Tag Archives: Fitness

Exercise. Workout. Train.

There are three types of mindsets that can be found in the gym. The ones who exercise. The ones who workout. The ones who train. These are not individuals, they are motivation, goals, and style. They are a mindset that drives, controls, contributes to the individual. Some will see these are the same, but they are very different.

Gotta Exercise

Those entering the gym with a mindset to exercise are there against their will. Perhaps a doctor has told them to lose weight or get in shape for health. These individuals walk on the treadmill and talk or read. There is no focus on what they are doing.

Results?

Even when they exercise for years, there is little to no change. They may lose a few pounds, have slight improvements in their blood pressure, or a better endurance system, but overall nothing really happens and they may get fatter. Drugs will become a permanent part of their lives to control the health issues they have. Filled with processed wheat products and sugar, their diets also reflect their lack of commitment. Eventually they stop going to the gym, but keep paying because “one day” they will return.

Wanna Workout

When a bit more commitment and focus is applied to the Exercise Mindset it grows into Workout mode. These individuals come in two varieties: the Fearful and the Crazy.

It is an interesting consequence of the modern world that the Fearful Workout Mindset is dominated by women. Though it has been demonstrated for decades that it takes incredible genetics and drugs to get bulky, these women believe the myth and fear the free weights. They will do their cardio for a long time and then do some like work with weights. Depending on where they start, they will see some results then hit a plateau and stay there. Why? Because they are afraid of lifting heavy like they should. “Don’t want to be bulky.”

And the Crazy?

These are the men and women who flock into CrossFit and WOD/WOW. They will do cardio to warm up, stretch, and then start slinging weights around like they are toys. Injuries start the arrive when they really push through barriers. Their routines are either always in flux or are long and filled with everything. If 10 sets of curls are good, doing 20 sets must be better. Right broh?

The Workout crowd also have interesting diets. No carb. Low carb. No carbs after 6. All carbs for breakfast. Paleo. Veg. Whatever is popular this week. Read articles in four different magazines and combine them. The over analysis can become addictive. What are the goals? Hard to tell. Each week brings a new idea, challenge, goal, level, etc.

Must Train

The last mindset is the most intense and consuming. Every action is calculated to a particular goal. There is no waste or time for fooling around. Some will measure every meal; others will just listen to their needs. Routines come in a variety of flavors: low rep/long rest/heavy weight, high rep/short rest, 4x, pyramiding, 5×5, German Volume Training, speed reps, partial reps. It matters not what they use, they all get results.

The Training mindset keeps records of every routine, daily measurements of weight and body fat, and self reflection (sometimes quite literally in the mirror). Everything is reviewed to see if it is pushing toward the goal. Doesn’t matter if the goal is one rep max improvement, new personal record, bodybuilding, power lifting, reduced run distance time, jump higher or further, or fitting into a particular clothing size. The goals are as various as the individuals with the Mindset, but the drive is the same. It is not something they have to do. It is something they must do. Nothing else matters but reaching the goal.

One might conclude that the Training mindset would burn an individual out due to the intensity. A few do. A very few. The mindset to Train, to be Better, to reach Goals, to go Further, becomes a lifelong companion. Once a goal is reached, another is set. Some goals have urgency, while others are more long term. The Train mindset is all consuming, but it empowers the Individual to keep Succeeding, to keep Reaching, to keep Going. It is the best Mindset to have. It is the only Mindset to have.

Want to be Better? Want to have More? Want to do More? Want to Reach? Let the Training Mindset in.

Brainmuffin: The Renaissance (Polymath) Nerd

NERD
NERD (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Europe had several periods of Renaissance starting in the 12th century. It is the Italian Renaissance of the 15th century with which many are familiar. During the later period, a person who had expertise in several areas of study was called a Polymath. The common term that later came to use was Renaissance Man.

Computer Nerd

Over the years my areas of study and interest has been varied. In high school, as I was too shy to ask girls out, computers became my first interest. Though we didn’t own one, I knew several people who did and my school in Maryland (Smithsburg High School) had an Apple ][, while my high school in Germany (Patch American High School) had Atari 800s. Friends had these as well as Vic 20 and Texas Instruments TI-99/4a. Through all these varied machines, I learned aspects of BASIC. I also learned a bit of PILOT and LOGO. Thousands of lines of code were written on paper and never typed in. I made my own adventure games and even a few graphics ones. Mid-way through my senior year I finally got over my nerves and asked a girl out on a date. Thus a second subject of study entered my life.

