April 6, 2014

March 27, 2014 Lower & Upper / Heavy


  • Squats: 365*2 385*1 405*1
  • Front Squats: 225*2 245*2 265*2
  • BB Flat (low arch): 225*3 245*3 265*2 275*1
  • BB Rows: 135*7 185*6 205*6
  • Landmine Laterals: 70*2
  • DB Reverse Laterals: 10*10
Wanted to get in a lower & upper session to make up for missing stuff earlier this week.  Squats went well, as did front squats.  I'll be writing soon about the cut nutrition & routine I'll be doing, once I get all the details ironed out, probably by early April.  Trying some low arch on the bench press instead of the big one I usually use. Going to do it for a few weeks, then see if I notice gains when arching more again.  Rows continued to focus on form over weight.  My lats & upper back are clearly more sore since starting doing them this way. 

March 26, 2014 Dodgeball!


  • Dodgeball: 90 minutes
So on Sunday I got pretty bad food poisoning (or maybe the flu); fever got to 104.5 for almost 24 hours. Not good times.  That knocked me on my ass Sunday, Monday, and most of Tuesday.  Felt much better by Wednesday though, and did some dodging to get back in the swing of things. 

March 20, 2014 Lower / Heavy


  • Deadlift: 435*1 455*1 475*2 475*1
  • Hanging Power Snatches: 135*2 155*1 160*1
Quick session, wanted to do some deadlifting & snatches.   Good times!  

March 19, 2014 Dodgeball!


  • Dodgeball: 90 minutes

good times! Hand is completely healed. Can't wait til I'm back down about a dozen pounds, it'll be much easier on my knees

March 20, 2014

2014 Cut, Part IV: Carbs and Fructose

So this is part 4 of my spring cut monster blog.  This is more a loose-ends before I post the actual diet/numbers I'm going to be running, but it's got some points regarding grains, carbs, and fructose. I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s worth mentioning again Grains are just not good for you; I know, I know, the cereal aisle is full of whole-grain goodness.  Well, whole-grain cat shit is still just cat shit.  I could write a whole separate 2,000 word piece on why grains are not good for you.  Things like gluten intolerance are experienced by pretty much everyone, but those with more prevalent forms will get the label. However everyone has an inflammatory response to grains. So those are still out. I may have them on fat-kid Saturday, but they continue to not have a place in my diet.  Humans are just not meant to consume them. Period.  Again, you have a ton of government subsidies pushing “healthy whole grains” or “heart healthy whole grains” [you can actually buy the American Heart Association endorsement by the way, it’s not based on science], just like you do with PUFAs.  It’s what’s cheapest for us to produce, so it gets pushed.   But I digress…

Fructose is another issue I’ve been thinking about and researching.   There is some evidence that beyond 25G of this per day can begin to cause toxicity in your body  and it is associated with fatty liver disease as well.  Now granted it’s probably better than mainlining cheeseburgers, but still.  Roughly half of the carbs in fruit like apples/kiwis comes from fructose.  Also, sucrose gets broken down in the liver to 1 part fructose and 1 part glucose, so that 25g comes from fructose, and half of the sucrose intake for a day.  Intense exercise can help raise this threshold, as it depletes liver glycogen and any fructose that makes its way there is promptly converted to glycogen.  My main concern is that sugar, particularly fructose, oxidizes LDL into pattern B (the smaller, much more lethal form of LDL).  1 medium apple contains about 11g of fructose in it, as well as another gram and a half from the conversion of sucrose.   Again, I’m not cutting out fruit obviously, but a couple apples per day and a couple bananas (bananas are actually slightly better since only about 1/3 of their calories comes from Fructose) is probably overkill. I will probably go back to 1 each per day, and carry on as usual with my other fruits/fruit juices. I’ll replace the calories from fewer bananas/apples with vegetables, and probably try to stick to around 35-40g of fructose on my high carb days.  

