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Off Season Approaches

thethinker48

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I've toyed with my diet a few times the past few years to figure out what I respond well to, and what I don't to

At the base level, Surplus for growth, and your ability to recover from training = success here

Have any of you guys tried variable calorie days in an off season? I know it's a reverse diet strategy used quite often; Justin Harris had Ben P on something similar as well but for growth

So a high day on a larger/weaker bodypart= 1000+ surplus
Medium day= 5-700 surplus
Low day= Maintenance or even a slight deficit

At the end of the week, you are still in a surplus. I've done a version of this where my carbs are variable on the workload for the day, but calories have never been that variable for me.

I wonder if one might need to utilize insulin to drive the carbs on higher days. I've never personally used it, so I can't really comment; experienced folks welcome to add insight here.

I'm a high protein, high fat, and carbs in the 100 (off day)-350 (max) range type of guy. Stay full, strong, and leaner using this personally. But there's a threshold to how high I can drive up fats personally

Hoping to get some smart minds share their experience on their approaches
 

danieltx

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This year has definitely been the one where I've varied calories most day to day. I did it more for digestion because it's such a strain on the body to down 6,000+ calories every single day. I don't know by how much they varied but just excluding my intraworkout and postworkout shakes it'd be 1,000+ less. I also cut 1-2 meals out on these days. I don't do low days; it's high if I'm training and moderate if I'm off.

I like insulin, it's a great supplement to make the most of your food when in a big surplus with a lot of carbs. Most guys would benefit from using a little bit regularly just to ease the strain on their pancreas.

Overall, I like an approach of rebounding with pushing calories hard and fast, then toning it down when gains slow, appetite slows, etc. I'd rather make big gains over the period while adding a bit of extra fat because fat loss is much easier than building muscle, and if you start lean enough you'll max out at a just fine bodybuilder fat rather than civilian fat. Fear of getting fat is a big reason why guys don't make the gains they want year to year and really transform their physique over time.
 

Gunsmith

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I’m sort of the same diet wise as you , a big carb day for me is 300g generally in the 150-200g range implemented around training which is a good set for adding in insulin.

On non training days I eliminate carbs and one day a week I do a 24hr fast just to give my gut a break.
 

TheOtherOne55

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I've done some sort of varied calorie cycling for a couple years now. I was running a base diet off of a Mountain Dog setup (i worked with Andrew Berry who is a MD guy). But it was more TRAINING DAY vs OFF DAY.

But I'm working with Justin Harris now and THINKER, that's exactly what I'm doing. Justin used this same approach and I rebounded out of a lean lean state to where I'm at now. Food is extremely high though and a bitch to get down on HIGH DAYS.

If you're a high fat guy, you can do something similar by just adjusting your ratios up and down. 350 carbs is my LOW DAY right now.
 

thethinker48

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This year has definitely been the one where I've varied calories most day to day. I did it more for digestion because it's such a strain on the body to down 6,000+ calories every single day. I don't know by how much they varied but just excluding my intraworkout and postworkout shakes it'd be 1,000+ less. I also cut 1-2 meals out on these days. I don't do low days; it's high if I'm training and moderate if I'm off.

I like insulin, it's a great supplement to make the most of your food when in a big surplus with a lot of carbs. Most guys would benefit from using a little bit regularly just to ease the strain on their pancreas.

Overall, I like an approach of rebounding with pushing calories hard and fast, then toning it down when gains slow, appetite slows, etc. I'd rather make big gains over the period while adding a bit of extra fat because fat loss is much easier than building muscle, and if you start lean enough you'll max out at a just fine bodybuilder fat rather than civilian fat. Fear of getting fat is a big reason why guys don't make the gains they want year to year and really transform their physique over time.

Is insulin in the peri workout period for you?

Even your moderate day is pretty large, any issues with digestion or is it something you've adapted to?
 

thethinker48

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I've done some sort of varied calorie cycling for a couple years now. I was running a base diet off of a Mountain Dog setup (i worked with Andrew Berry who is a MD guy). But it was more TRAINING DAY vs OFF DAY.

