Due to some set backs, we are back in Phase 1 heading into April. I believe this can be applied to many different training goals, but I’m looking at this through the lens of weight loss and improving body composition.
When I’m starting one of these cycles, I do two things. First, I look back to what I’ve done in years past that’s worked. Then, I try to plan ahead and map things out. These are going to sync together.
Here’s how they go together: The goal of the first phase of a program is gradually build up the body’s tolerance to exercise so you can do more and better work down the road. Instead of trying to conquer your goal in one month, you want to earn daily and weekly wins by training consistently and doing what you need to do to set yourself up for future success.
I tend to over-stress the small details, especially early on, only to realize at the end of the program that it didn’t really matter. It doesn’t matter if I take it easy in the first week and don’t do that last set on an accessory exercise because I’m tired. All that matters is that I stack up the daily W’s by lifting consistently and listen to my body to build momentum. I don’t need to lose 10 pounds in the first month. The weight will come off if I follow the plan.
I go through the same thought process every year and wind up making the same mistake because I want things to go perfectly. What usually happens for me is it takes about two-to-three weeks for me to get to my regular numbers on my main lifts and then I’m ready to start really taking off.
This leads me to the next part of my thought process, which is planning ahead. I have to set myself up for June, then, after a short break, July and August, which are my hardest training months. July and August are where I’ll ramp up the intensity because I’m off of school. I give myself two body composition checkpoints, end of June and end of August.
That means the first month is about “building the foundation”. I’m going to make another post on this because I feel like the term is used by people and have no idea what it actually means. In my case, it means I have to make sure I ramp up properly for June because the training will be hard, but I’ll also still be training late because of work. With this in mind, I have to make sure I’m smart about this and not do too much too soon because then I’ll burn out in June, like I did last year.
Building the foundation for me is about slowly increasing the sets and reps for each exercise so my body adapts and my muscles, tendons and ligaments are prepared to handle the harder work that’s coming down the road. If I do this properly, my body will be able to better handle the summer blitz that’s coming.
As of right now, I’m down to 197 pounds on the nose and would like to get to just under 185 by the end of June. Right now, I’m not too focused on weight loss, but on getting my body right for May and June.
Why are we starting Phase 1 in April, when it was suppose to start in January? Well, to recap, January started off great. I’m usually terrible in the winter months, but the first three weeks I was hitting good numbers and consistent. I appeared to be ahead of schedule, but the pace was too fast and I started realizing it wasn’t going to last.
The program I was running was great, but it’s more of a summer program for me than one I should be doing in the winter when I’m training late at night. So, I decided to that and am hoping to hop back on it in June. I got to the middle of the program where I had to do 10 sets of squats and deadlifts per week (six heavy sets, four repetition sets split over two days) and it just became too much to keep up with.
I got ahead of myself and paid the price. I wound up burning out, getting discouraged because I couldn’t keep the pace and February became a wash. I got sick in March and only started slowly getting back into a routine. Nagging injuries in the elbow, knee and shoulder told me I need to take a step back and slow things down.