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James Brawn's Training Log


#1

Starting stats:

Weight:186lbs
Body fat: 17%

Goal stats:

Weight: 168lbs
Body fat: 10%

Background: was 196lbs on 01/09/2017. Started a strict keto diet and got down to 173lbs last month. The festive period has obviously saw me balloon up but a lot of this is glycogen retention and I know I am not as fat as I was this time last year.

Diet approach: I am kicking off with a protein sparing modified fast (PSMF). This is a close hybrid of Lyle McDonald’s classic approach outlined in the Rapid Fat Loss Handbook. This is planned for 11-12 days before returning to a targeted ketogenic diet, which served me very well last year.

Training approach: have been a convert to HFT since I began my keto diet last year. This was mainly driven by the Best Damn Workout. I am embarking on the newer version, subject to some injury issues that are still bothering me.

Current ‘state’ below:

This was me in December 2016, and pretty much reflected my condition in December 2017:

There is only a 6-8lbs variance between both pictures. It shows how easily before and after photos can be deceptive (although the ‘after’ was taken one year before).

The water loss experienced through ketogenic dieting is also deceptive and often makes you think you’re not as fat as you first thought. That’s why I had a DEXA in May 2017 and was 17.8%, yet only a few lbs heavier than the picture above. Calculations mean I should reach circa 10% at 168 lbs, which is based on the crude assumption this is total fat loss.


#2

I’ll throw my hat in the ring and follow.
You’re combining BDW2 and HFT?


#3

Cheers mate.

I will try and not bore the pants off you but when I was researching where to have the DEXA done, I found a place that had posted a blog about one of their clients. In short, she had achieved the most incredible body recomp the company had seen - something like 5kg lean mass gain and 10kg fat loss - in a relatively short period. Transpires she was a client of Menno Henselmens. That got me into researching him, which led to HFT, which led to CT’s BDW.

I ran BDW from September last year and, combined with a relatively low calorie ketogenic diet, am certain I improved body re-composition as well as net weight loss. However, unlike any fat loss programme I’ve done before, I had excellent recovery. The most I trained was 16 days straight. Further, it meant I did zero cardio - which I hate. In December, I switched it up a bit and trialled an ABC style daily undulating periodization routine. This included ‘myo rep’ workouts after reading up on Borge Fagerli. I was surprised, therefore, when CT’s sequel to BDW came out and featured said myo reps. I look forward to giving BDW2 a good run starting today.

I think I should also highlight the fact that the ketogenic diet was the other revelation for me. Although I have low-carbed for years I have never followed a strict ketogenic diet. Despite ingesting 1500 kcals sometimes, energy levels were great, as was satiety.

The upshot was I went from 196 to 173lbs, while training the full body almost daily, in a ketogenic state, while in a 20-25% calorie deficit. Of course, there is plenty more to be done but it is a nice feeling to have achieved that despite the naysayers who claim keto is catabolic and only brosplits are optimal for progress, etc.


#4

In for this shit!

Very interesting log mate. Big fan of HFT


#5

DAY 2

Weight: 181lbs (-5lbs)

Water weight loss more than anticipated. Calories were absurdly low but I sometimes kick off such phases with a 36 hour fast so no big issue. For next 11 days macro goals as follows: 170-200 PRO; 15-25 FAT; 20-25 CHO. Lyle McDonald advocates a higher protein intake (225-300g for my LBM) but given more recent research I personally don’t think it’s necessary.

Training: completed day 1 of BDW2, although had to abandon flat press as it definitely annoys my right shoulder (one of my long standing injuries). Everything else felt good.


#6

In for your log


#7

DAY 3

Weight: 178lbs (-3lbs)

Blood ketones: 0.4mmol (1 hour after lunch)

Probably last of the water weight gone. This would suggest I gained 3-5lbs of fat over festive period. Not too bad. Did much more damage over same period previous year.

