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Friday, April 15. 2016
It's all the rage these days, and rightly so. "Over the hill" is just a state of mind. There is a 92 year-old dude who does weights at my gym. Use it or lose it.
That good old guy must love life to pursue it so vigorously.
The reason for strength conditioning is to build or maintain functionality. That means preventing the muscle and bone loss of inertia and age, strengthening joints, improving posture, improving balance, enhancing nerve-to-muscle reactivity, and building or maintaining power and energy for daily life and for sports and recreation.
Strength training is not the same as "body-building." Normal strength-training by ordinary people like us is not meant to build bulging muscles. However, with each increment of improvement and with proper diet your naked self will look and feel a bit less like a weak slob with flab and sagging things, and that is a nice side benefit.
Should a healthy adult male be able to do a minimum of ten push ups and ten pull-ups? Of course. Sturdy males can do far more.
A comment about time efficiency in strength conditioning - and fitness in general - below the fold -
Most people do not want to spend more than 5 hours/ week on all three aspects of conditioning. In truth, few really want to spend any. No need to do more than 5 if applying max intensity. On the other hand, how many hours/week does the average American waste watching TV or playing video games while shooting farts into the sofa after work? Americans call that mindless and effortless thing "relaxing," and like to pretend it's desirable. In Yankeeland, we still call it Sloth.
For us, the fitness triad consists of 1) Strength Training, 2)
I think you can figure a total of 180 mins/wk (in divided days) for strength, 60 minutes total (divided days) of varied heavy calisthenics, and 60 minutes (2 X/wk of 30 mins) of intense misc. cardio intervals. Mix and match them depending on the day. That's less than five hours per week in total. Everybody without little kids has time for that.
Anyway, I keep wondering how time efficient the strength component of fitness can be. Nobody wants to be a gym rat. I am learning that it can be condensed into a few exercises which involve pretty much all muscle groups, large and small.
However, for most people like me some of these have to be worked up to in other ways to be able to do them with any effectiveness. Thus machines, dumbbells, straps, etc. for a while - months. Sad to say, it is not a quick process if you are over 30.
I think five painful sets of each of these each week, in sequence, always pushing the reps or weight to prevent plateauing, ought to cover the bases for strength for the non-obsessed but diligent person. It won't make you "big" but should get you shipshape over time:
1. Pull ups and Chin ups (often, women can not do enough of these so need machines)
With appropriate recovery time between sets, that's 2 or 2 1/2 hrs total/week for decent strength conditioning.
What's your opinion?
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OK, great post, but I have a few minor quibbles.
RE: Strength training vs body building. I agree, they are different, but related. Bodybuilders #1 goal is muscle hypertrophy. Hypertrophy is often a byproduct of strength training, but not its #1 focus. Strength can increase either through improved technique, changes in the muscle (either structural, e.g. hypertrophy, or metabolic) or neural factors.
The subtle implication of stating that strength tng isn't meant to build "bulging muscles" is that bigger muscles is a bad thing. Maybe so for athletes competing in weight classes, but for the "average Joe" it may not be so bad. If the increase muscle mass metabolizes more calories and keeps you less fat, that's good. If the increase in muscle mass delays or lessens the sarcopenia that accompanies old age by allowing you to start at a higher peak, that's probable good. Many people are embarrassed to say they want to add some muscle mass - which is actually VERY VERY hard to do - because they don't want to be perceived as a "meathead". So, they say they just want to "tone up" - what the H is that? A PC way of saying "I want more muscle"? Do they think that they are "toning up" their fat?
RE: 5 max intensity somethings (workout or hours - not sure what you meant) per week. For most people over 40, 4 high intensity workouts (each lasting a max of 1 hour - preferably much less - including warmup) is probably the limit, at least on a chronic basis. You can do some easy stuff on other days, but your body and CNS cannot recover (long term) with more and for HIIT, the limit is probably twice per week (3 sessions tops and not long term).
RE "Interval cardio (for cardio pulmonary endurance)" - OK, I think HIIT is great. LSD destroys muscle. BUT, HIIT probably has most of its effects on the muscle (metabolic changes) and much less on the heart and lungs. That's not a bad thing, it's just where the beneficial changes actually occur. Everybody calls it cardio (out of "tradition"), but the changes are really in the muscle's metabolism, e.g. mitochondrial changes.
RE: The idea you're trying to convey under calisthenics. I think a better way to envision this is human movement, i.e. playing on the ground like a kid. We do all the strength exercises, but we also need to ensure that we have the flexibility, mobility and balance to apply that strength effectively and efficiently. Being able to get down on the ground and get back up again effortlessly, being able to pick up crap off the ground, etc. is something you appreciate as you get older.
RE: Your exercise selection. Overhead pressing can be problematic for some. I suggest NO MORE than once per week heavy and switching between barbell and dumbbell every month. Also, the use of landmine presses and/or lateral raises if additional days or variations are desired. Also suggest considering doing twice as much upper body pulling as pushing. Other suggestion is switching exercises each month - the best program is the one you're not doing!
I think cardio intervals are good for endurance, but probably all intense physical effort produces collateral cardiac circulation which comes in handy when you have your first heart attack.
Re frequency, I was suggesting just one tough set of each strength item per week.
Re pulling, pull-ups use a lot of muscles. Esp. back muscles if done right.
No quibbles with the list.
Nothing to be gained going to deep in the weeds regarding programming. If you get bit by the bug, you'll search for the data to make an informed decision as to how heavy, how often, and how many.
I've got a somewhat different set of problems. In two separate events about a year and a half apart and more than 10 years back, I managed to snap the connection between my biceps and the inner elbow (lower part of the bicep?). After consulting with and Ortho, I decided to not get them fixed (there was no guarantee they could be fixed in any case) This, and my obesity makes things like chin-ups a no go. I can use dumbbells, and a barbell but I have no spotter - although I might figure something out there. Gyms are out - that's a $ issue (at least for the time being).
Starting from this screwed up place I've put myself in, where do I start digging out.
I'm working at reducing caloric intake, and doing more of my own cooking - cooking for one is a pain in the butt, particularly when you never really enjoyed cooking to begin with. Which is part of the reason I'm where I'm at - Bad eating habits.
Zero carbs, friend, for a while.
It will save your life. No exercise will give you fat loss.
Or you could try a calorie budget, and eat the same kinds of foods you eat now, but less of them. After a while, your stomach shrinks and you learn a more instinctive portion control. I agree that it happens in the kitchen, not the gym.
Do taxes in season. I often joke is that my fitness plan is running to and from the printer. Should I now be lifting extraneous parcels of paper as I do those runs?
I think the time factor is way overstated. I stumbled across a set of parallel bars in a park and tried some dips, I could do 4 which took about 4 seconds. I continued to do 4 dips per week for 5 weeks for a total of 20 secs on the sixth week it suddenly shot up to 7 dips.
The trick is that you are training your central nervous system to recruit the relevant muscles, when they get the message they kick in. Two years later and I can do dozens of them.