T Nation

Serge Storms - 8% All Year

bodybuilding
nutrition

#381

Tuesday - OFF
Wednesday AM: 45 minutes dumbbell work, hand stands, breakdance, acro yoga balancing tricks.

I might move the bike sessions to before dinner instead of first thing in the morning. Trying it out today.


#382

Thursday AM: 1 hour bike session. AVG HR 145. AVG Power 215 Watts. 680 calories burned.

Exceeded calorie intake target yesterday, but not by much. Still down 1.5 pounds on scale compared to yesterday morning - this just more related to the 2-3 days it takes for the anti-diuretic hormone axis to right itself after the New Year’s Eve partying.

I could be right back down to below 185 by the end of the weekend if I play the cards right. I never used to be able to achieve such rapid weight loss before I started getting into the bike stuff. A few well-timed long rides or even just a bump in intensity over a few days, paired with very clean eating, limited alcohol, good sleep, and good hydration…I can drop 4-7 pounds of watery/fat/fluff in less than a week, WITHOUT having to drop calories or carbs significantly below maintenance levels.


#383

Weight: 186.6
I am down almost 5 pounds from the holiday cookie binge high of 192 lbs, even though I’ve been exceeding my calorie intake targets. (There were still some cookies left.)

Friday AM - 45 minutes on the bike (Trek Emonda ALR 6 attached to a Wahoo Kickr Smart Trainer) using the Zwift app in “Just Ride” mode.

Today, I did a ramping warmup until I stabilized my heart rate at 145. Then I just rode and adjusted my gears and cadence to keep my HR at 145.

Over that interval, my power output averaged 215 Watts.

My goal here is to attack my bike training from a bit of a different angle compared to what cyclists might normally do. Usually, the goal is to just get faster and get your power numbers up.

My goal is to make the typical 1-2 hour summer weekend group ride as painless and enjoyable as possible. Last summer, I had to suffer at times to keep up with the group. (I started jumping into pretty fast group rides as soon as I got my road bike.) This summer, I’ll be able to hang with these guys and do some long pulls at the front without feeling like I’m redlining my effort the whole time.

I’d like to be able to hold 240-250 watts while staying below 150 bpm. This will indicate a big improvement in overall fitness and allow me to hang with all of these old fat guys in spandex on the road.

I’m not willing to put in more than about 5 hours/week on the indoor trainer setup to get there. I’m also not interested in suffering through tons of high-intensity interval sessions or even through any ride longer than about an hour on the trainer. So the majority of my rides will take the slower, more enjoyable route. Nibble away at the higher power outputs within my target HR zone.

Since I know where I am, I can take different approaches to this. I can lock into a HR and see what power I can produce. Or, I can lock into a certain power output and see what the average HR turns out to be. Add cadence, music, gear changes, and other riders on the roads in the Zwift app…and 45 minutes of “cardio” is engaging enough to do every day.
Still easy enough to allow for progress in my other fitness pursuits: gymnastic moves, breakdancing, and of course…arms and shoulders.

One thing I’ve learned from all of this: Don’t be mislead about cardio from reading articles about cardio. As an example, the whole thing about doing as little cardio as needed so you can always add it towards the end of a “cut” is something relevant to competitive bodybuilders.

For most people who are focused on building a well-rounded fitness profile, I’d recommend the opposite approach. Build a baseline of cardio into your weekly routine and gradually build that level up to as many hours per week as makes sense within your big picture. This baseline of cardio gives you a ton of flexibility with your diet - allowing you to more quickly and efficiently shift gears between maintenance, gaining, or leaning phases without having to overhaul your eating behaviors.

Speaking of bodybuilding stuff that leads non-competitive physique enthusiasts astray: I’d love to see fewer physique enthusiasts employing these long “bulking and cutting” phases into their “programming”.

Better results can be achieved with more sustainability if people could see it more as a gentle turning of the metabolic knob…back and forth…from eating more and exercising more to eating less and exercising less, with infrequent small periods of eating less and exercising more. This knob can be tweaked every week or every few weeks without the need to swap out your entire fridge and pantry because you’ve decided to go full ketard for your next “cut”.


#384

Saturday AM

Fat-burning ride done in two phases.

