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Saturday, February 16, 2013

Time To Start Cutting

It's cutting time.  For the most part, I've reached my goal.  I'm weighing around 202 lbs and I've learned a lot in the process.  I didn't stay quite as lean as I would have liked, but when you already have some size, it is extremely hard to gain muscle efficiently without accumulating some fat.
All bulked out and ready to cut

As someone who really enjoys bodybuilding (without competing), this is a strange dichotomy to deal with.  It is really fun to walk into the gym feeling like you are busting out of your sleeves more and more each week, yet it's not so fun to watch your abs gradually disappear.

In the process of my "winter bulk", I gained about 25 lbs.  I'm not sure how much of that is muscle, but it is time to get lean and find out.

Here is my plan:

-- Intermittent fasting: I will eat within an 8 hour eating window every day.  I gave up intermittent fasting a while ago because I found that I couldn't gain size effectively while doing it.  However, as far as getting lean, it is still my favorite approach.

-- More cardio (High Intensity Interval Training):  While bulking, I was spending almost all my gym time lifting.  Now I will add in interval style cardio and cut back significantly on my time with the weights.  

-- Stay focused when lifting:  It is still important to continue to get some quality lifting sessions in to make sure you keep all your muscle when leaning out.  I've learned a lot about stimulating the muscles into growth and I am sometimes appalled at how I used to lift in the past.  It is so effective to develop a mind-muscle connection when lifting and focus entirely on keeping tension on the target muscle during a set -- resisting on the way down and contracting hard on the way up.  Most people use too much weight to do this effectively.  

With that in mind, I noticed a great illustration of focusing on working a muscle the other day.  I was doing barbell curls next to another guy who was doing the same thing and I was feeling a burn in my biceps that I rarely used to achieve -- keeping my arms at my sides and not letting the weight all the way down at the bottom  (which removes tension from the biceps).  Anyhow, they other guy was curling(swinging) noticeably more weight than I was and when I looked in the mirror he was laughing and shaking his head at how ridiculous the scene looked.  Here he was, half my size and I'm standing there, arms all pumped up and crazy looking, lifting significantly less weight than he was.  Yet, I couldn't have cared less, because I was there to hit my muscles the best way possible and not worry about anything else.

--No sugar (when possible), control the carbs, get enough protein.  I've written about sugar, insulin and fat storage in the past. 

Those are my main points for getting lean and keeping muscle.  I know the more common bodybuilding way of doing it revolves around carb cycling.  However, the intermittent fasting method just seems to work better for me.

On a final note, I hope people don't think I sound pretentious when I write about this stuff.  I really enjoy writing and fitness is a big part of my life, so if you like reading about my experiences, that's awesome.

-Jeremy

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