept cows, and have been since the first cows.  I thrive on dairy and always have, now I know why.  I don't have any issue with grains and am certainly not removing it from my diet though.  But in my mind dairy has been elevated a bit on the "health food" scale.

     

    Reading more was a pretty common challenge goal of mine, it has really stuck this year.  I make time to read this year like I haven't before.  Burning through the books now.  I'm a big fan of history, now I have so much more to add to my reading list.  Personal history, where I have ancestors with a point of view, is the highest level lens to me, I understand and remember so much better when I have that.  So much to study now, that epic quest has grown substantially.

     

  7. On 12/21/2022 at 10:38 AM, Waldo said:

    In general the plan after Christmas is going to be to bulk, with the next peak lean target being mid-May, the start of pool season.

     

    Well here we are a bit over 5 months later.  I keep meaning to come add to my battle log here.  I've stuck to the plan almost as flawlessly as one can, but a bit of poor planning means I'm a bit behind on the cut and haven't yet reached my target so still have a few weeks of cutting to go.  I'm almost exactly the same weight I was at Christmas, about 202; I did the bulk and gained a few pounds of lean mass so I'm leaner now (11%).

     

    I ended up bulking too long.  My flaw was sticking to the plan tbh, measurements toward the end showed a rapid acceleration of fat gain and I questioned continuing those last few weeks, in hindsight I should have switched to cutting.  I spent the first 3 cutting weeks getting rid of the fat gain of the last 3 week of bulking.

     

    In part I didn't trust the measurements.  Over time since Christmas I've drifted toward using the calipers as the primary tracker of body fat.  I still do weekly measurements every Friday with the tape and calipers, but that first bulk was the first time I was seeing change on the calipers and didn't totally trust it was gaining so fast, the tape only partially backed it up, but the scale did.  After more than a decade of being very dogged about the tape as the way to track, I'm quite sold on the calipers. Part of it I suppose is that I'm in the body fat zone that the caliper does well with.  But part of it is that I directly measure the part I myopically focus on (belly fat skinfold thinkness).  I've actually found, now that I've seen a bulk and cut in the calipers, is that almost all the change in body fat  is in the belly zone.

     

    The calipers are much better than the tape at absolute accuracy.  While I've always maintained that the tape excels at tracking change, its very poor at telling you when that change should end; you need to figure out the zero point and always measure the same way.  The tape sees change in greater detail than calipers.  On the flipside the calipers change pretty slow, I hit 1mm/wk when cutting at a good clip.  There is also an much easier to identify zero point.  Calipers are an easier measurement to make exactly the same way each time than a tape. The calipers make for fantastic cutting goals.  At the end of the bulk I was at 20mm in the belly; I'm hitting 13mm now, my goal is 10mm, where I expect the abs will show pretty good; at Christmas I got down to 15mm before starting the bulk.

     

    I did exactly the same workouts as the fall; I did 531+5x10 when bulking then have been doing just 531 since I starting cutting.  I'm going to change things up a lot after this 531 cycle and go to a dumbbell focused workout over the summer.

     

    This winter and spring was hot and heavy on the geneology work; I decided to join ancestry and  rebuild my tree there (I had been using a google doc).  I also decided to do a couple dna tests.  The ancestry one was mostly error checking and proving; I've been doing geneology so long and have such a worked out tree that an autosomnal test really doesn't go back far enough to be useful, and thankfully there were no surprises, and I connected with a 2nd cousin that had some pictures I didn't have of my GGF, plusshe had stories of my dad from when he was a kid (and a crazy good picture I hadn't seen before).  I also did a y-dna test, which has been completely mind blowing (to be cont'd).

  8. The cut here has petered out; headed to the beach in 3 days.  I'm not entirely happy with my end point.  Overall the cut went slower than more recent ones, all measures of progress moved, just not at much as I'd like.  I'm definitely leaner than I was at the end of the summer; fat mass is lower than it was by about 2-2.5 lbs, lean mass is up about 5.5 lbs.  The overall effect is every strong, however I do tend to myopically focus on abs and there is still too much softness there.   I think shoulders and upper chest are where I notice the extra mass most, a big win as that's what I wanted the bulk to go.  Its going to be cold at the beach so I'm not sure how much it matters, would be kinda lame to get all ripped then never take my shirt off, lol.

     

    My new tape and calipers did nothing to resolve the issue that the cut just went too slow.  I lost 5/8" in the waist in just over 3 weeks.  Not bad, but I'm used to hitting that amount in 2 weeks.  And I feel like I was cutting hard, I was shooting for more than 1" lost.  Ah well.  Body fat % estimate from the calipers is 13.1%, though there seems to be a fair bit of variability there (time of day and hydration level seem to affect skinfold thickness a bit, along with the "whoosh" cycle).  It doesn't seem to be as useful as the tape for day to day tracking, but does go well with my Fri measuring routine.  Muscle measurements have mostly held up through the cuts; I ended my bulk the week of Halloween and its now almost Christmas.

