Moving into a sustainable plan
Gaining muscle and strength is a long process hey! We hope that you have been hitting PB's galore. Moving forward we need to assess your progress and look at where we need to refine the plan.
In month 1 and 2 we had calorie targets that we didn't really change all that much. This is essential to find out what works for each of us. For strength and performance we advised you to 1 week at baseline then 3 weeks at the calorie target that matches your training. We know that the calorie targets seemed high...especially for those who followed the hard training week.
However this was to ensure that you maximised the stimulus of your training. We should have experienced some of the following -
- Feeling more powerful in training
- Improved recovery from exercise, being able to train more regularly
- Less fatigue during the end of the week
- Feeling more "athletic". Maybe feel thicker, more muscular
- Better overall mood
Now we asked you to stick to the calorie targets for a reason. This is to help us find your upper calorie target. What we can do now is assess if this is too high or whether we need to stick to it.
Now in Month 3 we will work within a calorie window.
The reason for this is to allow you to employ flexibility in your plan. We should now have found that some days we feel like we need a little less and some we need a little more.
In month 3 we want you to work within a calorie window. To calculate this we need to work from your higher calorie target.
For example, if you follow the hard training week and this equates to 3200 calories, we want to work between this and 350 kcal below (2850 kcal). This is your window.
Now as long as you are within those calorie targets each day for the next 4 weeks we are happy!
This allows us to employ some flexibility and correlate our intake to our output. If we feel that the training session was really tough then you can edge towards the higher calorie target. If it was a lower intensity session or a rest day then follow the lower target.
This is all about finding what works for you.
We need to fuel the tank...just at the right times.
Strategies to help you stay on track
Let's use an example to kick us off here.
- Tom followed baseline calories of 2780 for the first month. He found that he actually dropped a little weight but felt training performance was much improved.
- Month 2 he followed hard training (3798 kcal) for 3 weeks and then dropped to baseline for 1 week. His weight went up by 1.3kg and he felt strong. However the amount of food was tough to eat and he struggled to hit the calorie target, coming in around 3550 each day.
- In month 3 he has an intense training block ahead. Taking the first two months into account he sets a target window of 3700 kcal and 3350.
This allows him to be at a higher average intake and he knows that he can easily hit 3550. Using some extra intra workout carbs he pushes his intake up to 3700 kcal on double training days. Then he has the flexibility to drop to 3350 by simply removing the intra workout and not having a pre bed snack.
Keeping intake elevated over the whole month we are hoping that performance is fuelled, recovery is on point and we start to really see some noticeable body comp changes. We know that in the future we can drop to baseline to lose a little excess weight but this is not the time to restrict. It is the time to fuel the tank and crush our training.
And just to emphasise the recovery information is going to be crucial to implement. For strength and performance we need to be DIALLED in with this. Yes calories and macros are important but optimising recovery is going to supercharge our gainz.
What if I go over or under my target?
When strength is our goal we actually want you to be going over more than under. If it is way over and from poor choices then this is something we need to address as inflammatory foods will prevent progress. Use the FAQ section to help guide you on reducing the macros you were over on. If it is was one day - chalk it off and stay on plan.
What if I put on weight over the month?
Be aware that fuelling for performance and strength we may put on a little extra weight, and seeing the scales go up can be hard. However if you are tracking your measurements and performance and these are going in the right direction it will be the right type of weight. In month 4 we will talk about how to cut excess weight if we feel we need whilst maintaining our strength. Month 3 - commit to the plan.
It is too confusing to change each day, can I just commit to one target?
Yes of course. If this is easier for you and you feel you are making progress then absolutely. Make this 150kcal below your training calorie target.