Julia Ladewski: The Road to Super Strength at Superhero Leanness
It’s been exactly one year since that fateful day that my husband suggested that we try this “back-loading” thing. I had some great success in the first 6 months, leaning out, getting stronger and still able to eat some of my favorite foods at night. As always, things will vary from person to person.
As Kiefer mentioned in the CBL book, it was originally written to be geared towards men, and while I don’t like that we women can’t eat a whole pizza for backloading, I’m still uber happy with the results and food choices.
The first 6 months
April through September was mostly just learning and getting used to the system. During this time frame, I adjusted to training fasted (except for coffee and cream) and figuring out which foods to eat during the day that were non-insulin spiking. Results were slow going, but good.
During this time frame, I traveled a few times which forced me to learn how to eat on the go.
In September, I had hit a point in which I was the leanest (while also maintaining ALL of my muscle). Then I started to take more notice of the type of carbs I was eating at night. I still had ice cream once a week and a few other things that I love, but I started to actually want and crave things like sweet potatoes or maybe some fruit. My body weight stayed the same and strength levels were good. In November, I started preparing for a meet in April.
During January and February, I hit some major PR’s during training. Some were legit all-time PR’s (from when my bodyweight was 138-140 and before kids) and some were “new” PR’s (after kids at a body weight of 128-130). So with training on track and backloading keeping my strength levels high, I was ecstatic with how things were going. During this 2 month time frame, I began back loading only 4 nights a week. Since I train in the mornings, I began experimenting with back loading the night before training sessions.
While my bodyweight continued to hold steady (between 128-130), I wasn’t as lean as I was in September. Some of it probably had to do with getting a little lax in my back loading nights and “justifying” certain foods.
The end of March marked one year (and lots of experimenting) of CBL. During this month, I started focusing on making my fats and proteins equal and keeping my carbs ultra-low on certain nights. On my backload nights, I kept carbs between 100-140, which isn’t much compared to what some men can eat.
The last week of March marked about 2.5 weeks until my competition. I was contemplating between going low carb for the next couple weeks or just waiting until 5 days out and manipulating my water (which is what I typically do). The only thing I’ve never had success with in the past is putting the weight back on to feel strong again.
We opted to do ultra low carb with a few random carb nights thrown in there, depending on my weight. I continued to train hard and heavy and my strength was right on par. Actually, better than I expected. I thought being low carb would send my strength into the crapper, but it was quite the opposite. I ended up making my weight exactly 1 week out from meet day, which put me in cruise mode for weigh-ins. I could eat, drink and be merry the rest of the week with no major stress of cutting weight.
The week leading up to the meet, my weight was very much on track. So much so that I was able to have two light backloads on Monday and Wednesday and still made weight on Friday morning. Friday consisted of refeeding starting around noon. Recovery drink, bananas, eggs, bacon and hash browns for lunch. More recovery drink and then a burger and fries for dinner with dessert.
The morning of the meet, I didn’t have much of an appetite. I never do. Since I train on coffee and cream in the mornings anyway, my body was pretty used to this. Mid day, about half way through the meet, I had a (good) burger and fries and some graham crackers with more recovery drink. My strength was dead on. I couldn’t have felt better. My body was prepped and primed in the BEST possible way.
As for the lifting itself, things went well. Squats were good, but a slight shift on my 2nd attempt apparently locked up my lower back. Didn’t notice it until the bench press where I arch a lot to get the most leverage. I still benched a PR (personal record) but decided to pass on my third attempt in order to be able to still get in a decent deadlift. Got some massage work done before the deadlifts and I managed two decent pulls before scratching my third attempt.
Overall, it was a great meet. I got an ELITE total in my third weight class (123) and still benched a PR. My strength gains were through the roof…. at a lighter weight!! I’m actually 10-12 pounds lighter than what I was before having kids… and my strength is better. Not to mention, I finally have a six-pack.
Thank you Kiefer for all your help, coaching and support.
Julia Ladewski is a certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist and Program Director of a Parisi Speed School. She is a sponsored athlete and Q&A member of the world’s leading strength website EliteFTS.com.