Category Archives: Q & A

Training Update & Results – Sept to Nov ’10

For those of you who are relatively new to the blog and my training updates…

I started here at 158 lbs.

In 7 weeks I got to 148 lbs and much better body composition.

In 10 weeks I dropped to 145 lbs and reached a body composition I was comfortable with.

It’s been 2 months since my last results post and I wanted to give you guys a quick update on where I am. I know I talk too much… so I better be walking the talk right?

The effort…

Here is the scoop on what I’ve been eating and how I’ve been training for the last 8 weeks.

Diet:

  • Intermittent fasting (Leangains protocol) all the way! I get all my calories between ~1pm and ~9pm. I fast rest of the time. (Blog post on fasting coming up soon)
  • 80-85% real foods. I do some whey protein everyday. Cottage cheese rarely.
  • Weight training days: Moderate carb, low fat, moderate protein. Total calories ~ 2200-2500 (eyeballing); ~200 grams of protein.
  • Conditioning/Rest Days: Low carb, moderate fat, moderate protein. Total calories ~ 1700-2000 (eyeballing); ~ 200 grams of protein.
  • Cheat meals: Once in 2-3 weeks. (PS: When I cheat, the meal is anywhere from 2000-3000cals in one sitting.)
  • Supplements: Fish oil, Multi-vitamin, Vitamin D3, Magnesium, Whey Protein

Training:

  • I lift in a completely fasted state (15 hrs of fasting + 10gms BCAAs 10-15mins before lifting)
  • I did a modified version of Martin Berkhan’s fat loss template. Martin recommends some machine based exercises which I’m not a fan off and so those exercises were changed. Martin also recommends only walking on non-workout days. You can read more about Martin’s training methodology here at Richard’s Free The Animal.
  • 3 days a week of strength training. 40-50 min sessions. High intensity. Low volume.
  • I did some conditioning workouts aimed at improving work capacity. No crossfit type puking workouts. All my conditioning workouts were either moderate intensity and long (20-30 mins) or super high intensity and short (3-7 mins).
  • I also did a bunch of skill related training (handstands, max planks, planche training etc.)
  • Yoga once a week.
  • Also did an early AM running progression every morning for 3 weeks which helped me set a 5k PR by a huge margin. A blog post on that is coming up.

The results…

In my last update post I had mentioned the following as next steps and I stuck to them pretty well.

Next Steps:

  • End leaning cycle: I’m comfortable with this level of leanness. Chasing lower than current body fat levels requires that I make some diet and health related sacrifices which I am not willing to make right now. Continuing to lean out will also result in affecting my athletic performance negatively which is not desirable.
  • Focus on performance: Specifically strength, strength endurance and speed.
  • Maintain food quality. Increase food quantity. Add-in starchy vegetables post workout for faster recovery.
  • Increase training volume (probably a 5 x 5 protocol) and hit each major body part at least twice a week (HFT)

Body Composition Results:

  • Starting weight – 145-146 lbs. Current weight – 149-150 lbs.
  • Body fat – I don’t measure body fat % because it’s just a stupid number which is mostly very inaccurate and doesn’t mean anything unless you’re a competing bodybuilder and I’m certainly not. But from the comparison pictures, it looks like I have gained some size (the 3-5 lbs weight can) and lost fat. That’s pretty awesome considering the after picture was taken right after 3 days of sugar filled gluttony for thanksgiving.

Before: Sept 26th ’10                                   After: November 29th ’10

Strength Results:

Though my numbers are not mindbogglingly awesome they’re not too bad considering my bodyweight and lifting experience. The important thing is that I keep training and I’m confident I’ll put up some pretty impressive numbers with time.

  • Deadlift – 225 x 5 lbs to 275 x 5 lbs (22% improvement)
  • Back Squat – 165 x 5 lbs to 195 x 5 lbs (18% improvement)
  • Weighted Dips – BW+15 x 6  to BW+40 x 6 (19% improvement)
  • Weighted Pullups – BW+15 x 6 to BW+35 x 6 (16% improvement)
  • Bench Press – 125 x 6 lbs to 135 x 6 lbs (8% improvement) [Weak lift. Needs work.]
  • Shoulder Press – 80 x 6 lbs to 90 x 6 lbs (12.5% improvement) [Weak lift. Needs work.]

Endurance Results:

I didn’t do much endurance work in the last couple of months but…

  • I set a 5k PR @ 23:21 (previous best was 25:xx)
  • I set a 400m PR @ 76 seconds (previous best was 83 seconds)
  • I worked up to a max plank of 190 seconds (Got bored of doing it everyday and stopped. Will get on it again.)