But I'm working with Justin Harris now and THINKER, that's exactly what I'm doing. Justin used this same approach and I rebounded out of a lean lean state to where I'm at now. Food is extremely high though and a bitch to get down on HIGH DAYS.

If you're a high fat guy, you can do something similar by just adjusting your ratios up and down. 350 carbs is my LOW DAY right now.

That's what I was thinking

You're 250 lbs of lbm, the food Justin has you eating has to be insane to drive your bodyweight up there. What's the variance in your calories if you go from a blast to a cruise?

I also like the idea, because the low days would resensitize one's appetite, and allow digestion a bit of a break.
 

warlock

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I've done some sort of varied calorie cycling for a couple years now. I was running a base diet off of a Mountain Dog setup (i worked with Andrew Berry who is a MD guy). But it was more TRAINING DAY vs OFF DAY.

But I'm working with Justin Harris now and THINKER, that's exactly what I'm doing. Justin used this same approach and I rebounded out of a lean lean state to where I'm at now. Food is extremely high though and a bitch to get down on HIGH DAYS.

If you're a high fat guy, you can do something similar by just adjusting your ratios up and down. 350 carbs is my LOW DAY right now.

350 carbs is your low Day? Wow, that'd be a decent amount for most.

Do you run some insulin on higher carb days?
 

TheOtherOne55

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Oh yeah, the low days help a ton with appetite. But even then, its still a decent amount of food.
I like varying the calories on diff days though. I've done it for quite a while now and it cycling willll help stay a little leaner.
Brings the weekly surplus down a bit and it just MAKES SENSE to not eat a ton on a day where I'm not moving around as much.

That's what I was thinking

You're 250 lbs of lbm, the food Justin has you eating has to be insane to drive your bodyweight up there. What's the variance in your calories if you go from a blast to a cruise?

I also like the idea, because the low days would resensitize one's appetite, and allow digestion a bit of a break.

Don't want to give away Justins whole plan but there is some insulin involved a couple days a week.
Its a lot of eating so it makes sense. Overall, i love the plan and I've made some big jumps in the past 6 months of working with him.


350 carbs is your low Day? Wow, that'd be a decent amount for most.

Do you run some insulin on higher carb days?
 

danieltx

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Is insulin in the peri workout period for you?

Even your moderate day is pretty large, any issues with digestion or is it something you've adapted to?

Insulin is always preworkout. I've used it pre and post in the past but am currently using a larger dose of R preworkout to cover both intraworkout and postworkout shakes. I also use it with my 2 highest carb meals of the day.

Interestingly, my insulin sensitivity has increased as I've grown this year - I'm using less now than early in my rebound. I can only guess this is due to the amount of muscle I've added this year.

My moderate day is the day that helps with digestion. Instead of 5 or 6 meals that I do on workout days I just do 3 or 4 on off days. This alone helps with digestion, but I also supplement with fiber, digestive enzymes for protein / carbs / dairy, and probiotics.

Consuming larger and larger amounts of food each year is something you have to do if you want to keep adding size, it's progressive overload just like we do with weights. We don't see many really big guys because most don't want to stuff themselves every single day until they're uncomfortable, stomach is distended, etc. Guys think they'll get more attention being lean year-round but don't realize how much more they'd get if they'd push themselves up another level of size.
 

warlock

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Insulin is always preworkout. I've used it pre and post in the past but am currently using a larger dose of R preworkout to cover both intraworkout and postworkout shakes. I also use it with my 2 highest carb meals of the day.

Interestingly, my insulin sensitivity has increased as I've grown this year - I'm using less now than early in my rebound. I can only guess this is due to the amount of muscle I've added this year.

My moderate day is the day that helps with digestion. Instead of 5 or 6 meals that I do on workout days I just do 3 or 4 on off days. This alone helps with digestion, but I also supplement with fiber, digestive enzymes for protein / carbs / dairy, and probiotics.

