Tag Archives: Resistance training

Fitness Journey – Day 58 Progress

28 Feb

Well it’s been a very eventful month in terms of my health and well-being. I have achieved several of my goals and this has left me feeling extremely pleased with myself. So first, the data, then I’ll tick off all of my achievements for the month.

So which goals have I reached?

  • I have permanently reduced my resting heart rate to my first target of 58 beats per minute. This is a huge thing for me, because the lower my heart rate at rest, the less oxygen my body needs and therefore the longer I can potentially stay underwater on a single air tank when I go diving.
  • My waist to hip ratio has passed my first two targets of 0.92 and 0.89. This is a really good indicator that I have lowered my overall risk of cardiac and coronary diseases to a bare minimum. My next target of 0.85 will virtually eliminate any risk (statistically speaking) of a heart attack or stroke as I head into my 50’s and 60’s.
  • I am now permanently off my anti-anxiety medication!!
  • I now no longer crave sweets/desserts, soft drinks, or any foods containing either dairy or grains.
  • I am now exercising to a regular training schedule… mostly

What else have I achieved?

  • In the two months since I started to take measurements, I have reduced my body fat from 28.2% to 19.72%, which is only 1.72% away from my first goal.
  • I am stronger over all
    • lifting greater weight, having tripled my dumbbell weights, doubled my bench press weights, and moved on to my thickest resistance bands in order to get an effective workout.
    • I am now only 2 push-ups from my target of 30 in the 60-second test.
    • I have increased my plank time from 1 minute to 2 minutes and 41 seconds, which is only 19 seconds short of my first 3 minute target.
    • I started measuring a Wall Sit Test, which has increased by 30 seconds to 3 minutes 8 seconds in only 2 weeks.
    • I can push myself in my workouts to perform with greater effort and for a longer period of time, and I no longer give up on my exercise when it gets tough, pushing myself until I am forced due to failure of my muscles to respond.

Where do I need to improve?

  • I am still not strict enough with myself to ensure I spend enough time stretching after my workouts. This is particularly noticeable this month as I have some lower back pain and a tilt in my pelvis due to tightness in the hip flexors on my right hand side. While I am being more careful to do a dynamic warm up and dynamic stretching before workouts, the recovery exercise will ensure I recover much more quickly and with less risk of injury at my next session.
  • My nutrition is so much improved, and yet I have eaten much less fruit this month, and I have not been eating from a wide enough selection of vegetables. I’ve been considering the option of taking a multivitamin, but I’d prefer to avoid needing to do so if I can help it, so I will need to ensure I am eating a wider variety of vegetables with every meal, rather than simply having a single vegetable or two of the same types with most of my meals. Perhaps this means I should plan ahead a little better when I go shopping for the weekly groceries.
  • My workouts have increased well in intensity, but I feel I have been letting myself down a little in terms of duration. While I can see on paper and feel within myself that I am stronger and fitter, I feel as though I should be able to do more, and should be able to increase my HIIT workouts to be greater than only 4-6 minutes. I guess I’m not convinced that I will increase my stamina if I don’t start to incorporate some endurance work as well. While I have made a start more recently by doubling some of my HIIT workouts, I feel as though this is really only a beginning. My warm-up and cool-down can take up almost 25 minutes of my workout time if I wish to ensure I do things “properly”, so I will need to look more carefully at how I stage and plan the workouts themselves. This is an area where I am starting to believe that the CrossFit methodology seems to be a good fit for me, and is something I feel I need to examine more closely.
  • I still can’t complete a pull-up. What I’d like to do is to be able to complete enough of them to use them as part of a serious workout, so I think some targeted training my need to be done in order to do this. This means buying or building a pull-up station for outside the house where I will have the height to do the exercise properly.
  • I need to set a more appropriate training schedule that is both challenging, and yet allows for sufficient recovery and development over time. Clearly my efforts to date have been less than perfect and need to be improved in order to be more effective.
  • A resting heart rate of 56
  • 18% body fat by 31 March 2013
  • 16% body fat by 30 April 2013
  • 0.85 Hip to Waist ratio
  • 0.45 Waist to Height ratio
  • Perform 3 complete pull-ups in a row
  • 30 push-ups in under a minute by 14 March 2013
  • 40 push-ups in under a minute by 31 March 2013
  • 4 minute wall sit by 31 March 2013
  • 3 minute plank by 14 March 2013
  • 4 minute plank by 31 March 2013
  • 7/0 Beep Test on 02 March 2013
  • 7/5 Beep Test by 31 March 2013
  • 8/0 Beep Test by 30 April 2013
  • Run 3.8 km undulating course in 25 minutes by 31 March 2013
  • Run 3.8 km undulating course in 22 minutes by 31 May 2013
  • Run 3.8 km undulating course in 18 minutes by 31 July 2013
  • Dive continuously for 2 hours at 10 meters on a 14 litre tank of air.
  • Reduce Triglyceride count to < 1.5 mmol/L by 01 Apr 2013
  • Reduce LDL cholesterol count to < 2.5 mmol/L by 01 Apr 2013
  • Increase HDL cholesterol count to > 1.0 mmol/L by 01 Apr 2013
  • Commence Personal Training Course on 4 March 2013
  • Complete Personal Training Qualifications by 01 September 2013
  • Design an effective, flexible and randomised training program for minimal equipment to be implemented by 01 April 2013