     

    Overall this has been a pretty awesome year.  It was on my Christmas trip last year that I decided to hop back on the wagon I was falling off of again and I came up with a battle plan.  The plan was refined and evolved through the year but still was the same plan and my effort sticking to it was excellent.  I really look forward to my workouts and my kids notice, oldest one has even shown some interest (albiet minimal).  In sum total I'm only about 10 lbs lighter than I was last Christmas, but its more like 30 lbs less fat and 20 lbs more muscle

     

    This week I'm retesting my barbell maxes.  At the end of the summer, when I stopped cutting and raised cals, I tested my barbell maxes then started doing the 531 program, with a pretty low starting TM, so that I haven't lifted weights anything like my maxes since those end of summer tests, last week's peak sets were the only even close since.  Its interesting to see the progress of my max, weights I haven't lifted in months.
     

    Thus far:

    Deadlift: 385 -> 405

    Bench Press: 235 -> 250

    (last test was the final week of Aug, so its been 3.5 months)

     

    My deadlift PR was 425 way back in 2016, so I'm not there yet, but my bench has been at all time PR level since 235 at the end of summer.  Pretty stoked I can put up 250 on the bench; I failed the first rep but gave it another go and made it past the hard point.

     

    In general the plan after Christmas is going to be to bulk, with the next peak lean target being mid-May, the start of pool season.  I haven't given the details much thought though yet, but I expect to return home from the beach with a plan.

     

    I did not achieve a hold of a full layout full lever.  I tried. I've been doing half layout holds (straight to knees but knees bent) for time so I'm close.  A little bit stronger and a little bit lighter and I'm there.  I'm able to control a full layout negative to about 30 degrees, even a bit less.

     

    Switching to no bent arm pulling has definitely helped the elbows, they have noticeably improved, but are still nowhere near 100%.  This has been an absurdly slow recovery.

     

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  9. Less than 2 weeks now to the beach.  I definitely have the motivation to push through one more week of cutting.  Definitely not happy with where I am as a stopping place, too much belly softness.

     

    Measurements of progress have been disappointing this whole cut, it finally occurred to me today what's going on.  The spring in my tape is quite worn out; the way I was able to measure at the start of my bulk was very different than now, stronger pull on the spring and summer "sticky" skin (tape has no stick when cold and skin is cold).  I knew I was doing it too when I do Fri measurements, to do the bi-delt measurement and upper chest measurement I usually start by pulling the tape just about all the way out, that wears out the spring really fast.  I got a new tape last spring so my measurements before bulking were with a fresh tape.  Ordered a new one, should be here in a couple of days.  I also ordered a skinfold calipers, not sure why I haven't in the past, another data point; I understand how they work and whatnot quite well, should be a solid way to track progress.  Right now, at a leanness peak, is the time to do it.

     

    I've been doing a really good job cutting this cut, the fat should be flying off, and I think it is.  The scale is doing the same thing it did last cutting round, fast loss followed by a stall.  Squishy fat cycles have gotten super quick,   I've only been leaner than this once (in 2017), the big memory I have of it is how my belly button disappears, and how quickly that happens.  I do have a tape measure around the waist # from then, either way I'm less than 1" away, but really think I'm closer.  Belly button has really started to shrink, esp when standing. 

  10. Like usual, Thursday was when the first hints of cutting came through.  Friday's measurements were almost exactly the same as last week, with the exception that waist measurements were 1/8 to 1/4" smaller.  Saturday I had big time squishy fat going on, but the scale was high, yesterday the scale dropped and stomach firmed up.  Both yesterday and today I've been feeling leaner.  So things are moving right along full speed.  My snack avoiding motivation is super high.  On the downside, my body is definitely starting to figure out that I need to eat something.  The question is how long I go.

     

    During last Friday's workout it occurred to me that I've made quite a bit of front lever progress, I'm starting to work it twice as much as I'm waiting for my elbows to heal, and historically I make big gains on the front lever when cutting; it is becoming entirely within the sphere of feasibility that I hold a full layout front lever before I leave for the beach.  I've been doing the one leg variant for while now for peak sets; I realized my continuous hold time was up near 15s and I should move on.  Sure enough, I can hold it for a few seconds each side with one full leg the other knee at 90 degrees (same position as open tuck hold).  There is only one more intermediate step, one leg full one bent at the knee, before full layout.  I got slightly closer than I am now in early 2014 before I moved, but losing 3-4 lbs in the next 2 weeks (even if some is water weight) could cause a good jump.  I had written off ever holding a full front lever, despite training it I didn't ever expect to make it to a full hold, its just a lat and ab exercise, but holy cow if I pull this off.

