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Beat The Apocalypse BW: Part 1 & 2

Hey coach,

I want to genuinely congratulate and thank you for this program that you made. It’s one of the best I’ve ever experienced without the use of even a single barbell/dumbbell!

Having said that, I am a stressed individual. I’m entering week 11 now and the workouts along with the added cardio progressions are starting to take it’s toll on me. My back, legs and arms are becoming more defined but I’m holding a lot of water weight in my waist and belly due to elevated cortisol levels. I’m currently skipping the intervals and doing only the pre- and post-workout steady state at a relaxed pace as this helps to calm me down. I noticed that plyo work and intervals make me more anxious.

As a type 3 I have bumped up my carbs a little bit, included them in each meal along with a good protein source and some healthy fats. I take about 20-30 grams of carbs (2-3 tangerines) before and 40-60 grams of carbs (2 banana’s), a whey protein shake (30 grams), 5 g glycine and 250 mg of magnesium bisglycinate after my workouts. I use a blend of EAA’s and electrolytes intraworkout as this gives me more focus and keeps me well hydrated. Caloric deficit is around 500 calories. Carbs: 45-50%, protein 30%, fats 20-25%.

I’m going to redo the entire program (with progressive overload off course) but I was wondering how you would approach cardio for the next cycle to keep cortisol levels in check. If experiencing sleep disturbances or more stress, should I just focus on:

  • steady state alone and no intervals?
  • walking instead of jogging post-workout?
  • doing cardio only on rest days and decreasing daily caloric intake instead?

Current weight: 88 kilograms
Current physique:

Have you been in a caloric deficit for the last eleven weeks?

Yes I have, except for christmas eve and newyears eve. I ‘fasted’ with amino pulses during the day and probably hit around 1000 kcals above maintenance by the end of those days. I divided the surplus by 5 and subtracted those extra calories from the other weekdays. All the others days I have kept a caloric deficit of around 500 calories. My goal is to lose 0.5% of bodyweight each week on average, which I managed to achieve up until now. I started on 92.4 kg and hit 88 kg by the end of the 10th week. According to my calculations that should be about right:

92.4 x 0.5% = 0.46
7700 kcal (1 kg fat) x 0.46 = 3542/7 = 500 calories deficit per day
92.4-88= 4.4 kg/10 = 0.44 kg per week (not exactly 0.46 but close to it)

You might want to take a break! That’ll allow your stress levels to come down somewhat.

Another relevant post is this,

I believe phases are 3-4 weeks long, if memory serves. Note that a month long break is given here.

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Thank you for your contribution mate, always on the lookout to help. Appreciate it!

I was planning to do a 2 week maintenance phase after week 12 before restarting the program. The posts you mentioned were insightful, thanks.

There’s so much variability in options that you can use though isn’t there? I like to keep things more simple. Proper strength training needs to be prioritized to signal muscle mass retention, period. Cardio wise I like to believe there are 2 main options:

  • You keep the same caloric intake but add cardio from phase to phase to maintain the same caloric deficit once your bodyweight starts to drop. This would be a valid option for someone who doesn’t want to eat less and is willing to move more. Just to be clear, I am talking about increasing the frequency, NOT the length of the cardio sessions (small increments are fine but not 1 hour sessions for 5-7 days a week). Otherwise, the cortisol response would be magnified too much, resulting in the loss of more precious type II muscle fibers.

  • You drop the cardio sessions but compensate for it by dropping caloric intake to maintain the same caloric deficit when you start losing weight over the weeks.

I totally agree with coach Thib’s reasoning for doing cardio: cardiovascular improvements, conditioning, increased mitochondrial biosynthesis, improving health markers, upregulating fat mobilization enzymes and increasing fat oxidation in the mitochondria.

But when you’re cutting for a long time (24 weeks or more), your motivation to move naturally starts to decline and simply decreasing caloric intake (within reason off course) seems like the much easier option than forcing yourself to do more cardio.

However, I do value coach Thib’s opinion on this matter because he’s probably tried everything already and knows what works and what doesn’t.