Another year has passed. Year forty. Here is the annual update on my training, nutrition and other major life events. A bit late this year. I have been quite busy both at work and at home with a bit of travel over the last several months.
Context and Goals
40-year-old. 180cm. 80kg.
No change really. I want to be fit enough, fast enough and strong enough to get through the everyday challenges of my life. In the last twelve months I have had more of a focus on adding more lean muscle.
Year Forty. Go on…
It’s still mostly a wholefood diet. As a baseline template, it’s something along the lines of a paleo type diet with a few smart modifications. Basically, my plate will almost always have a good source of animal protein with some root vegetables and / or leafy greens. This has been the basic template for about the last decade. It continues to evolve and I generally rotate between lower and higher carbohydrate intake throughout the year depending on my physical and cognitive goals and requirements.
In the last twelve months my main effort has been to build some lean muscle. To do this I have had to increase my total caloric intake in order to help facilitate the growth. This has led to more of a traditional bodybuilder diet plan, with an emphasis on high amounts of protein and carbohydrate being consumed at every meal. Simply put, more calories in equals more potential for weight gain, specifically lean muscle tissue.
Most days I’ll eat four meals, with three or four hours between meals, to produce multiple spikes in protein synthesis and nutrient transport into the muscles in order to support new muscle growth.
Currently, my macronutrient breakdown would average out to be roughly:
- Protein: about 200g;
- Fats and oils: about 120g;
- Carbohydrates: about 250g (depending on activity level).
- Total: about 2850 calories.
Since last years update I have increased my daily caloric intake by another 200-300 calories and have added an additional three kilograms since the middle of the year.
As a rule, I don’t drink often. However, I’d say that on average I would enjoy a drink with my partner or some friends once or twice per fortnight. There are always exceptions to this rule, being special occasions, such as Anzac Day, or a significant event or birthday. It’s 2022 and I think it’s still important to be able to enjoy a drink socially on occasion, especially if it is contributing to a positive social interaction. The main takeaway here is that for the overwhelming majority of the year I am not drinking the night away.
When I do drink, it will very likely be a glass of Pinot Noir or if I’m chasing something a little more serious, I’ll look to a classic cocktail such as an Americano or a Gin Martini.
As for my training. Where possible, I prefer to train first thing in the morning, after a cup of black coffee and a serve of WPC prior to my workout. This combination contributes to an increase in protein synthesis, stimulating muscle growth and to help prevent the breakdown of lean muscle.
This has worked well for me for a while now and I have been able to maintain a healthy body composition, sustained physical performance and with fairly consistent energy levels throughout the day. Since my last update I have increased my weight by an additional three to four kilograms. Looking in the mirror, I would say that the majority of the weight increase has been lean muscle. Not bad for a bloke in year forty.
I’ll stress this again, this is what has worked for me.
Eating out is back on the menu, restaurants are open again and it’s basically back to pre-pandemic life which is a good thing.
Throughout the year, in my estimation, I would have eaten a three or four meals out each fortnight. Mostly with my partner. We try to schedule a nice meal or “date night” out on a Friday evening where we try to explore some nice venues and occasionally, we’ll exploit some old favorites. Steakhouses, Greek (for meat platters) or Asian-fusion restaurants are our usual choices.
Generally, I don’t take a lot of supplements. I try to get as much of my nutrient requirements through diet alone, with the addition of some Cod Liver Oil during the winter months to boost vitamins A and D, which among other things, supports optimal immune system function whilst providing vital omega-3 fatty acids.
For pre-workout, I’ll make a cup of black coffee with some collagen peptides. On occasion, I do supplement with a pre-workout supplement. I try to select my pre-workout based on three main ingredients:
- creatine monohydrate;
- citrulline malate.
Magnesium. This is probably one of the most important supplements for me. Magnesium is vitally important to over 300 biological functions in the body, from regulating protein synthesis to muscle function and supporting proper sleep patterns. As the demands for physical training, professional workload and other stressors increase, the requirement for magnesium increases.
Vitamin C. Is a water soluble vitamin that has been shown to improve antioxidant levels, improve overall immunity, improve iron absorption, lower blood pressure, reduce heart disease and even dementia risk. Vitamin C is also critical for collagen synthesis. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body. It makes up the skin, bones, tendons, ligaments, and many other structures. Vitamin C is essential for the conversion of amino acids into functional collagen that the body can use.
Strength and conditioning. During the last 12 months I’ve mainly focused on two training protocols. The first being mostly completing the bigger compound lifts first, then finish up with some accessory exercises and a finisher.
That means, deadlifts, power cleans, weighted pull-ups, horizontal and vertical presses. Followed by some accessory work like push-ups, dips, cable rows, split squats and ab rollouts.
I have generally split these movements into two separate training sessions, being push and pull and squat and press.
Sets and repetitions will vary each workout, but generally I’ll aim for about 25-30 repetitions in total for each movement. How many sets it takes to reach that total will depend on how I’m feeling on the day. Some days that could mean a standard 5 x 5 protocol and on others it could mean something like 2 x 15.
