171.2 pounds today.
The Loading Phase has performed as advertised.
My body fat measurement shows I've gained about 5 pounds of muscle and 2 pounds of fat in the last 45 days using a lean bulk diet (+250 calories per day over BMR + exercise) combined with a loading routine -- 6 days a week, high sets (39 sets per workout), high reps (10-12), and 6-8 meals of clean eating each day.
Now, after 4 weeks of that we're moving along to 3 weeks of the Growth Phase starting Monday.
We will get into more of how the Growth Phase looks next week, but here are the basics:
The Growth Phase
During the Growth Phase the body is not stressed by volume. This time the stimuli are heavy weights. If this phase would be kept for too long eventually the body would cease to stop making strength gains and you would plateau. This is the reason why we always need to go back to a Loading Phase. During the Growth Phase the following three things happen:
•The testosterone levels go through the roof in response to the longer rest in between sets and the heavier weights.
•Hypertrophy (muscle growth) occurs by the body increasing the actual diameter of the myofiber (the muscle fiber size) through increased protein synthesis (Note: protein synthesis is creating protein strands through DNA and RNA and it takes place in the cytoplasm of the cell.)
•Since the body’s recuperation abilities were built up to the maximum by the Loading Phase and the volume has gone down dramatically, these extra recuperation abilities are used to increase strength and build more muscle mass. The reason the body does this is in order to be prepared for another stressful period like the one it just went through. This adaptation mechanism is the one that ensures the survival of the species.
REMEMBER: Even if you are training for fat loss, your main goal should always be to stimulate muscle growth. Otherwise, if you were to drastically reduce training poundage in order to perform a lot of high reps, there would be no reason for the body to keep the muscle around. Because of this, you should always train with muscle growth in mind and let the nutrition and the cardiovascular exercise take care of reducing your body fat levels.
Right now I am down to just 3 days of cardio a week. Why? I am not trying to burn off calories. Rather, I want to keep an extra 200 - 300 calories a day around for muscle growth, understanding, of course, that there is no way to add pure lean muscle without adding some fat. It is simply the way the body works. It is a storage machine.
The next 3 weeks are going to be challenging. 6 days a week -- fewer sets (21-24 per workout) and fewer reps (6-8 per set), but very heavy weight (7-5+ of the 1 rep maximium). We believe our mental state is right, that our connective tissue will hold together, and Kelly and I are really looking forward to it. (By the way, my workout partner, Kelly, who also doubles as my wife, had a terrific leg workout today. Heaviest squats I've seen her do. Cool.)
Three weeks of the Growth Phase will take us to April 5 at which time we will do two weeks of Active Recovery and then we will start our cutting diet on April 15 sharp. Between April 15 and June 1st, I will slowly take off the fat I've added during the Loading and Growth Phases. My calculation indicates that I will need to take off about 5-7 pounds to get to sub-10% body fat (legit). I'm lucky because at 10% I am ripped and vascular so I'll know when I get there not only by the meter but by the look.
How long we maintain that state before starting to bulk again depends on how we feel. At this point, we really try to listen to our bodies and follow its lead. Right now, my body is screaming to grow and I'm trying to help it with a clean diet, high protein, relatively high carbs, and supplements like Tribulus which bumps the testosterone levels naturally.
Have a great day; train hard; diet harder. It is time to become who you always wanted to be.