So, I consider my last blog (protolounge) to be a bust. I suppose I could do some learning about SEO and the like. However, for now, I will be moving over to my self-managed personal blog (http://shawnhymel.com/). I intend it to be more of an online resume and portfolio than an actual blog. Most of my blogging (once a month?) will hopefully be at https://www.sparkfun.com/. So check their main news post!
After 3 months of Starting Strength (SS) and eating 3500 Calories per day, I’ve gained 16 pounds and apparently only 3 pounds of Lean Body Mass (LBM). However, I made decent gains on my lift weight. While I did not know my 1 rep max (1RM) for most lifts, I know my bench press 1RM went from 135 lbs. to 150 lbs.
While I certainly did not see the crazy gains reported by Tim Ferriss, I consider 16 pounds in 4 months (albeit mostly fat) to be a success of my efforts. More importantly, I’ve made gains in my base strength, which will help in future workouts.
I spent years in the gym and neither gained nor lost much strength, weight, fat, etc. After this experiment, I concluded that diet is as important, if not more important, than the workout. I aimed for 3000-3500 Calories per day with an emphasis on protein, fat, and water (you need water in excess to offset the massive intake of protein). I cycled on then off of creatine and L-Glutamine. To be honest, they didn’t seem to have much of an effect. To be fair, I don’t know if I was using them correctly. Here is a sample of my daily diet. I maintained this regimen 5 days per week and did my best to eat 3500 Calories on Saturday and Sunday.
The most important thing I learned was that saturated fat was necessary for your well being – especially if you’re taxing your body with heavy lifting.
3 days per week, I followed Mark Rippetoe’s Starting Strength program as outlined in the original Starting Strength book. Because my fairly active hobbies over the past few years (Taekwondo, Swing Dancing) were so leg-centric, my upper body needed a lot more work. Using the lifting standards found here, I set my lifting goals for novice (2-6 months of strength training) in the 149-165 lbs weight class (my target body weight). I looked up my target lifting weight for each of the 5 major lifts in SS. Given these goals, I used this formula to calculate my gaols for 5 rep max (5RM) based on the 1RM goals. With the 5RM goals, I worked backward with this Starting Strength schedule so that my 5RM goals would be met by the end of April. The only exceptions were my deadlift and squat weights. I actually stopped increasing the weight for these two exercises once I hit my 5RM goals. I wanted to give my upper body a chance to catch up so that I didn’t end up with freakish tree trunk legs.
After I completed this entire routine (February – April), I tested my 1RM for all 5 lifts. I listed my final working weight (5 reps), 1RM goal, and 1RM actual tested weights:
These results put me in the novice category of the lifting standards, which means I met my goals for strength (and makes me extremely happy). I also closely monitored my weight throughout the whole process and graphed it against my body fat percentage. Body fat was measured using the 3-point Jackson/Pollock formula.
Interesting to note from this: I made the best gains in LBM during the first month, when I attempted Tim Ferriss’s workout. After that, all gains seemed to be fat. However, my strength noticeably improved. From this, I can conclude that muscle volume does not equal strength. However, because you need strength to make LBM gains, being strong is definitely important. As a result, I actually recommend doing the opposite of what I did – build strength first using a routine like Starting Strength then moving to mass building (which are slightly different routines/theories).
Finally, I looked at weight gain versus sleep. The gain of weight per day is measured and plotted against my sleep for that night.
While it seems fairly random, it appears that biggest gains in weight were made after 7+ hours of sleep and most losses were made when I got 6 or less hours of sleep. This makes sense, but I wanted to see how much difference it makes. I would like to spend more time analyzing sleep vs. weight change, but I think common wisdom rules here: get as much sleep as possible. Period.
All in all, I think this experiment was a success. Phase 2 will consist of a cutting phase that focuses on conditioning – I would like to do the Zombie Run in October. In the future, I would like to do a 3 or 4 phase cycle throughout the year: Strength -> Bulk -> Conditioning -> Cut/Endurance. I will post the results as I try each phase. I hope this helps – get strong, stay healthy!
Well, progress thus far has been….lacking. After 2 weeks, I’ve gained maybe a pound. Although, I have seen strength gains in the gym. Here’s the weirdest part: my energy levels have been terribly low. I predict it has something to do with my diet. After digging around on the Internet, I found some interesting articles on how to manipulate testosterone levels. Apparently, a low fat diet has a tendency to decrease testosterone. Looking at my diet for the last 2 weeks, I found that I consumed about 10-15% fat, which is far below my normal 20-30%. Even though I’m consuming 3000 Calories per day in mostly protein and carbs, the decrease in fat must have reduced my testosterone production. My energy levels were low. Sex drive was almost non-existent. Fantastic.
