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PostPosted: Fri Oct 16, 2009 2:54 pm 
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OK, so I'm just really getting into working out for the first time in my life in a serious way (I've have run off and on in the past, but no racing -- nothing ever really lasted more than a season - and I took up spinning for about a year, two years ago and then moved away and couldn't find more classes).

Now, suddenly at 44 all the pieces have fallen into place and I find myself belonging to a gym and having been going 2 to 3 times a week (always shoot for 3) for the last 5 months and doing some basic weight-lifting and some spinning each time. I've trimmed 12 - 15 pounds and can see some muscle starting to develop. I'd really like to get a little more serious about developing my basic musculature (I'd like to "bulk up" a bit in terms of muscle) but at the same time I'm probably still 15 - 20 lbs overweight (I weigh 215 and am 6'5" -- definitely not enough of that is muscle ;)).

Ideally I'd be doing free-weights and following a program similar to the one I've read about from Mark Rippetoe, but that will have to wait. The gym I'm at just isn't set up for it. Lots of machines, some dumbbells and a Smith Machine is about it, plus a huge array of cardio machines -- I prefer spinning (even without the class).

My quesiton: Can I "bulk" -- so to speak -- I'd really like some muscle for the first time in my life -- I've never done a pull up, for example -- and at the same time lose the extra body fat? And, what is the best schedule for this? I've been doing 1 hour of lifting and some HIIT (6 x 30 second sprints with 90 second slow cycling in between) but I'm worried about how exhausted I sometimes am afterward (I got a cold this summer and I'm convinced it was from the dip after the workout) and I'm wondering if I'm getting in the way of building muscle by immediately following it with a somewhat intense (although not longer than 25 minutes at the outside) cardio workout.

I've been trying to follow the science, here, but it's confusing. If my goal is to get my BMI well into the healthy range (it's hanging out at 25.5, now) and build as much muscle as is simultaneously possible, what does my ideal workout look like? If 1 hour of weights and 20 minutes of HIIT 3 times a week is good, that's easiest, if they're interfering with each other, I'll make it work to do them on separate days. Any guidance is appreciated. Oh, and what's the quickest way to go from not being able to do more than a couple really good push ups to being able to do *pull ups* at my age and how long is it going to take?


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 16, 2009 3:15 pm 
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Well good job so far, it's never too late to start.
Find a new gym, or build your own. Smith machines suck lol
Are you sprinting the same days your lifting? If so then switch up your routine. I'm pretty sure just 1 day a week of sprinting should be fine.

Also your diet is really important, if you want to loose weight & gain muscle, you should try out a low carb, high fat/protein diet.

What's spinning? Or is that a typo for sprinting? I don't see why would need a class to sprint.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 16, 2009 4:48 pm 
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I was just re-reading my message above and realized it could sound on the verge of whiny with all my "sort of" and "almost" and "a bit" type phrases. I guess I'm just feeling like a real noob not having been in the gym much in my life (I did things like debate in high school as a "sport") and so wanting real beginner advice. On the other hand, I have done my research -- so from the science side, I think I'm reasonably well informed -- I just can't get it all straight.

I've got time to be in the gym 2 hours, 3 times a week and could squeeze in cardio on the off days as well. I'd like to know what to expect given my late start with all of this (44 years old, never been able to do a single pull-up in my life) and would really appreciate some pointers in terms of using my time wisely with respect to what I do while I'm in the gym. My current routine consists of 10 exercises based on the pattern suggested in the template elsewhere on this site (Chest, Back, Arms, Legs @ http://www.exrx.net/Workouts/Workout1LTA.html). Cardio (HIIT) on same day or alternating days? How do I get to being able to do a pull up fastest? (and how long is that likely to be? yeah, I'm a little obsessed with that one exercise -- lots of bad memories from gym class 30-odd years ago...)


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 Post subject: @Jebus re: "Spinning"
PostPosted: Fri Oct 16, 2009 5:14 pm 
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"Spinning" (no typo ;)) is a form of group aerobic work -- a class -- where everyone is riding pretty top-notch stationary bicycles and wearing HR monitors and the instructor is managing the music, motivation, story-telling ("now let's do a hill", "OK it's a straight-away", "one last sprint for the finish - push it, push it", that kind of thing) and offering sage advice on general principles of good exercise and healthy living. There was something magical about it for me -- the combination of the high quality instructor I had and the control one has when one can see ones heart-rate constantly (you are encouraged to keep it in a certain range, so to back off if it's too high or turn up the resistance on the bike if it's too low, regardless of where the rest of the class is) just made it a perfect exercise for me (pacing myself well was a problem in the past). I'd go in (within walking distance of where I worked), go at it really hard for 45 minutes about 3 times a week and could really see an improvement in my overall health (it was also a lot of fun which is a huge plus in terms of my own being motivated to keep it up).

