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  1. I tried a free consultation at LA Fitness, but the woman suggested I needed to eat only 920 cal to stay at my current weight...I'm suddenly very confused about all the prior knowledge I had about nutrition! Here's a bit about me and my goals: I'm about 105 lbs, 5'3, about 20-21% body fat (lean body mass about 83 lbs), 17 y/o female. I try and work out near everyday, 6-7 times a week. I do a push pull leg split and do HIIT cardio some days as well. I split my weights and cardio days. I'm admittedly a bit scared of lifting heavy because I work out by myself and have a back injury. I really want to see more visible muscle, I feel I still have to lose some weight in addition to building muscle so I can a)get rid of some body fat b)see/have muscles. My goal is to look slim and lean. Right now I'm eating about 1400 cal per day which the LA Fitness woman said was good for building muscle, but I'm unsure with her advice. Is that too much or too little? What should my macro's look like? How should I approach weight lifting sessions, and around how long should they be (maybe a better question is how many exercises should I aim to do within one session)? I'm sorry if this is too specific but if I just had this information I feel I could see better results and have better energy levels. I'm so frustrated with feeling tired everyday and hating how I look. Any/all advice is appreciated, as I'm unsure if I'm approaching my fitness in the healthiest way. Thank you for reading!
  2. Hola, compadres. Welcome to 2018's first installment of the continuing adventures of the incredible shrinking middle-aged man. Last year I rode the yo-yo a bit, and I don't aim to repeat those mistakes this year. Additionally, I ended 2017 with a discovery about my coronary health that requires a pretty fair shake-up of my workout grind, which if I'm being totally honest had gotten stale and unproductive. A shake-up, being just what the doctor ordered, may also be just what I need to break out of my rut. And while we're shaking it's also a good time to mix up what I've been doing with my diet as well. For the new and curious, Lean and Strong 1.0 was a constantly-evolving program I put together at the beginning of 2015 to do this: The program consisted mostly of lifting heavy weights, eating clean foods at a significant daily deficit, and focusing on proper sleep and stress management. It worked gangbusters, but in the years since I've slowly regained body fat as I've battled through illness, injury, and major life changes. I've also gotten bored, frustrated, and lazy with my goals. I never set out to be a weightlifter or a bodybuilder, but I fell in love with barbells and that made it the path of least resistance for designing fitness challenges--which ironically meant that I altogether stopped challenging myself once I hit my initial goals (lean as of 9/15, strong as of 6/16). Even when it stopped working I kept plugging away at the program and blaming myself for failures. Then after a mild medical episode and copious testing I was told that I have thickened heart muscle and need to cut back on the heavy strength training. Well to that I say, NUTS! Mostly, that is. I'm taking the medical advice to heart (heh) but I'm also not going to stop doing what I love. Thus we arrive at Lean and Strong 2.0; a revamped program designed to take me from 40-year-old squish to 41-year-old badass. By the end of 2018 I will: Wear size 30W jeans; Weigh less than 200 lbs; and Be able to do 18 consecutive strict pull-ups in a single set. That's it. Everything else that's bound to come along in pursuit of those three goals is gravy. 18 pull-ups in '18. I think I can, I think I can... But that's a tall mountain to climb, and if I only focus on the summit then I'll get discouraged and quit. So for the purposes of this challenge I'm focusing on just scoring that first pull-up and setting my baseline for all the other bodyweight (GASP!) fitness work I'm going to do. As usual I'm going to track four objectives in pursuit of my goals. 1. Wake. Good days start on time, so I'm going to continue to push myself to get up at the appropriate hour. A pass requires me to get out of bed at the first alarm and get moving before 6:45 am. If I oversleep (or snooze) but still make it to work on time then that's worth a 1/2 point. 2. Eat. I'm going to continue tracking my daily food intake and macro splits via MFP, but new for 2018 (at least this first challenge) is a different way of Intermittent Fasting (IF). Rather than maintain a daily eating window I'm going to eat on a 5:2 schedule that allows for moderately higher targets on five non-fasting days then only a small allotment on two fasting days per week. I've populated my spreadsheet with initial targets that should allow me to sustain a decent rate of fat loss. I'm going to keep an eye on macros just to make sure I'm getting plenty of good fats and not overdoing it with sugars. Good carbs will be planned for recovery meals after workouts, which leads me to... 3. Move. Power Cardio is dead. It never really worked anyway, so I'm actually excited to try something new. And for that new program I'm going to follow the Recommended Routine from /r/bodyweightfitness on Reddit. I'm particularly excited that the RR permits a barbell variation for Squat work that will allow me to lift lower body fairly heavy three times per week. Yes, this probably goes against the medical advice I was given, but since it's Squat and Deadlift I consider it a reasonable compromise. The rest of the work is bodyweight strength with increasingly difficult progressions. I'm going to have to spend the first week (at least) getting up to speed with my progressions, but for now I've populated my spreadsheet with the basics. On Tue-Thu I'll walk for 1/2 an hour, either outdoors or on the treadmill at home; and Sat-Sun will be rest days, at least insofar as a suburban dad is allowed to rest on a typical weekend. 4. Sleep. In bed on work nights by 10:30 pm with lights out and ready for proper sleep. This also requires all devices to be turned off--no ebook, tablet, phone, laptop, PC, or TV is permitted to break the darkness after 10:30. I'm going to have to insist MFG helps me out with this, too, since she likes to read late. We'll try to make time before bed to do that together, since... I'm adding a couple of untracked life-goals. One is to read the book I bought during hockey meet-up; I found a hard-cover edition of The Once and Future King by T.H. White. The other is to do at least 1/2 hour of practice at Rocket League on five nights per week. I really like that game and I want to get better at it, and dribbling and vehicle control training are very necessary. Plus it'll be a good daily reward for sticking to my Move goals. The usual spreadsheets are fabricated and ready to go for tracking my progress. Standard weekly check-ins will consist of scale weight, belt notch reports, and progress photos. The fancy shorts may make an appearance if I feel my performance has been up to snuff. Love you guys and I'm ready to rock 2018 with you! Next order of business is initial check-in on Sunday morning.
