How I’m Achieving Upper-Echelon Fitness

My goal is to look like a demi-god

It’s been two months since I left America

I have another month to go. During my time here, my life has changed for the better, shifting to a routine more in-line with my ultimate goals:

  • Write for a living
  • Get shredded AF
  • Have an amazing relationship with my main girl Jess

I am now engaged to my beautiful Jess and I have a potential client in the works for my freelance writing business. Now it’s time to get obsessed with my physique.

Truthfully, I have improved since touching down in Cape Town. I am leaner, I still have my strength and muscle from years of weightlifting, and I am most definitely more active here than I was in the States.

However, I want more. I am dedicated to pushing my limits, tweaking my routine, and building a body most people will only dream of achieving.

Here is how I hope to create my kickass physique:

It will be a combination of how I eat and how I train. I am a major proponent of calories in vs. calories out. Therefore, that is my main goal. Everything I do will be directly related to this principle.

Calories In

FOOD. Everybody’s favorite thing to consume and least favorite thing to plan.

I’m not about to eat 1300 calories per day for the sake of a six pack. Instead, I will utilize some tools to make sure I don’t overeat.

The first tool is Intermittent Fasting. I have written multiple articles on this topic, so I’ll leave the heavy lifting to my past work. Essentially, I won’t eat food until later in the day. Specifically, from 7 AM to 1 PM, the only things I will ingest will be water, coffee, and my new “Elixir” that helps ramp up my metabolism.

This forces me to have two big, fulfilling meals with minimal snacking (a.k.a. the bane of my existence). Minimizes the amount of times I eat also shortens the total amount of food I can consume in a given day.

The second tool is being 80% vegan. I have written about this too. During my stay in South Africa, I have found what foods make me feel good (chickpeas) and what foods make me feel like absolute shit (dairy). The result is an 80% vegan approach to my diet. Fresh fruit and veggies, alternative protein sources like legumes, and some complex carbs.

Will I eat chicken from time to time? Hell yeah! My fiance Jess cooks too well to avoid certain foods 100% of the time. Everything in moderation.

And so 80% whole foods and grains it is. Combining this with intermittent fasting means I eat a ton of low-calorie foods twice daily. These two tools together really helps with keeping a calorie count below your daily expenditure without having to count calories!

The third tool, as I mentioned briefly before, is this newly-discovered “Elixir.” A potent combination of all-natural ingredients you can find in any kitchen, it tastes like cider. It also boosts your metabolism, anti-inflammatory, and cleanses your body. If you want to know exactly what goes into this mystical, magical potion, check it out on my Patreon account. For a single dollar, you’ll get access to the recipe and my notes on how to use it.

Calories Out

This is the fun stuff. While nutrition is 85% of how you look, it isn’t inherently eye-catching. I mean, which is more entertaining: Watching someone chop up carrots and potatoes or watching someone perform one-arm chin-ups?

Nutrition is the single most important area for an upper-echelon body. Once you have your principles established, then you can move on to calories out.

Moving my body. People underestimate the power of the walk. The single best exercise for your well-being, moving in any way keeps your body loose and limber, burns calories while keeping hunger down, and gets you out in nature, a much-needed bonus for that Vitamin D.

Me attempting crow on a cliff…

Walking, running, playing sports, HIIT…any cardio I love to do is excellent for calories out. The key is “any cardio I love to do.” If I hate soccer, I won’t play soccer. If I enjoy walks and HIIT, then dammit that’s what I’ll do. Move yourself in ways that make your body and brain feel amazing.

(For extra results, I’ll do cardio while fasted. The calories burned in a fasted state will come from fat cells, ergo fat loss.)

Resistance training is another aspect of a built physique. I can accomplish this in a few ways. However, seeing as I am constantly on the go, I have zero access to a legitimate gym.

So I do calisthenic movements. Push-ups, pull-ups, dips, squats, and more. An array of complex exercises that avoids isolation movements. It strengthens my body as it was built to be.

But how do I progress in this? Remember, in order to build a better physique, you have to get better at whatever it is that you do. Don’t expect to do the same thing over and over again and expect different results, you insane person you.

I will progress by upping the difficulty of the movement. For example, if I “master” the regular pull-up (three sets of 12–15 reps), then I will move on to the L-sit chin-up. I will build strength in this movement (3 sets of 3–5 reps) and then move up to the muscle building range (3×8–15). I will continue to do this until I am at one-armed chin-ups. If I can do 3×15 on one-arm chin-ups, I must have the strength and the muscle necessary to do that.

If I get to insane actions like freeform handstand push-ups, single-bar behind the back dips, and one-armed chin-ups, and I can rep them within the muscle-building range of 8–15 repetitions, your boy is going to look massive for my size.

To summarize my daily rules and principles:

  • Intermittent fast from 7 AM to 1 PM
  • Eat an 80% vegan diet
  • Drink my “Elixir” 2–3 times
  • Walk or run in the morning while fasted
  • Walk/run 7.5+ miles
  • Resistance train with progressive overload

I am able to follow all of these principles except for the last one. Once I make the Elixir part a habit, it should improve my recovery from muscle soreness, allowing my to do calisthenics every 24 hours. For now, I will continue to have rest days. I will let you all know when I change to daily workouts.

It’s a crazy amount of movement and a decent amount of healthy eating, but I believe to get to the top of something you must be willing to push your limits and go beyond your comfort zone.

Walking and running for at least 7.5 miles each and every day is not normal for me. Working out my entire body daily is not what my body is used to. But these are things you need to experience an upper-echelon physique.

J. D. Lyda is the most passionate health and fitness writer in the world. Check out his site to see how he creates engaging articles and kickass social media. Feel free to contact J. D. Lyda to see if he can rep out consistent, quality content for you. Follow him on Instagram for fitness and nutrition advice and motivation!

If you feel the pain and want to transform your body and push your limits, feel free to check out my Patreon page for extra goodies, more written content, and personal programs.

How I’m Achieving Upper-Echelon Fitness was originally published in The Mission on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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