Tag Archives: Health

Breaking Frustration

The shortened and delayed ski season we experienced this year did much to create havoc for my fitness. A few months before the season started, I switched from a strength based 5×5 varient (Mad Cow) to one more oriented to endurance. The plan was quite simple. Build strength and mass during the off season, then get the muscles ready to spend 8 hours on skis during a weekend shift. It seemed like a good idea, but it didn’t work.

Going into the switch, I had the momentum in my favor. My body fat percentage was hovering around 15% and showed signs of dropping lower. My abs were starting to make an appearance and my waist looked to stay under 34 inches. My one rep max on dead lift of 250 became my 3 rep. My squat wanted to stay above body weight and even 225s were recorded. Only my bench suffered a bit due to my left shoulder weakness. Goals were reached. Looked good.

Pushing heavy weights around is very different from pushing snow for hours. Sure, strength does help, but so does balance and finesse. Mark Rippetoe speaks on how it is easier to build endurance from strength than it is the other way around. Looking at the calendar and the goals I had reached, I decided it was time to switch. Workouts became more 4x oriented. I knew some strength would drop, the amount was one I did not realize.

Normally by mid-December, the ski season is well underway. This year, December closed and being open was not near. The first week in January saw a hand-full of runs open, but nothing upon which we could train. Not until the latter half of January did the hill get opened and ski training could really start. By this time, it had been over 8 weeks since my last heavy sessions. During a busy ski season, this isn’t a problem as long hours in boots and on the hill have made up for it. Not this year. This year, my fitness started to drop far too much. Pants became tighter and the wrong kind of weight showed up.

After the season was over, I tried returning to the Mad Cow 5×5 program, but my heart was not in it. Looking for a change, I decided on some German Volume Training. The first two weeks were good, but as time went on, my ability to meet the required schedule for the training sessions to be of their greatest value waned. GVT without the volume is missing the key component. Though the workouts were good, my charts remained flat and my body fat percentage was still going the wrong way.

Time for a change.

Today I decided to return to the Mad Cow 5×5 with a reset to workout A. The gym was crowded, so I started on the leg press to get warmed up and stretched. Once the rack became available, I started in on the squats. I made my way up to 170 x 5 on the final set and things felt tough, but good. During the rest period between squats and bench press, I decided to make another change: make this an actual leg workout.

Ok, why the double change?

One nice thing about the German Volume training routines is they are not too long. I really want to be out of the gym within 45 minutes most days and want good effectiveness. There is far too much to be done to spend two hours per session. So an idea came across my mind. Five heavy sets of squats. Five heavy sets of leg presses. Then five sets of 12 rep walking lunges. Surely that will work.

Time will tell what the results will be. Here is the routine:

  • Warm up and stretch
  • Squats
    • Warm up: 3 x 5, increasing slightly each set, 30 seconds rest
    • Medium heavy: 1 x 5, 85 seconds rest
    • Work: 5×5, heavy on each set, same weight, 85 seconds rest
  • Presses
    • 1 x 5, heavier than light, consider it a warm up, 75 seconds rest
    • 1 x 5, medium heavy, 75 seconds rest
    • 5 x 5, heavy on each set, same weight, 75 seconds rest
  • Walking Lunge
    • 5 x 12, as much as you can do, same weight every set, 65 seconds rest

Borrowing from the 5×5 and 4x ideals, do not neglect the negative, especially on the leg presses. Go for as much as 6 seconds on each rep. Do not increase the weight until all the sets can be performed with the same weight. Get your ego out of the way. Form counts.

Now to find companion routines for Wednesday and Friday. Time to break out of the rut. Time to break the frustration.

Extra twist: do the weight on the walking lunge unequal. Keeping your torso straight with unbalanced weight will also work your core.

 

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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Tell Me Again About My Metabolism

Fitness
Fitness (Photo credit: JAMES LORD productions)

Growing up, I was the skinny kid. Though I liked to play sports, I was usually the last picked in school games and I hated “shirts v. skins”. Being 6’5″ and 150 pounds soaking wet, I was very self-conscious of my body as a teenager.

After high school, I did gain a little bit of weight over the years. In 1990, as I approached 22, I started to start lighting and learned what I could. I didn’t have much money for supplements, so I ate quite a bit. The first 20 pounds to 190 were easy. After that, I got stronger, but had plateaued in my weight. No worries. For the next several years, I lifted regularly and did ski patrol during the winter. Then we had kids.

I took too many years off and when I finally got back to working out on a regular basis, I was over 200 with a 36 inch waist. I wasn’t in the best of shape and looked forward to gaining some more proper weight. That was about two years ago.

The first year back, I used the 200 pounds of dumbbells I had at home, pulling each heavier set out of the garage when I reached their need. It was humbling to start at 5 pounds, but that is life. During this first year, I noticed I was still gaining in the waist, so I started cutting back on sandwiches and at more salad. It made a small, but noticeable difference.

A year ago I upped the game.

Now all sandwiches are out. Gluten was giving too much weight gain in the gut. I also really started to cut my sugar, fructose in particular. The more research I did on sugar, the more I realized what a poison it is for the human body. Artificial sweetners are not much better. Best to get rid of it. I also cut back on beer, chocolate, pasta, tea. I greatly increased the amount of water I drank in a day to at least 3 liters. More lean protein, brown rice, red potatoes (sometimes sweet as well), more fiber, good fats, nuts.