  3. Hey guys, I've been out of training for a couple of years up until 6 months ago but have been training regularly since then with a program my gym instructor gave me. I'm in ok shape now but want to get ripped, sorry for the cliche but its what I want to aim for. I do want a more "natural" look. I don't want to bulk up to be huge but I do want to get rid of all residual body fat as much as I can and create hard abs, lean but very built. The attached pictures will show you exactly what I want to achieve and where I am now. I am 5'9, 76kg, and 32yr This is exactly what I want to achieve And this is me as of now I guess if you could advise me on what program I need to follow and i will study it and follow it with precision to get exactly that physique in the first two pictures I would really appreciate it. How many times a week I need to train and what program I need to follow. I am assuming there is allot of core training needed here. And A 5 meal a day min to get my metabolism going? I am very determined and focused but I just need some guidance. Thanks for any help, I will thank you a million times haha, I need to now where to start and what to do. Someone suggested body beast or hammer & chisel as programs? Shane
  4. Four Mega Man bot bosses down, four more to go. On tap for number five--Air Man. This stage requires patience and timing. Some enemies are best avoided since battling them exposes our hero to environmental hazards. I'm sticking with my ongoing Mega Man 2 theme for the year, but I'm going to change things up a bit. Halfway through the Eight Bosses I'm feeling a bit lost. My workouts have gotten stale, my goals have been a little too concrete, and I've managed to grind my fitness endeavors in to a pretty useless rut. I like routine and boring consistency, but this rut isn't helping me any more. Moreover, I've been too exclusive with exercises that aren't progressing toward my ultimate goal. I am not a Warrior, even though I like being strong. I am a Ranger. And it's time to range out and make this body a little more useful. For exercise I'm going to dial back the barbells. It was fun pushing toward the 1,000 LB Club, but ever since I achieved that I haven't really had the drive to continue improving. Lately I've been tentative because of nagging aches and pains, and I'm no longer seeing the benefit of continually pursuing strength alone. I experimented with adding a bit of cardio to my previous barbell schedule but it wasn't working. Instead, I'm going to take a page from last year's highly-successful Challenge 15-5 wherein I lifted only twice per week and did non-barbell stuff on two other days per week along with deliberate rest periods. What I really want is a lean and strong body that can run relatively freely and do pull-ups for 3 sets of 10. I'm going to sacrifice (some) muscle mass while burning fat to reduce my body weight so I can push and pull it around my environment more easily, plain and simple. I'm still programming strength, but I've left the non-strength days more broad so I can be flexible. Activities will include sprint intervals, NF BBWW, hiking, bike rides, and monkeying around with the Minions on the playground. I'm going to roll with whatever the weather, my mood, and our collective calendar permit. I have been terribly inconsistent with my eating this summer. This challenge is an opportunity to bring that back under control. Some of my absolutist positions regarding particular types of foods (ice cream and diet soda, primarily) have been counterproductive, so I'm repealing prohibitions. Taking another page from Challenge 15-5, I'm going to raise my daily allowance and incorporate a maintenance day once per week in the hopes of stabilizing my appetite and fueling my workouts. I'm also going to attempt to focus on macros. Admittedly this will be tough since 2/3 of my food is planned and prepared by MFG. If nothing else then this challenge will be a good opportunity to log 4 weeks worth of protein and carbs to see how I'm currently living. I'm going to need to do some research to expand our repertoire--that's not a bad thing at all. My non-fitness life has been needing something of a jump start lately, too. I'm going to incorporate a Creativity goal in this challenge as a rut-buster (or at least a rut-decorator ). I'm leaving this pretty broad, too, since I have a fair number of interests and any one (or five) of them could take a spark of inspiration on a given day. Activities could include music (write a guitar phrase or learn a new song), drawing, woodwork, design (not related to my paying job) or construction, poetry (at which I'm terrible), or some kind of craft project with the Minions (they're big in to Perler beads lately). The point is to disengage my critical mind and just do something lovely for a little while. I'll think of it as seasoning my day. The last goal I'll focus on is sleep. I've been too loose with my bedtime goal in previous challenges--even my qualified passes weren't really helping me from day to day. This time I'm going to make a stronger effort to actually improve my life and not just tick the box on a spreadsheet. The only real obstacle here is MFG's sleep schedule--I'm hoping she'll work with me. Parallel to fitness items, I'm going to make a list of life tasks that need to get completed. This is more for the sake of organizing my brain than actually getting things done, so the list itself is the goal. Completing any agenda items will just be icing on the cake. This is an untracked and ungraded goal, but I may upload screenshots of my journal (can't call it a BuJo, sorry gals) for accountability's sake. METRICS Goal 