Phase 1: Ignite

Ramp to 5-minute intervals at 240/260 Watts. Heart rate got up to 178.

Phase 2: Burn

30 minutes around a HR of 135 bpm.

All morning rides are done fasted with a pre-ride double espresso.


#385

Saturday PM - 60 minutes Acro/Handstands/Dumbbells

Sunday AM - 45 minutes on “The Bike”

Ramped to 270 Watts and held at 80 RPM before backing off to 230 Watts at 80ish RPM.

I may add another 15 miles later. I’m 15 away from 100 miles for the week. I get a bit OCD when I’m that close, even though 100 miles/week has no significant meaning in terms of training progression. It’s just a number that falls into place with a 45 minute ride 7x/week.


#386

AM weight: 189

Sunday calories: 3850
Still haven’t managed to find “the zone” with my diet lately, but I have some room for error so it doesn’t really hurt anything. There is no big “beach reveal” in the near future and my pants all fit, so all is good. There is a threshold for me right around 184 pounds. There is some kind of noticeable difference there where things just feel awesome. So I’ll get back down there. Staring today.

Monday AM: 30-minute ride. Ramped up to a steady 100 RPM at about a 250 Watt average and held. This was not a fun way to burn 400 calories. 45 minutes at closer to 230 Watts will burn more calories and be WAY easier.

I’m learning how to integrate a variety of cadences to help sustain higher power outputs over longer durations. Right now, during the indoor trainer season, I’m working on the individual pieces of the puzzle: some workouts are at lower cadences, some are higher.

This spring, I’ll be able to put the puzzle pieces together when I jump into these group rides on the road. Each cadence range fatigues different systems in different ways, so by using a range of cadences throughout a ride, I can spread the fatigue around a bit. High RPMs give the leg muscles a break. Lower cadences give the lungs and heart some recovery.


#387

Tuesday - OFF - Travel
2100 calories total

Wednesday

AM - 30 minutes bike - Surge Intervals.

Sprint to max wattage on the trainer (1100 Watts) and recover. I did 8 sprints.


#388

Wednesday PM:

60 minute lifting session: arms, shoulders.

Wednesday Intake:

First “low day” I’ve been able to log in quite some time.

Nothing accelerates fat loss like stringing together a few sub-2300 calorie days. I have some travel this week and won’t be doing bike sessions. Good opportunity for some ELEL days. Eat Less Exercise Less.

Shred Mode activated.


#389

Thursday - off.
Thursday calories: slightly over target. 2800

Friday - 20 minute bike/lift combo
Friday calories: 2350.

I will finish this little run of ELEL with a weekend of ELEM - Eat Less Exercise More. Whoosh effect coming. 185 by Monday morning easy.


#390

Double session today.

Session 1: 45 minutes jump rope, acro yoga, hand balancing, abs, planks, pushups, body weight squat holds.

Session 2: 60 minutes on the bike - 230 Watt Average. This was a pretty big effort. I was not expecting it. Sometimes, I just get on the bike and see what happens. Today, I felt great at 30 minutes and decided I owed it to myself to hit at least 45 minutes. Felt great at 45 and decided to keep going until 60. I didn’t even use that last 5-10 minutes to “cool down”…I just kept on pushing harder all the way through the end.

I’m on the verge of breaking through into full-on “locked-in” mode with the diet. If I can keep crushing it today and tomorrow, by Monday, I’ll see the early signs of next-level leanness and I’ll be hooked into the zone. Great time for this to happen - mid-January. I can ride this momentum all the way through Spring Break. I need to defend my “Best Body” title in the “Dads 40 and Over” category at the hotel pool. That guy Paul from Omaha said his family would be back this year. He said he’s going full CrossFit Paleotard this year and plans to come in jacked and shredded. We’ll see about that, Paul from Omaha…we’ll see.


#391

Current Diet Plan

Base Plan: 2500 calories
40/40/20

250g C
250g P
60g F

This is the simplest and most effective diet I’ve used over the past 20+ years of tinkering around with different ways to get and stay lean.

I don’t really get hung up on specific rules or food lists beyond just trying to hit those macros. It’s not really possible to hit those numbers without making good choices. I’ve tried to do it with just protein powders, lucky charms, Rice Krispie treats, and nut butter. Fun for about one day, and then it becomes too hard to sustain.