     

    I did try a full front lever on Friday and it was still a fairly uncontrolled negative, but firing the abs right is going to take some practice (and strengthening).  Definitely not going to get a full layout without a bunch of negatives first.

  11. And I am back at it on the cutting train starting yesterday.

     

    No damages from the diet break, waist measurements are where they were when I started.  I have a boss level scenario set up again like the end of the summer, I can overrun an extra week or two, but there is a terminus, the cut is a short and intense finale.  I'm basically at where I was when I stopped cutting at the end of the summer; it didn't make much sense to reach peak leanness in October, ready to push on to the next level now.  I'm sort of at that middle ground where I have both a bit of spare tire and somewhat all the time visible abs.  Hopefully in the next 3 weeks the spare tire shrinks to nothing and the abs get sharper, and I can throw down a marker for future cutting goals; if not that sets up some wonderful spring goals.

     

    The scale is still surprisingly high, the peak during the diet break is 2 lbs lighter than the peak while bulking.  206 last night.  Low during the last cutting round was 204.2.  I don't have any scale goals, but I'd like to end up 200-202.  Be nice to see 19X.X again once.

     

    Golfers elbow is still an issue, so I'm going to further modify and stop all bent arm pulling (pullups).  Instead I'll just train front lever both upper body days until its gone.  Its so frustrating how slow this is to heal.  I haven't punched my heavy bag or done any weighted pullups in months.

     

    Workout-wise when I was bulking I followed the pattern 3-5-1-break-3-5-1-break.  But I was also adding on 5x10 after the 531 workout so doing huge volume.  Cutting I've followed the same pattern but dropped the break; this week is supposed to be a break week if doing single cycles but I'm doing a double (3-5-1-3-5-1-break).  I also dropped the 5x10 work and have been strictly doing the 531 barbell work, with an extra peak set.

     

    I incremented the training max of all my 531 lifts 10 lbs this cycle.  I started out at 80% of 1RM for a training max when I started bulking (I was less focused on strength than volume when bulking).  Last cycle I brought all training maxes up to 5 lbs under my 1RM.  Now I incremented all to 5 lbs over.  The plan is to retest my 1RM's the final week before Christmas.  Last week I hit 4's on my amrap final set on all lifts but OHP, where I hit 7, so a 10 lb increment to training max should be workable.  I've made a ton of progress on OHP, I feel like I'm going to crush my 1RM when I retest.

     

    Its starting to get cold.  My lungs don't like running in cold air, so when its under 50 I ride the spin bike instead; its been a couple weeks now since I last ran outside.

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  12. I ended up raising cals yesterday even though the tape around the waist has been stubborn at 32.6", 1/8" up from my target.  Technically that is where I was when I raised cals at the end of summer, I dropped another 1/8" early on raising cals.  Even though that measure was the same, I checked a few others in the waist and all were showing 1/8-1/4" loss since more complete measurements last Fri, and some are smaller than they were when I started bulking.  Either way I'm pretty confident I'm within 1/2 lb of fat mass of where I was when I started bulking.

     

    The cut hasn't been hard so I've questioned why I'm raising cals, but I know a break now sets up week #3 next round and I could cut into week #4, the end of that being the end of cutting until spring comes around.  But I think I could pretty easily have kept going another week or two.  But I expect to be ready to get back at it Monday.

     

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  13. I'm supposed to be starting a diet break today, wrapping up a short cut to get me back to the waist measurement I was at when I started bulking, but I'm still 1/8" up so am going to give it (at least) another day.  Cutting this round has moved slower than I've expected, I haven't been counting cals but I also haven't been excessively snacking, I should be losing at a pretty good clip.  Last weekend we went to a party, drank quite a bit, that has messed with weight and measurements, even worked out of the system it seems to have delayed things cutting-wise.  But it was fun, we all pooled our kids together with a sitter elsewhere; its been years since I was more than moderately drunk, and it was neat to learn that basically everyone we know (kids friends parents) hit the herb as well, I am by no means an outlier.

     

    Either way though I'm pretty much at my intermediate goal point, to get back to the same amount of body fat as I was at when I started bulking.  This has been a weird cut in that I haven't paid that much attention to it physically in the mirror (not helping that its darn cold, too cold to be shirtless long), but when I do its been a pretty big change in a short time.  Unflexed abs are right there, just peeking through.   Scale has been up though, not sure what to make of it yet, where it settles, but it seems like I gained 6 lbs of lean mass.

     

    I do think that bulking made the fat deposits look a bit nicer at this waist.  Can't see the abs as well, but less around the belly button and love handles; I think time evens out the stubborn deposits a bit.

     

    After this break I'm set to do another 2-3 week cut to get next level lean then its off to the beach.