1: Exercise - Complete two barbell-centric strength workouts per week. Hit all programmed lifts. - Complete two BW/HIIT/Cardio circuit-type workouts per week. Minimum workout length is 36 minutes. Log all activities. - Rest for 48 hours twice per week. - Increase pull-ups to a single set of seven reps by September 16th. I've been failing at this one for three challenges in a row, and it's time to make some actual progress. Goal 2: Eat - Sub-goal 2A: Calories. Stay within 4% of target for total kcal every day. Target is 2100 per day, except on Sunday which increases to 2700 for maintenance. - Sub-goal 2B: Protein. Get at least 180g of protein each and every day. - Sub-goal 2C: Carbs. Stay within 4% of 200g carbs every day. - "Junk" food won't be an automatic fail, but everything consumed in a single day must satisfy macro targets. Emphasis will be on maximizing clean whole foods prepared at home, moderating caffeine and dairy, and avoiding excess sugar. I have a feeling I'm going to be eating a lot of rotisserie chicken and microwave-steamed vegetables. - Weight loss. I usually avoid making goals for scale weight since it can be so finicky, but I need a concrete target to shoot for. By the end of this challenge I want to have shed six pounds from the end of the last challenge. That calculates to a target scale weight on the morning of September 18 of under 213.4 lbs. Goal 3: Create - Spend at least 20 minutes in the evening doing something creative that is completely unrelated to work. Target is 100 minutes per week, spread out over a minimum of four days. Goal 4: Sleep - In bed with lights out on time every night. That's 10:30 pm before work days and midnight on all others. - All media devices must be turned off and set aside to pass the goal. As usual I'll track challenge goals and exercise specifics with my standard spreadsheets, this time themed for Air Man himself (much better looking than the previous Wood Man files). I'll also continue my series of progress photos and scale weights during weekly check-ins. This Week Zero I'll audition the program and make any minor tweaks necessary prior to running it full steam when the Challenge kicks off on Sunday morning. Mega Suit Up! And we're off...
  5. Some Assembly Required Challenge Number 6: still plenty of work left to do on the Year o' Fitness. Through the first five I've taken great strides toward transforming my old squishy body into something strong, resilient, and capable. Along with physical fitness I've also been developing daily life habits to improve my mental and spiritual well-being. I haven't been perfectly successful at all of my goals, but the continued effort is really taking root and helping me become the Ranger I want to be. Now it's time to put it all together. Fitness Quest Goal 1: Thor's Mindset I'm making it a priority to stay in touch with my God by reading His book and spending time in prayer for the first 15 minutes of each day. This challenge I'll read through the gospel of John. 42 possible points. Goal 2: Hulk's Strength Lift heavy things—get stronger. Run—get faster. In this challenge I'm continuing with my barbell program, but I'm incorporating HIIT sprints to my week so I can build speed and endurance for continued improvement on the soccer field. Rest days are planned again, too, so the only off-days are Sundays, when I'll actually be playing soccer. 36 possible points, with up to 6 extra credit available for exercise on off-days. Goal 3: Ironman's Intellect Make a plan, execute the plan. Mostly this involves planning and tracking my food. I'm calculating my intake for a programmed deficit of 1/2 pound per week. As usual I'll lean pretty firmly toward Primal eating, and I'll organize my macros around my activity levels (i.e., higher carbs on lifting days). I'm not interested in losing weight (other than off-week bloat), but I'm still in cut mode to keep burning the last bits of body fat. 42 possible points. Goal 4: Captain America's Virtue Bedtime discipline continues to be needed. The plan spreadsheet will track bedtime, which is to say I'm under the covers with all lights and devices off at the scheduled clock time. 42 possible points. Measurements I'll track everything as I have before with one exception: I'm not getting on the scale again until the end of the challenge. For the sake of my spreadsheets I'll use weekly estimates during the challenge and then replace them with interpolations at the end. Here's the start table, and as you can see my scale weight took a serious leap in the off-week. Life Quest – Lead, Love, Protect As I get more comfortable and habitual with my physical fitness I want to start leveling-up other areas of my life. This time around I'm going to place emphasis on my Dad skills. To improve my fatherly attributes, I'm programming the following three sub-quests: SQ1: Lead – we're a pretty traditional family, so Dad is the head of the household. In this role I vastly prefer to operate more as a team captain than as a king. Still, I'm responsible for providing this team with direction and purpose, and I'm on the hook for making sure we function together as a family. The Minions are old enough now that I think we can start doing a weekly family meeting to discuss issues in the household and work together to sustain and improve our family dynamic. Goal is to meet on Fridays at 7 pm for no more than 45 minutes, which also includes a family board or card game. 6 possible points. SQ2: Love – It's been said that the best thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother. MrsFeelgood and I have no family within 1,000 miles of where we live, and all of our local friends are also large homeschooling families with young kids. It's been difficult for us to find babysitters; in the last ten years we've probably gone on a date-night less than 20 times. In this challenge I'm going to try and find a more reliable sitter so we can have at least two date nights. 