Akash Vaghela’s Off Season Blog: The Road To Cali, Part 2

How Akash pushed himself too hard and reached burnout.

Akash Vaghela Akash Vaghela · 09 May 2018

Akash’s Blog Advanced
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I posted the first instalment of the ‘Road To Cali’ back at the end of February with the goal of driving up my indicator lifts as much as possible.

I set ten week goals on the following lifts:

RDL – 150kg x 6

Hack Squat – 4 plates x 8

DB Floor Press – 55kg x 8

Up until 4 weeks ago, I was on track and confident about crushing the goals I set myself.

While they were ambitious, they were well within sight.

However, life got in the way, and it didn’t quite pan out like I’d hoped for. Out of the three goals, I only got the RDL, which came as a nice surprise during the last workout before the trip.

So what happened?


The plan initially was to continue to push hard on the calories and work my bodyweight up towards 200lbs. This was working well, and I peaked again at 199lbs, but in better condition compared to last year. I was at my strongest, and was feeling really good about my strength gains.

About a day after I reached this, I needed to change strategy. Fast.

We’d booked a promotional video shoot on the 15th April and because of the magnitude of the project, I needed to lose body fat for it. About 10-12lbs worth, and I only had 4-5 weeks to do it. I didn’t need to be super lean, but I needed to sharpen up my face.

For the goals I set myself, this wasn’t ideal, as I knew I’d need to diet hard in order to get there.

And diet hard I did. A little too hard!

I covered the dieting aspect in my intermittent fasting experiment series (part 1 and part 2), which ultimately served as a great eye-opener for me in terms of work output and productivity.

To recap, I’d fast from 7.30/8pm to 11/11.30am the next day, with a macronutrient intake of 150-170g protein, 200-250g carbohydrates and 40-50g fat.

The range depended on the week I was in, but for the most part, I was on the bottom end.

In addition to the diet, I also added cardio into the mix, which consisted of LISS 4 to 5 days a week for 20 to 30 minutes, and HIIT twice a week for 10 to 15 minutes.

For the first 3 weeks, this was working great. I was dropping body fat rapidly, I was at my all time strongest, and I was firing on all cylinders.

In week 4 (the week before the shoot), I started to feel a bit more fatigue than normal.

Stress was getting higher with the business.

The calorie deficit was kicking in.

The sprints were becoming a drag.

Against the advice of my coach Derek, I continued to push on. I had the goal of the video shoot to work towards, so my aim was to keep going until then and back off after.

Over the next week, it got worse. My left eyelid began to twitch continuously throughout the day. I was waking up everyday feeling like a bus had hit me, and I couldn’t keep my eyes open during the day.

But I still pushed.

I wanted to get the maximum amount of body fat off before the shoot.

One day I even did 30 minutes LISS in the morning, 2 hours of intense legs in the afternoon and then 3 hours of indoor skiing in the evening.

The morning after, I did 15 minutes of HIIT with 60 minutes of LISS.

I knew that day I shouldn’t have done the cardio, but I didn’t listen to my body.

The next day I dropped 1.5kg overnight. Two days later I dropped another kilo.

This wasn’t body fat. Now I was tapping into precious muscle mass, and I was done.

I walked into the gym and lost 3 reps on everything. Everything felt like a ton of bricks, and after failing spectacularly on the hack squat, I walked out mid way through and took a full week off training. I needed it badly.

I’d reached burnout, had overreached and maybe even dipped into a state of overtraining.

The lesson learned?


Listen to my body!

You can’t outsmart your body. When your body is giving you feedback, listen to it. As soon as my eyes started twitching and my sleep quality went into the gutter, I should’ve backed off then.

I should have listened to my coach. The objective feedback is why coaching is so valuable, but I was stubborn and now I regret it. I was a bad client!

While it’s annoying, it’s part of the journey, and forms part of a steep learning curve.

In fact, on a recent RNT Fitness Radio podcast with Dave Tate, we asked him what his thoughts were on what it takes to coach an athlete from good to great.

His answer was interesting. He spoke about the ability to back off, and more importantly, knowing when to back off, as being the greatest determinant in their success. Otherwise, 
their motivation and ability to apply high levels of focused intensity can be their downfall.

At the time I didn’t think too much of it. But looking back, he was right on the money.

Concluding Thoughts


Cali’s arrived, and the road to PRs ended up being a road to burnout. I succeeded in looking my best for the video shoot, but failed from a performance perspective.

This experience reaffirmed to me something I’ve learnt the hard way again and again, which is that stress is stress, and your body can’t differentiate between stresses in your life.

While my diet and cardio set up weren’t extreme by any stretch, the stress of the calorie deficit coincided with a sudden surge in stress in both my business and personal life.

This simultaneous increase and ultimate culmination in stresses all at once eventually just caused shut down.

Let’s hope I don’t make this mistake again. This has taught me to become more in sync with my body, pay attention to biofeedback and know that sometimes, less is more!

What’s Next?


The plan now is to enjoy the California trip, and then start to build the weights back up slowly over the summer and aim to hit the targets I set myself in July.

While away, I plan to train 3 days a week, but it’ll likely be freestyled workouts with a focus on getting a big a pump as possible for the beach!

Akash VaghelaAkash Vaghela

Akash Vaghela has spent 10+ years transforming bodies and lives around the world, and in May 2017, founded RNT Fitness to serve this purpose. His vision is to see a world transformed, where ambitious high performers experience the power of the physical as the vehicle to unlock their real potential. He’s the author of the Amazon best-sellilng book Transform Your Body Transform Your Life, which explains his unique and proven five-phase methodology, is host of the RNT Fitness Radio podcast, has been featured in the likes of Men’s Health and BBC, whilst regularly speaking across the world on all things transformation.

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