  14. I did the last round of measurements for my bulk today.  Instead of waiting until Monday to start cutting, I'm going to go ahead and just start now.  I've been deloading this week, not lifting at all, hopefully to get rid of the golfers elbow that still is hanging on.  Last week it started to outright hurt, which at least is a sign its healing.  Feels a whole lot better, but then again it also did last deload, but it came back with a vengeance once I hit the weights again.  At least with cutting, I'm going to drop out the extra volume and just do an extra set or two after the 5/3/1 block in my workouts, so that should help.  I also incremented my training max (for 5/3/1 calcs) to just under my PR on all exercises, a decent jump from last round, changing to a strength focus for cutting.  I dropped counting cals when traveling for work this past week, I don't think I'm going to bother again until after the holidays, I don't need to to cut.

     

    This bulk was the 8th one I've done.  It was 10 weeks since I raised cals.  Its actually shockingly similar to the 3rd bulk I did, back in 2013, both in results and what I was doing before I was bulking (long cut).  I gained very similar amounts in almost every measurement between the two.  I do consider that one one of the best I did, so I expect that this one too will look good in hindsight.

     

    Overall I was at it 10 weeks.  Gained 9.2 lbs.  Gained 3/4" in the waist.  Works out to about 6 lbs lean mass, 3 lbs fat, a 2:1 ratio.

    My chest gained 1.1" flexed, 3/4" unflexed

    My upper arms gained 3/8" each flexed/unflexed

    My forearms gained around 1/4" each

    My upper legs gained around 1" each

    My quads gained around 1/2" each

    My calves gained 3/8" each

    I really notice it in the mirror in the chest.

     

    I'll lose some of it here when I cut, but a good chunk should persist.  All n all pretty awesome results, especially now that I'm 9 years older and theoretically shouldn't be able to gain like the young 'uns (should be noted tho that only now am I returning to the max amount of muscle mass I previously had, its easier to regain than build the first time).

  15. Entering the final week of gaining here.  I'm up almost 10 lbs total.  Definitely feeling fat, I've noticably lost definition in the stomach.    Measurements this week show I'm up 1/2" in the waist now, and gaining size at 1/8" per week.  I'm very much ready to begin cutting mentally.

     

    That said, what a great week of measurements.  I've gained about 7 lbs total this bulk, of that 5 of it is lean mass.  Now I expect that 2-3 lbs of that is transient (stuff in guts, extra glycogen, etc...), but still I've definitely gained a couple pounds of muscle mass, which is borne out in measurements and workout performance.  Just about everywhere gained this week, chest and upper legs saw big gains.  It was an anti-whoosh, scale went up and muscles notably inflated.  Within the last couple weeks I've gone from thinking the extra chest targeting isn't helping much and I'm barely gaining there, to maybe my measurements aren't capturing it because it looks and feels like I'm making chest gains (and I've gotten notably stronger), to there's no way the tape isn't going to jump, my chest looks and feels huge, and it did.  I've always been a chest hard gainer (my good measurements have always been the product of my upper back), this past couple weeks has literally been the most noticeable change I've ever seen, by a lot.  Ofc my quads are gaining at a good clip, but that happens every time I bulk.

     

    Something I realized looking at measurement data - My upper arms unflexed now are bigger than they were at the end (not beginning) of my first bulk when flexed.  My chest relaxed is bigger now than it was fully flexed at the end of my 3rd bulk.

  16. Back to my battle thread from the previous challenge.

     

    I decided to sit this challenge out; I've gotten really bad at updating, if I had a goal that was it.  I'm in the groove with workouts and diet.  Currently gaining for another 2 weeks, then I'm going to start cutting for the beach at Christmas.  Bulk started out slow but I've made gains the last few weeks.  Looking forward to a wrap up post.

     

    Part of the reason I've gotten so bad at updating is the time that I used to do it I'm working out instead.  531+5x10, what I've been doing as a gaining workout plan, has been taking me about 90 min per workout.  Hitting it hard.

  17. Challenge wrap up:

     

    Well I only had one goal and it was a huge all encompassing goal; stick to the plan.  I did.  I think the only thing I did poorly is to fail to keep my challenge thread updated.

     

    Unfortunately my planning wasn't perfect and I undershot what my calorie target should be and ended up spinning my wheels for muscle gain for much of the challenge.  In the past I considered it confirmed that I needed to be >2900 calories net to gain; I reconfirmed it again this challenge.  Its a good piece of information to know though, so it wasn't effort wasted.  I started at 2800 net cals, and my body pretty much adapted by kicking  up the neat.

     

    Workout wise went pretty awesome.  It was the polar opposite of how I've worked out since 2016.  This whole year I've been rediscovering non-minimal training, but doing a 531+5x10 program is waaaay more than I'd been doing previously;  I went years doing 3-4-5 total sets per muscle group (incl ramp up sets).  By the time I'm done with my upper body days this program, I'm 13 sets in per muscle group (only 11 on leg days).  I've focused workout to workout progress in the 5x10 block and did make really good progress.

