The OF Blog: Working out and progress made after five weeks

Monday, March 12, 2012

Working out and progress made after five weeks

For the past five weeks, I've been working about 2-3 times a week at a local gym, after a physical turned up a potential issue with triglyceride and liver enzyme levels.  I had already developed that middle age paunch and I was pretty much told that if I wanted to live and to enjoy a long life, that I better shed weight quickly. 

I've lost somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 lbs. over those five weeks, as I also eliminated sodas from my diet (for Lent, but likely for a long while after) and have very few meals with fried meats.  Only supplements I'm taking are fiber capsules and fish oil, a few times a week for each.  Funny how the body adapts to changes.  I am not as tired mentally or physically due to having very few carbs (most of my daily sugar intake was via the sodas, as I can only eat a small amount of milk chocolate before getting ill and other sugary snacks taste awful to me) and the high amount of proteins I take in are not being converted to fat.

I have a recumbent bike and two 15 lb. ketteballs that I use 2-3 times a week that I do not go to the gym.  When I'm at home exercising, I like to do one or two 30-60 minute sessions on the bike at around 10 mph, followed by 3x/20 military and incline press, 3x/20 bicep curls, and 3x/20 deadlifts with the kettleballs.  When I go to the gym, I usually start by riding their stationary bike for 35-40 minutes, increasing the resistance from medium to maximum in 5-10 minute intervals, with a few minutes at the beginning and end for stretching and cooling down.  Then I'll do bicep curls at 70-80 lbs. for 3x/10-20 reps, tricep curls at 60-70 lbs for the same sets/reps, military press at 140/160/180 lbs. in 3 sets of 10, and then on various days I'll do incline bench, leg extension, leg curls, and chest fly at 80 lbs. for 3 sets of 10.

I started out doing this only 2x/week at the gym and 1-2x/week at home, but I'm looking to expand the amount of time that I work out both at home and at the gym to 75 minutes instead of the 50-55 minutes I have been doing and maybe going 4x/week at the gym and 1-2x/week at home, perhaps with higher reps and slightly higher weights once I am certain that my muscles are well-conditioned enough to not become too sore.  If I'm lucky and stick to it, I hope to see that I can break my old free weight maxes from when I was 23 (which was after a year of rehab on my right elbow after I broke the radial head through a fall during pickup basketball), which for those who are curious to know is as follows:  bench press, 270 lbs. (225 with 7 reps), 250 lbs. power clean, 450 lbs. squats (a rep of five).  Doubt I'll do the latter two in a gym designed more for people who want cardio, but I think the bench might be a doable goal by the end of the year if I work out strong.

Any of you work out regularly?  If so, what sorts of weights/exercises do you do to burn fat/streamline muscle?  Despite what I said above, I am not as much interested in bulking up (I haven't been "small" since I hit my growth spurt in high school) as I am in toning the body steadily and with an emphasis on rebuilding my biceps, triceps, pectorals, quads, and hamstrings.  I'd love to hear any routines that might make things easier for me.  It'd be nice to fit into a pair of 34s again and look 50 lbs. lighter than my actual weight.


RobB said...

I had gym memberships over the course of a little over a decade for weight training. About two years ago I became addicted to running and have since dropped the gym membership. I've done a handful of 5Ks and as a result of the running, I'm down about 30 pounds from when I primarily did only weight lifting.

Also, I walk my dog twice per day for a total of 2-4 miles (1-2 miles per walk).

From what you said, the BEST thing you've probably done is eliminating soda. Many people I know who have lost weight and have become healthier all have one thing in common - they've stopped drinking soda.

Lsrry said...

I can't run yet because my knees are not in enough shape to do that until I'm very close to my target weight. Found out 10 years ago that my kneecaps are slightly malformed on the inside, meaning that sudden movement can cause them to pinch tiny bits of cartilage and create loose bodies that can be aggravating for weeks. But I do exercise bike work using magnetic resistance to make up for it as much as I can and it help with the muscle toning/fat burning without as much knee pain afterward.

I used to drink 4-5 sodas a day for some time. It hasn't done me any favors, with the phosphoric acid, the HFCS, and the 600 empty calories. I now try to consume about 1500-1800 calories a day, which at my size, weight, and muscle mass would lead to some weight loss without it being too drastic. I just need to keep it up for more than a few weeks or months, though, if I want this to be a permanent solution.

Jesse said...

If you want to get fit and not muscular, the best thing to do is combine whole body aerobic activity (e.g. swimming, biking, jumping rope, basketball, etc.) with many reps of exercises which utilize a couple of muscle groups at once (e.g. pull-ups, push-ups, sit-ups, etc.) Weights in a gym can target specific muscles you want to develop, but overall these basic exercises can do just as much if done repeatedly and correctly. Inherent to all of this is the importance of stretching.

Good luck getting your health back in line!!

