Personal Updates: 3. Trying out something new – Wendler’s 5/3/1

As you may or may not know, most of my fitness goals for this year are heavily based on the numbers that I am able to lift (Refer to ).

To help me in achieving this, I have decided to change my training split to something more strength-orientated. Wendler’s 5/3/1 is a relatively new split that has become immensely popular with both powerlifters and bodybuilders alike in the past year or so. Aimed at solely building strength in the “big four” (deadlift,squat, bench and overhead press (OHP)), the programme consists of a short four week cycle. There are 3-days-per-week and 4-days-per-week variants but what is common for both is the use of percentages to calculate how much you perform/lift on each particular day.

Week 1: Warmup followed by 3 sets of: 75% x 5, 80% x 5, 85% x 5

Week 2:. Warmup followed by 3 sets of: 80% x 3, 85% x 3, 90% x 3

Week 3:. Warmup followed by 3 sets of: 75% x 5, 85% x 3, 95% x 1

Week 4: Deload week – 3 sets of: 60% x 5, 65% x 5, 70% x 5

This is what swayed me into using this training regime as it recognises the impossibility to gain strength optimally when you’re constantly trying to test your one rep max and instead suggests using fluctuating cycles to do so. The aforementioned percentages are each based on a 90% value of your 1RM and the idea is that after each cycle your theoretical 1RM should go up 10lbs (4.5kg) for your squat and deadlift, and 5lbs (2.25kg) for your bench and overhead press. Meaning, THEORETICALLY, a 130lb gain and a 65lb gain respectively in a year!

Alongside this I will be doing bodybuilding accessory movements, as advised in the programme, as this continues to be my primary long-term focus. In terms of these accessory movements, Joe Wendler leaves these primarily up to you; you can even choose just to leave after the three working sets of each lift, which makes sure that the workout regime is still enjoyable and customizable to each individual.

I shall be trying this for at least a good few months, and shall hopefully report to you guys soon on what I make of it any the progress made by then. In the meantime I would encourage all those curious about it or wanting to gain strength to try it out themselves and give your feedback on the routine. But remember: STAY BIG!



Personal Updates: 2. 2015: The Year of Numbers

“New Year. New Me”. How many times have you come across the saying? To be honest, I am all for New Year Resolutions, for example, this time last year it was my goals for 2014 that led me to go on my six month cutting transformation.

Now that I have gotten one of my biggest achievements in terms of fitness out of the way, it is hard to set the bar as high this year. But after much thinking, I believe I have come up with a few demanding yet achievable ones;

1. Squat – 140kg. This was and still is my PR that I had set more than 12 months ago, but since losing about 20kg one that I have struggled to come back to in the past year. I feel now, with my current best standing at around 110-120kg for 4 reps that at least by the end of this year, if not by summer, it is time to push on. Although matching a PR would not be considered ambitious, in my opinion achieving this at a much lighter bodyweight and a much healthier body fat level would be great.

2. Deadlift – 180kg. Ah deadlifts; my Marmite. Despite loving this compound lift for how its “manly” feel (it’s hard to explain), I have been stuck at just being able to shift just over three plates on either side for over a year now! To try and push on from this, I have already started incorporating more accessory movements to compliment with this lift and from now, may try to test my max once every 2-3 weeks.

3. Bench – 120kg. My bench has followed the same pattern as my squat: when it was up, it was up and when it was down, it was down (and when they were only half way up, they were neither up or down). As such I shall attempt to match my old bench PR whilst being lighter and to be honest will not be changing my routine much in trying to do so, apart from being more patient.

4. BW – close to 80kg. My ultimate goal is to weight 180lbs, around 82-85kg for us metric unit users, whilst being as lean as possible. Currently on a lean bulk, aiming to gain no more and no less than 0.3-0.7kg a month, I shall be crawling ever closer to this target weight before going on my next cutting/dieting phase.

Despite being a recreational bodybuilder, where the (wo)man in the mirror is more important than the weights you push, having these numbers as targets in my head will make it easier for me to make sure I am heading in the right direction and to track my progress as the year goes on.

I hope this has inspired you to think and create some goals for yourself this year, and I wish you the very best in trying to achieve them. Happy New Year!



Personal Updates: Starting to look like I lift

Last Tuesday marked a month since I first had the idea of starting a fitness blog and making that idea a reality. It also nicely coincides with my 8-week lean bulk “anniversary”. Yet in that short period so much has changed: commencing another academic year at University (and all the highs and lows that come with it), changing workout plans, changing gyms to name a few. Yet there were other things that have remained the same: the dedication and work ethic to progress and get closer in reaching my bodybuilding goals being a prime example. As such I have decided to dedicate this post to showing you guys my progress, in particular the effects, if any, that the changes in my life, however minute they may seem, have impacted my progress.