The protein is the hardest one to hit. I often find myself swapping out protein grams for extra carb grams at the end of the day. Or to be specific, not hitting my protein goal because I’d rather have a few beers than another shake or chicken breast.


#392

Saturday

2650 Calories
290g C
206g P
44g F

^If I can hit those numbers about 85% of the time for the next two weeks, I will be as lean as I want to be. Maybe three weeks. But those aren’t easy numbers to hit. Keeping fat below 45g/day is tough. It’s doable, but it takes some commitment. A 40/30/30 “Zone” diet approach might be a bit more sustainable in the long run, but it’s not as effective. 30% calories from fats is a big enough allowance to let some shitty food choices creep into the diet. 20% seems to be a magic threshold…there’s just not enough room for more than about one scoop of peanut butter and maybe a few pieces of dark chocolate here and there.

When I’m locked-in like this, I start getting back to my old appetite-defeating staples: for example, huge egg beater omelettes for breakfast with nothing but hot sauce. Dry ezekiel toast on the side. (It’s more filling and takes longer to eat if I don’t make a sandwich and instead eat the dry choke toast separately.)

I’ll also be grilling up a bunch of chicken breasts today. Grilling chicken breasts in the snow so I can make sure I get my protein. Semi-brofessional status has been regained.


#393

Last Week Diet Summary

Average Macros: 44% Carbs, 28% Protein, 28% Fat.
Average Calories: 2650/day

I need to bring my fat down to 20%.
I can keep getting leaner at 2650 calories, but I can speed up the process if I string together a streak at around 2350 calories…that seems to be the sweet spot for me.

I only did 63 miles on the bike last week, compared to my average 100.

Energy and strength are all feeling good. I think I feel fresher overall with the slight decrease in bike miles, the decrease in calories (counter-intuitive, but I always feel more energy at lower intakes), and the increase in protein.

MONDAY AM:

80 minute gym session.

Acro yoga
handstands
jump rope (3-4 minute intervals at about a 125-140 bpm heart rate)
Tons of dumbbell work for arms, shoulders, chest, and back.
Some pull-up work
plenty of body weight squat holds and lunges

500 calories burned

As I scale back the volume of work I’m doing during this little shift into Eat Less Exercise Less mode, I will shoot to burn at least 500 calories/day. If that means a longer session in the gym like today, that’s what I’ll do. Most days, if I add even a 30-minute bike session, I’ll easily hit 500. This way, I can somewhat reduce the number of variables. Because every time I get locked in and start pursuing serious leanness, it’s an opportunity to learn something.


#394

Monday - Intake

2375 calories
245g P
225g C
60g F

Nailed my targets. First time I’ve done that in a while.

Shifting my macros to these new targets and consistently staying in a slight deficit will get me to where I need to be in just a few more weeks.

Then I’ll slowly shift into more of a maintenance level of calories, but I’m thinking that one thing that needs to stay the same is to keep my fats at around 60grams/day. I think I feel better, look better, and perform better when my calories are right at or below maintenance and when my carbs are high.

The 60g of fat/day target is less about efficacy and more of a trick for me. It seems to be a level that keeps me sane and feeling good, but it’s low enough that there really isn’t much room for junk.

250g protein/day also plays a big part in forcing me to make the right food choices. From a timing perspective, I tend to do best when I load up on protein throughout the early part of the day and save the fat for dinner. This keeps the appetite at bay during the day, and let’s me eat pretty normal dinners with family or at work events.

250g carbs…well, that just happens automatically. It’s like osmosis. I absorb 250g of carbs through passive transport as I walk through my kitchen. It’s enough to do the trick, but I would always like more carbs.

Not sure what I’ve accomplished by posting these random thoughts. I think it’s just become part of my process…I make progress on the things by getting super focused and into the weeds. Reflecting and reinforcing, tinkering and tweaking…it’s what I do, no matter what I happen to be into at the moment. Similar to logging all my meals.

These things do not necessarily CAUSE the results, but they correlate with results. Since this correlation has been well-established during the course of my 20+ years of being a fitness/nutrition enthusiast, I’ve now reverse-engineered it to my own advantage. Just start logging my meals and getting re-focused on nutrition and physique optimization, and the results start coming.

