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So, last week I shared with you my training blog for the base phase I just finished (see here). Now lets look at my ongoing weekly trials and tribulations as I prep toward my comp.

Here’ a look at my training week:

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I’ll be following a pretty simple linear progression with my program, with the skeleton of the workout coming from Robert Wilks’ designs. I’ve altered it slightly to remove the speed days to put in a slightly lighter core lift day, with a highly specific assistance day and general assistance day on the last day. I’ve also put in a heap of core work to assist in my anterior pelvic tilt/generally weak core.  Weight progressions will be starting really low, around 55% of 1RM and working up to mid 60% by the end of the first training block. From there things move up, I’ll be around 65-75/80% for the next block then 80-100% for the last block. I’ll be putting in heavy singles in the last/peaking phase, for the girls (Dion and Sieraya) too. To be honest I’m sick of this high rep stuff, I put too much upper body, particularly bench assistance in so I’ve removed it (whee the Single Leg Deadlift is) and will focus instead on my deadlift, although I utilised the KB Single LDL, I’m actually going to use the Glute/Ham Raise. I toyed with putting in an opposite deadlift (in this case that would be a sumo stance) but deadlifting x4 days/week seems extraneous. The GHR should provide me with a bit more conditioning to my weak posterior chain (any thoughts on this would be appreciated).

This week’s training has been ok, on workout 1/day 1 I felt pretty tight in my quad tendons, probably from my strength testing on the weekend:

And more than this I’ve been trying to sort my back issues out too, I think I’ve been jamming my thoracic into extension before each rep which is putting stress on my low back, as you can see below I’m trying to maintain a neutral spine (which actually feels, proprioceptively to me as a posterior tilt)

Days 2 and 3 (below) were pretty easy, very low RPE’s, so I kind of saw this week as a functional deload, the next two intro weeks should be fairly easy, so I can go into some higher loads pretty recovered:

As you can see body comp isn’t getting much better. I’ve been juggling low calorie when I can to try and recomp, unfortunately due to the low metabolic activity of powerlifting style routines I don’t get my heart rate up as much or as often to burn a significant number of calories. I could probably do the lighter weeks sets EMOM (every minute on the minute), but I’ve been a little distracted in the gym helping Sieraya out. And with my binges here and there it probably wouldn’t matter if I did. But continue I shall as the weeks progress. I also don’t want performance to be affected but I can probably fix that by partitioning calories around workouts (say carb heavy meals 1-4 hours before, protein heavy ones after). But honestly? As long as I stay under 105kg it doesn’t really matter, I’m just vain, I have lost 2kg though, so that’s something.

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Here we are again, prep for a powerlifting comp (for more on this, see here, here and here). I’ve been on holidays in Europe for 5 weeks, which only left me 4 weeks to acclimatize myself to training before beginning prep for the Onyx True Raw Competition on May 5th. As such I’ll be cataloguing my already completed 4 weeks of base work, that is general physical preparedness/general adaptation training, which will prepare me for a higher intensity style of training. I start proper prep next week.

My base work has been high variation, moderate sets/moderate load/varying volume, that is the core exercises (squat, bench deadlift) have been variants of the main lifts (wide stance or paused squats/sumo deadlifts and close grip benches for example), the sets have started low and followed a linear increase week to week. I’ve taken something of the “powerbuilder” approach to things with this program in that once I’ve finished my core lifts I focused on higher rep/volume/hypertrophy style training for my “assistance” exercises. Some examples of base work are here:

The program was pretty easy, in the sense that RPE was low, particularly as I got to the lower rep/peaking weeks. I can generally tolerate higher loads at low reps; to measure intensity I use reps in reserve for lower rep sets, for higher reps and moderate load (usually for sets over 10-12) I use a “feeling” based RPE.

program

I did some very conservative strength testing on the weekend, I’ll include vids below, I aimed for a 4RM with one or two left in the tank to calculate a 1RM from a 5-6RM (using a one rep max calculator, I generally use this one). I did surprisingly well considering I haven’t lifted anything over 130kg more than once or twice in the past few years (obviously with lots more work to increase these humble baselines to come). I ended up with 160kg on squat by 3 reps (with one left in the tank):

A 130kg bench by 3 reps (with one left in the tank):

And a 160kg deadlift by 1 with about 3 left in the tank:

