Saturday, September 21, 2013
Hello Sparkbuds! Life's been busy, as usual. It's been a big summer with a move from Florida to DC, new house, new job....and, most importantly, a new workout routine!
Somedays I think I'm the luckiest guy in the world....I love my job, it's meaningful work, family's in good shape, and I get to work out almost every day!
As I've evolved from working out with a personal trainer 3x/week these past 3 years to working out on my own, I've noticed that I'm incredibly comfortable navigating my own path to building a healthy body. The best part is that I know what "right" feels like in the gym....that balance between hard exertion and stupid gym tricks.
These past 5 weeks have been great....I finally got back to my "pre-move to DC" weights, so I just made another adjustment to my routine. (see previous blog; www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_jo
I've been reading up about a routine called 5/3/1. Like many good ST routines, it focuses on 4 core, multi-joint lifts; Squats, Overhead Press, Deadlifts, and Bench Press. The routine is a 4-week cycle of doing these lifts in a structured manner that 1) prevents injury and overuse, 2) builds strength and muscle, and 3) slow, but steady progress over time (a year), instead of quick gains that could hurt you in the long run. Philosophically, I like this very much, it focuses on the discipline and art of becoming stronger, not the aesthetic of ego. Here's a primer on 5/3/1....the book is available on Amazon too
I now do ST 4 days a week (with 15-20 minutes of fast cardio as a warmup) and 2 days of dedicated cardio (45-60 minutes) with some assistance exercises (pull-ups, sit-ups etc.....pull-ups are my Achilles heel.....I am determined to get good at them this next year....goal is to do 10 good ones in a row by summer 2014!)
As an added bonus, here are some real good "age-adjusted" strength charts I found on the web. Wouldn't you know, I'm in the Advanced category for every lift except for pull-ups where I'm....a Novice!!
I have also "re-discovered" the ab wheel;
I had used one at home off and on, but when I read what a valuable assistance exercise it is for this 5/3/1 program, I gave it a whirl last Wednesday and did 10 sets of 10 in between pull-ups and chin-ups....
....my abs are still killing me!!
In other news, I have become a LinkedIn junkie!
SWMBO and I have been talking about what to do in the next phase of our lives.....I'll probably do the job I'm in another 2 years, then think about transitioning to another industry. For years people have been telling me to get on LinkedIn, and I've avoided it....SP is about the only social media I can handle. But it's actually pretty cool! Within 2 weeks I've connected up to about 300 people and been contacted by 2 different recruiters. One of them told me I really needed to start a Twitter account as well....Good God, what's next, Facebook?!?!?!
Lastly, I finally had to cave and go to a tailor to get most of my suits, coats, & pants taken in. While my weight hasn't changed much this past year, I've lost some inches in my waist and grown some in shoulders. I tried out two different shops... a standard alterations shop and a bespoke tailor I found on LinkedIn. I figure I'll try them both out on some older jackets & pants to see who does a better job for the money, then give the winner the whole lot to fix up.
And it was actually very nice to see an athletic "V-Shape" silhouette in the tailor's wall-size mirror after all these years!
Have a great night Spark friends!
Thursday, September 05, 2013
So I've been at my new workout routine for about 4 weeks now. This, after about a 6-7 week break from my hardcore routine during our move from Florida to Virginia.
To recap, here's my new schedule;
Monday - Back (Deadlifts, seated rows, pull-ups, chin-ups)
Tuesday - Chest (Bench press, incline press, flyes)
Wed - Shoulders (Overhead press, lateral raises, shrugs, rear delt rows)
Thurs - Legs (Squats, leg extensions, hamstring curls, thigh adductor & abductors)
Friday - Arms (Dips, triceps ext, triceps pushdown, bicep curls, hammer curls, reverse curls)
Basically, every day has one major compound lift, followed by assistance moves. Plan is to do one week with 3-5 sets of heavy weights at low reps (5-8), then the following week, de-load to 70-80% of that weight and shoot for 12-15 reps. I try to get in 15-20 minutes of fairly intense cardio each day as well (I've gravitated to the Concept 2 Rower as my preferred cardio....or I jump in and do 20 or so minutes of a spin class, then bolt for the weight room). Workout takes about an hour and a few minutes.
Today I can say I'm pretty much about where I was at the end of June when I had my last workout with Stasi guy. I'm at pretty much 90-95% of the weights we were doing on both heavy & medium days.
