Physical Fitness

Why does physical fitness occupy such a prominent place in my life? And how does my concern with physical fitness manifest and relate to other values?

This page is a stub, created on 2020-04-20 (last updated on 2020-09-26). Its contents are notes on the issues and angles I want to address about this topic.


I imagine that this will likely end up being a whole section of examining physical fitness from different angles. My immediate purpose is to go into a bit of detail about why physical fitness occupies such a prominent place in my life and exactly how it manifests.

Here are a few areas I'd like to explore:

I'll definitely need a page or section that summarizes what my current physical fitness (diet and exercise) routines are, as well as the historical evolution of my approach.

Exercise

I use the Renaissance Periodization Male Physique Templates (full-body, 4-day-per-week, which is basically an upper-lower-upper-lower split).

There's a bit of nuance, but I basically go through the template (three or four 5-6-week "mesocycles") in conjunction with a phase of my diet. (At the start of a cut or bulk, I start with a fresh template, regardless of whether I chose to finish the previous one.)

A few high-level notes:

Diet

My approach is inspired by the science/logic/algorithms that were later incorporated into the RP Diet App. (Full disclosure: I worked on the UX for earlier versions of the app, and now my brother Andrew is their CTO / lead engineer!) I don't use the app or their templates, since I prefer to exercise more granular control over my diet design, especially by making various adjustments that help my cuts be more tolerable/effective (eg, reducing hunger pains, preventing hanger, avoiding ruining my health).

Cycle

Here is a typical full cycle of my diet:

Calorie Calculus

As I understand, total calorie deficit/surplus accounts for about 80% of body morphology changes. So macronutrient breakdown and timing is a further optimization.

The basic figure that I start with is my "maintenance calories". This is not basal metabolic rate; this is the number of calories I need to consume to maintain my weight, given my typical activity levels. For me, that's roughly 3500 to 4000 calories. (Yes, I have an unusually high metabolism!) I discovered this through scrupulous tracking of calories and weight, putting the data in a spreadsheet, and fitting some curves! I err on the side of fewer calories, so I peg that at 3500.

I've found that, regardless of whether I'm cutting or bulking, since I'm limiting my caloric intake (yes, even on a bulk, so as to not put on too much fat!), I benefit from having a weekly feast day of unlimited calories. It's "feast" not "cheat" for conceptual/linguistic/psychological reasons, particularly because it's an intentional part of the plan, not a departure from it.

To lose or synthesize a pound of flesh, it's about 3500 calories deficit or surplus, respectively. On cuts and bulks, I project about a pound per week change; anything faster seems to not work well for me. So my daily average on a cut has to be 3000, and my daily average on a bulk has to be 4000.

Here's the arithmetic:

With a feast day, I have to budget something that will work "pretty okay" and probably beyond what I'm likely to eat.

So how about macros? Well, I tend to use carbs as a performance-enhancing drug, so I time them around my lifts. So what follows is for lifting days, regardless of what diet phase I'm in. I tend to be willy-nilly on macronutrient breakdowns on non-lifting days, being low-carb on non-feast days and a total carb glutton on feast days (if that's what I'm craving!).

Here's the high-level algorithm:

  1. pin fat intake to be 25-30% of total calories (probably closer to 25% for a cut)
  2. pin protein to be 1.5 to 2 grams per pound of body weight
  3. remainder from carbs

Here's a more detailed view. For purposes of the table, let's use x to refer to the total calories for that day. The entry in bold is the first part of the calculation (with other columns showing other representations of the same information).

Macronutrient Calories Grams Example for 1800-1900 calories
Fat (9 calories/gram) 25-30% of x min: 0.25 * x / 9
max: 0.3 * x / 9
450 calories
50 grams
Protein (4 calories/gram) min: (body weight in lbs) * 1.5 * 4
max: (body weight in lbs) * 2 * 4
min: (body weight in lbs) * 1.5
max: (body weight in lbs) * 2
1080 calories
270 grams
Carbs (4 calories/gram) x - (calories from fat + calories from protein) (x - (calories from fat + calories from protein)) / 4 280 calories
70 grams

A few notes:

Optimizations that make cuts more bearable for me: