Feb 232012

Squats, overhead press, and deadlifts. The squats and overhead press are still embarrassingly easy, but the deadlifts are starting to make me work a little, at 125 lbs. Still concerned about my form on those, because I dread a back injury.

Grabbed a sampling of 30g protein bars from the health food store, since I’m now working out hard enough to be hungry more often.

First up, Supreme Protein Peanut Butter & Jelly: not bad, but sickly sweet. Wouldn’t want to eat them often because I can imagine getting sick from them.

And why do these bar makers love peanut butter so much? Tri-o-plex makes at least five varieties, and SP makes three. I HATE peanut butter-flavored things unless it’s actual peanut butter. I really miss the Very Berry Tri-o-plex bars; wish they still made them.

Feb 212012

The weight for squats and bench press is still embarrassingly easy, to the point that instead of 5×5 for bench press, I did 5×10-9-8-7-6. The barbell rows, however, at 80 lbs, are starting to require a little effort.

I still think my form for barbell rows isn’t quite right. I’m trying to keep my back flat while still rowing from the floor to my chest and back, and getting everything coordinated is tricky.

I must have slept at a bad angle last night, because it hurts right over my left shoulder blade when I inhale, though it felt fine when I went to bed.

Feb 102012

Went to the Anytime Fitness near Arbor Lakes. It’s smaller than the Maple Rd. one, but newer and nicer.

Again, the squats and bench press were embarrassingly easy at 55 lbs. and 50 lbs., respectively. The barbell rows were a little harder at 70 lbs., and I was having a hard time rowing all the way to the floor without rounding my back. At first I thought it couldn’t be done without larger diameter plates on the bar, but no, I was just too stiff to squat down far enough. After making some adjustments I managed to reach almost to the floor on the last two sets.

Something tells me that in a few weeks I’m going to miss how easy this is now.

Feb 082012

I started a new workout routine Monday. I’ve fallen so far from my peak of about 18 months ago that I had to get back on the wagon. I was doing so well, then right around Thanksgiving of 2010 all my motivation simply fled, and it’s been downhill ever since. I’ve managed to rein in my weight when it threatened to get out of control, but I’ve lost a ridiculous amount of muscle mass. I’ve made a few false starts, but nothing as regular as I was doing.

Sunday night I was searching for a workout routine, because the one I’d been using from Men’s Fitness was worn out. I’d decided to go back and do the modified DC-style workout a previous trainer had me on that worked pretty well, and I’d gotten as far as planning my workouts and setting them up in a spreadsheet.

I hadn’t written down, and couldn’t find in the old forum I’d used to track my progress, the proper technique for some of the exercises, so I started hunting. I stumbled upon an article about compound exercises on skinnybulkup.com, which led me to stronglifts.com. It sounded intriguing, and I couldn’t find anything wrong with the theory, so I put in my email address, downloaded the report/instructions, and started reading.

Some of the writing sounded a bit “As Seen On TV!”, which initially made me detect a whiff of snake oil, but as the author is from Belgium I cut him some slack; his English is far better than my Flemish (or German, or French). Besides, anyone casually throwing around the word “bullshit” in his writing is unlikely to be a salesman.

The gist is this: three workouts per week, three exercises per workout, fives sets of five reps per exercise (one set for deadlifts). The kicker is that you start the program with an empty 45 lb. barbell. The next time you do the same exercise, you add 5 lbs. (total, not per side). The other main point is that you do squats in every workout: three times per week, adding 5 lbs. each time. I HATE squats, but they really are the most effective compound exercise you can do; they work nearly every muscle if you do them right.

After reading through most of it (skipping the overabundance of testimonials and before/after pics), and still finding no sales pitch, I decided to bite the bullet. It sure beat what I was doing, which was nothing.

Because technique is so heavily stressed, I decided to wait until 10pm Monday to hit the gym, so I could practice getting everything right without hogging the power rack. It went pretty well, though I was concentrating so hard on getting everything right, I forgot to put weight on the bar for the barbell rows (one of the two exercises that start with more than an empty bar). Jumping from 45 lbs. to 70 lbs. next time I do them will be interesting.

Tonight was the second workout, which also went well, but let me tell you this: NOTHING will test your ability to ignore what others are doing, or what they might think of you, like lifting an empty barbell for five sets.

There was a short blonde kid working out next to me, in a “U of M Medical School” hoodie and “US Naval Academy” shorts. Tight, muscular body; very intense; had “future officer” written all over him. He’s doing barbell chin-ups, then crunches, then one-armed rows, then running over to do lat pulldowns, then repeating the whole cycle at least five times.

Meanwhile, I’m standing there with my barbell, a 2.5 lb. (yes, I said two-and-a-half) plate on each side, doing squats, then taking those OFF to do overhead presses. I feel like a complete schmuck, while Mr. Type-A is engaged in warrior training not five feet away. Still, I gritted my teeth, focused on doing everything right, and kept my eyes off of him while doing my sets.

I console myself with the fact that, if all goes well, I’ll be squatting more than my own body weight by the middle of April.

May 042011

Went to Planet Rock last night after dinner to do some bouldering traverses. I’m finding I enjoy the challenge of side-to-side climbing more than vertical ascent; maybe because it doesn’t involve falling very far if I slip.