The gym I belong to now has the bikes but doesn't do the classes (?) -- I just use them to do a HIIT routine where I warm up for 3 - 5 minutes and then do 6 intervals, then cool down for 3 to 5 minutes. It may not be as much fun as the classes I had earlier, but from everything I've read lately, I'm probably getting as much or more cardio benefit from this routine and its short and intense enough that I don't miss all the trimmings as much as I used to (my biggest problem with cardio on machines has always been intense boredom - and I've found focusing *on the exercise* as opposed to trying to distract myself with TV or magazines far more effective -- there just has to be something interesting going on to focus on).

OK, so it got me into the gym, at least. Now I'm really wanting to push more in the direction of weight lifting. I know a new gym would be in order, equipment-wise, but that's not an option until February, at the earliest, so I'm trying to figure out what the best I can do with what I've got for the next 4 or 5 months (if not longer).


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 16, 2009 9:12 pm 
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tony wrote:
(I'd like to "bulk up" a bit in terms of muscle) but at the same time I'm probably still 15 - 20 lbs overweight (I weigh 215 and am 6'5" -- definitely not enough of that is muscle ;)).



You are in no way, shape or form, overweight at 215 and 6'5". You may have some "pudge" but dude, you are in good shape compared to most people I see everyday. (Now if you were 5'10" and not muscular, I would think differently.)

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Ideally I'd be doing free-weights and following a program similar to the one I've read about from Mark Rippetoe, but that will have to wait. The gym I'm at just isn't set up for it. Lots of machines, some dumbbells and a Smith Machine is about it, plus a huge array of cardio machines -- I prefer spinning (even without the class).


You can do body weight stuff, and teh smith machine is not the devil. If it is your only option, better to do some lifting than none. Just move to a gym with free wieghts ASAP.

Quote:
My quesiton: Can I "bulk" -- so to speak -- I'd really like some muscle for the first time in my life -- I've never done a pull up, for example -- and at the same time lose the extra body fat?


As a rank beginner, yes. After some time under the bar, not so much.

At your age I would be cautious of your diet first and foremost. Get what your eating on a daily basis down pat, and you may not even have to worry about cardio at all. At 44, you probably don't want to mess around with gaining fat in order to gain some muscle. At 24 I would say, hell yeah "squats and milk", but at 44 it's more like "fish, spinach & squats."


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I've been trying to follow the science, here, but it's confusing. If my goal is to get my BMI well into the healthy range (it's hanging out at 25.5, now) and build as much muscle as is simultaneously possible, what does my ideal workout look like?


1) Pay more attention to the mirror than your BMI. Muscle weighs more than fat. I believe I am in obese range, and trust me, I look better than most 240lbs people walking around.

2) A routine that focuses on the big compound movements with progressive overload is the way to go.

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Oh, and what's the quickest way to go from not being able to do more than a couple really good push ups to being able to do *pull ups* at my age and how long is it going to take?


The quickest way is to do more pullups :lol:. Lat pulldowns and assisted chins will help too.

How long is it going to take? Depends on a lot of factors, but the harder you try, the better you eat, and the better you recover means the faster you get stronger.

Welcome to the "over-analysis-because-I-lift-weights-club" the view rocks from here. :lol:

But yeah, get your diet in check before anything if you can't get to a gym with free weights. And if you like it, ride that bike.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 16, 2009 9:50 pm 
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I'm seriously impressed that your a noob and are pretty much on the perfect route for your goal, well done! I can't really suggest anything else except that you carry on how you're doing until you plateau. What's your lifting routine? I agree with nygmen about BMI, although I'm meant to be embracing it for my degree I think it's absolutely ridiculous. For instance, the majority of people on this forum probably have an 'unhealthy' BMI...their health? Well above average.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 17, 2009 3:23 am 
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Re: comments on diet -- do you mean I should be careful about calories here or more that I should be watching the nutrition side? I've never been good at calorie counting, but I know I could cut my once a week Hagen Daaz out if I felt like I was overdoing it, for example... If it was the nutrition side you meant, I think I eat pretty well -- very little crap (outside that one pint of ice cream), always eat breakfast (muesli) and decent amounts of protein, complex carbs and fat. Just how close should I be paying attention to the exact amounts/proportions I'm getting? I have been drinking 500 mL of chocolate milk after the wieght-lifting days (within 1/2 hour of lifting) -- is that more of a teenager thing?

