Thursday, April 10, 2014

Bulking up for a year (or longer)

I've decided that I won't be dieting/cutting/shredding at all this year in 2014 and will be taking my time to "bulk up" and build some more muscle. I want to improve on what I feel are my weak-points and taking this amount of time to focus on them is what I feel would be best.

For the past few years I've always dieted down to look good for the warm spring and summer months, and bulked during the cold winter months. But the thing is I would stay lean all throughout the warm months and so my dieting/maintenance phase would end up being 9 months long! This only allowed 3 months for me to build new muscle.

Although it seems like I have made progress and built a little muscle through the years, I feel like I could make a lot more progress if I did it for longer than 3 months at a time. I mean how much "real" muscle can you build in 3 months, right? 

This will be the first time that I've "bulked" for this long in a while. Let's see how comfortable I'll feel being at higher body fat levels for an extended amount of time. I'm the type of a person who prefers to look shredded and feel svelte and lean instead of looking bulky and feeling big.

I intend to bulk extremely slow since I have all the time in the world now. I'll be doing what is referred to as "reverse dieting". Basically just slowly increasing carbohydrate and calories instead of jumping straight to bulking level calories right away.

Results of my 4 month bulk back in 2011-2012

My Diet

Since I was not eating any direct carbs in my daily diet while I was staying lean, I added in 30-40 grams of carbs a day to my daily intake. I did this for 2 weeks and gauged my weight and progress from there. I was still losing weight at this carb level which was expected, so I added another 30-40 grams. This means I was then taking in 60-80 grams of carbs a day. I gauged this for 2 weeks and was still losing weight. So now I'll take in about 100-120 grams of carbs. (I'm now at 120-160 grams)

During the holiday season it was difficult to just stick to this carb intake level. If it's a holiday or celebration, I won't monitor my carb intake and I'll eat as my heart desires. This does throw off my weight a bit because of the increased water and glycogen. I'll gain anywhere from 6-10 lbs depending on how much pig out. 

I do go back to eating at my designated carb level on "regular" days and I my weight will drop and become steady though. I've found it hasn't been difficult at all to go back to "regular" eating with IIFYM.

The carbs I've been eating haven't necessarily been "clean" carbs. Some days I'll have white rice. Other days I'll have pop tarts. Some days I'll have noodles or pasta. The source of cabs doesn't matter really. It's what is known IIFYM (if it fits your macros) these days. 

I used to be afraid of eating so many carbs and going overboard eating the "bad" carbs, but it's worked pretty well for me actually. While I was dieting, if I would eat some "bad" carbs I would start eating more and more carbs and all kinds of junk food like they were going out of style. Part of this was because I would go 2-3 weeks of clean eating and then I would have a cheat day. 

But with IIFYM because I know I can eat whatever I want when I want, granted it fits my carb intake level, I don't feel like I need to eat everything I want in one day. I know I can just eat it the next day or the day after that if I have no more room for it in my macros.

It's been working great so far and I recommend everybody give it a try to improve your relationship with food.

One of my favorite homemade meals: Rice stir fried with cut up chicken thighs and eggs

My Training

As far as my training goes, I've experienced crazy endurance, stamina, and pumps in the gym. It feels like I can workout forever and not feel like it's time to leave. 

When I was dieting, I would sometimes feel drained at the end of my workouts but with the increased carbs, I definitely feel the increased energy and pumps. My workouts now range anywhere from 90 -120 minutes. Yes, it can get up to 2 hours long but with the increased carbs comes increased training volume and I still feel great when I leave the gym.

I do a typical bodybuilding split of working each body part once a week. But since I am working on my weak points, chest and biceps, I'll do those two or even three times a week and cut back the volume on my stronger points, triceps.

Here's my current week split which starts on Tuesday:

Tuesday - Chest and triceps
Wednesday - Back thickness, traps, and rear delts
Thursday -Rest
Friday - Chest & shoulders
Saturday - Legs
Sunday - Back width and biceps
Monday - Rest

Here's an example of a Chest and triceps workout:
(format is exercise - sets x rep range)

Dumbbell incline bench press - 4-6 x 6-12
Incline dumbbell flyes - 4 x 8-15
Weighted dips - 4 x 8-12
Machine flye - 3-4 x 10-15
Cable crossover - 3-4 x 10-15
Tricep pushdown - 3 x 8-12
Cable overhead tricep extension with rope 3 x 10-15
Dips - 2 x reps to failure

Began my bulk with a Thanksgiving morning workout!
Another thing I want to mention about my training is that I've really been focusing on the mind muscle connection aspect. Due to some heavy training causing aching joints, I decided to do this to get a better training effect without having to use as much weight.

I'll write more about this in a different blog post, but I feel like it's working awesome for me! It feels like a totally new way of training.