You may have noticed that some of these goals don’t have dates. This is because I don’t know yet how to achieve those goals in a predictable way, either due to a lack of knowledge, or a lack of understanding relating to specific training. When I have learned more, I’ll be able to set some realistic yet challenging dates for these goals to target. For all of the rest, the dates are my expectations based on everything that I have learned about myself over the past 2 months.

Final Thoughts

I feel as if I’ve had a couple of big wins this month. I’ve managed to mostly take my training in hand, and I am doing all of this by myself and without the help of a trainer or a specific support group. The biggest win for me is that I am no longer medicated to manage anxiety. Diet and exercise have really helped here, and by learning to focus myself mentally to achieve my goals or to do some of the harder workouts, I have been learning to focus myself better mentally for the challenges that I face in the rest of my life. I have learned to embrace my failures and to take valuable lessons away from them, and I have learned that I am capable of anything that I put my mind to, provided I want it enough and my reasons for wanting it are strong enough to be self-motivating. I have seen an experiment in dietary improvement become a life changing lifestyle choice that has become habitual rather than forcing a diet on myself.

I’ve seen myself slowly reach a weight-loss plateau, yet the fat-loss has been consistently linear and I have seen a reciprocal muscle gain which explains the slower weight loss. This is a very good thing, and shows me a real measurable result that is in keeping with the other wins I have had in areas such as increased strength, balance, and endurance. I am as strong, perhaps stronger than I can remember myself ever being, and fitter than I have been in more than 20 years.

Nothing worth having is ever easy. The work has been hard and I’ve certainly had a few hiccups along the way, yet every failure fills me with a desire to do better, and every little win motivates me to reach higher. My self belief is stronger than it has ever been, and I find myself more focussed on what I will do rather than what I might do, because I know that I am capable of far more than I have been able to achieve to date. 2013 is off to a hell of a start for me, and I’m looking forward to every addition challenge that the rest of the year throws my way.

Today’s awesome and unscheduled workout

25 Feb

I decided to have a good solid workout today… and then it was only after I had worn myself out completely that I remembered that it was almost the end of the month, and that I had planned Tests and measurements between today and Thursday. Oh well, so much for sticking to my workout plan.  The trouble is, that I keep seeing things that I would like to try out or do, and I keep getting the urge to work out. So much so that I feel kind of out of sorts on the days that I really should be resting.

One of the things that I have realised though, is that my plan was a little naive. Where I had tried to space certain things out, I had either not allowed for enough of a workout on some days that the rest days seemed a little silly, while on other days I had a hard workout which made me feel like I needed a rest day out of my schedule. Half way through, I decided to seriously examine what CrossFit was about, and realised that my planned pattern of workout days and rests are in keeping with the CrossFit way of doing things, but the majority of the workouts didn’t really provide me with the stimulus required to get the most out of this pattern of workouts, and that a more dedicated HIIT approach with extra flexibility exercises outside of the schedule might have served me better.

The plan hasn’t been a total write off however. I’ve been able to use it to learn a lot about what makes a poorly designed and poorly executed plan, and I can fine tune it from here to get more out of the idea. On the other hand, I could take a leaf out of the CrossFit book and simply follow a HIITx3 + Rest pattern, and try to avoid doing the same workouts. I can still schedule in days for testing and measuring, using those days to get in workouts that are the tests themselves, and using a few benchmark workouts to help me gauge my fitness improvement.

I’ve often said that it is OK to encounter failure in your journey, and better to accept the failures in order to learn from them and to improve overall.  In my own case, I feel a sense of achievement from this because not only have I learned from my failure, I also live by the example that I try to teach to others. These are things that I can personally take pride in and use to encourage myself to achieve even greater things on my journey.

The workout

So today I decided to do a fixed number of reps for 4 different exercises. This is relatively new ground for me because I usually prefer to work to time and intensity rather than counting the reps, and I guess I am still digesting all of the CrossFit stuff that I had been looking into, and so I guess that really influenced my choice of workout for today. So the workout was basically the following:

  • 200 Rows
  • 100 Squats
  • 50 Push-ups
  • 100  Reverse Flys with a side stand
    (50 per arm)

I don’t have a rowing machine, so I used my heaviest resistance band and did a full row in a sitting position. While it doesn’t work the legs the way a rowing machine would, the upper body, arms and core are all still fully engaged. I also used a lighter resistance band for the reverse fly. 