1 point for finding a sitter and 2 points for actually getting out of the house on two occasions. SQ3: Protect – there's less here to work on since protecting my family physically and financially has always been foremost in my life. Sometimes I've been a little too cavalier with their emotions, though, and I think that's a prime area to focus my attention for this sub-quest. To help me understand them better, I'm making it a goal to read a parenting book during the challenge and see if there are practical recommendations for improving my interaction with the kids when they're being difficult. 1 point available for this one. _________________________ I was deliberately undisciplined in the off-week, and I've grown quite squishy for it. It will feel good to get back in the swing of my fitness routine. And away we go...
  6. This challenge is in part a continuation of my last challenge. I started the Sandbag Fitness Lean & Strong program, but realized after about 2 weeks that it didn't fit my criteria for a fitness program. I wanted to try it because it was built for sandbags and was sufficiently different from other programs I'd tried in the past, but the bottom line was all the increased lifting volume required the workouts to last too long. (I also don't love the 5x5 setup.) I started looking back at all the other programs I've tried over the last 3 years to see what worked and what didn't and why I quit doing each program. During that review, I re-discovered Anthony Mychal's 242 Program. He promotes it as the "anti-program-hopping, injury-reducing, strength solution". So, I've decided to tweak his advice and pick 6 "marriage" lifts that will always be part of my Mon/Fri workouts [work] and then use Wednesday to try other exercises that interest me [play]. I'm expanding the concept to also apply to my goal of losing a few inches from my midsection. Goal 1 [Work] - Increase weight on all 6 key lifts (1-2 lbs per week) Deadlift (starting at 7x210#) Overhead Press (starting at 5x86#) Weighted Dips (starting at 35# 1RM) Back Squat (starting at 5x110#) Floor Press (starting at 8x100#) Weighted Pull-ups (starting at 47# 1RM) I'll be following a Reverse Pyramid (RPT) style for my marriage lifts. I've been doing 5/3/1 with the dips and pull-ups, but will probably switch that up. My long term goal is to hit 300# deadlift, 150# OHP, 100# dips, 1xBW squat, 1.5xBW Floor Press, 100# pull-ups. I estimate that if I keep adding 1-2 pounds a week, I'll hit those by the end of next year. I've learned there's no need to rush, just keep making progress. My previous m.o. was to give up and switch to something completely different when I stalled out on a lift. Goal 2 [Play] - Try at least 3 different "test drive" workouts Last challenge, I bought the book "Push, Pull, Swing", which is about kettlebells, dumbbells, and sandbags. It has a lot of detail about the different implements and all the exercises you can do with them. It also provides "test drive" workouts that you can do to get a feel for each tool. I won't be following these exactly, but will use them as templates to throw together my weekly Wednesday play time. My current plan is to do a Kettlebell Test Drive, a Sandbag/Dumbbell Test Drive, and a Bodyweight Test Drive. Goal 3 [Work] - Lose 5 pounds Last challenge, I had a goal of losing 2 inches from my midsection, but it's hard to tell your body exactly where to lose weight. I also didn't do a good job of eating at a deficit. I currently weigh 160 lbs and my belly is about 36". I'd ultimately like to get down to about 32" (or less). Based on my historical measurements, the last time I was down to a 34" waist, I weighed about 150 lbs. So, this will be a kick-off towards losing those 4 inches. Hopefully it will result in 1 inch lost, but I'm going to base my goal on pounds since it correlates more evenly with calorie consumption. My plan is to eat 500 calories below maintenance for 5 days a week [work] and then at maintenance 2 days a week [play]. 500 cals x 5 days x 6 weeks is 15,000 calories, which is a little less than 5 lbs. I'll track and adjust as needed. I'm also planning to practice intermittent fasting at least 5 days a week to put the focus on fat burning. I don't think I'll be sticking strictly with the 16/8 LeanGains-style, but closer to the Kinobody-style. I'm also planning to try higher carbs on training days and higher fats on non-training days. Goal 4 [Play] - Finish reviewing all my previous workout data I want to finish tracking what worked and what didn't and why I stopped doing each of the programs I was trying. I'll try to post a recap here for your enjoyment/comment and also so I have a place to come back and reference. And I'm counting this as play because I love analyzing data. Who doesn't?!? Goal 5 [sleep] - Increase my deep sleep Deep sleep is key to muscle growth and I think this may be one reason I have struggled to put on muscle despite working out regularly for 3 years now. I got an UP tracker for Christmas and have been tracking my steps and sleep ever since. The app recommends 3 hours of deep sleep a night and I rarely hit that. I'm going to look into some "sleep hacks" and see what I can do to increase the amount of deep sleep I get each night. So, there you have my goals and at least a start of a plan for each. I'll most likely come back and add details by the start of the challenge.
