Fitness: Paaht II

It has been 2 months and 10 days since I started working on some new fitness goals. I’ve posted a screenshot here that you can checkout to see the progress I’ve made (the spreadsheet, not the cat). I have had 4 measurements since my baseline, and I’ve made steady progress and am now just starting to see results, and though they’re modest, I’m very happy with where they’re going. Before you click the image, I haven’t measured since October 17 because of my recent job change, but will be measured again this week. When I do, I’ll update this post. All disclaimers aside, here’s the progress I’ve made thus far:

All in all, I’m quite pleased where this is headed. You can see that on my last measurement I was 218, and since then my weight has been around a couple of pounds of that. My weight gain is unexpected, but my muscle growth has been going pretty well too.

In summary, in a period of 1 month and 19 days I went from 33% body fat down to a 21%. I am incredibly excited about this and look at in the sense that I went from 1/3 of my weight to being fat, down to only 1/5! I know that this is still high, but if my growth continues this way, I don’t care if I weigh 250 in another 6 months as long as I keep putting on muscle mass and losing fat. Right now, I will be very pleased reaching 15%. Once I get there I will see what I need to do to bring it lower and see how it goes. As relatively easy as this is now that I have the dedication, I may let it go for a while and go into a maintenance mode, which is certainly less intense.

On my previous post about fitness I said I would talk about my routine. Before I talk about what I’m doing, here is what I’m doing different this time around. I do 4-5 sets of an exercise. My first set is 20 reps. From there, I increase weight and focus to get my last set around 10 reps, plus or minus.

I also make it my goal to let the targeted muscle group do the work. This requires concentration on form, and while weight is important for intensity, if you’re losing form you’re not getting the most out of it. Our bodies are lazy and naturally want to move things as easily as possible. An example of what this looks like is doing chest presses. Personally, I use dumbbells. The old way I would do them is to just push them up in the air. This involved as much of my arms as it did my pectoral muscles. I never saw much gain in my chest. Now, I focus on my pecs, letting them do the work, my arms are merely responding to the movement of my chest, and they work simply for balance and control—not a lot of lift. This results in me using less weight, and gaining results. Don’t forget to look at the chart if you don’t believe me. To date, I haven’t gone above a 40 lb. dumbbell because of shoulder limitations, but I’m getting noticeable results. The first time I flexed my chest for my sons they laughed and asked, “how do you make your nipples dance?” It was a riot. All that said, just remember that I’m trying to focus on the muscle group, not the goal of moving the weight.

I’m in the gym a minimum of 5 days a week, 6 if I can make it. Every day I do 4 sets of light work for my rotator cuffs. This is the first thing I do for shoulder recovery, strengthening, and prevention of new injuries. 2 of the days I do at least 30 minutes of cardio, but try to do 45. Here’s the breakdown of my routine:

Day 1: Quads consisting of 4-5 sets of leg raises and 4-5 sets of leg presses. Currently my raises are finishing between 115–130 lbs. and my leg presses are between 400–500 lbs. Like the others, they vary depending on several factors. Lately, I’ve been feeling a little tired on leg days because of a bug I’ve been fighting.

Day 2: Chest consisting of dumbbell press, flys, incline press, and crossovers.

Day 3: Cardio

Day 4: Back consisting of pull downs, rows, one-arm dumbbell lifts (I really like these! I get tired and feel it all the way down my back. I’m usually quite tight and tired by the end of this.), and I’ll finish with a close-grip pulldown.

Day 5: Cardio, hamstrings (lying and sitting) and calves. I split my leg workouts because I would be exhausted, just absolutely useless, after working quads and hamstrings. Splitting this group also allows me to work each group equally hard because I’ve had time to rest. A benefit is I can still sit down without looking like a moron the couple of days after.

Day 6: Biceps and triceps. This is also an intense combination, I think because of my shoulder. I think I’m going to try splitting it, but am not sure.

Day 7: rest

As you can see, I’m busy when I’m at the gym, and I workout by myself. I’m there forty-five minutes to an hour. I enjoy working with others (it’s a great way to get extra rest between sets), but I enjoy the solitude. I also need to incorporate some abdominals, but even with the fatty problem, I’ve always had a pretty strong core, and may not do anything for it until I can start seeing it again.

And really, that’s it. If you ask me what I do different today than from all the other times I’ll say that I do more reps and focus better on form, and eat more often. To food real quick, I can feel the food working after I work my legs. It’s a very cool feeling—it’s almost as good as taking in oxygen after holding your breath—hard to describe, but very, very cool.

Thanks for reading. I look forward to sharing the update on my measurements with you.

Updated 11/29/11

With the last few weeks being without I job I let my eating habits slip. I lost 5 lbs., but it was lean mass and I went from 21.4% to 23% body fat. This week then I’m repurposing my eating and getting back in the groove, working out more intensely, and … sigh… more cardio. I am measuring again this Sunday and want to be under 20%. Let’s see how it goes.

Oh, and thanks to The Oatmeal for the drawing. It’s my computer wallpaper at work and I smile/laugh every single time I see it. If you haven’t seen his work, check it out. It’s the smartest, funniest, and crassest comic you’ll ever lay eyes on.

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