Training

The importance and nuances of keeping track of your bodyweight training

One of the most valued aspects of bodyweight training is the plethora of ways you can alter an exercise to make it harder or easier. There are several ways to adjust any of the basic exercises to your level and gradually move to a new one. In the end though it all boils down to how you position your body for the gravity to work for or against you.

There is practically no way one will ever run out of challenges as long as they keep this in mind.

In my opinion, recording your performance on each and every workout is a very significant part of getting stronger. Apart from the fact that it gives you a goal, something to beat, it also lets you go back in time and see where you started from and where you are now. How the first ever pushup you did might have been an incline pushup against the wall with a very favorable leverage while now you can perform full ones with strict form for multiple reps. It’s as much a psychological boost as it is a practical tool to know where you’re at and where you’re headed.

However, tracking your progress in bodyweight training is not always that easy. This might be a very small detail in the grand scheme of things but it can lead to confusion or frustration. I am referring to how exactly you perform an exercise and how you log it.

I was recently doing a shoulder workout where I like to start with a couple of sets of pike pushups – a great exercise for waking them up and preparing you for the handstands to come. According to my log, last time I did this exercise I did 10 half reps. That is, I didn’t go all the way down where my head would touch the floor, instead I paused mid-way for a second before pushing back up.

Usually I terminate a set when I feel that the next rep is not going to be a good one. This time I started my exercise going all the way down. When I reached 10 reps I noticed that I could push for a few more quality ones, and I did.

It stroke me as odd that within one week I went from an easier variation to a harder one with an increased number of repetitions. No matter how strong you get, that type of strength gains is not so realistic at such short time.

Now, there’s a lot to say about your state in any workout. Sometimes you feel stronger than others, you’ve slept better, had better food, less stress or the weather just agrees with you on that day. You might be happy because of a development in your life which boosts your energy levels. All those are factors that can greatly affect performance.

But if we consider that you are a person with a normal amount of “ups and downs” over a period of time, I believe the key lies in the subtleties. The thing mentioned above regarding how you position your body when performing a move.

Simply put, if my legs were a bit further apart and further back the second time I did the exercise, than the stress would be distributed between the chest and shoulders in a more balanced way than the first time. Which would naturally increase my ability to perform more repetitions and even increase the range of motion.

So the “precise” placement of your body plays an important role, right? Well if you want to be very strict about what you do and how you do it, than yes. And if you want to avoid confusion and even frustration wondering how you could perform sets of an exercise for many reps long ago while now you are struggling to get a few of them done, than you need to keep good track of posture.

The more you exercise and the more you focus on quality of execution, the more that specific movement becomes natural to you. I have noticed that some of the earlier steps of my workout are actually harder to perform now, because I cannot perform them the wrong way: I can’t cheat anymore!

The beauty of bodyweight training, among other things, is the control it lets you take over your body. Paying attention to little details I feel helps you understand and move it better. Keeping a workout log helps you in that you can see the different stages you went through when learning to have that control. Provided that you keep training, if something seems harder now than what it used to be, it’s more likely that you are performing it at its hardest form.

Try taking notes of those details you feel are worth remembering after finishing a workout. It’s what I do and so far it helps me understand a lot about why some things happen in my training.

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Eating, Misc, Training

My approach on bulking with Calisthenics

TL;DR: Lean bulking because you cannot force-feed muscle gains.

The main reason why I am training is to get stronger. A stronger body can better cope with anything that comes up in life, is healthier and could, if taken care of, hold one active until later in life.

However, I would be lying if I didn’t say that I am also training for more “shallow” reasons. Simply put, I want a better looking physique. A little bit bigger and a little bit leaner. I like to say that your body is like a piece of clothing you are permanently wearing. If you’re putting time and effort in selecting your clothes and making sure you look good in them, why wouldn’t you do the same about your body?

Right now, and for the past few months I’ve been on a “bulking” stage following a rather prolonged cut that was necessary to set up the foundation upon which to build. But how exactly do you bulk? And what is the difference, if any, between getting bigger with bodyweight training compared to lifting?

Well, theoretically none. Putting on muscle is based on getting stronger on exercises that work your muscle groups. This work comes from tension, tension comes from resistance and the origin of this resistance – external weights or your own body against gravity – doesn’t play any role. Right?

