This next article, coincidentally my 100th post, is an introspective analysis offered up by the “Mean” Bean himself. I am a firm believer that trust cannot be established between an author and their audience until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes. . .because then you are a mile away and they have no shoes. . . But in all seriousness, this is a great personality piece offered up by one of the future powerhouses in the exercise science/nutrition field, so take the time to read through and feel free to make comments.
What am I?
By Travis “Mean” Bean
When I lace up my Chuck Taylors for a day of deadlifting I know what I want to do. I want to pull massive weight and by doing so turn a couple heads. However I also want to be able to turn heads while simply walking down the street. This leads me to the question, what am I? Am I a bodybuilder because I care about aesthetics, or am I a powerlifter because I use powerlifting techniques and have goals to be able to blast massive weight? I have been stuck between the 2 forms of lifting since I began working out about 2 years ago. When I first set foot in the gym I wanted to look bigger, be that big guy on the beach (I hope this doesn’t make me a douche). But since the start of this past year of lifting my research has become extensive and my style of lifting has completely changed, mainly due to a one Daniel Jaffe. This past year I was introduced to the world of powerlifting, which has drawn me away from the constant focus on appearance, and more towards a focus on performance. For this I could not be more thankful. It was not until recently that I had decided to stick to one side of the same coin.
It was late April and summer was coming on fast. This meant that not only were my muscles going to be sore, but my back was going to be sore as well because I had just pulled landscaping duty (I hope someone gets that). Because I knew that 65+ hour work weeks were ahead I had expected to lose some weight. The bodybuilder in me thought, “Awesome this gives me the chance to cut some fat before I unintentionally lose fat because of work!” So my decision to begin cutting took effect. At the beginning of my true cut I weighed in at 195 pounds, 10% body fat (about a month before I was around 205-210 pounds at 12-15% body fat). When I found out I was at 10% already I was pumped. This meant I would be so shredded for summertime. It seemed like a pretty good plan, continue to powerlift while cutting, maintain strength, and look sick at the beach. Both performance and aesthetics would be covered. Over the course of my cut I realized that I was losing much more than stomach fat.
The weight I had become accustom to moving began to slowly go down. Each session I would say to myself, “I’m just having an off day. No worries”. Well this wasn’t the case at all. In actuality, my weight loss had lead to massive drops in performance. Sure, I got what I wanted from my cut. My vascularity had increased, my abs were prevalent, but at what cost? Prior to my cut my numbers were at an all time high. 1 rep maximum testing had been done and I even shocked myself with some of my numbers. Because my focus all year had been on performance I was able to push myself to a new level, but my ‘manorexia’ as Jaffe once called it, was my downfall.
I have begun a somewhat strict ‘clean’ bulking diet, which I have been on for only a week (It’ll be at the bottom of this article). I plan on continuing it throughout most of the summer. I sought advice from 2 individuals, getting extremely helpful tips and incorporating ideas from both. One bit of advice I received was to eliminate gluten, and while I agree this may be a very healthy and advantageous alteration to my diet, it is far too difficult to do at this point in my life. However the elimination of gluten containing products has taken place, so my diet is lower in gluten than before. I would suggest reading this article if there are any questions concerning why I am attempting to eliminate gluten http://jasoncholewa.com/2013/02/08/early-humans-wheat-cultivation-and-your-health/.
Although it really does suck working 11 to 12 hour days, cash rules everything around me, therefore I have to work in order to dish out all of my money on supplements and peanut butter. This does have a profound effect on my lifting schedule however. For example today, June 7th, I worked 11 hours in the pouring rain and wind cleaning up seaweed for the guy whose dad founded Motorola. Not to mention I didn’t have any raingear so I was soaked and in no mood to go to the gym. Was it a stupid decision to not go? Probably, but it takes a lot to work 11 hours then follow that by benching and upper body plyometrics. Complaining gets me nowhere, but I do feel that it is sometimes justified. Because of my uncertain lifting schedule I had not expected to make any gains whatsoever. I was incorrect in this assumption.
Fortunately I was able to catch myself before my numbers began to drop too low, and I expect to be back at my highest strength before the summer is over. By the time school begins I also plan on beginning a very serious 8-week ‘dirty’ bulk with my fellow rugby President Ben Middel. Read this article if you want to learn why we plan on doing this http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_article/sports_body_training_performance/big_bulking_tips This type of bulk is a bodybuiding type idea, the idea being to put on as much muscle as possible in a short amount of time, then after some time off of the bulk lose the excess fat gained while keeping the larger muscles. However in my case, I plan on using the bulk as a way to rapidly increase the number of plates being used, then after the 8 weeks, reduce caloric intake to maintain the same weight. Not only will performance be improved in the weight room, but also the increase in size will yield better performance on the rugby pitch.
I guess I can wrap this up by saying that as of now I am a powerlifter. I would like to continue to powerlift until I feel that I have reached a point where I want to focus on aesthetics alone (likely never). My goals for this year that I think will be attainable without a doubt are as follows: 315 pound bench (I know it should be a lot higher with my size, but I’ll write another entire article about my bench alone), 500+ pound deadlift (blasted 450 with only a couple months of deadlift training), and a 450 pound squat (failed at 425 after knocking out a rep of 415). I think that each of these 3 goals can and will be reached by the end of next year with proper training and diet. It’s funny how goals change as we continue to grow and learn as individuals, whether it be in the gym or in the grand scheme of life. Realizations are made and we must act on them; and for me the realization that aesthetics should not be my focus right now has changed me for the better. I am extremely excited to continue putting on weight and watching my numbers rise. Also if anyone cares enough I’ll write another article with updates on my results… Also as promised here is my daily diet. If you have any questions about anything I eat please ask!
Breakfast (5:30 am)
4 Egg Whites
2 Whole eggs
2 slices American cheese
1 Slice whole-wheat toast (often substituted with 1/3 cup sweet potato)
2 Tablespoons all natural peanut butter
30 pieces shredded wheat cereal
Snack 1 (8:15 am)
Snack 2 (10:30 am)
Cliff bar of choice
Lunch (12:00 pm)
1 Piece grilled chicken
1 Cheeseburger no bun
1 Peanut butter and jelly sandwich on whole-wheat
1 Flavored Greek yogurt
1 Whole fruit
Nature Valley bars (depending on how hungry I am that day)
Snack 3(2:30-3:00 pm)
Quest Bar protein bar or Pure Protein bar
1 serving whole raw almonds
Snack 4 (5:00-7:00 pm)
Dinner (Whenever I get home from work)
Dinner is variable, as I do not cook my own meals. Generally dinner consists of meat, veggie, salad and carb.
Snack 5 (9:30- 10:30 pm)
Cashews and protein shake/high protein snack