Archive for the ‘Workout Reports’ Category

Workout Report:

Posted: May 17, 2017 in Workout Reports

I’ve been largely successful with staying on task with my workouts over the last few months. Sure, I have to take the occasional day off, or push a workout by a day or two when I’m not feeling it, but the iron is not being left without a friend.

I’ve noticed that my capacity for exercise has grown, and I am seeing some visible and palpable changes lately. My arms are coming back, as are my shoulders, and all the rest. Strength-wise, I haven’t pushed for heavy weight like I have often done in the past. The intensity has gone up quite a bit, but I’m not in a hurry to get to the glories of the past.

To be honest, when you have a time in your life when you REALLY lifted, it takes a long time to get back into that kind of shape. Many months. It can be a little dissapointing when you find yourself carefully working up to the weight you used to warm up with. Still, I weigh about 60 or 70 pounds less than when I hoisted that kind of weight, and that plays a part. Also, I was in my 20s, and that’s a long, long time gone.

I’m happy with the progress. I want to do more, and I want things to go faster, of course, but I’m content. Progress is being made, and I’m feeling the difference and seeing it in the mirror. Things will move at their pace. The important thing is that I’m not aggravating any old injuries, and for that reason alone, it’s worth going carefully forward. You get a lot more out of steady work in the gym, every week, than you get out of occassional heroism. That’s what I’d been getting, because I couldn’t keep myself healthy. Yeah. I have to be smarter than that.

Perhaps the most important thing that I’ve gotten out of these steady workouts is the mental element. Nothing in the world puts me in a better mindset than hoisting things. That’s just how I’m built. I love a lot of things about this life, but the chemicals that dump into my blood when I’m lifting are better than anything a doctor could give me.

These last months have had a lot of emotional challenges for me to contend with, and hitting the gym has helped me get through a lot of days when I just struggled otherwise. I know this, and have known it for the longest time. The sad thing about this is, the times when we need that mood lifter more than anything, we will often find it so hard to include it in our lives. I’ve learned that, unless I’m physically too exhausted or hurt to lift, I should do it. No matter how I’m feeling emotionally. Do it.

Lesson learned? Sigh. Maybe. For now.

Cheers, and happy lifting.

Another short workout/health journal.

I have been lifting weights pretty regularly for a few months now, specifically getting into a real rhythm for the last two. Prior to that, I hadn’t been altogether out of the game, but my exercise had been sporadic and not really going anywhere.

Because I have lost a lot of weight, the results of any muscle building activity are more likely to be visible than they were. That’s kind of nice, really. In the past, I often seemed to start at big and flabby and end up at massive and bulky.

This time around, I can really see the difference in my physique as my workout program starts to get to the functional level. Probably the biggest places where I notice a change are in my triceps and my shoulders. They have really “awakened” again, which is nice. I had never really been a fan of seeing myself in a mirror, with totally square shoulders. That’s not how I am built. I have beefy shoulders and muscular arms. That, in any case, has always been the case when I’ve been working out.

And lo, it’s beginning to be the case again. I have a long way to go. I am going to have to take it slow, because you can’t snap your fingers and be twenty-three again. Especially when you’re going to be turning forty-three in a day or two. That said, it’s good, positive progress, and I’m pleased to see it. Especially because it hasn’t come with any weight gain.

Ideally, I’d like to carry on working out and get back to a spot in strength that I haven’t been for several years. The last time I started to get legit strong for gym exercises was in about 2010. The caveman stuff kept me pretty brutish for a few years, but I fell out of shape there for a while. This time, I really want to make it stick. I’d like to get down another twenty pounds or so, while still keeping the muscle packing back on. I’m not as obsessed with strength or mass as I once was, but I still want to be strong and functional. For me, I’m never going to be the pretty face that draws all eyes to me. I get that. I can build a hell of a set of shoulders, though. So, play to your strengths, right?

Those are my thoughts for the day.

Cheers, and happy lifting.

It occurs to me that shaving articles, and recently mechanical keyboard blather, has totally taken over this site. The original purpose was to be a repository for information regarding my own fitness journey, as well as interesting alternate workout methods.

Well, I’ll dip my toe back into that today. Not that any of the other nonsense will slow down at all.

Weight:

Over the last several months, I’ve lost a great deal of weight. Over 40 pounds. All together, I’m about about 80 pounds down from my highest weight. It feels good, and I would like to get down another 20 pounds or so. Right now, I’m well into a a weight range that I haven’t been down to since high school. My knees thank me. I’ve gone down multiple sizes in pants, and probably have at least on more drop before I’m fully settled in at a weight I would like to maintain.

Health:

I am doing okay, health-wise. My troublesome stomach has continued to give me some grief, but I have it more or less under control at this point. I just have to be very careful with stress management and diet. Same old stuff. These things happen as you get older. Your body operates properly in a narrower range of circumstances. Sigh.

