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.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Wednesday, May 16. 2018
You're 30 or 35 or 40 or 50 or 60 (or 70) and you have decided that it's either now or never to make a serious commitment to fixing or maintaining physical fitness.
I don't blame anybody who refuses to do that, because it is unpleasant and requires discipline and effort well-beyond comfort. Effort means effort, pushing every mental and physical limit. I have learned more about the meaning of that word in the gym than I ever learned in regular life. If pleasure and comfort is what your life is about, fine. We reject those decadent values because
Friends have asked me for advice on how to get started, so I wrote down a program, in stages, for ordinary mostly-sedentary (ie less than 5-6 hrs/wk of challenging exertion) people. Non-athletes. There is plenty of exercise advice available, and everybody has an opinion so I expect debate, but I believe my advice is rational, non-faddish, well-balanced, efficient, and practical. Don't rush it - if over 30, it takes time to adapt to demand so it's best to go step by step instead of rushing in and either get injured or burning out. Slow and steady.
Four stages for beginners, below the fold -
Before you begin:
- Get a physical exam including a cardio stress test. You don't need to do this every year, but you ought to do this before you embark on a strenuous journey into the unknown. Get your doc's OK.
- Consider your fitness goals. All-round Fitness for Life, or body-beautiful, or big muscles, or specifically to plan run a 5-K race or a triathlon, etc. Our posts here are about general Fitness For Life and high energy. Six hours/week is all our plan takes. Doctors, hedge fund owners, housewives, international businessmen, and plumbers find time for that, and even retirees with all of their daily errands - so you can too. Even Obama did a workout for an hour every morning. Trump, I am sure, does not. He is a slob, wakes up and goes on the internet and Twitter.
- Our advice is regardless of age, sex, gender-identification, etc. Same things apply. We are diverse.
- If you play a sport once or twice a week (eg basketball, singles tennis, martial arts can count as calisthenics. Golf, doubles tennis, baseball are recreation, not exercises. Like Bulldog says, we get fit for sports, not vice-versa.)
- If you want to keep it simple like some of my friends, just join a local Crossfit "box". They make room for every level and push you hard. 5-6 days/week will get you going in a good direction after 6 months. We do not dislike Crossfit.
- Check your ego at the door. Every body has different genes, shapes, and potentials. Do your best with what you have been given, and try not to compare yourself with others. You will anyway, but try just to focus on what you are working towards. Nobody cares about you except you.
- Determine your ideal body fat % (not BMI) and aim for that even if you never meet it. Overweight (ie fat)? Being overweight will impair your fitness program, so watch what you put in your Pie Hole so you can begin to move with agility and energy. If scrawny, we recommend Big Macs with fries along with your exercise program. You don't want to be a twink.
- When you begin moving heavy weight, guys try to get 80-90 gm of protein daily, and women maybe 60. Weight work is especially important for women, but all guys like to be strong. Besides the requisite character traits, being a man means muscular competence.
- Yoga? I consider it to be a strength/agility/flexibility session. Body-weight resistance, not cardio. Best to view it as an accessory exercise unless you are somewhat satisfied with your muscle development.
Start out by waking up your body. Let's assume you have not been doing any serious exercise for years. (No, taking walks is not exercise. The term "exercise" implies exertion.) You have to get your whole body used to moving with intention before you increase the stress.
Stage 1 would be "light cardio", meaning working your way up to 45-60 minutes, 5-6 days/week of a mix of brisk walking (walking, say over 3 mph), swimming laps, rowing, biking, and elliptical. No intensity, no high speed, no sprinting. Just endurance, putting the entire body in motion. Mix them up or it is no good. When elliptical, use the arms.
When you can get up to around an hour of mixed "long, slow" mixed cardio 5-6 days/week (that could take weeks or months depending on your starting condition), you are ready for Stage 2. In fact, your body will want Stage 2.
Stage 2 of beginning conditioning would be to introduce two sessions of calisthenics/week, replacing two of the "long,slow" cardio days. Gym calisthenics classes are great, or you can use the intro classes on Youtube at home. We have posted some in the past. These sorts of things are often termed things like "cardio/cross train", or "conditioning", or "athletic fitness."
These sorts of sessions ramp up cardio intensity and make more demands on muscle without using heavy weights (mostly body weight or light weights). At first they will kick your ass, but over time they become more do-able. They should never become easy. If you push yourself, you should crawl or collapse afterwards.
