Monday, December 27, 2010

Week 6; My Workout Routine

My stats for this week are:

Weight: 154 lbs.
Waist: 31.3"
I'm skipping photos this week for three reasons:
  1. There's very little noticeable difference from week to week so far
  2. The last photos I posted are from just 4 days ago, and
  3. Quite frankly, I'm tired of looking at my nearly naked body (and I'm guessing you are, too)
I'll post them more frequently starting late January, since my refined diet will be in place.

What I will do, however, is talk a little about my current workout routine, since a few people have asked about it.

I'll start with the usual spiel regarding us all being an experiment of one, everyone's body reacts differently to a given stimulus, yadda, yadda (it's true, though). I'll also mention that I rarely stay on a particular routine for an extended period because the body only changes if it sees a reason to (plus, I get bored). For a short period of time, a given stimulus will cause the muscles to rebuild a little larger and stronger so they can cope with an unexpected stressor. But if that same activity (same reps, same weight, same rest period) is continued for a prolonged period, the muscles will stop adapting, since nothing is changing. It doesn't take a complete restructuring of a routine to continue the growth/strength gains. It can be as simple as slightly increasing the weight, reducing rest periods, changing the rep schemes, doing the exercises in a different order, etc.

With all that said, here's my current routine. I won't list the amount of weight I use, because that's very individualized.

MON (Pulling muscles: 90 sec rest between sets)
5 min. warmup on Schwinn Airdyne
Pullups - 3 sets
BB deadlifts - 2 warmup sets, 2 heavy work sets (5-6 reps each)
DB bent rows - 2 sets of 8-10 reps per arm
DB/BB curls - 2 sets of 8-10 reps
Weighted situps (holding plate to chest) - 3 sets (I alternate these with the next exercise)
Hanging leg raises - 3 sets

20 minute spin on the Airdyne
1 set each of pushups, pullups, situps, hanging dips

WED (Pushing muscles: 90 sec rest between sets)
5 min. warmup on Schwinn Airdyne
BB bench press - 1 warmup set, 3 works sets (6-10 reps each)
BB (or DB) military press - 2 sets (8-10 reps ea)
DB overhead extensions OR hanging dips - 2-3 sets
DB squats (holding dumbbells at sides) - 2 sets (10-15 reps)
DB fly/press (inclined on bench) - 2 sets (8 reps of each movement)

same as Tues

"Beach work"
(meaning the "showy" muscles; arms, shoulders)
I might do a few sets of curls, triceps exercises, lateral raises for shoulders, etc. Basically, I'm giving the major muscle groups a rest from the big lifts, like bench presses and deadlifts (I LOVE deadlifts, but they're very hard on the body if done with heavy weights and potentially dangerous, as witnessed by my separated shoulder back in '04)

"4 Minute Drill"
I'll do as many pushups, pullups, situps and hanging dips in 4 minutes (doing each exercise for 4 minutes, resting several minutes, then doing the next, etc.) These can get pretty intense. It's fun to see what approach gets me the most reps (i.e. low reps, short rest, medium rest, medium rest, etc).


I just started splitting my workouts like this. Previously, I was doing my entire body in one workout, but as I increased the weight and sets, it was just too much (i.e. I almost passed out a couple of weeks ago).

I'll make a few changes to this routine over the course of the next few weeks. I'll be reducing the rest periods between sets to 60 seconds for a few weeks, then 45 seconds, then 30 seconds the last couple of weeks in February. Consequently, the weights will have to decrease a little. I'll be operating on a slight calorie deficit, so my strength will decline a bit (plus, I'll give my muscles less time to recover). I'm hoping the increased intensity will result in more fat burning and limited muscle loss.

I'll also gradually increase my cardio. If my heel obeys, I'll add in some walking a few days per week, and I'll change one of my easy Airdyne spins per week to an interval session.

Along with drinking lots of water and getting adequate sleep, that's about it. Oh, I am planning on weaning myself off of caffeine the next few weeks, mostly for personal reasons (not that it's necessary for this project). That's the only substance I've been addicted to in my life, and it's always a killer to get off of it. Refined sugar will also be a no-no. I may post my diet when the time comes, too. I think I've got it pretty much planned out.

