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Training during the apocalypse – Goal setting and adjusting your nutrition plan.

The time has come when we can’t access the gym unless you are lucky enough to have access to a gym or even better yet have a home or garage gym.  For those of us who aren’t as fortunate the coming weeks could be an excuse to get demotivated, let our negative emotions and thoughts occupy more space in our head and to become fat, unmotivated sorry sacks.  The most important thing when it comes to training is to have something to work towards for most people who read this blog having something to work towards is easy because we lift weights to get stronger. Advancing our key lifts and totals are the only motivation we want or need.  You will soon find when you start doing bodyweight exercise that it’s pretty fucking shit and boring. It’s meaningless work for work’s sake. That is if you let it be that. 

This article is going to lay out my plan for the coming period of time.  It is officially 3 weeks in length (if you believe that) it would be more realistic to plan for a 3-6 week time frame (maybe longer).  That is a long time frame to let yourself get down and to slide backwards in our habits and work ethic. So we need a focus and it needs to be a change of focus.  We need goals in short.

Setting goals for the upcoming period.

My long term exercise and fitness goals are not going to change, I am still planning on advancing my total in the 120kg class.  However, with no gym, no barbell, no weights, and no rack this is going to prove somewhat challenging. I have ordered a home gym that will hopefully get here by the end of the week however it will become part of the plan it won’t be the plan.

The overall goal

To finish this period of time in better general fitness.  To be leaner, lighter and aerobically better conditioned. To allow me to enter into a more specific and intense powerlifting period of training.

I don’t want to set a goal weight but closer to 106-107 would be good for me.

Performance-based goals

To improve my aerobic running fitness

To improve my muscular endurance and aerobic fitness with bodyweight workouts

To keep as much mass and muscle strength as I can while I can’t engage in a full powerlifting program

Adherence goals

–   Perform an AM and PM training session every day apart from Sunday

–   Fast to 12 pm every day

–   it my protein target (250g per day)

–   Weigh myself every morning

–   Develop a daily plan, the night before I go to bed and to stick to the plan

–   Get 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night

Your goals should be specific to your situation, time period and what you want to achieve in the long term.  I have set the goals out in the above manner for the following reasons

The overall goal – this is what you are wanting to achieve during this period of time you could look at it as your why or your philosophy.  It can be tangible (I want to weigh this amount or lift this amount) but it will say nothing about how the goal will be achieved.

Performance-based goals – these measure tangibly how you are progressing towards your goal or your overarching goal.  They should either be measured on a regular basis (testing workouts or sessions) or they can form part of your day to day process (regular weigh-ins, weights, and RPEs during normal sessions, distances and times on regular workouts).

Adherence based goals – these are the lead goals, they might not directly be related to your overall goals (making a plan for the day ahead might not DIRECTLY lead to the overall goal but completing these tasks will make you more likely to be successful.  The goal of these tasks is to simply complete them.

Nutrition

One of the easiest things to get slack on or to let slip in the coming weeks is going to be your nutrition through boredom or comfort eating. It could be very easing to overeat and to end up piling on weight in the coming period.  That with a lack of activity is not a good recipe for your physical or mental health. I have covered in previous articles (and others have with much better detail) the main points when it comes to any diet or nutrition plan. I will link to some resources if you are wanting something a bit more specific or you want to upskill yourself what I am going to be covering here are the lynchpin/key points that are the 20% that will cover the 80% of your results.

Here are some links to resources you can start with to upskill yourself and understand more some of the reasoning behind the advice that is about to follow.

Calories – https://www.realisticnutrition.co/calories-aka-why-you-shouldnt-take-diet-advice-from-womens-magazines/

Protein – http://www.castironstrength.com/the-powerlifters-diet-protein/


Carbohydrates – http://www.castironstrength.com/the-powerlifters-diet-carbohydrates/

Fat – https://examine.com/topics/fat/

Understanding energy balance.

The best way to understand energy balance (calories in v calories out) is to actually track your daily intake the most commonly used app for this purpose is myftiness pal.  If you want to know how many calories you should be taking in you need to work out your

Basal metabolic rate (how many calories to keep you the same weight you are under bed rest conditions) – https://www.calculator.net/bmr-calculator.html

Your activity modifier (to account for how active your lifestyle is) which you can find the values of on the above calculator.  This is an ESTIMATION of what you need to eat on a daily basis to maintain your current body weight. You need to keep an objective track of measures such as your body weight, waist (cm), pictures and body fat if you have the means to test.  You then use these outputs to adjust your inputs (i.e. if you are gaining weight you should eat less, if you are losing weight to fast you should eat more).

