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Seeking Advice, Opinions, and General Direction on Training

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  • Seeking Advice, Opinions, and General Direction on Training

    TL;DR:

    Goals, starting with most desired:

    1) Overall, long-term health
    2) As “aesthetic” as possible
    3) As strong as possible given aesthetic constraints
    4) Participate in powerlifting competitions (time range TBD)

    Current Stats:

    - 26 y/o Male, 5’9”, 170 lb, waist ~37”
    - Body fat per the US Navy Calculator: ~20% to 21%
    - Squat: 1x5 – 255 lb
    - Bench: 1x5 – 205 lb
    - Deadlift: 1x5 – 300 lb
    - OHP: 1x5: 95 lb (not my forte)
    - Barbell Row: 1x5 – 160 lb
    - Cardio: lol... I play soccer occasionally? And hike when I can.

    Available Equipment:

    - Schwinn Airdyne Bike
    - Squat rack & bench, with Stainless Steel Ohio Power Bar (obvious humblebrag)
    - Free weights (duh)

    Questions:

    - Can I achieve my goals without surgery? (See section with * at beginning and end for context)
    - Is it possible for me to pack on enough muscle to eventually fill in space left due to loose skin?
    - Am I approaching consultation territory?
    - Given my stats, am I better cutting or recomping?
    - What route is most optimal for reaching my goals?



    I’ll try to keep this post brief and to the point, so please do excuse any ramblings.

    Virtually my entire life, I have carried more body fat than I would like. My weight has fluctuated a lot over the years. In fourth or fifth grade I was overweight, and was through most of grade school. At 17 years old, I was about 5’8” and 230 lb at one point. I dropped that and finished high school in the 180 lb range. I have always carried most of my fat around my waist, seems to be genetic, too.

    Through college, my weight went up and down, but for the past 4-5 years I have not gone over the 185 lb mark.

    I have always had the ideal body in mind, yet have not achieved what I wanted. I am well aware of what I see in my head, may never be reality and am at peace with that.

    My overall goals are to get as close to the body I have always desired, given my constraints.

    Due to such weight gain/fluctuations, I definitely have some loose skin. When I was 24, I got down to about 145 lb, thinking I could lose my way to skinny. I was definitely skinny, but more skinny fat than anything. My waist at this point measured about 32”.

    While I was skinny, I was far from “ripped”. No six pack, major definition. In fact, I looked and was unhealthy.

    Here I am at 26, a bit wiser and more capable than ever. So, it’s finally more viable than it ever has been for me to get as close as possible to where I want to be. And more importantly, where I need to be.

    I know the number one thing I need is guidance, and I have never found fitness professionals that I can trust more or respect more than Jordan Feigenbaum and Austin Baraki. That’s why this post, one that has been a long time coming, is aimed at you two. Although, I certainly do respect and am open to input from other BBM staff and forum members. Not blowing smoke, very fortunate to have heard the gospel of BBM now rather than later.


    Having typed all this out, for simplicity's sake, I can say that I want to be healthy and strong, and look healthy and strong. I feel giving so many "goals" can muddle the true point of my post and been seen as trying to take on too much at once, and don't want this to be the perception when someone reads this.


    *I have included some photos of myself in the past and present so that your input can be given on my questions above*

    (sorry for the dirty mirror)

    - Me at 145 lb, 24 y/o: https://imgur.com/a/rHzT7BC

    - Me today, 170 lb, 26 y/o: https://imgur.com/a/FwbW98T

    - Me today, 170 lb, 26 y/o, waist photo: https://imgur.com/a/WzhJE7G


    If you have made it this far reading my post, thank you for your time. Feel free to leave any feedback, advice, questions, requests for additional info, etc. and I will address anything as I have the time.

  • #2
    I’m a bit confused as far as what surgery you think you need? You can most definitely get stronger, and lose fat st the same time. Seeing as you’re most likely still a novice you can run the bridge post LP.

    Comment


    • #3
      Thanks for the reply.

      The surgery I'm talking about would be something to remove excess skin. From the pecs and stomach area. See the album @ 145 lb. I am very skinny, but have noticeable "flab". But I am hopeful that packing on muscle over a long period of time could, for lack of a better term, fill in the void.

      So I'm currently debating whether I should be in a deficit, to cut weight/waist size, or if I should eat at maintenance to try a recomp approach. I just completed StrongLifts MadCow 5x5 and was going to start running The Bridge, but I think I have more strength to gain running an LP.

      Based on what you see, would you recommend I cut or maintain weight?

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by GoBlues82 View Post
        I have always had the ideal body in mind, yet have not achieved what I wanted. I am well aware of what I see in my head, may never be reality and am at peace with that.
        The idealized magazine cover aesthetic is something that for us mere mortals takes huge amounts of effort and training alongside quality coaching/advice (which ain't free) so you don't waste effort. Even then it is highly transient for all who achieve it except maybe some genetic freaks. Even those can have variability.

