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Iago's trigger has been triggered

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Re: Iago's trigger has been triggered

Post  Seamaster on Fri Aug 28, 2015 2:00 pm

I received my September issue of Muscle and Fitness yesterday and it has an interesting eight-week program that you might like. It's a five-day progressive program and incorporates a variety of principles. I only glanced over it and I need to read it more closely, but it might be worth a look if you're wanting something different.

With an upper-lower split, I don't follow the 5/3/1 rep scheme, but I do stick to heavier weights for the compounds and I aim to add five pounds to something each week. It allows for faster progression, but also means stalling earlier than if you stuck to a Wendler 5/3/1 program for an entire year.

I think your pain is twofold: starting a new program and that program being Tabata-influenced. I find that I always hurt when starting a new program. And Tabatas suck for the first week. Weeks 2 and 3 go easier.

I like Tabatas in short bursts. I certainly feel it after, but I didn't find that I got much in the way of results, although I shouldn't discount the endurance gains following. As for weight, yes, lighter is better. It basically has to be a weight that you can move as quickly as possible with good form. I guess that's why it works really well with bodyweight exercises and things like sprinting, box jumps and so on.
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Re: Iago's trigger has been triggered

Post  Iago on Sat Aug 29, 2015 1:40 pm

Three weeks is about my max for doing full Tabatas. I start to drag by the fourth week. In this case, I will probably do the four, though, since that fourth week will be split up by our vacation. But I did just finish the second week, and yes, it hurt a bit less. First week is always the worst, but I was surprised by just how bad this was. Especially since it was of the "sneak up on you" variety. I think that the drastic switch did contribute to that.

And with the body weight exercises, the one that just kills me is burpees. Those plain suck when done Tabata-style. So, I force myself to get them done, because I figure that if I hate doing them so much, they must be doing me some good! I did have a very solid bike ride today, so hopefully all of this will get me in gear for the endless hiking in a couple of weeks!

I will have to try to find that Muscle & Fitness. Not going to be anywhere that carries it this weekend, but maybe I can swing into the GNC that is along my route on Monday.
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Re: Iago's trigger has been triggered

Post  Seamaster on Mon Aug 31, 2015 4:37 pm

I like to do Tabatas in place of a typical cardio routine because of the huffing and puffing they cause, and because the workout is pretty quick. To be honest, I don't believe they were ever intended for anabolic workouts. The Tabata protocol was designed to create an oxygen deficit. That's at odds with most strength and hypertrophy goals. If I mix with weights, I do so to reset my training or because I want to target fat burning.
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Re: Iago's trigger has been triggered

Post  Iago on Fri Sep 04, 2015 3:57 am

With weight training, Tabatas work best as cardio at the end of the workout. I like doing a few of them after certain lifting routines. But I do also like doing the full-body, full-time ones as a break between other routines. They do help with muscular endurance, which is not to be overlooked even if your goals are mass or strength. Often, when I switch back to a regular routine afterwards, I find that I can squeeze in an extra rep or two for most of the exercises -- not because the Tabatas have made me stronger, but rather because they have conditioned my muscles to accept being pushed a bit longer.
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Re: Iago's trigger has been triggered

Post  Seamaster on Tue Sep 08, 2015 10:59 am

If you haven't picked up the September issue of Muscle and Fitness, try and do so. There are actually several workouts that might interest you. They all mix it up and some incorporate elements like HIIT and Tabatas. I like the direction Muscle and Fitness has gone this year and last. While they still include professional workouts, and some of their workouts are clearly too much for the unenhanced trainer, many are now pretty balanced. The magazine is, of course, filled with some suspect pushing of products (i.e., favourable reviews pushing the latest T-booster or pre- or post-workout supplement), but that's how magazines pay their bills. Without those product placements, the magazine would be much more expensive per issue.

