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    Realistic Training Goals 
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    Greg Nuckols recently wrote a handy article over at Strengtheory for anyone new to training wanting to understand how quickly they might lose fat or gain muscle, both in the short-term and over a longer training career, with a calculator to target optimal fat loss.

    There's also a calculator at the end of the article to attempt to predict potential strength gains in the main lifts. However bear in mind that the results are based on a self-selecting survey of members of the /r/weightroom, /r/powerlifting and r/fitness subreddits. So they are unlikely to be particularly representative nor controlled for basic variables such as technique (eg squat depth etc).

    The key point to remember is not to bash yourself if you fail to hit your target(s). We all have different genetic endowments, and some of us (typically known as 'poor responders' in the literature) will struggle to hit even the most modest goals. Meanwhile others will look at a weight and grow.

    So don't waste your time comparing yourself with others. But do set some goals, and then try to beat them
    Last edited by CFC; 20-01-2017 at 01:57.
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    I gave up on comparing my gains to other people when I started lifting with my buddy in college and his diet was literally frozen pizza, chips, and soda with the occasional out to eat burger or steak, and put on like 20lbs and was ripped in a very short period of time. Crazy muscle bellies and had a defined six pack to begin with tho.. You could just tell the mofo was going to grow like a weed. Didn't even have to lift heavy or intensely either, hell he would even cut some of the sets short etc.. lol


    Meanwhile I was eating rice, yams, fish, and chicken until my body was about to explode.
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    Yeah, I've kinda wanted to drop oestrogen in some training partner's drinks before when I consider how much faster they'll gain and get ripped while scoffing chocolate bars, doing no cardio and training like pansies. I think Dexter Jackson once said that he basically does no cardio ever when getting ready for show, so I rest my case there lol.
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    Quote Originally Posted by CFC View Post
    Yeah, I've kinda wanted to drop oestrogen in some training partner's drinks before when I consider how much faster they'll gain and get ripped while scoffing chocolate bars, doing no cardio and training like pansies. I think Dexter Jackson once said that he basically does no cardio ever when getting ready for show, so I rest my case there lol.
    lol!

    The fact Dex is still competing and is competitive at his age is crazy.. Paul Dillet comes to mind as well. Imagine the possibilities if that guy would have trained with some intensity..

    Ronnie Coleman was the perfect combo of work ethic and genetics, but now his body is basically destroyed..so
    Last edited by Intense; 19-01-2017 at 16:15.
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    Dex is a freak of nature. I don't think there's ever been another athlete at his level for so long. They should probably take a sample of his DNA for testing lol. As for Ronnie he's aged badly. Really badly. It's sad to see. I wish he'd use that experience as a springboard to encourage up and coming guys to take a more conservative approach to training and 'supplement' use.
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    I don't like how the author "sent out a survey" and just ran with the answers*. Squat depth, bench depth/bounce, started "detrained," are just a few things I immediately think of. Oh, and lying. Unless you are being trained by a strength coach who knows what he is doing, squatting 290 and pulling 365 in under six months (starting fresh, not "detrained") is really impressive IMO. Not because the body isn't capable of that, but because the average gym noob does not know how to train optimally. I'm not trying to be a critic, I just don't think it's that well-controlled of a study.

    I also think it's important early on to figure out how much volume you need to progress on the big three and partition your time/energy wisely. Rarely is a person going to be gifted at all three (and often one will suck). I know that I can achieve/maintain an elite deadlift on very low volume, but need to do a ton of volume just to have an okay squat for my weight. I made the mistake early on of doing the same volume on everything.

    *I did skim the article, so apologies if I missed something about this.
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    Quote Originally Posted by RedLeader View Post
    I don't like how the author "sent out a survey" and just ran with the answers*. Squat depth, bench depth/bounce, started "detrained," are just a few things I immediately think of. Oh, and lying. Unless you are being trained by a strength coach who knows what he is doing, squatting 290 and pulling 365 in under six months (starting fresh, not "detrained") is really impressive IMO. Not because the body isn't capable of that, but because the average gym noob does not know how to train optimally. I'm not trying to be a critic, I just don't think it's that well-controlled of a study.
    That's the main criticism levelled at the article, and rightly so. A survey is weak science and I fully agree with your points. The worst point is that such surveys are self-selecting; so even if the results are reflective of their actual lifts and those lifts were standardised (the first questionable, the latter improbable), those who do well may be more motivated to respond than those who don't.
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    Actually I just noticed that he now states that the survey was shared on: "/r/weightroom and /r/powerlifting subreddits. Unless my memory is deceiving me, it was shared on /r/fitness as well.

