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Greg Webb
Marine, single father and aspiring Strongman, fighting the battle against binging and seeking a closer relationship with God.
Marine, single father and aspiring Strongman, fighting the battle against binging and seeking a closer relationship with God.

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Supplementation, depending on who you ask, can be a touchy subject.  For some they can be a blessing, but for others it’s a Band-Aid on a gunshot wound if they’re relying on it too heavily to make up for their neglect and lack of effort in their diet.  Like anything else, it can be overused and abused, so moderation is key.  

Supplement [n. suhp-luh-ment] something added to complete a thing, supply a deficiency, or reinforce or extend a whole.

That’s the key: supply a deficiency.  I’d be hard-pressed to call this a replacement for whole food, but if you’re finding it hard to meet your protein requirements or are suffering deficiencies in other areas, then supplements can fill in the gaps.

So it leaves you wondering: What supplements should I take?

Personally, I’m a fan of supplements, but I’m also well aware that a lot of it is useless.  I don’t put any stock in the “magic pills” like test boosters, fat burners, or the rest of the garbage on the shelves that deliver billions of dollars to the industry every year.  There are a handful of tried and true items I find to be beneficial and the supplements I’m about to recommend to you are the ones I consume on a (semi-, anyway) regular basis.  

What Supplements Should I Take?  Optimum Nutrition 100% WheyOptimum Nutrition (ON) 100% Whey is the #1 supplement I consume, more than anything else and nearly every day.  ON has always provided the highest quality protein (Check out the results of Reddit’s tested vs. claimed experiment!), and with the scandal currently surrounding all of the amino spiking going on, you need a brand you can trust.  Whey protein – a byproduct of cheese production – is quickly digested and has a high bioavailability, therefore making it favorable and popular as a post-workout drink.  And if you need 200+ grams of protein daily and are struggling with eating 2-3+ pounds of meat a day, then supplementing with a shake can help lessen some of that burden (and potentially save you money).  Throw it in pancake mix to turn those flapjacks into flapJACKED!  Or mix a scoop in with some plain Greek yogurt for a pudding-like snack without all the sugar.  Soon I’ll be using it to experiment with donuts, too!

The Best Supplements for Training - Quest BarQuest Bars are, technically, more of a convenience food than a supplement, but I’m including them on this list because they’re primarily made of whey protein, they’re one of the only protein bars I recommend and aren’t just a dressed-up candy bar, and because they’re freaking delicious!  Where whey protein is usually taken post-workout, I’ll typically eat these about an hour before I hit the gym for pre-workout nutrition that won’t weigh heavily on my stomach.  Or for a mid-morning snack.  Or when I’m on the go.  Or when…

Supplements for Strength - ON CreatineCreatine is a naturally occurring organic acid found in vertebrates, and is used as an energy source by skeletal muscles.  As one of the most highly studied supplements in the last 20 years, research has shown that short term use can increase power and performance by as much as 15%.  Benefits start to taper off around 30 days, so to maximize benefits and stretch the product out as long as possible (which is already dirt cheap), I cycle my creatine use – 4 weeks on, 4-6 weeks off.

Health Supplements - Vitamin D3If you’re like the majority of men, then you’re probably deficient in Vitamin D3 (a simple blood test at your next checkup can confirm or deny this).  While it occurs naturally in some foods (fish) and is fortified in others (milk), it’s largely elevated through transdermal absorbtion (exposure to sun).  Seeing as how many of us are chained to our cubicles, it’s no surprise we suffer from this epidemic (along with a myriad of other health-related issues).  Not only is D3 important to bone health and muscle strength, but there’s also a connection showing men with sufficient levels of Vitamin D3 have higher levels of free testosterone!

Supplements for Fat Loss - XTendXtend is an intra-workout (drink it during your workout) powder providing electrolytes and branch chain amino acids (BCAAs; the building blocks of muscle).  If your diet is at least pretty good and you’re eating like a man, then you’re probably getting adequate aminos through food (they’re also occurring in whey protein), but even so I’ve found that drinking Xtend – especially on my heavier main lifts – helps me recover between sets better/faster and keeps my energy, intensity and focus stable throughout my entire workout so I’m not gassing-out halfway through.  I also sip on it through the morning before breaking my fast.