Since the “after” segment of my transformation picture (refer to the first post cover image) three months ago, I have spent a month travelling around Asia and a week visiting the beautiful Switzerland. Five weeks abroad without my food scale, working at a miniscule hotel gym and enjoying the finest local cuisine did have its toll on my physique but more so on my strength! I had no regrets (especially none about emptying out a Lindt store in Switzerland), but I predictably came back smaller and weaker than where I had left off. Subsequently, I have been on a lean bulk for 8 weeks now and plan to continue to do so for at least a yearIMAG1485, unless circumstances change. Unlike the last time I attempted a bulk, I have been closely monitoring my bodyweight. As a “wannabe” bodybuilder, the way in which I look should take priority over my body weight and my lifts, but the mind can be deceptive at the best of times. Tracking my bodyweight every morning (refer to the image on the right) allows me to know more accurately whether or not I have gained mass, if so how much and whether any changes need to be made in my diet as a result. In these initial 8 weeks, I have managed to gain 1.2kg, which is well within my 0.2-0.69kg per month limit.

As well as gaining overall mass, the bulk was aimed at bringing up specific body parts that were lagging behind. Being torso-dominant meant that my chest and back grew at a much faster pace than the likes of my arms and calves, creating a Johnny-Bravo type of look, which although did look cool in the cartoons, is not exactly the look I am trying to go for! I started training my back (which although may not be a lagging body part; you can never have a back too big), legs and arms twice a week for a while, but this proved to be too much of a step up. As a result, along with a complete change in my workout plan, I have recently dropped training legs twice a week back to once a week but it remains to be seen how that will affect my progress going forwards. For now though, as you can see from the photos below showing me at the end of my cutting phase compared to the images taken within the last week (Left: July 2014, Right: October 2014), my lats and arms have grown although there is definitely room for progress.



In terms of strength, a lot of progress has been made but at a much slower rate than normal. However this is to be predicted since the emphasis of my training has changed from being more strength-based with a mix of hypertrophy to being purely hypertrophy focused. Whereas I was benching 120kg for a 1-rep PR, I’ve been reduced to benching 50, 60 x3 and 70 kg for 15, 12, 10, 8 and 6 reps respectively. My squat and deadlift stats follow suit too. Likewise, the way in which I perform these lifts have changed with more emphasis being put on “feeling” the contraction of the target muscle group, rather than getting the weight up by any means possible.

Going forward, I probably will not be changing things much anytime soon (other than possibly increasing my calorie intake). One issue that will need to be resolved, would be my time-management and finding a consistent workout schedule where I can constantly give it my all. Either that, or I may be due a rest week, as I have been feeling strained lately, resorting to multiple cups of coffee in order to stay alert for University and get hyped enough to workout.

Feel free to share your progress or any comments you have in the comments below or on the facebook page.



Out with the old. In with the new

So this Monday was a special Monday for me. Had the same sleep-inducing lectures, the same lengthy practicals and even the same hefty workload, BUT I finally started a new workout plan! Okay, it isn’t exactly something to throw a party about, but it has genuinely been something I have looked forward to.

My previous plan, German Volume Training (or GVT for short), was one that I was recommended and have followed for about a year now! To break it down into simple terms, it involves selecting a few (mostly compound) exercises and following a 10×10 split. That’s 10 sets of 10 reps – so 100 reps for each exercise! Combine that with a three second negative on each repetition and you can understand why initially it was a complete shock to my body. However, as with all daunting challenges, I came out “the other side” a stronger man; the rate of improvement in both my strength and physique were unlike anything I had experienced beforehand. So why the change? In all honesty, I was asking myself the same thing in the weeks leading up to the big decision. But after just a week at University the signs were there that change was definitely needed. Such a high-volume workout requires time, time which was of abundance in the summer but certainly not in a packed 9am-5pm Uni timetable and weighty directed studies. The four hour workouts were increasingly becoming harder to fit in, and I even had to resort to training at 5am on occasion! This further compounded the issue of being mentally drained; often not looking forward to the next workout and thus not giving it my best.

Taking that significant step from knowing that change is needed to actually going about making those changes can be rather intimidating. It is “common knowledge” amongst bodybuilders that a change in your workout split routinely can actually be beneficial in recruiting different types of muscle fibres, yet I stuck with my split since last October, with good reason too; why fix something if it isn’t broken?! I was continually making progress from the start to the day I changed my plan and it was the fear of losing this that prevented me from making the switch sooner. The internet can be a great place, providing a number of workout routines, but it’s hard to siphon out what you think would actually work for you! Eventually, the aforementioned drawbacks alongside the extreme burnout forced my hand, and as such I am trying a new pyramid style training program.