PR has a tunnel, lined with grips on both sides, that leads up to a bouldering cave. What I’ve been doing recently is climbing along one side of the tunnel to the first turn, then either continuing past the two turns into the cave or crossing to the other side of the tunnel and coming back down. My finger strength and stamina is increasing, as I was able to boulder this way for almost a solid hour with only brief stops to get a drink and stretch my fingers. I’m also finding that continuing yoga would be very helpful in making the long stretches necessary to reach distant grips. I definitely need to get my own pair of shoes, however. The rentals have been adequate while I was re-learning the ropes, so to speak, but I’ve outgrown them already. I need my own, with a proper fit. Maybe this weekend, budget willing.

I met a cute Michigan Tech sophomore named Eric in the bouldering cave. He was trying to make it around the last corner into the cave, which is very close to a 360º turn, and wasn’t having much success. I showed him how to navigate it, and we talked and climbed for about 20 minutes. He said he felt almost guilty for using his long limbs to his advantage; I countered that a lightweight climber wouldn’t feel guilty that his lack of mass allowed him to scamper up a wall and hang from a grip longer, and that cured his guilt. He’s only been climbing for about a month, like me (after my eight year hiatus), and is practicing over the summer in hopes of making the climbing team in September. Unfortunately for him, he lives in Brighton, so can only make the drive down about once a week. When I last saw him, he was trying on harnesses, so he must be serious about it.

The burning I was getting in my forearms and elbows after climbing, that required 600 mg of Motrin to remedy, didn’t reappear last night, so instead I took it for my right shoulder. Oddly, it was the left one that I overstretched once, so hard it felt like an electrical jolt, yet it’s been completely pain-free. Maybe I should put my right one on a rack for a good pull.

I need to research a good training regimen for all this, something holistic enough to cover flexibility, finger strength, and muscle endurance. While the best way to improve those things is to, you know, climb, I need something for when I can’t. So far, I’m thinking yoga for flexibility and breathing technique, pilates for core strength (so I can hang horizontally under a shelf and keep my torso from dropping downward), regular weightlifting, and the hand/wrist/forearm training programs easily found with a Google search. The big one will be losing as much excess fat as possible, something I’ve always struggled with, but has gotten easier lately since I’ve cut most sugar from my diet. That alone has noticeably reduced my stomach size, and I wasn’t eating tons of sugar to begin with.

Mar 092011

Went running outside yesterday, for the first time since October 5th, 2010 according to RunKeeper. Did 2.62 miles around the neighborhood, and paid for it almost immediately.

My tendinitis and heel spurs are alive and well, and presented me with a big “Fuck You” shortly after I finished the run. Within an hour or so of sitting at my desk I could barely get down the stairs.

I went to yoga a couple hours later and, while it did help noticeably, it’s not enough. I’ve started taking max doses of ibuprofen and need to start icing my heels. Between that and yoga I may actually be able to run without pain sometime this year.

That, or cripple myself in the attempt.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

 Posted by at 1:00 pm
Feb 222010

I got an intensive 90-minute resistance/cardio workout, I didn’t have to wait to use any of the equipment, I had a parking spot right in front of the place, there were no kids and, best of all, it was FREE TO JOIN!

The hours are kind of sporadic, though.

Mother Nature's Fitness Center

Feb 192010

In lieu of an actual post of any substance, since I can’t seem to wake up this morning, here’s a drug commercial I stumbled across while trying to explain the My Little Cthulhu toy on my desk to a coworker.

Here’s hoping the coffee and Concerta will eventually jumpstart my exercise-depleted brain. Jump-squats, lunges, and treadmill sprints are evil, evil things. This morning I dreamed I was in the underground of some unknown city/country. All of the various neighborhoods/cities were connected, not by subways, but by high-speed moving sidewalks.

Treadmills. I was dreaming about treadmills. >:-|

Feb 162010

The Trainer (and I feel it’s important that this be capitalized) did not reduce me to blurred vision, gasping, and acid reflux as he did last Thursday. Not that it wasn’t intense, but this was an upper body workout which, unlike a legs/core routine, typically doesn’t transform one into this:

It consisted of two rounds of deadlift presses, lateral dumbell raises (where 1.5 reps actually equaled 1 rep), walking the treadmill with my hands while in a pushup position (both directions), doing a 1-minute plank with my elbows balanced on a Bosu, and walking across the room and back holding a 12 lb. medicine ball straight up in the air with one hand, dipping it down to my shoulder and back up at the halfway point. It looks easy.

It lies.

I’ve been given dietary instructions for the rest of the week, before we take all my baseline measurements on Saturday morning: no processed sugar, minimal sodium, and *shudder* NO ALCOHOL. On top of that, I can’t drink anything at all after 9pm on Friday night.

Well, I guess that makes me the designated driver for the Great Guinness Toast birthday party we’re attending Friday night. :-/

On the plus side, Paul The Trainer told me to make up for it on Saturday, just in time for our friend Andy’s Mardi Gras party. Rest assured, I will devour King Cake and Hurricanes like the People of Walmart turned loose at the Old Country Buffet.

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