Time for an intervention! I put together a different diet. While it was based on the previous 3000-Calorie diet, I threw in a lot more fat. I concentrated on mono-unsaturated and saturated fats; both of which have been shown to increase testosterone. I ideally wanted 25% – 30% of my diet to be fats. Instead of egg-whites, I’m eating whole eggs. Apparently, it’s your liver that produces most of the cholesterol – not your diet. My doctor be damned. This is all for the sake of science. SCIENCE! We’ll see the results of my new high-T diet after a couple of weeks. If you’re interested, the mean plan can be found here:
So, I have devised a new quest for myself, which I will call “Project AWESOME.” The goal of project AWESOME is to make myself more awesome.
Being a white kid blessed with the scrawny genes, I figured I was doomed to being skinny for the rest of my life. I have generally stayed pretty active (lifted, Tar Kwon Do, running, dancing), but nothing seems to elevate me above white skinny kid status – except maybe a full day in the sun, in which case I become the red skinny kid.
The first phase of Project AWESOME is weight gain – preferably with muscle. While I have my doubts about some of Tim Ferriss’ methods, his Geek to Freak story is quite motivating. I doubt I will have the same gains, but I decided to give it a try. I picked up a copy of Tim’s 4 Hour Body book and read through the muscle building chapters. I devised a low-fat, 3000 Calorie diet with 180 g of protein per day. I have a lifting routine that works out my entire body with Single Set Failure two days per week.
More importantly, I started tracking my weight and body fat daily with a scale that uses Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA). I also track the amount of weight used in the gym. This has proven to be extremely useful, as I know when to increase the weights. I write down the weight I want to lift. If I make it past 8 reps, I add a ‘+’ after the number, which tells me that I need to increase the weight on my next visit.
So I finally caved and got a Twitter account. Rather than re-post stories or update the world with my daily activities, I’m going to do something useful for society (note the heavy sarcasm) – complain about all the quirks in technology that irritate me. If you’re interested, follow me: http://twitter.com/#!/techgeargrind. I’m purposely not linking it to my blog or Facebook account. I’d rather not spam those sites with negative comments. That’s what my Twitter page is for.
[Edit: 09/27/2011] I figured out how to appropriately link Twitter to my blog with a widget. Tweets will not appear as blogs. All is well and good.
Well, since my old Dell Inspiron 1200 started having some odd hardware problems (the usual…battery lasts 20 min, can’t find the CD-ROM drive, Windows “delayed write” errors, etc.), I decided to demote it to my main interface to the USRP. However, this presented an opportunity to invest in a slick, new laptop. I needed something small and portable, but it also had to support CUDA. After some research, I grabbed an Alienware m11x R1 off eBay for $590. Not bad (although at the time of this writing, you can get a new m11x R1 from Dell starting at $600, and R2’s starting at $800). The computer I received had already been upgraded to 8GB of RAM, and I decided to spend some extra money on an SSD (I’m really tired of having to treat most mechanical drives in laptops like glass).
CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo SU7300 (1.3 GHz)
HDD :120GB SSD
GPU: NVIDIA GT335M switchable graphics
Screen: 11.6-inch screen with 1280 x 720 display resolution
Battery: Reported up to 6 1/2 hours
Initial Thoughts: It’s a sweet little machine with some wicked power for a 12-inch “netbook.” Haven’t tried gaming on it, but it’s supposed to handle a number of modern games. I don’t like having to manually switch graphics, but supposedly the R2 has NVIDIA’s “Optimus” automatic switching. From what I’ve read, however, the Optimus doesn’t work well in Linux, which is why I specifically chose the R1 model. It has VGA, HDMI, and DisplayPort outputs, but no DVI (important if you need it for some monitors). Additionally, only 2 usable USB ports makes connecting multiple peripherals quite difficult. Since I’m using a wireless mouse and keyboard for my work setup, one USB port is always populated by a Logitech “Unifying Receiver.” Note for those who might be interested: there is no CD/DVD drive in the laptop (hence the small size), so you will have to get an external drive if you want to re-install operating systems.
At my desk in our lab, I setup a 23″ ASUS VH232H monitor with a combination of Logitech wireless keyboard and mouse. Additionally, I’m rocking my old set of Audio-Technica ATH-A500 headphones (5 years ago, they were the best damn closed headphones for under $200 – I don’t know what’s available these days).
Granted this is a bit dated, but I figured I would post the specs of my “new” computer. I built it back in June – mostly with the intention of gaming and research. However, it’s been mostly used for research. I chose an NVIDIA graphics card for CUDA (it apparently has a bit more support than ATI’s Stream).
Here are the goods:
Case: Antec 902
Motherboard: ASUS P6X58D-E
CPU: Intel i7-930
CPU Heat Sink: Hyper 212 Plus
Memory: Corsair Dominator 6GB (3x2GB) DDR3 1600
Hard drive: Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB
Graphics: EVGA GTX470
PSU: Corsair CMPSU-850TX
Optical: Asus 24x DVD Burner