Crossfit Supplements - CarlsonFish oil has become wildly popular over the last several years, so you’re probably already aware of the health and joint benefits it provides.  What most people fail to realize, though, is that the quantity of fish oil is not what we need to look at.  The property that provides these benefits to us is the Omega-3 Fatty Acids, which are only a fraction of the labeled value, and even then, more importantly, we need to focus specifically on the levels of EPA & DHA, which are a fraction of the fraction… Once I understood this, I was taking 22 fish oil pills a day to hit my requirements.  Screw that!  I started taking Carlson’s liquid fish oil, which is of much higher quality sourcing and is provides a higher concentration of EPA/DHA in a lower dose, so I can get what I need in a 1oz shot (2tbsp).

What Supplements Are the Best ? Cellucor C4 pre-workoutI used to take a pre-workout every session, and I’m trying to dial that back some because I don’t want to condition my body to depend upon that stimulation to properly train, but it’s nice to have around for those days where I’m mentally fatigued (I still take it at least 33% of the time, some weeks 50%).  There are arguments that you can get the same boost by drinking coffee pre-workout, but I’ve not found that to be accurate.  Plus, if you’re going from the office to the gym, it’s convenient to throw a scoop or two of C4 in some water and go, without having to go through the entire process of brewing a pot of coffee and cleaning up afterwards, if you even have access to coffee in the afternoon.  And what about those who don’t like coffee?

I’ve tried and tested a lot of different things over the years and these are the 7 supplements I’ve confirmed to provide a real benefit, and from brands I’ve found to be reputable and worthy of my hard-earned money.  You may notice the lack of a multivitamin in this list.  I’ve taken them in the past and have no issue with them, but D3 is my only deficiency and I’m addressing that directly (more than a multi could provide), so I decided it was unnecessary for me.  If you’re going to take one, do some research on formulas that meet your needs and on absorption rates as that varies wildly by manufacturer.

What is the one supplement you couldn’t do without?

I just registered an Amazon Associates account for affiliate sales, but I used my main/only blog as the only top level site listed.  I'm planning to try my hand at a niche site, but it will be a new domain and unrelated to my current site.  Once I set up the new site, can I go to Amazon and add additional URLs?  Or, what will happen if the first sale I make on my affiliate ID comes from a site other than the one I listed?

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I won’t get into diet protocols here, since there are too many to cover, but please feel free to contact me if you’re curious about any or have questions.  I have plenty of first-hand experience and/or studied knowledge on most of them, ranging from low-carb/Keto to Intermittent Fasting, Carb Backloading, LeanGains and more.  Instead, we’ll generalize with what’s being called “flexible dieting”, also known in pop culture as “If It Fits Your Macros” (IIFYM).

How does flexible dieting / IIFYM work?

The basic premise behind flexible dieting and IIFYM is that you find out what your macronutritional needs are base your meal plan around that, which doesn’t necessarily limit the foods you can choose from.  If you’ve hit your targets for the day and still have calories remaining, then utilize them however you see fit.


Obviously certain foods will allow you to feel and perform better, but I’m not going to force – or even ask – you to “eat clean”, because even more important than the source of your nutrition is the consistency of it.  It goes back to the answer of the age-old question:

Q: What is the best diet for fat loss?
A: The one you’re willing to stick to.

If you’re able to fall in the range of your calculated macronutrient requirements by eating foods you enjoy every day for a month, you’re going to make progress.  If you try to force yourself to choke down baked chicken breasts and steamed broccoli, then you might stick to it for 7 days then lose your mind and go off on a 3-day binge, which undoes any progress you might have been making.

Not only that… we’re dads!

Some guys have no emotional attachment to food and are completely content to eat the same bland, boring meals over and over and over.  Some even have the opportunity to do so (they also have the luxury of spending hours in the gym…).  If you drew a Venn diagram of these two groups, the overlapping segment would represent a very small portion of the population.

IIFYM Pop Tart
Pop Tarts: bane of IIFYM’ers everywhere

It would be difficult and unfair to others to try and force dads into the demographic you find represented in that segment, with family members to consider when we’re preparing food.  What are we supposed to do, stick to our eating plans while watching everyone else around the table enjoying tacos?  Force everyone else to suffer along with us?

No, we have to be flexible, at least with the meals we share with our families.  Outside of the home you have complete control over what goes into your mouth, so this is where you could come up with ways to adapt and offset those meals: you could fast throughout the day, or at least part of it, to save the bulk of your calories for evening; prepare more nutrient dense meals and snacks to eat during the day to ensure your macros are hit by evening; or, even with the meals at home, find ways to improve your favorite dishes, making them more macro-friendly.

