I like to set fitness goals for myself. In the first quarter, my goal was to run a half marathon which I did on March 31st.
Now it’s time for a new goal and in the second quarter, I’m going to focus on strength training. I’ll see how much I can increase my push-up and pull-up maximum repititions before the end of the quarter. This is part of an overall mission to get in better shape.
Finding A Balance
Strength training isn’t easy for me. Sometimes, I don’t go hard enough and then I know that the workout was a waste of time. Other times, I push too hard early in the workout and burn out fast. It’s difficult to find a balance.
However, when I do get a good workout in, it feels wonderful. I’m so exhausted that sometimes, it’s hard to lift my arms above my head and I feel like I’m going to throw up. Feeling bad is feeling good. I know I did something. Nothing great happens if you never venture from your comfort zone.
I’ve been working out with weights most of my life, but recently realized that I had been doing it wrong the entire time. It happened when I was doing push-ups and was about to stop. Then, I had this thought:
Why don’t you keep going? See if you have any more in you?
To my surprise, I did at least 5 more. It was then that I realized I hadn’t been pushing myself enough for the past 2 decades. Those 2 or 3 reps I do at the end when I’m struggling are the ones that make the difference.
I’m no expert on any of this and while my initial results are positive, I’m still figuring it out. And that’s really what this experiment is about.
What I’ve Done So Far (And The Results)
The core of my workouts consist of P90x DVDs that I bought on Craigslist. I know, I rolled my eyes too. It sounds fadish and gimmicky. However, I do like the workouts and it helps to have a guy (Tony Horton) on the screen yelling at me. I often find myself yelling back at him too. This is silly and embarrassing:
- Me: I HATE YOU $*&%ING TONY HORTON!!!
- Wife <from the kitchen downstairs>: Who are you yelling at? What the hell is going on up there? Did you hit yourself in the nuts again?
- Me: Ummmm… Nevermind.
In addition to P90x, I work in a day of squats and deadlifts. And when my legs are up for a run, I work in high-intensity interval training (45 seconds max speed running followed by 60 seconds of walking; repeat for 30 minutes). Here is what I’ve done so far:
And here are my results:
- Weight, Body fat% and BMI: I’m happy to see that these numbers have come down. I’m still chunky around the gut, but at least I’m headed in the right direction.
- Muscle mass: I’ve been feeling good about my workouts, but this number hasn’t budged. My method of measurement (electrical bioimpedance) isn’t super accurate, so I’m not going to jump to any conclusions or make any changes yet.
- Beer consumption: I forgot to put this one on the chart, but I’m up to 9 for the second quarter and 69 for the year.
The hardest part of strength training is keeping up the motivation. You must really want it. If you’re not going to push hard during the workout, you’re not going to get much out of it and you’re wasting your time.
It can be difficult to stay motivated and keep the intensity levels high. A sleepless night, lack of time or stress all eat away at willpower.
So, this is a mental game. If I fail at my goal, it will be because of mental weakness.
Perhaps the best way to demonstrate results is through pictures. Not much to see, but in the interest of transparency, here you go:
First is the front. Not much change here except my gut is a bit smaller:
Next up are the arms. Meh.
And I see the most difference here. My shoulders are bit bigger. And lopsided.
It took me these first two weeks just to get back into strength training. I’m not sure what kind of progress happens after this, but that’s the fun of the experiment. Tune in for another update in a couple weeks!
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