I grunted today

Current stats: I’m 5’8, and I weighed 207.8 this morning. Current BF is a legitimate 15%; I’ve got a fully visible six pack when I flex. I train for strength, but also do plenty of wrist curls and neck flexion for the, um, ladies (read: my self-esteem).

Best recent lifts are a 295 paused bench, 480 low bar squat, 505 conventional deadlift, and 185 lb strict press. (None of these were true maxes, just training singles at 8-9 RPE.) Elbow tendonitis has led me to trade low bar for ATG high bar.

I’m running Sam Shethar’s 10-week Megalodon bench program, which also includes OHP. The plan doesn’t have any programmed lower body training, so I’ve devised a linear periodization inspired by Ed Coan, with two weeks each of progressive 10s, 8s, 6s, and 5s, followed by a peaking block of 4s, 3s, and 2’s.

I train on a six-day rotation:
Squat and back accessories
Bench 1 plus shoulders and arms
Deadlift and back accessories
Bench 2 plus shoulders and arms
Front squat and back accessories
OHP and Larsen press plus shoulders and arms

I train neck and forearms daily.

Goals for the end of this block:

480 high bar squat ATG
315 paused bench
550 deadlift
225 OHP
??? front squat (just added these)

End of 2024 goals:

545 high bar
350 bench
600 deadlift
250 OHP
315 front squat (the strength is already there, I’ve just got to get comfortable with the movement)

I follow the vertical diet: eggs, 90% ground beef, carrots, spinach, peppers, grapefruit juice, cranberry juice, bananas, sweet potatoes, potatoes, rice cooked in bone broth, cheese, milk, Rice Chex, and greek yogurt are all on the menu; with the yogurt, I’ll throw in a scoop of vanilla protein. I eat four scheduled meals per day, with the occasional bagel or bowl of overnight oats thrown in on top of things.

I’m eating 3500-4000 calories per day, gaining about a pound of bodyweight per week. I intend to reach 235 by the end of this year, which will be about 10 lbs higher than my all-time heaviest weigh-in, and quite likely significantly leaner. I’ll mini-cut in January and February, then go right back to gaining. I spun my wheels strength-wise for most of my twenties because I was attached to staying way too lean. I feel far less compelled to walk around with striated pecs now that I’ve tricked the love of my life into agreeing to marry me. I want to know what I look and lift like at 250; I figure I’ll wind up a good bit beyond Jason Blaha if I shoot for Dan Green.


I intended to upload some training footage and pics of the current physique, but apparently “new users” can’t upload attachments…consider those things forthcoming.

My spinal erectors are definitely my weak link. My only recent hinging prior to this training block consisted of RDLs following back squats. Deadlifts have been back on the menu for two weeks, and even with the substitution of front squats for my secondary squat session, I haven’t been recovering adequately. I’m starting to understand why Ed Coan only did one working set of conventional deadlifts. I hope I can bring up my lower back’s work capacity over this block. It’s been four days since I deadlifted, and my lower back is still sore. Today I hit 3x8 at 365 on high bar, and I had to take a good 10 minutes between sets for my lower back pump to dissipate. I think my best 3x8 is 385, which I intend to match at the end of this wave.


Solid bench session today. I’m in week four of Sam Shethar’s Megalodon bench/OHP program, and I’d highly recommend it; you can gain access by subscribing to his Patreon for something truly nominal. Sam and his brother Max are both strong as hell, and they put out a lot of great content on Youtube.

I’m visiting my parents this week, so I’m training at a janky Anytime Fitness. The setup was sub-optimal for bench, requiring significant finagling. I hit a smooth 300 lb for my primer single today, but wimped out about pausing it because the bench setup felt so sketchy. Instant regret.

300 with an improvised TNG:

I was tempted to go for a TNG 315, but I’m saving it for the end of the training block. I’d rather hit it with more in the tank than come up short because I went for it too early. In spite of the sketchy setup, the volume work felt great; I’m racking up multiple paused sets of 10 with 225 pretty comfortably.

4th set with 225:

The daily forearm work is catching up to me. My wrist flexors were sore enough to notice when I was doing my token bicep work, so I may reduce forearm frequency to EOD.

Bodyweight’s up to 210, but I can still see the ghost of my abs, so I’m going to keep rolling. Since it’s obviously necessary to make unfounded claims about body composition, I’m going to call this 18.97% body fat. I’m still adhering to the vertical diet for all four of my scheduled meals, but I’ve been making a lot of extra trips to my parents’ cupboard, which is stock with all kinds of goodies.