  18. Its been a while since I updated things here.  Deload last week, and a trip to the mountains over the weekend happened.  Back at is this week on Tuesday.  I didn't count cals when traveling but I was waaay over.  My mom always brings a ridiculous amount of cookies and other baked treats, and I went to town on them.  Weight jumped a lot, it had been in the 200 area before I left, its been 204.0, 202.8, and 205.0 since I returned. 

     

    I was able to kick start gaining.  I did a set of measurements before I left last Thur and did a set this AM.  The tape increased almost everywhere, especially the legs.  Calves showed a notable jump.  Quads are starting to act like bulking quads; always growing.  Damages are a proud 1/8th in the waist; I gained more than half a pound of fat but less than a pound over the trip, which also means I'm up about 2.5 lbs of lean mass in the last week (most is likely water, but I'm confident real muscle gains are happening now, and there is a gaining anti-whoosh effect where gains happen in big chunks).

     

    I incremented my workout program for the next cycle; I added 10 lbs to my deadlift training max, and 5 lbs each to bench, front squat, and OHP (training max is used to calc the all the 531 loads).  Next time I'm going to increment front squat 10 lbs.  This week is the 3 rep week, next week is 5.  I missed monday's deadlift workout this week.

     

    I had ordered some 70 lb DB's a long time ago when I found them silly cheap on Amazon and it let me place an order for something out of stock.  Well they fulfilled it this week (and promptly raised prices on the new stock $70), so now I have a pair of 70's to use for bench volume.

    • Like 1
  19. Deload week this week, I was really needing it.  I slept in 2 hr later on Saturday than I have in a long time, late Sunday too.  Started running out of gas toward the end of my workouts late last week.  Good week for it, later this week we're meeting my mom and brother for a weekend at a cabin in the smokies.

     

    Measurements on Friday were a bunch of the same.  I might have lost a hair on the waist.  Muscles were pretty much the same as last week.  I'm raising cals +100 more to 2900 net/day.  Scale has recovered to the 202 area, but there hasn't been an upward trend of any sort for a while.  I have noticed that NEAT has increased a lot.  I'm just squirming in my seat all the time, shaking my leg, getting up to pace, I've started to really notice it.

     

    I was waaay over on cals yesterday (+700), the first time I've done that in a while.  I just wanted to destroy a thing of ice cream.  But I've been making an effort to be above 2800 every day and my average had risen >2800 net, even before yesterday. 

     

    Lesson learned though, my metabolism is still where it was 5 years ago.  I did see that there is some new research coming out that herb may raise your metabolism.  Now that it can be researched 2 things are starting to really stand out in population studies; regular herb users have a lower BMI than the general population (counterintuitively for most) and long time users have a much lower incidence of alzheimers.  The BMI difference is not though to be just mental (many find repetitive physical work more enjoyable, like exercise, esp moderate cardio), but also that there is a real physical mechanism, that the populations appear to show a higher average BMR.  I am certainly not disproving this with my personal measurements, my metabolism is definitely running hot.  And it isn't a coincidence that about 6 months after I got a regular supply I got serious about losing weight (again) and it stuck.

  20. Weight was still under 200 last night, 199.2.  I really have no good explanation for why I dropped weight.  Outlier low at the end of my cut was ~195, average was around 197.  Since then I've been taking creatine and eating what is supposed to be a small surplus.  I should and did have a strong effect from more glycogen and stuff in the guts.  A check with the tape shows I may have lost the 1/8th I had gained around the waist.  I've been tracking cals about as well as I ever have and making it a point to eat over 2800 net every day. 

     

    I was going to wait until the end of this 531 cycle to reevaluate diet, but the data is pretty clear at this point that I need to further raise cals.  Any loss in metabolism I experienced over the long cut, and I did think that it was lower than my historic 2700 value toward the end, is long gone.  Metabolism is running as hot as it ever has right now.  Friday's measurements should help shed some light as well, that's when I'll make a decision. 

     

    Gaining does go in cycles like losing does, there are definite anti-whooshes, this could be related, but more likely its a sign that I need to bump the calories up.  We'll see, if the tape is my friend this week i might keep at it.

     

    Going for a run later tonight

     

    Workout Log - 9.26.22

     

    Heavy Bag - 10 min

    No gloves or hard punching.  It'll be a while, I want the elbows to fully heal, and though they've been getting better since the bad flare up last time I hit the bag hard, it'll still be a while before its gone.

     

    Pistol Squat

    +15 medicine ball - 5/5

    16" box - 5/5

    +15 mb - 13+/13+

    Added to the amrap set.  Despite the lack of scale progress I am seeing good gym progress.