Re: My routine: first, aside from not being into free weights (they have some, but it's mainly dumbbells) the gym I'm at *does* have good equipment -- just about every version of cables you can imagine. My routine is: Chest Press, Seated Row, Butterfly Inverse, Cable Biceps & Triceps curls, Back Extension, Dumbbell Squats, Hamstring curls & Crunches - oh and I was trying out the Calf Raise machine, yesterday. I *was* using the Gravitron for pull ups and dips, but I was a little suspicious of it as I wasn't seeing *any* improvement on it week after week.

I started out this summer doing 1 warm-up set at 50% and 1 set of 8-12 reps, then increasing the weight when I was able to comfortably do 12. I've switched to trying to do "4 sets of 12 reps per muscle group" but that's a little bit guess work, it means I do 2 sets of most of the upper body stuff because there's a lot of overlap.

I'm finding it difficult to keep my back in extension during the db squats and have reduced the weight to work on my form. Also, I do wonder if I should be giving the Gravitron more of a chance as I just saw that it's well liked by the folks at CrossFit.

I have also been reading about Cortisol and ran into the advice to keep the entire routine to under 45 min (not sure where) -- mine is probably closer to 1 hour, plus a little. Thoughts on that?

This all sounds more put together than it's been over the last few months. This is what it's evolved into -- it was definitely sporadic along the way and I struggle to get 3 (rather than 2) sessions a week in during busy times at work. Maybe I should just keep this up for a couple months and then pose my questions again after I see what results this brings...


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 Post subject: May not be "Gravitron"
PostPosted: Sat Oct 17, 2009 5:54 am 
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Is "Gravitron" a Nautilus product? I don't think my gym has any -- it's a reasonably new-ish assisted pull-up and dip machine of some sort...


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 17, 2009 7:41 am 
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The "Gravitron" is for assisted pullups. There are different brands that might use different names. Using an elastic band under your foot will do the same thing.

Great work so far. It's more important that you continue doing something than doing what is optimal. Don't discard the good because you can't do what's perfect. The main thing is to find activities you enjoy and will continue.

In order to take it to the next level, you need to start working towards free weights and body weight exercises. Yes you might progress faster if you switched gyms and started with powerlifting and weightlifting exercises, but you don't "need" to. Start doing more with heavy dumbbells, preferably ones where you end up standing with a heavy weight over your head. I have found that pullups came easier when I reduced my body fat. I'm built like you. Dropping 20 lbs made a big difference. Start with the assisted pullups, however you do them and increase progressively. Take a look at your diet. You can gain muscle and lose fat at the same time if you're patient and do it right. At your age you shouldn't be concerned with quick fixes, you should be looking at long term eating happens that promote health. I've made several book recommendations on this site. I won't repeat them here.

Good luck, you're at a point where your training is about to get interesting.


Stu


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 17, 2009 10:43 am 
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tony wrote:
Re: comments on diet -- do you mean I should be careful about calories here or more that I should be watching the nutrition side? I've never been good at calorie counting, but I know I could cut my once a week Hagen Daaz out if I felt like I was overdoing it, for example... If it was the nutrition side you meant, I think I eat pretty well -- very little crap (outside that one pint of ice cream), always eat breakfast (muesli) and decent amounts of protein, complex carbs and fat. Just how close should I be paying attention to the exact amounts/proportions I'm getting? I have been drinking 500 mL of chocolate milk after the wieght-lifting days (within 1/2 hour of lifting) -- is that more of a teenager thing?


The post WO Chocolate milk isn't an issue, nor is the icecream once a week. It's not going to kill you. But like Stu said, make your diet a priority in your life. Make it a life style. Stick with whole foods, and eat more protein than carbs, eat healthy fats, blah blah blah. Look that stuff up and live it. Stu talks about it 6,849 times, read his posts.

You don't HAVE to count calories and exact portions, if you are good at understanding how your body works. It helps a lot, but I don't think it is necessary unless your dieting for a show. The only thing I come close to counting is protein, otherwise I stay lower carb higher fat and watch my gut in the mirror for cues of when to reduce cals or when I can crank them to get some gains on my lifts.

Quote:
I *was* using the Gravitron for pull ups and dips, but I was a little suspicious of it as I wasn't seeing *any* improvement on it week after week.


Well, you have to challenge yourself. Self improvement is hard man.

Quote:
I started out this summer doing 1 warm-up set at 50% and 1 set of 8-12 reps, then increasing the weight when I was able to comfortably do 12. I've switched to trying to do "4 sets of 12 reps per muscle group" but that's a little bit guess work, it means I do 2 sets of most of the upper body stuff because there's a lot of overlap.