Roland said...

Well done Larry, and damn you are strong!
Don't forget to work out your back muscles, didn't see any exercises for that.
Quitting soda should be for life, it's just garbage.

1500-1800 calories a day doesn't sound like much for guy your size.

I walk 7-8 miles per day (most days anyway), but I'm not loosing weight as much as I'd like, probably because I eat too much (although fairly healthy).
I quit lifting weights simply because I was too bored with it.

Bill said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bill said...

I started working out at the beginning of the year, after a solid 10+ year hiatus. I have always had the opposite issue, the need to bulk up and gain weight (Crohn's makes weight gain a little troublesome)(if I had a nickel for every time someone said, 'I'll give you some of my weight', I'd be retired by now).

So, I'm rooting for you. :-)

The comments are all reasonable and valid (back exercises, high reps/light weight). Usually I have only two bits of advice to give anyone trying to lose weight. One is to drink lots of water, to flush out the parts that are breaking down as you work out. The other is to eat more frequently, smaller meals. This will speed up your body's metabolism naturally, promoting fat burn and lean tendencies. Always eat within an hour of waking and never before going to sleep. If you can stomach spicy foods, those also speed up metabolism.

Good luck, Larry.

Bibliotropic said...

I've been making an effort to work out more often these days. I try to go to the gym twice a week for cardio training, I've started using weights, and during the days I don't go to the gym I try to make a point of doing Pilates or yoga to increase my flexibility and strength. It isn't much, but I'm a flabby out-of-shape so-and-so who has pretty much ignored physical fitness so far, and even what I do tires me out and makes me ache. But I'm getting stronger, able to do more each day, and while I haven't noticed a drop in weight yet, I'm partly atributing that to various medications that I'm currently taking. At least my endurance is increasing, though.

Eric M. Edwards said...

Nine years ago I was in very good shape, mostly from intensive martial arts training (primarily Kung Fu) and a mixture of weights, running, swimming, and a general level of sunshine enhanced activity from living in the Mediterranean climate of California that I've lost now after relocating to London.

Nine years later, including a seven year stint in the wine and spirits trade mixed with damp English summers, two children, and far too many bottles of wine - I'm a long ways from that.

Over the past year I've been swimming more, working out on the kick bag, and lifting once or twice a week. It's not much, at best I get two days of about an hour in total spent at exercising, along with plenty of daily walking.

But I'm getting back some muscle and some strength (I can flat bench 275-280 lbs for about 6-8 reps), squat and dead-lift more than most of the younger guys in the gym, and have trimmed myself down to about 80 kilos - still at least five off of where I should be for my modest height of 5'10".

As summer returns, I'll be increasing my swimming, and hopefully losing the last of my winter padding. My son has just started martial arts, and my daughter is doing archery, which is helping me to get back into both as well. So, slowly, slowly, but my goal is to make some real gains (and real losses) over the next 12-14 months.

It's hard though, as I'm not fond of the gym, and really don't have time for more than a couple of hours each week.

But good work and keep up the progress. It is a steep curve but once established, the whole thing gets as you know, easier. As long as you don't injure yourself by pushing too hard.

Anonymous said...

My body tends toward softness and fat (*extremely* endomorphic) but I stay lean by watching diet and short intense exercise bouts. Less is definitely more, in my experience. If you're working out for 75 minutes or even an hour you're no where near the right intensity.

I work out from half and hour to 45 minutes five or six days a week.

What do I mean by intensity?

Partly that means the heaviest weights possible with good form for the number of reps. (If you're doing sets of 10 reps, but could easily do sets of 15 with the same weight: the weights are too light). But mostly it means working at a very uncomfortable pace: I *pour* with sweat at the gym, and always begin the next exercise or set a little before I feel like it, when the heart is still thudding and breath coming hard.

Intensity also means working out the right muscles: the biggest are your legs, followed by the back. 2/3's of all the exercise you do should be lower body. 2/3's of all the upper body exercise you do should be the back: pull ups and rows, mostly.

Also, those kettlebells sound awfully light. My smallest is 35pounds, and that's *light*. Possibly you could be getting a good work out with them if you're double snatching: But even then, 15 lbs is extremely light for a man of your strength. BTW, *don't* try snatching if you haven't had professional instruction: it's a good way to seriously bruise your forearms, herniate the spine or strain the back, wrench your shoulder, or otherwise hurt yourself if you're not sure what you're doing.

Try cutting your times on the bike back to 25 minutes: 5 minutes of not-too brisk warm up, to get sweaty and warm not breathless, then 20 twenty minutes of intervals. For one minute keep the revolutions above 100 reps per minute then, and then for another minute, up the resistance *a little* still keeping the revolutions above 100: back and forth 10 times. I think you'll find the workout revelatory, and much more effective than what you're doing now. Good luck!

Kai in NYC

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