Theoretically yes. In practice, not exactly. Or not only. Here’s the main difference when bulking with lifting weights compared to bodyweight training: fat.

When on a bulk you are supposed to be eating at a surplus, so that your body has enough macronutrients to both cover your daily expenditures and achieve a higher level of proteinsynthesis, i.e. replacing old muscle tissue with new and stronger. So the two main ingredients for getting bigger is the surplus and strength.

Being on a surplus however, naturally means that some of the calories you’re taking in will be stored as fat. That is the nature of the surplus, it is more than you actually need. Here’s where things get harder with bodyweight training. Fat is dead weight. It drags you down making every exercise harder. Muscle also makes you heavier, but it contributes to the execution of the exercise. And as long as you keep a balance between your muscle groups the performance should not suffer.

Adding just a bit of fat can make a noticeable difference especially on the harder exercises. Your squats might not feel different, but your pull-ups will. Your pushups will feel heavier. Your handstands will feel like you’re trying to lift the world on your shoulders. Generally any movement where you lift a big percentage or all of your weight only with your upper body will seem much, much harder.

I noticed this especially after my summer vacation. As I mentioned in another post, things got a bit loose plus I was unable to train for a couple of weeks. When I got back in the gym, I felt as if I hadn’t trained for a month. My weight had gone up on the scale for maybe 1kg, which is not a big deal, but I felt heavy and slow. By the way, that’s one bad thing about training: it’s like a drug, if you stop you feel worse then before.

So adding fat makes Calisthenics harder. Wouldn’t that be the same for lifting weights? No. Adding fat has absolutely no impact on lifting external weights. It does not affect your bench press. One may think that your squats and deadlifts would be influenced, but if you’re already lifting heavy there what’s another half a kilogram going to do? Machine and most isolation work also doesn’t suffer. Bulking when lifting weights can, in that way, blind you from the reality that you’re weight gains might be more fat than muscle.

Calisthenics doesn’t offer you this luxury. There is no doubt. When I was doing my strict pushups and hitting 15 with relatively good form and pace I knew that I was at a good level. When I started struggling with getting up to 10 I knew that something was not done right. Immediate feedback. Straightforward reflection of your lifestyle and diet choices. Direct impact on your training. A step back.

Having said all that it may sound impossible to progress in Calisthenics while getting bigger. Of course it isn’t. There are plenty of examples out there of big, muscular physiques performing pullups, and pushups for reps. Performing human flags, muscle ups, levers and all sorts of advanced moves that defy gravity. One thing you immediately notice that they have in common is that they are lean. Low body fat levels, often six pack abs and great definition.

The key, in my opinion, is speed. Or rather the lack of it. How slow you aim to get bigger. Enter “lean bulking”. Lean bulking refers to adding muscle slow and steady. Not that there is any other way. The muscle building process is a slow one, especially if you are a natural. I personally find claims of adding 5-10kg of muscle in a few months completely ridiculous.

The way I do lean bulking is by slightly, and I mean slightly, increasing my calorie intake on my training days. I figure out my maintenance calories based on my lifestyle and training and add 200-300 hundred more on days when I train. In other words, calorie cycling.

In theory, that surplus should add up to 900 calories/week. Which is not big enough to be adding weight rapidly, a good indication that I am adding as little fat as possible. Nothing like eating 3000+ calories everyday. I have done that in the past and I saw my belly getting inflated like a hot-air balloon ready to take off.

When following this approach without deviating, not much at least, I have not noticed my performance being influenced negatively. The harder I push the more I get, and I can be sure that when I push hard enough my weight gains come from strength not food.

I believe that your body is a reflection of your current level of strength and ability in the world of Calisthenics. I cannot do a human flag right now therefore I cannot be expecting to own a physique that can do a human flag. In my opinion, realistic expectations and patience are what it takes to get there.

There it is, a simple, realistic and sensible approach to bulking with bodyweight training.

Eating

Why I believe in Flexible Dieting

If you’re into fitness and interested in not only strength goals but also a change in your physique, as even the least superficial of us are, then you probably spend a lot of time learning about and planning your nutrition. What foods should I eat? What is going to get me ripped? What foods make me fat? When trying to answer those questions you come across myriads of meal plans and diet concepts, many of which are implying that you should radically change your diet.

