T Nation

Serge Storms - Shapeshifter

bodybuilding
nutrition

#181

On a roll with the intake.

2350
2350
2450
2150

I am putting the focus on macros on the back-burner for a while as I do whatever it takes to just nail my calorie number.

Basically, I just try to keep fat super low until late in the day. Keep my calories under 1500 until 4:00. Everything else tends to fall into place pretty easily.

Workouts are going good. No extra session today so far.

The best thing this week is that the visual improvements just keep coming. I worked out in the office HQ gym today. Different lighting, different everything.

Holy shit. Vastus medialis striations. I shit you not.

Right now, there is a big difference in the amount of fat I have on my lower quads vs. the amount on my upper leg. Big difference. But if things keep going at this rate, I’m just going to see that fat start receding further and further up my leg.

I’ve always had big legs relative to everything else. It’s partly genetic, but also because I did a TON of plyometric training and jumping starting at about 16 years old. But I’ve never been lean enough to really see the muscles. It’s pretty damn cool. Can’t believe it took me this long to push through to this level. Kinda pisses me off.

Meanwhile, the difference between the amount of fat on the lower abs and upper abs is starting to decrease to where it’s more uniform. In other words, my lower abs are almost as lean as my upper abs. That’s pretty cool.

So, quads and lower back now. Somebody tell me it’s time to stop if I start talking about glute striations.

Meanwhile, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We can talk when I’ve strung together 21 more days of 2350 calories.


#182

183.5 today.

I’m getting close to my all-time low body weight.

I think I hit 179 for about an hour back when I was about 23.

I hit 181 for a short while when I first started playing tennis about 10 years ago, but I had very little muscle back then.

I see no reason why I couldn’t maintain this level of leanness or even slightly better.

While I am borderline obsessive with logging, I really have NOT had to get obsessive about eating. I have had normal dinners with my family. For the most part, I have had normal business dinners where nobody would notice anything about what I’m eating. I never had to cut alcohol out. I don’t pack my food in Tupperware. I don’t prepare mass meals on Sundays. These skills are going to be the key to my success in sustaining this level.


#183

183.2 this morning.

I mentioned in a recent post that I’m focused less on macros and more on hitting the 2350 number.

To clarify, I’m focused less on constantly tweaking macros, but I’m still tracking and planning.

This week, I’m averaging 50/30/20 instead of my usual 40/40/20. A slight shift from protein to carbs, but I feel like it’s enough of a shift to make a difference in both weight loss and potentially appetite control.

I say weight loss and not fat loss because of some observations I’ve made when dropping my protein intake a bit. I seem to always get a weight-loss whoosh when this happens. It’s usually because I’m on the road traveling, and most of the protein sources tend to come with too much fat. I don’t bring a shaker bottle or protein powder on the road with me or to big home office meetings. These meetings usually have tons of snacks like fruit and granola, but they obviously don’t put out dishes of protein pudding or piles of boneless, skinless, chicken breasts.

Another observation that supports occasional breaks from hitting 1g/lb of protein or 30% protein: the last few times I had mega-servings of chicken breast - as in 10 oz or more in one sitting - I’ve felt like absolute shit. Bloated AF and just not good. It’s not like I salt the shit out of my chicken at home, so I think it is just something with chicken. Same thing with turkey or even beef.

So this week, I’ve been eating more carbs, pretty much throughout the day. Scale weight has been dropping and overall, I just look a bit tighter. Even a bit on the flat side, despite all the carbs.

For me, the risky side of going higher with carbs is that some of the shittier carb sources tend to creep in. I guess for me a shitty carb is one that doesn’t contribute to muscle recovery, energy, or satiety. Any kind of liqueur would fall into the shitty category…I am a fan of coffee liqueur, so these can creep in for me. The other one that creeps in is cereal. Sometimes bread can get a bit out of hand, but that’s why we have Healthy Life bread, which is like eating an airy sponge. 35 calories per slice. Barely enough to be a good vehicle for delivery of peanut butter and honey sandwiches. And finally, protein bars. I don’t care if it’s corn syrup or rice syrup or fructo-fuckto-oligo-sachharide, those carbs add up and if they’re not doing something good or contributing to satiety, they don’t belong. Quest bars make me hungry and beget more quest bars. Not buying bars by the box is an easy tweak that makes a big difference for me.

Good carbs for me are fruit, vegetables, oatmeal, honey (if it doesn’t get out of hand), rice, potatoes (I should eat more but for some reason, I do not), yogurt, skim milk, bread.

I’m also starting to lay the groundwork for the next phase around the corner, which will be to take a “reverse dieting” type of approach to raising my calories without increasing bodyfat. At all. Key difference here between me and an aspiring physique competitor: Staying very very lean is a higher priority than building size. So I’m not looking to reverse dieting as a way to slowly add muscle an minimize fat gain. For me, it’s just to slowly land at the highest calorie intake possible that allows me to stay within a very narrow range of leanness.