My other strength and conditioning focus has been the kettlebell lifts. I really enjoy training with kettlebells and have found them to be an incredibly versatile training tool over the years.
Training with kettlebells can be more dynamic and can develop true strength and conditioning when implemented in circuit style training. I’ve also found that I can get a higher volume of lifts during my kettlebell training phases, not to mention a good sweat.
Farmer’s carries and high volume kettlebell swings have featured consistently in my programming.
I have found simple programming structures have worked better for me as opposed to trying to create super complicated workouts that can sometimes miss the mark.
I’m not setting strength records, but I’m doing pretty well for a guy who has just turned 40 years old. I’m athletic, have a decent strength to weight ratio, can run reasonably quick, generally in pretty good health and rarely injured. Pretty important for somebody entering “middle-age”. This allows me to be consistent. And consistency is in my estimation, one of the major keys to long term health and performance. I can be active across a variety of disciplines just about any day that I choose, which is more often than not.
I do take rest days as required depending on how I feeling both mentally and physically, maybe one day out of every 7 to 10 days is dedicated to rest and recovery.
Running. It’s been mostly interval work and some 3 to 5 km efforts. As general rule however, it’s the shorter, more intense runs that I feel the most benefit from.
During the last twelve months I have significantly reduced my weekly running load due to changes to my personal performance goals. I am planning to reintroduce a more structured run program into my training schedule in the near future.
As opposed to running, I have been walking a lot more. A great opportunity to listen to a podcast and just slow down for a while and spend some time out in nature.
Basketball. Still competing. It’s a sport I’ve played since I was 12 years old. Most weeks I get to play on two nights. The first being at a pretty high level or “A grade” and the second being more of a social level around the “B/C grade” mark. Both teams are competitive and I always enjoy being on the court. I’ve been given the opportunity to compete with the Victorian Army Basketball team again which is always and exciting and challenging competition.
Overall, I’m having a lot of fun playing sport again. I just love competing. Each night I’m matching up against players who are often half my age so it’s a good feeling to be competitive and even out-play most of my opponents on a nightly basis.
Currently, my training consists of three or four days of strength and conditioning combined with one session of running (mostly easy / mid-level efforts and some sprint work). Each workout will last about 40 to 50 minutes. I play basketball two nights a week.
A final point. Doing something is better than doing nothing.
Lifestyle and Travel
I’m still living in Melbourne, Australia. It really is great being around family and friends for such an extended period of time. It does feel great to be part of a local community.
The importance of good social connections is often overlooked when it comes to optimising your health and how well you perform at all levels on a daily basis.
This year is my nineteenth year in the Army. A life time in one profession. It’s still an exciting career that has allowed me to develop both professionally and as a human, along with many opportunities to contribute to the global society in a positive way. A career that has taken me to almost every corner of the world. Whilst I am not currently attached to a fighting element in my current role, I am in a position to positively mentor and develop junior soldiers as they enter their trade training continuum. A very rewarding experience considering the operational experience I gained throughout my career.
My girlfriend / partner. What can I say? She is nothing short of amazing. Highly driven, intelligent, independent, successful, strong and beautiful. She’s an associate lawyer and on the side she lectures law for a major university, instructs fitness classes on occasion and is currently contemplating on whether or not to conduct another bodybuilding / bikini fitness contest preparation in the future. Most importantly, she makes me strive to be a better human every day.
Note. Did I say she is my favorite human.
We officially moved in together late December. She relocated from the Bendigo office in Regional Victoria and took up a new role with a new practice group within the firm. Merging two lives into a single property will always have its challenges, such as losing some private space isn’t to get away from each other as often as previously and when you both have established homes not all of your belongings make it to the merged household. Not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, an excellent opportunity to start fresh and write the next chapter… together. I’d say it’s a net win.
We are both much closer to our places of work with both my partner and myself being about 15 minutes away from our places of work. Much better than battling the Western Ring Road that could have taken anywhere from 25 to 60 minutes on any given day! We’re also fairly close to the city and only an hour away from the family holiday home on the Mornington Peninsula.
Holidays. The last twelve months we didn’t travel interstate, but we did make it to the family holiday home on the Mornington Peninsula. As usual, we spent a few nights at Crown Towers Resort Melbourne around the Christmas / New Year period. We also had the opportunity to stay at a friends holiday home in Fairhaven, along the Great Ocean Road over the Labour Day long weekend.
So, what’s next?
The next twelve months is going to be an exciting time. On a personal note, I have just started studies in Certificates 3 & 4 in Fitness. I was qualified as a personal trainer prior to enlisting into the Army all the way back in 2003, however those qualifications are no longer current so it’s time to go back to school and become certified again. I feel these studies will compliment the Diploma in Nutrition that I completed recently. Recertification will provide me with another opportunity to provide a good service back into the community.
Life can be whatever you want it to be, and I am certain that there are going to be some new and exciting challenges in the future. Most definitely looking forward to the challenges of the next twelve months!
Until then… Live well. Train hard. Enjoy life.