Flat db press 34 kg x 9, 7
Incline Cable fly 17 kg x 13, 8
Lat pulldown 65 kg x 19, 13
Low row 90 kg x 10, 100 kg x 11
Db ohp 26 kg x 8, 3 (spotter messed up and I almost hurt myself getting the dbs into position)
Rear delts 3 sets
Flat db press 34 kg x 9, 7
Okay so this journey has come to an end.
I’ll have my last check in with Paul Carter the day after tomorrow, and tomorrow I’ll have my last workout for this program.
It’s time for some before and after pics.
These four months have been quite intense. I’ll take a week off and then it’ll be 5/3/1 time for a year. I have great project for 2019 training wise. All my numbers will be going up and I see myself a lot stronger at the end of the year.
If anyone’s interested, I might do a write up later about what I’ve learned in this journey with Paul.
Definitely do a write-up
I will post that after I have my last check in with Paul tomorrow
Okay let’s see what the main lessons I learned from working with Paul Carter for 4 months are.
For anyone who didn’t follow through: when I first contacted Paul for coaching, he told me I was too fat to bulk. I needed to lose fat, since it makes building muscle more difficult, and prime myself for growth.
So we first did a very strict eight month cut. I ended up VERY lean. We followed that with another eight week block, this time consisting of a mass gain phase. Here’s the main points that I took away from my journey with one of the best coaches in the world.
Consistency & effort
So the first thing is that for the 16 weeks straight I never fucked around in the gym. I hit all of my workouts with maximum focus and trying either to beat my previous performance during the mass gaining phase, or with the goal of working as hard as my strength allowed me during the fat loss phase.
This distinction is something I had never thought about. Paul has talked many times about how you shouldn’t give a fuck about your strength drop during a fat loss phase. You just need to be honest and push as hard as you can: that’ll suffice.
In a mass gain phase, things are different. You are eating enough food to fuel progress, so you are expected to progress. Every workout should have you with the goal of beating last workout’s performance. That is either to be done by doing more reps or adding weight. Paul had me go to failure on all the exercises (save for rows, squats, rack pulls, and leg presses) and wanted me to focus on beating rep pr’s: if I had done 10 reps last workout, I was expected to do whatever I could in order to do at least 11 reps with good form.
Lastly, no changes whatsoever were made to my program during each 8 week block. Consistency is key: hit the same movements and keep getting better at them.
Food quality for fat loss
Paul had me eating the same exact foods every day for eight weeks straight during my fat loss phase. It was no more than seven foods, and they were all very high quality sources of nutrients. What you’d call “clean foods.”
I know the whole “eat clean cuz calories aren’t all that matters” thing can sound bro sciencey, but it’s not. The bro diet got me further than any flexible approach had. If you can gut it out, you’ll be shocked at the results.
Just like my training, eating underwent very few changes, especially during the fat loss phase. After three weeks Paul brought cardio up from twice a week to seven days a week. Yup. 30 minutes of cardio every day. No, I didn’t lose muscle. To put it in Paul’s words, “you won’t lose muscle. You’ll just be tired as hell but that’s fine.”
Apart from that, after five weeks I got my calories decreased a bit more but that’s it.
Now, during mass gain phase a few more changes happened. I got a very big caloric bump after the second week, and another two in the following weeks. After the third bump, we realized I was gaining too much fat, so calories were brought back down a bit. To anyone wondering, the final number was about 3,000 kcal a day.
Change one variable at the time and re assess. More than that and it’ll be hard to see if you’re headed in a good direction.
Volume frequency intensity
High training frequency for fat loss. Paul swears by it and after seeing it by myself, I agree. I trained five days a week. And yes, I was totally exhausted so that you know.
Volume was high ish during fat loss, and Paul brought it down for my mass gain phase because the effort went up with all sets brought to failure.
Intensity was also upped during mass gain, with more lower rep sets. During fat loss, no set was lower than 8 reps. Bottom line? It doesn’t really matter. So long as you follow sound guidelines and the EFFORT is high, there isn’t a better or worse way.
Cardio has been key for fat loss. Even when I was so exhausted I couldn’t run anymore, a one hour walk a day still helped big time.
If you are trying to lose fat, DO SOME CARDIO. Anything, even just walking works if you do that for long enough. And no, it doesn’t matter whether you are walking at a brisk or slow pace, so long as distance walked is equated. What determines caloric expenditure is work, so if you walk 2 miles it doesn’t matter how long it takes you.
Having to check in with Paul meant I was receiving his feedback each Sunday. It was amazing, the motivation he gave me to push harder and harder was a very big part of the success I had. Especially during my fat loss phase, his words were gold. Two messages that stuck with me
This one was after my fourth week, the one where we added daily cardio.
This was at week six, towards the end of my cut. Everyday life sucked so bad, but he kept motivating me.
Patience, anxiety, and positive mindset
Lastly and, quite frankly, most importantly, the above.
I am a very anxious person and Paul was able to read inside me from the get go. He has done a tremendous job in teaching me about being patient. He was there when I failed and reassured me, and was quick to tell me to calm the fuck down when I was getting anxious about stupid shit.
I am still a long way from internalizing all of this, but basically I need to take it one day at a time and stop wanting immediate results, because every workout I do today is setting me up for results that WILL COME but will take a long time.
Working with Paul was great.