My major in college was Computer Science. One does not get much more nerd than that, do they? College  focused and channeled my analyzing skills and matured my coding practice. My interest in Math also expanded and it nearly became a minor. Learning from where various formulas that I had learned over the years derived open a new world. Math explained so much about the underpinnings of the Universe. Women remained unsolved, even after I met my wife.

My Own Beer

In the early 90s I took a job at the University of Tennessee in the Library Systems department. Though I went there to offer my skills for their various development needs, my world would soon expand into the area of homebrew beer. The first few batches were nothing to write home about, but with more practice and research, I was soon being asked questions by those who got me started. When I moved to Marion, Ohio to work for Macola Software, there too I had homebrewers who had been at it for years asking me how I did things. True, I was still using extract, but the recipes were mine and showed my talents for cooking. Over the years my expertise would expand to amateur judging and all grain. I even had Charlie Papazian answer tweets and get me started as the Cincinnati Craft Beer Examiner. If you want to while away some time talking about beer, I’m all ears (and mouth).

Lift Them Weights

I was first introduced to lifting iron in 7th grade gym class. I wouldn’t get another fix for a couple more years when my dad brought a used weight set home. In 1983, the move to Germany meant they went to storage and I lifted very little. I would not start lifting seriously again until the summer of 1990.

The second foray into weight lifting slowly grew into an obsession. The first catalyst was purchasing a copy of Muscle and Fitness. Though I had little variety in equipment, the magazine had ideas I could adapt and meals gave me ideas on what to eat. Eventually, I was eating a great deal more and taking the occasional weight gainer. Weider’s magazine had information on many areas and I was an adept student.

My first gym membership came in 1994. Here I had access to lots of free weights and great machines. Over the next few years I would gain 20 pounds, mostly muscle. I hovered in the mid-190s in weight for years, but I never did get to body weight on bench press, squat and dead lift. Most of the routines I was doing were of the higher, lighter weight variety.

Time passed and we moved a few times more. Gym memberships came and went, though I did buy 200 pounds of dumbbells along the way. For much of that time, I thought there not much left to learn about weight lifting. About two years ago, I again starting reading Iron Man Magazine. The writers had changed since my last subscription and many of them were in their 40s and 50s. As joints were no longer up to heavy lifting, the routines reflected a switch to higher volume with less rest. Starting what I could at home, I rebuilt muscle and drop some weight. A membership at a new gym was soon added and my journey from 200 to 217 began.

Over the course of this year, my knowledge expanded into the area of StrongLift’s 5×5. After some prodding my a co-worker, I finally gave it a try. As I was used to lighter weights, I started low. Eventually though, I would hit body weight on dead lift, with squats closed behind. As for bench, my left shoulder needs more strengthening before that will happen. 135 pounds offers a very good workout at 5 reps and 3 sets.

Nutrition has also expanded in knowledge and I’ve dropped my body fat from 28% to 20%. The struggle becomes tougher here though and the goal is 15%. I’m collecting all the knowledge I can to get lower without sacrificing the muscle I’ve gained.

And women?

I have learned much there too and what I know I cannot share. Their quirks no longer frustrate and I’ve turned it into entertainment. Motivating people is still difficult.

Long way nerd

The journey over over 30 years has taken this nerd a long way. Yeah, I’m still dorky and those who know me don’t hesitate to remind me. I can still talk your ear off, especially about computers, programming, beer, fitness, nutrition, cars, the weather, the law of cosines, the beauty in Calculus…..

 

Finally Reaching Below Average

Though I’ve been recording my workouts for over a year, it wasn’t until I started using the Multi-Year application on my iPhone that I started to see some more improvements. I installed this application a few weeks ago and have been using the Big 6 program.

Once installed, the Multi-Year asked a few questions: weight, height, age, diameter of the wrist and diameter above the ankle. It uses these various measurements to determine where to start. A long read through the website will tell you want it does with all that information. No worries. Let’s go.

