Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Many of my SP buds know that I like to workout and I especially like ST.
I vary it up, alternating ST between "Heavy Days" and "Medium Days". On heavy days, I go for 5 reps of very heavy weights for everything; squats, deadlifts, bench presses, overhead presses etc. On medium days, I do about 70-80% of my heavy day lift, but instead of 5 reps, I do 15
So to correct my starting sentence, I especially like "Heavy" ST days. Medium days at hi reps suck! (I've blogged about this before - www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_jo
I have not really been able to embrace this suck because it sucks so bad. I feel the suck coming on right as I walk into the locker room where I truly face the enormity of the suck that is about to happen.....I know I am going to be in pain for 15 reps of suck. Fifteen reps can probably be done in less than 2 minutes. But on hi rep suck days, there is actually an infinite amount of time between rep #1 and rep #15....there is a relativistic effect to the suck that Einstein wrote about but never published
Needless to say, this disturbance, this fear, has weighed on my mind....I don't like to have a bad attitude about working out....I don't like "not liking" my workouts. In my marathon running days, I had 4 objectives for every training run and every race;
- Enjoy the run
- Finish the race
- Don't be last
- Cheer everyone you pass
This worked for me....it got me past the tough spots. If I felt the run starting to suck, I would do something to change it, slow down, vary the route, add some variety, do something, anything to keep the suck at bay, otherwise, I would not commit to the long training requirements.
So it occurred to me earlier this week that I had to do something about my attitude to the hi-rep suck....I couldn't keep going to the gym on hi rep days dreading the suck.
Today, as I changed clothes, I resolved to focus my brain on little chunks....I decided I would mentally do 3 sets of 5 reps in every set. I stopped counting 11, 12, 13 and just focused on 3 sets of 5. I decided to focus on what was getting tired...was it my legs, was it my back, was I just out of breath, where was the pain....and I did a little mental relaxation of that body part for a brief millisecond....then did another rep. When counting to 5 became tough, I just did one more, then one more, then another.
Well lo and behold, for squats I did 3 sets of 15 reps at 180 lbs! Even the Stasi trainer said, "Very goot, your form was eggsellent!" After a quick break, I knocked out 3 sets of 15 deadlifts at 245 lbs.
Now I freely admit, I cannot say in any way that this was "enjoyable"....but it sucked much less. Yeah, they were tough, I kept wishing they were over...but I didn't let that keep me from finding a way through the suck. The payoff, the "enjoyment" was afterwards....knowing I finished them off did not suck....even my ex-Communist trainer gave a grudging acknowledgement of progress ("Thanks comrade, you commie bastard!")
Well yet another reminder that most gym challenges are mental, not physical and sometimes we just need to mentally slap ourselves into finding a way through
And something that I use to motivate myself through many of these challenges is to remind myself how so many others would love to have the opportunity to train like this....and still do so facing much tougher hurdles than me!
Have a great night Spark friends!
Saturday, April 06, 2013
So yesterday was leg day, my heavy ST day for legs and back. I was pretty freaking amazed to be able to squat 4 sets of 5 reps with 250 lbs on my back....straight up and down with no wobble. Deadlifts, while also heavy (3 sets of 5 at 315 lbs) were less graceful. Yeah I pulled the bar off the floor, but trainer-guy and I both agreed I looked like a drunk monkey flailing in quicksand....not smooth, not graceful....we'll stay at that weight for next time.
This AM, I'm sore, sore, sore doing the Zombie Walk as I putz around with my morning coffee (I'm keeping an eye out for Daryl Dixon in case I get a crossbow arrow in the forehead)
In between sets, trainer guy and I chatted up a couple of the 20-something gym rats. The preponderance of their statements were, "I'm eating 4 to 5,000 calories a day and I can't gain any weight"
I'm rocking on my heels listening to these monkeys, wondering how the hell I can eat 2,000 to 2,500 calories a day and not drop a pound. I felt like pulling a 3 stooges move on all of them
"WTF are you talking about? I've been working my ass off for months and can't get below 180 lbs, eating 2,000 cals/day"
I get the contemplative look that only 20-somethings can give to grown adults as they exercise great patience, attempting to pass on their deep knowledge and profound understanding to an out of touch generation who is unable to google the latest research.