Me at 210 today:

Me a tad under 200 a few weeks ago:

I feel like I’m finally starting to look like someone who’s seen the inside of a gym. My fianceé claims I’m a hunk, which is plenty of motivation to keep up with the bicep work and lateral raises.

Other stuff from the past couple of days:

200 lb OHP EZPZ primer single

365 for my third set of eight yesterday, fighting against the lower back pump of peace:

The low back is still sore, but steadily decaying fatigue. I’ll give my planned deadlift session a go tomorrow, but switch to front squats if the erectors aren’t ready.


the whole point in all of this :laughing:

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Lower back was still sore, but I went ahead with deadlifts.

Justification: Sam Shethar posted a training update where he was talking about his preference for racking up volume with “clean reps” rather than chasing rep PRs in the early stages of a training block. He says it’s okay to come into sessions carrying a little overlapping fatigue in an accumulation block.

Ergo, I reckon this isn’t the time to worry about being fresh for every session. My priority right now is to slowly build up work capacity in my lower back, which won’t happen if I wait around until everything’s super-springy.

To that end, I started off with a GPP circuit of barbell rows, hanging leg raises, and calf raises (done before every lower body session to improve my ankle mobility).

I performed two work sets on deadlift: 4 with 455, then (OCD trigger warning) 412.5 for 7. If you’re squinting at that second set, it’s because I misloaded AND miscounted; I’d intended to perform 415 for 8, but my lower back pump was clearly inhibiting blood flow to my brain. It took ten minutes for the pump to ease off between sets. (I knocked out pull-ups, rear delt stuff, wrist curls, and neck work in those intervals.)


412.5 x7:

I typically pull with more vertical shins, but I was consciously setting up lower to let in the leg drive as compensation for the liquid Viagra that was apparently injected into my spinal erectors.

Followed up the deads with three sets of paused front squats and two sets of very light, very strict SLDLs. I also knocked out some MYO reps on lat prayers that I’m still feeling. It pains the pull-up/row evangelist in me to admit that those suckers are super effective.

Selected soundtrack:

Nothing groundbreaking today, but I’m just reintegrating deadlifts and anticipate that they will come up pretty quickly. I’ve got this feeling that I can ease into alternating back squats with deadlifts, bumping the front squats from a separate day to a deadlift accessory. If this means dropping back to two working sets of back squats for a few weeks, I’ll take it; I’ve always preferred higher frequency over acutely smashing a movement pattern.


Also, Josh Bryant is giving me serious Rex Kwon Do vibes in this clip:


Moved over to your log.

I normally wouldn’t recommend having protein over 1g/lb BW for natties, but with being on HCG monotherapy, you’re in a gray area. If it were regular TRT id say you’re fine to carry on as you’ve been doing, but here I’m not sure.

In any case, it’s not hurting you any to keep protein high. I’m curious, do you know what your fat intake is?

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Thanks for the response. My baseline diet puts me at 75 grams, but I can get up toward 100 on days when I throw in peanut butter protein concoctions. There’s been a lot of that visiting my parents this week. Average calories shot up to 4700…I’ve got to rein it in before I blubber the fuck up and have to readjust my lever belt

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I’d definitely watch the overconsumption of fats, especially with that harsh of a surplus. At least, as far as physique is concerned.

But if you don’t care about that, then ignore everything i said.


Input much appreciated. I definitely don’t want to chub up too quickly and truncate the length/productivity of this gaining phase. I’ve been fatassing it this week and need to cut out all the extracurricular food. I’ll drop the fats back to 65. The sources in my planned meals are 90/10 beef, eggs, cheese, and an ungodly amount of Flameout.

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You’re better off using carbs for the majority of your surplus, from both a performance and muscle recruitment standpoint. Less of it gets stored as fat and its anabolic AF.

Bonus points for timing your carbs pre/intra workout only. Helps even less of them get stored as fat (probably) and improves performance.

Do with that what you will, I’ll try to keep up.

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Thanks! I’ve heard Broderick Chavez evangelize about high carb massing. I do find that carbs preworkout leave me feeling a little duller (I think insulin is a mild nervous system depressant), but I might reincorporate cyclic dextrin immediately after my heavier work.

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Following along
You look like a Viking in your pics (which I mean as a compliment)


Ah shucks. I’m way too short to qualify, but I self-identify as a dwarf lord

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OHP and Larsen press today, both paused at the bottom. Hit 3x9 with 150 and 3x7 with 225, respectively.