Exercise: 

Recently, I’ve found that highly dynamic or ballistic exercises tend to irritate my “problem” joints. Namely, my right elbow and my left shoulder. All the scar tissue in those joints requires care when I’m doing stuff. I believe that I can get them well enough conditioned to allow me to safely use the kettlebells and do caveman activities, but it will take some time, and care.

For now, it’s old home week, as I’m doing classic gym exercises with altogether common equipment. Bench Presses. Bent Rows. Military Press. Arm Curls. Stuff like that. I’m in a 4×6 program right now, as that set/rep has always worked great for my metabolism. I’m working out three days a week, and the muscle is starting to respond. I’m getting my arms and shoulders back. Things are going in a positive direction. I am doing slow, controlled reps, operating carefully at all times. The volume I’m doing is modest, as I have found that I don’t need hours of effort to get the desired effect. I believe that, in the past, I was usually overtraining by a lot. I’m not eating for that sort of load, anyway, as my calorie count is pretty modest on most days.

The part where I’m probably falling down is the amount of sleep I am getting. I tend to be a night owl, and I tend to try to do ALL THE THINGS. That leads me to get too little rest. Oh, well. You can’t do everything right. Okay, maybe YOU can, but I can’t.

That’s all for now.

Happy…whatevering.

Fighting the good fight

Posted: April 22, 2016 in Workout Reports

Well, it’s been a month since I last checked in with a report of my workout progress. What’s the news? Well, mostly good, with a few predictable caveats. First, I’m still at it. Three to four days per week, as my schedule and my body’s ability to recover dictate. Second, I’m really making pretty good progress. Third, well, my body’s sometimes a punk. Here are some observations:

  1. I’m having better luck with slow, controlled movements, utilizing low reps (5) than I’ve had in the past, using higher reps. You can create similar or better intensity though a shorter rep number by just going more slowly, moving under control, and concentrating on good form. With the various creaky joints I have, this has allowed me to not be in too much pain.
  2. About pain – there’ll be some. There’s no way around it. You are going to feel it, and you’ll be uncomfortable after some workouts. Ideally, if you’re progressing carefully and methodically, you’ll spread out a lot of minor discomfort, rather than being totally incapacitated at times. Doing pretty well in this regard.
  3. Not every day will be your best day. You’ll have off days. Do what you can. Some is better than none.
  4. You’ll get wicked tired at times. I have been essentially down for the count a few times after dinner. I am not 20 years old anymore. Sometimes I “bonk” and have to take a nap that lasts all evening. Sigh.
  5. Some things progress faster than others. Some of my movements are coming along faster than others, but they’re all improving significantly. When I remember how strong my legs used to be, having to eek progress out at this pace hurts my heart, but the progress is coming. Just…at a humbling pace. These things happen when you’re sedentary for too long.
  6. Don’t expect to be what you were, not right away. Maybe not at all. We take damage as we have our adventures, and we get older. Some things may not be in the cards. Don’t close the door on your ambitions, but keep in mind that you have to work around your current circumstance, not what you once were. Also remember that we may have idealized our past a little over the years. The older we are, the better we were, right?
  7. Tend your old injuries. I was wrapped up in my back issues and my right elbow. I kind of forgot about my bum left shoulder. Thus, I ended up really messing up said shoulder. It’s just getting better now. Meanwhile, I’m probably 70 percent improved with the back issue, and I’ve generally done pretty well with my elbow.
  8. Nutrition matters. I think my mindful protein intake this time around has helped. A lot. Don’t try to get into lifting shape without decent fuel. Especially if you’re over 40.

Well, that’s about it. ¬†More to come, probably in a few weeks or a month, when I’ve had a chance to see how the progress is going over a longer scale.

Cheers,

Patrick

So, here we go. I am actually beginning the long and toilsome task of getting back in shape. I reached a health low point a few months ago, and it was a wake up call. This came on the heels of one of my good friends passing away unexpectedly. A friend years younger than I am, with no obvious history of illness. I’m not going to talk directly about that, short of saying that it was both a tragedy and an eye opening moment in my life.

I don’t think we imagine that people in our peer group will pass away from what could be termed “natural causes”. Not in our thirties or forties. I mean, sure, a few people have accidents, a few people develop a disease of some kind. By the time we reach middle age (ouch, still getting used to thinking of it on those terms), we know that we’re mortal, fallible, and growing a bit creaky in various ways. Still…most days, we don’t confront mortality head-on. We leave it for twenty or thirty years further down the road. That’s old person shit, right?

Except that we sometimes get our legs kicked out from under us, and we have to realize that death is not necessarily old person shit, specifically. We are made to understand that, if we fail to take care of ourselves, we may never get to see what it’s like to be fifty, or sixty, or points beyond.

Here’s the situation. I have a few lingering health issues. A bad stomach is one of them. One morning, things had gone so sideways with my stomach that I was miserable. I could hardly sleep. I felt like a hot balloon of fire had been inflated in my ribcage. Several things had come together to bring this about. First, there was my poor coping mechanisms in terms of some long term stress situations in my life. Both personal and professional. Second, the holidays, wherein I’d acted like an ass and eaten lamentably. Third, I was exceedingly worried about the health of a close relative, who’d been in and out of the hospital for a long time. (She’s better!)

