Defining

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  1. There are really a couple types of failure: technical failure (which is what you're describing, when your form starts to suffer) and mechanical failure (or absolute failure: when your muscle literally can't contract to the same level anymore). The latter is where you get the most cues for hypertrophy and possible strength gains - the former is prioritising safety/movement patterns. So, personally, I think how you approach AMRAP has to do with your personal goals, ability, injury history, recovery strategies, experience, and what exercise you're doing - in addition to whether or not you have a spotter. They both have their uses though!
  2. Insulin resistance and a lower resting metabolic rate are likely contributing to your woes, just based on your description of what you're dealing with. Personally, if it were me, I'd cut carbs to 100g/day, increase protein to 1g/lb of bodyweight, and get at least 4-5 servings of veg a day. I'd do that for 4-6 weeks, and then reassess. In my opinion, there's nothing wrong with dairy or caffeine, unless you're displaying symptoms of intolerance - you'll need to do your own research on that to see where you sit. Part of the many challenges with PCOS, as I understand it, also comes from hypothyroidism, which can be both a cause and symptom of insulin resistance. For that alone, it would be worth going cold turkey on any refined sugars, bread, and rice (for the first little bit anyway) - and replacing those calories with protein. Once you've 'stabilised' so to speak at a higher caloric tolerance, you could experiment with reintroducing 1/2c of whole grains or cereals a day (I like grains, and don't see any issues with them in your diet - but they're quite dense in calories and carbohydrates, which presents certain challenges and portion needs). As a vegetarian, it will likely be important for you to study good protein sources - mostly bean & lentils, unless you also include fish & eggs. Long story short - you'll probably want at least a cup of beans/lentils at every meal to hit your protein goals; cottage cheese (or even a whey or casein powder) is another great option for a mid-afternoon snack, since you're clearly not off dairy. The other thing that may be worth trying is keeping a food journal for a week, and weighing EVERYTHING that goes into your mouth. I say this because I am guilty of underestimating portion sizes (especially on nummy stuff like rice & etc), and know that it's fairly common for folks to be underestimating their ACTUAL average caloric intake. Eyeballing portions only works if you calibrate on a regular basis. You may even find that over time you actually need to eat more calories, in order to readjust your system to higher energy levels. But only YOU can find out what will work for your body, through research and experimentation. I really enjoy this article, which is a very basic introduction to the tug of war between energy and hormones in our metabolisms: https://www.t-nation.com/diet-fat-loss/a-calorie-is-sometimes-not-a-calorie Best of luck!
  3. The whole topic of cholesterol and it's effect on your health, in addition to the alleged effects of dietary cholesterol on blood cholesterol, are kind of like a can of worms inside a can of worms - messy, hard to pin down, and ultimately confusing as hell. Short version: go talk to a registered dietitian, or have a chat with your physician about what your cholesterol RATIOS look like, and your long term health goals (ie. why it's important to 'lower your cholesterol'). No guarantees that they'll be working with up to date information, but none of us are qualified to advise you in making specific dietary choices to treat a diagnosed medical condition (even if I'd like to ). Here's a pretty simple primer on the topic: http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-cholesterol I do agree with @calanthropy about focusing on eating whole foods/lots of vegetables and avoiding refined sugars; it is HIGHLY unlikely to do anything but help you. Historically, it's been thought that plant based diets are the most effective in reducing total cholesterol numbers though. Paleo could work for you, depending on how your body responds to different carb/fat ratios - really, any 'diet' that lends itself to higher quality protein, lots of vegetables, fermented foods, some unprocessed fats (eg. avocado), etc. & avoiding refined sugars/white flour/etc is likely to help you improve and maintain your health. But these are general recommendations that would benefit almost everyone! (plus, I'm biased, because I do personally prefer to keep whole grains and legumes in my diet)
  4. Depends who you ask! But IMO, not a big deal. Stock up on frozen fruit/veg and any fresh produce that's in season and on sale - the easier/cheaper it is to have veg in the house, the more likely you are to eat it!
  5. That's totally cool - if it works for you, keep with it! The only thing I'll add is that until we've been training consistently for at least 6 months in a row, we are still considered 'beginners' in the hormonal sense. Which means that we have a greater capacity for recovery - which translates to being able to work the same muscle group more often while still making progress. Bodypart splits are generally more appropriate for intermediate/advanced lifters (as I understand it), so it may be worth experimenting with a push/pull, upper/lower, or even just full body workouts while you're in the honeymoon period of training. At the end of the day though, you gotta stick with what you enjoy!