As to another topic: Have you tried a phone app called MyFitnessPal? It's free and allows a simple way to log and track calories and macros. I know you're not into dieting, but it doesn't have to be used as a diet aid, per say (in the sense of "I'm going on a diet"). I've been using the app to make sure I hit my protein and fat macros, and stay around my calorie goal. That doesn't mean I turn down foods I like to eat, but it let's me make informed decisions. If I opt for a carb-heavy bowl of vermicelli from a favourite Vietnamese restaurant, I round things out with a snack of nuts and a protein shake later. Nothing fancy, but I do find it's helping, as diet was one of those things I had never really kept on top of. After using the app, I identified three main problems: I tended to eat too much sugar, too many carbs, and not enough fat. The biggest culprit was breakfast. I was eating half my carb allotment in one sitting and consuming hardly any fat!
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Re: Iago's trigger has been triggered

Post  Iago on Tue Sep 08, 2015 5:54 pm

Yes, breakfast is a bitch.  Not that there are not plenty of options for protein, but so much of breakfast food is nothing but carbs, and often refined ones at that.  And thanks for making me feel guilty, as I happen to be eating a Vietnamese rice noodle salad that I just made!  When I make them at home like this, I do try to keep the green to noodle ratio fairly high; I usually use half a package of spring mix and make a well in the middle for a smaller portion of rice noodles.  I actually prefer a higher percentage of noodles, but since I am not a salad person, it is a good and tasty way to slam down some greenage.  Plus, the nuoc cham that I make to sprinkle on top is much, much hotter than what most Vietnamese restaurants serve, so it smothers any bitterness from the greens. (Plus, I have refined my blend over the years, and I will stack it up against anything any Vietnamese restaurant can throw at you.)

We do leave for Niagara Falls tomorrow morning, so I am not really going to count anything with food for the next week.  I will still exercise in the mornings, and we pound the trails pretty hard, so I can usually eat whatever I want to while on vacation and not gain anything.  (I did see that there is a pretty good looking Vietnamese restaurant there!)  But I will take a look for the app.  I did finally download FuelBuddy to keep track of fuel & maintenance for my new car, so I suppose that tracking maintenance for my body should not be that hard!

Still not sure what I will end up doing while we are gone.  The hotel will have an exercise room, but those are usually pretty limited.  I may end up just doing cardio for the week that we will be gone, finish up the last two Tabatas next Thursday & Friday after we return, and then do something like a four week or six week program to get me set up for switching to what we talked about before.  I will try to find that Muscle & Fitness while we are on vacation and do some thorough reading before I get back.
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Re: Iago's trigger has been triggered

Post  Seamaster on Fri Sep 11, 2015 5:13 pm

Enjoy your vacation. Vacations are supposed to a break. I know you still exercise to keep the beast at bay, but I'm with you: I wouldn't be counting squat either, especially if I'm doing something like hiking. Are you going to Niagara on the State or Canadian side?

Let me know if you're able to pick up the magazine. The workouts might not be for you, but they appeared to me to be something along the lines of what you like to do. I could be wrong.
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Re: Iago's trigger has been triggered

Post  Iago on Sun Sep 20, 2015 3:52 pm

Most people to whom we spoke advised going to the Canadian side as it is much prettier, and that was certainly the case. However, I do think that particular bit of advice was more pertinent for people who do not like hiking. On the Canadian side, there is little to do other than walking up and down the rim. There is one trail leading down to the whirlpool north of the falls & Rainbow Bridge, and we did go down it, but that was it. On the other hand, there is a smashing set of trails on the New York side. There are two different 400-500 step stone staircases leading down to the river, and if you head south from the Whirlpool Park steps you have a mile-long pretty challenging hike leading by the rapids south of Rainbow Bridge. We ended up parking in Whirlpool Park, heading to the stairs & down, south to the end of that trail, back north again past the steps and another mile to the steps by Devil's Hole Park, then back south again along the ridge. Total was around 5.5-6 miles, with a lot of hands-and-feet scrambling along the southern part, and it took us around four hours. We are not pikers, so that tells you how slow some of that scrambling was. We both ran in the morning, of course, and after that hike we were both a little rubber-legged. (I never bothered finding a gym and just ran every morning instead, mostly intervals.)

