I’ve never coveted someone’s squat rack… until today.
My typical routine for each lift is two warmup sets at low weight / high reps. Then I switch to heavier weight for the 3rd set and aim for my 10 rep max. I keep that weight and do as many reps as possible for sets 4 and 5. I can usually squeeze out 6-8 reps for those difficult sets.
When I switch from the warmup sets to the heavy sets I also change my mindset. I start with relaxing, stretching, happy thoughts during the warmup sets.
For the heavy sets I get angry. I’m not motivated to lift heavy weight. That means I don’t get jacked, excited or inspired because I just loaded the bar with “X” pounds. I don’t think about the pounds or the reps or beating my max weight, etc. To lift the weight and attempt to complete more reps than last week, I have to be angry. When I’m angry, I can lift more weight, more reps, etc. Just like caffeine, anger is a performance enhancer for me.
Turning on anger (aka getting pissed off) requires two specific elements:
Loud, aggressive music – Headphones are an absolute must when lifting. Loud music helps me focus and drowns out all the noise and people in the gym. A small selection of Eminem, Rage Against the Machine and Tool songs lay the foundation for the workout. The music is required because it enables the next step:
Thinking angry things – It could be something that happened at work that week or a memory from years ago. My most frequent situation is a confrontation I had at a shopping mall several years ago. Two guys started a friendly conversation with me, but it quickly turned into them pushing their views on me. Their views are the exact opposite of mine, which made me crazy. I couldn’t get it out of my head for days and I lost sleep because of it. I was beyond angry. I use this specific memory to get my blood boiling and improve my lifts at the gym.
Both the music and the memory are required. It doesn’t work for me with only one or the other.
I have a recurring nightmare where I mistakenly bite into, chew and swallow a juicy hamburger with the bun.
Eating anything with a bun (or bread) is a colossal mistake because I have a severe intolerance to Gluten (not Celiac) and yeast. Hamburger buns have ample quantities of both.
The dream ends with me in panic mode because I realize what I ate. I wake up sweating and wondering if I should get my stomach pumped to avoid 10-14 days of depression, aggression, stabbing stomach pain, brain fog, aching joints, lost productivity and wasted vacation days.
Accidentally eating bread is terrifying because there is no clear plan of action to “undo” the action. I could try swallowing several activated charcoal capsules, forcing myself to vomit, going to a hospital and paying or begging to have a stomach pump. (I don’t know if the last option is possible or not.)
For 10 years I’ve been tweaking my list of tolerable foods. All the effort, pain and suffering to get where I am now could be reversed with a bite of the wrong thing. The size of that fear is larger than I imagined.
NYTimes on the low carb, high fat diet for endurance athletes:
But, Dr. Burke said, no study to date has shown that extremely high-fat, ketogenic diets actually “enhance sports performance,” only that they make endurance athletes better able to use fat as a fuel. And the same studies generally show that high-fat diets blunt performance during high-intensity sprints, which, even in fat-adapted athletes, demand fast-burning sugar stores.
Reminds me of last summer when I experimented with a ketogenic diet (low carb, high fat) and was able to run 13 miles with no food.
In my experience, low carb worked very well for long and slow running, biking, etc. On the flip side, low carb seems to be impossible when lifting weights. Low carb and weightlifting caused debilitating migraines for me. The headaches were so bad I lost about 5 weeks of training and my doctor made me get my head checked because he thought it might be an aneurysm. Not fun. The headaches disappeared when I added steamed white rice to my pre-workout meals.
I haven’t tried sprint workouts, but I imagine they are similar to weightlifting (short, explosive energy demands) and would also lead to migraines if on a low carb diet… but that’s a guess at how my body would respond. Sounds like a fun experiment!
The photo gallery above shows all the food I ate on a recent Sunday. This is a ridiculous amount of food for my little body (I’m 5’8″ and 171 pounds). I struggled to finish that delicious sweet potato at the end of the day.
Eating like a bodybuilder is hard work. (aka bulk mode.) But stuffing yourself day after day is required to add muscle. And boy, is it a challenge. I spend most of my free time in the kitchen cooking, washing dishes and eating. All the cooking and eating is the hardest part of bodybuilding. It’s also my least favorite.
It’s expensive. Food ain’t free. Doubling the amount of food I would typically eat increases the cost of every trip to the grocery store. On the bright side, a 6’5″ dude would have to eat even more than me. Yikes. Perhaps this is the only benefit of being short?
Being full all the time is not fun. I thought it would bliss. It’s far from. It’s uncomfortable. The constant weight of a full stomach makes me tired. I don’t know if it’s the extra energy required to digest all the extra food or if the feeling of being full is what makes me want to nap. After each meal the last thing I want to do is any type of movement.
I’m still going to do it. This list of downsides won’t stop me from continuing to eat as much as I can. It’s surprising how doing it is very different from what I thought it would be like. At least I know that I can do it… for now. The most frightening fact is that eventually this amount of food will cease to be effective at adding muscle. When that happens I’ll have to eat even more. It reminds me of what Louie CK said, which seems like a perfect bodybuilding mantra: