LASTING PRINCIPLES | YASHA KAHN | WEEK 1
HIGHLIGHTS OF TRAINING PROGRAM:
Much more heavy pulls this week and going heavier with the waves with classic lift variations such as clean deadlift + clean and Jerk
BEST TRAINING SESSION OF THE WEEK(S):
Week 9 Day 3:
Clean Deadlift + Clean + Jerk 4 (1+1+1)80%
Clean Pull+Clean Pull from below knees 4(1+2)110%
Push Press 3(4)60%
Bodybuilding – 10 minutes
As the bar broke from the ground on my second work set of clean and jerk I finally felt that old familiar feeling. The feeling of being able to just move freely with weight rather than it seeming like I’m trying to jump out of quicksand. I’m finally making the transition again where I know my body has built up enough capacity to just lift weights and train, rather than struggle through every rep of every set. Pretty much every weightlifter or powerlifter whose trained long enough has had similar ups and downs and knows this exact feeling. But I can actually start training again, rather than just making up for lost time.
I looked down at the scale at the beginning of the week and it finally read 100. Back above 100 kilos and it was no easy task. I’ve been sneaking in calories throughout the day anywhere and however I can because life still hasn’t exactly slowed down. I never have enough time to sit down at home for even three square meals a day… So instead I put a little bit extra butter in my coffee here, couple extra spoonfuls of olive oil a night there, and throw some shredded cheese on the hamburger meat that I scarf down at work between coaching and meetings.
Speaking of butter in the coffee, I guess this is as good a time as any to talk about my nutritional focus at the moment. None of what I’m currently focusing on in my diet was recommended by Yasha and is instead from my own personal education and experience so far.
After just two conversations with me, you’ll realize that I’m no self-proclaimed nutrition expert nor do I have any desire to ever be one. I know enough to hold a conversation with or at least listen closely to real experts in this area, which I believe to be the minimum standard to hold yourself to if some subject matter influences or touches your profession but isn’t necessarily your specialty. And yes, I’ve heard that specialization is for ants, but I’m not yet convinced. Maybe it’s’ because I’m an ant with a small brain but still I continue to refer out like a motherfucker anytime I’m asked to write a nutrition plan or give more than just general guidelines.
I have, however, personally experimented with just about any diet and nutritional guideline you can think of over the sixteen years I’ve been lifting weights and I’ve found what things help yield better aesthetic results and what help more specifically to my performance goals. I know what helps me maintain weight, lost weight, and gain weight. One tool I’ve used very successfully in the past is dramatically increasing my intake of good fats. While this has always, in my mind, indirectly improved my body composition simply because the restriction of certain calories at points in the day, my main interest in it is for hormonal responses and celular benefits that are once again too complicated for my ant brain to process.
Plain and simple – fats ingested alone without the presence of carbs and with low or no protein intake help your body better utilize testosterone. Testosterone is good if you want to be big and strong. And this is where this little lesson will end because this is a journal, not an article with citations.
So leading up to working with Yasha and now as I continue to train under him, I generally only take in fats upon waking, sometimes with a very little protein. After I’ve been awake for around three hours, I have my first real meal that is higher in protein but still with fats and no carbohydrate except for the trace levels found in pretty much everything. I am essentially fasting each day on average at least twelve- thirteen hours, although I don’t track the exact amount of calories in fat I’m ingesting before that first meal to make sure I’m not over the count that would technically break the fast. In addition to this, I technically keep to ketogenic diet guidelines until my first meal with carbs which is a “lunch-time” meal before I train.
I’ve messed around with variations of ketogenic diets and all meat diets but never completely because, to be perfectly honest, my body responds well to carbs and I need them to sustain my level of muscle mass and my performance and activity level. This new focus in my nutrition has been no different. I eat nothing but fats and protein until the meal right before I train.
This second carb filled meal is around 12-1p. Then I train shortly thereafter. At least I try to keep to this schedule. This meal has protein in it still but is very heavy in carbs. And no, I have no idea as to the amount of carbs I’m eating. Right after this I try to once again sneak in more calories by having a weight gainer shake (consists of both protein and carbs) right before I take whatever caffeine or pre workout to get my broken down ass going for the training session.
I know that eating this much so close to training can be nearly impossible for many people but I’ve been doing this a very long time and can’t remember a time when I had any kind of stomach distress because of it. I personally like the feeling of being full and, to be perfectly honest, somewhat heavy and bloated while I lift – even in Olympic weightlifting where speed and agility is a big component. This is completely my own personal preference and I have zero evidence to suggest this is beneficial and not just one of my own eccentricities.
After training I continue to eat both carbs and protein until about one hour before I go to sleep Then about a half hour before I go to bed I take in the same fats I did upon waking minus the butter and MCT oil I put in my coffee, because I read somewhere once that it was bad to have coffee before bed. This includes brazil nuts, almonds, olive oil or coconut oil, and cod liver oil.
AS FAR AS SUPPLEMENTS GO:
In the morning – I take D3, collagen, cod liver oil, holy basil, ashwaganda, and theanine.
Before I train – I take some caffeine or pre-workout ( i don’t regulate this although I should) and creatine and sometimes BCAAs
After I train – I take the weight gainer shake I mentioned before
At night – I take more D3 and cod liver oil, magnesium, zinc, and I cycle taking melatonin.
Most of what I supplement with, namely the holy basil, ashwaganda, and theanine, are adrenal support. If there’s one lesson I’ve learned it’s that hormone responses and stress need to be regulated if you want to be bigger and stronger. If your stress levels are through the roof, no diet or training program will do shit.
I liked to think I was above this basic principle of…. well life… for many years, but I am not and my body, testosterone levels, energy, vitality, and performance suffered SEVERELY as a result by the time I reached my thirties. The moment I began to address the regulation of my stress through better sleep hygiene, supplementation, and lifestyle change, things got better. But my stress definitely hasn’t disappeared and living and owning a gym in New York certainly doesn’t help, so I use these supplements to aid in addressing this. Once again – stuff to heady to go into right now.
The intermittent fasting of carbs and the true fasts that I try to do once every or every other week are also supposed to help with the regulation of hormonal processes although some people will argue this point. I repeat- I will not be including peer reviews articles in this post so I’ll just tell you what I feel.. Cuz I’m a man who shares his feelings, physical feelings that is. I feel better when I do these fasts. A lot better. I feel more aggressive, stronger, more energetic – all signs that would indicate my testosterone was being used better. Could be in my head, sure. But who cares? I like it, and I’ll keep doing it. So this is what I’ll continue indefinitely as I train under Yasha.
But these journals are about my time working with Yasha and all I learn under him so I’d be doing a very bad job if I didn’t at least include some guidelines from him in this entry. In no particular order these are the main things Yasha tells his weightlifters to focus on nutritionally:
Don’t eat food that takes a lot of energy to digest before trainingEat more veggies and fruits than anything elseEat colorful saladsTry to eat enough of everything so you don’t have to supplementA bit of everything is good, too much of anything is bad
Now onto eating more food cuz they released the new weight classes and 109 kilos is looking mighty fine to me.