  6. 3 eggs microwaved with rice and kimchi = heaven. Protein waffles with greek yogurt and blueberries. Cottage cheese and a piece of fruit. Whole oat groats with casein powder. Kedgeree. Leftover veg + feta + eggs for frittata. Chia seeds with greek yogurt and apple sauce with cinnamon. Or anything that you'd normally make for any other high-protein meal - breakfast works all day, same as traditional lunch/dinner options work for breakfast.
  7. Out of curiosity, why did you choose a bodypart split?
  8. 100% everything that @navis said I really like https://bretcontreras.com for information on programming - it's a great combination of no-nonsense 'what works' in addition to some of the physiological causes/effects. When I first started programming, I found it useful to break stuff down a bit: Strength Planes (with examples) - There are lots more, but this is a good start Horizontal Pull (rows) Horizontal Push (pushups, bench press) Vertical Pull (pullups/chinups) Vertical Push (military press, headstand press) Hip Dominant (deadlift, hip thrust) Knee Dominant (squat variations) Core (RKC planks, deadbugs) Obviously there are a bunch of accessory movements to consider, and some overlap between them all, but I generally try to include one of each of these for any given 'full body' workout I do. You can also split things as upper/lower workout, push/pull workout, etc. Starting Strength is great, but I'd recommend adding a horizontal pull to the lineup to maintain balance - lifters are, generalising for the whole group, typically quite unbalanced and deficient in their posterior (back) strength vs anterior. ie.not enough pulling. Progressive overload is the name of the game, and that can come in several forms: Intensity (heavier weights) Density (shorter rests) Volume (more reps and/or sets) Frequency (more workouts) As well as other markers of improvement, such as increasing range of motion, maintaining the same strength levels while dropping body fat, increasing speed or acceleration, etc. Warm ups and mobility work are also things you'll have to consider. The 'in fashion' thing is to stretch and foam roll before/after hopping on the treadmill for 10min, and then starting your workout. There are so many different camps, with different ideas & biases, but I do something a bit different - detailed below. But do your own research! I also do a bit of mobility work (especially anything with joint distraction & voodoo floss) and some activation exercises (eg. bird dogs & face pulls) in my morning and evening routines because that works best for me. Next, you have to consider what you want to accomplish. Bear in mind, you don't have to only choose one, everything is related - but you should figure out what you'd like to FOCUS on. Goals (with typical training suggestions) Power (plyometrics) Strength (1-6rep/set) Hypertrophy (6-12rep/set) Endurance (shorter rest periods, higher volume) Personally, endurance & power aren't main priorities for me, so I focus predominantly on strength & hypertrophy (for now). I don't do well with complex programming, and I train on my own so am very cautious about increasing weight too quickly, so here's what I do: Warmup: 2-4 sets of sun salutation, warmup reps before each lift (eg. if I'm squatting 50lbs, start with 5x10lb, 5x20lb, 5x30lb, 5x40lb) - time consuming, but makes a big difference for me Mobility: stretching the active muscle groups in between sets (eg. for squats: calf stretch, runners stretch with towel under knee, lunge stretch, lacrosse ball rolling on tight spots that day) Cool down: typically 15min rowing and/or another few sets of sun salutation Lifting: -Choose one movement for each of the planes mentioned above. For myself: goblet squat, hip thrust, push up, lat pull down, inverted row, core varies. (I don't do vertical push movements at the moment, I don't have sufficient thoracic mobility to do them safely) -Decide what - if any - accessory, activation, or mobility work I want to include (one goal at a time, you can't do everything at once) -Pick a weight that I can comfortably lift for 3-4 reps -Complete as many sets as necessary to hit a minimum of 25 reps (eg. 4-4-4-3-3-3-3-3), stopping just before technical failure -Progression comes from increasing how many reps I can get into each set, until I can do 3 sets of 10 (6-6-6-5-3, 8-7-5-5, 8-8-8-7, 10-9-9, 10-10-10); core exercise progressions may be a simple increase in the length of time, consecutive reps, weight, etc. -Increase the weight to your new 3-4 rep max, and then start all over again I like this process for a number of reasons: I work through all rep ranges, the rep minimum guarantees that I'm still putting in at least the same amount