Tag Archives: exercise

Day 303: At the end of 10 months

Day 303 - front

Day 303 – front

  • Weight: 138.2 lbs.
  • No workout today; next: Workout C, July 1
  • Total inches: 125.3
  • Protein: 134 g (4 g over target)
  • Calories: 2,124
Measurement Sept. 1 June 30 Change
Weight (pounds) 121.8 138.2 +16.4
Body fat percentage 23.5 26.7 [April 19] +3.2 percentage pts.
Fat weight 28.6 36.9 +8.3
Lean weight 93.2 101.3 +8.1
Total inches 113.6 125.3 +11.7

Exercise Start* June 30 Change
Kettlebell swing 32 x 20 lbs. 49/23/3 x 50 lbs. +150.0 percent
Myotatic crunch 6.5 x 2.5 lbs. 9.0 x 20 lbs. +700.0 percent
Single-arm kettlebell swing 25 x 15 lbs. 8/5 x 35 lbs. +133.3 percent
Isolateral dumbbell incline bench press 2.4/3.0 x 30 lbs. 1.1/1.2 x 40 lbs. +33.3 percent
Yates row 7.0 x 55 lbs. 5.0 x 135 lbs. +145.5 percent
Reverse drag curls 6.0 x 25 lbs. 1.3 x 55 lbs. +120.0 percent

*I started these exercises on different dates.

Discipline is easy without distractions.

But July will likely be a challenging month.

June has become busier with work, so staying on track with exercise and diet has been more difficult. Last week, I fell asleep one night before having my protein shake.

It took 4 extra days to make up the deficit in calories and protein. From one single shake.

I find myself looking forward to 2 months from now, or the 1-year mark. I feel like scaling back at that point, though I’m willing to bet my body fat percentage will still be a source of concern.

Fortunately, I have chapters yet to read in “The 4-Hour Body” [Amazon | iTunes aff. links] that can help with losing fat.

I will likely drop the daily photos and weekly blog posts, switching to monthly updates. I may continue to keep my daily diet recorded, if only to ensure I manage my nutrition properly and measure the impact of any changes.

And I daydream about trying out a full-on 3-month workout camp, just to test my limits. What I do is easy, because I have designed it that way. Putting myself in the hands of experts and truly bulking up would be a real mental and physical test.

I’d either end up ripped, or broken.

But first, I need to get through the next 2 months …

June’s average workout time was 26 minutes and 29 seconds, the same as May.

I averaged 2,159 calories a day in June. I also had 132 g protein a day on average.

The project has cost me $286.73 so far. I spent $70.15 less on food in June compared to previous monthly averages.

You can see all the numbers updated in real time on the Measurements page.

Day 301 - side

Day 301 – side

Day 1 vs. Day 303 - front

Day 1 vs. Day 303 – front
[Click image for a larger version.]

day 1 vs. Day 301 - side

Day 1 vs. Day 301 – side
[Click image for a larger version.] 

Day 280: Take good care of yourself

Day 280 - front

  • Weight: 138.2 lbs.
  • Workout C: 31 minutes, 32 seconds; next: Workout C, June 10
  • Total inches: 125.4
  • Protein: 137g (7g over target)
  • Calories: 2,191

I’m exercising. I’m eating consistently. But I’m not fully taking care of myself.

Stress is a killer. It could be from poor health, financial woes, family problems, terrible work situation or mental anxiety. I’m certainly dealing with a full plate of stress in getting my conference together to launch in 6 weeks.

And while I can still function and be fairly productive, it’s not a lot of fun. Stress is eating me up.

It’s affecting my sleep. It’s affecting my outlook. It’s making me feel depressed.

I’ve been told to take care of myself, but I haven’t listened very well. (Which, of course, compounds the stress.)

I can do a few simple things to take better care of myself …

1. Write down my fears and my solutions. Believe it or not, I had already done this months ago. Today, I printed them out so I could see my fears on paper. They’re much less scary than banging around my head over and over.