My workouts also changed. I had been doing many of the workouts Steve Holman gives in his articles in Iron Man Magazine, but now I did them more split. I also started to look at the suggestions and articles of others. I was spending too much time in the gym. I upped the intensity and aimed to finish in an hour, warm up and stretching included. Now sets were 20-30 reps, done in 1 second positive/2 seconds negative caidance. I did hyper-extensions and crunches before every workout.

Then came November and the planking challenge.

The first few days were easy, but once it got to more than a minute, it became tough. I mean very tough. My abs shacked. My shoulders shacked. I had to pause, then go again. The results, however, spoke for itself. My abs started to get tighter. It helped my squats. It helped my dead-lift.

A year later and the result is I went from average 209 pounds to 215, but my waist is now an inch smaller. I went from a 35-36 inch waist to 34-35. Yes, a year to lose an inch. Me. Mister High Metabolism and eat anything. Because, I can’t eat anything I want. My cheat days consists of a single doughnut. No more going crazy over the weekend. The crap food I used to eat now makes me ill. I’ve not gone fully Paleo, but I am headed that way. Eat like the government tells you and you will gain weight. That is a given. Eat like you should and the results will be their own encouragement.

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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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That Pain In My Chest

English: Squat lifing
English: Squat lifing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It took two extra days to get to, but it finally happened. The new chest workout given in “Time To Move To Heavy” was finally done. It stretched my chest in new ways. It contracted with higher intensity. Some exercises resulted in same weight as before, some lower. Rest was extended a bit. Negatives were pushed.

Oh the pain in my chest when it was over. That great pain that says a muscle has been worked out, just to the limit, but not so far that it tears. That pain the means your muscles will pull in all the protein you eat afterward. That pain leads to growth afterward. That pain that tells you your body is alive. That glorious pain. Awesome sauce.

The next workout day brings an updated leg workout. So, it is time to review that one.

  • Leg extension (pre-exhaust, TORQ3×30,20,15
  • Squats  5×5 (rest to 1.5 minutes)
  • Leg Press  3×8
  • Leg Curls (TORQ3×30,20,15
  • Feet-forward Smith Machine squat (negative1×9
  • Hyperextensions  3×10
  • Dead lift (pyramid the weight3×5
  • One leg, standing calf raise  3×20
  • Free hand, two leg calf raise (speed, full stroke2×30+

There it is. The leg workout changes. On TORQ, the idea is to get full range of motion over a 4 second rep. Squats are meant to go heavier this time around, but the rep speed should still be 3 seconds. Be sure to warm up all the muscles very well and stretch. For squats only, rest at 1.5 minutes between sets, including the last. All over sets see 40 second rest between.

Feel the burn. Feel the pain. Grow.

 

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The Best Laid Plans

Sprint006 plan
Sprint006 plan (Photo credit: J’Roo)

The plan was simple. Yesterday I updated my exercises for chest, back and abs. Want to know what it is? Sure, here’s the link. Then today, it was time to hit the gym after work and see how good this workout was. Yeah, that was the plan.

Today, reality happened. My daughter had a very emotional reaction to her summer school. I couldn’t blame her. The Northwest Passage School isn’t the nicest place and it is all computers. She had this same class on computer at regular school this year and couldn’t pay attention long enough to pass. She nearly broke down.

After talking to her and getting her to calm, she finally agreed to try it. After all, we’ve already paid and we cannot get that back. They were also having technical issues and didn’t have a computer for her for over an hour.

Ok, enough about my struggles. The results put me to work late, which put me home late, which meant no new workout time. Ugh! Time to hit the arms with dumbbells at home. Curls and extensions to failure, then some negatives. Then a call.

The call was good, but lasted longer than I planned. Nuts. Now I’m late with supper. While I have time for a smoothie? Yeah sure. Who cares about sleep for tomorrow.

 

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Stop! Get out of the way!

BURLINGTON, ND - JUNE 26:  Floodwater nearly c...
(Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)

Ok, stop! Stop what you are doing! Move over! Be quiet! Yeah, you!

It is time to get real with yourself. You are the reason you do not have success. Yes, you. It is not your circumstances. It is not your lack of education. It is you. It is only you.

Look in the mirror. There you will find the person who is holding you back; there is who is in  your way. There is the obstacle to over come. There is why you don’t have what you want. There is why you don’t succeed.

Yes, it is hard to take. Yes, the journey is unfair. Yes, you have a challenge. Yes, yes, yes.

We get in our own way time after time. We justify to ourselves why we do not have time to do something. We invent excuses why things do not happen. We blame others. We point fingers. We do not take responsibility. Everyone of those actions speaks volumes why we don’t have what we want, don’t have the success, don’t have the lifestyle, don’t have the marriage. All of that. We are the problem.

We are also the solution. You hold the keys to your success. Yes, you. Not some guru on television or the Internet. You and only you. You have to do the work. You have to get the experience. You must obtained the skills. A coach can help guide you, show you direction, point out a weakness. A mentor can show you better ways and better avenues. Only you can take the field. Only you can walk down the road. Your success is your business. It does not belong to someone else. It belongs to you.

See how to get started on your path.

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