T Nation

Serge Storms: Balance and Control


I saw an extremely thin woman - skeleton thin - doing yoga and acrobatic moves in the gym the other day.

It messed with my head for a second.

I’ve added a set of 5x5 to start every workout from now on. Basic plan is to alternate pushing and pulling and mix it up with vertical and horizontal.

Diet has been on-point. I’ve been having success with the same breakfast every day. Omelette made with egg beaters with one piece of low-fat string cheese (I pull it apart into strands so it melts into the eggs), cooked in coconut oil. Two pieces of Healthy Life bread (35 calories/slice) with 14g of coconut oil. Some strawberries or blackberries if they are around.

I feel like this keeps me satisfied a bit longer than oatmeal, protein powder, and fruit.

It can also be replicated while I’m on the road. Maybe not to my exact specs, but close enough. I’d like to keep trying to just lock down my first three meals of the day and eat pretty much the same stuff every day. Always tinkering.

Yesterday was low on the intake side. 1800 calories.

On the stupid human tricks front, I did a very strict and slow full handstand pushup today. I’ve been able to do a slow negative for a while now. I can also do reps against the wall. But I don’t think I’ve ever done a full, strict, handstand pushup without being against the wall. It’s more a matter of managing breathing and blood flow than strength. Well, of course there is some balance required.


Oh, and I may start doing some false grip drills on the rings in my garage. Last time I tried to work towards a strict ring muscle-up, I skipped the false grip training and ended up wearing out my elbows and forearms before I could build up the skills and strength. I’m gonna try it the right way this time.


Low-fat lifestyle shopping.

1 Like

Low-fat start to the day.


Macros Yesterday.

I was eating a relatively high-fat diet for a while…just mixing things up. I did a drastic shift yesterday and it felt like fat was melting off me. Even with >300 grams of carbs, I was dropping water all day. Looked the best I have in a while this morning.

If you’ve never tried it, I’d highly recommend throwing in a few days of ultra-low fat intake. Especially if you typically eat more 90-100g fat/day. Fat metabolism is upregulated when fat intake is high. I believe it takes a while (not sure how long) for those fat-oxidizing enzymes to degrade. Why not take advantage of that lag time and let your upregulated fat enzymes start chewing into your body fat stores. If my theoretical bro-science doesn’t convince you, then how about because Mark Dugdale said so.

1 Like

I’ve head Eric Serrano talk a bit about this stuff too. It’s pretty interesting.

Of late, I’ve been having almost all of my fats for the day right before bed. Seems to be doing what I want it to do.


Appetite was surprisingly easy to manage today, despite very little fat and lots and lots of carbs.


Tuesday - 2500 calories
335g C
122g P
47g F


I’ve been sticking to a bit of a 3-day split lately. Push/Pull/Dance.

On push days, I start with a heavy(ish) compound pushing movement like flat bench DB press where I do something like 5x5. Then I do a second movement which is geared more towards contraction/isolation/feeling the muscle/generating a ton of TUT. Finally, I end with a higher-rep movement just for pump work.

I do some light dumbbell work, stretching, leg work, or lower back work in-between sets. I usually spend another 15 minutes at the end of these sessions doing easy bodyweight stuff and jump rope.

On pull days, I’ve been doing mostly horizontal rowing movements or pull-ups for the main lift.

Usually, by the third day, I don’t feel quite ready for another push day, so I’ve been doing light DB work and mostly cardio/dance stuff. This is more of a recovery day, but I still manage to burn somewhere around 500 calories.

Pretty simple. Other than the 5x5, I’m not counting reps or sets, just going by feel. No dedicated “leg” day, as my legs are big enough and already getting pushed via jump rope and tons of bodyweight squat-type movements. And some good old butt-blaster machine work here and there.


Here is a quote from an article that appeared in Outside Magazine, titled “The Silencing of Tim Noakes.”

> "The fight has brought a simmering diet war to full boil, pitting low-carb against low-fat. In recent years, low-fat has come under attack by a growing number of paleo advocates, researchers, journalists, and doctors, who point out that decades of following the guidelines coincided with an explosion in obesity rates. These days, two-thirds of American adults are either overweight or obese, while heart disease remains our leading killer. Clearly, the whole low-fat thing hasn’t really worked out. Yet it continues to be recommended by physicians._"

And here is what drives me nuts about this:

“Decades of following the [low fat] guidelines coincided with an explosion in obesity rates.”

Correlation is NOT Causation.

To infer that it was the low-fat “craze” that contributed to the obesity epidemic assumes that everyone was actually following these guidelines! Just because people got fatter in the 90’s and that “low-fat” was a popular approach in the 90’s doesn’t mean the two are linked! How many people do you personally know who followed a low-fat diet in the 90’s with diligent precision and a high level of consistency ended up super-obese with heart disease? I don’t know any!

People got fat and continue to get fat because they eat too much.