If you recall, the 3 macronutrients are fat, protein and carbohydrates.

Once we have our maintenance calories figured out and know how much to eat, we need to determine what the makeup of our diet (as in, what we eat from day to day, not as in “I’m on a diet”) will be comprised of.  As I said earlier in, calories are king.  In the grand scheme of things, they’re the #1 factor in body composition.  After that come your macros (water/hydration is an equally important aspect of health & body composition, but we’re addressing food here).

How many macros do I need?

Protein – Since this is most important, we want to put a focus on this first.  One of the biggest questions in nutrition is: “How much protein should I eat?”  If you are only looking to eat better and aren’t currently working out (maybe doing some walking), you can get by with 0.37-0.45g/lb. bodyweight to maintain positive nitrogen balance.  If you are working out with heavy weights, then the ideal target to maximize returns is around 0.73g/lb.; after that the benefits to increased protein intake start to diminish and cap out around 0.82g/lb.  You can eat more protein than that, if you choose, but it will be converted to glucose through a process of gluconeogenesis.  Since excess protein will be converted to carbs, it’s cheaper to just eat carbs.  Having said that, I actually shoot for 1g/lb. with protein because, a) it forces me to make conscious food choices and, b) it’s easier to calculate/remember…

Fat – Fat needs fall in the 0.4-0.7g/lb. range, but I find a good rule of thumb is .5g/lb.  Not only is it also easy to calculate/remember, but it also leaves plenty of room for getting essential fats in.  There’s some thought that you can get away with as little as 0.25-0.3g/lb, and if you’re consuming extremely high levels of carbs then maybe you’d reduce your fat intake, but I put an emphasis on getting fats in before calculating my carbs.

IIFYM the best diet for a busy dad


Carbs – Since there is no ‘need’ for carbs, there is no minimum requirement.  Once you have your calorie goal, subtract the number of calories that you’ve assigned to protein (grams x4) and the number you’ve assigned to fat (grams x9), then the remaining calories can be given to carbs or allocated among any or all of the macros.

As an example, say a 200lb man needs 2500kcal to shed a few pounds of fat.  He’s training heavily and wants to ensure preservation of lean mass while in a caloric deficit so he allots 800kcal to protein (800 calories = 200g; 1g/lb) and 900kcal to fat (900 calories = 100g; 0.5g/lb).  That leaves 800kcal to his discretion, so he uses them all for carbs (again, 200g).  If he didn’t respond well to carbs, then he could limited the number of them he consumed and split the remaining calories among protein and fat.  Starting out, though, I think an isocaloric diet like this is a good place to begin and test the waters.

Here’s what a sample day would look like:

I’ll use myself as an example.  Because I’m in somewhat of a maintenance mode in preparation for an event, I’ve set my daily targets to: 3600kcal 100g Fat 450g Carb 225g Protein.  Here’s an entry from my log on MyFitnessPal:

8AM – 1oz smoked almonds & 2oz teriyaki jerky – 320kcal 16F 15C 34P
12PM – 12oz seasoned shredded beef – 600kcal 21F 0C 96P
2:30PM – Quest Bar – 190kcal 9F 21C 20P
6:30PM – 2 scoops whey protein – 230kcal 2F 4C 48P (post-workout shake, because it’s an hour drive home and then another hour before I’m able to sit down and eat real food)
8PM – 8oz chicken breast & 24oz rice w/soy sauce, 4 packs oatmeal, 2oz peanuts – 1600kcal 33F 230C 96P

So far that brings my total to 2940kcal 81F 270C 294P.  As you can see, I’m way over my minimum requirements for protein, which is most important to me.  I’m short on carbs, but it was getting late (9PM, which is my bed time) and I didn’t have time to cook anything, nor did I have anything prepared to meet those needs so, since rule #1 says calories are king and macros are 2nd (the most important of which I’ve hit), I allowed myself to finish off the tub of Coconut Cream Pie ice cream (640kcal 32F 84C 8P).  See how that fit in?