     

    Deadlift

    155 x 5

    175 x 5

    210 x 3

    265 x 5

    300 x 3

    335 x 4+

    Used straps for the 335 set, hook grip for the 300 set, DOH for all others.  Belted 300+

     

    Romanian Deadlift

    205 - 10-, 10-, 10+

    Added 10 lbs as 195 was getting easy.

     

    Workout Log - 9.27.22

     

    Wall Slides - 10

     

    Bench Press

    85 x 5

    110 x 5

    130 x 3

    160 x 5

    185 x 3

    205 x 4+

     

    DB Bench Press

    60 x 10-, 10-, 10-, 10-, 12+

    Its crazy how quickly these are getting easier.  Needing a pair of 70's doesn't seem like its that far off.

     

    Ring Front Lever

    Tuck Hold - 15

    Open Tuck Hold - 15

    One Leg Hold - 5+5+5, 5+5, 5+5

    Got a 3rd rep on that first one leg set

     

    Dip Bar Tuck Front Lever Rows - 7-, 7-, 7+, 7+, 7+

     

    Front Raise - 15 - 10, 14

    Lateral Raise - 8 - 10

    Bent Over Raise - 12 - 10

    Hammer Curl - 35 - 10/10

    Shoulder External Rotations - 12 - 10/10

    Got sucked into my phone and lost the drive to do that last set of these.  Muscles were quite fried at that point.

  21. These last couple days my weight has cratered, I was down to 198.0 last night.  This despite making an effort to err too high on cals each day and bumping up my protein intake. Nothing quite like your weight going down when making a serious effort to make it go up.

     

    It has been hard though to get in the cals each day.  I'm just not hungry at typical snack times lately.  Have had to resort to eating a big chunk of ice cream before bed, though I'm not really complaining, I used to always sit down with a pail each night.

     

    I'll update my workouts tomorrow, but this is the 1 week for 531 so the intensity is cranked up.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

  22. This week's measurement check in showed almost no movement.  All waist measurements are identical, if anything they may have shrunk a smidge.  Upper torso (chest/shoulders) and upper legs gained a small amount.  Arms are identical.  All in all a small movement in a positive direction, a recomp effect that is just barely detectable.  My weight trendline is rising but it has slowed to a crawl, gaining rate might be as low as 1 lb/mo.  Diet average in the last week is 2751 net cals/day (low), 3364 avg intake and 613 exercise.  My protein intake is on the low side and could use an increase, averaging 120 g/day in the last week.  At the end of this 531 cycle (2 weeks from now) I'll reevaluate my diet setpoint.  Not enough data yet, but I'm getting there.

     

    Getting to 2800 net has been a bit of a struggle some days.

     

    Workout Log - 9.21.22

     

    Run 2.9 mi in 33:08, 11:27 avg, 151 bpm avg, 176 bpm max

    Starting to cool down finally.  Fall is the best season for running.

     

    Workout Log - 9.22.22

     

    Heavy Bag - 10 min

    Only light hand contact, mostly kicking.  Wasn't terribly into it.

     

    Pistol Squat - +15 medicine ball - 5/5

     

    Front Squat

    80 - 5

    100 - 5

    120 - 3

    130 - 5

    150 - 6

    170 - 6

    160 - 5, 5

    Added a rep to the 150/170 sets to make some sort of progress vs last week.

     

    DB Box Pistol

    +30 - 6/6, 6/6, 6-/6-

    Added a rep to the first 2 sets.  Goal is to work up to 10 reps before raising weight.

     

    Workout Log - 9.23.22

     

    Wall Slides - 10

     

    Overhead Press (Kneeling)

    50 - 5

    60 - 5

    75 - 3

    80 - 5

    90 - 5

    100 - 5

     

    Seated DB Overhead Press

    50 - 10-, 10+

    Was hoping to add reps to the 2nd set, definitely had another in the tank the first set.

     

    45 degree Incline Bench Press

    50 - 12+, 12-, 13+

    Like DB bench on Tue, it definitely got easier.  Were I cutting by that point my muscles would be jello.

     

    Pullups

    Chin Over - 5

    Chest 2 Bar - 3, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 5, 5

    I only had 2 sets of 6 in me last week before dropping back to 5.  Started fading pretty hard near the end, didn't have any of the strong reps that earlier sets start with.

     

    Hammer Curl - 35 - 10/10, 10/10

    Wrist/Finger Curl - 35 - 8/8, 8/8

    Reverse Wrist Curl - 12 - 10/10, 14/14

    Time to add weight to the reverse curls

     

    Also did 2x 10 reps of wrist rotations using a broom both seated and standing

     

    • Like 1
  23. Its been a bit since I checked in, I keep meaning to.  Last night the darn power went out right as I was getting to it.

     

    I'm still getting strong doms from each workout, this volume is relentless.  Hopefully measurements tomorrow show some movement.  I'm definitely getting stronger, and feel like I'm getting stronger quickly.