This was also the first blood ketone test I’ve done in a while. It shows I’ve reached a mild level of ketosis and pretty quickly, in my opinion. Given the high protein/low fat intake which, I have no doubt, is resulting in gluconeogenesis, this also demonstrates that the key factor in triggering ketone production is indeed carbohydrate restriction (and to a lesser extent severe calorie restriction) as opposed to the requirement that protein intake must also go down and consumption of fat significantly increase.

PSMF Day 2: still adhering to a 16/8 style IF routine, so this means two meals a day. Given calories are very low (circa 1,000 kcals) splitting your energy intake over 2-3 feeds makes life much more pleasant. Other than lunch and dinner, the remainder of my protein intake is met via my peri-workout shake and a casein shake through the night.

Training Day 2: completed day 2 of BDW2. Good session, although one lot of deadlifting per week is the max my lower back can handle (and I may need to change that to higher reps moving forward rather than rest pause or clusters). I will also need to swap out the Romanian deadlifts later this week for glute/ham raises.


#8

DAY 4

Weight: 178(3/8)lbs (+3/8lbs)

Water weight appears to have stabilised.

Worked from home yesterday so was able to cook up my lunch and dinner. This entailed using spray oil to fry up onions, mushrooms, before adding steamed veg and boiled free range chicken breast to the mix. Spices, seasoning, tomato puree, etc, leads to a filling meal. For the evening version, I added 200g konjac rice and plenty of soy sauce for a skinny man’s chicken fried rice. I also had a large salad at night with balsamic vinegar.

Lyle McDonald warns against excessive veggie consumption during the PSMF, although to be fair I believe this is more aimed at someone on a very low calorie ceiling. I feel I need them for satiety reasons, especially in that evening meal.

I had a thought about going more hard core on this PSMF by swapping out a few lunches near the end of the diet for straight EAAs. Will play that by ear. So far hunger hasn’t been an issue but it’s early days and I don’t want to speak too soon.

Training: completed BDW2 day 3. Sadly I tweaked my upper back during my warm up (another long standing injury). Thankfully it didn’t appear to interfere with the session too much. More importantly, I have woken up this morning with only slight inflammation. I’ve decided this time even if I can’t train at all I am going to persevere with the PSMF to see what happens. My only other observation from this programme was the single DB tri-extension, which I didn’t like. I ended it and moved on to a lying tri-bar extension MTOR set, which was more effective for hitting the triceps. It was also more practical for the final loaded stretch, allowing me to drop the bar on a soft surface behind me.


#9

DAY 5

Weight: 178(7/8)lbs (+1/2lbs)

Slightly up weight wise but kind of expected as felt a bit more bloated than usual.

PSMF: diet was fine yesterday despite eating lunch out at family member’s home. Helped that I took prawns and turkey breast for my protein source, as well as konjac noodles, for bulk, and just ate soup, salad and veggies.

Training: completed day 4 of BDW2. Enjoyed the session. I find the MTOR sets require much more mental discipline; ensuring a solid 4-5s negative, while being conscious not to look for points to relax the muscle, still getting a smooth concentric rep, and a pause and squeeze at the top. I chuck in a little calf work every other session, and on other days do the same with face pulls and rotator cuff work. Workout time is averaging about 30-35 mins. I may incorporate a loaded carry session once per week, as per CT’s recommendation, but not while on current PSMF diet.


#10

DAY 6

Weight: 177(1/2)lbs (minus 1 3/8lbs)

PSMF: a lunch invitation to a Chinese restaurant meant I consumed a bit more fat than I’d have liked but otherwise ordering a steamed sea bass ensured I was close to my target. Impossible to say but estimated daily caloric intake 1200-1300, so 200-300 above target. Despite this, obviously the scales have given me a +1lbs loss overnight so no complaints. So far, so good. One whole week to go.

Training: completed day 5 of BDW2. Good session. As I found out last year using BDW1, this programme allows high frequency training on a longer term low calorie diet. This seems to be the case with the sequel, especially when you have got the ‘heavier’ days (1 and 2) out of the way. Again, too early to make firm forecasts, but I feel this is generally a more sustainable way to progress during drastic dieting without recourse to energy systems work.


