We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
The experts say it takes a year of training for a middle-aged person to wake the body up and get into half-decent Beginner's shape, and two years to be "fit for life" for your age and build (ie "fit" for a regular person, not for a serious athlete, lifter, or body-builder).
By training, that means two hours/week of steadily increasing weights, one hour of heavy calisthenics, and 1 to 2 hours of interval cardio/endurance with some calisthenics. Plus fat loss if needed via a food plan. That's not maintenance, it's training.
It is a mental and physical adventure. At my one year point, I understand what the experts mean by two years. Functionally, and looking in the mirror like Narcissus, I know exactly what they are talking about. At first, I lost almost 15 lbs of blubber that I did not know I had. After 6 months, I began adding a bit of that back in muscle and sinew so my old cadaver has a different shape. Started at 172, now 162.
Thus, at one year out, I am now prepped to begin to work my hardest. Mysteriously, slowly, my brain and will have engaged my musculature and my physical determination, discovering resources I did not know that I had. A cool experience to fully engage with, and conquer, Mr. Fatigue and Mr. Give Up.
More details below the fold -
Result: My belly is now cut, my shoulders are stretching my old blazers, my waist lost almost 2 inches even though I had no need to, I can lift heavy stuff effortlessly, my daily vigor is much improved, posture is better, and Mrs. BD says she has a new, improved, and exciting (?) husband with triceps and a manly but not ostentatious chest. I believe that my ability to survive my first heart attack is much increased too, but time will tell...
Hollywood has not phoned yet, but for farm/yard work my strength and power have changed dramatically. I will find out soon about my tennis game but I imagine that I can crush the damn ball despite being a mediocre player.
Good things have happened with Mrs. BD too, who is now deadlifting 120 lbs and working on her clean and jerk, lost x lbs., and looks and feels 10 years younger. Some might think that we are just older people being absurd, but you have no authority to speak until giving it all a try. It's a fun thing to do as a couple. It is torture for sure, and if you forced prisoners at Gitmo to do it, you would be in trouble with the UN, Andrew Sullivan, and Amnesty Intl. On the other hand, these are things jailbirds do for recreational fun so they can look scary when they get released from the joint.
Last Wednesday's weight effort:
After 3 min elliptical warm-up and calf stretch,
- 5 sets of increasing-wt deadlifts, first one being a "non-working" 100 lb warm-up and aiming for 200 lbs. reps - and that will probably be enough for me given my build and age. - 5 set circuit of machine leg curls, leg extensions (both for leg strengthening to improve my squats on Monday), and complex, unstable planks. I hope to abandon that machine stuff soon, and just do squats and deads for leg strength. - 4 sets of inclined dumbell press, dumbell rows, and dumbell pullovers, pushing the weights to max as always
Might not sound like much, but it is for me. The heavy weight exercises (barbell squats, deads, bench. leg press) take time because of recovery between sets. I hurt all over after that for 12 hours but all of my real pains and injuries of the first 6 months have gone away. Weights conquer injuries, mostly but not always. There are things I can never do, like military press with barbell.
Friday's Mostly Calisthenics:
After 3-min elliptical warm-up and calf stretch:
5 sets increasing weight leg press 5 set rotation of ladder agility drills, straight-arm push-downs, squat-and-pulls, heavy ropes, and mixed jump rope 2 sets of heavy ball wall slams from all angles
My boss says I am his only client who says "Make it harder", but I think it's flattery. Good stuff for a guy with a lithe runner's build which went to pot who never could have, and does not aspire to have, a ripped physique. Optimizing functioning is the goal. I do not wear guinea-Ts, only beach it on Cape Cod, and very few people get to admire my naked bod anyway. Just my doc, my wife... and my Maggie's Farm groupies.
Just wondering about your incline presses. I used to work the entire chest but soon found myself developing moobs. My numbers were going way up but I forced myself to stop bc I just didn't like my new cleavage. I only do incline presses and incline flyes in addition to push-ups when working chest. The chest looks more appropriate despite the fact that I lost strength. The new problem I have with that is I can't seem to increase 10 reps above 180 on inclines. I do not have that problem with flat bench presses. My numbers can keep climbing even though I won't do them anymore because of vanity. At almost 50 I don't want boobs. Anything you do to keep your chest reasonably sized while increasing strength?
I do a basic 5x5 and have for years. One of the mistakes people make when "getting into shape" is they try to make weight training more complicated than it needs to be. The squat, dead lift and bench press are going to work all the muscle groups the regular guy/gal is every going to need to work. You can throw in some form of curls, military press, kettle bells, etc. to fill out your routine.
A good place to start: http://stronglifts.com/5x5/
The thing to remember is you can't run off a beer belly or bubble butt. That's diet and that means eating less. Some people respond to low-carb, others to the old fashion rabbit diets. The end result is always the same. Eat less and you lose weight.
Exercise is about improving and maintaining cardio-vascular capacity, increasing strength and maintaining muscle mass. Weight training is great because you can do it your whole life. It's cheap to get weights and a bench and there are tons of resources on-line to learn each lift. If you want to go to a gym, get a gym buddy so you stay motivated. For cardio, find something where you get the heart beating for 20 minutes in the peak range. Do that once a week and you're golden.
The only thing easier for a middle-aged person than getting in decent shape is making excuses why you can't do it.
I've lost 69 lbs. in the last 6-7 months with myfitnesspal.com, which basically is logging food and counting calories. The exercise front has been strictly moderate, but obviously I can do a lot more now than I could when I was so much fatter. (Now merely "fat," not "obese.") My upper-body strength is still laughable, but it takes much harder work to get my heart-rate up these days. The difference is general vigor and well-being is indescribable. Also, it was a lot of fun throwing away every stitch of clothing I owned and buying new.
More happy news: quite a handful of neighbors have joined me now, some at myfitnesspal.com and others either at the gym or in local walks.
My primary recreation for 30 years has been hiking, mostly here in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. I have watched three middle aged people take up the sport seriously, meaning 30 or more hikes a year, with the intention of completing the NH 48 or the ADK 46. I agree it seems to take two years to reach full proficiency. In hiking, the limitation is more in down climbing for which one needs judgement and agility as well as muscle to move at top speed in rough terrain with a 30 lb pack on.
1. Plan and stay consistent, don't miss sessions;
2. Diet vital, proteins esp within 40 mins after;
3. Creatine is inoffensive;
4. Push day, pull day is a good rotation;
5. Key - on last rep, can do no more - do one more;
6. Then squeeze out just the one more;
7. Try to use a spotter;
8. Increments, not huge gains quickly;
9. When the plateau comes, go to Plan B, say pyramiding;
10. One year/ two year time frame is right.