But today was the true test....me....alone with the iron....doing what I dread the most...
HI-REP LEG DAY!!!!
I started out with about 10 minutes on the rowing machine (I am really starting to dig the Concept 2....wasn't too enthused about them before, but it gets me warmed up in no time), then made a bee-line for the squat rack.
This gym at work is pretty cool....4 squat racks.....all in front of a mirror....tons of benches, lots of plates, and plenty of bars....I've rarely ever had to wait.
I did 7 sets of squats.....4 warmups and 3 work sets....15 reps at 180 lbs....God I hate hi-rep squat days!!
But, in the midst of my angst, when all I wanted to do was to rack the bar, fall to the floor, and curl up into a ball....I imagined.....
Stasi guy! There he was, my arch nemesis, the brute of the Ukraine (or Chechnya, or Serbia, or Russia....I was never really sure of his nationality...he was a chameleon) sitting idly by, forearms on his knees, silently judging, and egging me on towards more and more pain.
So there I was, on the 7th rep of my 2d work set, with 8 more squats to do and 180 lbs on my back....and I wanted to stop....I just wanted it all to stop....the pain in my legs, the heavy breathing, the soreness in my back....all of it.
And then I heard a voice....a grating, guttural, slavic screech that grated on my every nerve;
"Vut iz ta mader? Ar u kiddink me? Juzd zeven skvotz dooday?" (What is the matter? Are you kidding me? Just seven squats today?)
So I went back to my old skills....just do one more, then do another....don't think about the next 8 squats, just the next one....get to the top, breathe, breathe again, then go back down.
My heart rate was way up there. Each set took less than 90 seconds....but in my brain, the sun had revolved once around the whole galaxy!
In the end, I keep having to remind myself that the amount of weight lifted is not the important part (although I am very much a numbers and stats guy), that the level of exertion for each workout is the most important part.....the pain is always the same.....we can do more because we just get strongrrr!
Have a great night Spark friends!
PS - old time Spark friends may have noticed that, after 3 years, I finally changed my avatar....I gave my bike away when we moved....I may have to buy a mountain bike in the future....but that's another blog!
Tuesday, August 13, 2013
Day 2 in the new job....and it's going great! It's a totally different pace than my last job. And, while I'm not necessarily "in charge" like I was in Florida, it's a whole different level of responsibility.
And I get to be pretty active....today I logged over 10K steps! So far the job's required a lot of reading to get up to speed on the ins and outs what our division does...but I long ago kept up my college speed reading skills, so I've been able to zip through the tomes nice and quick.....and so I've had time to hit the company gym!
It's a magnificent beast! Lots of free weights, tons of cardio, tons of benches, 3 squat racks, spin classes, and a decent locker room with plenty of showers...and it's clean! So today was chest day. I was all ready to go, ducked out of the ofice and speed walked over to the gym to maximize my time there....then realized I had left my sneakers in the office!!!
Speed walk back across the building, trot up the 5 sets of stairs, grab sneakers, down the stairs, and back across the building.....that added 25 minutes to my clock!!
Today was heavy chest day; bench press, incline press, and flyes. I had gotten in 3 sets of 4 at 225 lbs with Stasi guy last time we worked chest....but how the hell was I supposed to do this on my own without crushing my guts out if the bar fell?!?!?!
Well one thing being 53-years old does for you is to remove most any inhibitions or shyness. I eyeballed the biggest dude I saw within 10 feet who looked like he knew what he was doing and said, "Hey, can you spot me for a minute....I'm shooting for 4 reps"
"Sure, no problem!"
First set was tough....rep #4 was shakey. On the second set, I could only knock out 3. My spotter looked down at me and said, "You could have knocked out a 4th rep you know....you had it in you"
OUCH! That hurt! "Okay, I'll shoot for 4 on the next set, thanks"
So I got in 4 on the last set....but it wasn't easy. He spotted me and provided the barest minimum of assistance as I pushed upwards with all I had on those last 2 reps.
I think he's related to Stasi guy!
Actually, I think that's the weight training culture....success is measured by effort, not by the weight on the bar. The goal of each workout is to push the muscles to fatigue and failure. The challenge is to work through the fatigue, to keep pushing till the muscle really does fail. The trick is in recognizing the difference....to not stop just because you're tired & "fatigued"
And having a spotter does help.