Normally I wouldn’t eat that much ice cream (well, not while I’m trying to cut, anyway…), but I came close to hitting all my targets.  Considering I was doing 40yd dashes holding 330lb in my hands just a couple hours earlier, most of that probably went to restoring glycogen, anyway.  At least, that’s what I’m telling myself…

The stricter you remain throughout the day, the more flexibility you allow for yourself in the evening.

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Seasons don’t fear the reaper, nor do seasonings fear fat.  You shouldn’t, either.  Not only is fat essential to the flavoring of food, it’s essential to our health.  I briefly touched on some of the health benefits of fat in ‘Ease the Frustration of Fat Loss With a Simple Introduction’, but it deserves greater explanation and consideration.  It’s highly misunderstood.  If fat was a teenager seeking expression, it would go Emo.

Fat is not bad.

Fat does not make you fat, excess calories do.

Another misnomer is that saturated fat increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and/or stroke.  A 14-year study published in the peer-reviewed American Journal for Clinical Nutrition shows that not only is this not true, but, as outlined by Dr. John Briffa, an increased intake of saturated fat was associated with reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease (18% reduction), stroke (31% reduction), and intraparenchymal hemorrhage (52% reduction).  Yes, trans fats can be detrimental, but all others (sat fats and both unsaturated fats) are free game!   Mmm, bacon…

Again, fat is not bad.

Fat does not make you fat, consuming more calories than you expend does.

And, while we’re at it, let’s knock another bit of misinformation off the block: there is no relation between dietary cholesterol and blood cholesterol.  Consuming foods high in dietary cholesterol does not raise LDL levels and actually has a role in testosterone production.  What does that mean?  Eat the whole egg!

The egg is nature’s perfect food.  Not only is it a great source for fat, but it’s also a great source for protein, and the only food with a bioavailability (the capability for protein to be absorbed) of 100.  Compare that to beef or chicken at 80; soy is a 59…  But to achieve that you have to eat the entire egg.  Eating only the white, you’re absorbing only 88% of the protein (which is already halved by not eating the yolks, essentially giving you only 44% vs a whole egg).

How many calories should I eat?

Now that we have a better understanding of what we’re putting in our mouths, by what means do we figure out how much?

The first order of business is to determine your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), or the number of calories you need daily, just to exist.  Unfortunately, there’s no hard and fast rule to apply that will tell us.  There are formulas that exist to calculate caloric needs, but they’re fairly inaccurate and outdated.  For example, the Harris-Benedict formula was developed almost 100 years ago, in 1919, and was based on studies from lean, young, active males.  The Katch-McArdle formula is fairly accurate if you are lean, but it requires you to have an accurate body fat (BF%) reading.

The compromise is the Mifflin-St Jeor formula, which is still inaccurate and overestimates needs since it doesn’t take into account BF%.  It will at least give us a starting point that we can adjust from.  The formulas are as follows:

Men: BMR = [9.99 x weight (kg)] + [6.25 x height (cm)] – [4.92 x age (years)] + 5
Women: BMR = [9.99 x weight (kg)] + [6.25 x height (cm)] – [4.92 x age (years)] – 161

(To convert pounds to kilograms, divide your weight by 2.2.  To convert inches to centimeters, multiply by 2.54)

How Many Calories Should I Eat
Easily calculate your caloric needs with this formula

Once you have your BMR, you must apply an activity factor to determine your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE), also known as your ‘maintenance’, or how many calories you should eat to maintain your current weight.

1.2 = Sedentary (Desk job, and Little Formal Exercise)
1.3-1.4 = Lightly Active (Light daily activity AND light exercise 1-3 days a week)
1.5-1.6 = Moderately Active (Moderate daily Activity & Moderate exercise 3-5 days a week)
1.7-1.8 = Very Active (Physically demanding lifestyle & Hard exercise 6-7 days a week)
1.9-2.2 = Extremely Active (Athlete in ENDURANCE training or VERY HARD physical job)
So, for example, I’m 209lb (95kg), 5’11” (180.5cm), 38, making my BMR: 1895kcal.  Based on my workouts and lifestyle, I use a multiplier of 1.55, so my calculated TDEE would be 2937 (which I know to be incorrect, due to trial and error).

Remember, this is a ballpark figure.

As we keep in mind these are just estimates and will need to be adjusted for each individual, it gives us a starting point.  Normally I would suggest you start with this result and eat this number of calories daily for 2 weeks, adjust accordingly (reduce calories if you gained weight, increase if you lost weight) and repeat every 2 weeks until you’ve truly found your TDEE/maintenance (no weight change for 2 weeks).