Next Steps:

  • Continue strength progression. My squat needs some serious work. So lots of squatting coming up.
  • Stick to current diet.
  • Both my presses seem to have stalled (with very little improvement) and I can see I am starting to stall on the other lifts too. So I’m going to change my training program. Same lifts but different sequencing and slightly different set x rep. I’ll write more about this in the next update.
  • Train for 5 unbroken one arm push-ups.
  • Train for one arm pull-up.
  • Train for pistols a.k.a one legged squat.
  • Mobility work everyday.

My thoughts:

  • 50 lbs on the deadlift in 8 weeks with ~4 lbs BW increase and possible fat loss is bloody amazing! I’m super thrilled with this!
  • My pressing movements seem to be super weak while my pulling movements seem to progress fine. This could be a result of my broken elbow. I need to figure it out though.
  • Overall I’m around the Intermediate Zone according to strength standards which where I should be for my lifting experience. Consistency is the key!
  • A word about Martin – He talks like he knows everything. Thing is he does know everything he talks about.His training has worked wonders for me and others and I urge you to read his blog for some fantastic information.
  • Notice how I did a fat loss training protocol but gained size? It’s all about the diet people! Figure that out and you’re 90% there.

What did you do in the last couple of months that made you stronger… faster… leaner or just plain awesomer?

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Interview with Craig Ballantyne

A few weeks back I had mentioned that I will be doing a short e-mail interview with Craig Ballantyne and a lot of you had posted/emailed questions. While I received a whole bunch of questions, a lot of them had the same question just in different words. So I grouped them into categories and tried to keep the questions unique so Craig wouldn’t have answer 100 questions about abdominal fat loss and another 100 questions about cardio training. This explains why you probably don’t see your question posted verbatim.

That said, Craig was kind enough to take the time to answer all our questions. Apologies from my side for taking so long to post the interview. Without any more commentary here is the Q&A.

Question 1:

There are folks who consider food quality as the most important parameter and folks who think its all about the quantity. What are your thoughts on this?

Answer:

Its obvious that food quantity is extremely important. Plenty of lean men and women have a low quality, low quantity diet.

Of course, its tough for many people to control their calorie intake on a low quality diet, plus, a low-quality diet is not the best for your health.

So everyone should eat a high quality diet, and control for the right quantity for their goals.

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Question 2:

From a nutrition standpoint, do you think meat eaters have an edge over vegetarians? I’m talking bio-availability of proteins, acquiring all essential amino acids, omega-3s etc.

Answer:

Yes.

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Question 3:

A lot of fitness enthusiasts want to lean out to very low BF levels and look ‘ripped’. What is your dietary advice for such folks?

Answer:

Eat a high-quality diet. Realize you’ll have to eat a low-quantity diet. Expect to make a lot of sacrifices. Plan your diet and workout program for however long it will take. Expect to
lose 0.5% body fat per week. Maybe a little more at the start. Use resistance training and interval training. Train hard up to 4 days per week. Stay active with recovery activities on your off day. Don’t expect to train ballz-hard 6-7 days per week. You’ll get injured.

Remember that diet is more important than exercise for getting ripped.

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Question 4:

Men have the most difficulty getting rid of fat in the lower abdominal area. What are the best ways to tackle that?

Answer:

See answer to #3. [Raj: This is to prove that there is no spot reduction of fat]

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Question 5:

Can you recommend some high quality vegetarian protein sources that do not come with a significant carb load?

Answer:

Vegan protein powders.

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Question 6:

What are your thoughts on cardio for fat loss?

Answer:

Not necessary.

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Question 7:

How important is strength training? What about for female trainees?

Answer:

Everyone would probably live a longer, better, easier, healthier life if they did resistance training, especially women.

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Question 8:

What is your advice for folks trying to gain strength? What would you say is the best program out there that deals with strength progression?

Answer:
For the average person, getting strong is probably the easiest thing for them to do.

Decrease the number of reps per set while adding resistance is the first step. To start, drop the reps per set by 2 and add 5% weight.

Do this for the main exercise of each workout. Once you get strong enough to bench press 1.5 times bodyweight and squat and deadlift 2 times bodyweight, you should look into programs by Jim Wendler and others through http://www.elitefts.com

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Question 9:

Lot of people get into the dark world of chronic cardio and come out exhausted and skinny fat. What diet and exercise related advice do you have for such trainees who want to gain strength and lose the skinny fat look?

Answer:

Very simple. Cut back on cardio, and use resistance training and interval training 3-4 days per week.

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Question 10:

Finally, can you tell the folks a little about your turbulence training program (the general concept, the diet, what it comes with etc.)?