The change in my training regiment coincides with a change in my gym. Moving back up to my university in Birmingham meant that I could afford to choose one of three options to be my new Mecca for working out. First of all, there was the student gym. Despite being the cheapest of them all and the most convenient (just two minutes from my student halls!), it was easy to discard training here for one simple reason; student gyms mean having to deal with student egos; guys who have no clue what they’re doing, spend more time flexing than actually working out and bite way more than they can chew! On the other hand, there was “The Gym” around 10 minutes walking distance, which should rather be described a fitness centre than an actual gym. The 30kg dumbbell limit, the lack of resistance equipment and the poor taste in music (I once saw an East-Asian couple dancing along to Gangnam Style!) are all bearable, but like the student gym, the crowd it attracts is its biggest downfall. Which leads me to EasyGym, a newly opened training facility in the city centre. Whilst being equidistant as The Gym from the University campus, it offers much more with respect to facilities with the weights climbing up to 50kg rather than the 30. Although that may not be of significance to me at the moment, the environment and the whole feel of the place are much better suited to me.

All these calculated changes should work in my favour in the long-run. It has only been a week since these changes have been implemented and although it is almost certainly too soon to make any comments on whether they are working, I am definitely enjoying my workouts again! Only time will tell whether my progress in physique will match my reignited motivation.

The Balancing Act

Last Sunday marked the start of yet another hectic year of my University year. Within this first week I have been flooded with full days of lectures, draining practicals and forced directed studies. Yet, amongst all this I expected myself to have now found a part time job and to continue to make progress in the gym. Unfortunately, this has been an issue that I have been unable to solve since embarking on my bodybuilding quest.

Within months, what started off as a half-hour social activity with friends became hour-long intense sessions. Today it is not unusual for me to spend around three hours per day at the gym, with my longest ever session at the gym during the summer clocking in at a whopping 255mins! You might be questioning what I may be doing in that time, even wondering whether I actually spend that time training or getting distracted by external factors. The truth is when you combine the time spent stretching, foam rolling (the importance of which will be discussed in a future post) and warming up, alongside the intense volume of my workout regiment, the four hours seem more reasonable.

Spending four hours may seem fine in a summer where time would otherwise be allocated to re-watching episodes of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air for the umpteenth time, but throw in a demanding University degree and it’s a whole different ball game. My second year was the perfect example of this. Being immersed in the “gym hype”, whilst still trying to recover from being the slob that I was during my first year, did not bode well academically. The time that was spent clubbing in the year prior, was now being allocated for working out. Although there may have been no hangover the next day, limiting myself to just 5 hours sleep was affecting both my muscle recovery and alertness during lectures.

This academic year, I had initially decided to work out BEFORE lectures, waking up at 5am, getting ready by 6.30 and back at 8.50. However after my first trial of this day plan last Wednesday, I’m not so sure. Granted I was able to fit my training, lectures and holy 8-hour sleeping window within the day, but there was not much time left to socialise and enjoy myself. Saying this, it is almost impossible to fit in all that we want to do within a day, and giving up social time for progress is a sacrifice I am more than willing to make.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to getting our priorities right. I remember being asked by friends whether it is possible to gain mass or lose fat WITHOUT stepping foot into the gym! Would you expect to earn your salary without actually working? We all have the same 24 hours, but it’s what you do with it that makes all the difference. Not many people are willing to sacrifice a night-out with friends for their own self-improvement at the gym. Even fewer would say “No” when pressured. There have been days when the motivation was lacking (especially last Wednesday), but just like with school and work, it WILL improve when you knuckle down.

Now that’s not to say I spend my days in solitary confinement, working, gymming and sleeping. I make sure I spend time with my closest of friends, and even have a designated cheat day once a week so I can fit that local Chinese buffet that has recently become our flat’s regular get-together. The best thing about it is, that full day of binge eating hardly sets me back (if at all) due to the hours of hard work and discipline I have been putting in the prior six days in that week! Being fortunate enough to have friends that appreciate what you do helps massively too, although that comes naturally when you associate yourself with like-minded individuals.

Whether I have got the balance finally right remains to be seen, with the initial major test coming up in the form of my January exams. Yet the initial signs seem to be encouraging. For those of you that want to get into shape but feel like you don’t have the time, please think again. Do you actually have no time? Or is that time being spent forming your Ultimate Team on FIFA, in the pub or any other activities that actually won’t aid you in achieving your goals?