    But honestly the point was to get averages for the type of people who would be reading this article in the first place; i.e. my readers, and people with similar goals/drives to them
    "

    That's actually a bit crap. I should edit this post to make clear it's very unrepresentative.
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    Did they normalize according to weight? If so, I missed that too...

    It would be an interesting study to see done long-term if everything including macros and training volume was equated. Personally, I just try and go by the "beat your last workout" goal (weight, reps, weight vs bodyweight, bar speed, etc) and want to do this 80% of workouts or so. Even then, I use DUP so much that doing this can be tricky.

    But ya, IME numeric goals are difficult for me because I get too emotional about it. Yes, you need to revolve your life around lifting to really go far, but yet you cannot end up feeling like you lost your girl if you miss a numerical goal. If I try like a "5lbs a month on bench" sort of thing and I fall behind, I can get emotional about it, try and catch up doing stupid stuff, end up getting injured, etc. Running forward, waking forward, crawling forward...anything that is not going backward should be smiled upon.

    Oh, and last point, being something I was, and still can be, very stubborn on is not testing maxes too often. If you do it after working sets, it's not accurate and if you do it before, you waste energy. Or you progress on everything that day but miss the PR and you go from leaving the gym in a good mood to leaving in a bad one. I am trying to do a mock meet on the last day of each month this year and not test 1RMs outside of that. I already broke this rule once yesterday, but don't tell anyone.
    Last edited by RedLeader; 20-01-2017 at 06:16.
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    Quote Originally Posted by RedLeader View Post
    Did they normalize according to weight? If so, I missed that too...
    Weight, height and age, yes.

    It would be an interesting study to see done long-term if everything including macros and training volume was equated.
    I think that was generally what he was trying to achieve. Longitudinal studies are notoriously difficult and expensive to perform - there's probably zero chance of seeing one in this area anytime soon. Obviously he also realises it's not as rigorous as the data for muscle gain/fat loss, but I suppose as a bit of fun it's ok. Though not if a trainee takes it too seriously and gets depressed by the results!

    IME numeric goals are difficult for me because I get too emotional about it
    I used to be very much like you in terms of this goal-orientated self-validation thing (and also the near obsessive-compulsive regimentation of routine, diet etc that I've noticed). I managed to break free of it (well, largely) in my early 30s or I'd probably be unable to train by now from the abuse I used to inadvertently cause to my body from pushing so brutally.

    Oh, and last point, being something I was, and still can be, very stubborn on is not testing maxes too often. If you do it after working sets, it's not accurate and if you do it before, you waste energy. Or you progress on everything that day but miss the PR and you go from leaving the gym in a good mood to leaving in a bad one. I am trying to do a mock meet on the last day of each month this year and not test 1RMs outside of that. I already broke this rule once yesterday, but don't tell anyone.
    I used to do my 1RMs after a simple exercise-specific warm-up. You need to have a positive mindset to do this stuff though, or you're just going to ruminate a sense of failure and, as you say, it will fuck up your day and probably the next session.
    Last edited by CFC; 20-01-2017 at 20:09.
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    ^ What led up to you loosening up? I mean, did you get hurt or something or did you just go through reflecting/self-evaluation and such? I have always been very OCD, perfectionist and very tough on myself, which did (at least partially) lead me into drug addiction, but redirecting my obsessions and cravings from drug stuff and drug euphoria to fitness stuff does seem to keep me clean (when nothing else ever has). And I am able to look at where I have been in the past to put my lifting problems into perspective. I remember identifying with Sero101 when he wrote as much on these ideas.

    I don't know if it is due to being petite, but my body does seem significantly more resilient than average (32 now and still feel the same as 18 ). I never feel overtrained and always have energy. I do acknowledge, though, that I am not really set up psychologically for a serious injury, and that is certainly not smart living.
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    Quote Originally Posted by RedLeader View Post
    ^ What led up to you loosening up?
    It was a process. I've OCPD as opposed to OCD, and it seems to prescribe against most drug/euphoria issues - I need to be in control and hate being high, drunk, stoned etc (aside from AAS, which I abused the shit out of to try to attain goals and perfection).

    Anyway normally I'd have a meltdown if my plans got disrupted - I'd never miss a meal or training session, train when injured, drink water when going out, count every calorie and macro (even in restaurants), and vacations were all about finding a good gym, the right food and so on.