Once you’re armed with this, it’s time to set a goal and create a plan.

Failing to plan is planning to fail.

It is valuable to set steadfast goals rather than generalize so that you have an objective with starting and end points (which can always be adjusted).  If you say, “I want to get back in shape” or “I want to lose weight”, then how do you know when you’ve accomplished that or how near you are to completion?  Instead, set your sights on an absolute: “I want to lose 10lb of fat”, “I want to wear my old 32 Levis” or “I want to put on 20lb of muscle and increase my squat by 60lb”.

The 3 Numbers You Need to Know to Intelligently Lose Fat
How many calories should I eat?

If your goal is to lose fat, then once you have your TDEE you’ll want to reduce your daily caloric intake by 20%, or even less.  I don’t like deficits too large because, a) losing fat too fast results in loose skin, stretch marks and greater risk at rebounding if you give up, b) you risk losing a greater ratio of lean mass, and c) you have nowhere to go if you run into a plateau.  By starting small and keeping calories as high as possible (which you’ll also need to fuel your workouts), you can make small adjustments when progress stalls.  To lose 1 pound of fat you need to burn 3500kcal.

Go slow

Inversely, to put on mass, increase your calories by 20%.  You will put on some fat when you bulk, there’s physiologically no way around it, but the muscle-to-fat ratio can be balanced favorably by not going overboard.  The development of 1 pound of muscle requires only 1600kcal, not 3500kcal (remember, fat is more dense than protein), so if you’re eating excessive calories in hopes of building more muscle in a shorter period of time, you’ll find yourself getting fatter than you’d hoped.  I’ve been there.  Once you’re past the beginner stages and outgrow the “noob gains”, studies show that the human body can only put on 1.5-3lb of muscle per month naturally.

I highly suggest you maintain a daily food journal.  Feel free to roll old school with pen and paper, but I would recommend a cloud-based solution like MyFitnessPal, which I personally use and is available on every platform.

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When it comes to nutrition and fat loss, there’s a lot of information out there.  To make matters worse, a lot of it is conflicting.  With careers to commute to, yards to maintain and baseball teams to coach, who has time to sit down and sort through all of it?  Even if you could find the time, where would you begin?

Welcome to your starting point

Over the course of this series, I’m going to strip the information down to the bare essentials, giving you the knowledge needed to launch your transformation.

Body composition is made up of two primary measurements:

Body Fat – Usually described as a percentage, this is the amount of fat (white/brown, subcutaneous/visceral) we carry
Lean Body Mass (LBM) – This is the generalization of everything else, to include muscle tissue, bone and water
Regardless of whether your goals are to drop a few pounds for beach season or you’re a faithful supporter of the mantra ‘Suns out, guns out’ and want to put on some muscle, the end result is accomplished through manipulation of these measurements; either by reducing body fat, increasing lean mass, or both.

Weight != Fat

First, we need to get over the preoccupation with the scale.  There are certain instances where our weight matters:

You’re actively competing in a sport and trying to get down to a particular weight class
You’re in the military and need to meet standards
However, if body composition – looking better (and, hopefully, feeling better) – is your primary concern, then it’s good practice to ignore what that number reads.  That doesn’t mean you can’t weigh yourself, but don’t obsess over it, because it’s only one spoke in the wheel.  Instead, gauge progress by how your clothes fit and how you look in the mirror (or, if you’re a numbers geek like me, by taking and recording measurements regularly with a fabric tape).

A beginner's guide to fat loss and nutrition
Time to get ‘back in shape’

Our body weight can fluctuate greatly from day to day and throughout the day due to variables like hydration levels, what you ate the day before, the amount of sleep you received, consistency and even weather conditions and/or elevation.  Stepping on the scale and seeing a 3lb loss from the reading the day prior is not indicative of a change in body composition; nor is it, as disheartening as it might feel, to see a 3lb gain.

In fact, you might be busting your hump and notice your weight hasn’t changed at all over the 2 weeks since you’re last weigh-in.  You might feel defeated, thinking “What’s the point?” when in actuality you might have lost 2lb of body fat while simultaneously stimulating the growth of 2lb worth of lean mass.  Gains!

The ends are highly dependent on the means

“Abs are made in the kitchen.”

“You can’t out-train a bad diet.”