So in our case, it may have worked out better if we had stayed on the American side, and just crossed the border for a day or two. But since it rained a couple of days anyway, it did not really matter. But we had a good time. Good food, too; I found a great Vietnamese restaurant, plus a very good Japanese one, and even had a smashing Neopolitan-style pizza at an Italian place -- thin-sliced pears, brie, caramelized onions & house-cured pancetta. Plus, we stayed in a town outside of NYC on the way back which had a splendid noodle house. So, great trip, if a little different for us.


From the first hiking day on the Canadian side, heading north of the falls to the cable car, past that & down to the whirlpool, then back up again and farther along to the other side of the cable car (which is actually on the Canadian side on both ends; it just crosses the whirlpool.) Behind us on the other side is where we started:




From one of the rain days, when we went to the Falls since we would get damp anyway. And with the rain, good Lord did we get damp. This is by the horseshoe falls before we got soaked:




And finally one from the hike on the New York side, this time down by the rapids south of Rainbow Bridge (before the whirlpool):




And no, I completely forgot to look for that Muscle & Fitness. I have to pick up some Afterglow tomorrow on my route, so I will check GNC. In the meantime, I am doing the old M&F four week program to get past the good biking weather.
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Re: Iago's trigger has been triggered

Post  Seamaster on Fri Oct 09, 2015 4:29 pm

I'm glad you had fun. How did you end up splitting your time between the Ontario and New York sides?
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Re: Iago's trigger has been triggered

Post  Iago on Sun Oct 11, 2015 6:25 am

By and large, we did not. We just ended up going to the New York side that one day. It definitely draws attention if you end up crossing the border too many times. So we stayed in Ontario most of the time.

GNC does not carry any magazines. Never did pick up that issue. I may have to wait until the article shows up online.
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Re: Iago's trigger has been triggered

Post  Seamaster on Wed Oct 28, 2015 12:38 pm

I haven't checked their online site. I can get a copy of the article for you, if you're interested.

I wish I wasn't so sore these days. It's really interfering with my gym time (just putting on socks and tying my shoes are an effort; when I first stand up, I'll feel a pain so intense that it causes throbbing behind my eyeballs). However, I've been much more disciplined with my food. So, that's something . . .
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Re: Iago's trigger has been triggered

Post  Iago on Mon Nov 02, 2015 3:45 am

You are doubtless far more disciplined when it comes to eating than I am. That is half the battle, and you win.

What was the workout called, so that I can see if it is online yet?


Since the weather has still been pretty warm and I have been able to do cardio outside (biking if possible, and running if too cold/windy) I decided to put off starting the PHAT thing for another few weeks until it cooled down. With the weather still cooperating, I want to stick to three cardio days. So I started a density training workout from Bodybuilding.com that has been pretty interesting. Not your cup of tea, but it starts with a conventional primary lift before going into timed supersets for assistance work. Workouts are pretty short -- less than 45 minutes -- but the supersets get your heart into it, and the muscles definitely get fatigued by the end. It is two upper and two lower body days, but groups things differently: day one is legs with a focus on the front, day two is chest/back, day three is legs focusing on hamstring/glutes, and day four is shoulders/biceps/triceps. I have done it for two weeks and will probably do two more before deloading for a week and then switching to PHAT.

The first day two weeks ago, my legs were so rubbery that I had a hard time pushing the clutch to the floor to start my car to leave the gym. I did have to make one switch, though, as it called for supersetting alternate legs with Bulgerian split squats, and I found that with that kind of volume I just could not keep my balance and kept losing momentum. So I switched that to step ups, even though they get a bit more of the hips involved and do not focus on the quads quite as efficiently. But better that than having to try not to fall over after a couple of rounds. But the really good news is that it calls for front squats to keep that quad focus, and I struggle with those because of the plate over my collarbone. But I have been able to do them this time, mostly by accepting that I cannot push quite as much weight as I would like without it getting uncomfortable, so I just took a few pounds off and focused on making them the best reps possible. Sometimes quality can trump weight.

http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/train-less-grow-more-get-huge-with-4-workouts-a-week.html?mcid=SM_facetraining
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Re: Iago's trigger has been triggered

Post  Seamaster on Mon Nov 02, 2015 6:08 pm

I'll check out the title of the workout tonight.

