Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Mustache March, Hockey Playoff Beards, a Mohawk and Staying Committed (Dealing with Success) Part 3

Make sure you check out Part 1 and Part 2.

Phase #2 has wrapped up and I’m already well into Phase #3.  I hit several PR’s in each lift over the last training segment and if you read any of my tweets during that time you know that there were a few weeks in a row where new PR’s were a daily experience.  I’m once again up in all my lifts and have been at a steady 198 – 200# for weight (about a 17# increase since May).  So far I’ve been able to show the same drive and intensity that I had at the beginning of Phase #1.  My goals now are to maintain my weight and strength (possibly continue increasing strength) while transitioning to more conditioning and speed work in Phase #3.  Once I’m done I may post some progression pics to show the transformation throughout the 3 training segments.
My improved eating strategy has helped significantly in terms of gaining weight/strength and supporting the energy and recovery my body needs.  Not that I ate poorly last year, but I wasn’t successful at keeping weight on and when I hit my max weight of 208#, I felt a little chunky (ok, a lot chunky).  I did gradually lean out throughout conditioning, but realized I had gained more ‘bad’ weight than I wanted and had a difficult time staying close to 200# which was my goal.  I was following the old idea of gaining as much as possible and then ‘leaning out’ to end up at a given target weight.  I also got sick in December and had to lay off any intense training for almost 3 weeks. 

In June, I was reading a few articles about ‘intermittent fasting’ and thought about trying out a few of those strategies in an effort to help ensure I gained quality weight this year.  I also wanted to see what the results were so I could recommend the ideas (or not) to clients.  I prefer having actual experience with a methodology before asking a client to follow a certain plan/program.  I decided to modify some of the nutritional guidelines, and at the end of each phase started to incorporate an ‘intermittent calorie reduction’ on off-days while still maintaining my ‘normal’ calorie intake on work out days.  Generally speaking my work out day looks like 3,500 Kcal with 40% CHO, 30% PRO and 30% FAT – my off-days were around 2,300 – 2,600 Kcal with 30% CHO, 35% PRO and 35% FAT.  Off-days may have included mountain biking or trail running, but I didn’t record that as a workout day.  After a few days of the reduced Kcal, I didn’t even notice I wasn’t eating as much, which made it that much easier to continue with the experiment.    

To say I was a bit surprised with the results was an understatement.  I continued to increase strength/power during these times and became noticeably leaner without loosing a significant amount of weight.  So if I gained, let’s say 10# before the intermittent calorie reduction, I ended up with a total gain of 8# at the end, but was strong and lean.  Lean muscle mass growth was still supported (good) at the same time excess fat loss was taking place (good).  Usually when I’ve done anything with reduced calories in the past, I’ve lost more weight than I’d like (bad), though ending up with a lean look (good), and after a while lost ground in the strength department too (bad). 

The style of conditioning and plyometric training I use leading up to race season is difficult and while it requires a significant physical effort, also involves a decent amount of mental toughness.  I’ve been preparing my body and mind for the work over the past 2 training segments and am ready for the remaining challenges. Sometimes there’s some mental “rust” that I need to shake off in early conditioning sessions, but this year that didn’t last long at all.  I’m continuing to push myself to new levels leading up to snow season, now only a short few weeks away.

Looking back on it I don’t credit the Mohawk for my success to date; after all it’s just a haircut.  I know that I’m the one who has to lift the weights, eat the right foods, go to bed on time, etc.  The work out program, nutrition and intensity/effort were the ‘magic’ behind the success.  But I do believe that when you make a commitment there’s a definite value to having a personal outward symbol of your inner dedication - especially one that looks you right in the eye in the mirror every morning.

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