     

    Calorie logging has been pretty much perfect.  Sometimes I struggle with the why, but I'd really like a good calc of what MFP should be set to to maintain, and that takes time and completeness.  I've been running in the 2700-2800 area almost every day, outliers are higher.

     

    Elbows have improved a lot since late last week.  Knowing how bad rocking the bag caused it to return, I'm guessing that's the main culprit, so I avoided any bag punching this week.

     

    Workout Log - 9.19.22

     

    Heavy Bag - 15 min

    No punching

     

    Pistol Squat

    +15 medicine ball - 8/8

    16" box jump - 6/6

    +15 mb - 12+/12+

    Fell on one of the earlier left reps on box jumps.  Added a rep to the amrap set.

     

    Deadlift

    155 - 5

    175 - 5

    210 - 3

    230 - 5

    265 - 5

    300 - 5

    Had to change to switch grip for the last rep at 300.

     

    Romanian Deadlift

    195 - 10-, 10-, 12+

     

    Workout Log - 9.20.22

     

    Wall Slides - 10

     

    Bench  Press

    85 - 5

    110 - 5

    130 - 5

    140 - 5

    160 - 5

    180 - 5-

     

    DB Bench Press

    60 - 10+, 10+, 10-. 10-. 10+

    These actually got easier until the last set, when my arms were pretty much toast.  Able to use leg drive

     

    Ring Front Lever

    Tuck Hold - 15

    Open Tuck Hold - 15

    One Leg - 5+5, 6+6, 6+6

    Tuck Front Lever Rows - 8+, 6+, 6+, 6+, 6+

    The TFLR's were done on my dip bars, not rings.  I don't have to deal with the swing then, but my arms are wider so I can't do as many.

     

    Hammer Curl - 35 - 9/9, 9/9

    Front Raise - 15 - 10, 10

    Lateral Raise - 8 - 10, 12

    Bent Over Raise - 12 - 10, 12

    Seated External Rotations - 12 - 8/8, 9/9

     

    • Like 2
  24. Well today's measurements freaked me out at first, but after going back through old data, I see this is totally normal.  I shrank a little bit vs last week.  And am a hair lighter.  Most muscle measurements are exactly the same, but a few that made a big jump last week lost a bit.  Importing my calorie data I see that I actually have been under calories quite a bit.  Still over 2500 and usually in the 2700 range, but 2800 hasn't happened much in the past week.  Two missed days of workouts and creatine this week probably contributed.  Funny, I remember now I had a check I used to do measurement days to see if it was going to suck or be great when bulking; my wrists.  Simple measurement to make, and mine change with overall "bloat" (not the right word, its more like glycogen fill, but creatine should be a contributor).  Big wrists, like last week, big measurements.  Skinny wrists, like this week, lose a bit.  Used to be the first measurement I'd make, to get the disappointment out of the way right away.  Weight was 200.6 last night, lightest I've been in a couple weeks.  All waist fat measurements were identical to last week.

     

    Its going to be hard to resist the temptation to raise cals more if the tape doesn't move.  That's what happened in the past when I tried to start lower.  But, no bulk did I really gain much size in the first 4-6 weeks outside of that initial burst when cals are raised.  I guess I'm going to try to play the older and wiser card and keep at it with the smaller surplus for a lot longer this time.  It isn't like any bad is going to come of it.

     

    Workout Log - 9.14.22

     

    Run 2.34 mi in 26:00, 11:04 avg

    I was sore/tired from the walkabout in DC the night before, and then traveling through airports lugging my bag.  Short run was good enough.

     

    Workout Log - 9.15.22

     

    Heavy Bag - 15 min

    10 minutes without gloves, 5 minutes with.  I struck it hard with gloves, I wanted to see how the elbows responded (horribly).

     

    Pistol Squat

    +15 medicine ball - 8/8

     

    Front Squat

    80 - 5

    100 - 5

    120 - 3

    130 - 5

    150 - 5

    170 - 5

    160 - 5, 5

     

    DB Box Pistol Squat

    +30 - 5/5, 5/5, 7/7

    This is where I'm going to be looking for workout to workout progress, getting those rep numbers up, I don't want to use lighter weights.

     

    Workout Log - 9.16.22

     

    Wall Slides - 10 reps

     

    Kneeling Overhead Press

    50 - 5

    60 - 5

    75 - 3

    80 - 5

    90 - 5

    100 - 6

    That last set felt pretty easy, I probably could have done 8 reps.

     

    Seated DB Overhead Press

    50 - 10, 10

     

    45 Degree DB Incline Bench

    50 - 11, 11, 12

    Pretty good progress on these.  Form is improving, adding reps.