Hmmmm....maybe I need to find me a workout buddy. I'm kind of a lone wolf....I like doing my own thing.....but I might need to explore the idea of lifting with someone who can push me past what i can do on my own.....that's what I liked about Stasi guy....he was a sadistic bastard, but he knew my limits better than I did.
More to follow
Have a great night Spark friends!
Monday, August 12, 2013
I have to admit, I much prefer having a predictable routine for working out than having to "wing it" all the time.
Our lives have been in constant churn since the end of June when we packed up our house and moved to Virginia. Today was the start of my first full week in the new job....and I love it!
It's very different than the job I had in Florida....it's in a very large office building and the key to getting stuff done is to walk around a lot....so I do!
I logged 15,000 steps on my trusted Bodymedia CORE armband today. And I made a resolution; I will not use elevators or escalators while in this job.....stairs only for me people! My office is on the 5th floor, so it's totally doable. There's a gym in the basement, on the exact opposite of the building from my office, so even more opportunity for walking.
I did my new ST routine today (see blog www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_jo
urnal_individual.asp?blog_id=5439044 ). I was in a little bit of a rush, so I focused exclusively on deadlifts. I did 10 sets, slowly increasing the weight till I couldn't go any higher. Then I did a quick (10 minute) Hi Intensity Interval session on a spin bike, then showered, and got back to the office in a little over an hour.
My routine still needs a lot of refining, but I think I can make it work with just a few tweaks. So far so good.
And I like having predictable meals, Being on the road these past 2 months, then being up at my mom's, I've made too many exceptions to eating clean, and so I'm up about 6 lbs. Back to packing my own lunches (salad & chicken breasts). SWMBO is glad to have the kitchen all set up in our new place too. It's nice and big...but it does get warmer when she's cooking than our place in Florida did....go figure. In any case she's whipping up some good meals for all of us....she even concocted this weird looking, yet wonderful tasting, mash of cauliflower, spinach, lemon juice, a little garlic and voila! A very cool little side dish that makes everything from chicken to pork to veggies taste incredible!
We went through 3 heads of cauliflower over the weekend!
And I'm back to tracking my food in the tracker again as well. I made the excuse that it had become tedious and superfluous while we were traveling. Tedious, maybe, superfluous, quite possibly true....but I have empirically proven, time and time again, that when I stop tracking food, I start to gain weight....so back to tracking we go!
It's nice to be back in my Spark routine!
Have a great night Spark friends!
Monday, August 05, 2013
Well I've been on a good vacation workout streak. I lifted 5 days last week and did cardio every day, including Saturday. Took Sunday off, then back in for ST and a spin class today....I've got to do something to counteract Mom's home cooking!
(Actually, SWMBO has kind of commandeered the kitchen....making lots of veggies and thinning down the starches & carbs my mom so loves to make!)
I gave my new 5-day/week lifting routine a good run last week and will get in at least 2 days this week. We go back to Virginia on Wednesday and I'll try to check out some gyms near our new house on Thurs & Fri...in between the continuous unpacking process.
In the meantime, I'm refining my new routine. I focus on a different body part each day, only doing 3 sets of 3-4 lifts, then jump in to some cardio.
Since I'm on vacation, have more time, and really need to get back in to my routine, I've been doing 5 sets of each exercise, focusing on really good form as I build back up to my pre-move weights. The ST sessions have been taking about an hour, then I jump in to a spin class, or, something new to me at this gym, a Bodypump class...basically a cardio session with a light barbell...pretty cool actually
Overall though, this has been a great vacation. The weather in Boston continues to amaze me...after 3 years in the Florida panhandle, anything less than 95% humidity feels dry. It was 67 degrees when we woke up this morning and temps never passed 80....I love it!
SWMBO, #2 son, my mom and I have had a few good day trips out to Boston's North Shore, a zoo trip, and we went back to the town I grew up in (Winchester) to hang out at a few of my old haunts....it really is a pleasant little town...with some awesome Italian delis, nice public parks, and it now even has a Whole Foods...where were you when I was growing up!!
Peppered in between our day trips and my gym trips, I've gotten in lot of reading on my beloved Kindle, and I've even found myself taking little power naps in the afternoons!!! After 6 weeks of frenzied moving activity, this has been a welcome break!
Now if I could just start logging all my food again....may have to wait till I get away from Mom!
Have a great night Spark friends!
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