Eating a low-fat diet in today’s world is hard as fuck to execute over the long-term. But if you can figure out a way to do it, it is effective. It might be mostly because it’s simply harder to overshoot your calorie goals when you are restricting the most energy-dense macro. Or maybe it’s just simply because it’s hard to pollute your diet with a ton of fake, processed bullshit when you are being very diligent about restricting total fat intake to somewhere in the 60g or less range.

To say that low-fat diets are not effective because people got fat through the 90’s is just faulty logic. I tend to go back to the classic Clay Hyght article, “How Bodybuilders Should Eat.” It’s a low-fat diet that makes sense to me. I can also say that my own peak condition has always been achieved after long periods of consistently nailing macros in the 40/40/20 ballpark.

1 Like

Came across this gem just now. Pretty good tips here that have worked for me over the years.

I see the date, 2005, and it doesn’t seem to compute that 2005 was twelve years ago already.


I tried one tweak yesterday, based on the long-term leanness article. I switched my calorie windows and moved 500 from the 11-4 slot up to the 5-11am slot.

Disaster. Just made me really hungry all day and I ended up going way over.

I believe I have zeroed-in on the approach I’ll be locking down through December:


Those are my calorie targets for 5-11am, 11-4p, 4-8

1 Like


Made it 2/3 of the way through a full year of logging my intake and output every single day.

1 Like

This week, I’m pulling out some carbs and adding some fat. Specifically coconut oil, liquid fish oil, and some MCT oil.

Protein target staying the same - 165 - 185 ish.

I played tennis for the first time in forever on Saturday and I completely jacked myself up. My lower back is a mess right now. I’ll be working around it for a few days. I will also lower my calories a bit.

I went back and looked at my activity level in the summer vs the last two months. It has dropped off by about 300-400 calories/day. I’m gonna use this rest while my back heals to get some spring back in my step, and then I’m gonna start finding a way to consistently get a second activity session in, no matter what that looks like.

1 Like

How you looking, fat boy?

1 Like

I got into the cookies and egg nog. Blew up to 215 lbs. I’m gonna start my cut today. I swear. I’m just going to finish these last dozen scotch eggs first. And the rest of this egg nog. Then I’ll start my cut.

1 Like

Been a while.

I did a full-body scan with my Skulpt device to see where my baseline is as I start off the new year.

The full-body reading has me at 10%, which is a few points higher than my peak shape back in August.

I’m feeling great about where I am right now. I managed to stay under 190 and push calories up quite a bit, so my metabolism is in very good shape right now. I have not been doing much work outside of the 400-500 calories I typically burn during my morning workout.

I don’t think I’ve missed a day of training since I bounced back from my last little lower-back tweak.

From a training standpoint, I am really happy with my routine. I’m getting stronger and better with most of my body weight moves, and I have enough size for my goals and frame right now. I keep adding new tweaks to keep my workouts interesting. For example, lately, I’ve been doing very long (4-5 minutes) sets of 1-arm DB snatch with a 40 lb. dumbbell. Between the pull-up work, the handstand-based work, and the high volume/high frequency DB/machine work for arms, shoulders, upper back, and chest, I can start feeling overreached pretty quickly if I don’t modulate my volume. To stay fresh in the upper body, I will often back off from that work and spend more time doing “core” stuff like lower-back extensions, abs, and plank-based moves. I’ve also been throwing in a decent amount of body weight squats and squat variations.

I’ve found a back extension variation where I keep a slight bend in the knees and keep constant tension in my glutes and hamstrings throughout the duration of a very long set of partial reps and holds. This seems to be helping protect my lower back, which seems very prone to going into spasm (especially if I try playing tennis). I wouldn’t be surprised if I had a bulging or slightly herniated lumbar disk, but so far it’s not a problem unless I play tennis, which I’m pretty much done with anyway.

From a lifting standpoint, I’d say that my go-to movement is the standing DB curl-to-press-to-overhead triceps extension. Not exactly hard-core, but I have found all kinds of variations to make this simple movement sequence interesting and effective.

If there are big dudes around, I do this in the squat rack to see if anyone will mess with me so I can unleash a spinning capoeira kick to their face and make them pay the price for looking at me.

Just kidding, there are never any big dudes around. I go to a very commercial gym and I’m there long before the be-douching hours.

I’d like to get down to below 185 and around 7% body fat on my device by the end of March. That would have me ready for our spring vacation in slightly better shape than my peak shape from late summer.

I don’t think any kind of “cut” is really necessary. I just need to rack up the consistent days and weeks of eating the types and amounts of foods that I know will work for me. Since I’m still logging everything, I do have an intake target in the 2500-2700 calorie range, which is closer to maintenance than cutting for me.

January-May will be very busy on the work front, so I’m not sure how often I’ll be updating. I try to check in here and there and I’ll probably follow the transformation threads a bit, just for entertainment. Who knows, maybe the logging bug will bite again soon. It seems to come and go.