On the contrary, I'd do the kind of workout you linked to. I like getting in and out of the gym. The only thing I'd change is I'd rotate the rep range on the first compound movement so that it was geared toward making some strength gains. I have nothing against different type of workouts. Honestly whatever gets a person in the gym is a good workout. And people have different goals. For me, I happen to like testing my strength, and I find those kinds of workouts effective at getting me results. But I like to do supersets and the like to give me a bit of an aerobic conditioning blast and to also train my body differently.

The diet piece of the equation is definitely helping. Myfitnesspal has made it easy to track my macros.

Rubbery legs and a standard are a bitch! But good times, too.

For front squats, have you tried using straps? Basically, you loop the straps around the bar as you would around your wrists. Then, get into a front squat position and grab the strap portion with each hand, then pull up on the straps. That helps keep you arms parallel to the ground (which is the exact position you want) and helps relieve the strain on your wrists and shoulder area (since your hands are no longer supporting the bar). That might let you get to a weight more in line with what your legs are capable of pushing. I've always struggled with front squats because the pain of the bar across my front shoulders was always worse than whatever was happening with my legs. Straps helped me get over that.
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Re: Iago's trigger has been triggered

Post  Iago on Tue Nov 03, 2015 5:47 pm

I know that you prefer shorter workouts; I just meant that you seem to tend not to prefer the kind of high-volume supersets in the assistance work. But I do like it because it puts more work into a shorter period of time, and the combination of the regular main lift with working yourself to fatigue in the assistance work is pretty effective for me, plus the layout gives you plenty of rest between muscle groups, despite being two upper and two lower body days. You get a pump out of it, too, and that never hurts. I also like doing routines like the M&F six week bit that ends each exercise with a 25 rep pump set after the last regular set. But while this one was focused on mass, hence the 8-10 rep range for the main lifts, it would easily adapt to a lower rep range/heavier weight version. In a way, that would be similar to the basic structure of the 5-3-1 routine, just without the programmed progression.

I do front squats with the alternate arm position with my arms folded in front of me and hands over the bar. Holding the arms out and supporting it is far too painful on my wrists -- I feel it right on the outer edge (under my pinkie finger.) I may try the strap idea, but I suspect that it is partly a body geometry problem that may not be solvable. My arms are too long for my torso. But the other problem is the fact that I have to use a pad, and that puts the bar higher and makes it harder to get it set properly at the base of the neck. It will be compromised whatever I do. I have largely skipped them as a result, but finally accepting that I am better off using a lighter weight and doing them as correctly as possible certainly helped. I can hit the heavier weights on conventional squat days.
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Re: Iago's trigger has been triggered

Post  Seamaster on Wed Nov 04, 2015 5:59 pm

I'm fine with high volume; I just don't like the workout to be entirely high volume, since that doesn't align with my goals.

At any rate, I have to run, but will add more thoughts later . . .
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Re: Iago's trigger has been triggered

Post  Iago on Thu Nov 05, 2015 6:04 pm

Well, youse gots to have goals. In my case, I do not mind pure high volume once in a while, because I need fairly regular change to get anywhere. A combo routine like that is a good balanced attack to prepare for the PHAT.

I did the second leg day today -- hams/glutes -- so I will not get around to trying your strap idea on the front squats until next week. Curious if that helps, but it may not. Have you tried the arm folded version?
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Re: Iago's trigger has been triggered

Post  Seamaster on Fri Nov 06, 2015 10:48 am

I struggle with front squats. The arm-crossed method doesn't work for me, as I find it puts too much pressure on my sore shoulder. I can get by holding the bar with wrists back, but that only works for a while and tends to aggravate my wrists and forearms (golfer and tennis elbow).