When it comes to weight management calories are the crux of the issue.  When you get the energy balance the way you want it (negative to lose weight, equal to maintain and positive to gain weight) then you need to adhere to the plan and to use inputs/feedback to adjust the plan as required.

Protein intake

After calories, your protein intake is the next most important aspect of the diet to get right.  During a period of time when you can’t exercise to cause adaptation in the direction you want (i.e. you can’t get stronger because you don’t have enough weight or you can’t gain size because you don’t have any weights) the best thing we can do is to maintain as much of the positive adaptation we have gained from training in the past and to try and push our training in a direction that will help us going forward.  We will talk more about this when we get onto the training section of this article. 

If you are trying to lose weight then you should have your protein intake high to try and encourage your body to use fat for fuel instead of muscle.  If you are looking to maintain or gain weight then your protein intake should be adequate when you are in energy balance or surplus then your body is much less likely to oxidise protein (read muscle cells) for energy than when in a calorie deficit. 

A good rule of thumb would be 

If looking to maintain or gain weight – 1.8 – 2g of protein per KG of bodyweight


If you are looking to lose weight (more importantly fat) – 2 – 2.2g of protein per kg of bodyweight

In an ideal world, we would be looking to have this protein spread out through the day in regular feedings of 20-25g or more every 2-3 hours.  This will help to optimize muscle protein synthesis (to help promote your body to be building muscle mass/repairing muscle tissue) However as we will discuss it’s the structure that will work for you and your habits that is the correct one to adopt.

Setting up the framework/Structure.

There are any number of ways you can go about setting up your nutrition or dietary approach

  • Small meals every 2-3 hours
  • Fasting with 2-3 main meals
  • 3 square meals a day (with optional planned snacks)

To name probably the three most common approaches the key thing is that you need structure in how you eat.  You need to avoid snacking and unplanned eating as this is where you are going to be losing a lot of ground to uncounted or unplanned calorie intake.  You might have had a small breakfast, lunch and a reasonable dinner and think you are all good for the day, what you didn’t account for where the 1200 kcal of chocolate, crisps, and ice cream had during the day which pushed you into an energy surplus.

There is no real physiological argument that matters for choosing an approach; you need to choose what works for your psychology.  The diet you stick to is the best diet. 

If you are the sort of person who gets hungry or even hangry easily and it distracts you from what you are doing.  Or you find the thought of meals motivating then eating every 2-3 hours will work quite well for you and your psychology.  You need to plan out and limit what you eat at each meal but as long as you are prepared it will work pretty well for you.

If you are indifferent to how you eat then following a square 3 meals plan can work really well.  

The style that works best for me is to fast and to limit my opportunity to eat as I am very prone to overeating and don’t really know when I am full or keep going by limiting myself to a smaller window of time it tricks me into thinking I am eating as normal, big portions and getting to feel like I am satisfied but it physically limits the time frame I can consume calories for.  As long as I stick to pretty whole food sources it means the physical amount of food I can eat is actually pretty good. I also don’t mind going without food for longer periods of time knowing I have a big meal or two coming. So this approach works for me really well.

It’s just about setting a structure that you know you can stick to.  Filling in that structure with an amount of food that meets your macros/calories and then executing it.  That is literally it. You use your inputs (bodyweight and other measurements) to see how you are tracking and then adjust from there.

Carbohydrate and Fat intake?

There isn’t much to be said when it comes to these variables that you wouldn’t be better off taking an hour or two to read about in the resources above.  However, there is a lot to be said about the demonization of both these macronutrients.

Low-fat diets are fad bullshit

Low carb diets are fad bullshit

As long as you are in your calorie and protein intake for your goals then these are two variables you can play about with.  You shouldn’t be eliminating them from your diet that is not a sound approach. You do have latitude around what you do with them, however.  For the sake of your health, you should look to have a varied fat intake. Generally what is recommended is 30% of your daily intake and that should be split evenly from saturated, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated.

For carbohydrates, they have performance benefits for either endurance-based training where your performance in the training is important or if you are doing double sessions every day.  You can modify your intake so you have higher carb days for hard training days and lower carb days for rest days. But to be honest, it doesn’t really matter, just don’t avoid carbohydrates because ThEy sPiKe InSuLiN.

What am I going to be doing for diet?

  • I am not going to count calories because I won’t be disciplined enough to keep a record of it so I am just going to eyeball it and go off scale weight. 
  • I am going to make sure I am getting in 250g of protein a day (120 (kg) x 2.2g)
  • I am going to be fasting till 12 noon and I will have my last meal by 20:00.
  • Going to limit alcohol to Friday and Saturday night.
  • Weigh myself every morning first thing and use that to track my progress.

In the next part of this article, I will discuss setting up your training and how to work towards some specific outcomes and goals.

Marc

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