For my 40th birthday, I wanted to look good as well as get my haircut like Hawkeye (aka Ronin) from Avengers Endgame. I timed it so I’d do a 6 day a week bodybuilding workout for 3 months, then 1 week of a stage diet, and then take pictures 1 day after my birthday. The next week I’d be ready for Avengers.
What Is Body Beast?
Body Beast is a bodybuilding workout by Beachbody, the cats behind P90X, 21 Day Fix, Insanity, etc. There is a lean version if you’re more interested in losing weight than making gains. The stage diet is where you spend a week slowly reducing your calories, changing your macros to more and more protein, excluding 1 carb day where you do cardio. You start with high sodium and water intake, and slowly reduce it the day before you go on stage. This is supposed to ensure your muscle is retaining water, but the outside is not and you look defined (can easily see muscles) and striated (veins are popping out).
Diet Now vs 5 Years Ago
I have done Body Beast 5 years ago and strictly followed the calories and macro portion of the diet, including no soy, nor alcohol. This time around, I wasn’t too strict with tracking calories, although I was a bit more strict on macros. I did strict intermittent fasting for the last month. I was extremely strict the stage week diet, though. Anyway, my lack of discipline and not abstaining from alcohol this go around is why I had 6 abs in those pictures from 5 years ago vs. the 2 in this one, heh!
I’ve been into Powerlifting for about 5 years; focusing on compound lifts vs. isolation like Bodybuilding. Specifically the Squat, Bench, and Deadlift. However, I suffered a knee injury doing a PR that just never got better. Despite modifying form, and trying various things, my knee just kept hurting once I got up to my heavier squats. I took 3 months off for a break, started again, and pulled my shoulder while too excited doing overhead Press. Basically I can’t hang from a pull up bar, which subsequently hampered my Parkour fun. My knee hurting really depressed me, and the shoulder was super frustrating. I basically just stopped working out, and focused briefly on Parkour, although both hurt there too and I basically just stopped exercising altogether.
What typically happens with me is I’ll get angry and that gets me my motivation back. I remembered with bodybuilding that I could do exercises on parts that didn’t hurt. For example, in the Squat, if my calves hurt from running, or my back was sore, or my wrists ached… my Squat suffered. It’s a compound movement requiring everyone to work as a team. Bodybuilding, however, I can do curls and really don’t care about the rest of the body.
I found both my shoulder and knee pains could be worked around. In fact, both continued to feel better despite the 6 days a week of increasingly heavy workouts which further emboldened me to keep going.
Despite being focused on weight loss, I was still eating a ton of calories month 1 and 2. The dumbbells I had used 5 years ago I supplemented by buying many smaller ones as well as some larger ones. Last time I had to make due, and my gains suffered because it was either too heavy resulting in bad form or low reps, or too light and thus not progressing. Also nice that dumbbells basically last forever.
I’m happy that FINALLY my curl related exercises finally started increasing in weight and chest slightly so. While I didn’t take many strict measurements, my biceps, tri’s, lats, and even my never-growing pecs actually made slight gains. The weights told an even more positive story and went way up this time. It’s nice to know at my age I can still make n00b gains, and that is inspiring.
I miss Powerlifting. I miss lifting super heavy things and slowly but surely getting stronger. I miss the see food diet: see food, eat it. I miss the 3 days a week 1 hour workouts. I miss doing Parkour at the local parkour gym. However, it’s nice to know I have an option with bodybuilding to look good even on a not-so-awesome diet, and still make gains despite injuries. I’m debating if I just say heck with it, and do another not-so-strict round this summer, and only focus on the calories and ignore macros to get better. I was so happy to see the weights kept getting heavier and that was motivating. Since taking a break to do Powerlifting and slowly I stopped focusing on diet, I was pretty out of practice tracking calories, macros, meal prepping and cooking. I don’t really have the passion for it anymore beyond just ensuring I’m getting enough calories (or limiting them), and occasionally tracking macros. That said, it was nice to try again and get acquainted with all of it again. As usual, the workouts are hard but I managed to show up everyday, including with the flu. The diet part is nigh impossible, lol!