To ensure I did not overwork muscle groups by using them continuously, I broke the workout down into 5 sets so that the exercises were alternated and would give certain muscle groups a rest. I did however complete the exercise without stopping for a rest between sets, worked slow enough to ensure I maintained form, yet quickly enough to work to the maximum intensity that I am capable of. The workout took me 15 minutes and 24 seconds to complete, and left me feeling sweaty and completely wasted. You know that feeling when everything including your hair is hurting?

Recovery

As I write this post, I am making my way methodically through a plate full of fish and mixed vegetables which is full of colour and protein and in keeping with my Paleo leanings. And of course I’ve been standing by my own advice with regards to post workout rehydration, making my way through an extra 600ml of water that I won’t count towards my minimum daily requirement. Now that I am a little rested from my workout, I’ll go through a process of stretching those muscles that I have worked the hardest, which is mostly my quads and shoulders, and I’ll be sure to work on my Psoas and Hamstrings which have always been very tight and where all of my recurrent injury problems have come from in the past.

Post workout thoughts

My shoulders now feel like an elephant has been trampling on them, and yet I know that this is the good soreness, and not the bad one that means I need a surgeon! While I thought that the workout had totalled my shoulders, I’m now feeling a delayed reaction from my legs and belly, so I KNOW that I’ve worked everything really hard. So while I’ll need to wait a couple of days before do my fitness tests, I know that the muscle ache will pass quickly, and that I’ll be ready and able to do my testing.

I am very pleased to have avoided any sort of injury over the course of the last month. I have worked my body harder than I can ever remember, and yet I have not been forced to skip workouts or avoid movement as I used to whenever I had tried to do regular exercise in the past. This is a huge accomplishment for me which shows that I have really learned a lot over the last few months about how better to work my body efficiently and more importantly to work it safely. Having effectively cured myself of chronic back pain, I am able to recover much more quickly from strenuous exercise, and by sticking to my post workout recovery regimen I am able to do a workout daily that would have left me resting for a week in the days when I was an injury-prone noob. Every little win that I have had over the past few months has made it easier for me to build momentum with my journey, and every failure has been less of a setback and more of an encouragement to keep learning and trying harder. So much so, that today I feel as if the momentum continues to build and so to does my health and fitness.

I’ll be taking photos in a couple of days to add to my progress page, and I expect to log improvements to all of my measurements and tests. Truth be told, I take girth and skin-fold measurements weekly, and the numbers have been showing me that my progress has been quite steady. I won’t spill the beans early – even though I’m tempted to – because I’d rather analyse the results all together, but I’m really excited about sharing the results with you in a couple of days time.

🙂

Working out with my youngest son

23 Feb

I’m really happy to have my kids with me this weekend, and I used the opportunity this morning to get my youngest boy involved in an intense workout. I’ll admit that as a father I can be a little tough on my kids, particularly when I want them to try their hardest to do something well and I catch them screwing around instead of just getting the job done, so today’s workout was a bit of a mixed bag of emotions. I was annoyed with my boy for not focussing hard enough at one stage, and then I was really proud of him for buckling down and getting the job done.

I took my son through an 11 minute HIIT workout, and by the end of it we were both sweaty, exhausted, and had a sense of achievement. For me, the achievement was in getting my son involved and trying his hardest to work his body, and for my son he felt a sense of achievement that not only had he conquered a workout that was quite demanding for him physically, he had also managed to impress me by putting in a really solid effort and having a really great workout.

I made sure to do my workout with Elliot, and to show him that the workout was not only the same for me, but that it would also be challenging for me. Naturally I ensured that I worked at my maximum intensity, and that the resistance movements were weighted so that they would challenge both of us at a level appropriate for our relative levels of fitness. We used resistance bands for two of the movements, and relied on bodyweight for the other six, repeating the following sets twice using a 25 second work and 15 second rest sequence:

  • Lat Pulldown (Resistance Bands)
  • Walking Lunge
  • Left Side Plank + Oblique Twist
  • Right Side Plank + Oblique Twist
  • Push-up with alternating Oblique Crunch
  • Squat
  • Burpee
  • Chest Press (Resistance Bands)

This is one of the things that I really like about High Intensity Training. The most basic movements can contribute to a very challenging workout when they are performed with both perfect form and with maximum speed and effort. This means that almost any workout can be reasonably scaled to suit different fitness levels, ages, and with a little creativity can suit any level of physical ability. So not only can I get my son involved in the same workouts as me at his own maximum intensity, I can also expect to be able to do these same workouts – albeit with minor modifications perhaps – when I am in my 60’s… 70’s… hopefully also into my 80’s if I play my cards right and continue to maintain a healthier lifestyle. 🙂

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