New Routines

So recently I switched back to a whole-body-based weightlifting routine, and ditched my cyclical ketogenic diet. Let me explain…

First, I am not a competitive bodybuilder. It’s cool, and I admire the drive and willpower, but it ain’t me. I want to use my strength for doing things, not just standing on stage trying to look better than other folks. Now, I’m not saying that bodybuilders are weaklings or vain or stupid: far from it! I totally admire the dedication it takes to be successful in that arena. But I AM saying that their goals and mine are not the same. I am looking mainly for good exercise, fat loss and athletic performance. They are looking to shape and sculpt every square inch of their bodies to some Atlas idea of perfection. Two different worlds.

The car analogy works well here. Do I want to be a show car or a race car? Show cars can be fast and agile, but their main function is just that: show. Look great, be shiny, be the ideal. Race cars, on the other hand, they perform. Sure, they look good too, and for my money, a well-tuned and sorted out race car or performance car will ALWAYS be more desirable than one made of plastic, Bondo and a $25K paint job, but that’s just me. I want to be the well-sorted-out race car that is capable of top performance, not just looking good standing still. And I believe that the real beauty in something comes from the degree of no-frills functionality embodied therein.

So anyway, I switched back. I started out with a full-body routine mostly using compound exercises just to get to a baseline of strength and fitness that I’d been lacking due to missing the gym for, oh, 5 years or so. Once I got about 6 months of that under my belt, I was doing a 3-day split (pushing, pulling, legs) routine that really added strength and mass very quickly. But it wasn’t really great as a calorie burner, even using mostly compound movements. I tried adding interval cardio (mostly elliptical) into the routine, but I found myself overtraining and simply gassed at the end of the week. During this time, I also switched to a cyclical ketogenic diet. This lo-carb approach consists of a lo/no-carb diet throughout the week, then a 24-36 hr refeed which supposedly pushes glycogen back into the muscles. Except it really didn’t seem to work that way for me. I’d be fine at the beginning of the week, and then by the end of the week, I would barely be able to get through the second rep cycle of anything. Also, by the evenings I was just shot, and on the weekends I didn’t really want to do much. I just couldn’t seem to refeed enough to make it work all week. Can’t live like that.

So I went back to a mostly primal and natural diet – still lo-carb (~100 grams per day or less, loaded more toward the morning when I work out) but much more agreeable to 3 days of heavy full-body circuit lifting per week plus 3 days of cardio interval training and sports (skating, biking, etc.).  Since switching both my diet and weightlifting routine, I’m still dropping about 2 lbs per week, but amazingly, my strength is going up as I’m not gassing myself halfway through my routines anymore due to lack of fuel for my muscles, not to mention better post-workout recovery. It also allows me the stamina to add in cardio, which is really what I need to get rid of the fat. I dropped about 15 pounds in the last 3 months, and I intend to lose 20 more by July 1. That will put me at 185-190, which for me is about 12-15% bodyfat. It also allows me the energy I need to work around the house, hike, camp, work on the cars, and whatever else we do on weekends, rather than simply recovering.

Much better!

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