Halfway through my deload week. Going to start 5/3/1 this Monday. Here’s the plan I’m going to be using
Press 5/3/1 (amrap on last set)
Press FSL 5x5
Face pulls 5x20
Deadlift 5/3/1 (amrap on last set)
Deadlift FSL 5x5
Stiff-Legged Deadlift 5x12
Hanging leg raise 50 reps
Bench press 5/3/1 (amrap on last set)
Bench press FSL 5x5
Incline dumbbell press 5x6-10
Dumbbell row 5x10-20
Face pulls 5x20
Squat 5/3/1 (amrap on last set)
Squat FSL 5x5
Leg press 5x10-20
Weighted sit up 100 reps
How’s it look? I’m very excited to start.
Looks great! MY only change would be doing the 5x5 with the alternate lifts, ie 5/3/1 Press, 5x5 Bench. 5/3/1 Bench, 5x5 Press. Same with squats and deads. The only reason being that you’d be performing the lifts more often, which helps you become better at them in general. If you don’t feel that you’re “good” at these lifts right now, giving yourself an opportunity to do them twice as much can help.
With all that being said, your plan is fine as is - that’s just my take.
Thank you for the advice! I have considered that myself but I decided that I want to go a few cycles with the set up I posted first.
The reason being that I have a feeling I can do better in a session if I bring down the number of exercises that I do. I think I lose focus after I have done a few exercises, and I want to see if I do well on just three exercises per session.
That being said, yours is solid advice and I will consider it if I feel like I need to improve my technique on the lifts. Thank you!
Mirin leaness brah. What numbers are you gonna use for the program?
I’ll have to test my 5rm on the Deadlift and press later today because I only know those of squat and bench. I’ll post my 4 training maxes tonight.
Haha shit, you were leaner at the start than I am now. Not that I’m necessarily bulking but I’m certainly not dieting at the moment. So yeah, noted…
Haha I don’t know your current condition, but yeah at the time I thought I was lean but really wasn’t. I have looked at a couple of vids with my friends that we took during that period and my first thought was “man I was a fat slob.”
I like the fact that I’m now looking about as big as I did then, but I weigh less and look leaner. That tells me I have gained quality tissue.
As an aside, I recently bought Eric Helms’s new books, The Muscle and Strength Pyramid of Nutrition and Training. I was able to grab them on sale a few days after they came out for around $60 total. I have gone through the nutrition one first and am now halfway through the training one.
Those books are awesome. Definitely give them a shot if you are willing to spend some cash. I have learned lots of interesting stuff in the Nutrition Pyramid and will be implementing some of it from now on.
Picture to the right is about a week old.
Thanks for the recommendation, I’ll look into it and see if it’s for me.
Well you’re MUCH leaner than I was when I started training with Paul.
However this is the level of leanness he thought was enough for me to start my mass phase
I was super lean but I’d say you’re definitely lean enough to be in a mass gain phase.
And props for the transformation from the left pic! I was like that too, when I was 13 to 14.
Wow, you look amazing in that first picture!
I’ll get around to updating my log with my plan at some point during this weekend but I’m neither going to be focusing on gaining muscle, or stripping away the fat. Rather, I’m taking a longer period to add some strength while keeping fat gain as minimal as possible. This is to restore my metabolism, get a good idea of what my maintenance is nowadays, and then I’ll be attacking that final piece of shit abdominal fat.
With regards to the book you mentioned, a friend had a copy that I browsed over a bit. There’s probably some valuable information here but it feels as if I’m beyond the target audience. I like caring about my peri-workout nutrition and this book does not really give that any credence.
Furthermore, I thought we’ve all arrived at the realization that HMB doesn’t really work.
I’m probably being narrow-minded but I tend to follow the mindset of “If it’s not a ‘Hell yeah!’ it’s a no”
Well, the book does say HMB doesn’t work. In the supplement chapter, it specifically says he’ll be addressing some supplements that work, as well as debunking some who don’t work and that’s what he does with HMB.
He does address it to some extent but the whole concept of that book is to keep things into perspective, and nutrient timing is the second to last level of the pyramid in order of importance.
In my experience with Paul I can confirm that not much weight was given to workout nutrition either, the plan just included a snack prior to the session and a meal after.
I too used to care about workout nutrition and I still have some HBCD and peptopro laying around in my house. But I’m starting to realize that such things probably don’t matter as much as someone would want us to believe. Personally, I haven’t used any specialized workout nutrition in months and, God forbid, I believe my progress has been just as good or better (due to other factors) than when I was using workout nutrition supplements.
Ah shit, must have glossed over it too quickly. Embarrassing!
While I appreciate that that voice is out there, I like to get nerdy with the nitty-gritty details. For some, it’s a stressor but for me I like having details to tinker with.
But yeah, I’ve definitely “wasted” money on HBCD before being at a level where I needed it but I’m glad to have learned from it as well.
That’s pretty incredible progress man, props.
So I just tested my maxes for the press and deadlift. I took videos because I haven’t done these lifts in ages and I need a form check as well if you guys want to help me.
Here’s the press. 46.5 kgs, I might take 2 kgs off and use 44.5 as my max since I’m not sure whether my reps were perfect. You guys can help me with that.
Here’s my deadlift, 122 kg. I only got four reps though. I could have most certainly done the fifth but probably form wouldn’t have been top notch. Grip is definitely my weak point in this lift. Should I knock 5 kgs off the weight and use 117 as my TM?