Also, another consideration, when I look at carb numbers, I’m looking at net from now on.  Shouldn’t be a huge difference, but it’s probably come up before.  Soluble fiber may give you one calorie in the gut after the bacteria that live off it digest it, but that’s negligible.   I’m also going to get more calories from red palm and coconut oil, both are healthier sources of fat. Coconut for instance is a medium-chain fatty acid and is processed more like a carb for energy purposes, just without the accompanying insulin spike.

2014 Cut, Part III: Fats, "Healthy Fats", Omega-3 Myths

So part 3 here will be dealing with fats, healthy fats, and sources of fats particularly Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFAs). You probably are more familiar with PUFAs as Omega-9, Omega-6, and Omega-3 fatty acids among other things.  There is about two decades of evidence that points to Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFAs) as being the main culprit in heart disease, cancers, and high cholesterol.   High cholesterol may actually be a reaction to damage caused by PUFAs to blood vessels, which then seek to reinforce themselves with cholesterol, but that particular point is still in its nascent phases of being researched.    You may be thinking that saturated fats are horrible for you, and yes, sometimes, in certain things they are.  Industrial corn-fed beef? Yup, probably horrible for you.  But PUFAs are implicated in a growing number of health issues.  There have actually been several studies comparing saturated / monounsaturated /omega-6s and their effects on heart health.  In one, people suffering from chronic heart disease had their diets supplemented with either saturated animal fat, olive oil, or High omega 6 oils (corn I believe). In several years, the saturated animal fasts group had the fewest deaths, the olive oil group was second and the omega-6 group had the most. The heart related deaths were about the same but the omega-6 group had 3 times the cancer deaths; if accounted for that would have shown that the rate of CHD deaths in that group actually greater. The conclusion of the researchers? CHD patients weren't good subjects for testing the healthiness of fatty acids. Incidentally they actually stopped the study early on account of their fears that cancer deaths were going to explode in the omega-6 group.

So are Omega-3s healthy? To an extent; they’re a mixed bag really. Here's a great study showing the good and bad.  I’m not saying PUFAs should be entirely cut out, but rather limited, quite a bit.  They do serve a purpose; your body needs some.  But the problem is there are so many recommendations out there now that push the idea of mega-dosing fish oil, and the scientific data just does NOT backup this recommendation in any way shape or form.  What gets lost is that a lot of the Omega-3 benefit comes from the fact that it helps balance out the excessive Omega-6 intake of most individuals. Put another way: Omega-3s are not great for you either, but they’re less bad than Omega-6s.   This does not mean however, that loading up fish oil, or any omega-3 is a good idea.  As the previous link notes, there actually haven’t been any studies on the long-term effects of fish oils (or omega3s) and the mid-range studies actually find increased mortality among users.  This is most likely because Omega-3s are heavily oxidative.   You’ve heard of anti-oxidants most likely; these compounds protect against oxidative damage to proteins, tissue, and DNA.  There are many oxidative compounds, and Omega-3s are actually worse than Omega-6s.  The reason for this is that the chemical composition of Omega-3s contains several double carbon bonds which are highly vulnerable to oxidative damage, which they then pass on to whatever they get used in. Saturated fat contains none, and monounsaturated contains one double bond. There is evidence that among those who recently suffered a heart attack, supplementing with fish oil may help prevent death via arrhythmia.  However, there is no evidence showing any long-term benefit of supplementing with fish oil (or any omega-3 for that matter). So how did Omega-3s/PUFAs end up being the ‘savior’ compared to ‘evil’ saturated fats?  General government laziness of all things. More on that in a bit.