2. Breathe deeply for 5 minutes. I have set a daily reminder on my phone.

3. Do alternate exercise breaks. I am lazy, and Project Bulk embraces that willingness to do as little as possible. However, getting out for a walk or stopping to do 25 minutes of yoga isn’t just a mental break. It will help me with the rest of my day and ease my overall stress.

4. Write. Writing is one of the most relaxing things I do. But it takes time, so I often put it aside when I’m in heavy work mode. I’ll just have to snag some time here and there to write a few blog posts, even if work related (see this post, for example).

My calm exterior often belies the stress simmering underneath. I don’t have to let it fester. I can choose to take care of myself.

How do you deal with your stress? Have at it in the comments.

Day 280 - side

Day 273: End of the third trimester

Day 273 - front

Day 273 – front

  • Weight: 138.2 lbs.
  • Workout C: 28 minutes, 26 seconds; next: Workout C, June 3
  • Total inches: 124.6
  • Protein: 134 g (4 g over target)
  • Calories: 2,173
Measurement Sept. 1 May 31 Change
Weight (pounds) 121.8 138.2 +16.4
Body fat percentage 23.5 26.7 [April 19] +3.2 percentage pts.
Fat weight 28.6 36.9 +8.3
Lean weight 93.2 101.3 +8.1
Total inches 113.6 124.6 +11.0

Exercise Start* May 31 Change
Kettlebell swing 32 x 20 lbs. 38/21/16 x 50 lbs. +150.0 percent
Myotatic crunch 6.5 x 2.5 lbs. 9.0 x 20 lbs. +700.0 percent
Single-arm kettlebell swing 25 x 15 lbs. 15/16 x 30 lbs. +100.0 percent
Isolateral dumbbell incline bench press 2.4/3.0 x 30 lbs. 4.2/4.1 x 35 lbs. +16.7 percent
Yates row 7.0 x 55 lbs. 5.0 x 135 lbs. +145.5 percent
Reverse drag curls 6.0 x 25 lbs. 1.2 x 55 lbs. +120.0 percent

*I started these exercises on different dates.

This month has been messy.

My diet has been smooth, but my exercise has been sloppy: bad form, off dates, light weights.

My form can be increasingly askew during workouts. I noticed my kettlebell swings were becoming lower and lower (they should peak parallel with my shoulders). As I worked on bringing the swings higher, I tired out quicker. But at least my form is back where it should be.

If I were more rigorous about my schedule, I’d stick with my Monday-Wednesday-Friday workout routine. However, I have occasionally slid into the next day. Sometimes, it’s laziness. Sometimes, it’s my very busy work schedule. I’m not crazy about working out on the “wrong” day, but I’m at least maintaining three sessions per week.

My muscle development has slowed because of one simple problem: lifting weights that are too light. My Yates rows have been easier and easier since I haven’t added weight to the bar in 2 months. I must find some low-cost weight plates (15 and 25 pounds) to add to my collection.

Even my single-arm kettlebell swing should have been bumped to 35 pounds, after finishing a full set at 30 pounds in April. But I forgot to add weight to those sessions, both times in May.

The only one holding me back from my full potential is me.

May’s average workout time was 26 minutes and 29 seconds. It should hold steady from now on, based on numbers of reps.

Having dropped to the 2,100-to-2,200 range for calories, I averaged 2,154 calories a day in May. I also had 131.5 g protein a day on average.

The project has cost me $356.88 so far. I spent $37.43 less on food in May compared to previous monthly averages.

You can see all the numbers updated in real time on the Measurements page.

Day 273 - side

Day 273 – side

Day 1 vs. Day 273 - front

Day 1 vs. Day 273 – front
[Click image for a larger version.]

day 1 vs. Day 273 - side

Day 1 vs. Day 273 – side
[Click image for a larger version.] 