Answer:

Turbulence Training is a complete workout and fitness program that originated in 1998 based on scientific experience and experience with my clients. It is based on the principles of Intensity, Variety, and Change.

Turbulence Training requires only 3 short sessions of 45 minutes per week. And the program is a series of workouts and nutritional guides that prides itself on being free of cardio. The workouts are comprised of resistance training and interval training, although the workouts can also be done just by using bodyweight exercises and no weights in the comfort of your own home.

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Question 11:

If readers want to check out your turbulence training program and give it a swirl where can they purchase the program?

Answer:

www.turbulencetraining.com/getstarted

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Once again thanks to Craig for the effort.

Peace out.

Eating out ≠ Eating junk

The next two lines will summarize what this post is about.

Today we all eat out more often than people did earlier – No shit.

It’s impossible to eat clean because we eat out so much – Bull shit.

Here are some common whines from folks trying to eat clean outside home (and my responses).

Whine: I went to a friend’s birthday dinner and unfortunately there wasn’t anything clean on the menu. So I had to eat fried rice and the spice just led me to the fried banana ice cream.

Response: Ever heard of meat (or tofu) and veggies? Any restaurant with a kitchen and a cutting board will be able to give you this. There is ALWAYS healthy/clean stuff in every menu. If you are determined to eat clean that night you will find it and order it. In this case, you just didn’t look hard enough.

Whine: I eat out 5 days a week. Getting grain free healthy food is impossible.

Response: Ever heard of salads? The stuff with vegetables, meat and cheese? Even if you’re eating at McDonald’s 5 days a week there are ways to eat clean. Get the grilled chicken burger without the bun. Still hungry ? Get 5 more. Eat your veggies during dinner.

Whine: Every time I go out to eat with friends my diet is the topic of conversation. People ask me weird questions and make fun of me. I feel extremely humiliated. So I decided to eat like ‘normal people’ during dinner parties.

Response: If you’re friends make fun of you for trying to make a positive change to your lifestyle that will literally keep you disease free, strong, lean and energetic, I wouldn’t really call them friends. If they’re doing it for giggles… just giggle and go about ordering your stuff.

Understand that eating clean is not something to be ashamed of. It is, in every damn way, something to be crazy proud of.

Whine: Customizing orders in restaurants is embarrassing. The waiters don’t like it. The others at the table don’t like it. I feel like such a burden.

Response: Let’s say you want a suit. Do you always have to get the ready-made stuff? Don’t you ever get your stuff stitched? Customizing your order is your bloody right.

Get this straight – YOU are paying for YOUR food which is going into YOUR stomach and will have an effect on YOUR health. You have every frackin right to say how exactly you want your food prepared. If they wont do it that way, they’re not the only restaurant in town.

Whine: How do I count calories when I eat at a restaurant? I have no idea how many carbs or fats are in my food. It’s so stressful! I can’t deal with this nonsense!

Response: Well… don’t count! You order your protein (meat or tofu or eggs), you order your side of vegetables (steamed or sauteed in butter) and you skip their rice/bread/mashed potatoes/pasta.

Life is simple. Keep it simple.

Whine: This is ridiculous! Why can’t I just eat like everyone else?

Response: Sure you can. But be prepared to look like everyone else.

Whine: OK your clean eating thing is a scam. I saw this guy in the next table eating a full pizza and a tub of ice cream and the dude is jacked!

Response: I’m sure he ate all that. But do you have even the slightest idea of what he ate during the other 27 meals that week? Any guesses on how much weight he moves in the gym? Do you have a frackin clue how fast/often the guy sprints? You don’t know shit about him. Stop using him as an excuse to eat junk.

For the non-whiners i.e the folks who genuinely try but fail due to lack of information, here are some useful tips for when eating outside.

  1. Firstly, the key is to not think that you are making a compromise. The key is to ‘learn’ to order menu items (or custom items) in a way that you will totally love it. For example, I love my vegetables sauteed in butter and I ask for them that way. And because I know my awesome buttered vegetables (with some fatty protein) are on their way, the rice/bread doesn’t tempt me.
  2. Secondly, the other ‘normal people’ at the table should try to eat like you because they want to look and function like you. Realize that you are the smarter person at the table making the better food choices. True story – Two friends at a dinner table laughed at my face because of what I eat/don’t eat. Two weeks later, the very same folks send me a personal email requesting a customized diet plan.
  3. Order a glass of one of the delicious dry wines (Cabernet Sauvignon or chardonnay) instead of sugary cocktails.
  4. Skip the bread with olive oil and enjoy some classy aged cheese with your wine.
  5. Every sit down restaurant should be able to provide you with protein (meat/tofu/eggs) and vegetables. If you don’t find it on their menu, request it as a special order.
  6. If the restaurant doesn’t do special orders, find an item on the menu that has protein, veggies and rice. Then ask the waiter to hold the rice and double the veggies.
  7. Salad’s are good if nothing else materializes. Drop the dressing and load up on olive oil/butter, pepper and some salt.
  8. Skip the dessert. Get a bowl of fruit (and top off with some whipped cream if you roll that way).