I realize I didn't explain the strap thing well. Let me try again:

1. Take the portion of the strap that you'd normally wrap around your wrist, and wrap that instead around the bar. In other words, thread the bar through the strap.

2. Take the portion of the strap that you'd normally wrap around the bar, and grip and wrap that portion around your hands.

3. Pull up on the bar before stepping into the rack. You won't move the weight, but this action will keep your arms and elbows parallel to the floor.

4. Keep the tension on the straps (i.e., pulling up) throughout the set.

With some practice, it should allow you to handle a little more weight and put less strain on you body. Since you use padding on the bar, the straps will also give you a little extra reach, since you don't need to have your hands on the bar. May or may not help . . .

I'm afraid I haven't had a chance to look up the workout for you. PHAT will be the better workout, though, so I would stick to your plan.

Have you ever looked up Mike O'Hearn's power-bodybuilding template? Might not be your thing, but it's interesting.
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Re: Iago's trigger has been triggered

Post  Iago on Mon Nov 09, 2015 3:31 am

No, I think that I got what you meant about the straps the first time. Just not convinced that it will help, but today is quad day, so I will give it a shot when I get to the gym.

I was probably going to stick to PHAT anyway, but I would still like to see what the other one is like.

I found a few things from O'Hearn. Which one did you have in mind?
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Re: Iago's trigger has been triggered

Post  Seamaster on Mon Nov 09, 2015 9:35 am

The M&F workout is called 60-Day Revolution: http://www.muscleandfitness.com/workouts/workout-routines/60-day-revolution. I think you can download the workout PDFs for free. If that's not the case, let me know.

The O'Hearn workout I was thinking of is his power-bodybuilding program: http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/mike-ohearn-power-bodybuilding-12-week-program.html.
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Re: Iago's trigger has been triggered

Post  Iago on Mon Nov 16, 2015 5:44 pm

Yes, I can download them. Thanks. The 60 day thing does look pretty interesting, but I need to look at it in more depth. Might be a good thing to try after I am done on the current program. I think that I will shoot for 4-6 weeks on the PHAT. Did the first upper body power day today and it could have gone better, but mostly because I did not get enough sleep last night and was dragging more than I should have. Hopefully I will feel better tomorrow morning, especially since it is lower body!
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Re: Iago's trigger has been triggered

Post  Seamaster on Wed Nov 18, 2015 4:31 pm

Have you had a chance to try the strap thing with front squats? Did that help at all, or a waste of time?
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Re: Iago's trigger has been triggered

Post  Iago on Fri Nov 27, 2015 2:45 am

I did try it briefly and did not quite get it to work for me very well, but I was trying it on an actual workout day and I needed to keep pushing forward. I need to try again on a deload week when I have time to experiment more without disrupting the rest of the workout. I should just make a "form day" sometime when I do nothing but experiment with exercises that do not work as well for me, and see if I can tweak the form to change that.

I did tweak my form on bent over rows after reading a pretty lengthy analysis of the exercise. As I was reading through it, I kept thinking that it sounded more like Pendlay rows, and sure enough when I got to the end of the article they said that what they were recommending was essentially Pendlay rows. They were just saying that they felt it was the best form overall for rows, with some pretty compelling reasons. The PHAT routine calls for bent over rows or Pendlay rows, so I have been doing them that way, and I am feeling it more in the muscles where I should be feeling it. So I may stick to them instead of regular bent overs for awhile. Among other things, bent overs are easier to cheat form on, at least for me.

PHAT is pretty brutal, by the way.
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Re: Iago's trigger has been triggered

Post  Seamaster on Fri Dec 04, 2015 2:26 pm

All row variations are good: Pendlay, bent-over, Yates. Depends on the goals, I guess. I personally prefer Yates rows because it puts less stress on my lower back and my sciatic nerve. But there is no debating that Pendlays get it done. Yates rows also ends up putting stress on the traps, which doesn't align with everyone's idea of what they're looking to get out of row exercise. My other favourites are one-arm dumbbell rows or Kroc rows. I feel less prone to injury with those movements and I can get away with moving a fair bit of weight. I can actually get a pretty good lat workout from simply doing dumbbell rows and variations of pull-ups and chin-ups.