I'm very excited about bulking for this long with no dieting phases. It's been such a long time since I've done this. I'm hoping to look like Flex Wheeler at the end of this lol...just kidding :)

What i'm going to look like in 2015 lol


I'm not sure if anybody is still reading this blog since I haven't updated it since last year but I decided to write this post anyway to document and share what I'm doing. I'll still try to post more updates on anything "fitness" related in my life and new supplements I've been able to try out.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Controlled Labs PROnom 23 Protein Review

Ever since Gaspari discontinued Myofusion and Myofusion Hydro, I've been on the search for a new favorite protein. I do love BSN's Syntha-6 but the carbs and fats are a little high for times when I'm cutting calories. 

PROnom 23 is Controlled Labs' newest product and their entry into the protein powder market. It's been getting a lot of great feedback on the forums. Controlled Labs is a trusted company by many so I was very interested in trying out their protein.

Vanilla Cupcake Batter opened up!

MuscleHQ had this on sale so I decided to buy a jug of each flavor to try it out. The two flavors currently available are Chocolate Cupcake Batter and Vanilla Cupcake Batter. One 4 lb jug provides 53 servings and was on sale for $39 a jug. This is a little pricier than what I would normally spend on protein but I decided to splurge a bit based on Controlled Labs' reputation and feedback.

PROnom 23 isn't a straight whey protein powder but is a protein blend made up of six different proteins which are: Whey Protein Concentrate, Whey Protein Isolate  Whey Protein Hydrolysate, Micellar Casein, Milk Protein Isolate, Calcium Caseinate. Protein blends typically taste better since the company is able to manipulate the texture using different proteins, and additional fats and sugars normally added as well.

The protein is one of the better proteins I have tasted. The Vanilla to me doesn't really taste like vanilla but it is still good, perhaps more like a light French vanilla. Some have said it reminds them of Twinkies  The chocolate tastes very good and would be the flavor I would choose if I had to choose one. Others say it taste like Swiss Miss hot chocolate. 

The texture is very smooth and has no clumps as advertised. However, it is a tiny bit chalky. I prefer my shakes to be thicker so I like this protein with very little water, around 6-8 ounces for two scoops. 

Shaken in the Blender Bottle. No clumps!

This protein smells awesome. The chocolate cupcake batter smells like a mix of Hershey's chocolate and Qwik powder. The vanilla cupcake batter has a weaker smell but it still smells good. I can smell the vanilla, but it is a very light vanilla smell just like it's light vanilla taste.

The mixability of PROnom 23 is one of the best. It mixes very fast with no clumps and  only takes a couple shakes with the blender bottle.

This is a protein that I would rank pretty high up there. It tastes great, smells great, mixes great! I would definitely buy this again if I could find a good deal on it. 39 plus shipping for 4 lbs is a little high but 30-32 dollars for 4 lbs would be awesome.

PROnom 23 hasn't taken over as my favorite. I still prefer Myofusion and Syntha-6 but it's a good protein that I would definitely look forward to drinking. This is only my opinion but other users seem to love the protein. I would rate PROnom 23 a 4 out of 5 stars :)

My two jars :)

Friday, September 14, 2012

From Plump to Pumped: The 'Fast' Way to Success

I know it's been a while since I've posted anything on my blog (though I've posted a few quick things on facebook, so make sure to follow/like the page!). It's been an extremely busy summer for me and so I haven't had the time to post anything. Now that the busy summer is over I can begin posting some more again :)

I'm excited to say my first returning post is an awesome one! One of my friends, Mykey, used the same principles I used last year detailed in my 12 week transformation series to get cut up for the summer. He was willing to let me interview him and share his dramatic results with others! 

He had tried cutting the previous year but with less success...he basically became a smaller version of himself due to following some bad ideas. But this year was a different story! The pictures below speak for themselves. He had awesome results and he looks amazing!

Check out the picture below from his attempted cut in 2011:

2011 Cut Attempt
You can see that he's significantly smaller but only slightly more defined. This meant he lost fat but also lost quite a bit of muscle :( Now check out the picture below for his 2012 cut! He's 185 lbs in the 'Before' picture and 163 lbs in the 'After' picture. A loss of 22 lbs!

2012 Aesthetic Cut!
Notice his abs are clearly defined, he has more of a V-taper, and clear separation in his arms and shoulders. He just looks damn good! Compare the 'After' pictures from 2011 and 2012 and you can see a HUGE difference this time around.  Mykey actually weighs 2 lbs less in 2012 but he actually looks bigger and more muscular! 

Mykey was basically was on his own with this and I wasn't personally consulting with him. He would occasionally ask me questions here and there, just like commenters on my blog do, but we weren't discussing his diet and training weekly or anything like that. He read my blog posts, used them as a guideline, and tweaked what he needed to find what worked best for him. So let's get onto the interview!

Aesthetic Muscle: I have to say this is the best I have ever seen you look. When I saw you in Vegas for my bachelor party, you looked aesthetic as f**k! 

Mykey: Thanks man, the advice on your blog really helped.  It feels great to work hard and finally get awesome results!  I knew we would all be shredding for your wedding so it would have been lame if I was the only one in our group of friends that was out of shape for the bachelor party vacation.

Aesthetic Muscle: Haha, more like shredding for the bachelor party :) What convinced you to cut this time around the same way I did in my 12 week transformation series?