Day 243: The cruelest month

Day 243 - front

Day 243 – front

  • Weight: 139.0 lbs.
  • Workout D: 26 minutes, 14 seconds; next: Workout C, May 3
  • Total inches: 125.0
  • Protein: 131 g (0 g over target)
  • Calories: 2,140
Measurement Sept. 1 April 26 Change
Weight (pounds) 121.8 139.0 +17.2
Body fat percentage 23.5 26.7 [April 19] +3.2 percentage pts.
Fat weight 28.6 37.1 +8.5
Lean weight 93.2 101.9 +8.7
Total inches 113.6 125.0 +11.4

Exercise Start* April 26 Change
Kettlebell swing 32 x 20 lbs. 59/16x 50 lbs. +150.0 percent
Myotatic crunch 6.5 x 2.5 lbs. 6.0 x 20 lbs. +700.0 percent
Single-arm kettlebell swing 25 x 15 lbs. 25/25 x 30 lbs. +100.0 percent
Isolateral dumbbell incline bench press 2.4/3.0 x 30 lbs. 3.0/3.4 x 35 lbs. +16.7 percent
Yates row 7.0 x 55 lbs. 5.0 x 135 lbs. +145.5 percent
Reverse drag curls 6.0 x 25 lbs. 0.3 x 55 lbs. +120.0 percent

*I started these exercises on different dates.

April was filled with the unexpected.

I used up all my heavy plates in weightlifting, so I need to shop for a couple of 25-pound plates.

I had to redo my protein shake recipe because of my gross accounting error.

I went up in body fat percentage.

It had been a relatively smooth ride, and then this past month has been quite bumpy. It will smooth out as I adjust.

workout time April 2013

Total workout time by month

My average workout time continues to grow and won’t stop until I plateau at 50 reps of “cat vomit” (already at 46). April’s average was 25 minutes and 3 seconds.

Because of the protein shake adjustment, my calorie goal has dropped from the 2,300-2,400 range to the 2,100-2,200 range. The April daily calorie intake was 2,276 on average.

The project has cost me $315.14 so far. I spent $11.50 more on food in April compared to previous monthly averages.

You can see all the numbers updated in real time on the Measurements page.

Maybe May will will be more like a lamb and less of a lion.

Day 238 - side

Day 238 – side

Day 1 vs. Day 243 - front

Day 1 vs. Day 243 – front
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day 1 vs. Day 238 - side

Day 1 vs. Day 238 – side
[Click image for a larger version.] 

Day 211: I’m your density

Day 211 - front

Day 211 – front

  • Weight: 137.8 lbs.
  • No workout today; next: Workout C, April 1
  • Total inches: 124.0
  • Protein: 145 g (15 g over target)
  • Calories: 2,660
Measurement Sept. 1 March 29 Change
Weight (pounds) 121.8 137.8 +16.0
Body fat percentage 23.5 25.5 [Jan. 2] +2.0 percentage pts.
Fat weight 28.6 35.1 +6.5
Lean weight 93.2 102.7 +9.5
Total inches 113.6 124.0 +10.4

Exercise Start* March 29 Change
Kettlebell swing 32 x 20 lbs. 45/30 x 50 lbs. +150.0 percent
Myotatic crunch 6.5 x 2.5 lbs. 9.0 x 15 lbs. +500.0 percent
Single-arm kettlebell swing 25 x 15 lbs. 25/8 x 30 lbs. +100.0 percent
Isolateral dumbbell incline bench press 2.4/3.0 x 30 lbs. 3.0/2.1 x 35 lbs. +16.7 percent
Yates row 7.0 x 55 lbs. 5.0 x 135 lbs. +145.5 percent
Reverse drag curls 6.0 x 25 lbs. 6.0 x 45 lbs. +80.0 percent

*I started these exercises on different dates.

I’m bulkier, but am I dense enough?

In reaching an estimated 10 pounds of muscle gained, I need to check one vital statistic: body fat percentage.

If it’s decreasing, I can keep my current routine. If not, I’ll need to examine “The 4-Hour Body” [Amazon |iTunes aff. links] for ways to shed fat. But it is important to get my body fat percentage from the unhealthy 25 percent to a lean 10 percent.

My average workout time is increasing slightly, as I add more reps of “cat vomit,” at 23 minutes and 27 seconds average in March. I am making good progress in weights lifted.

My calorie goal remains 2,300 to 2,400 per day, with an average of 2,318 (so far) in March.

The project has cost me $190.98 so far. I saved $68.88 in food in March compared to previous monthly averages.