of work, it takes a while to increase weight (again, I train alone at home), and it's very easy to track progress. I also use tempo cues to ensure that I'm not 'bouncing' the weights, and do focus quite a bit on the eccentric part of movements (hurts more, harder to recover from, but gives better/faster progress if done safely). Finally, stretching in between sets is a built-in rest period, but still feels productive (has other benefits, but whatever ). Recovery is important - this includes non-exercise activity (eg. light swimming, walking, hiking, yoga, etc.), leaving enough time between workouts, diet (quality whole foods for the most part, keeping hydrated, 1g protein/ lb of bodyweight, getting enough kcal, & vit/minerals from vegetables), sleep quantity AND quality, keeping stress down, etc. Try to include a 'deload' every 6-8 weeks: 5-6 days of significantly lighter workouts, or non exercise physical activity. Personally, I also try to keep my workout (excluding warmup & cool down) under 45min. Sometimes, depending on the rep/set scheme of any given movement, that means I can't get all my movements done in the same workout. Two options: 1) Keep track of what you missed last workout, and make sure you start the next one with those! 2) Do a second workout in the same day, at least 6hrs after the first, with the remaining lifts (this is what I do, but I'm fortunate in having the flexibility in my schedule to do so). Plus the most effective way to lose fat is to combine lifting and higher intensity cardio - so you'll have to decide how that's going to look for you. For example: Mon: Full body lifting Tues: Sprint intervals Wed: Full body lifting Thurs: Jump rope intervals Fri: 60min of rock climbing (recovery) Sat: Full body lifting, followed by 30min of swimming laps Sun: 60min walking, 60min yoga (recovery) Other cardio options could include: Loaded carries (AWESOME!), circuit work, burpees, kettlebell swings, rowing (one of my favourites), cycling, speed climbing stairs, etc. As far as your personal goals go, there's nothing preventing you from prioritising lower body lifts & accessory work, so long as it's not detrimental to maintaining your upper body as well. This could be done by adding in a lower body day, subbing one in for a full body day, or splitting upper/lower days, and do more days focusing on lower. The gym is your oyster! One of the fun - and daunting - aspects of weight training is the sheer flexibility and potential for customising it to your personal physiology, needs, wants, and available time/equipment. Most of all, it's important for you to HAVE FUN! Because if this becomes a miserable experience for you, it's almost guaranteed that you won't stick with it. I'm not a pro or expert, I just read too much. Be sure to do your own research, experiment to figure out what works for you, and be safe. PS. I hope this wasn't too much information all at once!
  9. I just found a local supplier for free run chicken at $0.90/kg. Sooooo excited!
  10. Egg protein powder is another good option, if you're not sensitive to it. Only downside: it's a bit pricey. Sprouted bean & lentils are another fun thing to add, if that much meat puts you off. Canned tuna. Tempeh. Chicken livers. So many options.
  11. Easy ballpark figure is 1g of protein for every lb of bodyweight, if your goals are to build muscle and/or lose fat. RE: The conversation of 'can protein turn into fat', here's an interesting article: http://www.simplyshredded.com/does-excess-protein-get-stored-as-fat.html The myth that you can only absorb 20-30g of protein at a time can actually be linked to the higher limits of muscle synthesis - rather, that after a certain level of intake, consuming protein does not result in higher protein synthesis in the body. Which is not to say that you should never eat more than 20-30g, just that it's the smallest serving at a meal which will still result in maximum muscle building/repair. A nifty discussion on it: https://www.t-nation.com/diet-fat-loss/six-things-you-need-to-know-about-protein As for HOW MUCH you need - well that's a different kettle of fish. I'd recommend grabbing a TDEE calculator off the internet, and see how much you ACTUALLY need. Then, add an extra 5-10% to your maintenance calories for muscle building (yes, really, that's all the extra you need). The split will be totally up to you - you already know your minimum intake for protein. The carb/fat split may depend on if it's a workout or recovery day, and through your own experimentaion to see which you do better with - high fat, or high carb. But I'm not an expert, I just read too much. So, do some research, figure out what works/makes sense to you, be safe, and have fun!