Flexible dieting and “If It Fits Your Macros” (IIFYM) are terms that have been around for a while now when it comes to how to eat for supporting your training goals. In short, this way of eating (as it is not really a specific diet) does not exclude any food from your diet as long as your daily consumption of calories and macro nutrients is where it should be, according to what you want to achieve. That means bread, chocolate, beer and other traditionally “prohibited” foods when “on a diet” can be part of your nutrition.

When I say traditional, I mean the standard chicken-broccoli-brown rice approach to dieting. The one where you have cheat meals or cheat days in order to satisfy your cravings and make your taste sensors a bit happier.

I admit that when I started working out and taking close care of my nutrition I too followed this approach. And what I realized a few months in was that it is not sustainable.

It is often said that the best diet is the one you will follow. And realistically speaking, there is no one on the planet that will stick to a dieting pattern that consists of mundane and blunt food cooked in tasteless ways. Moreover if you are one of these people that like to cook and get creative with food, then you immediately find yourself at a roadblock. Sacrifice something you enjoy for your fitness goals?

I don’t like the word sacrifice. It carries a heavy meaning, too heavy to be used in such context. I think we all already give a lot of our time, effort and energy in the important parts of our life, like work and family, and that our training and eating should be something fun and enjoyable. Something we will keep doing in the long run.

That is exactly why I believe that flexible dieting is the only way to eat if you’re in the fitness game. The fact that by not restricting yourself and being deprived of your favorite foods is going to help keep you “in line” and not succumb to intense cravings which do a bunch of damage. In reality, flexible dieting is the best discipline-enhancement mechanism there is. No need to test your will power every single time you’re out and your friend is eating a slice of pizza.

There is no denying that eating has several aspects apart from the purely biological one. A social aspect, a psychological aspect, even a creative one. I like to cook and I like to try new things, explore and see how I can make something taste. And I enjoy doing that for others too. I don’t want this to be the reason that my fitness goals will suffer and I don’t believe it has to be.

I eat a bit of chocolate everyday, and on weekends I will have a drink or two when I’m out. I like all sorts of bread and I wouldn’t say no to a fatty sausage either. As long as all those foods fall within the range of calories I aim to consume on a given day then I am going to grab that bite.

Having said all that, I have to point out what I have found is the biggest trap one might fall into when eating flexible: reaching the other end of the spectrum. Making flexible dieting an excuse for not keeping your diet in check. Fruits and veggies, in my opinion, should be a staple in everyone’s diet regardless of what principle they follow. Calorie intake, whether you’re one that’s counting them or not, should be controlled. Macros should have a balance first and foremost for a healthy functioning system and then for any body-specific goals. Flexible dieting does not mean neglect the basics of good nutrition and good health, needs are still needs and numbers are still numbers.

I keep track of my calories and my macros, without overly obsessing over them, by using an app called Lifesum. It’s a late addition to my minimalist toolkit since I used to do that manually. I pretty much only care about calories and protein but I like to know what balance I achieve in case I need to improve something. By having a look at what I ate yesterday I see a few grams of butter (for cooking purposes), chicken thighs, sweet potato, olive oil, cheddar cheese, eggs, cottage cheese, dark chocolate among others. I even ate 16 calories over my intended intake, I wonder how long I’ll have to cut to burn that!¬† Most of the foods I consume are what would be considered “healthy” even though I adhere to FD and IIFYM.

At the end of the day, it’s how you feel physically and psychologically that’s going to signal whether or not you need something from your nutrition. If that piece of cake is going to make you feel better then reach for it, just don’t eat the whole cake. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some teriyaki salmon to make.

Training

Can you reach new levels of strength by regressing in Calisthenics?

If you are a Calisthenics practitioner then you are no doubt familiar with the term Progressive Calisthenics. For the uninitiated what that means is simply beginning your strength training with simpler variations of exercises which once mastered are succeeded by progressively harder variations.

A very famous training program promoting PC is for instance Convict Conditioning, although there are tons of workouts and programs based on progressions. CC is the one I have been following for a few months now, something I plan to write about in a future post. In short though, the program dictates that once you reach a certain level of proficiency in an exercise you can move on to the next stage: the same exercise in a harder version.

So since getting stronger is based on “qualifying” for the next step the aim is to always strive for getting there, in other words always going forward.

The problem with the “always going forward” mindset, I have found, is that it can easily be misinterpreted and lead to the cultivation of a feeling of rush. Be in a hurry to progress, finish the easier variation as quick as possible in order to reach the harder one.

This is heavily advised against by coaches and even stated clearly in the CC book. The general advice is to take as much time as you – you, the individual Calisthenics athlete with your own strengths, weaknesses and current level of strength – need in order to perform an exercise with a certain degree of quality. A number of repetitions with good form and, in most cases, slow tempo.

I have to admit that even though I generally follow the rules and take my time with things, I have also been a victim of this “rush to the next level” feeling. I could have spent more time getting better on relatively easy, not so challenging versions of an exercise. Why is that good? For multiple reasons, a few of which are:

  1. Becoming an expert in the movement. Getting the basics down so that they will never be a problem again in the future and training your muscle memory to remember how the exercise should be performed. This is much, much easier done when minimum strength is required to perform a movement than when you have to engage all your muscle and neural system in order to perform it.
  2. Developing a good mind-to-muscle connection. Learning how to really turn on the muscle in use, maintaining high tension all throughout the movement and thus taking the most out of each repetition. This is otherwise known as “milking” the rep.
  3. Letting the tendons and ligaments adjust to the movement. It is often said that your muscles might be strong enough to execute the harder exercise but something else in the whole chain is lacking. It may be that your tendons or ligaments are not strong enough which can subsequently cause some injury or joint problem.
  4. Progressing on the skills necessary to correctly execute the harder variations. A pistol squat is as much about strength as it is about balance and mobility. There are many trainees who can perform heavy squats but only a small subset can go all the way down on one leg – and back up again.

So since I got back from my vacation a couple of weeks ago, and not having trained for two weeks due to a small health issue, I noticed that my performance on certain exercises just wasn’t the same with what it was before I left. Sure, I might have gotten slightly heavier due to being a bit more relaxed with my diet (note: intermittent fasting really helps you not go too much overboard even when on vacation, although it is still a matter of being disciplined) and because of my absence but I believe this is a great opportunity to regress.

Deliberately regressing I think is a great way to fix problems that arise when progressing a little too quick. Yes, kneeling pushups do not sound as sexy as close a.k.a “diamond” pushups but if there is strength to be gained by essentially lifting a lighter load then why move on? Would it be smart to go to a 50kg bench press if you don’t own the 45kg?

My plan from now on is to score a 4/4 on the list I presented above while performing an exercise as properly as I can get it. Proper form, slow motion, full muscle engagement and tension turned on where it has to be on. I do believe that cheat reps have their place in a set, but when talking about progressing it’s real quality that matters. Anything else will show up as a problem down the road.

One step backward, two steps forward. That’s the key to progress, right?

Thinking out loud, Training

1000 words about why I started Calisthenics

I started because I had to. I stay because I choose to.

I came back from my vacation last summer and took a look at the mirror. I did not like what I saw. One could say I enjoyed my vacation a bit too much. I already spoke about how it feels to be skinny-fat but that had gone too far. It wasn’t the image and the body I wanted for myself. As a person who was always generally interested in sports and exercising, I felt that I had to finally put in the effort, time and resources to changing that image.

Can you relate to that?

So I bought a gym card. I started going to the gym, following a program targeted to fat loss and strength based on full-body compound exercises together with some HIIT. In time, I adjusted my diet – back then following the traditional 5 meals a day with some modifications. And I started seeing results. I dropped some weight, my belly got deflated and my lifts were getting progressively stronger. Still miles away from looking anything like a ripped guy, but this was my first time properly working out since my actual first time properly working out, which was years ago.

And then it came. The one thing no one in the fitness and sports world wishes to their worst enemy. An injury.

It happened on a Clean and Press exercise, when I had pretty much reached my limit weight-wise. A cracking noise on the right wrist. Some pain but bearable. I finish the last two reps of that set (we all have done stupid things, haven’t we?) and call it a day.

