Over the last couple of weeks, I have been going through some changes in my life. As I previously mentioned, I recently moved to Nashville, Tennessee and have finally landed a job. While it’s only a restaurant job, it’s a paycheck. The downside of working a restaurant job is that the hours can be quite demanding and make meal timing less than ideal. I have been struggling to get in the calories and macronutrients needed each day, because there is about 6 hours during my workdays when I am unable to eat. The only thing I can usually manage to consume during a shift is a protein shake, but not until my shift is three-quarters of the way over. While this is an issue, in the past, I have been able to re-arrange my eating schedule to make this work.
In addition to a new home and a new job, I have a new coach. I had an incredible experience and learned so much from Kristi Tauti of Team iPhysique in Portland, Oregon, but I knew that if I truly want to compete at a higher level, I needed a coach closer to my home. After a lot of research, I found both a bodybuilding-focused gym as well as an incredible new coach—Trae Kidd of Insane Physiques. With a new coach comes a new training program and new nutritional plan as well.
MY NEW FOCUS
My new coach has pushed me to ask myself, “What do I truly want out of this lifestyle?” Do I want to compete just to compete? Am I doing this simply to improve my physique? Or, is there something more I want out of this. What I have come to realize is that I want to really excel in this word of fitness competitions. I want to compete nationally, and I ultimately want to achieve pro status. Realizing this goal, I have shifted my approach to the off season. I have talked in the past about competing again starting in October. However, the two shows that I had my eyes set on are not national qualifiers. With my focus now on qualifying nationally, I have decided to focus on building my physique and waiting to compete until next year, when I can compete in a qualifying competition. With this new focus, my training has been turned up a notch…actually, more like three notches.
LESS CARDIO = MORE RESULTS
In my last post, I talked about cardio and my struggle with balancing the amount I do and building muscle. I came to the decision that I was willing to sacrifice some muscle gains for the balance I achieved from doing roughly 60 minutes of cardio, six times per week. However, my new coach has put me on a different schedule. Because Trae has been incredibly successful with his clients, I have committed 100% to his plan, even if that means changing the way I view cardio. This new plan has me lifting six times per week and doing 45 minutes of cardio, four times per week.
I know you are thinking, “Rachael you just talked about how you need cardio to stay mentally sound?” Yes, this is true. However, this new plan has me lifting more, heavier and harder. My body is so sore and tired each day that less cardio has been very helpful to my recovery. In addition, with the first two weeks of this plan behind me, I have seen some incredible changes in my muscle mass. Before you say, “I told you so,” I will admit that the lower amount of cardio plus the increased intensity in my lifting has truly helped me to improve my physique.
MORE HEAVY LIFTING
In addition to the reduction of cardio, the way I am lifting weights has also been a contributing factor to my progression. My new plan not only requires weight training six days per week rather that five, but the weight training program is a high volume, heavy weight program. By high volume I mean that each body part is trained with 5-6 exercises (with the exception of legs where there are more exercises) with each exercise consisting of six sets with the rep range as follows: 20,16,12,10,8,8. The goal of each exercise is to lift a heavy enough weight to challenge the muscles without fatiguing them to the point where form is sacrificed. I have found this type of training is optimal for partner workouts, when one is able to use a spotter to push through the last couple of reps without sacrificing form when reaching failure. This is intense training. I have never been this sore. And, to be honest, it is a great feeling. Yes, I am exhausted most of the time, especially with the addition of working in a restaurant full-time and being on my feet most of the day, but that delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is a key indication that I am on the right track to building the ideal physique for stage.
MY NEW TRAINING SCHEDULE
Weeks 1-2 – My Initial Program
Monday: Legs+45 minutes of cardio*
Tuesday: Shoulders+Chest+45 minutes of cardio
Wednesday: 45 minutes cardio only
Thursday: Back+ 45 minutes of cardio
*Cardio is done first thing in the AM on an empty stomach (fasted cardio) and weight lifting is done later in the day after eating.
Weeks 3-4 – My Revised Program
Checking in with my coach after my first two weeks under the new program we have made some slight adjustments to my training. Because I have seen some great muscle mass increase without sloppy weight gain, we were able to cut my cardio down even more. Now, rather than doing 45 minutes of cardio, four times per week, I will be doing 35 minutes of cardio, four times per week.
