T Nation

Serge Storms: Balance and Control



Challenge accepted.

I’ve hit 8% a few times, so I’m familiar with the territory. It was never anything physical that prevented me from maintaining it…I just never had a strong enough drive to overcome the tendency to get complacent and stop doing the things that got me there.

I will look more like a ripped basketball player or maybe a 400m sprinter than a “bodybuilder” at that level, but I’m cool with that. It’s a good look for me.


Think you have significantly more LBM than I, so it probably is a great look. I just looked like Skeletor. My clothes fit great though.


Thursday PM Workout - 30 minutes
Jump rope
Pull-ups (super slow and strict 5x5 ish)
Low cable work

This was a second session I did, just because I had some time to burn while waiting for rush hour traffic to die down.

Thursday Macros
2200 calories
230g P
200g C
60g F

Nailed it.

I even had enough room to top off my fat grams at the end of the night with one of my favorite snacks. Nilla wafer cookies dipped in Nuts ‘n More Cookie Butter flavored protein peanut butter.


Friday AM - Tai Chi Pop Lockin’ Flow Routine - 30 minutes

Friday Macros
2200 Calories
190g P
170g C
60g F

Nailed it. On a roll.

I wasn’t feeling like getting on the bike this morning, so I started warming up for my normal “stupid human tricks” workout routine. Just wasn’t feeling it, so I did something else to just move around and stretch. Not sure what you’d call it. It was like a mix of tai chi and breakdance moves.

Figuring out how to respond on days like these is part of the learning process with using an autoregulation approach to training.

Sometimes, when my hunch is that it’s time for an “active recovery” session, I give it ten more minutes and end up having a great workout session.

Every once in a while, I’ll start a session, give it a chance to ignite, but eventually just bail completely. That was today.


I had a feeling that 2500 miles on the bike might make my legs look different, once I start getting lean enough to tell. Starting to get there, and I’m starting to see the differences. Pretty cool. Looks denser with more definition, even at a slightly higher body fat percentage.



185.5 lbs

Whoosh, there it is. Pretty big drop in weight, but it was overdue and I’m not surprised.

Macros for the week are averaging:

210g P
220g C
60g F

I can go higher on protein and fats - probably up to 270 each - and still drop body fat if I keep that fat intake number at 60g/day. 60 is the magic number.

Saturday - Workout

30 minutes on the bike
Relatively intense ride at a 245 Watt average. I had to keep it short because my wife leads an early Barre class in the basement studio on Saturdays.
Average HR 145, Max 175
410 calories burned.

Short of my goal of 500 calories/day, but that was easily made up with the HIIT-like snow shovel workout I did so the Barre girls could park in the driveway and get into the house.


Saturday Macros
2300 Calories
210g P
170g C
60g F

Nailed it. Again.

I’m in the zone with this diet. Leanness indicators are all positive.

It only takes a week or so of 40/40/20 at a slight or moderate energy deficit for me to remember how quickly this diet works its magic.

I was thinking about how I landed on this diet. I guess it’s just a mash-up with elements from things I’ve learned along the way.

Clay Hyght has an article on here about how bodybuilders should eat. It’s a great no-bullshit template that makes sense. I don’t think the cycling part is needed for a non-competitor with goals like mine, but I like the basic diet outline.

From an overall planning standpoint, I’m a big fan of the Jade Teta articles. I always knew how to play the “Eat More, Exercise More” card, and I definitely knew how to “Eat Less, Exercise More”, but now I have a much better understanding of the Eat Less, Exercise Less option. I don’t really plan out different phases in advance, but I tend to just automatically match the input to the output in a way that sets me up for quick surges of progress when needed.

Similar to the Velocity Diet or the Swole Cat diet (anyone recall that one?), there are many days when my first 3 meals are based on a 2-scoop protein shake and a carb source, with a somewhat normal meal for dinner.

However, I am more flexible and opportunistic with those first three meals of the day. If a lean solid protein source is easily available, I’ll go with that.

I am also flexible with the carb sources. I tend to choose the more filling, less energy-dense carbs when I need to quiet my appetite. If appetite is in-check and I’m not at-risk for any kind of carb-binge-ish behaviors, I’ll have more rewarding carbs like cereal, granola, or cereal. Seems to be mostly cereal.

I try to keep the fat at an absolute minimum during the first three meals, and I think this is KEY to my approach. Some of these diets include fat at every meal. For me, a serving of almonds doesn’t do anything for appetite. It really just reminds me of being on a diet and pisses me off. I’d rather save those fat calories for dinner.