The next phase will involve a shift back towards a more traditional bodybuilding approach to training. I know it would probably accelerate my results if I made this shift now, but I want to wait until I hit my target body fat level (8-9%ish) before I make that change. I want to first see exactly what kind of symmetry/shape I end up with after such a long period of training the way I do. I think it would surprise people to see the leg, arm, and shoulder size that can be built and maintained with a high frequency, high volume, LOW weights approach. At the same time, I know I’ll look a bit stringy and ectomorphic at 8% body fat with the amount of muscle I’m holding right now…especially in the chest/back thickness department.

The bike will still fit in to all of this. Less focus on performance on the bike and more focus on using it as a tool in the physique-sharpening/cardio fitness arsenal. And for fun when the weather gets nice.


#395

Tuesday Weight: 187

Tuesday AM Workout

45 minutes on the bike
Easy “endurance” pace at around 200 Watts cruising speed.
500 calories burned

I don’t really have a goal weight right now, because I’m not exactly sure how much “recomp” effect I will get over the next few weeks. I’m simultaneously dialing back my bike miles, almost doubling my protein intake, replacing lots of empty calories with quality food, and increasing the intensity of my lifting sessions.

This is a recipe for recomp, especially if I keep calories above 2500. I’ve learned that anything below about 2300, and I’ll drop weight fast and get stringy. Anything above about 2800, and I tend to start getting more into maintenance. 2500 seems to be good.

Already starting to see some early signs of things moving in the right direction - I predict that if there is a big difference in my overall physique once I hit about 8% body fat and compare it to previous times I’ve been at that level, it might be that my legs are more dense and defined, shoulders and arms slightly better, chest and back are going to be lagging.


#396

Tuesday

2900 Calories
300g C
175g P
85g F

Clearly, I did NOT nail my targets yesterday. Limited access to food and just a strange schedule. Didn’t exceed calories by much, though.

Wednesday - Workouts

Gym: 45 minutes. 320 calories burned.

Jump rope
Hand stands
Breakdance moves
Dumbbell work - shoulders, arms, chest
Cable work - shoulders, arms, chest

Bike: 30 minutes.
Mini-ramp Intervals
390 calories burned
220 watt average power output

I changed my log title so I’m forced to see my specific goal every time I look at it.

I also changed my avatar because I didn’t really identify with the cyclist. The new one actually looks exactly like me when I’m doing my Acro yoga/capoeira/gymnast routine.

I’m seeing progress towards that 8% goal. I’ll get there when I get there. It’s not about reaching 8%…it’s about staying there.


#397

Yeah, I don’t think eight percent is realistic year round.

However, if anyone can do it, it would be Serge (with Coleman’s help).


#398

Curious, what DO you think is realistic?

Would also love to hear more about what you’re basing that opinion on… is it personal experience, or more just a synthesis of your readings and observations? (I have a few specific reasons for setting that number exactly at 8%, so I have definitely given it plenty of thought.)

Regarding Coleman…he stumbled upon a way to combine my prescribed meds into a cocktail that he’s been coating his joints with. The high he’s getting allows him to “appear” to be functioning normally, but the entire time, he fully believes he’s living in a “Night Rider” episode. Anywho…as a result, I’m completely off my meds. So ANYTHING is possible, especially 8% all year.


#399

Wednesday: 2,000 calories

210g P
205g C
31g F

I wasn’t planning to go that low, but it was easy, so I did.

Thursday AM - 40 minutes on the bike.
500 calories burned
Average HR 131
Average Power 200

-for this session, instead of using Zwift and riding in a virtual world on my TV, I just used my phone app for the bike controls and metrics. I set the power output to 200W in ERG mode, and rode to the beat of the music…songs varied from 75 bpm to 100 bpm. This freed up the TV so I could watch the Australian Open while hammering away to the music.


#400

Love the reply. Use sunscreen, not heroin.

Personal observations and reading. I think if you’re highly disciplined, like you are, you can do it. The lowest I got was eleven and I couldn’t maintain it. And I looked like a skeleton at 6’1" and 173. Maybe if I had more LBM it would have been easier.

Consider it a challenge, lol.