"Yeah, well you really need to eat more if you want to put on muscle mass. I'm trying to bulk up"
I gave him my contemplative look that only 50-somethings can give to post-pubescent gym rats, as I exercise great patience, attempting to hold his attention on a topic other than himself for more than a minute. I decided to use my ninja conversational skills to re-direct his infatuation with self to solving my problem.
"OK, let's say you bulk up, and you then want to drop the fat to get cut. How do you do it?" (Always learn to speak the language of the natives, whether you're traveling in a foreign country or hanging out with meatheads)
"Oh, I start doing a lot more cardio and drop out all the carbs"
Now I think we're getting somewhere, but then trainer guy gives a nod over to the curl bar indicating we've talked enough, back to work.
"What the hell am I missing here? How can those morons have such a tough time gaining weight eating like rabid dogs, and I can't drop a pound eating like a normal person"
Trainer guy gives me that look he must have used in the Stasi interrogation rooms a million times as he elicited confessions from the innocent. In his thick German accent he just said, "He is 20. You are 50"
"Thanks Captain Obvious, so what the f#&@ does that mean?"
"What are your goals?"
See what I mean, just when I think I'm getting somewhere, the freaking Stasi interrogator switches it up. He might as well have asked me where the rebel bases are located.
"I'd like to be lean and strong" There, that ought to show him.
"Do you want to lift the heavy weights like we have been doing? If you get lean, you will not just lose fat, you will lose muscle too, it is inevitable (it sounded more like enough-a-double). Your lifting will suffer. What are your goals?"
He was like Laurence Olivier in Marathon Man with that same line, "What are your goals? Is it safe"
"Well, I like lifting heavy weights. I like being strong, I like my progress. But I wouldn't mind being 10 lbs lighter....10 lbs of fat that is, I don't want my lifting to suffer"
"You can't have both (it sounded like "U kent hev boat"). It is a myth that these kids think they can lose weight and keep their strength. When they drop weight, they look leaner, but their strength suffers. Then they eat more to get strong, and the leanness disappears. How iz your cardio?"
"I get in about an hour a day, 3 times a week, then you and I lift 3 other days"
"You need to do more. If you want to lose fat, you must do more cardio"
"You're F*@%# bagging me right! You're telling me I need to work out more?!?!?!" I felt like showing him my SP fitness tracker, but it would have been lost on him
"If you want to lose fat, you must do more cardio. Do you want to look strong or be strong? What are your goals?" He just stared me down like Arnold in Terminator.
"So what the hell am I supposed to do, cardio before we lift? Doesn't all this lifting count as cardio? I'm sweating like a racehorse in here"
"Strength Training is not cardio. Better to do cardio after you lift. Finish your last set"
So here I am, 53-years old, 184 lbs, rock-solid muscles in my back, chest, shoulders and legs like I have never had before, a 33 inch waist, pretty damn good endurance for high intensity cardio....and I'm kind of complaining on the margins about my last 10 lbs or trying to drop below 20% bodyfat.....it's a good problem to have.
I just need to figure out what my goals are!
Have a great day Spark friends!
Monday, April 01, 2013
So today was great...actually an ideal day.
I clambered out of bed, showered up and made some breakfast. I thought about having a bowl full of cantaloupe and some yogurt, then laughed at myself and grabbed 3 chocolate bunny rabbits leftover from Easter and wolfed them down with can of Pepsi. Just what I needed to make it through a day full of meetings!
As I waited in line at Starbucks for my Grande Americano, I noticed that the fruit cup was more expensive than the cheese danish and the toffee bar combined. Well I know a bargain when I see one so the big decision I had to make was whether to eat the toffee bar first or AFTER the danish. I'll let you imagine what I chose ;>)
I forgot to bring my lunch from home, so I went out to eat with some of the folks in my front office. I watched the idiots around me order the salad, but I knew the lasagna was especially well-prepared here.....hell I might even get seconds on the garlic bread! It was alright, the lasagna was a little salty, so I grabbed a couple of Twix bars on my drive back to work to balance out my palate.
I got pretty busy in the afternoon, but had a hankering for ribs around 3:00, so I asked my front office assistant to run out and buy me a pick-me-up rib basket. But I only got a half rack (I was pretty full after lunch, but this was some mean BBQ!) and I decided to be good and skipped the potato salad and baked beans....just had the coleslaw (veggies) and corn bread (veggie AND low carb!)....I think I probably saved 100 calories choosing wisely and having a diet coke instead of regular. I'll use those savings to have something special after dinner tonight.....