You can see all the numbers updated in real time on the Measurements page.

I’d like to see less fat, as well as a better defined abdomen. But if it means adding workout time, I might skip it. I’m close to where I want to be, but still prefer a slow, less-time-involving approach rather than investing more hours in workouts.

Day 210 - side

Day 210 – side

Day 1 vs. Day 181 - front

Day 1 vs. Day 210 – front
[Click image for a larger version.]

day 1 vs. Day 181 - side

Day 1 vs. Day 210 – side
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Day 183: Looking back on 6 months

Day 183 - front

Day 183 – front

  • Weight: 135.8 lbs.
  • No workout today; next: Workout C, March 4
  • Total inches: 123.5
  • Protein: 133 g (5 g over target)
  • Calories: 2,303
Measurement Sept. 1 March 1 Change
Weight (pounds) 121.8 135.8 +14.0
Body fat percentage 23.5 25.5 [Jan. 2] +2.0 percentage pts.
Fat weight 28.6 34.6 +6.0
Lean weight 93.2 101.2 +8.0
Total inches 113.6 123.5 +9.9

Exercise Start* March 1 Change
Kettlebell swing 32 x 20 lbs. 56/19 x 40 lbs. +100.0 percent
Myotatic crunch 6.5 x 2.5 lbs. 15.0 x 12.5 lbs. +400.0 percent
Single-arm kettlebell swing 25 x 15 lbs. 25/12 x 30 lbs. +100.0 percent
Isolateral dumbbell incline bench press 2.4/3.0 x 30 lbs. 5.0/5.0 x 30 lbs. 0 percent
Yates row 7.0 x 55 lbs. 3.3 x 135 lbs. +145.5 percent
Reverse drag curls 6.0 x 25 lbs. 3.2 x 45 lbs. +80.0 percent

*I started these exercises on different dates.

Things I can do now that I couldn’t when I started Project Bulk 6 months ago …

  • Swing a 40-pound kettlebell 65 times in a row (shooting for 75).
  • Perform a Yates row with a 135-pound barbell.
  • Perform 12 reps on each arm in three sets for the iso-lateral dumbbell incline bench press at 30 pounds (shooting for 15).
  • Sit and stand with good posture (no slouching).
  • Perform 27 reps of “cat vomit” (shooting for 50).
  • See the change in my upper body (in the photos below and in my special video).
  • Work out with weights (I had no clue starting out).

In the first 181 days …

  • I ate 24.4 kg (53.8 lbs.) of protein. That’s almost 40 percent of my body weight in meat, fish, peanut butter, milk and protein powder, at about 134.9 g per day.
  • I ate 393,605 calories, or about 2,175 per day. That’s enough for a car to travel at 350 miles at 60 mph. For the past 2.5 months, I’ve averaged 2,326 per day (aiming for 2,300 minimum).
  • I’ve worked out 18 hours, 8 minutes and 51 seconds, or about 42 minutes and 7 seconds per week. My workout time for February ballooned to 4 hours and 34 minutes, thanks to the time-consuming “cat vomit” exercise.
  • I spent $176.62, or about 98 cents per day or $22.08 per pound of muscle gained.

Not bad for a skinny lad with no real expectations or experience.

Day 181 - side

Day 181 – side

Day 1 vs. Day 181 - front

Day 1 vs. Day 181 – front
[Click image for a larger version.]

day 1 vs. Day 181 - side

Day 1 vs. Day 181 – side
[Click image for a larger version.] 

Day 168: Less is … the same

Day 168 - front

Day 168 – front

  • Weight: 137.0 lbs.
  • Workout C: 26 minutes, 19 seconds; next: Workout C, Feb. 18
  • Total inches: 124.0
  • Protein: 134 g (5 g over target)
  • Calories: 2,322

One of the keys to Project Bulk is frequency and duration of workouts. Author Tim Ferriss refers to this as Minimum Effective Dose in “The 4-Hour Body” [Amazon |iTunes aff. links].

I lift weights about an hour and 13 minutes a week total, split over Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays. For the month, that’s about 5 hours.