        Surgery: I know people who have had the type of surgery you are referring to. In my estimation you have no such significant excess skin, and such a drastic intervention would not only be unwarranted, but likely involve scaring that would in itself be aesthetically unpleasing to you.

        As for your short term path forward: That depends on what you want most which is a personal decision.

        On the one hand I feel you at not being happy with a 37" waist. I wasn't pleased with my waist when it was 36" but I was happy with the direction my lifts were going, so I kept at about that measurement for around a year. Eventually, I decided to prioritize aesthetics for my wife's sake (and to look good on our anniversary cruise) But dropping down to 32" cost me in the strength department.

        On the other hand, you have quite a ways to go before you get to the weight and strength I was at before I made that decision. (I'm not a particularly strong guy, although I am historically better off on the waist/overweight issue)

        Pressed to give advice, I'd say you should run The Bridge at relative maintenance calories. Keep an eye on the waist and work not to let it get any bigger, but if you like the gains you are getting in strength, DO NOT lose weight. Someday down the road, you'll be pushing much bigger weights (And will probably weigh more than you do now) and life events may change your priorities so that you want to look good at the beach or something instead of getting stronger. When that day comes, you may decide you want to drop the waist measurement fast at the cost of strength and muscle mass. Alternately you may choose to go slooooow but maintain all that hard earned strength, possibly even keeping an upward trend.

        For now, though you’ve got a lot of strength gains you could make, and you’re relatively underweight. To steal/paraphrase one of my favorite lines from Jordan, don’t sacrifice your strength gains by losing weight so early in the game unless you’re getting paid to. Either in cash or sex.

        Comment


        • #5
          I would agree with Serack. You shouldn't cut weight. Some would argue you could gain weight... Given that you're focused on aesthetics though, a recomp sounds like your best option. While you are correct that your genetics put fat around your stomach, body fat percentage is largely controlled by diet rather than exercise/training. You did not mention what your diet looks like, but, if you commit to recomp, then you would have to pay attention to your macros versus just overall calories. I'm sure you could get a lot more ripped than you are thinking/feeling you can right now.

          Comment


          • #6
            I've always fought to keep weight gain down. Some of us are just genetically determined to work a little harder for a 33" waist than others.

            Learn everything you can to take control of your training and diet. Start with everything on the BBM podcast that pertains to your goals, then formulate a plan designed to take you closer to your ideal.

            The 3 day full body templates like the Bridge and HLM template can be brutally effective if you work hard and may allow for more cardio in the week if that is in accordance with the plan you decide on. These might be a place to start. They are worth more money just for the programming education they provide, if nothing else.

            All you have to do is stick to a plan and keep showing up (and listen to every BBM podcast on the topics related to your goals). There is really no secret to it. I've found the foundation to any success I've had over the last few years to be discipline (you cant just amble around relying on motivation, right?). You also will need to dig deep and believe you can do it. Trust yourself. Somehow, people end up meeting their own expectations, so have high expectations for yourself.

            Not sure about the need for surgery, but with some more muscle and less adipose tissue you will have a better idea of what you really need in that regard.

            All the best, you can most definitely do it you want it bad enough.

            Good luck.
             
            Last edited by pegener; 01-19-2019, 05:08 AM.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Serack View Post

              The idealized magazine cover aesthetic is something that for us mere mortals takes huge amounts of effort and training alongside quality coaching/advice (which ain't free) so you don't waste effort. Even then it is highly transient for all who achieve it except maybe some genetic freaks. Even those can have variability.

              Surgery: I know people who have had the type of surgery you are referring to. In my estimation you have no such significant excess skin, and such a drastic intervention would not only be unwarranted, but likely involve scaring that would in itself be aesthetically unpleasing to you.

              As for your short term path forward: That depends on what you want most which is a personal decision.

              On the one hand I feel you at not being happy with a 37" waist. I wasn't pleased with my waist when it was 36" but I was happy with the direction my lifts were going, so I kept at about that measurement for around a year. Eventually, I decided to prioritize aesthetics for my wife's sake (and to look good on our anniversary cruise) But dropping down to 32" cost me in the strength department.

              On the other hand, you have quite a ways to go before you get to the weight and strength I was at before I made that decision. (I'm not a particularly strong guy, although I am historically better off on the waist/overweight issue)

              Pressed to give advice, I'd say you should run The Bridge at relative maintenance calories. Keep an eye on the waist and work not to let it get any bigger, but if you like the gains you are getting in strength, DO NOT lose weight. Someday down the road, you'll be pushing much bigger weights (And will probably weigh more than you do now) and life events may change your priorities so that you want to look good at the beach or something instead of getting stronger. When that day comes, you may decide you want to drop the waist measurement fast at the cost of strength and muscle mass. Alternately you may choose to go slooooow but maintain all that hard earned strength, possibly even keeping an upward trend.