    The change started with an unrelated health issue. It forced me to stop training for a year and give greater consideration to why I was so obsessed and why it mattered (self-image/esteem, validation, recognition - the usual). Over the next few years I had training-related health problems and relationship nightmares and all that together finally broke the cycle and gave me the perspective I needed.

    It's not 'gone', but I don't do stupid shit anymore like train when injured or abuse PEDs too much, I eat what I like when out, don't worry excessively about calories or macros (except when it's actually relevant eg cutting), drink girly cocktails on holidays etc etc.

    I don't know if it is due to being petite, but my body does seem significantly more resilient than average (32 now and still feel the same as 18 ). I never feel overtrained and always have energy. I do acknowledge, though, that I am not really set up psychologically for a serious injury, and that is certainly not smart living.
    I know petite people who get injured easily, so I'd say it was just you and your genes. An obsession is fine unless it fucks you up when you can no longer do it - I get the feeling it would really bother you?
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    ^ Yes, it would. For a couple of reasons. First, well I just love training. It's my form of meditation, to borrow that phrase. It's grounding in a way kind of like being out in the woods or something, where some type of primal reward system gets activated, and in doing that, superficial problems of a superficial life in a superficial world seem silly and not worth getting upset over. It's being grounded back in my body on a regular basis, renewing respect for and a desire to take care of myself (body as temple thing). But it's also a mental thing as it is a host of problems figuring out how to optimise your own body, and it's a spiritual thing because when the weights get really heavy, you have to know how to get psyched up. Similar to the UFC guys adding in spiritual components to training. So yes, I have other passions in life, but there is a mind/body/spirit-in-unity benefit that comes from lifting that nothing else replicates.

    Then there is the way it keeps me clean from hard drugs. I have a very rational "do not drink or use drugs because it will interfere with performance" argument I use on myself. That does not work on me with work or relationships or whatever else - I stubbornly think I can use responsibly. I guess I just want to compete in PL so bad, I want that satisfaction so bad, that I will do whatever it takes, including staying clean. Losing that, I worry I would eventually relapse.

    And last, I was a 110lb kid in high school and got bullied real bad. I never had any male figures in my youth to teach me how to stick up for myself, fight, get bigger or anything. Unfortunately, in my twenties it did not get better, I fell into addiction, I had rough stints in jail for similar reasons, and so on. No amount of hugs or therapy sessions calms the rage I still carry around (stubbornly, I'm in my thirties for God's sake, but it's a hard thing to go through as a kid), but strength-training really does wonders for my confidence, which spills over into all other areas of my life. If I were to lose the physical strength, I don't know if I could retain the mental strength. So ya, just with a history of feeling weak and vulnerable, this is a battle I need to fight.
    Last edited by RedLeader; 22-01-2017 at 05:47.
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    For me too, in and of itself training (and the various intellectual and organisational processes that come with it) can be satisfying, fulfilling, stimulating, endorphin-motivating and zen-like.

    However from what I understood, it looks like you're basically saying that the obsessive edifice built around training that pressurises you to stay clean was probably necessitated to rectify the symptoms (feelings of inadequacy/worthlessness) of the emotional dysfunction (lack of self-acceptance/love) generated by the bullying?

    From that perspective, I suppose nothing says I'm a strong worthy man better than competition and success - beating goals and beating others. But it's exhausting having to be perfect all the time to attain that: one failure and suddenly you're crushed and depressed.

    Thus the habits that formed to make you worthy lock you into an unhealthy, unstable and (ultimately) unsustainable vicious cycle. They need to be changed.

    The way I've always understood this dilemma, you need to find a way to accept every perceived flaw and failing that's a part of you - without any discrimination - and let go of the emotions. Ridiculously harder than it sounds - most people don't have a clue what 'acceptance' means in practice.

    Of course loving yourself and accepting all your flaws is also going to dismantle the habits that keep you clean and could paradoxically lead back to addiction. Unless the drug taking is also fuelled by the same deeper issue (I find it often is for most people)?

    In which case both impulses may dissipate, and you'll just be left with training for enjoyment and pleasure, without the attendant baggage of 'success'.

    That's roughly the point I'm at now I think, having detached training/physique achievement from self-worth. It did really fuck with my motivation in the early aftermath though. Also I didn't have to contend with any drug issues. I imagine that would be quite concerning: love thyself, become re-addicted.
    Last edited by CFC; 22-01-2017 at 21:09.
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