Last night, for example…my wife wanted to try a recipe she found, and she wanted to use ground turkey thigh. We love that stuff. It actually tastes like turkey. On a more typical bodybuilder-style diet, I’d have to ask her to sub that out for extra lean ground turkey, which tastes like paper.

In short, 40/40/20 works. Front load the protein because it pays off later in the day with appetite. Backload the fat because it lets you eat with other people at dinner.

The most important macro is fat. A 60 gram/day fat limit serves many purposes. It enhances adherence because it’s just hard to eat junk food without going over 60g. I believe a lower-fat approach is very effective and re-programming the brain to start preferring healthier foods.

(This one happens more gradually, but it can also happen quickly if you are willing to be more aware that habits and associations are driving your current preferences, which you are free to opt-out of at any time.)

Also, it has always just made obvious sense to me that if a macro should be limited, it makes sense to go with the least-satiating, most calorie-dense macro.

Long-term, the challenge becomes less about all of this stuff and more about getting better at preventing complacency from creeping in, getting comfortable with doing the same thing every day over the long-haul, building up resilience to stress, and staying committed to finding joy in the pursuit of my goals.



Have you had any success as far as front-loading calories around breakfast (as suggested by a few articles on this site) and just eating less before bed as far as fat loss? Or haven’t tried this approach?


I’ve tried it. Over the years, this is what has worked best:

500 calories before 10 or 11 am.
1000 calories between 11-4ish
The rest after 4:00.


Final Average Macros Last Week
210g P
225g C
60g F


Sunday Workouts

AM1: 60 minutes Capochibro

This was an easy session of movement flow, stretching, balancing, and some dumbbell work. Capochibro is a mix of capoeira, tai chi, and bro-split dumbbell movements for arms, shoulders, and chest.

AM2: 50 minutes breakdance, jump rope, and body weight strength moves.

This was a pretty intense session where I did all of my bread-and-butter strength stuff:

Super slow, strict pull-ups
Super slow negatives from a free-standing handstand until my chin almost touches the floor
Pistol squats (working back towards perfect pistols, but the knee will determine the pace)
Hand balancing
Dynamic planks
Super slow, strict push-ups
Super slow, strict sit-ups

Monday AM Workout

60 minutes on the bike at 200W. Average HR 120 BPM. Distance - 22 miles.
This is a super easy way to burn 675 calories. Heart rate in the “endurance” zone, or towards the bottom of the range that many would call “fat burning” zone.

With all the cycling I’ve done, I’ve come to appreciate the trade-off between TIME and INTENSITY on the bike, especially when it comes to simple calorie burning. Bottom line…the difference in intensity required to burn 675 calories in 45 minutes compared to what it takes to burn 675 in an hour is significant. It’s worth the extra 15 minutes. Save the higher intensity stuff for 30 minute sessions or less…unless you are trying to improve cycling performance for racing.

On the leanness front, the obliques are starting to sharpen up quite a bit. As always, it will be that little layer on those bottom abs that holds out until the very end. Overall, I was looking like a basketball player last week. Now I’m looking a little bit more like maybe a super middleweight fighter or something. That’s a good look for me.


Full Skulpt body scan results.

I make no claims about this device. I have always thought it might be a percentage or two generous, especially below 10%, but it doesn’t matter for me. I’ve been using it consistently, so it is great for directional guidance.

What I see in today’s results is even beyond what I expected. My overall number of 8.4% is my third-lowest overall, but the numbers for my quads and hamstrings are WAY lower than my historical bests.

Gotta be the bike.

The device also measures muscular quality. I don’t know much about how it works, but the numbers for quads and hams improved significantly.

Glutes are still by far the fat storage location of genetic preference. Also the lowest number for muscular quality.


I thought it was helpful, for sure, especially with respect to where you are holding fat - for example your chest and glutes are higher than other areas, which is to be expected. Not sure about the muscle quality stuff. I haven’t used mine in a while, lost the spritzer, too lazy to buy a new one, lol, but when I did use it, it was pretty close to my BIA and my gauge based on pics and being realistic - I think I am 1-2% higher than what my BIA gives me.


Monday Macros
2350 calories
285g P
140g C
45g F

A bit high on protein, low on carbs and fats. Just being opportunistic since I had the day off.