#11

DAY 7

Weight: 175(7/8)lbs (minus 1+5/8 lbs)

Significant drop in scale weight. Yesterday was unusual in that there was a 10-1/2-hour gap between lunch and dinner. Due to circumstances, worked out at 9.30pm hence late dinner. Pre-WO shake essential in such circumstances. For me, this is 10-15g PRO from casein hydro and 5-10g CHO from cyclic dextrin (which is the shake I typically use when I’m doing a targeted ketogenic diet). Interestingly, Lyle McDonald recommended this approach back in the day when he brought out his original ketogenic diet book; he also recommends it on a PSMF.

PSMF: again my fat tends to be a bit higher but I compensate for the additional calories by a slightly lower protein intake. I have been largely influenced by the work of Luis Villasenior and the Ketogains crowd, and there is a good article on PSMF by Marty Kendall. My macro split more reflects his version than Lyle McDonald’s original. Also, I do not intend to follow McDonald’s ‘diet break’ at the end of the PSMF - which is essentially a large carb up over several days. My experience of ketogenic dieting has told me this is not needed. In fact, in my opinion, it is actually detrimental because you are reintroducing the body to sugar when it has been in the process of becoming keto-adapted. There is some evidence this leads to a yo-yo approach where you tend to regain fat.

Training: day 6 of BDW2. Good session. Given I train at home, I have to improvise at times. I swapped out Romanian deadlift (for lower back reasons) for glute/ham raise, which I do with the assistance of bands. This is an excellent exercise for MTOR sets. I swapped out the straight-arm pulldown for band-assisted close grip pull up, and enjoyed an excellent myo-reps set. I also swapped out the cable curl for hammer curls using a tri-bar. I use a band for added resistance here and really hits the biceps during the myo-reps set.


#12

DAY 8

Weight: 175(1/8)lbs (minus 3/4lbs)

Another significant drop in scale weight. I’m now only 2 lbs from the peak weight I achieved last month after a 3-month diet.

PSMF: yesterday was pretty easy, no real cravings, energy swings, etc. If every day was like this I’d run this for a month.

Training: completed day 1 of BDW2. This is my 2nd round of the programme, and without a rest day so far - so 7 days straight. Due to my long standing shoulder issue, I use a trap bar for the bench presses (yes, it works). And swapped the DB press for fly with pronated grip (with fat gripz, which I try to use on most DB exercises), which, for me, yields a far more effective MTOR set than the former anyway. Good session. Good programme.


#13

DAY 9

Weight: 176lbs (+7/8lbs)

Scale weight up, I suspect due to excessive sodium and a bit of water retention from cortisol (see below). Not concerned as calories still low as planned. Also, weigh in preceded loo break an hour later.

PSMF: had a brain storm to replace my protein intake at lunchtime with 15g EAAs. I planned to do this later on in the diet but thought I’d give it a trial now. Probably didn’t pick the best day as a poor sleep the previous evening led to a higher caffeine intake than usual, which had made me tense and a bit nauseous by late afternoon. This undoubtedly raised cortisol. I also felt hunger pangs later in the evening post-workout, so I bulked out as much as possible with salad, green veggies, konjac noodles, along with a Chinese-style chicken breast curry I make. I also put away a good 100g or so of MyProtein cheese, which is very high in salt. As mentioned, I possibly overdid the sodium intake.

Training: Day 2 of BDW2. Tried sumo deadlift but my lower back just wasn’t up to it so that’s a break from all deadlifting for now. Did heavier leg curls instead. Rest of the session was excellent. That’s 8 days continuous training.


#14

DAY 10

Weight: 172(3/4)lbs (minus 3 1/4lbs)

Crazy scale weight drop following the rise the previous day. This is easily explained as water retention. Yesterday, I was urinating constantly. I almost got caught out several times when I was out and about. That said, it is always nice to see a new low.

Blood ketones: 0.3mmol. Yesterday I tested one hour after lunch. Slightly surprised not deeper level of ketosis (0.3 is on the edge of ketosis) but given macros are mainly protein there is obvious gluconeogenesis going on.