Consuming larger and larger amounts of food each year is something you have to do if you want to keep adding size, it's progressive overload just like we do with weights. We don't see many really big guys because most don't want to stuff themselves every single day until they're uncomfortable, stomach is distended, etc. Guys think they'll get more attention being lean year-round but don't realize how much more they'd get if they'd push themselves up another level of size.

Good points. Most don't want to suffer with the extra food because let's be honest, eating so much can get extremely uncomfortable and, like you said most want to stay lean year round to get the extra attention.

How long are your workouts? You shoot your slin right before you enter the gym, eat carbs intra, then finish the workout and eat a meal with more carbs?

When you also use slin with the 3 highest carb meals, do you have any fats in there too or just protein and carbs?
 

airman

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I'm varying my calories and carbs now. My approach is simple. I train first thing in the morning, so upon waking I have some quick carbs and protein, then have intra carbs and aminos, and immediately post have more carbs and protein. Than once I get to the office I have my "first meal" out of six. So on rest days I eliminate al the pre/intra/post and have a nice and easy adjustment of calories and carbs/protein. Meals 1 through 6 stay the same.

Been at it for one week. Pre show (that didn't happen), I was about 242lbs and after a 10 days, I'm now 250lbs first thing in the morning, full and still tight.

With this setup my nutrition looks like this:

Training day: 4007 Calories: 448C, 367P, 81F
Rest Day: 2512 Calories: 197C, 279P, 65 F

Currently training 5 days a week with 2 days off.
 

danieltx

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Good points. Most don't want to suffer with the extra food because let's be honest, eating so much can get extremely uncomfortable and, like you said most want to stay lean year round to get the extra attention.

How long are your workouts? You shoot your slin right before you enter the gym, eat carbs intra, then finish the workout and eat a meal with more carbs?

When you also use slin with the 3 highest carb meals, do you have any fats in there too or just protein and carbs?

Workouts are typically 1.5 to 2 hours. I take R 15-20 minutes before starting my workout and do 10g creatine / 35g EAAs / 100-125g Karbolyn intraworkout. After I finish I do a shake with 100g Karbolyn and 80g protein.

Last meal of the night has direct fats from sunflower butter or almond butter and I use insulin there, other meals don't have direct fats.
 

thethinker48

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Insulin is always preworkout. I've used it pre and post in the past but am currently using a larger dose of R preworkout to cover both intraworkout and postworkout shakes. I also use it with my 2 highest carb meals of the day.

Interestingly, my insulin sensitivity has increased as I've grown this year - I'm using less now than early in my rebound. I can only guess this is due to the amount of muscle I've added this year.

My moderate day is the day that helps with digestion. Instead of 5 or 6 meals that I do on workout days I just do 3 or 4 on off days. This alone helps with digestion, but I also supplement with fiber, digestive enzymes for protein / carbs / dairy, and probiotics.

Consuming larger and larger amounts of food each year is something you have to do if you want to keep adding size, it's progressive overload just like we do with weights. We don't see many really big guys because most don't want to stuff themselves every single day until they're uncomfortable, stomach is distended, etc. Guys think they'll get more attention being lean year-round but don't realize how much more they'd get if they'd push themselves up another level of size.

This has more truth to it than any of us would like to admit

I'm 10-15 lbs of lean tissue away from where I'd want to sit ideally; more classic than traditional bbing. The fastest way would be to diet first, then bring the bodyweight up dramatically, hold it, diet down, and reassess

I do this recreationally, and don't personally want to go up in bw dramatically. Hence the slow 4-6 lbs of growth per year while staying moderately lean. Milder AAS use, log booking, and enough of a caloric surplus to grow without looking like a balloon at work, or social settings. All of it is nice on one end, but you definitely don't make dramatic progress. You fight homeostasis constantly like a storm in greek mythology. Weight gets stuck, and it takes a dramatic surplus to move it up again

Good to hear this though, a battle won by those who can tolerate degrees of discomfort for long periods of time