If you have been training and following a regimen religiously for some time, having set a specific goal, tracking your progress and being really serious about hitting your target then you can imagine how it feels to understand that you cannot train for a while. It feels awful. It sucks.

Needless to say, the following days the only thing in my mind was when and how I could get back in the gym. How serious it was, how I could work around it. I got a wrist support, anti-inflammatory pills and stopped working out for a couple of weeks.

Once I set foot in the gym again, I knew that touching iron was out of the question for quite some time. I could still feel the pain when rotating my wrist – basic moves would cause me to tense and jump up.

People say “do the best you can in the circumstances you find yourself in” or something along these lines. So if lifting was not an option, it was time to get back to basics.

I now realize how ironic this expression is when talking about training. “Back to basics”. When is anyone really at the basics? Pushups, pullups, dips, bodyweight squats. The average trainee these days starts from loading the bar with tens of KGs and squatting, arguing whether or not “ass-to-grass” is better than parallel thighs in terms of knee-health. And that’s at best, since a lot of people’s idea of properly training is high-volume bicep curls until the pump doesn’t let your arms fit in your shirt.

So I started from the basics. Even with an injured wrist, I could work out my chest. Fist pushups with a “neutral” grip. That didn’t cause pain. Bulgarian split squats with a bulgarian bag around my neck. That didn’t cause pain. Inverted rows with a TRX. That didn’t cause pain. Hanging knee raises with a neutral grip. That didn’t cause pain.

Time was passing and I was finally doing the basics – what a contradictory statement. In the beginning two things were in my mind: how do I apply progressive overload to these exercises and when will all this be over so I can go back to lifting. Two months? Three months? I wouldn’t risk going in too soon, the last thing I wanted would be to add a whole year to my recovery. Until then though, I had to be making progress.

As the weeks were going by my focus started to lie more and more on getting better in those moves. I started seeing the value of simplicity it this type of training. I started enjoying the absence of extra equipment. I started testing out more advanced variations, prematurely maybe, and seeing gains that I hadn’t before.

It was like gradually falling in love with the girl next door. Finally appreciating what you thought was only the “next best thing”. And to some extent, like finding your calling. At least in the context of training and getting stronger.

As my recovery was getting better and better, I started playing around with the idea of not going back to lifting. The thought of staying with this, exploring what the people who are really good at it do. I knew there was something called Calisthenics, but it seemed like something that superhumans only do. Up to that point I could not relate to that, it seemed very far away for someone like me.

That’s because I had no idea. No idea that Calisthenics is actually another word for bodyweight training. No idea that Calisthenics starts from the basics. The pushup, the pullup, the bodyweight squat, the leg raise, the dips, the pike pushups. No idea that running, jumping, kicking, punching, throwing, pushing, pulling, climbing, swimming, crawling, squeezing, every single physical move that includes applying strength is, in fact, Calisthenics.

The moment I realized that, a whole new world opened up in front of me. A world full of elementary things that if followed properly and creatively can lead you to the same results a fully equipped gym can but with less hassle. A world of simplicity, creativity and minimalism.

Above all, a world with lots of good material. Books, videos, podcasts from a community that has a common focus: get stronger in a way that is less complicated and feels more natural.

I started Calisthenics because I was forced due to an injury. In retrospect, I can say that that injury was a blessing in disguise. It led me to an amazing discovery. I stay with Calisthenics because I am in love with it. Its simplicity, its focus, its endless possibilities but its high demands as well.

My journey in this new world has only just begun. I can’t wait to see where the road will take me.

Eating, Thinking out loud, Training

Being skinny-fat sucks but teaches virtues

TL;DR: If you want a good physique you have to work double as hard. And learn from that.

I am skinny-fat.

Not so evident right now necessarily, but my body type can be described by that term. I am relatively tall, have long slim limbs and narrow joints. Generally lean, except for the area we really care about being lean: the abdomen.

Owning that body type comes with certain pros and cons. The major benefit is that you never look overweight. No matter how much you eat you will never get so fat that people will look at you and wonder what happened.

I may be exaggerating a bit there. But in order to really look like a person with an obesity problem you have to really be eating a lot of food for quite a while.