I’m sure, by now, you’ve heard one of these maxims, especially in a day where social media sites are abound with ‘memes’ and motivational imagery.  As tiresome as they may become, they’re true.  Vince Gironda was famously quoted as saying “Bodybuilding is 80% nutrition”.  While you may have no aspirations of ever stepping on stage, this is applies to any sort of body composition goal.

You will never out train a bad diet
20% Fitness, 80% Diet

The primary factor in moving the needle – up or down, depending on your individual goals – is your total calorie consumption in relation to your calorie expenditure.  Calories in vs. calories out.  We’ve all heard the term ‘calorie’ and of ‘calorie counting’, but do we really know what they are?  Without getting into hard science or thermodynamics, the most fundamental explanation of a calorie is that it’s a measured unit of heat output.  It’s energy.

When you look at the label on a package of food, the first section listed will tell you how many calories are contained in one serving (of which there may be more than one of in a package).  The next section lists macronutrients – macros – which are comprised of Fat, Carbohydrate and Protein.  Anything with an output value falls under one of these 3.  Sugar is a carbohydrate.  Fiber is a carbohydrate.  Etc.

Technically, there’s a 4th macronutrient – alcohol – but we won’t go into that right now

What’s the difference, anyway?

So we know food is made up of Fat, Carbohydrates and Protein.  What does that mean?

Protein – The building block and arguably the most important macro.  Protein is essential to muscle preservation, immune function, tissue repair and growth.  Primary sources of protein are meat and dairy.  Moderate amounts of protein can also be found in foods like nuts and legumes, though many of these sources are incomplete chains (however, they can be complemented with other foods to complete the chains: beans & rice, for example).  One gram of protein provides 4 calories of energy.

Fat – Fat is the most concentrated and most efficient source of energy, and also highly important to growth, organ function, brain function and development, and micronutrient (vitamins/minerals) absorption.  Good sources of fat are olive/coconut/nut oils, butter, nuts, eggs, as well as dairy (especially cream), avocados, and fattier cuts of meat.  Mmm, bacon.  One gram of fat provides 9 calories of energy.

Ease the Frustration of Fat Loss With a Simple Introduction

Carbohydrate – Carbohydrates are the one macronutrient that our bodies have no real need or requirement for, which is why they’re relegated to energy duty.  That’s not to say you shouldn’t eat carbs, but they can easily be removed from our diets and our bodies would continue to function (some would say more efficiently), which can’t be said for either protein or fat.  One beneficial carbohydrate is fiber, which aids in intestinal health and waste.  Carbohydrates are largely found in better sources like vegetables, potatoes, oats and rice.  Processed foods like bread, pasta, etc are also high in carbs.  One gram of carbohydrate provides 4 calories of energy.

You’ll notice that protein and carbohydrates both share macronutrient density at 4kcal/g, whereas fat is more than twice as dense at 9kcal/g.  Because of this, many misinformed consumers were led to believe (thanks to a partnership between the USDA and cereal grain conglomerates) that fat was “bad for you” and made you fat.

The truth is, in fact, quite the opposite.

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I did my first Strongman show this past weekend and had a blast.  I did a write-up, if any of you are interested:

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I finally got my first taste of the Strongman life this past weekend as I participated in Overcoming Obstacles, a charity event for MamaWamaLove that was hosted in Clayton, NC.  I’ve wanted to get into Strongman for some time but, living in an area heavily influenced by powerlifting icons, shows are hard to find.  I haven’t even been able to find any local gyms with implements, so this is the first time I’ve been able to put my hands on anything, making the events new and foreign to me.

Leading up to it

I learned of this event three weeks prior and it was made known beforehand that weight classes would be combined.  I was 209lb at the time, so I’d compete as a Light Plus, which spanned from 175.5 – 231.4.  Because there was no need for me to be less than 200lb for this meet, I decided to bump my calories up around/slightly over maintenance and try to regain some of the strength I’ve lost on this cut.  I’m sure some of it was bloat because of all the carbs I consumed over those 3 weeks, but I ballooned back up to 217 by the morning of the contest.