Monday: Legs+35 minutes of cardio
Tuesday: Shoulders+Chest+35 minutes of cardio
Wednesday: 35 minutes cardio only
Thursday: Back+ 35 minutes of cardio
SAMPLE HEAVY, HIGH VOLUME LEGS WORKOUT
Rest 1 minute between each set.
HEAVY Smith Machine Donkey Kicks: 20/16/12/10/8/8
30 Lunges each leg
HEAVY Smith Machine Deep Sumo Squats: 20/16/12/10/8/8
30 Lunges each leg
HEAVY Abductor Machine: 20/16/12/10/8/8
30 Lunges each leg
HEAVY Single Leg Lying Leg Curls: 20/16/12/10/8/8
HEAVY Seated Leg Curls: 20/16/12/10/8/8
HEAVY Leg Press (Toes over edge, pushing through heals): 20/16/12/10/8/8
HEAVY Smith Machine Deep Squat: 20/16/12/10/8/8
HEAVY Leg Extension: 20/16/12/10/8/8
MY NEW NUTRITION PLAN
My new nutrition plan is a high protein, moderate carbohydrate and low-fat plan. The first two weeks, I was eating roughly 1840 cal/day with my macros around 120g carbs, 250g protein and 32g fat. In order for my new coach to understand how my body reacts to different foods, I needed to follow the exact plan.
Having experienced great results from the first two weeks, my calories and macros have been shifted upward slightly. I am increasing my calories to around 2000 cal/day with my macros increasing relative to what they were before as well. Our ultimate goal is to get my calories in the 2500cals/day range during the off season. Increasing calorie consumption takes time, and must happen a little bit at a time. I want to increase my metabolism, but you have to do it slowly, making sure not to overload your system with mass calories and turn into Mrs. Fluff. My daily meal breakdown follows roughly this plan:
Meal 1: Oats+Egg Whites+Extra Lean Ground Beef
Meal 2: Oats+Lean Meat
Meal 3: Sweet Potato+Veggies+Lean Meat
Meal 4: Sweet Potato+Lean Meat
Meal 5: Veggies+Lean Meat
Meal 6: Salad+Lean Meat
Meal 7: Casein Protein Powder+Chia Seeds (Protein Pudding)
MY NEW SUPPLEMENT PLAN
In addition to my coach providing me with a training and nutrition plan, he has also provided me with a supplement plan, including what and when. My supplements and timing are as follows:
L-Glutamine: 5g with Meal 1, 5g with Meal 2
BCAA: 1 serving with each meal, 1 serving during workout
L-Arginine: 1000mg 30 minutes before workout
Fish Oil: 1 capsule with Meal 1, 1 capsule with Meal 2, 1 capsule with Meal 3
Flaxseed Oil: 1 serving daily
Multi-Vitamin: 1 serving daily
ZMA: 1 serving before bed
CLA: 4 capsules with Meal 1, 4 capsules with Meal 3
Food Enzyme: 1 capsule after each meal
L-Carnitine: 500mg 30 minutes before and after each workout
Vitamin C: 1000mg daily
FIGHTING EXHAUSTION, STAYING BALANCED
My new off-season plan is new and really exciting. Where I am struggling is finding the balance between training, eating and work while trying not to be completely exhausted. I am working five days a week until late then waking up early to train. It is completely wiping me out, and I know if I do not find a solution and way to balance out my schedule, I may burn out.
My goal over the next couple of weeks is trying to set a steady sleep schedule where I can get more than 5-6 hours a night and also find the right meal timing. Because I work 6-8 hour shifts without a real break in between, I don’t have time to sit down every 2-3 hours to eat a solid meal. What I have been forced to do is eat more meals in less time before work, drink a whey shake during my shift, then eat a larger meal after work late at night. This is not ideal, however, working through schedule issues and still being successful is what truly makes one stronger and more successful.
I know that FitnessRX For Women family and the bodybuilding community at large includes many busy, multi-tasking women who have overcome many hurdles throughout their daily lives. And, so I turn to you…if you have any tips on balancing work, training, diet and life, please share them with me either below in the comments section, on my Twitter or my Facebook page. Thank you all for reading and following me throughout this journey and, as always, #trainhard.