I finished my last meeting and lo and behold my secretary had brought in some Cadbury caramel filled eggs.....man Easter never ends! They were great.....between the 2 of us we cracked every one of those bad boys with our muscular teeth! It was a little too much chocolate though, so I swung by the snack bar for some potato chips to get something salty back on my taste buds. Mmmmm.
I had a weight lifting session scheduled today, but I felt I deserved a break so I cancelled and called SWMBO up and asked her if she wanted to go out to dinner. She had baked some tilapia and stir fried some veggies, but I told her to save it for later or stuff it in the trash, we should do something special like Mexican or try out that new Chinese Buffet that opened up (Big Chow) down the road. (I didn't feel like Italian after those two servings of lasagna at lunch anyway).
Well the buffet was fantastic! You really do get your money's worth at these places, but you have to plan it out right. Like don't fill up on the green beans or soup on your first plate or you may not get around to sampling everything they lay out like the sweet and sour pork or extra crispy chicken wings. And don't waste time on the peel & eat shrimp, you can get those anywhere. I recommend the crab in cheese sauce or some salmon rangoons (the good thing is these probably have like 10 less calories than egg rolls.....I just wish I could stop after eating only 4....sigh)
Afterwards, since it was so nice out, we walked over to the Marble Slab Creamery and had a family ice cream night. I really like how they work the ice cream so hard on that cold slab, and they take the time to make REAL WAFFLE CONES, not the fake plasticy kind you get at Baskin Robbins. And the scoops they give you are twice as big as anywhere else. Talk about getting your money's worth! I admit, I cheated and had them sprinkle on some Jimmies, but it was a special night out for all of us and again I deserved something special, it had been a busy week right?
As I sit and finish up this blog, I had a real hankering for some Peanut Butter. What a great food idea! But, I'm only using a teaspoon this time, not a tablespoon as usual. I think that actually helps me lose weight because I use more energy with that arm.....in reality, I'm expending 3 times more calories to get the same amount of peanut butter....I read that somewhere.
Then Holy Christ I woke up and found myself drenched in a cold sweat still back in my bed this morning, no sweatpants in sight.....The ghost of April Fools past must have visited me late into the night!
Today, I chose the opposite of everything I wrote about here.....I ate well, I lifted weights, and I thought about where I wanted to be tomorrow and a year from now. But the choices, the desires, the temptations, and worst of all, the excuses and rationales are always there.
Have a great night Spark friends!
Sunday, March 31, 2013
So I freely admit, I enjoy working out. It wasn't always so, but it is today. I enjoy both cardio and strength training. I like pushing my limits on both, whether it means getting my heart rate up doing interval training for cardio, or adding more weight on the bar for squats, deadlifts, presses etc.....I even (though not as enthusiastically) like combining the two, lifting mid-level weights for lots of reps in a short amount of time.
But there is a part of my fitness life where I have to admit to being a total slacker.
Yes, I'm not afraid to admit that I slack...it's the truth and there's no use hiding it....I'm a slacker.
I don't like stretching.
Actually, I kind of do like stretching....more like I enjoy the feeling after stretching.
You see, while working out, I enjoy the exertion, whether it's breathing hard as I peak during interval training, or pushing with all my might against the force of gravity with a heavy weight on my back....I'm OK with that.
But sitting on the floor, reaching for my ankles, trying to pull my back & hamstrings into extension is....not fun.
Maybe it's just that beginner's mentality thing....everything is hard when first starting out. And I've gone through bouts where I stretch regularly for a few days....then slack right back off.
I've even got all sorts of gadgets to make it easier and more fun. I do admit to liking this nifty little roller from Trigger Point;
It's an evil little device (as are most foam rollers) but I have to admit, when I'm done rolling it over my back, hams, quads, you name it, I feel like I've had a high end sports massage.
I also like it's evil side-kick, the Trigger Point Massage Ball. This little thing beats the pants off of tennis balls for finding those little spots in between the muscles; it forces them to separate and release. He hurts like a 'mo, but I can't deny his effectiveness.
I've found these little bad boys to be quite less painful, but they took a lot of getting used to....mainly because they weren't so painful (Why do I always go back to thinking that stretching has to be painful?)
They're kind of cool (SWMBO likes them too)...they just don't work fast. You basically relax into them as you place one or both on your lower back and gently press and relax into it. As you do so, you're supposed to breathe into it and let your lower back stretch, while keeping your abs somewhat tight. Not bad....I just have to get my Type A personality to accept them.