Of course, to my demise, after gaining all of this weight back, 2 more shows were announced.  The first of those is Labor Day weekend, so if I want to get under 200lb by then, I now have an additional 8lb I’m responsible for (averaging 2lb/week without sacrificing another significant amount of strength will be near impossible)…

I also scaled training back over the course of those 3 weeks.  For the first week I did a little volume work, but at lighter loads and with a little more quickness (not quite speed work, but almost).  In week 2 I dropped back to prescribed reps at working weight (10 for DL & OHP; 15 for Squat) and cut my assistance movements in half.  In the last week I bunched all 3 workouts at the start of the week (so I’d have Thursday & Friday to rest), and did deload workouts:

Mon – Deadlift (5×5 @ 50%) + weighted chin-up (15 reps w/25lb)
Tue – OHP (5×5 @ 50%) + face pull (3×12 @ 50%)
Wed – Squat (5×10 @ 35%) + standing calf raise (5×10 @ 40%)

24 hours to go

Because of the distance, I would have had to get up at 3AM to make the weigh-ins and performance would have suffered severely, so I drove up with my daughter the day before and got a hotel nearby.  My plan was to load up on protein that day, then compete on an empty stomach and sip on BCAAs for recovery.  What ended up happening was just about the complete opposite…

I woke up Friday morning at 3:20AM (I suffer from sleep issues, which is why I wanted to make every effort to maximize my rest the night before competing) and around 4:30AM I had 4 peanut butter & jelly sandwiches: carbs & fats.  Right after we got on the road a few hours later, we stopped at a greasy diner where I had a sausage & cheese omelet, a cinnamon bagel with butter, biscuit and grits soaked in, what appeared to be, vegetable oil; more carbs and fats.  Upon checking into the hotel, we crossed the street to the Dunkin’ Donuts; even more carbs and fats.  After visiting with a friend, we stopped at a grocery store to get some food in me before bed.  I got 2lb of rigatoni, a quart of chocolate milk and a dozen iced sugar cookies, of which I ate 4… hey, at least there was some protein in that meal!

My thinking was that, since I was planning to compete on an empty stomach that I’d fill up on calories to provide ample energy throughout the competition.  And maybe it would have been enough, but I got up the next morning and still got myself a waffle with butter & syrup at 6:30 since I had a few hours to wait.  It’s probably a good thing that I did.

It’s go time!

I arrived at the venue at 8AM for weigh-ins and it was scheduled to begin at 9, so I popped the top on my energy drink around 8:30.  We had to wait for a couple entrants to arrive, so the opening ceremony didn’t begin until 10 and it was almost 10:30 before we got started.  Thank you, hotel waffle!

overcoming obstacles strongman competition tire flipThe first event was a truck pull.  The men pulled a crew cab F150 with a passenger, up a slight incline, arm-over-arm from a seated position.  I did fairly well on this opening event, finishing in 49 seconds.  I think my technique was solid, though I got fatigued about halfway through and slowed down.  My biggest problem was after extending, when I’d relax my grip on the 1.5” rope to pull out the slack and reposition for the next extension, my hands would tighten/cramp up.  I must’ve used a lot of quad, too, because I had ‘jelly legs’ once I stood up.

Next up was the Strongman Medley.  The weights weren’t listed, so the numbers I state are a guess at them based on feel/load.  The first leg was a frame carry, which was actually a trap bar with tires/plates, for 60 feet with around 315lb.  The next stage was to flip a 650lb tire 3 times.  Then the final leg was a sled drag 60 feet back with approximately 225lb.  I completed the medley decently, but there was definitely room for improvement.  For starters, I was focused on trying to figure out how much weight I was carrying, rather than my feet and pushing speed, so I probably could have done the first leg quicker.  Plus I had an ugly dismount; I ran too far past the line and the frame started to roll as I lowered it, causing me to get tangled up in the bar, so I lost a few seconds trying to stabilize everything and get out.  Then on the tire flip, I knew to get low and put my hands out wide, but in the heat-of-the-moment I forgot to drive my knee into the tire for momentum, so I muscled it all the way up and over.  On the sled drag my quads just gave completely out while trying to back-peddle, so that took forever.  These aren’t excuses – I’m happy with my performance, finishing in 56 seconds – I’m just identifying areas I can work on for the next time (and areas you might want to focus on for your first time).

The 3rd event was Keg Over 48” Bar.  There were 2 kegs to choose from: for men, 210lb and 260lb.  Reps with the 210lb keg would be trumped by reps (even if only 1) with the 260lb keg, so I went straight for the big boy and got 4 in the 60 seconds given.  I’m extremely pleased with my performance here, and the only weakness I can really identify is stability in the full extension with the weight over my chest.