To lay the groundwork for that approach, I’m trying to keep my baseline carbs high. 300 or so. I’m also trying to start with a lower baseline for protein. 150g. This way, when I do start increasing my calories, I can do it with protein. I feel like this might help me get to a good landing point on maintenance calories. It might also help me understand the effect of protein increases on my body composition. If I don’t like the way things are going, I may end up nudging fat or carbs up instead. The goal will be to land on an intake level that is easy to maintain and has room for flexibility, but allows me to stay razor-sharp lean every day.

Meanwhile, I have about 24 hours to complete my pre-pool prep. Putting on the 4th layer of water-proof spray tan today. Full body wax later on. Carb loading and sodium cycling.

Nah. Today and tomorrow are the same as yesterday and the day before. 2350. Lift like a bodybuilder, practice like a gymnast, eat like a physique competitor.


#184

Shit. I got all anxious about tomorrow, so I took too many zanacks xanax xanacks and my ankles got all swollen and I’m retaining water because I think I’ve spiked my cortisol.

Naaahh. I’m having a cocktail and a pub burger.


#185

Dropped under 183 today.

That puts me at 20 lbs lost in a little under 5 months.


#186

Pool party did not happen due to weather. Fun night, though.

This weekend was another HIHO weekend. High Input High Output.

Lots of time on the bike. I’ve been doing something a little different on my bike. I’ve been keeping it in the highest gear, all the time, no matter what speed I’m going. Even when I’m not pushing hard to increase my speed, I’m tensing my entire leg to maintain constant tension.

I’ve also played around with alternating legs and driving with only one pedal while the other leg rests. This lets me build up some burn in one leg a LOT faster. My goal is to use this bike work to create metabolic stress and get a little EPOC action out of what would normally be more like NEPA or LISS.

On the intake side, there was a, um, caloric surplus consumed on Saturday and Sunday. Saturday happened as the bike barbecue crawl progressed from house to house. Sunday was going great until the family decided to make it pizza night.

I tend to not go halfway when it comes to pizza.

So now I’m back on the road a bit this week. I’m still shooting for my magic number of 2350 calories. I’m thinking 40/40/20 ish with some protein front-loading where possible.

I am considering an earlier shift into recomp/maintenance mode where I just nudge calories but stay under 185lbs.

Part of me wants to push for that 180 or 181, but I don’t know…I’m losing interest a little bit. I’m also pretty much as lean as I wanted to see. I mean, I could push for what I can feel is just a last little layer, but at this point, that small visual difference in one area is going to start affecting my overall look because with any less size or with a very flat look, I get into DYEL territory.

So I may go these next few weeks without having a specific goal, other than to stay under 185, lift my ass off, keep fat under 60, and shoot for 2350 calories to maybe 2500. Hesitant to go too high on my daily calories right away until I prove to myself that I can get back to managing weekend intake a bit more effectively.

From a training standpoint, I’ve been falling into a 3-day split. I’m anchoring to a pressing movement one day, a pulling move the next, and then an arms and shoulders focus on day 3. On all days, I’m still throwing in lots of stuff between sets or exercises. Jump rope, pistol squats, extra arms and shoulders, glute work, quads, hamstrings, hand stands, squat holds (like a wall sit without the wall), ab work, and more arms and shoulders.

Oh, and I’d like to see if I can do a kipping muscle up on a bar. Not sure why, just something I feel the need to accomplish.


#187

I have been seeing really good results from all of this chest and upper back work.

I am using volume, frequency, TUT, low rest periods, wide ranges of contraction techniques and tempos, compound AND isolation, single and double arm, DB, barbell, body weight, cable, band, and machine.

I am not using heavy loads. But I am owning the fuck out of heavier loads than I used to. 35 is the new 30, which was the new 25, which was 20.


#188

Leanest ever.

182 yesterday, just two days after a massive eating and drinking weekend.

I have not figured out some kind of magical macro ratio. I haven’t solved for optimal gut bacteria by eating fermented bullshit. I haven’t had to do carb cycling or backloading or shitloading or anything. Haven’t had to pay a coach to tell me what “adjustments” to make. Haven’t even had to take many supplements, although I have been cycling on-and-off carbolin and a GDA.

All I had to do was stay the fucking course.

And that is what I will keep doing.


#189

The key no one wants to accept because…its fucking tough!!!


#190

That’s a great feeling.


#191

I just ran some numbers to look at averages over the last six months.

Calories - 2430
Exercise Calories - 650

Average Daily Macros - Last 6 months:

235g C
168g P
82g F

*Fat grams is pretty revealing here. I tend to shoot for 60g/day, and probably come close on most weekDAYS.

But on weekends, it looks like I’m getting enough extra fat to bring my average up quite a bit higher.

I tried to find correlations between activity levels, intake, macros, and weight loss. Looking to see what causes longer plateaus or whooshes. Nothing sticks out. Same old story. Stick to about 2400 calories consistently over time, and good things happen.