The 3x5 scheme has worked for millions of people, you should drop your reps in favor of heavier weights. Once you feel comfortable with form, start using weights were you are straining to get 5 reps with, take a 3-5 min rest and do it again.

Go heavy my man, and then next week, add some weight to the bar/stack.

Quote:
I have also been reading about Cortisol and ran into the advice to keep the entire routine to under 45 min (not sure where) -- mine is probably closer to 1 hour, plus a little. Thoughts on that?


IMO, that way more detail than most people need to worry about. You are going to create the same amount of Cortisol stressing about how quick your workout is than you save by keeping it short.

Just get in, lift until your tired and go home. If you can keep it at an hour, great. If not, whatever.

You know the saying: "K.I.S.S."? It works, do it. :lol:


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 17, 2009 11:34 am 
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I know I'm juping in a litlle late on this thread, but good job so far. I'm with Nevage and some of the others. You have a solid game plan, so keep up the good work and don't go crazy trying to fix what isn't (apparently) broken. Like the other suggested, keep going with your plan, and try to switch over from the machines to DB's, where possible, but remember, all are just tools to provide resistance, and use what's available. As to the pullup thing, you might want to look up "inverted rows" here on site in the Exercise and Muscle directory. It's a body weight exercise that's a bit easier than actual pillups/chins, but still bodyweight and might be a good additition to your "assisted pullup" machine. As you get more comfirtable with the DB's, shift more towards them. But in short, good job so far, you're definately on the right track.
As to spinning, I'm friends with a very experienced instructor, and that is a very solid type of cardio activity, leaning more towards HIIT than the old long slow Hamster damce type of endless boring cardio. It's a good addition to reistantance training, but if you do it like my friend has her classes do it, definatel long after the weight or on separate days.
Tim


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 18, 2009 5:05 am 
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OK, so I think I'm generally on the right track. Those of you who said "just get in there and move some iron" where probably also detecting my tendency in all things to spend more time planning than doing -- sometimes of course planning is appropriate, but most likely the reason I'm just getting serious about this at 44 is that sometimes it can just be a way of avoiding the thing. The best sign for me is that I haven't missed a workout in weeks. Mainly I just plan to keep going in the direction I described and figure out how to eventually get in a position to do Rippetoe's Starting Strength (just reading that guy has done a huge amount for my motivation -- I *will* get to where I can try it out, first hand).

I think there's a whole lot of information out there that varies hugely in quality, but also in terms of where in ones conditioning experience one is. Given my life-long lack of training, I'm probably somewhere pre-Rippetoe, even, and he's aimed at absolute beginners. I can (and need to) work on my form with DB's, for now (on second and third look, the only thing my gym is really missing -- and yeah, it's a big one -- is a squat rack -- and I suppose, any real free-weight culture -- but I could do some barbell work once I take a safety course - yeah, I actually like that).

I've still got questions about the nutrition side, but I think I'll just keep measuring my waist and eat healthy & more as long as I'm training 3x/week and see where that goes. (BMI is problematic, but waist circumfrence - http://win.niddk.nih.gov/Publications/tools.htm#circumf - or waist-to-hip ratio - http://health.dailynewscentral.com/cont ... 001868/49/ - are both worth tracking, according to my reading).

Thanks a million for all the feedback -- I'll plan to post again in a few months (gonna try to keep myself from information-obsessing between now and then) -- I imagine with many more questions!

One last obsession: HST is looking good to me, at the moment, in that it doesn't focus on the equipment, require buying a book to implement, or specify exact exercises, plus what I've seen of it doesn't seem "off", relative to everything else I've read. Is it too advanced for me, at this point, or does anybody have good/bad experiences with it? I'm thinking I've got to structure my workouts somehow, why not?


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 Post subject: HST vs. "3x5 and heavy"
PostPosted: Sun Oct 18, 2009 5:16 am 
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Just re-reading some of your feedback and wondering about these two. Anybody have beginner experience with HST? I'm thinking it can't hurt to try and if I find myself losing too much time just obsessing on the system, I've got a good fall back ;).


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 18, 2009 7:55 am 
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I did HST several years ago. It's basically a set protocol where you start with high reps and gradually increase load, decreasing reps. The you start over again. Sound a lot like 531 except that it starts with much higher reps.

I didn't really understand it at the time except I now know that it's not what I needed. Stick to the 5 rep range as your base and vary from it, up and down, on occasion to break through plateaus. There are a million ways to skin a cat. All will work, some are just more efficient than others.

There is nothing wrong with reading all you can and using the information you learn to fine tune your program. As long as you are doing something and you are moving forward, it's all good. Many of us need that intellectual challenge to help keep us motivated.


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