Yoo, this is a thread I've lurked in from time and time for a while, and it's always been pretty motivating to see the vastly different goals everyone has and the progress they've made. On top of that kind of supportive vibe has always been super cool to me so keep up the good stuff bros.
I've never made a post here myself, but most of my good friends on here can attest to how much I love fitness, lifting more specifically. Always just been a great outlet and a way to make me feel more productive in my spare time. I 'started' lifting around my freshman year of high school, although it's kind of hard to really call it starting out considering I wasn't consistent in any capacity and my form was naturally pretty bad on a lot of stuff. As a super skinny kid who usually worked out with my older brother and his varsity football friend, being the weakest one by far was super frustrating for me and I'd try a bit too hard to compensate when it came to the amount of weight I'd try on whatever exercise and all that. I did develop some baseline strength, but that phase of a couple years culminated in me really fucking up one of my rotator cuffs, mostly because my bench form was super bad and all that mattered to me was the numbers.
I'd say I started taking this truly 'seriously' in my senior year or so once I had recovered a bit, and by that I mean going to work out consistently like 5-6 days a week. Between then and now, where I'm a senior in college, there were a bunch of bulks and cuts to get to where I am today. When I say bulks and cuts, that's a pretty loose term because until recently I really had no idea what I was doing nutrition wise, and that definitely showed. I wouldn't track anything so I'd be eating way over or way under without much of an understanding in any capacity beyond raw protein totals. Still, with enough consistency for all these years and an alright routine, I did make some decent progress, but it's been night and day compared to years before when it comes to this cut and bulk. I really can't stress enough how much tracking eating helps out, whether it's getting the right amount of raw calories, looking more closely at macronutrients, or simply deterring you away from bad food options. I know I know it's tedious, but I highly recommend it.
Just for some background, the reason I started tracking things in the first place was because last year I went fucking crazy when it came to getting raw calories on my last bulk. Large pizzas, triple cheeseburgers, etc. etc. all on a consistent basis. I guess it's worth noting that I'm 6'4" / 193 CM tall, so naturally with some muscle, I was pretty heavy too. As a result, my caloric maintenance threshold is super high compared to a regular person, especially with the activity level that comes with it. Putting on weight had always been super hard for me because of my previously crazy metabolism too, so I always valued those raw calories a bit too much. I want to say at the end of summer 2019, I was around 205 lbs., which is pretty normal. Bulk lasted for a while, eating loads of garbage, and by February I was right around 230 lbs. and my god it was not a good 230. My main goal through it was to bench 300 lbs, which when I started out, I never thought would be even remotely possible, since the first time I ever tried, my max was 85 lbs at age 14 or so. But yeah, I ended up losing like all definition and my strength stagnated a lot unsurprisingly. My max on bench at the end was still 285 lbs, a weight I hit at around 215 lbs the year before, so it was incredibly frustrating.
This is already way longer than I was expecting, but ugh. Long story short is: I used the quarantine as a time to develop some better eating habits and put more of an emphasis on endurance training when gyms were closed down. I didn't have much of a choice ofc since at a certain point that's what body weight training purely becomes to some extent, but it was a massive blessing in disguise. I did an absolute fuck ton of pushups and ended up dropping 30 lbs over the next 7 months or so. Gyms opened up again somewhere in there and my strength barely fell off at all which came as a big surprise to me. Giving your body a long rest from those heavier lifts can be hard to accept, but it was definitely a positive when looking back along with the extra endurance from all those pushups.
It really was the best I had ever felt, and that aspect didn't come as much of a shock. Though, more than anything I wanted to have a truly calculated bulk where I could go for that 300 lb mark on bench again, without shoveling garbage in my mouth in the process. My god whoda thunk that it would really help out. I've been eating just under 4000 calories for the last 5ish months, gaining 20ish lbs back, but also gained a lot of strength in the process and not gaining *too* much bodyfat. So yeah, I'm sitting just under 220 lbs currently, and ended up hitting 300 lbs on bench in mid December at around 217 or so (compared to benching 285 at 230 body weight the year before). It meant a lot to me after all that frustration and re-evaluation along the way, especially since it was the only real strength goal I've ever had. Well, aside from the 315 lbs I'm reeeeally hoping to hit by the end of this program I started up 4 weeks ago. Part of the reason I started this program though was I started to develop some nagging pain in one of my bicep areas. I wanted to focus a bit more on endurance after going so heavy so consistently for so long, and despite it working, it was definitely my biggest mistake this bulk. However, I'm feeling good again and this program, which mainly pushed me to do some 'easier' weights till fail usually for 4 sets, has helped me out a lot in getting back into it as it starts to ramp up again.
Anyway enough rambling, cool thread sirs. I can't stress enough how much of a revelation relatively cleaner and calculated eating has been for me and naturally I'd imagine it would have the same impact on anyone else here that it's been a big hurdle for.