T Nation

Ran Building the Monolith! Write-Up/Thoughts

Just before this lockdown started, I had decided to dive into BTM. I was 2 workouts into the first week when my gym closed, and I had 0 equipment to work with. This was right at the beginning, before all the equipment disappeared, so I managed to snag a cheap barbell and some weights from dicks for a few hundred bucks, found a $15 bench on the facebook marketplace, built squat/bench racks out of 4x4 fence posts in buckets full of concrete, bought up all the ground beef and eggs that I could find, and got to work.

I ate all 504 eggs that the program prescribes, and ate all the beef except for 3 days where all grocery stores had literally run out of it (and couldn’t even order any online), so I ate ground turkey for those three days. Eventually ground beef came back to stores, and my grocery store was selling 5 lb packages pretty cheap, so the food was easy to get. Going into this program, the lifting didn’t scare me, but as somebody who’s struggled every day for 11 years of lifting to eat enough food, the eating was DEFINITELY scary. After week 1, I got into a rhythm. After week 5, I got pretty fed up with it, but knew I could push through. Props to my wife for dealing with the egg and beef farts/shits for a month and a half, and for dealing with me cooking 1 lb burgers at 11:30 at night after evening shifts. I documented a LOT of food in my training log, for the first couple weeks I took pictures of every meal I had, haha. With my kids needing more and more attention as the playgrounds closed and the days dragged on, I just didn’t have the time to make a post about every meal, and have no regrets about that, as a big stipulation for me following through with this program was that it would not negatively affect my family during this time.

Did bare minimum 3 days of conditioning/cardio every week, except for the last week, where I made the pretty-stupid decision to do a half-mile of lunges on the sunday before week 6, which calls for 5x5 @ 95% of TM the next day, so the last week was a DOMSfest, but it was still a lesson in recovery. Besides tweaking my trap on day 3 of week 5 where I had to shut down the workout halfway through, I didn’t miss a rep the entire time.

Edit: @boilerman pointed out I barely mentioned the actual workouts, haha.
This was me jumping back into 5/3/1 after a long block of doing slightly lower volume and higher intensity hypertrophy training, plus for a time I had all but given up on squatting and deadlifting until I realized I was pulling sumo and fucking my hips up when I didn’t have to (I thought being 6’3-4 it’d give me an advantage, but it turns out I get MUCH more power with a stance that’s even slightly narrower than shoulder width) and arching my back a bit instead of keeping it neutral, so once I pulled my head out of my ass and started this program, I used VERY low TM’s. For example, the week before I started (I think, or the week before that) I pulled 315x10 without that much of a problem, and my TM for the first half of the program was 275. Starting too light is one thing, but it was honestly laughably effortless, so my second half of the program was 300, and that didn’t make me strain much either, but when I start my next program, my DL TM will be 305, and I’ll stay the course. I’ve always done a lot of pullups, and can bang out 30+ full range dips, so all the dips and pullups weren’t too big of a deal for me, which meant I could go a bit slower and focus on getting something out of them instead of just running through them. Most of my assistance work was done in giant sets, like rows-pullaparts-curls for 10x10 each, dips-facepulls-pullups, rows-pullaparts-shrugs.

All in all, this was a very cool experience for me. I learned to stuff myself full some years ago (if I don’t, my natural state is skinny-as-fuck), but this was my first experience really eating to fuel my workouts. It was also significant to me because of the COVID lockdown - when it happened, my first thought was “well, I can’t do BTM anymore”, and then I sat down at my computer, looked around online, got some advice from people on here, and realized “Fuck, I can do this, but it’s gonna take some time, planning, and willpower.” I have 3 and 4 year old boys, so some workouts took nearly 2 hours with me stopping to get them stuff or help them with things, but I got them all done. Conditioning workouts ranged from bodyweight circuits to sprints, jump rope, biking, running, long brisk walks. There are so many people who run and ask questions about these programs and aren’t doing the conditioning. I don’t get that. It’s part of the program, and makes everything harder.