              For now, though you’ve got a lot of strength gains you could make, and you’re relatively underweight. To steal/paraphrase one of my favorite lines from Jordan, don’t sacrifice your strength gains by losing weight so early in the game unless you’re getting paid to. Either in cash or sex.
              Thanks for your reply, and sorry for my delayed response. You are absolutely right, though. The "magazine cover aesthetic" has totally ruined my idea of what I should strive be striving to achieve.

              Definitely not pleased having the current waist that I do, but by no means am I willing to sacrifice the strength gains I have made. Recently tried switching from Madcow 5x5 to the Bridge and decided I can still run the LP, as I am still adding weight to the bar almost every session.

              My major factor, I know, comes down to diet. I'm great for a month, then get stressed and overeat and gain five pounds overnight lol.

              Do appreciate your input though. It's refreshing to be able to hear from others that have been in my shoes.

              Comment


              • #8
                Here, take a look at this BBM article for some perspective on why I say the magazine cover look takes a huge amount of effort for something that is transient

                https://www.barbellmedicine.com/alexis/

                Comment


                • #9
                  I hate to say this, but if your only real goal is "aesthetics" then you are probably in the wrong place. Jordan has said himself in the past, that BBM programming would be under-training for someone that wanted to be a bodybuilder. I also think some of your goals are contradictory. You can't chase all the things at once; this is like a dog chasing it's tail, it does a lot of work but gets nowhere. You need to prioritize and chase your goals 1 at a time with concentrated effort. It sounds to me like your goals are likely in this order (though I could be wrong, adjust accordingly):
                  1. Get shredded
                  2. Build muscle
                  3. Get strong enough to maybe compete at some date in the far distant future.

                  So you need to do that in order. First you get lean. Then you bulk and lift for high volumes to build muscle (likely through bulking and cutting phases to not drift too far away from #1). Finally, after you have the muscle, you teach it to be competition strong. If I am wrong on priority here, then you can adjust it as need be. But you can't chase all the things at once. You need to be strategic and concentrate your efforts.It's going to require some short term sacrifice of something at each step of the way, you have to keep the bigger picture in mind.
                  Last edited by PWard; 01-26-2019, 02:14 PM.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by PWard View Post
                    I hate to say this, but if your only real goal is "aesthetics" then you are probably in the wrong place. Jordan has said himself in the past, that BBM programming would be under-training for someone that wanted to be a bodybuilder. I also think some of your goals are contradictory. You can't chase all the things at once; this is like a dog chasing it's tail, it does a lot of work but gets nowhere. You need to prioritize and chase your goals 1 at a time with concentrated effort. It sounds to me like your goals are likely in this order (though I could be wrong, adjust accordingly):
                    1. Get shredded
                    2. Build muscle
                    3. Get strong enough to maybe compete at some date in the far distant future.

                    So you need to do that in order. First you get lean. Then you bulk and lift for high volumes to build muscle (likely through bulking and cutting phases to not drift too far away from #1). Finally, after you have the muscle, you teach it to be competition strong. If I am wrong on priority here, then you can adjust it as need be. But you can't chase all the things at once. You need to be strategic and concentrate your efforts.It's going to require some short term sacrifice of something at each step of the way, you have to keep the bigger picture in mind.


                    Totally understand the sentiment. My OP was to give an idea of long-term goals. How I would like to see myself progress. Let's pick on aesthetics since that is the primary goal.

                    If I had to say what I want my physique to look like, I would have to say comparable to that of Jordan's. We have a similar stocky build, and a similar height. So given that I want to lean out, what is going to be a good rule of thumb marker for a specific weight? I mean, I have been as low as 145. That was too damn low. Never again, lol. I have felt comfortable at 160, but the difference in 155 and 160 can be big when you are talking about starting a 5 lb bulk/cut cycle.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Well I probably wouldn't pick a specific weight. That's a poor choice of metric. I would look at waist measurement / approximate body fat percentage. Jordan has said that he generally keeps around the 15-18% body fat range, so he is not super lean. If you're going to start a bulk cycle after, maybe cut down to 12-13% to give yourself a little wiggle room to bulk. Then bulk to 17-18% and repeat the process. That should satisfy your goals over time. If you want to have a Jordan type physique you're going to have to gain a lot more muscle. That's going to have a bigger impact than how lean you are, provided you stay under 20% body fat. Unfortunately, that's also the hard part...

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        To the OP, I know how you feel. But honestly, you are young at 26. And at 5'9" with a 37" waist and 170 lbs, respectfully, that also means you are under-muscled for where you want to be. It's really that plain and simple. While I understand you want to be leaner, that goal conflicts with all your other goals. So being leaner has to take a backseat for a while to getting bigger and stronger. You need to spend 3-5 years under the bar while learning how to eat properly. You aesthetics will change gradually while you do this, and if done properly they'll change for the better. I wish someone would have beat this into my head when I was your age. I didn't learn it until I was 46. I'm about to turn 47, have been training for 2 years, and I've changed my physique drastically by just focussing on those two things.

                        I wish you luck!
                        Last edited by Euby; 02-12-2019, 01:13 PM.

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