I could exercise more, but the challenge is to build muscles with as little effort and time as possible. I could exercise less, which is what I did in October and November using different exercises. Those months resulted in higher body fat compared to muscle gain than I preferred.

Researchers at nearby University of Alabama at Birmingham studied exercise dosage with 72 women age 60 to 74. Split into three groups, they exercised by weightlifting and either jogging or cycling for 4 months. Group A did one of each a week, or two workouts; group B did two of each, or four workouts; and group C did three of each, or six workouts.

“The women working out twice a week had become as powerful and aerobically fit as those who had worked out six times a week.”

The study appears in this month’s Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.

As you exercise to gain strength and endurance, to tone your body or to lose weight, you should ask yourself what the right dosage of exercise is. Can you gain more with less?

Day 168 - side

Day 168 – side

Day 154: 5 months and counting

Day 154 - front

  • Weight: 136.2 lbs.
  • Workout C: 13 minutes, 58 seconds; next: Workout C, Feb. 4
  • Total inches: 123.1
  • Protein: 129 g (0 g over target)
  • Calories: 2,350

The first 5 months have gone well. I am adding one more exercise for February, but let’s look at the numbers first.

Measurement Sept. 1 Feb. 1 Change
Weight (pounds) 121.8 136.2 +14.4
Body fat percentage 23.5 25.5 [Jan. 2] +2.0 percentage pts.
Fat weight 28.6 34.7 +6.1
Lean weight 93.2 101.5 +8.3
Total inches 113.6 123.1 +9.6

weight 2-1-13

Weight through Feb. 1

My weight continues to climb since the drop in November.

Exercise Start* Feb. 1 Change
Kettlebell swing 32 x 20 lbs. 50/25 x 40 lbs. +100.0 percent
Myotatic crunch 6.5 x 2.5 lbs. 6.0 x 10 lbs. +300.0 percent
Single-arm kettlebell swing 25 x 15 lbs. 12/9 x 30 lbs. +100.0 percent
Isolateral dumbbell incline bench press 2.4/3.0 x 30 lbs. 4.3/5.0 x 30 lbs. 0 percent
Yates row 7.0 x 55 lbs. 3.0 x 125 lbs. +127.3 percent
Reverse drag curls 6.0 x 25 lbs. 4.0 x 45 lbs. +80.0 percent

*I started these exercises on different dates.

I am seeing some improvement in my lifting, especially in the isolateral dumbbell incline bench press. When I reached 30 pounds for that exercise, I thought I would never budge that dumbbell an inch. I get three attempts each week, and I have slowly added to my reps.

Maybe by month’s end, I’ll graduate to the next size dumbbell.

workout time - 2-1-13

My workout time is holding steady: around 3 hours and 30 minutes for the month.

My calorie intake is on the money. I’m shooting for 2,300 to 2,400 a day, and my daily average for January was 2,335 calories.

The project has cost me $282.88 so far. I saved $68.88 in food in January compared to previous monthly averages.

You can see all the numbers updated in real time on the Measurements page.

I’d like to see my stomach better defined. Six pack? Yes, please.

To that end, I’m adding the cat vomit exercise back into the rotation on Mondays and Fridays, on top of kettlebell swings and myotatic crunches. Let’s see if eight times a month will improve that area.

Why should my arms and neck and sides have all the fun?

Day 154 - side

Day 1 vs. Day 154 - front

Day 1 vs. Day 154 – front
[Click image for a larger version.]

Day 1 vs. Day 154 - side

Day 1 vs. Day 154 – side
[Click image for a larger version.] 

Day 147: Off-days

Day 147 - front

  • Weight: 137.0 lbs.
  • Workout C: 8 minutes, 43 seconds; next: Workout C, Jan. 28
  • Total inches: 124.5
  • Protein: 136 g (7 g over target)
  • Calories: 2,311

This month is a typical month. “Typical” meaning January is like December, the only 2 months of the kettlebell-heavy routine.

I work out three times a week, about 13 times a month, for about 16 minutes each time or three-and-a-half hours total in a month. But what do I do on the 17 or 18 days off?

