Thursday, March 31, 2011

back to the gym

I lead a pretty sedentary life, and thanks to OpenVPN and being able to work from home, it's gotten even more sedentary since at least work has stairs you have to go up. While I knew I needed to do something, it wasn't until I got winded heading up the apartment stairs with some laundry on Sunday that I realized it was go time. On Monday, I swung by Anytime Fitness took a quick tour, and signed up for the month-to-month plan... end results is that it's around $43/month, but I have 24 hour access to the gym via nifty key fob you swipe at the door. After a month or so, databases get sync'd up and the fob will work for any AF gym in the US. Pretty slick.

This isn't the first time I've tried to get back into a gym, but it's the first one where I'm not trying to think up a reason to procrastinate going until it's too late. I've also made a few changes to my approach for getting back into the swing of things that I think are helping.

The first big thing is my goal for working out. Instead of "I want to lose weight" or "I want to look better", my goal is simply to regain lost power (or as much as I can being in my 30's now). I've discovered that I still have the strength I worked to achieve with the Bigger Faster Stronger program back in my football days, but I've lost anything resembling stamina. I can probably still pick up 400lbs, but carrying a 40lb box up a flight of stairs is a wipe out. I can shuffle through a mile, but it becomes absolute murder with a 25lb laptop bag on my back. I simply want to get to a point where these things are no longer "*wheeze*wheeze*Gimmesome*wheeze*Gatorade*wheeze*" events. More info on my plan for that below.

The second thing is: I realize I suck now. Whenever I'm doing a lift and I feel like my muscles are turning to Jello, it's time to stop. Period, end of story. Yes, it's good to push through the pain... after you're in shape and the body is used to repairing the damage. Right now, though, it's just going to hurt you and put you further behind schedule. In fact, if you get to that point, you've overestimated yourself and need to scale back the weight for your next workout (because, I like I said, you're done for today because you're hurt). Yes, I feel like an absolute pansy doing squats with a 20lb dumbbell. No, I don't care because 1) I'm able to walk the next day, and 2) I'll be up to big boy weight in a few weeks as long as I don't get hurt.

I really can stress how much the second point is against my nature, but I've come to understand just how important it is.

Any rate. The Plan(tm). Everyone's got their own work outs that they'll tell you is the best. For me, the general workout I've had the most success with is a short, simple workout based on the BFS system I used back in football days. Basically lifting 3 times a week (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday) and doing the 3 core lifts (legs, chest, other) in either 3x8, 3x12, or 3x15. MWF starts off with 20 minutes of cardio, TRS are only 20 minutes of cardio.. no lifting.

Core lifts are supposed to be:
M - bench, squat, military press
W - dips, dead lift, power cleans
F - towel bench, box squat, behind the neck press

Unfortunately... towel bench and box squat means moving massive amount of weight around and requires some strong spotters, so I just replace those with normal bench and squats. I also exchange leg press in for dead lifts simply because, again, dead lift is a lot of weight to be moving without people you know nearby. Dips also come off the table for now because, well, body by Dominos, knowwottamean Verne?

The big thing is to get the cardio done first before lifting. If you get your heart rate up to the 75% mark, then you get "extra credit" from your metabolism... each minute you spend at 75% gives you another minute that you can do an anaerobic exercise (like lifting weights) but you still burn energy as if it was an aerobic exercise. If you don't waste time screwing around, you can get the core lifts done in 20 minutes.

For now, I'm using a combo of 2km on a rowing machine, and making up whatever remainder of time I need for the 20 mins on a treadmill. My first time back, the performance on the rowing machine was horrible... 17 minutes for 2km, and I was basically stopping every 500m. 2nd time worked better: 11:05, only took 4 breaks. The grand ultimate goal is 8 mins for 2km on the rowing machine, and 1.5 miles on the treadmill in 12 mins.

For lifting, I've gone with extremely light weights, high reps. Simply trying to knock out 3x15s with bench, dumbbell squats, and an overhead press. Managed to get the bench press fully done, but wussed out on the last set of squats with only 12. I'm hoping to get the full reps in on Friday, and move on to the overhead presses. Monday will try to add in some sort of rowing lift (lat pull downs or something), and one final optional lift on Wednesday.

I figure if I can hang in there for the first 2 weeks, I can start ramping up the weights after my body realizes that this isn't going to stop.

In the meantime, I'll be eating aspirin like skittles and drinking lots of orange juice.

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