My body felt pretty good, other than the fact that I need to foam roll and stretch way more than I do, and that I have quite a few movement/mobility restrictions (tight ankles, hips, back, pecs, traps, you name it). My body composition after the holiday is really bad (you’ll see it below), I’ve been trying to correct it but to be honest its only in the past week that I’ve gotten serious, so I’ll include a pic of my current appearance. I will try and recomp during prep, but will be doing that by tidying up the diet, and still focusing on performance (cals will be around 2-2500 generally with protein at about 2g/kg/bw/day, carbs about 35% of total cals and fats about 25-30%)

Look, this is a particularly flattering pic, and I don’t look that good, so you can imagine what I look like in real life. No excuse or reason for it really other than being, as I like to say, “fat and happy”. Bodyfat percentage is about 25% conservatively and weight about 104kg (but fluctuates up to 107kg after high calorie weekends).fullsizerender-3

Keep an eye on here in the weeks to come and I’ll include my progress.

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Articles.

The truth about calories

2014 USAPL 93kg Raw Nationals Champion! -Layne Norton.

The Art of the Deload -Adam Bornstein.

The Cardio Fat Loss Plan-Adam Bornstein.

Short Topic: There’s a squatting controversy? Seriously? -Bill Hartman.

Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness is All in Your Head-Bill Hartman.

A Discussion With Paul Carter on Anabolic Steroids -Bret Contreras.

From Wannabe to the Platform: My First Powerlifting Competition -Kellie Davis.

Full-Body Training for Mass Rules -Chad Waterbury.

Why weight loss diets work and fail: understanding the energy balance equation

Fat Burning Supplements That Actually Work? -Adam Bornstein.

Effects of different volume-equated resistance training loading strategies on muscular adaptations in well-trained men – Research Review -Lyle McDonald.

The Unexpected Flaw of the Paleo Diet Philosophy -Eirik Garnas

Protein: is it really as bad as they say it is?

Lean Lifting (fat loss without boring cardio)

The Bell Curve -Alwyn Cosgrove.

Supramaximal Interval Training vs. High Intensity Interval Training -Nick Tumminello.

Stop Labeling Yourself by Their Standards (and do This Instead) -Nia Shanks.

Using Social Media to Stay Current -Mike Reinold.

Are You Making This Depression-Causing Training Mistake? -Jason Ferruggia.

Pissing in the wind – are you drinking too much?

5 Ways to Add New Muscle in the New Year -Chad Waterbury.

More Protein, More Muscle… -Brad Pilon.

Can excess protein be stored as body fat?

Categories of Weight Training: Part 1-Lyle McDonald.

Categories of Weight Training: Part 2-Lyle McDonald.

Categories of Weight Training: Part 3-Lyle McDonald.

Categories of Weight Training Part 4-Lyle McDonald.

Categories of Weight Training: Part 5-Lyle McDonald.

Categories of Weight Training: Part 6 -Lyle McDonald.

Categories of Weight Training: Part 7 -Lyle McDonald.

Categories of Weight Training: Part 8-Lyle McDonald.

Categories of Weight Training: Part 9-Lyle McDonald.

Categories of Weight Training: Part 10-Lyle McDonald.

Categories of Weight Training: Part 11-Lyle McDonald.

Categories of Weight Training: Part 12-Lyle McDonald.

Categories of Weight Training: Part 13-Lyle McDonald.

Categories of Weight Training: Part 14-Lyle McDonald.

Categories of Weight Training: Part 15-Lyle McDonald.

15 Things That Everyone Needs to Know About Nutrition -Kris Gunnars.

Physique Development: Being Better Than Your Blind Spots -JC Deen.

The Psychological Woes Of Physique Enhancement – Why People Fail, Negative Feedback Loops, And The Plague That Is The Shortcut Mentality-JC Deen.

Scared To Go To The Gym? How To Build The Confidence It Takes To Be Consistent and Get Results-JC Deen.

5 Ways to 5 x 5 -Andy Baker.

Low-Carb vs Balanced-Diets: The Debate Rages On -Brad Shoenfeld.