It's funny, you try to stay leaner, and forego extra muscle tissue; and the guys who are able to acquire that tissue have a hard time putting on any bf long term due to it's metabolic effects. Rob a bank quickly for 2 grand, or plan a heist for 100 sort of thing
 

thethinker48

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I'm varying my calories and carbs now. My approach is simple. I train first thing in the morning, so upon waking I have some quick carbs and protein, then have intra carbs and aminos, and immediately post have more carbs and protein. Than once I get to the office I have my "first meal" out of six. So on rest days I eliminate al the pre/intra/post and have a nice and easy adjustment of calories and carbs/protein. Meals 1 through 6 stay the same.

Been at it for one week. Pre show (that didn't happen), I was about 242lbs and after a 10 days, I'm now 250lbs first thing in the morning, full and still tight.

With this setup my nutrition looks like this:

Training day: 4007 Calories: 448C, 367P, 81F
Rest Day: 2512 Calories: 197C, 279P, 65 F

Currently training 5 days a week with 2 days off.

That is some good rebound you have going there!

Thanks for sharing
 

brutus69

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when yall say "rest day" does that mean u literally dont do any physical activity at all ?
or no more than what your daily life requires?
my rest day i still go walking/hiking up to 6 miles but usually more like 4 average.
 

Fit2Serve

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when yall say "rest day" does that mean u literally dont do any physical activity at all ?
or no more than what your daily life requires?
my rest day i still go walking/hiking up to 6 miles but usually more like 4 average.
damn! that is NOT a rest day to me lol
rest day to me is doing little as possible. like maybe mow the lawn at most, or walk the dog around the block... but nothing that would expend too many calories or tax my cns too much. i usually do nothing lol
-F
 

danieltx

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when yall say "rest day" does that mean u literally dont do any physical activity at all ?
or no more than what your daily life requires?
my rest day i still go walking/hiking up to 6 miles but usually more like 4 average.

For me, a rest day means no more activity than daily life requires. That may mean not leaving the house, it may mean walking through the grocery store, it may mean 1-2 hours at the dog park, it may mean a night out until 2:30AM.

You're at a different point in your journey than most of us in that you're done chasing size and prioritizing bodybuilding. For those of us still there, that much activity on an off day is a hindrance to recovery and gains.
 

thethinker48

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when yall say "rest day" does that mean u literally dont do any physical activity at all ?
or no more than what your daily life requires?
my rest day i still go walking/hiking up to 6 miles but usually more like 4 average.

No weight training for me, everything else is same

Can still do BJJ, walk around in places, and go on walks; really varies per person
 

qbkilla

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Big fan of calorie cycling

4200 one day, 2k the next. Recomp but slowly gaining while staying lean,. I like it for all the reasons mentioned above. I believe the low days have to actually be below maintenance for it to really make sense, burn some fat.

I don't like the idea of high/medium/low, that starting to make something that should be simple (diet) a little too complicated, I always prefer more simple so just a high followed by a low.

I also do 5 days a week so its tough that sometimes the training days fall on the low days, but I believe overall growth it wont matter if you train on a low day just make sure you those 2k calories (or whatever) around training. Or with 2 days off you could make small adjustments so make sure you move a training day up or back one day so training always falls on the high days.
 

FK86

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With this setup my nutrition looks like this:

Training day: 4007 Calories: 448C, 367P, 81F

Rest Day: 2512 Calories: 197C, 279P, 65F

That's a solid setup. I myself prefer a varied intake as opposed to a static one. I'd much rather eat less on some days so I can eat more on others in addition to the benefits that come from macro manipulation.

I'm sure there are some that have been doing it for a while, but this approach has really been gaining a lot of steam lately as I keep hearing more and more people doing it. On one of Fouad's podcasts, Ben Chow mentioned Patrick Tuor has him eating 4500 calories or something on training days and 2100 on off days. People have been carb cycling for a while now, but the extremes in caloric intake is fairly new to my knowledge. I like it.
 

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