Being 6’5″, 215, and 45 years old, my strength pretty much sucked. For many days, the charts showed be below above average. Not fully sure what that mean (see long website pages for that). I charged my macros, thanks much to My Fitness Pal, and my strength started to climb and my body fat percentage slowly dropped. So did the pounds. Within two weeks, I was done nearly 5 pounds. When the weight started to come back on a bit, it was all muscle. This past week my body fat percentage dropped before 21% for the first time. Excitement.

Having returned to weight lifting more than a year ago, it is quite wonderful to finally be up to below average. My new charts looks like this:

photo photo 2

 

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Adding 30 Pounds To Squat

English: weight lifting
English: weight lifting (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The need to change workout routines differs between people. Some like to do the same routine for months, sometimes for years. There is debate as to whether the body adjusts and stops responding or not. For me, I get bored, so switching every 6 to 8 weeks is a requirement. It is time to address the leg routine and make some changes. The previous routine served well.

What to do?

Looking through several issues of Iron Man Magazine did yield several interesting ideas. As the previous routine was built on articles by Steve Holman, a different author may provide new insight, new ideas. The May 2013 issue, the one with Samantha Ann Leete on the cover and her awesome interview and pictorial inside, contained the winning routine. I’ll write more about the lovely Samantha later.

The article by Roger Lockridge is titled “30 in 30” and aims to add 30 pounds to your squats in 30 days. That is some tall claim. When I first read the article in April (that’s when the May issue arrived), I was more into Steve’s routines, so there was no impetus to install it into the workouts. The time for change has now come.

The routine is brutal with rest periods of only 1 minute or 90 seconds, depending on the exercises being performed. It is centered around the squat, duh, using the leg press as a method to really burn the leg muscles. Leg curls and extensions are first used to warm the muscles, not as a pre-exhaust, and then as a finishing super set. The calves too get their our exercise at the end.

My gym does not have a seated calf raise, so standing raises are used as a substitute. Here is the routine I’m following every 4 days.

  • Leg extension (warmup) 2×20
  • Seated leg curls (warmup) 2×20
  • Squats (light to heavy to 1 rep max)
    • Light 2×10
    • Heavier 2×5
    • Very Heavy 2×3
    • 1 Rep Max 2×1
  • Super set
    • Leg presses (feet high, close) 3×15,12,10
    • Leg presses (feet low, wide) 3×15,12,10
  • Super set
    • Leg extensions 3×25
    • Leg curls 3×25
  • Calf raises 4×20

Rest for a full minute between warmup sets and 90 seconds between work sets. This isn’t a power lifting routine, so don’t let your heart rate drop.

Time to move some iron.

 

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Stretching The Chest

English: an exercise of chest
English: an exercise of chest (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It has been 2.5 months since June’s “Time To Move To Heavy” and the updated chest workout. The moving to heavier weights and 45 second rests lead to good gains in size and strength. Eight weeks is long enough for the same workout and it is time to confuse the body with an update.

This time around, it is time to raise the intensity and simplify the routine. This new routine will be a combination of TORQ and 4x, keeping in mind the principles of doing Mid-Range, Stretch and Contraction in a routine. The chest workout, therefore, become three sets of three exercises. No super-sets and no negative only.

Flat bench press

Start with a mid-range movement and do sets in a pyramiding 3×8 still. The first set should be a weight that can be done for twelve reps. The rep cadence is 1 second positive and 2 seconds on the negative. Stop at 8, rest for 40 seconds and add 5 pounds to each side before doing next set.

Declined Flyes

Next is stretch movement is next. Bring the dumbbells up and keep to the 1 second positive/2 seconds negative pass. As the weights finish straight above the chest in a nearly press position, there is very little contraction here. The set is 3×10 with the same weight each time. Finish all three sets? Add weight at the next training session.

Pec Deck

The last exercise brings TORQ into the picture. The 1 second/2 second cadence is still used, but the number of reps increases to 30 for the first set, 20 on the second and 15 on the final. As with the second set, if the number of reps is reached, add weight at the next workout. Be sure to compress at the top of the move and pause for nearly a second there. Getting over 100 seconds in the set time for the first set should easily be reached.

Push this routine for at least 4 weeks and look to change after 6. Here’s a recap:

  • Flat bench presses  3×8 – adding 5 pounds each set
  • Declined Flyes  3×10
  • Pec Deck  3×30,20,15
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