So being skinny-fat means that you can get away with eating your big juicy burger covered in cheddar, a nice bowl of fries and drinking coke, to be later followed by consuming your favorite ice-cream sundae. It means viciously attacking the Christmas buffet or reaching for seconds before anyone has had time to lift a fork at the big family dinner. All that without ever really looking fat.

But you are.

Your body fat levels are higher than a person at your current weight ought to have. A 75kg (165lbs) person with ~20% bf is not overweight. But they are fat. And skinny.

All that does not matter until you decide you want to obtain a good-looking physique. As long as you’re not interested in fitness, none of that plays an important role in your life. And as long as your lifestyle choices are not extremely poor, like smoking heavily, drinking a lot, partying out late a bit too often and your relationship with veggies and fruit being as distant as Daenerys Targaryen from the Iron Throne, then your annual checkup will be ok. Your height to weight ratio is normal, or even negative which means you should put on weight. Everything is fine, but…

It all changes once you decide you want to build a great, strong body. A body that is lean, with a visible six-pack, and muscular enough so that nobody would call you skinny. With relative strength that allows you to perform some of the most challenging exercises, like pull ups, for more than a few reps with good form. That’s when things get tough.

For starters, the dilemma most skinny-fat people face is where to start from. You are skinny, you definitely need to add size to those thin arms and small shoulders. But then again, how can you go on a bulk when your gut is sticking out? So…should I bulk or cut?

Then even when you decide what to do you have to face the consequences. If you do go on a bulk you will get size, but your reduced insulin sensitivity because of high bf% will cause you to store more fat then if you were leaner. Plus your relative strength, your strength relative to your own body weight that is, will suffer. Seeing your stomach grow even more, even slightly, will demotivate you even further. You will be growing, but how much of that will be lean muscle mass compared to someone who is bulking from a leaner starting point?

On the other hand, if you decide to tackle your belly problem first, you face the problem on the other end of the spectrum. Your bf% will be getting lower, your belly deflating. But you will be losing size from places you don’t want to lose. You will notice your arms, chest and back getting smaller. You will not be fitting in your clothes anymore because they are too big. And I’m taking about the slim-fit pair of jeans that was small to begin with.

Don’t get me wrong. Strength training with progressive overload that consists of compound exercises will in both cases be your assistant. But strength training is not a magic pill. Especially if you don’t take any magic pills. As a natural, your progress will be slower, will hit plateaus and will require you to be smart and get to better sync with your body and what it is telling you.

But, is being skinny-fat really that different when it comes to getting in shape than being a “skinny ectomorph” or overweight?

In essence, no. The same rules apply. In practice yes. Because you start from the middle on a road where you need to reach both ends. Both get lean and build a solid muscular foundation. The ectomoprh of the question has only one way to go, that’s bulk. Train heavy and eat a bit more. The overweight person also has one way to go, get lean. The developed muscular system is there, it’s just hidden under layers of fat. Again train heavy and eat a bit less. In time, both will reach their goal.

But for a skinny-fat person that time will be double as long and the progress seen in the meantime will never be that impressive. They will never look radically different.

If you’ve read up to this point you might be thinking that life is over. Skinny-fat is a dead-end and getting ripped is an elusive dream.

Well, I don’t think so.

We all work with what we have and do the best we can with it. There are plenty of examples out there with people starting from average or even below-average condition and getting into amazing shape.

The point I am attempting to make is that this whole process of analyzing your current state, wondering what to do and weighing your options, pushing yourself, looking for inspiration, getting occasionally frustrated, slipping, getting back on track and finally finding a balance is both didactic and deep. It teaches patience and perseverance. It requires that you face yourself and that you take control of it.

Nobody has it easy, unless you are blessed with amazing genetics. Everyone has their demons and their obstacles to overcome. Everyone has to fight for every single piece of gains. For skinny-fat guys, it just takes longer. But I do believe that when the time comes when the measurements, the scale, the mirror and most importantly the performance at the gym, are those you’re shooting for…then the satisfaction will be greater too. Until then, learning to appreciate what you have and keep working to improve it is the most important element for your transformation.

Now, let’s push a bit harder for that one extra rep.

