The Road to Nationals. Log Entry No.1

 

At long last.

I’ve been waiting months for this moment.

 

Contest prep in of itself is no small beast, and turns out I’m mental enough to actually enjoy it. The daily process, the consistent results, the progression, and the final reward of revealing everything that improvement season built towards is incredibly gratifying in my eyes.

Much more so than being on stage for a whirlwind of 5 minutes, being doused in spray tan, or the potential for a plastic trophy. While these are all great, and certainly part of the process, they aren’t the driving force behind dieting to sub-human levels of body fat.

That being said, if there’s a sword on the line, well, I’m all in for that.

Without much further ado, here be the official first entry in my contest prep training log as The Road to Nationals is officially underway (even though it has been so for two months).

My final thoughts on the Improvement Season that was

Before we get into this training log, I want to close out a few of my final thoughts on improvement season.

Since I’m a meatheaded nerd, I’ve been comparing images and weights at similar weeks out from this year to last year. While carrying a bit more fat, I’m also sitting roughly 25 pounds heavier than I was at the same time frame last year. If you ask me, that’s one hell of an off-season. Especially considering it was only about 6 months, with a fair amount of travel thrown into the mix.

Depending on my rate of fat loss and how much muscle I’m able to retain, an extra 25 pounds on the scale bodes well for my goal of jumping up a weight class or two.

Middleweight, here I come.

Especially with the state of this here shoulder-boner.

Shoulder boner achieved. #thethickening #roadtonationals #thepumpisthecure

A post shared by MASSthetics l Alex Mullan (@alexmullan13) on

Training

I’ve been yelling about this on Instagram for a while now, but it bears repeating. My training sessions have been absolutely fantastic. I can’t remember the last time I had a “bad” session (even when I dropped my first squat in years), I’ve been getting amped up to train each day, especially when I train later in the day.

More:

Strength has been climbing like never before, and I’ve been able to add more weight to the bar in my core movements week after week. While it’s not uncommon for strength to climb during the early days of a fat loss period, I’ve been setting lifetime PRs across the board. Not that I’m complaining. The pumps I’ve been getting have been wicked, skin-splitting, and damn near arousing. Arnold might have been onto something.

The greatest feeling you can get in a gym or the most satisfying feeling you can get in the gym is the pump. It’s as satisfying to me as cumming is, you know, as in having sex with a woman and cumming.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger

On top of the above, it’s great fun to see myself slowly getting leaner each time I set foot in the gym, and getting stronger by the session. Such is the case with these buttery back squats. (‘Sup, shoulder veins?)

Sunny San Diego, buttery back squats, and thrashing legs with @chriscoulsonfitness. #thethickening #roadtonationals #meatheadmagic

A post shared by MASSthetics l Alex Mullan (@alexmullan13) on

Nutrition

Truth be told, I was a little nervous about what was going to happen with my nutrition when prep started. Given that this prep began on similar amounts of protein and fat as last year, but over half as little carbs, I was holding trepidation around what we’ll (my coach and I) will do when I all but inevitably bottom out my carb intake.

My suspicion is that the last four to six weeks of prep will see my carb intake cycled with the intention of coaxing my body to keep dropping fat instead of hitting rock bottom, and doing something extreme to keep pushing. That being said, wherever the chips fall, there’s only one way to find out.

After what ended up being two to three months of heavily suppressed appetite, it’s been coming back in extravagant fashion. Which is a great sign for both general health, my metabolic rate, and fat loss. That said, I’m not exactly thrilled with how high it is at 12 weeks out (last year it didn’t really kick into high gear until 8 weeks out).

HRV

For the uninitiated (taken straight from wikipedia): heart rate variability is the physiological phenomenon of variation in the time interval between heartbeats. It is measured by the variation in the beat-to-beat interval.

One new tactic my coach and I have implemented during this prep is that we’re monitoring my HRV (heart rate variability), which indicates whether my nervous system is leaning towards being more sympathetic or parasympathetic. From there, this gives us an idea of how well I’m recovering, and a gauge for how hard I can push training intensity.

Here’s a snapshot of my recovery data over the past couple of weeks:

road to nationals

The red line is my morning heart rate. Given how much coffee I drink, I can’t believe it’s as low as it is.

The blue line represents my HRV itself, and the bars represent my “state of readiness,” while acting as a guage for how hard to push in my training sessions. 

I’ve been nerding out over this, and it’s fascinating to see how different lifestyle factors play into recovery ability, or what a gruelling session the day before can do.

Supplementation

Truth be told, my supplementation hasn’t strayed much from what I talked about here.

Pending the addition of a few tricks and tools to give fat loss a boost when it inevitably stalls, the post linked above covers all that I’m taking.

However, I’m being much smarter and vigilant about my supplementation during this prep. Last year, I had the brilliant idea to prep through my shows at the same time as quitting my job, throwing away the notion of having stable income, and going all in on building MASSthetics. Given my nerves around being able to eat or pay rent each month, I cut corners on supplements.

Which I firmly believe I paid a price for, and will not allow to happen this year.

Onward.

Nekkeds & Weight

This here latest entry in my training log wouldn’t be complete without sharing pictures of me in my underwear, or how much I’m currently tipping the scales at.

Current morning weight: After holding steady around 189 for weeks, I had a 4 pound drop last week, and am sitting at a cool 185 right now.

And the road to nationals moves on.

 

PS. 4 out of 5 lifters will let their rationalization hamster run wild. Convincing themselves they’re making progress…yet you build no muscle, and burn no fat. The 5th lifter joined the MASSthetics Clan and put the information within the (free) Hypertrophy Handbook to good use. He no longer has to rationalize his progress. He simply is. Click here to become the 5th lifter, and let me know where to send the prestigious Hypertrophy Handbook.