We moved indoors for the final two events, the next of which was Log Press.  I’m usually pretty decent at pressing overhead (during my bulk in November, I got a 285lb push-press), and we had 60 overcoming obstacles strongman competition log pressseconds to rep out 185lb, but I quickly found out that the dynamic for pressing a log overhead is much different than a barbell.  I completely forgot the floor-to-lap-to-chest transition that was shown to me and, instead, I cleaned it straight from the floor to my shoulders.  We could use leg drive, so I’d give it a little pop to get it off my chest, but I was primarily using a pressing mechanic, where I noticed subsequent competitors would use leg drive to pop it and suspend it in the air, duck down under the log to extend the arms, then jump back out of the way as it would return momentum.  It reminded me of watching someone kip a pull-up.  I muscle my cleans and snatches up because I can never figure out how to get under the bar, so this is probably a technique I’ll not be able to perform.  Instead, I’ll just have to get stronger in the shoulders and rely on brute force to rep it out.  I was also very wobbly on the press and lock-out, so I need to get my hands on a log just to get used to it.  In the 60 seconds given, I only got 6 reps.  This was the only event I was disappointed with.

The final event was Axle Deadlift with 385lb. In the 60 seconds given, I got 15 reps, which isn’t too bad.  I probably could have gotten a few more reps by not taking as long to reset and ensure there was no bounce, but I wanted it to be clear that I was coming to a full stop between reps.

But wait, there’s more!

After the final event, while they tallied up the scores, they ran the obstacle course, which my daughter was signed up for.  The organizer for this was separate from the one who organized the Strongman event, and either must not have shown up or just didn’t put any thought into it due to lack of participation, so the ladies put something together on the fly.  They started out running a lap that was probably a quarter-mile in distance, climbing a tower 4 times, 5 burpees, cross the monkey bars, bear crawl out and back, a tire flip 3 times, farmer’s walk with 15lb dumbbells for ~300ft, then another quarter mile lap.

The results are in!

This was a learning experience for me, first and foremost, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t also hoping to perform well.  The thing is, I wanted everyone to do well.  Each competitor was offered shouts of encouragement and motivation, and afterwards we’d seek each other out to congratulate and compliment their effort.  It was like we were already friends, and that is awesome.  At the end of the day, though, somebody has to win.  That wasn’t me… I took second, and I’m good with that, especially considering this was my first experience with any of these events and/or implements.  Oddly, the event I thought I’d excel at turned out to be the most challenging, and the ones I was concerned I ended up excelling at.

Overcoming obstacles for MamaWamaLoveMy daughter took first in the obstacle course.  She was getting frustrated because she wanted to slow down and go easy and I was riding her to give her all but, as expected, afterwards, she was glad she did.  It was all worth it in the end.  I’m certainly proud of her.  I always am.

Overall, even though I left Clayton banged up, bruised, burnt and aching, I had a blast.  My only complaint is that we were waiting too long between events and I was cooling off/stiffening up (I’m old!), but that’s a minor gripe.  I garnered a lot of knowledge and experience, met some great people, and hopefully forged new friendships.

I wish there were a way to sort/group my YouTube subscriptions by genre/tag, rather than one continuous feed of all videos.

A question about social media; FB, in particular:

I have a managed page on FB for my blog, but I was wondering if it would benefit me to, instead, incorporate my blog into my personal profile.  Then maybe even change my name from "Greg Webb" to "The Fat Dad", which is the name of my blog.

Here's why I was thinking about it:
1 - Building relationships.  I follow - and interact with - a lot of people in my niche through my personal profile.  As I work to build relationships with these people, they may not (most likely) know that I have a site.  I can send out invites, but I think most people ignore these as they're bombarded with them weekly.

2 - Engaging people.  This is kinda similar to #1, I guess.  When I first started this page a few years ago (shortly after which, I met a lady, got distracted and let it go for 2 years, and just picked it and the blog back up), you could use FB as that entity/persona (the thing the page was made for) and follow others, comment on posts, etc, but that seems to no longer be a feature.  So to interact with people, they have to seek me out (or, as I said in #1, I can invite them), whereas if I was using my personal page to market myself then I could initiate the engagement.

I had another point or two running through my head as I drove home, but now I forget them... 

I appreciate your thoughts/feedback/insight on this.
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