Thursday, April 8, 2010

Getting In Shape For Summer: The 7 Week Formula

After taking off about 60 pounds between February and September, 2009, I looked in the mirror and wanted to be bigger -- not bigger as in fatter, but more muscled.

So, 3 months ago Kelly and I went on a "bulking" routine I have written about extensively in this blog.

That routine ended earlier this week.

In that 12 week period, I put on 9 pounds, going from 163 to 172 pounds.

While it would be nice to think if one works out everyday, eats clean, he or she will gain only muscle. Nice, but not true. At best, gains are divided between muscle and fat.

So, now, about 7 weeks from June 1 -- a/k/a "summertime," we're moving into our "Cutting Phase," which means to cut off whatever fat was added during the Bulking Phase and leave the added muscle.

My goal is to be at 10% body fat by June 1. I roughly calculate I need to lose about a pound a week between now and then. That means I need to have a deficit of 3500 calories per week, or 500 calories per day.

No problem. I plugged that Diet Plan into my software, DietController and off we go. By using software and a food scale, you can dial yourself in exactly where you want to be.

In the case of cutting, it gets a bit more complicated. If the body starts feeling hunger, it will go what is called "catabolic," and that means it will begin eating muscle to provide the protein it wants and needs -- not a good thing. You can easily lose the muscle you worked so hard to gain.

So, how to do we prevent going catabolic while calorie deficient?

1. We still eat 7 times a day. The meals are smaller in order to take into consideration the calorie deficit, but the body wants to know that the nutrition is there.

2. The 7th meal will not be before bed, but during the night. If the body runs out of nutrients at night, while you are asleep, it will go catabolic. To prevent that, we will take a small protein meal and put it on our night stands. I usually wake up about 2 a.m. anyway and instead of just going to the restroom, we will also eat our small meals.

3. Glutamine. An amino acid, adding this to our diet can help the body not go catabolic. The reasons are too complex to go into here, but putting a spoonful in your workout drink in the morning and in your water in the evening is easy. It is odorless, tasteless and it does the work.

4. BCAA's. Branch chain amino acids. Performs the same service as Glutamine, more or less. We take BCAA capsules in the morning and before bed.

5. Cardio. I like to eat. Extra cardio equals more food. During this cutting phase, we will do double cardio 2 - 3 days a week. It burns extra calories which means it adds calories we can eat. It also helps speed the metabolism.

6. Resistance training. We're now on a 5 day a week workout routine -- one body part per day (about 24 sets) as follows:

Monday - Legs
Tuesday - Chest/Calves
Wednesday - Back
Thursday - Shoulders/Traps
Friday - Arms/Abdominals

On Saturday, no resistance training, but double cardio. Sunday we take off.

Repeat for 7 weeks and I'll be 7 pounds lighter, almost all in the form of lost fat, leaving several pounds of muscle added during the Bulking Routine.

How long will we stay that lean? It depends on how we feel. The downside of being that lean is that you lose some strength and it is hard to put on muscle because you don't give yourself more calories than you're using. For sure a couple of months we'll stay there and perhaps through September. By October, though, if not before, we'll be back on another Bulking routine looking to add more muscle.

Bottom line: "You can't add muscle after 50 years old" is a lie, an excuse for those who want to lay around and get fat. If you want to muscle up after 50, you can. You'll have to train hard and diet harder, but the rewards are well worth it.

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