So now the program is, say, 3-4 days long slow, 2 calisthenic sessions/week. A good hike or bike ride can sub for one "long slow".
I'd stick with Stage 2 for a couple of months. At that point, your body will begin to feel different and, if you are lucky, it will yearn for more intense challenges.
Then, at Stage 3, you introduce 2 sessions/week of strength training. I strongly advise at least several sessions with a trainer to learn proper techniques of the power lifts and the accessory weight exercises that are right for you. Proper technique is essential for effect and to avoid injury. Also important to learn the correct rest time between sets, and good stretches. Tell the guy or gal what your goals are. Newbies need good advice on how to gradually raise the resistance and how many reps to do.
For regular people, two weight sessions is enough if you do 2 cali days/wk. Remember, this is not about body-building so much as about general fitness. It's a good idea to do a 3-5 minute warm up of some sort first. It's not unusual for people to make one day a push day and one a pull day, or one a legs day and one an upper body day. Or just mix and match. There is a method to it. (Deadlifts are legs.)
We advise 5 sets for powerlifts and 3 sets of your accessory lifts. The powerlifts are the foundations of strength training. Since it's about fitness and not body-building, each powerlift done just once/week is adequate.
So now the program is 2 hrs of calis, 2 sessions of long slow cardio, and 2 sessions of weights. That's a good foundation to build on. Best to separate the weight days by 2 days.
At this point you are months into the program. Now you can up the intensity of one of the pure cardio sessions. That would mean doing some sort of HIIT on one of the days for a shorter time. Thus 30-second sprints alternating with slow, or jogging instead of fast-walking, in whatever form you want. It's best to vary what you do though, because always doing the same thing in cardio loses its effectiveness over time.
So instead of 45-60 minutes of long slow you might do 20-30 minutes of mixed jump rope intervals, air bike, or ski erg, or sprint and walk on the treadmill, or fast and slow on the stair machine. Efficient. Then you can use the rest of the hour for accessory work like pullups, lunges, ball slams, pushups, step-ups, curls, squats, kettlebells, etc.
Now you have 2 days of resistance, one day of long slow whatever, 2 calis sessions (which if done aggressively or in a class are cardio challenges too), 1/2 hour of HIIT pure cardio, and 1/2 hr of random other things you want to fit in. You have covered all the bases.
Now just gradually up the weight resistance, up the intensity, and roll onward with this format. After 12-24 months of Stage 4 you will begin to be a different person. There is no end point, because physical conditioning deteriorates measurably after 2 weeks of disuse but it's fine to take a few days or week off every few months. Nothing wrong with deciding on a maintenance phase at some point, where you just stick with the same levels of resistance or speed after 2 or 3 years of improvement.
What is "Physical Conditioning" and why is it so slow?
"Conditioning" is the process of forcing your body (including brain and central nervous system) to adapt to new or greater physical demands. The other term, "training", typically refers to working towards a more specific goal (eg sprin
Weblog: Maggie's Farm
Tracked: May 23, 17:32
Display comments as (Linear | Threaded)
And why exactly was there a need to throw in a jab at the president? Did it have anything at all to do with the topic being discussed?
I for one am so fed up with people who feel the need to throw in a political dig just because they can. If I want to read political comments, I go to a site that is political. When I come here, I am looking for often interesting and off-the-beaten-path topics, and quite honestly, don't give a tinker's dam about your opinion about ANY politician.
Hired gymnasiums are the path to personal discipline and growth, Doc. How can the world not be your hammer's nail?
> Even Obama did a workout for an hour every morning.
And still looked like an aging twink in mom jeans.
My wife can curl more than him.
> Trump, I am sure, does not. He is a slob, wakes up
> and goes on the internet and Twitter.
Given the choice between a divisive anti-american socialist who exercises and a moderate pro-american capitalist who doesn't, I'll vote for the capitalist every time.
Then go to the gym and do deadlifts.
Obama was the laziest president this country has ever had. Go back and look in the White House archives at the presidential daily schedule during the Obama years.
His standard pattern was not to come into the office until 10:30 or 11:00. He would be there for about an hour, and then would eat lunch with Biden. After that, about 1 p.m. he would have Air Force 1 ferry him around the country for fundraising events and evening parties. Late in the evening he would take Air Force 1 back to Washington. Then repeat the pattern the next day.