Yes, PHAT is tough. It'll get easier as your body adapts to the new stress. The only thing I don't like about PHAT is the reliance on machines. I prefer barbells and dumbbells. But it is a great program overall.

I've been sticking to a 5/3/1 routine. I figured I'd keep with it until I plateau, then I'll move to something like PHAT. As much as I like to mix it up, I've found that I get better results sticking with a program for some time.
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Re: Iago's trigger has been triggered

Post  Iago on Sat Dec 12, 2015 6:49 pm

Funny, the PHAT routine does not seem that heavy on the machines to me. Unless I am looking at a different version. The upper body strength day is mostly free weights, depending on whether you do pullups or pull downs. Lower body strength day just uses leg extension and leg curl machines, but there are not a lot of alternatives for those outside of machinery. It does call for hack squats, but those are pretty useful if your gym actually has a machine for them. There is a Smith Machine alternative out there that I do sometimes, but I have been doing the old-fashioned version of hack squats with a barbell behind your legs (essentially deadlifts, but a very different motion that emphasizes the quads over the back & glutes.) The hypertrophy days have a bit more, but mostly in doing things like pulldowns, crossovers and cable rows, which again are things for which machines are useful, and you can always do dumbbell rows or flyes if you want to avoid them. Shoulders, biceps & triceps are largely no machines at all, save for cable pressdowns. All a matter of perception, I suppose.

I do think that I have gotten muscular gains that at least as good as any other routine that I have tried. It is definitely effective. I will probably stick to the full six weeks, deload, and then switch to something with hybrid cardio involved. Probably not Tabatas, but something in that style. I do like to mix up heavier weights with a hybrid program to squeeze more cardio in.

Never done Kroc rows, by the way. It looks like it would be easier on the lower back given the form, despite the idea being to pull much heavier weights. I will have to give them a try. Speaking of backs, what is the current status on yours?
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Re: Iago's trigger has been triggered

Post  Seamaster on Fri Dec 18, 2015 4:23 pm

To be more accurate, I rarely use machines, since there is more bang for buck to be had from moving free weights. I'm not at a level where I'd truly benefit from the isolation a machine offers. The only things I use machines for are triceps pushdown variations, rope curls and face pulls.

And no, my gym lacks the useful machines like a hack machine and seated calf raise machine.

Kroc rows are really nothing more than one-arm dumbbell rows with heavy-ass weight for high reps, say 100-pound-plus dumbbells, although some would argue you need to go heavier than tbat if you want to call it a Kroc row. In any case, I find them great for working my lats (more for building thickness than width) and hand grip. I've dumped using straps in favour of chalk, as I felt I had gotten pretty lazy with my grip and needed to work on that.

My back is a mixed bag. The muscular injury healed, but I ended up with a fierce bout of sciatica. That appears to have eased, but I still find some weakness in my back. I may be at the point where I need to back off the weight I'm trying to move. I'm certainly not the strongest out there, but I've been pushing my limits. Ironically, while I have gotten stronger over the last few months, my weight has dropped by over 10 pounds, and I'm a bit torn with the results. On the one hand, I must have maintained lean muscle mass to have retained strength, and I do think I look better with my shirt off. But the fact is that I don't walk around with my shirt off and I look much smaller with clothes on, to the point that I'm having to get all of my suits tailored.

This year has been strange. The stress hasn't helped, and I may have underestimated my calorie needs, hence the weight loss. So, I'm trying to figure out what to do.

My shoulder is also still a mess, but I'm not sure what is going on. Rotator cuff injuries usually result in a sharp decline in strength. I've actually gotten stronger, but my shoulder hurts like a bitch. I'm thinking I need to get an MRI done.
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