 

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For our previous discussion on supplements please see our posts on fish oil, creatine and caffeine. Today we will be looking at and discussing beta-alanine (hereafter known as Β-Alanine). Let us begin with Baechle and Earle, 2008 from their book Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning:

Β-Alanine is a nonessential amino acid that is common in many foods that we eat, such as chicken. By itself Β-Alanine has limited ergogenic properties. However when it enters the muscle cell it becomes the rate-limiting substrate for carnosine synthesis…  In humans, carnosine is found primarily in fast-twitch muscle and is estimated to contribute up to 40% of the skeletal MBC [muscle buffering capacity]of H+ produced during intense anaerobic exercise, thus encouraging a drop in pH. Theoretically, increasing skeletal muscle carnosine levels through chronic training or Β-Alanine supplementation (or both) would improve MBC and most likely improve anaerobic performance. (emphasis mine) (Baechle and Earle, p. 193, Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning, 2008)

Burke and Deakin, 2010 in their book Clinical Sports Nutrition support Baechle and Earle’s contention, they add, that Β-Alanine can be found in most fast-twitch (therefore, white) meats such as the aforementioned (breast) meat of poultry and birds, as well as sea animals that are exposed to hypoxia such as whales. These authors note, that due to this, vegetarians have  lower resting muscle carnosine concentrations than do meat-eaters. Burke and Deakin also state that Β-Alanine’s primary action is that of an aid in the muscle’s ability to buffer increased acidity (H+ ions) which are produced during high intensity exercise. (Burke and Deacon, Clinical Sports Nutrition, p. 449, 2010)

Is there any evidence suggesting there is efficacy in supplementing with Β-Alanine? Baechle and Earle report studies that show a “significant and positive” relationship between carnosine concentration and mean power in a 30-second maximal sprint on the cycle ergometer. This supports the contention that ” skeletal muscle carnosine levels have a positive correlation with anaerobic performance because of the relationship between carnosine and MBC.” (Baechle and Earle, p. 193, Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning, 2008) They show other (well-controlled double-blind studies) demonstrating that mean carnosine levels increased by 54% at week 4, and additionally 15% at week 10, while simultaneously providing 13-16% increases in total work done on a cycle ergometer, with Β-Alanine supplementation. (Baechle and Earle, p. 193, Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning, 2008) Finally these authors show a series of studies on the effects of Β-Alanine on what is known as the “physical working capacity at fatigue threshold (PWCft)”:

In theory the PWCft, represents the highest exercise intensity a person can maintain without signs of fatigue and has been highly correlated with anaerobic threshold measurements (lactate and ventilatory thresholds). (Baechle and Earle, p. 193, Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning, 2008)

The authors cite two well controlled studies that found Β-Alanine supplementation produced significant increases in PWCft:

These findings suggest that 28 days of Β-Alanine supplementation may increase the level of intensity that men and women can train or compete at would be augmented as the onset of fatigue threshold is elevated.(Baechle and Earle, p. 193, Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning, 2008)

Now that we have looked at the evidence, what about intakes? Burke and Deakin suggest that studies have shown 5-6g/day (~65mg/kg) can increase muscle carnosine by ~60% after four weeks, and ~80% after 10 weeks (this advice is similar in Baechle and Earle who suggest 3.2-6.4g/day, p. 193 ). They admit that the literature is not as clear on how long supplementation needs to continue to maximize muscle concentrations, or even how long carnosine concentrations stay elevated for after supplementation has stopped, although they state the rise and fall of muscle carnosine levels appears to take several months to occur. Burke and Deakin also state there are no side effects to supplementing with Β-Alanine other than “parathesia” which is a prickling or pins and needles sensation for about ~60 minutes, which occurs about 15-20 minutes following a dose of Β-Alanine, they state this is often reported in doses exceeding 10mg/day. Anecdotal reports indicate this side effect disappears within a few weeks of supplementation. They recommend taking split doses over the day with carbohydrate rich foods. (Burke and Deacon, Clinical Sports Nutrition, p. 450, 2010)

References

Baechle, T.R,.,  Earle, R.E. (2008). Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning. Pp. 193.

Burke L., Deacon V. (2010).  Clinical Sports Nutrition (Fourth Edition). North Ryde, NSW. McGraw-Hill Australia. P. 449, 450.

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Hey guys, so how’s the training going? Well after I did legs on Tuesday night, I decided I’m gonna take about the next 3 weeks off training. I’m tired of this niggling back situation, and it’s not gonna get better while I keep loading it up. It’s based on multiple factors, my lack of proper warm ups, foam rolling, stretching, mobility etc. So I’ve been working on that, and will continue to work on it, extensively, over the next few weeks. I’m going to incorporate some core work, basic stability stuff, bridging and planking. I might also work on my glute strength and activation too, prepare myself to come back better.

