“That’s what most people lack, having the guts to go on and just say they’ll face the pain no matter what happens.” – Arnold Scharwzenegger
The mentality to push through and face the pain while going low carb says a lot about a person. Combining a low carb diet with intense exercise requires you to delve deep into a part of your mind that you didn’t think existed.
I had to access this part of my mind after a combination of low carbs and intense exercise during week 4 of Shortcut to Shred. My gym sessions took about 20 minutes longer than usual. Each and everyday I had a moment where I thought I would throw up. If sweat is fat crying, then my fat must have been having a full on tantrum!
Yet, there is something extremely satisfying about being taken into the trenches and coming out of the other side. Think back to Connor McGregor beating Nate Diaz (2nd time out) or the New England Patriots recent Superbowl win. It shows character. It proves that you can succeed, and it also provides a trait that can be utilised in all walks of life. I found that this past week. I also found pain, and a lot of exhaustion.
Training – Muscle Building
For the first time during this program, I was truly able to measure the improvements I have made in my strength. As with week 1, the first half of the week asked for 9-11 reps on each exercise, with 12–15 being the target during the isolation portion. During the compound exercises (multi-joint, strength based) I was amazed at how much stronger I felt. I took note of the weigt I lifted in week one, and made sure to increase every exercise by 2.5 to 5kg (5-10lbs), as recommended by the Shortcut to Shred creator, Jim Stoppani.
Not only was I lifting heavier, but also longer. Whereas in week 1 I was rest-pausing 2-3 times per set, in week 4 I was able to push on to the required rep range without the need to rest. This was a real surprise. Though I was expecting to lift heavier, the longevity was a real surprise, but a pleasant one.
The isolation exercises did not see the same improvements. I made the decision to go heavier on these than I did in week 1. Looking over my notepad, it seems as though I the only words I was capable of writing were “rest-pause” and “drop-set”. My energy levels were sapped and I felt constantly drained. This could have been due to the lack of carbs (I certainly feel as though this had something to do with it). I also had a trip to the US Embassy in London which messed my bodyclock and diet up a bit (5:20am wake up) and I had a blocked nose all week, though no other symptoms of a cold. To cap it off, I had a few personal things going on which were impacting my mood.
Taking al this into account, I was happy doing drops to make sure I reached the required amount of reps. Muscles don’t know how heavy you are lifting during sculpting activities, they only know failure.
Training – Fat Burning
After a week of motoring through Cardio Acceleration like the Energizer Bunny, week 4 was a real reality check. As much as I tried to keep the intensity up, physically I just couldn’t manage it. I was resting for a further 30-45 seconds after each round of cardio, before getting back to the weights. I was sweating profusely and constantly heading over to the blue roll holders to wipe my forehead. Disappointingly, I let my lack of energy affect my mindset and started half-assing things.
That was up until a set of box jumps I was completing. I was performing them in between sets of overhead tricep extensions. Struggling to lift my feet all the way up, I performed one jump where my right foot didn’t quite lift properly. Tripping on the bottom of the box, I very nearly went arse over tit as my momentum took me forward. If it wasn’t for the reaction of my left foot stepping forward, I could have been heading back to the US with a few teeth missing.
This was a useful reminder to myself to not let my emotions control my actions. I told myself to sort it out (probably louder than I should have) and carried on with full focus. Even though my energy was still lagging for the remainder of the week, I was able to concentrate through every set of cardio. My form and focus was what it needed to be for the remainder of the week. Thank you meditation.
Due to that concentration on my form, I was able to make sure that my abs were fully engaged with every cardio activity. After reading an article called “the skinny on abs”, including an part on how posture shapes the mid-section, I have been very mindful of keeping my abs tight and my body upright. This also gave me an excuse to slow down on the cardio acceleration movements and really focus on my form. So beneficial for helping me through this blip.
Diet & Supplements
My medicine cupboard looks like a makeshift pharmacy. Whey, Casein, Omega-3’s, creatine, l-carnitine, caffiene, green tea extract, multi-vitamins and calcium tablets are all part of my daily supplements. Kris Gethin swears by taking far more than this a day. I should probably look into the safety aspect. I haven’t really felt much of a difference with the additional fat burners.
Diet-wise, it’s funny. After dropping the carb intake by 0.5 gram per pound of bodyweight after week 1, it didn’t seem to have that much of a difference to my overall daily vibe. Dropping by another 0.5 grams for the final 3 weeks has turned me into a vampire without blood to drink. I’ve already mentioned my decreased energy levels. Added to that has been the constant feeling of hunger. It has taken a lot of will power not to chow down on some additional starchy carbs.
I should mention that due to my trip to London, I did wilt and eat some convenience food. KFC and McDonalds to be precise. That Maccy D’s I could have done without. KFC and their new zinger fries…the tempattion was too much. Sadly I feel that this has had a negative impact on my results this past week.
Current Weight – 168lbs (down 1lb)
Current Bodyfat – 17% (down 0.5%)
Yeah, even though there’s a decrease in bodyfat, it is minimal compared to last week. I think those two fast food meals had more of an impact than I’d hoped. Combined with the lack of intensity during cardio acceleration, realistically, this is probably the best I could have hoped for.
There appears to have been some minor growth around the shoulders and chest. Pleasing. I doubt I’ll be asked to replace Hugh Jackman in the Wolverine re-boot by the end of this program, but some gains are better than none.
- Focus on form during cardio acceleration. The drop of bodyfat is to hopefully show off the abs, for which posture plays a big part.
- Stay strict on your diet. Minor slips ups will have a negative impact.