  7. Some of you may recall that I am a practicing architect in real life. After four challenges this year, it occurred to me that the process of developing a fit body parallels that of designing and constructing a building in several ways. In this challenge, I'm going to approach my fitness goals as I would a construction project for rehabbing a facility that's seen better days. site analysis. Everything in design begins with a study of existing conditions. This establishes the starting point for the project, and it tells us what the location currently looks like, what environmental pressures exist, and what opportunities/obstacles lie in waiting. I can't build a basement in a river bed, neither can I design an open-air concert venue spanning a freeway on-ramp. I have to work with what's already there. In this case, my fitness building already has a decent structure on site. I've been improving it all year long, and it's beginning to take a recognizable (I daresay, even "pleasing") form. What it really needs is some structural remodeling to make it stronger and bring the exterior appearance up to date, and we're definitely targeting the old Dad-Bod cladding for disposal--in fact there's a really nice brick veneer underneath, we just need to expose it and clean it up. However, we'll need to complete all of the construction during off-hours since the building is routinely occupied and needs to keep functioning. That means we're limited on time and need to make the most out of every working minute. No wasted effort. program. Once we know where we're going to be working, we need to determine what we want the building to do. Is it a school, or an apartment, or a church? Does it have multiple uses? This is where we determine how it will be used, what spaces it needs to have, and what kind of support systems it needs. The fitness building I'm working on is a multifunctional space that's rapidly reconfigurable to be able to sit for long periods, walk for distance, lift heavy things, defend its more sensitive spaces from coordinated team attacks by its satellite facilities , and generally be a jack of all trades while still finding time for some recreational team sports. In short, we need to be good at everything without being exceptional at any single thing. design. Now we can put pencil to paper. Not only do we design the complete building and site, we design the process of constructing the whole project, too. Here is where I establish goals and figure out how to meet them. goal 1 - site plan. Before we can start constructing anything we have to get the site ready to accept our new work. We relocate or discard anything that's in the way, we stage all of the materials and equipment that we'll be using, we excavate and compact the soil so that our building will have the necessary support with the earth, and we determine what the finish grades, drainage, and site elements are going to look like. It's the most critical step if we want the building to survive. My goal for this challenge will be a daily session of prayer and/or study. For the first 15 minutes after achieving post-slumber clarity in the morning I will devote my mind to the spiritual things that God has prepared for me. After all, Proverbs says "Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain that build it." I don't want my labor to be in vain, so I need to set my mind on making sure that the work I do is ultimately for His glory. This physical building is temporal and corruptible, but the impact it can have in this challenge might just be eternal if the effort honors my Creator. goal 2 - building plan. This is the meat of the design process. We need to derive a structural solution that satisfies all of our programming objectives while working within the constraints and exploiting the opportunities identified during the site analysis. The plan will be to continue with my 5/3/1 barbell regimen incorporating the bodyweight assistance exercises as before to keep working toward my year-end quest of doing 10 pullups, and I'm adding in a couple of new exercises for upper back and core. That satisfies the structural reinforcement component of the program. To aid in speeding up the exterior renovation, I'm going to add two more days per week of a quick Beginner Bodyweight Workout circuit (x3) after I get home from work. These will likely precede whatever project (actual IRL home-improvement) I happen to be working on at any given time. With all of that work I will certainly need complete rest days, and I've designed them in to the plan as goals to be met. That leaves only one day per week (Sunday) with no exercise goal, but I'm still trying to get on a local soccer team and the league plays on that day. It's an ambitious plan, but I think I can do it. I know it will work if I can just stick to it. goal 3 - specifications. Every bit as important as the design drawings are the specifications. They prescribe the acceptable range of materials and methods for actually completing the construction. Since this fitness building is already made mostly of water and protein, that's what I'm specifying for the remodeling project. In the last challenge I allowed way too much leeway with the cleanliness of my eating, and it came back to bite me pretty hard with untimely cravings and a general feeling of blah. I'm going to tighten that up by re-invoking my water-only goal from my very first challenge (nothing to drink but H2O), eating with a strong Paleo lean (mostly meat and veggies), and managing my caloric intake to sustain a deficit of 3500 calories per week. My spreadsheet has a daily goal which is just an even 7-day split