Ideally, walk or do yoga. In reality, very little of either.

I have made Project Bulk a priority, sticking rigidly to exercise schedules. And while I maintain my photos and diet every day, I have not made too much effort to move otherwise.

I am consumed by project work, which leaves me little time to walk the neighborhood or pop in the yoga DVD. Or, at least, it’s a good enough excuse.

Originally, I didn’t want to skew the numbers with additional exercise, but I feel confident that the current workouts are, well, working out. So walking would just be for fun and fresh air, with a few calories burned to boot. Yoga would be to help with breathing, flexibility and focus.

Late at night, I am content to slow down, settle in, not move. As long as I swing the kettlebell 150 times a week, I’m set.

Day 147 - side

Day 124: The year that was

Day 124

  • Weight: 134.2 lbs.
  • Workout D: 25 minutes, 45 seconds; next: Workout C, Jan. 4
  • Total inches: 122.6
  • Protein: 127 g (0 g over target)
  • Calories: 2,316

New year, latest results.

I had a good readout from this morning’s BodPod session.

Measurement Sept. 1 Jan. 2 Change
Weight (pounds) 121.8 134.2 +12.4
Body fat percentage 23.5 25.5 +2.0 percentage pts.
Fat weight 28.6 34.2 +5.6
Lean weight 93.2 100.0 +6.8
Total inches 113.6 122.6 +9.0

My body fat was 23.5 percent in September, 24.5 percent in October, 26.8 percent in November … but dropped to 25.5 percent today. That’s still not a great number, but I’m now moving in the right direction: more lean, less fat.

weight jan. 2

Weight through Jan. 2

My weight is up slightly for December.

My workout changed in December to kettlebell swings primarily. The sessions are typically shorter and more frequent.

Exercise Start* Jan. 2 Change
Kettlebell swing 32 x 20 lbs. 55/20 x 40 lbs. +100.0 percent
Myotatic crunch 6.5 x 2.5 lbs. 2.0 x 10 lbs. +300.0 percent
Single-arm kettlebell swing 25 x 15 lbs. 25 x 20 lbs. +33.3 percent
Isolateral dumbbell incline bench press 2.4/3.0 x 30 lbs. 3.3/3.3 x 30 lbs. 0 percent
Yates row 7.0 x 55 lbs. 4.4 x 125 lbs. +127.3 percent
Reverse drag curls 6.0 x 25 lbs. 6.0 x 35 lbs. +40.0 percent

*I started these exercises on different dates.

workout time 2012

My workout time in September was close to 3 hours, 45 minutes. In October and November, it was around 1 hour, 30 minutes. In December, it was back up to 3 hours, 30 minutes.

I have maintained a 2,300-calorie minimum for the last 2 weeks. This seems optimal, so I’ll continue to eat between 2,300 and 2,400 each day through June.

The project has cost me $342.11 so far. The cost went up in December with a new jar of protein powder and more dining out for the holidays.

You can see all the numbers updated in real time on the Measurements page.

So 2012 ended well. I hit a good weight, my body fat dropped slightly, I started a new workout, and I found a good calorie range to maintain.

For the first 6 months of 2013, I am going to:

  • Continue with my current workouts, emphasizing kettlebell swings;
  • Continue with 2,300 to 2,400 calories a day;
  • Continue with 127 g of protein a day, adjusting up as needed;
  • Continue with daily photos;
  • Continue with weekly blog posts;
  • Drop from daily measurement of weight and total inches to weekly.

As you see, the only real change is cutting back on the morning routine of scale and tape measure. It’ll save a few minutes each day.

The daily look at weights and total inches wasn’t helping or hurting me. I haven’t needed the reinforcement to stick to the routine, and the trends will be borne out by the numbers every Friday.

Project Bulk has transformed from a short-term project into potentially a yearlong lifestyle switch. I am excited about what 2013 will bring.

Day 1 vs. Day 124 - front

Day 1 vs. Day 124 – front
[Click image for a larger version.]

Day 1 vs. Day 119 - side

Day 1 vs. Day 119 – side
[Click image for a larger version.]