In reality, I was just dealing with standard stuff, things that many of us have to deal with. (Many have to deal with much worse. I’m emotionally fragile, I suppose.)

Well, back to that fateful morning that found me feeling like I was about to die, sitting in the waiting room of an Urgent Care center.

The long and short of it: There was nothing really wrong with me, other than perhaps having had a minor panic attack, and a wicked case of the acid reflux.

Still, it saw me have to totally go off of solid food for a week, and very gradually get back into a normal lifestyle. I wasn’t ready to imagine that this would be my life, that I would be constantly bouncing off the bottom of the barrel, always feeling like crap, always being exhausted and at my wit’s end.

I had to change things around. Lots of things.

So I did. From work to food, to rest, I changed things. I began de-cluttering my house with a vengeance. I mindfully worked on moderating my proclivity for stewing, raging, and otherwise holding onto negative emotions. Strangely enough, this helped. I won’t say that I flipped a switch and now I’m perfectly adjusted to everything, and that all my problems are in the past. But I mindfully decided that I HAD to learn to enjoy life, and find some happiness again. Looking back, I found that so often, over the last (way too many) years, I’d been putting a good face on things, with true happiness and enjoyment coming far too rarely.

A month or so down the line from the great-(re)happiness project, I finally felt well enough to get down to one of the pillars, in my mind, of being well adjusted. Getting into some kind of physical shape, namely.

Now, I took stock of things. I was not ready to get back to my old caveman ways. No, I would have just injured myself. Two years lost in the noisome swamps of World of Warcraft addiction (another story, for another time), then another eighteen months of being terribly unhappy all the time, and I needed to start from scratch. Old school.

How old school? Well, I was crawling back to five sets of five reps. Kicking it old school.

And you know what? It’s working.

I’m doing four sessions per week, one hour at a time. Back and chest on day one. Legs and arms on day two. Back and chest again on day three. Legs and shoulders on day four. It’s not quite the “Bigger, Faster, Stronger” program that I did in High School, but it’s not so far off, either. It’s cautious. It’s basic, and if I can keep my various old wounds from flaring up too badly, I think it’ll get me in shape. I’m doing cardio every day, too, like good boys should. Actually, of everything, that’s the thing I’m seeing the biggest and most impressive improvement in. The first week, my body immediately went into “thou has slain me with thy evil machinations” mode. Second week, slightly less so. In the third week, though I’m already able to start upping the intensity, and I’m not as likely to be gumby-legged afterward. It’s progress. Another six months of this, I might be ready to start cavemanning again.

Details:

Day one: Bench, lat pull-downs

Day two: Squat, barbell curls, barbell triceps extensions (skullcrushers)

Day three: Dumbell butterflies, bent rows

Day four: Stiff-legged deadlifts (with shoulder shrug), dumbell military press

All days: Elliptical machine warm-up, Recumbent Bike cooldown; stretching and abdominal work in the evening before bed.

Well, that was a bit of a longwinded affair. I’ll check in and let you know how things are going with me as time progresses. I hope that I can keep creaky knees, inflamed elbows, and torn-up shoulders from raining on my parade.

Oh, and you’ll be amused to know that the elbow brace that I’m using to some good effect for my bad right elbow – it’s actually a size large knee brace.

Cheers,

Patrick

High mileage wear and tear

Posted: September 13, 2015 in Workout Reports

I have found that the enemy to my continued exercise is often the nagging injuries and bad joints I’ve developed over the years. What happens is this: I begin to make inroads into getting back in shape, and some kind of nagging injury crops up. I have to moderate my workouts, giving more time to recover, pushing less, skipping things I’d like to do because I know that they’ll just make my aching joints hurt more.

Anyone who’s been working out for a lot of years will recognize this issue. You have to navigate through a minefield of little physical issues. For me, I’ve got bad shoulders (especially the left one), a bad right elbow, a bad tendon in my left biceps, intermittent back pain, and bad knees.

The one that gets me most in the last few years is the right elbow. Trying to get consistent work product out of that thing without serious pain and inflammation is a real challenge. I had to take it easy last week, only working out twice to try and keep the joint from going into full revolt. Still, I got some decent k-bell work done, as well as some more standard weightlifting, so it wasn’t a total loss. I suppose I will just have to pace myself, although that has never been my strong suit.

Cheers,

Patrick

Back in the game

Posted: September 7, 2015 in kettlebells, Workout Reports

I had a good outing last week, actually working out almost every day. The k-bell stuff is coming along, and I’m beginning to be able to introduce a certain amount of intensity into the workouts without having weird stiffness and general discomfort. I did a bit of traditional exercise, as well, and boy, my chest is out of shape. I’ll need to see to that, as a fairly low amount of work caused me to be sore for days.

Wish me luck.