The last tool I have is a Stretch-Out Strap;
It looks dangerous, but it actually works pretty well for a not-so-loose guy like me, allowing me to hook hands & feet at various tension levels and just relax into them.
A few years ago, SWMBO and I went to a couples yoga class....while it was a pretty good date night event, it was an unmitigated disaster for me....it was worse than being the kid who couldn't climb the rope.....I was the kid that couldn't hold the downward facing dog pose
Needless to say, what started this blog entry today was coming back home from an hour of cardio and 30 minutes of farmer's carries (see my blog www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_jo
urnal_individual.asp?blog_id=5298569 ) and noticing I felt a little tight.
So after feasting on our Easter Ham (I make one hell of a good ham!), I got out a few of these torture devices and proceeded to stop, drop, and roll many of the various kinks out.
And, of course, I liked it....when I was done.
I make no promises....but maybe....just maybe....I'll find a way to work in this third leg of the fitness triad; cardio, strength,.....and flexibility!
Have a great night Spark friends!
Sunday, March 24, 2013
Well today SWMBO and I threw #2 son's birthday party. We invited about 20 of his good pals to a bowling alley where we rented a couple of lanes and fed them pizza, cake, and soda for 3 hours....man am I glad that's over!
Last week was #2 son's actual birthday, but he had a Special Olympics event to go to so we held the party today. He's a special needs boy and we had a good mix of boys and girls from the specials class from both school and church in attendance. They all had a blast! SWMBO and I know pretty well how to deal with most of the kids that have more serious handicaps and/or emotional needs and we helped them along as best we could, making sure they partook and felt included. They're a great bunch of kids that do some pretty incredible things, struggling but never giving up. SWMBO is fond of saying that watching them makes you want to both sing with joy and cry in sorrow.
Hell I felt so motivated I even had pizza and soda with them!
But to gear up for this event, I needed to get to the gym early and knock out some serious cardio intervals....and to try out a new exercise that has intrigued me for a few weeks now....Farmer's Carries!
I hit the bike hard for about 45 minutes, doing some pretty hardcore intervals that got me up to 90-95% of my max heart rate a few times, bringing it down to a more sustainable 70-80% in between. I had a chance to try out a new playlist and that really helped, especially with the peaks.
Then I grabbed a pair of 50 lb dumbbells.....and walked.....and walked.....and walked.
I gotta tell you, it was pretty energizing! It's quite a different thing to just hold on tight to some mildly heavy weights and walk. I felt it right where I wanted to....right in my forearms....pretty much everything below the elbow....I felt like Popeye after a can of spinach
And that is exactly why I wanted to do them. I think it's a very functional exercise, learning to walk and maneuver while carrying some heavy weights (I did a circular loop in and out of the weight room down the connecting hallway). By the third set, my forearms were radiating fire, so I re-racked the weights and went to my car.
Then #1 son called. He's our 25 year old who lives in North Carolina.....and a true gym rat. I gave him the blow-by-blow of my workout and then he asked, "Sounds good dad....did you leave it all at the gym?"
"Yeah, I had a good workout, I feel pretty good"
"I know dad.....but did you leave it all in the gym or did you have any left in you?"
I'm thinking, "who the hell raised this little son-of-a-bitch" but I knew the answer so I just answered, "I might have another rep or 2 in me, so what?"
"If you're still in the gym, you should leave it all there"
At this point, I've already walked out the door, my car is 20 yards in front of me....but the front door is 5 yards behind me.
"Seriously, you're challenging me? You're playing the guilt card on me? This from the kid who routinely complained about being too tired to take out the trash or empty the dishwasher?"
"You're call dad, I know I left it all at the gym today"
"OK, you're on! Don't forget to call your brother at the party today or I'll take these Popeye forearms of mine and crush you like an empty soda can"
"That's cute dad, considering I did my warm-ups today with your max effort!"
Children truly are a blessing!
So I went back. This time I picked up a pair of 55 lb dumbbells, cranked up the volume on my new favorite motivational song (Nickelback - "If Today Was Your Last Day")....and walked until I had absolutely nothing left and the weights were slipping through my jelly-like fingers.
Needless to say, I truly sucked at bowling....even the kiddie weight balls were tough on my grip. But my horrendous bowling brought squeals of delight to all the kids, so I didn't really care!
Have a great night Spark friends!
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