Now, before you go and flush all your fish oil, again, you do need some PUFAs/omega-3s/omega-6s.  But as shown, the typical American diet gets way too much PUFAs overall, and way too many 6s.  Men in particular have it bad, as another issue with Omega3s is that men need more DHA than EPA, but in most fish-oil supplements it’s actually flipped; Biotest’s Flameout being the exception that I can think of.  So all things in moderation, including PUFAs.  Research shows that Probably 15g total of PUFAs is the upper limit before you start running into issues (with about 10 from Omega-6s and 5 from Omega-3s).  I was getting closer to 40 on my high fat days last cut; which won’t be happening again.  The message here is moderation, things like walnuts are not bad for you, but look at it this way: the omega-6 to omega-3 ration in them is 5:1.  Human-beings should be around 1:1 or 2:1; I think there is the assumption that because a food has a ‘healthy’ reputation that you can overlook the actual composition of it.  This goes for any food; but in this particular case here is a link sums up my feeling on PUFAs pretty well.   So sticking with the walnut example; while they are a healthy food relatively speaking, you can’t ignore the fact that it’s got a ton of omega-6s when planning out how you eat.  As per omega-3s, most of the studies that show benefits are very short term, and focus only on direct supplementation with just fish oil, or just omega-3s in pill form.  I’m going to pinch a quote from Kuipers et al. that appears in one of the earlier links, but really summarizes any supplementation study:

The fish oil fatty acids EPA and DHA (and their derivatives), vitamin D (1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D) and vitamin A (retinoic acid) are examples of nutrients that act in concert, while each of these has multiple actions(7,8).
Consequently, the criteria for establishing optimum nutrient intakes via randomised controlled trials (RCT) with single nutrients at a given dose and with a single end point have serious limitations. They are usually based upon poorly researched dose–response relationships, and typically ignore many possible nutrient interactions and metabolic interrelationships.

So what about saturated fats then, and red meat as a source in particular.  People often associate red meat with death via saturated fat.  The problem with most red meat (and any farm food really), is the quality and where it came from. The average ground beef or red meat in the grocery store was likely fed corn, grains (making the animals super fat and unhealthy), antibiotics, hormones that are illegal in other countries, and the animal got no exercise, and is filled with preservatives. Organic, grass fed, free range beef is the closest thing we can get to being completely natural, the animals are fed what they're meant to eat, get exercise and are healthy. So, if you can get the good quality meat, you can probably eat it more consistently (All of this also goes for dairy; I like cottage cheese, and my shakes typically contain milk, but I have no idea where it’s been coming from, I'm hoping to change that).  But currently federal guidelines push things like omega 6s (think of virtually every vegetable based cooking oil) because it’s actually better than added sugar, and this of course ignores that we’re really talking about worst and 2nd worst.  So foods can actually brag about their omega-6 oil laden products being healthier because they have no sugar.  You'll die of diabetes, general obesity, cancer, or some other awful disease, but hey, at least you didn't get any saturated fat! 

As an appendix, here is a list of foods and their Omega-3:Omega-6 ratio. 

March 19, 2014

2014 Cut, Part II: How Much Protein do You REALLY Need?

This is part 2 in my series on factors that went into determining this cut, and that hopefully others can use in determining their own cutting (or bulking) or just general nutritional needs.

I’ve known for a while I probably end up eating more protein than I need. You don’t need nearly as much protein as you probably think you do.  Additional protein past your needs actually causes an increase in enzymes that aid the use of protein breakdown for energy, and can be counter-productive. Here's a great study on the topic. Basically what was found is that even heavily trained athletes achieved nitrogen balance around 0.7g per pound of bodyweight, so around 140g for a 200 lbs. person.  Furthermore, maximum additional synthesis occurs about 25% above balance, so about 170g for a 200 lbs. person.   Not only that, but beyond the point of reaching nitrogen balance ammonia started to build up at an increasing rate in the subjects’ systems. Past about 230g every single gram of protein was converted entirely into ammonia (this is for ‘natural’ athletes, gear use could enhance this probably), “At a protein intake of 230g/day the body’s ability to convert ammonia to urea is saturated”.  For reference nitrogen balance means you’re not wasting away basically; positive nitrogen balance indicates growth, negative implies wasting away in some manner.  Now there are  studies that found when giving people 170g of protein, and another group 250, the 250 group actually built slightly more muscle, but it wasn’t done on a gradient, so who knows where the difference was.  Also, additional protein may be sparing of already built muscle, so it may not get used to build new muscle, but may prevent it from being broken down.  Your body is basically a set of thermostats, and if you’ve been over consuming protein your body has raised levels of enzymes that cause it to break down protein for energy; even if you stop now it’s going to take a week or two for that ‘thermostat’ to come down, so you may experience a slight bit of catabolism.  You can probably offset this with leucine.  Studies also show the much higher synthesis effect of leucine, which greatly reduces the level needed for balance and anabolism. So for instance 170g of protein and maybe 20g of leucine would be better than 300 grams of random proteins, accruing ammonia and building up enzymes that destroy amino acids for use as energy