And so it begins…

Hello! Welcome to my blog: Cakes to Weights. My name is Jadesh. Join me as I share with you my progression through the world of bodybuilding and attempt to fight my genetics to be the Asian Bond (the names Manivannan, Jadesh Manivannan – doesn’t work at all I know!).To start off, let me tell you a bit about myself and the story so far.

I first joined the gym slightly over 2 years ago! July 3rd 2012 – I remember the date clearly, as it was my birthday present to myself. At that time, I had just scraped through fresher’s year at University, spending most of my time partying hard at night, being too plastered to turn up to lectures and too broke to afford proper food. It was bad. REALLY bad. So bad that at it’s worst I was waking up at six in the evening, getting ready for pre-drinks at eight, clubbing from ten to five, before knocking out and repeating the cycle! All this mayhem on a student loan meant one thing; I was piss-broke, living off a portion of 99p chips and a can of baked beans a day!

UntitledNow, before University I was a stereotypical chubby Asian teen, always working hard academically and useless at sports, with the exception of swimming (got a kickstart with the extra bouyancy aka blubber). Being so poor at sports was down to a combination of two things; being lazy and my mum’s cooking! I know a lot of people post pictures on Instagram or write posts on Facebook showing off their family meals but boy does my mum know how to cook! From currys to cakes, she knew how to make the lot! And to such a high standard too! I was aware of the extra weight I was holding at the time, constantly being reminded at the school gymnasium changing rooms by my peers, but my parents were oblivious to it. More importantly, when I first brought up the idea of working out to them, they simply decline and told me to focus on my education. I’m glad they did as it’s worked and got me to the man I am today, but I’m sure you’ll understand my joy when I found out that I was losing weight at University surviving off chips and baked beans!

So why did I join the gym if I was losing weight anyway? Simply put, because I was bored at home in the Summer holidays and at the time, wanted to be away from the family as a rebellious adolescent teen. My first workout session was with my best mates from high school, and they all (unintentionally) showed me up for being so weak. Whilst they were busy curling 10kg on either side of a preacher bar for 10 reps, I could just about mange two reps of JUST the preacher bar! Whilst they were benching 60kg+ using a barbell, I couldn’t manage a single rep of the barbell! This is where my desire to start bodybuilding truly ignited, not just to attain that “Daniel Craig physique” but more importantly catch up with my friends!

I had my body fat measured at our next session together – 24% at 69kg! Granted, it was calculated using the untrustworthy hand-held body fat devices, but looking back I was there or thereabout. Hearing the personal trainer at that gym inform me that the measurements tend to be inaccurate after eyeing up my size in baggy clothes – I intentionally wore everything baggy to hide my size – had sparked the only decision I regret now. I was so focused on gaining strength and size that I decided to dirty bulk for a year and a half. All this was done just to catch up with the statistics some of my friends were claiming as their PR’s on certain lifts!

During the course of the year-and-a-half dirty bulk I shot up to 96kg at 35% bf! I was educating myself about the science behind fitness, but the mentality of “screw it, I’ve already been fat for 19 years, I can live with being fat for 2 years more” took over. My strength did go up, but not as much as it should have. I was eating way too much just to ensure I was well within a caloric surplus making sure I conformed to the “1lb of protein per lb body mass” rule, but my training was poor.

This was when I came across Mike, a personal trainer at the gym near my University. He introduced me to what I thought was a crazy new workout routine, leading to all sorts of strength gains! I had initially been pessimistic with the routine thinking that the volume was not high enough, but by the first week all thought of the regime not working was dismissed and replaced with fear of the next session after suffering from severe DOMS (Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness)! It was all worth it in the end as my statistics shot up in just 12 weeks:

Before – Bench PR 80kg; Squat PR 100kg; Deadlift PR 120kg

After – Bench PR 120kg, Squat PR 140kg, Deadlift PR 150kg

Despite the huge strength progress, I was extremely insecure about my physique. But, the decision to go on a cutting phase was brought about over a Christmas dinner when my mum told me bluntly “Stop eating, you’re fat”. You know its bad when an Asian mother comments on your size! As such, I contacted Mike, who helped me out and I went on a 6 month cut. Which leads me to where I am today, having finished the cut and starting a lean bulk phase, and transitioned from a 96kg 35%bf beefcake to a respectable 70kg 10-12%bf!

And this is just the start! Unfortunately, I can’t go into too much detail in one post but join me as I continue pursuing my dream, sharing what I’ve learnt in the process and maybe even inspire you to make a change! I am ecstatic to share my journey, and I welcome and encourage all feedback!