PSMF: hunger was not an issue until about 9pm, when I had more salad and some MyProtein cheese. Both meals involved poultry breast marinated in Nandos sauce, which was fried up with steamed veggies and some konjac noodles, before being dressed by Nandos hot sauce. I watched an Italian vlogger demonstrating his PSMF day, which involved steaming chicken breasts and fish fillets in the microwave in a bid to hit 800 kcals a day. I thought ‘don’t know if I could go through that’. He was bloody miserable!

Training: Day 3 of BDW2. Good session. That’s 9 days continuous training.


#15

DAY 11

Weight: 172(1/2)lbs (minus 1/4lbs)

Another small weight drop on what may be my final day on PSMF. McDonald recommends an 11-12 day PSMF for ‘Category 1’ dieters, which means men with up to 15% body fat. I sit on the boundary but have gone with the Cat 1 recommendation. I wanted to do the full 12 days (honestly, I could go longer) but tomorrow I am travelling, with family, etc, so it will be impractical to maintain for the final day. Unlike McDonald’s recommendation, I won’t be doing any refeed here because I don’t need one. So I will be sticking to a ketogenic ratio on or below maintenance.

PSMF: despite eating out to mark an occasion, I managed to have an early dinner of chicken salad. It had a creamy dressing so I suspect it was higher than fat than I would have liked. It was also damn tasty which definitely makes me think so. I also had a very small glass of red wine. I trained a few hours later before having another homemade chicken salad and some My Protein cheese. That brought me to three meals for the day (unheard of) instead of my usual two.

Training: completed Day 4 of BDW2. Excellent session. Dropped weight on seated incline curls because I realised I was not doing the MTOR sets justice, and what a difference it made especially the top set. An exercise like this is made for MTOR.

This session now brings me to 10 days continuous training.


#16

DAY 11 - UPDATE

Won’t be able to do end of PSMF photos tomorrow so here are the results:

Starting weight: 186 lbs

Finish weight: 172(1/4)lbs

Change: 13(3/4)lbs

Before:

After (relaxed pre-workout):

After (post-workout):

Subtle difference before and after relaxed. I should have worn the same jeans as I think it would show less ‘muffin top’. Weight loss may be dramatic (almost a stone in 11 days) yet fat loss is probably 3-4lbs if I am lucky.

Observations:

  • PSMF diets are not too difficult assuming calories are not ultra-low, e.g. 600-800 kcals.

  • Likewise, as long as training is not manic. It can be a fine line but hopefully common sense prevails. Something like BDW is ideal on an aggressive diet. Additional cardio, IMO, isn’t required outside of active rest. Knowing today was my final day, and I won’t be training tomorrow, I departed from BDW2 and did a strongman circuit session lasting close to an hour. Otherwise, I would have continued with BDW2. That means I have trained for 11 continuous days. HFT works!

  • Refeeds, etc, are not required.


#17

Hey man, awesome job on the psmf. This is exactly what I was planning on starting tomorrow, so it’s pretty cool that I just happened across your log tonight lol. I got a lot more cushion then you though, so I’m planning on running mine for 4 weeks


#18

has the weight stayed off alright?


#19

Cheers for that.

The weight did not stay off because I did rebound somewhat. However, I got my head down, examined a few more options and, as of this morning, I am 1(1/2)lbs lighter than the last photo above.

It certainly works as a kick start but you need to be realistic that no matter how aggressive the deficit you can only lose so much actual fat mass in a short period. You do also need to be conscious of rebounds, especially if you are naturally prone to food binges.

What I have been doing for the last few weeks is PSMF Monday to Friday, then switched back to my usual ketogenic diet at weekends where I also try to keep calories at a reasonable level. This works well for practical purposes (social life, etc) and hopefully addresses any hormonal issues from the drastic energy reduction.

Good luck.


#20

How hard was the rebound? Just wanting to know what to expect lol. Good job on continued progress. So what was your strategy coming off the psmf? Did you just go right into the 5 low, 2 high days you mentioned?

Yeah, this is definitely just a kickstart to a more long term fat loss. I’m carrying way too much extra baggage so this is just step one lol.