Regaining Discipline, One Small Step At A Time; Six-Week Assessment

This one slipped up and caught me by surprise. For close to two weeks I hadn’t picked up akettlebell. I had skipped a workout, then another, and another, until I realized I was lacking my old self-discipline in training.

I remembered a progressive way to start a habit that I had read about. Want to take up jogging?

  • Make an easily accomplishable goal like getting dressed to jog.
  • Later jog down the street.
  • Then the block.
  • Now you are lapping the block and a jogger.

So I went back to the basics in my case. 100 two-handed kettlebell swings a day on every weekday. 10 Push ups for my upper body. 10 Goblet Squats for my lower body. Fifteen minutes and I am done. I’m even throwing in handstands for time as an option.

It looks like I have to be rigorously disciplined in my training or I go off the track. I made progress in the circuit training, starting at two rounds and going up to four. I guess their was just too much time between training days. Let’s see how this effected body composition.

Body Composition (inches)

Body Part                      Before                  After                   -/+

Neck                               14.20                14.0              -.20

Shoulders                      43.2                  43.75              +.55

Chest                              37.5                   37.5                      0

Waist                             32.5                     32.5         0

Biceps                           12.5              12.62               +0.12

Forearms                      11.1            10.82                 +0.28

Thighs                         21.1                 21.0                    -0.10

Calves                          13.5                   13.62               +.12

Weight                  152lbs          155.2        +3.2lbs

Body Fat %                15.6%                16.1%         +0.5%

Lean Body Mass    128.3lbs            130.2        +1.9lbs

Nothing earth shattering. Some hypertrophy and lean muscle mass surprisingly. Let’s see how discipline works.

Hitting the Redline: Six Week Fitness Self-Assessment

PressAfter the last competition’s poor showing I decided I needed to train smarter and more comprehensively. Problem is I don’t seem to be responding to high volume or heavy weight (90+% of max) as well as I used to. At least as often as I was training. My focus on overhead pressing left everything else weaker, and that was just getting in the way.

I read a StrongFirst article on training the seven basic movements, [SEVEN] BASIC HUMAN MOVEMENTS. Dan John’s five fundamentals I knew of, however the rotational and counter-rotational patterns I didn’t. I researched what would fit the template of Push, Pull, Hinge, Squats, Loaded Carry, and the two rotationals. I found I could just add a Figure 8 to Hold and Farmer Walks to the program I was on. I also changed the Rear Lunges to Tactical Lunges from the ETK Special Report #2.

So I now have six exercises to program: Get-Up, Bent-Over Row, One-Hand Swings (counter-rotational and hinge pattern), Tactical Lunges, Figure 8 to Hold, and Farmers Walks. Last week I tried to superset them: push/pull, hinge/squat, rotation/carry. I got tired a little quicker than I thought, so I tried it as a circuit. That way I’ll hit everything at least once. When I can’t do a Get-Up with good form I’ll be done with that day’s training. My goal is 5 rounds, then I’ll shave time off my rest periods until I’m at :30 seconds. Then I’ll weight and increase my rest back to where it was and start over.

I had been dropping to only training a full session twice a week and partially one other day. So I will listen to my body, cut my training to twice a week, Monday and Friday with plenty of recovery in between. Plus I’ll continue building up to a handstand push up and if I’m particularly froggy, sprint.

Let’s see what body composition I’m starting with:

Body Composition (inches)

Body Part                      Before                  After                   -/+

Neck                               14.25                14.20              -.05

Shoulders                      43.5                  43.2              -.30

Chest                              37.5                   37.5                      +0.5

Waist                             32.75                     32.5         -0.25

Biceps                           12.5              12.5               0

Forearms                      11.            11.1                        +0.1

Thighs                         21.25                 21.1                    -0.15

Calves                          13.5                   13.5                      0

Weight                  153.6lbs          152        -1.6lbs

Body Fat %                16.1%                15.6%         -0.5%

Lean Body Mass    128.9lbs            128.3         -0.6lbs

I’m Shrinking! Six Week Assessment

We’re two weeks away from the competition day on June 1 and I’ll predict that I have added a rep to my military press record. The snatches I’m not so sure of.  The six-week assessment creeped up so I had to evaluate what the diet’s been doing. I know I’m getting stronger with the ease my 53lb kettlebell press during training as compared to before. I did have to adjust with the program though.

The four-day a week training I dropped to three days, and added practicing the progressions to a handstand push up from Convict Conditioning. I think if I can do that, my military press will get stronger. I kept my Clean&Press rep scheme the same, though I added rest according to the 1:4-6 work/rest ratio after reading a StrongFirst article, which helped me complete the sessions. I changed the swings from the one-arm variant with the 53lb kettlebell for 10 sets of 10 to 2 sets of 25 with the 71.4lb kettlebell. I’m curious how the Snatch test will go now.

The diet has been slowly chopping fat off without sacrificing too much muscle. I lost 2.2lbs of fat with 1.6lbs of muscle lost, not too worried. After this next cycle is over I’ll start a hypertrophy program, with a slight dietary adjustment, mostly extending my eating window from 9 hours to 12. It’s been a easy diet to stick with.