of the weekly total, but the pass/fail determination will be made on a weekly basis. I'll adjust targets after Week 2 and again after Week 4 if necessary, but each target will get a two-week run to gauge effectiveness. goal 4 - project management. Once construction is underway, an architect can assume various roles. We can be part Project Manager, Quality Control Specialist, Technical Adviser, and general scapegoat among a legion of other responsibilities. A lot of what I do after the Contractor takes over construction is just making sure that everything is going smoothly according to plan and that each phase prepares for the next one. In this challenge I'll devote the end of each day to recording and analyzing the day's progress, planning food and gear for the next day, and completing my night-time routine to get to bed with lights and screens off by the time listed in the spreadsheet. Every single night has a clock time goal--this should help mitigate some of the problems I had in the last challenge. construction. The design is ready, it's time to start moving dirt and driving nails. See spreadsheets for daily progress reports. close-out. At the end of this challenge I'll take stock of my progress, analyze what worked and what didn't, and try to learn from any mistakes to improve my understanding for the next one. After limping through the last challenge I'm feeling charged up and ready to go again. Let's build this house.
  8. 1. Keep getting leaner and losing weight while maintaining/improving strength I've been losing weight and getting leaner for the last three and a half months, all while improving strength. I'd like to keep this up. I work with Strength & Conditioning and Nutrition coaches who program everything for me and I generally have no problems with adherence, so I'm not turning 'follow the program' into a goal. All things going as they should, I should lose around 2kg in 6 weeks, so that'll be the goal, along with maintaining strength or better still improving. Goal: Lose 2kg in 6 weeks I'm going to give myself a grade every week which will be based on adherence to diet, performance in the gym, current body self-image and some other things. It's all pretty subjective, aside from the scale weight which I will consider as part of the grading. At the end of the challenge I'll average out the grades and see what I end up with. 2. Spend less money on food I changed job a while back due to my previous contract ending and took a bit of a pay cut. I'm hardly struggling financially but I could stand to be a bit more strict with my spending and take a more lean approach. I've gone over my accounts for the last few months and identified that I'm spending way too much on food. £100 a week isn't uncommon; it doesn't need to be anywhere near that high. I waste too much and I get lazy and don't shop around. If I could get it under £70 a week, that would be good - I'd save something like £120 a month. Goal: Spend £70 or less per week on food A+: Spent £70 or less on food for all 6 weeks A: Spent £70 or less on food in 5 out of 6 weeks B: Spent £70 or less on food in 4 out of 6 weeks C: Spent £70 or less on food in 3 out of 6 weeks FAIL: Spent £70 or less on food in 2 out of 6 weeks or less Note that for the purpose of the challenge, money spend on eating out doesn't count because I budget it separately and don't do it that often anyway. 3. Cut back on the diet soft drinks I drink too many diet or zero calorie soft drinks (diet soda to US friends). I have one pretty much every day. Not only does it cost £££ added up over a month, it's probably ruining my teeth and I'm curious whether the artificial sweeteners mess with my insulin and stuff. I don't necessarily want to cut them out completely - they are useful in situations where I'm out and don't really want to drink alcohol - but massively reducing my intake seems like a good idea. I'm going to try phasing this down over the course of the challenge to two 500ml bottles per week. Although I'm giving myself a pass for any soft drinks consumed in place of alcohol if I'm out and don't want to drink. Goal: Drink no more than 2 500ml bottles of diet soft drinks per week by the end of the challenge Bit of a softer grading system for this - I'll aim to drink 5 or less Week 1, 4 by Week 2, 3 in Weeks 3 and 4 and then 2 in Weeks 5 and 6. Grading will be subjective based on how this goes. 4. Start doing mobility work again I used to mobilise religiously when I was a weightlifter but since switching sport, I've really not kept it up to the point where I do pretty much none now. I do think mobility work is less important for powerlifters but I'd prefer to feel less stiff (hurrrr) during warm-ups and after training than I do. So for six weeks, mobility is back and if I see an improvement, it stays. Goal: Do 4 10-minute mobility sessions per week A+: 4 sessions each of the 6 weeks A: 4 sessions at least 5 out of 6 weeks B: 3 sessions at least 5 out of 6 weeks C: 2 sessions at least 5 out of 6 weeks FAIL: 1 session or less any week of the challenge Incentive! If I get an A or A+ grade in at least 3 of my 4 goals, I will buy myself this awesome bottle of Yamazaki Distiller's Reserve Single Malt Whisky. Mmmm, scotch. From Japan. NB - have deliberately not chosen any lifting-related goals for this challenge. As I mentioned, all my programming is done for me so I don't know what my training will look like for the last 3 weeks of the challenge at the moment and I'm unlikely to be going anywhere near 1RMs for months. Might get some rep PBs but also might not. I've tried to build goals around this in the past but it just doesn't work.