The shitty-time fitness bench was too narrow, so I couldn’t hold upper back tightness on the Larsen press sets. I’m taking that as a sign that I’m developing a broad back. My pecs were tight going into this from the lat prayers yesterday, which calls to mind the Bronze era claim that pullovers expand the ribcage. I haven’t been doing much stuff for the clavicular head of the pec because my pressing volume is concentrated on bench and OHP; I’ll typically finish with two sets of incline DB press, but today I tried out deficit push-ups with my feet elevated—chef’s kiss. I’ll be keeping those in the rotation for the foreseeable.

Selected soundtrack:


Nice Pressing!


208.8 this morning, which suggests that the damage from my parents’ pantry isn’t as severe as I’d expected. My loosening lever belt is a similar indicator. I’m going to keep the calories between 3300 and 3500 for the next couple of weeks to slow my rate of gain. I’d rather draw out this surplus for a good year or two than blow up too fast and have to jump into a mini-cut. I’m not afraid of getting fluffy, but I suspect that there will be a point of diminishing returns is I smash too much food and compromise insulin sensitivity. I’m also dropping back fats, as per andrewgen_receptor’s suggestion.

Quads were surprisingly sore this morning, given that they were only taxed by front squats and leg extensions on deadlift day. I typically don’t get too much DOMS from the front squats because my front rack drastically limits the load, even when I use cheater straps. The shitty-time fitness did have one of those leg extensions that lets you bring your heel way back on the eccentric, so maybe those were the culprit. The only other contributing factor I can think of is the rigorous, ahem, “reception” my fiancée gave me when I got back into town yesterday. I’d have expected the effort to tax my core more than my quads, much like the front squats. Guess that means I was successfully bracing?

In spite of soreness and acutely reduced chi, I ahead with today’s scheduled programming: high bar squats at 375. They felt pretty sticky at the bottom, so I just took what I could get: 3x6 rather than 3x8 with that weight. I’ll take tender quads over a back pump any day.

Ugly primer single with 425:

My back was going like Gumby coming out of the hole. I need to tighten my lever belt, so I switched to the exceptionally flaccid pronged one for the work sets.

Third set with 375:

Would I have been better served taking today off? Probably. Would that have made me miserable? Definitely. I know it’s pitiful, but the gym is the second-best part of my day, and the best part that doesn’t involve my fiancée. I’ve run an Arnold split in the past, but the sh-arm says were frankly boring. Hitting a compound lift is what gets me going, and I can talk myself into sprinkling in the isolation work because I’m already there for the main thing . I’m going to keep adjusting my volume until I find the right dosage to recover and progress with daily training.

Channeling my inner truck stop stripper with today’s soundtrack:


208.1 this morning. Bench today. I hit 300 with a pristine pause for my primer single, but tragically forgot to record it. The weight moved so well that I loaded 315, which I tried for TNG and failed spectacularly. Oh well. I’ll resist another attempt until the end of this training cycle, when I’m confident it will fly up for me.

315 x 0.3:

Thank dog for my jacked spotter curling it up for me

Working sets of 3x9 at 230 today.

I aLao tried out some strict BTNP, which I plan to keep as my secondary vertical press. 3x7 at 135 with a token pause at the bottom. My phone toppled mid-set, which I take to mean that I was rooting so hard I influenced plate tectonics. Tnation keeps telling me all of my videos are too big to upload anyway.

With BTNP, I’ll follow the same double progression scheme I’m using on my secondary horizontal press: maintain the weight, adding one rep per week until I’m hitting 3x10. Once I reach that target, I’ll add ten percent and reset with sets of 6.

I’ve bumped my vertical pulling to pressing days, which will give me more gumption to attack rows on my squat and deadlift days. I’m also making this shift so I can group lat prayers with my presses, eliminating the residual pec tightness I carried into my last pressing day. I typically do two curl variations on pressing days, so I’ll be redistributing that to one movement daily. To;dr: 1.5 back movements and one bicep/brachialis movement per day.

My GOATED biceps exercise is a Bayesian curl with the setup that Milo Wolf advocates. I do these for the long head, DB preachers for the short head, and cable hammer curls for the brachialis. That’s it for the elbow flexors.


Had to google it, which surprised me as I assumed I knew all forms of curls.
The only difference I see between this and the incline biceps curl is the resistance curve… I think I’d prefer the incline curl. What has your experience been?

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