Mykey: Around the holidays last year I was eating and drinking so much and was just getting fat despite working out up to 5 days a week at the gym.  After New Years Eve I just felt like a waste of life.  I took a picture of myself shirtless in the mirror and was unhappy with myself and decided that it was time for a change. 

I looked at pictures from my previous cut last year where I just ate less, lifted and ran on the treadmill everyday. I remembered you saying that my results weren't as pronounced as they could have been because I lost too much weight too fast.  I decided to try your approach because of your unbelievable results and I knew it couldn't have been a gimmick since I've known you for years.

Stop lying to yourselves and make a change!

Aesthetic Muscle: Yeah, seeing pictures of yourself is always a real eye-opener. I never understood how people can see themselves in pictures being fatter than everyone else and thinking its okay. 
So what did you do different between last year's cut and this year's cut?

Mykey: Last year I was just eating less and killing myself with at least 3 miles of running everyday combined with lifting.  

This year, the biggest difference was in my diet and using intermittent fasting.  I would fast for 16 hours and would eat within an 8 hour window.  I made sure to count my calories closely this time to ensure I was getting enough protein in my diet.  I cut out carbs aside from those I got from fruits and vegetables and I gave myself a cheat day once every weekend, but I made sure not to go overboard.  

I also took supplements like protein, creatine, BCAA's , preworkouts, fat burners,  fishoil and multivitamins in conjunction with my diet and exercise, which I never regularly did in the past. Below is list of the specific products I used during the cut. I didn't use all of them at once but used a variety of brands just because I wanted to try out different products:

One of mine and Mykey's favorite protein powders. It tastes like a milkshake!

In terms of exercise, I switched to a 5x5 routine and lifted as heavy as I could. The only cardio I did was about a half hour to an hour of walking on the treadmill or elliptical every other day. This was a huge difference from the endless miles I was running last year. 

Aesthetic Muscle: I was trying to tell everybody that I didn't jog a single mile last year for my cut! I hope this helps more people realize jogging miles and miles is not going to make them look awesome. Its also too bad they changed the Myofusion formula and OxyElite Pro is harder to get now. Those were two of my favorites!

Which difference did you think helped you the most?

Mykey: I truly believe intermittent fasting really helped.  In the past I had always been able to work out and get into decent shape, but I think fasting helped me lose fat while gaining muscle.  Before this year, I never really saw good definition in my muscles.  Once I started seeing quick results, it was much easier for me to maintain the motivation to go to the gym and intermittent fast everyday.

Aesthetic Muscle: Losing fat and gaining muscle at the same time sounds like a wonderful thing to me! Which part did you find to be the most difficult? 

Mykey: The first day or two of fasting was a little difficult since the feelings of false hunger were unfamiliar.  It seemed like I was surrounded by friends, family and coworkers that ate what they pleased and expected me to as well.  The hardest part was blocking out everyone else while disciplining myself to take control of what I would consume to look the way I wanted.

Aesthetic Muscle: Yes, that's very true. I used to work in an office environment where everybody was so concerned about what they were going to eat for lunch, all the while they were snacking away at their desk! Plus, everybody is always telling you to eat this and eat that. Offices are a terrible environment people create for themselves in terms of health and good looks. 

Did you do anything different than what I had outlined?

Mykey: I did your 5x5 workout and eventually switched to the Bill Starr MadCow 5x5 for some variety.  I also fasted for 16 hours (sometimes more) as opposed to your 20.  I also worked out in the mornings instead of evenings so I followed the Lean Gains Early Morning Fasted Training Protocol

Instead of having a whole cheat day every 2 weeks, I would just have a moderately sized cheat meal or two once every weekend.  If it ever got bad I would fast the entire next day and continue with intermittent fasting the day after that.

 A terrible environment for aesthetics. Why does office food have to be all carbs?!

Aesthetic Muscle: Haha, there have been plenty of times that I've gone overboard on a cheat so I'll fast the whole day the next day too. Everybody thinks its so dangerous not eating anything but I actually think it feels great! 
So now that you've reached a personal best level of aesthetics, what are your plans in regards to your diet and training?

Mykey: From this point, I'm going to try my best to gain as much additional muscle as I can while minimizing fat accumulation in the upcoming holiday season.   Then once Spring and Summer come around, I'd like to cut down again and take some measurements and new photos to see if I improved from this past summer.

Aesthetic Muscle: Thanks Mykey for sharing your results and success on my blog! Best of luck to you this year!

As you can see from Mykey's incredible results, I'm not the only one who can do it. Many people I know have tried intermittent fasting with great success! And if you find intermittent fasting doesn't sit right with you, just try anything else to change your body! Make the decision to change your body and transform your life! Transform your life for the sake of your spouse, for your kids, and for your family and friends. Stop thinking it is okay to get fatter and weaker as you get older. Find the motivation and make a promise to yourself to live a healthier life and do your part in stopping the obesity epidemic! Sorry for the rant ;)

Me (far left), Mykey (far right) and few friends celebrating our cutting success at an All You Can Eat Buffet! Remember its okay to eat junk when you don't look like junk :)

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