  9. I'll be following this 10 week program this summer, starting on June 1. Since I'll be out of town during the last week of this challenge, I will go ahead and start a week early. Goal 1 - Get Leaner: Lose 2" from my midsection Did my pre-challenge-weigh-in and measurements last night (5/31) and my wife measured my midsection at 36". I'd ideally like to get down to 32" or less, but I'm just going to shoot for losing 2" during the next six weeks. I managed to accomplish this before using a combination of calorie restriction and low impact cardio. I plan to eat at maintenance calories for the first 3 weeks and then switch to a deficit for the last 3 weeks. I also plan to walk at lunch every day. Goal 2 - Get Stronger: Hit 5x5x95# for overhead press You know what complements a nice lean midsection? Broad shoulders! The SF Lean & Strong program is based around 4 big lifts (Back Squat, Deadlift, Floor Press, and Overhead Press) and I've always felt my OHP has lagged behind my other lifts, so I'm going to make that my focus this time around. I tested and hit 5x5x70# last week, which means I need to add 5 pounds each week. Goal 3 - Get Motivated: Watch American Ninja Warrior at least once a week I'm mostly just throwing this in there to have 4 goals, but you have to agree that most of those warriors are lean and strong! Goal 4 - Get Musical: Practice banjo 30 minutes a week And now for something completely different. After playing a friend's borrowed banjo for years, I finally bought myself one and I'm using that as motivation to level up my skills. I got a copy of Ross Nickerson's Banjo Encyclopedia and I'll be working through the chapters. I thought about making this goal 5 minutes a day just to build the habit, but I think the 30 minutes a week gives me a little more flexibility and accomplishes the same goal. I'd also like to have at least one song memorized by the end of the challenge so when somebody asks to hear me play, I can do more than play a scale or the opening riff to Dueling Banjos.
  10. Hello everyone, I am a skinny guy, 1.79m tall (5.87ft) and weigh 73kg (161p) and I have been going to the gym for like 2 months now. Ideally, I work out 4 times a week, although from time to time it might happen to skip one session. My plan is not to have huge muscle mass, but to be lean instead (like this guy, for instance). I want to achieve this in a natural, healthy way, without supplements and without getting disproportionate muscles. So my question is: what workout plan should I follow? Should I go for compound movements? How should I group the exercises (i.e. Monday - back & legs day, Wednesday - chest & shoulders day etc)? How many series & reps per exercise? Until now I focused on compound movements (deadlifts, squats, pull ups, bent over rows etc) as I heard they are better for strengthening the core and building mass than just doing isolation exercises. I know I have to lower my body fat percentage to get lean so I will probably start jogging 2 times a week besides going to the gym and avoid crappy foods. Anyway, I know I must work hard, but I'm ready for that. I just need a good schedule (or eventually a link to one) from someone who is experienced and start from there. Also, if you had any other advice which can help me in achieving lean muscles, I would really appreciate it. Thanks a lot!
  11. In an effort to keep track of everything I am doing on my journey to the ab holy grail, I'll use this single log for all of my quests. No need to split it into different threads to search through in the future. Official Start Date - December 1, 2013 Weight - 143.6 lbs Measurements: Waist - 29 1/5" Bust - 34" Right arm - 10 1/4" (relaxed), 11" (flexed) Left arm - 10 1/4" (relaxed), 11" (flexed) Hips - 40 3/4" Right thigh - 21" Left thigh - 21" Belly (right below belly button) - 31 7/8" 1690 calories Protein - 35% / 145 g / 583 cal Carbs - 35% / 150 g / 600 cal Fats - 30 % / 56 g / 507 cal Measurements, and any macro updates will be logged in this initial post after each quest. Update pictures will also be included.