Today’s workout:

Slow/strict pull-ups:

With these, I am focusing on maintaining the hollow-body gymnast position. I think there was something mentioned about this in a recent article, but I’ve been doing it for a while. It definitely turns the pull-up into more of a full-body experience. I don’t really have a goal for pull-ups, other than to develop more “mastery” over the movement. I feel like the work I’m doing probably helps give my arms and forearms a more solid look. It definitely taxes the CV system in a unique way. It also helps protect my lower back, because of the strength I’m building in the abs and pelvis and the way it helps counter my natural anterior pelvic tilt.

I choose the grip that puts the least amount of stress on my forearms. This seems to be key to unlocking progress for me, because when I use grips that don’t match my natural mechanical groves, forearm pain is usually what limits me.

My grip of choice is palms facing each-other a little narrower than shoulder-width apart.

I will occasionally throw in some holds with a very wide grip, but the further I get from caring about physique-competitor aesthetics, the less I care about doing work with that grip. The return isn’t worth the investment or risk.

After about 10 minutes of pull-up work:

Standing 1-arm DB work:

Today, I used a 20lb dumbbell for the straight-arm lateral and front raise focus. I also used it for some isolation squeeze/hold work for the upper back. Bent front-raises, bent flies, that kind of stuff.

Then I picked up the 35lb DB and did some curl-press-overhead tricep work. 35 is obviously very light for a good leveraged 1-arm overhead press, so I move the dumbbell away from me laterally to find a groove that is very challenging.

35 is also light for even curls and overhead tricep extensions, but that’s how I roll. I had just put enough strain on biceps and forearms during the pull-up work, so today’s DB work didn’t need to be very heavy…not that it ever really does.

After DB work…

Breakdancing, jump rope, acro yoga/capoeira moves, handstand work. Some more DB work (robot moves with a 25 lb DB).

TOTAL SESSION: 60 minutes, 525 calories burned. AVG HR 130. MAX HR 175.

The max HR was reached twice - once during a very intense jump rope set, and again during a long series of breakdancing moves that ended with a super clean windmill (aka helicopter) for what seemed like 15 revolutions.

Oh, and I made a very important discovery with my handstand work today. I’ve been working on pushing up to a handstand using zero momentum, like the gymnasts do in their floor routines. It’s not going to be easy and I’m probably many months away.

Anyway, today I learned that if I focus on my pelvis tilting/rotating my body in a very tight arc, I can get into position with even less momentum. I believe this is going to be the key step in my progress, because the difference is like night and day.

Before, I think I was feeling the start of the motion way out away from the center of rotation - more in the hands on the floor and my feet. Now that I understand the sensation of generating everything from the very center of the pelvis, I think I’ll be able to rely much less on balance, forearm, and shoulder strength. I will simply just kind of jack-knife myself up with a movement that starts in the center.

INTAKE YESTERDAY: 3000 calories. 150g F, 180g C, 160g P.

Those are actually GREAT numbers. My wife and I had a celebratory dinner last night, which included some short ribs, meatballs, grilled octopus, a few stouts. Enjoying a meal like that and still staying within about 400 calories of the calorie goal is very solid.

A more typical approach would have been to have bread and oil before dinner, dessert after, and maybe another drink or two. Oh, and maybe since I knew I wasn’t going to hit my number that day, I may have thrown the entire day out the window and called it an official “refeed” day and gone up to 4500 calories. You multiply that by the number of times I have special-occasion dinners, and the choices add up and can really be a big difference-maker.

This is also where a combination of CONTROL and FLEXIBILITY over my diet comes in handy. I can make a slight tweak to the first half of my day today by cutting out the fat completely from my first few meals and making it a low-fat day overall. This allows me to let the elevated fat-processing enzymes from yesterday dig into some body fat today.

On the other hand, if I have a day where I’ve tended to go too high on the carbs, I can cut those for the first few meals of the next day.

I would call this approach REACTIVE MACRO CYCLING (RMC). Playing around with fat and carb intake while consistently (mostly) staying within the calorie goal and eating the foods that work for me, but adjusting based on what life throws my way.

As a side note, the biggest threat to successfully RMCing is alcohol. The reactive shift after a night of >3 or so drinks should likely be to cut back on BOTH fat and carbs for the first few meals, but the appetite in the morning craves eggs and bacon and toast and hash browns.

That is another reason that a top priority in any dietary approach should be to find a way to keep the alcohol consumption as low as possible. As much as it hurts me to type those words, I think it’s true. Beck’s Light for President!


A little work down in the studio in my basement this morning.

The mirrors helped me recognize another tweak that will help me achieve my zero-momentum push-up into hand stand: I need to just tuck my head under. The head is very heavy, so even small changes in positioning can make a huge difference in how the weight of the body up-top is being counter-balanced by the head.

1 Like

Damn, man! You know all the good party tricks!

1 Like