As for worrying about muscle loss, consider this:  3 net grams of protein (over base need) a day are needed to build a pound of muscle tissue per month.  Building muscle is more about how to stimulate synthesis of the amino acids and peptides in your system into muscle, as opposed to the amount of protein you consume.  Just from the raw amount of aminos in your body right now, you could build a couple pounds of muscle immediately, daily. If you’re curious about the numbers: 1 pound is 454 grams.  One pound of muscle tissue is 70% water, 20% contractile protein and 10% miscellaneous lipids, etc. Again, these are rough numbers, and vary source to source a bit.  So that’s about 90g of protein in one pound of muscle, average that need out over a month and you have about 3g per day, if you want to think of it like that.  In other words, you have plenty of amino acids in you right now. What you need is to drive that synthesis of muscle tissue.  Which brings me back to the amino acid leucine, which is really the trigger that tells your body to synthesize protein (in other words build muscle). The take home point here, on days when I really inflict a lot of damage on muscles via high rep sets, I’ll probably get close to 200g of protein.  But the lower rep higher weight workouts I do more often, during those I’m just not inflicting enough damage to justify getting that, and I’m going to be scaling back on the protein.

2014 Cut, Part I: Eat to Match your Exercises

So the more I started to think about this cut in 2014 the more I started to research the basic biology behind human energy output, and based on that I decided to change things up a bit for this coming cut.  This is going to be a 4 or 5 part 'essay' type of thing.   There should be some good information in there for people to glean as well.  This is Part One I'm posting, dealing with the different energy systems you are using when you perform different types/rep schemes of exercise.  I'll show how this connects to how you should be eating as well, in this part somewhat and in later parts. 


So every single movement you do depends on the breakdown of ATP to fuel it. Your body has a few different options for how to fuel these movements. For the first few seconds of any set or movement you do, you’re depending on your ATP-PC System for energy. This is your stored ATP reserves for the first couple of seconds, and then PC (phosphor-creatine) combining with ADP (the atp that lost a phosphate in those first couple seconds) to make more ATP for the next 5-10 seconds roughly. This system is where your max power comes from, in fact if you notice bar speed dropping during a set, you’ll probably notice it’s after that first 10 seconds or so, and it’s a direct indicator your ATP-PC system is no longer fueling the movement. For every second you use this system it takes about 10 seconds to restore. So a 12 second sprint would take about 120 seconds for full ATP-PC recovery. Also, of importance here: Where does your body get the fuel to restore this system? Stored adipose tissue. It breaks down body-fat. This is one of the reasons sprinting TORCHES body fat; it’s typically largely dependent on the ATP-PC system (and secondarily the lactic acid system, covered next). Your body is literally fueling the exercise with fat. So something like 60m or 100m sprints, long jumps, broad jumps, Olympic lifting, low rep/high weight sets, etc. will really hit this system.