  12. I've fluttered over from the Druids for this challenge. I'm not sure if I'm over here for good or if it I'll start dual classing it back and forth, but I expect to be here for at least a few consecutive challenges. I'm pushing my self rather hard this challenge. It will be the last time I have buckets of free time for a while and I really want to stuff done/started! Main Quest: Get leaner, stronger, fitter, more able. By the end of this challenge I will get my abs visible, I will be stronger, I will be more flexible, and more able at moving my body. Not the most focused main quest, but I'm trying to chock a lot into this challenge! -Increase number of consecutive pull-ups by one a week. Thus be able to do at least 11 in a row by the end of the challenge. 1STR for every increase of two up to 3STR -Average caloric intake of 1500. Last challenge I ended up around 1800, so will need to keep a close eye on this one! Eating more on strength training days, and less on others. 1400-1600 A, 1600-1700 B, 1700-1800 C, 1800-1900 D. Worth 3CON -Exercise every day. Strength training at least three times a week. Basic parkour and stretching on other days. Must be for at least twenty minutes. (This is me just starting parkour, so I will be focusing on mostly the roll and simple vaults). 2STR for strength training three times a week, 1DEX for parkour or stretching on every other day. Life Side Quest: I have an idea for a nonfiction book I want to write. So for this challenge I'm going to kick my ass in gear. -For the first two weeks I will research and brain storm a chapter a day, and for the final month I will write for an average of an hour or 1000 words a day. 1WIS for the first two weeks, 2WIS for the last month. Fitness Side Quest: Pushing the definition slightly, I'm going to make this about mental fitness and continue my meditation goal that I did very well in last challenge. -Last challenge I meditated for thirty minutes every day. I will continue that this challenge but with a whole hour at least once a week. 3WIS Bonus Quests: These don't fit into the challenge outline, and so won't gain stat points, but are things I want to accomplish this challenge anyway. -The first is to take photos of my friends to use as models for painting the major arcana tarot cards. At least 15 photos of different friends. -The other is to get a blog set up with at least three posts published. This will be a general blog from which to launch my online presence, and will eventually have tabs splitting it into a number of "mini blogs", but for now one blog with three posts will do. Posts can be modified versions for stuff I write for my book goal. Motivation: To be stronger, sexier, more able, and to have achieved (started) some projects I have been considering for quite awhile.
  13. Hello! This is my first challenge and I am SO excited to begin! I've been working out and working on my diet since June 15th and am ready to kick it up a notch. So here's my Main Quest for the next six weeks: Get to 20% body fat and maintain muscle mass. My goals are: - run 3 miles twice a week and strength train 3x a week. - eat an average of 1350 net calories per day, 90% from clean foods. - go to yoga class at least once a week. Life Goal: pick a general topic for my thesis project, which I'll be completing in the spring. My motivation: I started playing rugby my first semester of college. As a shy, unfit newbie, rugby challenged me mentally and physically beyond anything I'd ever encountered. Also, as a relatively small female (5' 3" and usually around 140 lbs), rugby helped me feel tough and capable in ways that normal life never did. In the last game of my third season (this past November), I badly broke my collarbone and couldn't train through the winter or play in the spring. This led to a semester spent snacking and hanging out with my friends instead of training with my team, which left me unhappy and unfit at the beginning of the summer. I realized that not only did I desperately want to play rugby again, I wanted to get back in touch with my body and lose the unwelcome softness I'd gained from eating chips and watching Netflix with my roommate. I decided I needed to get my butt in gear, and I've been reintroducing exercise into my life ever since. I've been doing 30 minutes of cardio 5-6x a week, meeting with a personal trainer to do intense strength work once a week, and going to yoga 2-3x a week. Since I've started, my focus has shifted from "lose all the weight!" to "get FIT and STRONG." I've absolutely fallen in love with yoga, clean eating, and running, which help with the fat loss, but I also want to keep all my muscle so that I can play good rugby. For anyone who knows things about rugby, I'm a hook, so I have to be quick, coordinated, and super strong. I'm hoping my focus on keeping my muscle while lowering my body fat will help me be a better hook and a more balanced, happy human. As of this morning on the gym scale pre-breakfast, I was 137 lbs. According to my math, I should be around 128 lbs if I maintain my muscle and get to 20% body fat. Wish me luck!
  14. So I have a few goals in mind that are not very related, but together should make for quite the well rounded assassin. They are also more of a pass/fail nature and a little on the aggressive side but I want that. Goal 1- Do a muscle up. The plan to reach this is going to be GTG on pull ups and movements geared towards achieveing this. Even if just a little bit a day. If I do one I get all points 5-STR. If I make a great effort on working towards it, but fall short- 2 STR. If I totally bail- 0 STR Goal 2- Reaclimate my legs to minimalist footwear for my runs. This goal the plan is to make all my short runs (non-running partner runs) in vibrams. And My running partner runs in my Inov-8 shoes that have a minimal heel/toe drop. If I can go more than 2 6+ mile runs in vibrams by end of challenge 4-STA, 2 runs of 5+ miles 3 STA, consistent runs of 4 miles 2-STA. Anything less, 0-STA Goal 3- Lean up. I want to drop a little bf% I'll take measurements & decide what % to shoot for. No time this weekend for measuring, I'll have my friend measure me at some point this week. down more than 2% 3-CON, down 1-2% 2 CON, down less than 1% 1-CON (yes I realize the accuracy range might be a factor in this) Level up life goal- Ceiling up & dry wall mudded in the back room remodel. Ceiling up, all mudding, sanding done 3-WIS Ceiling up, mudded but not final sanded 2-WIS, ceiling up, no mudding 1 WIS
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