Eating, Thinking out loud

My favourite type of intermittent fasting

TL;DR: The one that offers most freedom and simplicity.

It’s been almost 5 months now that I have been doing intermittent fasting and I don’t see myself giving it up anytime soon. I started with skipping breakfast and maintaining a 16-hour fast like the leangains protocol dictates. This is probably the easiest way for someone to start, compared to a 24-hour fast for example. In my opinion it is also the simplest one to follow. And as anybody with a little bit of sense will tell you, the best diet is the one you can follow. In other words, it’s easy to sustain and sustainability is evidently what gives results in the long run.

Now, if you’re a person with a “normal” day job and you are somewhat serious about your diet then chances are that you cook your own food more often than not. Not only to be able to track macros/calories but also to save money. Which means you have to spend some time at home fixing food for the next day, or a few hours on a Sunday preparing lunchboxes for the whole week.

There is nothing really wrong with that, I’ve done it for quite a while especially when I was eating 5 meals a day. But it takes time. And effort. And a lot of thought in advance even if you’re not obsessed with counting every last gram. I didn’t want that. I didn’t want to have to think about next day’s food. And I didn’t want to be eating food out of the refrigerator and microwave oven. I wanted to be able to enjoy good meals, fresh out of the oven and worry about food only when the time had come to eat.

My solution? Skipping lunch too.

So no breakfast, no lunch…That’s starting to look like a 24-hour fast, doesn’t it?

Well, I do break my fast before that. And I do generally maintain a 16-hour fast however I am not obsessing over it. What I do is that I break my fast by eating some fruit once I hit or approach the 16-hour mark, or even later sometimes. I simply take one or two pieces of fruit while I’m at work and wait for my normal meals until I’m home.

The approach I have is the one Kinobody recommends, and it has been gaining in popularity because of the simplicity in implementing it.

I have to admit that the benefits of such a structure far outweigh the drawbacks. The benefits of fasting and skipping breakfast are well known, with heightened alertness and improved focus being among them – a very important factor if you are working in the morning. That was something I was reading about and came to realize myself.

But what are the benefits of skipping lunch too? Don’t you get hungry?

Well, by skipping lunch I actually feel like I have more energy. It sounds counter-intuitive but it makes sense to me. My personal experience with it is that my body and my stomach do not have to deal with digestion which means there is nothing distracting me from whatever task I have at hand. If you’re working normal office hours the 2pm-4pm time frame is extremely hard to stay productive in as anyone will tell you. When I was eating lunch at around 12pm all I felt like doing once the clock hit 14.00 was to go take a nap.

Eating a bit of fruit instead of a normal meal at lunch has proven to be a very good way to keep me going until the end. I get a bit of sugar which definitely helps if I’m feeling low on it and gives me a nice wake-up kick. If I’m feeling very tired, because of getting up early to train or simply bad sleep/difficult week, I might even take a cup of coffee. I am not a big coffee drinker but I do enjoy a cup of joe every now and then.

On top of all that I make sure to have a bottle of water next to me which I empty 2-3 times until I get home from work. That’s about 1-1.5 liters of water. As a warning, you will have to go the toilet a bit more often than most people at the office but hey, hydration is good.

So now I’m home at around 17.30 – 18.00 and the kitchen is my playground. My caloric budget is virtually untouched which offers me all the freedom I need to actually eat things that have some taste and consume real, big, satisfying portions. I believe in flexible dieting, which really should be called eating like a normal person. If anything it’s much more natural then restricting yourself and limiting it to only a bunch of tasteless choices. I make sure I get the amount of protein I believe is enough, without going overboard. And the rest of it is fats and carbs which I do not even measure. I simply eat what I feel like eating. My choices are based mostly on wholesome foods of course, without neglecting micronutrients, but I do experiment with them. This is a journey in gastronomy as well as fitness after all.

So there you have it. This is what my daily eating routine looks like. Occasionally I will eat out. The weather is nice for a barbecue, the company takes you to a restaurant, you’re at a party. You don’t have to worry about how much you eat…that much. As a person with some fitness and strength goals, you always keep an eye on what you consume. But making your life easier with smart choices is in my opinion key to staying consistent, which is a virtue when it comes to getting stronger and building a physique.

By the way, this post was written fasted.