I fear the program, while excellent for putting on muscle mass, was just the wrong program for me to do right now, with my back the way it is, with my warm up situation being the way it has been. It’s very weight, bilateral, quad, squat dominant, which is not a criticism of Poloquin or his programs, but more of my own timing and placement of the program in my current growth cycle. I’ve been like a little kid with my fingers in my ears about the prehab work and standard mobility stuff, and as Nick Tuminello has been posting on FB all day, I do need to practice what I preach. It’s not enough to simply tell you guys you have to do extensive mobility/stability/flexibility training if I can’t lead by example. I do ask, that you learn from my example, injuries are what happens when muscles are tight, weak, and you can’t provide stability for joints.   I’ve been using the more functional approach the last year or 2 and it’s worked well, true I haven’t pushed it as hard as I have with the weight in a while and those programs were largely metabolic, but I’m going to try and incorporate more of the functional training principles in my next program (which will likely be full body circuits for a month or so, to mix it up, be more functional and get my back good again).

Workout 13
Chest/Back
x 10 sets Wk 4
A1: BB Bench  110kg
A2: Pullup  BW+20kg
B1: DB Inc Bench  35kg,37.5kg,40kg
B2:  BB BO Row  70kg,70kg,80kg
Workout 14
Legs
x10 sets Wk 4
A1: BB Back Squat  120kg
A2: Lying Leg Curl  70kg
B1: DB Walking Lunge  20kg,20kg
B2: SLDL  60kg,60kg
Workout 15
Arms
x 10 sets Wk 4
A1: DB Alt Curl
A2: CG Bench 
B1: Preacher Curl
B2: Skullcrusher
Workout 16
Chest/Back
x10 sets Wk 4
A1: BB Inc Bench
A2: Chinup
B1: DB Bench
B2: DB BO Row

Diet’s been pretty average, not super bad, but in terms of my burgeoning struggle to maintain some kind of vegetarianism, I’ve been getting slack, maya once, nandos twice. It also gives a nice little kick to my wallet too! As a sidenote to that, it is interesting the response you get when you say you’re a “semi vegetarian“, whatever “street cred” vegetarianism has, and I admit, it’s close to zero, semi vegetarianism gets you even less. People’s reactions are along the lines (and this is from vegetarians too) “so you’re not really a vegetarian are you?” It’s bizarre. The point is: I eat less meat than I did, which is saying a lot. I used to a eat a bout a kg of meat a day, now I eat about a kg of meat a week or every 2 weeks, do the math extrapolated over a year! That’s an impact. Imagine if everyone made similar changes? I’d be happy to see everyone making even some vegetarian options, it all helps.

I wonder, do you guys still want to see how I’m eating while I have a couple of weeks off? It might not  be very exciting.

Breakfast: 1 cup of oats with 1 scoop protein powder, Hilo milk, 1/2 teaspoon of sugar. 700mL of water. Vegetable smoothy- 1/3 of a cucumber, handful of alfalfa, a carrot, handfuls of beans, peas, corn, spinach, a few sticks of broccoli. 1 tablespoon of creatine in milk.

Post workout shake: x2  up n go “energize“‘s, 30g of protein powder. 500-700mL of water during training. 1 tablespoon of creatine.

Post workout meal: X2 fried eggs on wholemeal toast (x2 slices) with low fat butter.
 
Meal before afternoon shift:  Smoothy- 1/2 cup of berries, 1 cup of mixed veggies, 1 banana, 1 pear/apple, 1/2 cup of walnuts/cashews, a touch of cinnamon, 750mL of water, 1 cup of yogurt, 150g cottage cheese, 3 broccoli stems, handful of cherry tomatoes, lentils, chick peas (or various other types of beans/lentils). I also forgot to note, this makes 2 shakes that I have over the course of the day, or I have the leftover one the next day.

Dinner: Various vegetarian options such as vegetable sausages, bacon etc.

Pre bed snack (sometimes): Second vegetable smoothy. 

Supplements. 3-4 fish oil tabs with my afternoon smoothy, and I’ve started taking a multivitamin supplement once-twice a day.

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