The next system is The Anaerobic Glycolytic System, also known as the Lactic Acid System. This system takes over as the ATP-PC system is exhausted, or if it hasn't had enough time to recover between sets.  This system works by breaking down stored glycogen into glucose as part of the process of producing more ATP. The end result is something called Pyruvate, as well as hydrodgen ions. The system is anaerobic because there’s not enough oxygen to break down the Pyruvate further and produce more ATP (remember this, it comes up in the third system). This system peaks around 15 seconds and carries you through about 45 seconds to a minute, before falling off a cliff, and your power from it will never be as high as from the ATP-PC system. Incidentally, lactate (or lactic acid) is not the reason you feel the burning in your muscles when you exercise. It’s the buildup of hydrodgen ions causing the muscle to become acidic, on account of a lack of oxygen the hydrogen cannot be removed, and the buildup continues. Lactate is formed when the Pyruvate molecule binds to two of those hydrogen ions. The lactate is then quickly shuttled out of the cell. This lactate then gets shipped to muscles that have available oxygen, or the liver, where the Aerobic system can use it to continue producing more ATP (more on this in a moment). Eventually hydrogen builds up so rapidly that it can’t be cleared fast enough, the muscle becomes more acidic, and begins to burn. This is also the reason your lungs may burn during extended exercise as well. That burning is a sign you’re relying on the Lactic Acid System for energy. It takes roughly 6 seconds for recovery of this system for each second you use it. As mentioned, it hits your glycogen reserves pretty well; after sprinting, especially 200s I am ravenous for carbohydrates because I have heavily drained my glycogen reserves. Lighter weight sets utilizing higher reps, really most bodybuilding routines (think: 6-12 rep sets, high volume, etc. things aimed at exhausting the muscle), 200m sprinting, some circuit training, etc. will really get this system involved.

Finally, the Aerobic System, that great well of low-power energy. If you’re looking to get stronger, you do NOT want to spend time here. This system takes over gradually around the 45 second to one minute mark roughly, and occurs in 3 parts. The first is almost identical to the Anaerobic Glycolytic System, except that there is sufficient oxygen, and the pyruvate is converted into Acetyl Coenzyme A, which helps fuel the second part, the Krebs cycle. Here Acetyl-CoA from step one, along with fatty acids and protein which are also broken down into Acetyl-CoA, are further broken down to produce more ATP, as well as some hydrogen ions. Note that protein is used for fuel here, something we do not want. Those hydrogen ions produced here, along with ones from the glycolysis covered earlier, get taken to the third step of Aerobic energy production; the electron transport chain. You actually get a ton of ATP out of this, over 8x as much as the first two steps of Aerobic, and an order of magnitude greater than either of the other two systems used. Of course the power you produce in this phase is pretty much non-existent. Think a 1600m race, a half marathon, marathon, running cross country, a 50 rep set, etc.

As you can see, each one of these systems uses different fuel types, and depletes different nutrients.  The ATP-PC system isn’t using any glycogen, whereas the anerobic glycolytic system uses a ton for instance.   In other words, if you’re doing a very low rep/high weight workout that depends on the ATP-PC system mostly, and isn’t depleting glycogen, why are you loading up on carbs that day?  Likewise if you’re doing high rep work, why are you consuming much fat at all, when you’re going to need carbs to replenish that glycogen (side note: you can restore glycogen via dietary fats but it’s an incredible pain in the ass for your body).  You may be seeing some ways to apply this information to your own workouts, and I will bring things back around in the final part of this series.  For now I’m going to post a few more parts dealing with dietary concerns I had for this cut. 

Further reading, if interested

March 18, 2014

March 18, 2014 Upper / Heavy


  • Bench Press: 255*1 285*1 305*1 310*1
  • BB Rows: 225*7 225*6
  • Cable Laterals: 25*10 30*6
  • Cable Reverse Laterals: 10*10

Much better on benching.  Got a video of the 305 attempt, 310 just wanted to do the rep and move on, didn't want to wait around to find someone to video it. Rows again focused really on making my lats do the work. Also some laterals for continued delt focus. Here's the video. 




March 16, 2014 Conditioning


  • Battling Ropes: 35
  • Stretching: 15 minutes
real quick session here, just to stay loose and get some bloodflow going.  Will take Monday off, and go for 305 on benching again Tuesday, should get it.