My best month looks like it was August, where my macros were 275/182/78 and calories were 2575. I still ended up having my average daily weight drop by about 4.5 pounds through August.

I’m guessing that might be more of a function of just being leaner and being able to handle more carbs and calories. I’ve also been doing double sessions more often. Instead of just adding 45 minutes of easy bike riding, I’ve been doing more legit second sessions in the gym or doing bike sprint intervals.

Oh, and the high-rep leg finishers. Wednesday, I did two 4-minute sets of single-leg leg presses, with a focus on keeping my glutes contracted throughout. High foot position and pushing through the heel. Great burn right around the glute/ham tie-in area.

The pool closes this weekend. If the weather is good, it will be one final shot at the 40+ dads Men’s Bikini division title.

Then I’m going on a bulk until March.

Hah. Not. Ever.

I will continue to fight for the cause and push for a condition that is just barely within range of sustainable. Why? Because Bottom Abs Matter. Hell, ALL ABS MATTER.


#192

I hear that’s an extremely competitive division, almost as competitive as the “Dad Bod” category that’s so hot (is it still a thing? I know it was a thing for a minute…)


#193

afternoon “pump” session.

Preworkout included 3 bowls of cereal. And some honey.


#194

Agreed!!

Looking good, certainly tracking right. Low back has progressed A LOT.


#195

Another HIHO weekend. High Input, High Output.

Output included:

Sunday: 90 minute bike ride with a few decent sprints thrown in
Sunday: toboggan chute session of stair sprints. 80 minutes total, 1,100 calories burned.
Monday: 90 minute hike in the woods

Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday: Chest, Back, arms, shoulders. All of them. Every day.
I threw in an extra full session with just bands, and one extra full session just on my rings in the garage. I’ve been spending more time hanging from the bar or rings lately. From the bar, my focus is usually on very wide grip chins with extremely long pauses and lots of partial-range reps and tons of holds.

On the intake side, the combination of calories, fat, salt, and alcohol were enough to throw a few pounds back on the scale, despite the high output. We will see how many days it takes to get back under 185, which is where I want to stay. Probably one or two.

Good start today:

1600 calories
170g C
170g P
19g F

That is correct. 19g of fat.

Why?

Because I think that a few days at higher fat intakes can quickly upregulate your fat-processing enzymes. Pull the rug out quickly with an ultra-low fat day, and those enzymes persist and end up producing an after-burn type of effect. That’s my theory.

Plus, for me, it’s WAY easier to execute a 20g fat day than a 20g carb day. And it’s WAY easier to execute an ultra-low calorie day by cutting out a macro completely vs. just reducing calories.

And from an anecdotal results standpoint, I just tend to see the best results the morning after a super low-fat day. That’s one of the ways I figured out that low fat is a good fit for me. (I define low as 60g/day).


#196

I am in awe of how low you can keep your fats. I’d go mad from hunger. My metabolism tears through carbs so fast I need fats in there to feel any kind of satiety.


#197

My average daily fat intake over the last six months is actually 80g/day. I tend to log more details on those super-low fat days, but in general, I guess I’m not that low.

As far as satiety, I don’t know if any single macro makes a significant difference anymore. I’ve played around with cutting out each macro, and it doesn’t seem to matter. I’m always hungry. But when I’m locked-in, my focus and willpower seem to outmatch my appetite.


#198

Today’s workout:

20 minutes on the smith machine. Very light weight work from positions of extremely poor leverage. On purpose. The smith machine lets you do things like drop-and-catch straight arm front raises. You’d be asking for a double AC-joint separation if you tried that one with a regular barbell.

Then I did some single-arm cable work with a focus on lateral delts. And by “some work”, I mean about a bazillion reps with all kinds of fancy rep styles and techniques.

Then I went to the big cardio room and walked on my hands for long distances. My limiting factor here is just the amount of time I can stay upside-down before feeling like my head is going to explode. I need to work on that. But as far as just walking on my hands, I can go forever.

I also did a few 4-minute sets of single-leg glute-focused leg press.


#199

182.4 this morning.

3 lb drop from previous day.

No idea why.


#200

Saturday: ELEL (eat less exercise less) day.

Sunday - Workout

Traps and delts on the Smith Machine.
DB curls, triceps extensions, delt raises.
Breakin’ moves: one-handed handstand spins, windmills, backspins, etc.
Handstands and hand walking.
Cable work for arms, shoulders, delts.
Pistol squats. Many.

Looking relatively big (for me) for staying between 183-185.

The strength increase on these body weight moves is crazy after resting for a day or two. Makes me realize that I am pretty much in a constant slightly-overreached state. Which is fine. When a one-day break has me feeling fresh as a daisy, I’m all good. If it takes a week to feel good, we might have an issue.

I am looking for some suggestions for lifts that target the rectus femoris. Please drop a plug for your favorite movement if you have one.