He actually did very little work while in office. Compared with him, Trump is a dynamo and has done more things in his first year of office than Obama did in 8.
The other thing Obama rarely did was participate in the daily morning presidential briefing on security matters (the "PDB"). We got caught flat-footed a couple of times because Obama was totally unaware of what was going on. Finally he got called on that and at least was given the presidential briefing paper in the morning.
Can you imagine the damage Obama could have done if he'd been doing his job with the intensity Trump is doing his?
We should be glad he was a lazy slob, or there'd have been no country left to save...
Six hours/week is all our plan takes. Doctors, hedge fund owners, housewives, international businessmen, and plumbers find time for that, and even retirees with all of their daily errands - so you can too.
"Our plan". "You can too".
Even Obama did a workout for an hour every morning. Trump, I am sure, does not. He is a slob, wakes up and goes on the internet and Twitter.
Sounds pretty serious to me. So when do you publish, BD?
I'm going to print this out and post it on my bulletin board, and hopefully one of these days do it!!
RE Cardiac Stress Test
Ever hear of Bayes Theorem? In brief, if you run (pun intended) a test that has a finite number of false positives on a group of people with a low incidence of a problem, you will end up with an unacceptable number of false positive results. You will have a lot of people that have a positive cardiac stress test and then be caught between a rock and a hard place - do you ignore the test (if so, you shouldn't have done it in the first place) or do you subject them to something more invasive like a definitive cardiac catheterization (with its risks) or do you tell them it's too dangerous for them to exercise (which is likely bullshit because you ignored Bayes)?
RE TRUMP vs OBAMA Workouts
1. Trump is 71. Obama is 56. Trump has lived 15 more years than Osama and evidently enjoys what he does - golf, business, "etc". Advantage Trump.
2. While Trump appears to be overweight, he does get some exercise (at least the Dems complain that he plays too much golf). Obama might exercise an hour each morning, but what does that mean? From his candy ass bike helmet and abysmal (1 out of 25) basketball shooting, his results don't impress me. Besides, he negates any benefits of his exercise program by chain smoking. Advantage Trump.
3. Melania vs Michelle. No Contest - Trump in a blowout (pun intended).
Well, that is funny.
Hey, the topic is physical fitness. Lots of people care about it, but most do not. To each his own. Trouble is that many people start caring about it AFTER they have a physical problem, not before.
Of course I do! (You knew that)
You should have stopped at "get a physical exam." This isn't meant to be a cop out, but the vast range of risk factors (or lack thereof) in the Maggie's crowd dictates an individualized approach.
As a practical matter, your own exercise program is probably a more rigorous stress test than the one your doc would conduct - I said "more rigorous", not better (as in safer and more effective).
Next, we used to look at risk factors like age, sex (that's M or F, not yes or no), family history, smoking, BP, serum lipids. So, what's the purpose of looking at risk factors?
Essentially, we want to know if there is a need for some type of intervention to reduce your risk of a cardiac event (stop smoking, change diet, exercise, lower your BP, diet/meds for high/bad cholesterol, etc.). The caveat is that there must be evidence that the intervention will help - by help, I mean that it will (a) reduce your risk of the cardiac event, and (b) not cause some other problem that makes your life worse.
Okay, so we can plug all that data into the computer and come up with your risk of a heart attack. Generally, what docs are looking at is this: "Should we put you on a statin to lower your LDL cholesterol?" This is traditionally based on (a) your LDL level, and (2) all of the other crap. i.e. an LDL level that we might not treat in someone with no other risk factors might still warrant treatment in someone with many risk factors. Follow me? What we want to identify is those people at high risk for heart disease for whom intervention may do more good than harm.
Is there something better (more predictive) of future heart disease than plugging those risk factors into a formula? Ask your doctor about a cardiac calcium test (basically it's a CT scan that look for calcified plaque in your coronary arteries). It's relatively cheap - in may area. it's about $150. But remember, when I say better, I'm using it in a very broad sense - as in "ask your doctor if you need any test at all."
A FEW OBSERVATIONS:
1. Yeah, I realize my last reply ended up in the wrong place. Sue me! (Someone just might in today's world)
2. My reply was rejected by the filter because I used "MF" to abbreviate "Maggie's" - which is ironic because it let "candy ass" pass in another reply (about Obama's bike helmet). So, is it a T/F filter or a obscenity filter?