Eat More. Be More.

My Fear Of Going Weeks Without Heavy Lifting

For those of you that are into Crossfit, you’re well aware that we are in the midst of the Open. About two weeks before the Open started, our box changed programming and cut back on heavy lifting days so we wouldn’t be broken down at the end of the week when we had to do the Open workouts. This has produced some mixed feelings (for me…I can’t speak for others).

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Pick Up Heavy Things. Put Them Down

I like lifting heavy. Makes me want to grunt and wear a loin cloth (but I can’t afford another citation for that for 22 more months…kidding). Cutting back on heavy lifting to be in good shape for the weekend makes sense. We’ve all had those Friday and Saturday workouts where we were too spent from giving so much Monday through Thursday, which is NOT what you want if you’re competing on the weekend. I get it. Moderate volume during the week to be able to go HAM in the Open.

However…I like lifting heavy. If you don’t, this is the best time of the year for you and you’re dumb. Lifting heavy is awesome. What really makes this worse is that on December 1st I started following nutritional guidance from Eat To Perform. My energy skyrocketed, my strength was noticeably improved, and I started breaking personal records that were 5 and 6 months old. I’ve written about ETP briefly before, but the idea is you eat to fuel workouts instead doing the low carb, low calorie thing just to drop fat.

Eat enough of the right thing at the right time and you have much better workouts, build endurance, and gain muscle which in turn, BURNS MORE FAT (your basal metabolic rate increases). Instead of putting your body into starvation mode and causing it to try and hold onto fat, you give it enough fuel to work harder. There are cycles involved where you eat to lose more fat, but its very periodic…not an all the time thing. Even though I just started a “cut phase” to drop some weight, I am eating MORE calories on my REST days than I was any day before Eat To Perform. On workout days my calories are much higher still. Once the “cut” is over in 10 weeks, I’ll go WAY back up on my calories (think 3,150 cal instead of my old 1,800 cal).

My Concerns

This brings me to two points that worried me. First: what is no heavy lifting (75% or more of my one rep max) for 5 weeks going to do to my strength and how long will it take to come back once we start lifting heavy again? Second: How are my workouts going to be affected for the next 10 weeks while I’ve cut back on my calories?

I think both questions were answered last night. I ate 2,476 calories yesterday toward my 2,485 calorie goal since it was a training day. Yesterday was deadlift day with 15 minutes to work up to a moderate 2 rep weight. It’s probably been 6 or 8 weeks since I’ve done any heavy deadlifting. My hopes were not high for being strong here. I started light and felt good so I kept adding plates. When the 15 minutes was up I did the math and had just pulled two fairly easy reps at 95% of my recently set one rep max! What?!?!

Given more time, I have no doubt I could have gone on to hit a PR…after weeks and weeks of not lifting heavy. So maybe my fear of losing strength gains is a little unfounded. Continuing to workout and eat sufficient macros to fuel my workouts has apparently helped maintain, and possibly even increase, my strength.

This Part Not Intended To Sound Like An Infomercial

What’s the point? My first nine months was about losing weight and getting healthy. That’s what go me into working out and eating better. But as I started to improve, getting strong and better became my focus. After starting Eat To Perform I realized I should have been doing this all along. I should have focused on getting enough calories in the right proportions to add muscle AND burn fat. If I’d have started this from the beginning I’d be so much farther along in my progress.

The road to health doesn’t mean you have to starve yourself and workout all the time. In fact, it’s kinda the opposite. When I was struggling with 70% of my 1RM and burning out halfway through the workout, I was eating about 1,820 calories a day and had stopped losing weight.

When I started ETP I jumped up to 2,819 calories (adding some each week) on workout days and about 2,450 on rest days. When you aren’t eating crap, that’s a LOT of food! Here is what is scary for people…weight gain. Yup…I gained about 3 pounds in the first couple of weeks. I went from eating 60g or 70g of carbs to eating 261g of carbs on my workout days! Between the extra carbs and increasing muscle mass, I picked up a few pounds of water, which also made my muscles look fuller and recover faster because they were properly hydrated. But I haven’t gained another pound in the last 3 months. I eat a ton more food, lift a lot heavier weight, and thrash the WODs (since starting ETP I have been able to do some WODs Rx’d which never happened before) while getting to EAT! Cereal is now allowed in my diet!

I Was A Skeptic, Too

Full disclosure: There are some links up there to EatToPerform.com that are affiliate links but this isn’t about that. It’s about seeing how important nutrition is and wanting to share the with everyone else. The revelations and progress I’ve gained from this program have been shocking. A lot of it flies in the face of what has been drilled into us about weight loss by all these diet programs and gimmicks, but the evidence is there. I read a lot of stories before trying it out and I was still skeptical. But just like Crossfit, once I tried it I drank the Kool Aid. It took one week for me to see progress on a surprising scale.

And the price is awesome. When you join you get 4 books, a year membership to the Science Lab where you can get personalized coaching from the staff of ETP, and access to a closed Facebook group. Not only that, there are weight loss challenges with AWESOME prizes from sponsors that are included in your membership. About 8 weeks in I won $100 from Reebok just for being the first to post an Instagram pic with a certain hashtag.

If you have questions or doubts, drop a comment or leave one on Facebook and I’ll answer as best I can. You can also get more info with this link. There are some exciting things coming up for ETP this year so now is a great time to get involved!

What would be your biggest concern about increasing calories if you want to lose weight?