Body Composition (inches)

Body Part                      Before                  After                   -/+

Neck                               14.5                14.25              -.25

Shoulders                      45                  43.5               -1.5

Chest                              37.5                   37                      -0.5

Waist                             33.5                     32.75         -0.25

Biceps                           12.8              12.5                        -0.30

Forearms                      11.1            11.0                        -0.1

Thighs                         22                 21.25                    -0.75

Calves                          13.5                   13.5                      0

Weight                  156.4lbs          153.6        -2.9lbs

Body Fat %                17.1%                16.1%         -1.0%

Lean Body Mass    129.7lbs            128.9         -0.8lbs

I may have shrunk a bit as the fat went away, that’s my guess at least. After the program I’ll do a program of Max Shank’s I saw on the DragonDoor page until the cycle is done. I’ll continue eating in the 9 hour window, going off what Dan John said about going from a caloric deficit to surplus triggers growth since the body isn’t used to the amount of food.

Slow but Steady

This assessment snuck up on me, honestly. I have been disciplined with my eating according to the Time Restricted Diet which naturally cut my calories to over a thousand less a week. It was a little hard at first with my growling stomach arguing with my willpower. What helped is that weekends are free, so long I don’t raid a dessert bar at a buffet. Gives me something to look forward to. It took awhile for me to notice the weight to fall and I’m hoping that’s because its mainly fat while I keep the protein up so I don’t waste much muscle.

As far as training goes I changed over to a daily Rite Of Passage type program. 4 days a week I press the 53lb kettlebell, then swing it for a 100 reps and then carry the 70lb around or my pair of 53s. I think it may be a little much for me, I’m not recovering well. So I will dial back the swings to 50 a day. Not sure if I’ll just use the 53, the 70, or alternate on different days.

Either way, here’s what it’s done for body comp. In two months we’ll see if it worked to get my press strength up and maintained my conditioning.

Body Composition (inches)

Body Part                      Before                  After                   -/+

Neck                               14.5                14.5              0

Shoulders             44.5                  45               +0.5

Chest                      37.5                   37.5                      0

Waist                             34.0                        33.5         -0.5

Biceps                    12.8              12.8                         0

Forearms                   11.2            11.1                                     -0.1

Thighs                         22.8                 22.0                          -0.8

Calves                          13.8                   13.5                          -.30

Weight                  158.8lbs          156.4        -2.4lbs

Body Fat %                18.1%                17.1%         -1.0%

Lean Body Mass    130.1lbs            129.7         -0.4lbs

I lost most of the gains and I can only blame my poor choice of diet. The Time-Restricted Plus plan is supposed to be sustainable so we’ll see.

 

That’s Disappointing…

Eating everything in sight is a hard habit to break; it has been taking a while to get back into a more disciplined eating style. I upped my protein to maintain the lean body mass I had gained. Still it resulted in a drastic drop in calories and I was ‘hangry’ without the extra 500-1000 extra calories. I searched for a plan to cut fat without sacrificing what I had, finding most from T-Nation’s Facebook feed; The Time-Restricted-Plus DietFat Loss & High-Protein Breakfast,  and How Many Carbs Do You Need. The next six weeks I am going to make sure my carbs do not exceed my weight (158lbs=158 grams), cut junk, eat breakfast, and intermittent fasting with protein pulses. Already started after reading the Time Restricted Plus article.

Performance wise, when I restarted Simple and Sinister it was at a higher level. I could do ten one-hand swings with the 53lb kettlebell after the double kettlebell work increased my grip strength. I do have to give credit to the new Rogue kettlebell’s finish as well. Before I had to switch hands after five reps halfway through the set, and with my get-ups I decided to just use the 44lb kettlebell instead of alternating with the 28. Within two weeks, I was able to incorporate the 53. Then I had a two-week break to move (trading lifting weights for lifting furniture) and started again. I will do S&S until I am 12 weeks from the June 1 competition.

The March 1 competition I have not even prepared for, specifically. The plan for the June 1 competition is to start a near daily ROP, an idea I got from a thread on the StrongFirst forum. I will have another assessment halfway through the program.

So where am I on body composition now? Worse than I thought actually.

Body Composition (inches)

Body Part                      Before                  After                   -/+

Neck                               14.5                14.5              0

Shoulders             44.8                  44.5                -0.3

Chest                      38.8                   37.5                      -1.3

Waist                             34.1                        34.0         -0.1

Biceps                    12.8              12.8                         0

Forearms                   11.1            11.2                                      +0.1

Thighs                         22.6                 22.8                          +0.2

Calves                          13.6                   13.8                          +.20

Weight                  164.2lbs          158.8         -5.4lbs

Body Fat %                18.3%                18.1%         -0.2%

Lean Body Mass    134.2lbs            130.1         -4.1lbs

I lost most of the gains and I can only blame my poor choice of diet. The Time-Restricted Plus plan is supposed to be sustainable so we’ll see.