Summary: Harden the frac up and do what it takes!

11 things that make me want to pull my arm off…

… and beat you with it!

  1. When you think you can eat a whole pizza and burn it off by ‘doing the elliptical’ for 30 mins.
  2. When you ask if it’s better to do ‘cardio’ in the morning or evening when the last time you left the couch was 1982!
  3. When you say ‘Dude! That post on frequent carboloading leading to diabetes was amazing’… as you destroy that plate of cheesecake.
  4. When you say ‘You’ll be proud of me. I had a healthy snack – a fruit smoothie with 2 bananas, 2 cups of orange juice, 1 apple and 2 cups of grapes!’
  5. When you do a quarter squat and take pride in the weight you just moved.
  6. When you say you lost 10 lbs without any strength training and argue that all you lost was fat.
  7. When you eat like a 7 yr old school girl and complain that you can never put on mass.
  8. When you say ‘My dinner has to be all protein today. I’m going to order just lentils and beans!’
  9. When you accuse me of not eating ‘real food‘ because I said no to the pizza you offered me.
  10. When you tell me your body is unique and it needs grains and sugars to stay healthy.
  11. When you say ‘I don’t want any detailed workout program or diet. Just tell me how to tone up.’

But keep the questions coming ‘cos if you ain’t asking me dimwit questions I got no smart-ass answers!

All in good fun.

Take it easy this weekend.

Peace out.

Interview with Craig Ballantyne – Prep

You all know how much I write about eating clean and training smart for fat loss, health, longevity and strength. In an effort to further emphasize this and help my readers understand the benefits, I am interviewing one of the leading fitness experts in North America – Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, M.Sc.

For those of you who are not aware of Craig Ballantyne and his work. Here is a picture of Craig and some background.

  • Craig Ballantyne is a Strength & Conditioning coach in Toronto, Canada. He also has an advanced research background and a Master’s of Science Degree in Exercise Physiology from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
  • Craig is a workout routine and fat loss expert, and writes workout routines for Men’s HealthMen’s FitnessMuscle and Fitness Hers, and Oxygen magazines.
  • He is creator of the Turbulence Training fat loss program.
  • Craig has been designing workouts for top fitness magazines for over 9 years, and has helped thousands of men and women transform their bodies with his trademarked Turbulence Training workout programs in his famous Transformation Contests.
  • Here is some evidence of  Craig’s work – Turbulence Training Transformations (with client before/after pictures and essays) and his blog where he throws out some awesome information for free.
  • Craig is not a fan of doing long boring ‘cardio’ to lose fat. He believes the best way to lose fat is by doing short intense workouts (45 mins or less) which include weight training and high intensity interval training.
  • He preaches the importance of eating real foods to all his clients and readers.
  • Though not a vegetarian, he eats a mostly vegetarian diet and is living proof that a diet based on vegetables, fruits and nuts can produce astounding results.

This is serious stuff folks. Craig’s an extremely busy guy but has graciously accepted to dedicate some time towards answering some of our questions. Respecting his busy schedule I have decided to ask him 10 and only 10 questions. I already have a few questions in mind that I am planning on asking him, but if you guys have any questions about fat loss, workouts, diet, cardio or fasting that you would like answered post them in the comments section or send them to me via email and I will choose the best/most relevant ten questions and send them across to Craig. Needless to say, this is an awesome opportunity to get your specific questions answered.

Why interview Craig Ballantyne?

  • He has a great success rate with his clients.
  • A lot of his nutrition advice lines up with my philosophy of eating real food.
  • Like many of my readers, a major part of his food intake is vegetarian with little grains and almost no sugar except fruit.
  • He is a proponent of strength training for fat loss. For men and women.
  • His training revolves around the use of free weights and calisthenics 3 to 4 days a week with zero ‘cardio’.
  • He is not an extremist and does not deem carbs or fats to be evil or divine.
  • The dude is healthy and ripped!

The last day for receiving questions is Wednesday, 22nd September 2010.

I don’t know about you guys but advice from a guy who is shredded and has 9+ years of successfully transforming thousands of men and women? I’ll take a dozen For Here and a dozen To Go please.

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