Anyone who’s interested and wants to be bored reading about me lifting unimpressive weights and eating fuckloads of eggs and beef can check out my training log:

Finally, I got to a point where I was so desperate to find a way to easily get down 12 eggs that I blended 5 hard boiled eggs into a shake with protein powder, banana, peanut butter, and milk (would have done raw eggs, but it turns out the bioavailability of the protein is severely decreased, like 50%). It worked, but not how I thought. It was so unbelievably disgusting that eating 12 eggs seemed like heaven after drinking sludge that smells like eggs. Seriously, the smell still makes me nauseous just thinking about it. Don’t do it. Please. Unless you really think you can’t eat 12 eggs, then you should do it and ask yourself if those hard boiled eggs are really that bad.

If you can’t get equipment because people are being assholes and price gouging left and right, this isn’t a post to be all high-and-mighty - you can stay in great shape with whatever you have at home. But for everyone else, and especially when we go back to the gym (whenever that will be), it’s pretty cool what you can do when you do away with excuses and put 100% effort into something.

P.S. Weight went from 206-220# during this program, had to retire a couple pairs of pants that don’t fit my legs properly anymore.

Bought 5/3/1 Forever a couple weeks ago and am on my 2nd time reading it cover to cover - after a week deload, I’m likely headed for a long run of 5/3/1.

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This part still makes me genuinely lol.

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Genuinely had a quick laugh at this point.

Hats off @flappinit

Hey flappinit, great job especially considering the circumstances. I was planning on running this program at some point soon. My main concern, which you touched on, is the availability of the beef and eggs so I’m going to wait for the time being and begin expanding my gut in preparation.

You didn’t really speak about workouts much in your post. How did they feel to you? Do you wish you used a higher/lower TM on any of the lifts? See any immediate or noticable strength increases in any particular area?

Anyway, awesome job man. I kind of creeped along in your log every week or so to see how it was going with you.

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14 pounds? Good job!

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Good job on the gains!

On the egg shake situation, I found to poach the eggs for 30-60 seconds before sticking them in the blender hinders the smell/taste.

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Always like BTM as an idea. But there is 0% chance of me doing 100 pull ups in under an hour.

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Good point, haha. Throw together a writeup about a workout and barely mention the workouts - great job, Flap. Edited it for ya.

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If you have a pullup bar at home, one of the best ways I learned to do pullups in the Marines was by picking a number and just getting that many in in a day. So if you can only get 40 during your workout, then every time you walk by the pullup bar, do 5, until you get to 100. Keep doing that a few times a week and you’ll be amazed, with bodyweight stuff, how you begin to fly up as your body adapts to that repetitive stimulus with no added weight.

@joner WHERE WERE YOU BEFORE I DID THAT? I honestly believe you, but I don’t know if I can do that, because if there’s even a .001% chance that you’re wrong, it would ruin me. When I was like 8, I ate a bunch of sweet and sour sauce from a chinese restaurant and threw up. Never been able to have it since. Pretty sure this is like that.

Thanks for the tip.

I have a rack with a bar indoors. I’ll just do one or two every time i walk past and make sure I do 40 a day. And go up from there.

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Rotate grips and pay attention to your joint health while doing this. Too much overhand takes a toll on my shoulders, too much neutral takes a toll on my wrists and forearms, and too much underhand takes a toll on my elbows.

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Haha When things seem like a good idea at the time…

Well done on making this work :+1:

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Thanks, dude. And yeah, I genuinely remember saying to my wife, “If this works, it’s gonna make the diet so easy.” I thought I was a real innovator for a second there.

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Good job bro. Did your lifts increase as well? I think I’ll run this again in the future the right way.
@flappinit

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Thanks!

I don’t know if they increased because there are no PR sets. I just know I didn’t miss a rep the whole time, and I gained 14 lbs without adding much to my waistline, so if I trust the program, I can assume they did. It’s tempting to go figure out my maxes, but the right thing for me to do is to add 5 lbs to my TMs and push forward.

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Now that’s what I call no excuses- puts all of us to shame :sweat_smile::sweat_smile:

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Some (myself included)

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@flappinit

I read re your post and the BTM template from Jim’s web site. Its given me food for thought. I really want to give this template a go but lack the equipment and cant get any. However there are lesson learnt from your experiment. So thanks.

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Whereabouts in the UK are you based again?

Kent. By Dartford Bridge.