Most of that protein came from protein powder. 7 scoops total. Also, 10 oz chicken breast, an egg, and a lot of almond milk for mixing protein shakes and pudding.


Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday

All low-ish calorie days at around 2,100 each day.

ZERO workouts.

I had a big meeting over the last few days.

Long hours, intense interactions, early morning preparation, and dinners at great restaurants.

Front-loading the protein has really helped get me into a locked-in state with my diet right now. Drinking a protein shake doesn’t provide much of an immediate reward, but after 2-3 of these in the early part of the day, my appetite in the afternoon and evening is abolished. Lately, I find that even though I’m saving room for fat grams at dinner, my appetite and cravings aren’t there…I can just elect to eat a pretty lean and healthy dinner and end up towards 2,100 calories.

This allows me to take a few days off from lifting and cardio without interrupting the fat loss momentum, since I’m still in a decent deficit at that intake, even without the usual 500 calorie baseline exercise output.

Physically, I can already feel the benefits of that little break in activity. I go on pretty long streaks where I’m hitting it hard…I hover in a slightly over-reached state most of the time, so when I take a legit break, I usually feel like Superman. 2-3 days is probably the sweet spot. Diminishing returns if the break is longer than that.

Even though my log title suggests a “maintenance” goal, I feel like even when I find that magic level (whether it’s a legit 8% or whatever), I’ll still be striving for, looking for, and expecting “progress” at all times.

From a habits standpoint, there will ALWAYS be room for continuous improvement. From a pure body fat % standpoint, I suppose I’ll have to stop making “progress” at some point and shift to a “slap a little clay here and there” mindset. That’s a good place to be.

Or I can always just adjust the lighting. Activate overhead CFL spotlight action. Minus 3% body fat.


Best thing I have heard all day!

That is really interesting… If you could find a way to apply this to abs, you would make a killing.

Have you noticed much growth of your calves from the cycling?


Nope. They look better, but not bigger. Some may not think that makes sense, but it’s true. When my legs are “pumped” from exercise or when conditions favor enhanced vascularity (after a few slices of pizza, for example), my calves are way more vascular compared to a year ago. Not just the bigger vessels, but it’s like there is an entire next-Level of vascularity. It’s pretty cool.

Can’t see the roadmap here, this is early-morning empty take conditions…but you can probably see that cycling doesn’t necessarily make calves grow. Ten plus years of competitive volleyball didn’t do it, either. Tennis? Nope.

Could jump to the conclusion that I’m just genetically cursed. But the key question should be…have you ever trained your calves like a bodybuilder consistently for at least a year? I have not.


A little snippet from my daily warmup routine.

A huge PR today on the bike. I thought I was going to do an easy “fat-burn” type of session, but after 5 days off the bike, my legs felt super fresh. I decided to lay down the hammer and ended up holding 300W for a 20-minute stretch. That was a big benchmark goal for me, so today is a good day.

This past week was FULL of work travel and all of the eating and exercising challenges that come along with it.

I managed to keep the diet on-point, which is a huge accomplishment. Ended up dropping down to 183.5 lbs on the scale, which is a nice little bonus effect. Without the 500 calorie exercise buffer, I kept my calories in the 2,100 - 2,300 range for most of the week. Still low enough to keep the fat loss momentum.


On a roll. Nailing targets and logging consistently.


Protein Front Load Fat Back Load If It Fits Your Macros.


2100 calories

Nailing macros with ease.

Monday Workout - 60 minutes, low intensity

Flow breakdance
Hand stands
Dumbbells for arms and shoulders

The hand stands were super solid today. The lighter body weight makes a big difference.

184 lbs these days. Is it Spring Break yet? I’m ready.


182.0 this morning.

There is no need to get much leaner than this…I’m thinking I should set 180 as the floor here and hover between there and 183-ish.

This is where things start go get more challenging.

It is very easy to start justifying a little of this and that with the diet. It’s a slow, gradual process.

I have to keep finding ways to stay engaged and stay disciplined. I have to recognize the early signs of complacence and use everything in my toolbox to stay out ahead of it. I have to find ways to NOT get sick of protein…because a high protein intake is part of what is going to make this diet work.

The good news is that right now, everything is effortless. If I was already miserable, bored, deprived, and run-down at this point, I’d be in trouble. But I actually feel better than ever, so physically, I know I’m in a great spot. I absolutely know that I CAN maintain this level all year, IF the goal continues to be important and meaningful.