     

    Pullup

    Chin over bar - 5

    Chest to bar - 3, 6, 6, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5

    Looking for progress here, adding reps.  Dropped the chin over bar sets at the end in favor of more chest to bar sets.

     

    Hammer Curl - 35 - 10/10, 11/11

    Wrist Curl - 35 - 8/8, 8/8

    Reverse Wrist Curl - 12 - 10/10, 12/12

    Wrist Rotations - Broom - 10/10, 10/10

     

    Verdict from last nights workout is that the bag was awful for my elbows, took a step backwards.  I can go for a bit without any upper body striking.  I have pretty strong doms in the legs as well.

     

    • Like 1
  25. I meant to post this before I had to travel, but better late than never.

     

    1277762536_Weight3all91122sm.jpg.3e19f9b832050310d552f660453b54f9.jpg

    9/11/22 was my 11 year fitaversary, here is my weight chart since (I didn't start actually writing down my weight until I was in the 240's, this graph should go into the post above, I started in the low 260's).  When on the train I try to weigh daily and calculate the average.

     

    I made a similar graphic a month ago when I had covid, but I wanted to update it for my fitaversary and intend to do yearly from now on.

     

    Marked in blue is my ultimate goal, that I've been working toward since I finished losing weight in 2012, being happy with my abs (generic 10% body fat) at 205 lbs.  I took a goal hiatus 2016-2021 by convincing myself that I achieved it, thus merely had to maintain, even though that was far from reality. 

     

    The green band bound by red is the hackers diet control band, a keeping it off concept, I should always be within that band and when not immediately take steps to return.  Failed hard on that for a few years, starting right before the gov't shutdown.  That for me was basically a pandemic dry run, so by the time covid came around a lot of my habits had already shifted to something that would work in covid time.  I gained from around 220 to 235 between when I stopped going to the work gym and the shutdown ended, it took 2 and a half years to recover. 

     

    The grey areas are the 3 different strength training phases I've gone through, with the home gym shifting color toward the end indicating a pretty drastic change to the gym (added greatly to it).

     

    This past year, year 11, was one of my best years overall.  I did have a gap in the fall where I fell off the weight loss wagon, but my fitness held.  I did have an injury I was working around (herniated disc) that severely limited strength work, I was still recovering from in the fall.  Over the holidays I really mustered the strength to hit the hyperdrive and get back into a really effective fitness groove and finish losing the fat.  By the end of year 11 I was almost as lean as I'd ever been, only in 2017 was I leaner.  Muscle mass has recovered now close to previous peaks. 

     

    Year 10 though is where I started to refind the groove (getting vaccinated and imminent office return was the trigger) but the fact that I was coming up on my 10 year fitaversary was also on my mind and had fallen pretty far from the wagon.  By 9/11/21 I did manage to get back to the control band; declaring mission accomplished for that goal was one of the big reasons things went sideways in the fall though.

     

    I feel like right now mentally I'm in the same place I was when I moved in 2014, like I got a do-over for that moment.  I've spent a lot of time this year reflecting, reading old logs, looking at old data, remembering things forgotten, trying to understand where things went wrong. 

     

    What went wrong wasn't just one or two things, but a whole lot of individual things.  But in general there were two big contributing factors:


    - Moving in 2014.  Don't get me wrong, I love my new house, but it was a pretty significant downgrade for at home bodyweight workouts, which is what I had been doing for strength work.  Hence why the work gym "fixed" the problem.  Until it didn't anymore, because it was a perpetual scheduling problem, causing lots of skips, thus prompting the home gym to "fix" the problem.  Home gym solved the skipping issue, but it was a big step down from the work gym and lacking, until this year when I plugged all the holes.  The quality of my workouts and workout program has returned to pre-moving levels now, but it took a long time to get here.

     

    - Declaring mission accomplished in 2016.  At that point I decided I had enough muscle and was spending too much time strength training, so I changed to a pared back minimal workout plan to maintain my previous gains and hopefully stay injury-free.  This became almost like a computer virus in my workout programming; even when I started breaking free of the mindset I couldn't, it infected my workout programming and overall effort so much.  Its almost like I forgot how to strength train, only selectively remembering a sliver.  The conscious decision to pare back to minimal workouts became very unconsciously maintained and a box I couldn't step out of.  I wasn't until I decided that I wanted to build up more muscle mass that I clearly saw the problem; training minimalism that was derived from and strengthened by the idea that I had enough muscle mass.  When I decided I didn't have enough muscle mass, that's when I started to remember how to train and rediscovered the motivation to train hard.

     

    I'd like for next year to be a lot like year 3.  It is starting from a similar point, the end of a long cut.  Bulking in the fall, winter, and spring.  At body fat low points at Christmas and mid-May.  Going to try to apply lessons learned from now, with a smaller surplus, to next summer, spend the summer maintaining body fat levels.

    • Like 2
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