Of course, everything I've just posted is subject to change if things aren't working ;-)

Hope I didn't bore you to tears, but hopefully I shared something helpful. Remember, I'm just a scrawny runner that got into weight lifting many years ago during the times I wasn't I'm no expert. I'm still learning as I go.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Week 5.5 (Okay, I Lied)

Insane workload or not, I NEEDED to get in at least one workout this week. Today marks one month since I publicly stated my goal of developing a defined six-pack by the end of February 2011. According to the photos, not much has changed. I may have gained a bit of muscle mass, but my weight and waist measurements are virtually unchanged. Due to my heel injury, I've done very little cardio work...which means diet and weight training are the key factors in the loss of bodyfat I’ll need to achieve in order to expose the elusive washboard abs. I've started using additional resistance in my crunches (holding a weight plate on my chest), along with hanging leg raises. Admittedly, I'm kind of in a holding pattern until about mid-January, when I'll start adjusting my diet. Until then, I'm trying to maintain control, while still enjoying holiday goodies. The workouts will become more intense as well. The rest periods I'm currently using between sets (currently 90 seconds) will be reduced around that time as well.

Okay, here are the (somewhat redundant) photos:

Have a Merry Christmas, folks!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

No Time

I've been bombarded with work, so I've decided to make this a "rest week", as far as workouts go. I'll hopefully be able to get back into the groove next week.

Merry Christmas & enjoy the holidays!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Week 4

Once again, there isn't much visual difference showing up in the photos. I can say that I've gotten stronger on nearly all of my lifts, and I believe there is some muscle growth, but as far as bodyfat levels are concerned, there's no decrease. In fact, it may be nudging up a bit. No cause for concern yet, though.

My workouts are still primarily focused on building strength. Right now, I'm only lifting weights twice per week (and doing bodyweight exercises most other days). I've learned that my body needs time to both recover, then rebuild. As I approach cut-down time, I'll reduce the number of sets I do, but keep the intensity (weight and reps) high, much like a running program would be structured leading into a key race. The body needs less volume so it can recover, yet the intensity should be maintained so as to not lose sharpness (in this case, muscle size and definition). I've read a lot of well-informed articles stating that, despite old-school thinking, lifting lighter weights for more reps does NOT increase definition, but keeping the weights relatively high, but with shorter rest periods will help retain muscle size & definition during a "peak" phase. The definition and "cuts" come from slowly reducing the level of bodyfat.

As for cardio, I got the go-ahead to do some swimming and light spinning, but after doing an easy 20 minutes on Precor's version of the Lifecycle, my heel ached for two days. Once work lets up (crazy busy this week), I'll give the pool a try.

I did hit a milestone yesterday. For several weeks, I've been trying on and off to do 100 pushups in 4 minutes. I finally hit that goal yesterday by doing 102. My next goal is to do a single set of 20 pullups (I'm currently stuck at 17).

Enough blabber. Here are this week's photos:

Monday, December 6, 2010

Week 3...and Back Tips

I'm realizing that there really isn't much change in my appearance from week 1 to week 3. That may be that case until I start working specifically to burn the fat late next January and all of February. I'm working on increasing my strength, but I don't want to bulk up too much for a couple of reasons: I don't want to put on too much fat since it'll be harder to burn it off, and quite frankly my wardrobe is limited and I want to be able to fit into my jeans! I think I'm adding just a bit of muscle (I only measure my waist), but it's probably not noticeable.

Here are this week's photos:

I also want to talk about back training. A lot of people who do casual weight training prefer to work on the showy muscles — biceps and pecs — and neglect their backs. Not only is this a bad idea from an aesthetic point of view, but it's terrible for posture. If your anterior delts and pectorals are overly developed and your back is underdeveloped, you'll end up having a hard time not slouching and rolling your shoulders forward. A strong and developed back helps to keep your upper body posture balanced. Our backs also tend to be weak links (lower back, in particular) and are easy to injure if they're neglected. Personally, I enjoy training my back more than any other body parts. I keep it simple. Deadlifts, bent rows and pull ups cover all three “planes” of movement (pulling up, pulling in, pulling down, respectively). For the first two, I wear a weightlifting belt for safety. Since I haven't posted a back photo yet, here's a recent shot of my still-a-work-in-progress back:

That's it for now. I'm REALLY itching to start doing some cardio...