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Andy's Journal Comments

Posted: Wed May 21, 2008 4:22 am
by Jungledoc
Please feel free to comment on any thoughts you might have about my workout.

A little introduction first.

I'm 55 years old, 5'11" and 188 lb., as of this AM. That's down from 228 lb. in September. My goal is to weigh 175. My reason for training is to lose fat, and gain strength. If I look better, that is incidental. The only woman whose opinion counts already likes me.

I've lifted at various times, but fairly consistently for about 2 years and more seriously for about 6 months.

One thing that you should know about me is that I was a total couch potato until about 9 years ago, when I took up Taekwando. I started into it as a fitness activity since my kids where there anyway, and I'd just be sitting watching them if I didn't participate. I started out assuming that I would never go above the low ranks, since the techniques I saw the higher ranks doing were so far beyond my ability. The short story is that I eventually earned my 2nd degree black belt. I only stopped doing TKD when I moved to Papua New Guinea about 5 years ago.

While we are in PNG we eat much better than when we are in the states. There is no fast food (except the kind you have to chase), and very little prepared or processed food available. We make most of our food from scratch, with lots of fruits and veggies. I stay pretty busy in my work, so I don't have time to snack a lot. Also, we walk a lot, and I'm on my feet most of the time while I work, which helps

We follow a pattern of working in PNG for about 2 years, then going back to the US for 3 months. While there, we are responsible for traveling and speaking in the churches that support our mission here. We are on the road a lot, and so tend to resort to fast food. When we are at the churches, there is usually a pot-luck supper, with lots of variety and quantity of food, much of it not good choices for someone wanting to keep the weight off.

Our first furlough I went to the US at about 190 lb., and started off with knee surgery, and a month of relative inactivity, sitting around and eating. Unfortunately, rehab got short shrift. Several months after returning to PNG at 220 lb., I tried to go on a brief hike in the hills with some PNG friends. I found that I was severely limited by my leg weakness. That motivated me to start going to our little weight room.

We have a nice machine and some free weights, with an ancient (must be an antique) rack, and bench. I started out mostly on the machine. Over the next year I got a bit stronger (especially my legs, as I emphasized them) and lost the weight I had gained on furlough and a bit more.

By my next furlough I was 185. I was determined that I would not lose the ground I had gained, but it didn't work out very well. I was on the road for 7 weeks at one point, and lifted weights twice during the time in the US. On returning last August, I weighed 228 lb., the most I have ever weighed in my life. My nice new Tai suit that I had tailor made on the way home no longer fit.

Just being here lead to some wt loss, but getting serious about weight training has helped a lot, too. For the last few weeks I've paid better attention to my eating.

A new goal is to become more metabolically fit. I posted something recently about the incident when my son was trapped in a cave high in the mountains, and I was not able to participate in the rescue, because I was just too slow getting there. Therefor, I'm adding some metcon to my workouts.

Sorry to ramble. Anyone who is still reading this probably needs to think seriously about getting out more! If you're still with me, thanks.


Posted: Wed May 21, 2008 7:50 am
by pdellorto
I need to get out more, clearly. But I'll keep up with your journal and comment when I've got useful stuff to say.


And now I do. You posted:
Forgot to warm up with pulldowns
4/3/3/2/1 (Rats! 1 less than the total for the last few times, and I still couldn't make 5 on the first set. When will I progress?)
Are you going to failure on the first set? It sounds like you want to get 5/4/3/2/1 or 5 x 5, I'm not sure which. But one thing I've found works is something I picked up from some Crossfit folks - plan your race, race your plan. Instead of going full bore for 5 reps on the first sets, failing and then trying to extend the run for the next sets, aim for a total and spread it across the sets. So you've got 13 reps in that last workout. Instead of trying for 5 next time, try for 5 sets of 3. Do 3, rest, 3, rest, etc. You might not get all 15 reps, but you're more likely to get 14 than if you push all-out for 5 and then slog through the rest.

For example, when I do Crossfit's "Cindy" - 5 pullups, 10 pushups, 15 squats, max reps in 20 minutes, I've gotten far better results from doing 1 round every minute and resting if I finish faster than by going all-out from the start with no rest. I burn out too quickly "selling out" instead of pacing. I still haven't nailed 20 in 20, but last time I tried I got much, much closer (PR by like 3 rounds) than I did selling out.

Hope that's helpful. It's really worked better for me - keeps me from pushing myself to failure, I get a reward for good results, and I can better judge my total effort. Plus it feels like a break to end the first set "early" but you end up doing more work in less time across the whole workout.

Posted: Thu May 22, 2008 8:11 am
by Jungledoc
That sounds like really good advice. I'm going for 5x5. I've done 14 for the last several times, so I'll try to do 5 sets of 3, then work up to 5 sets of 4, etc. Thanks.

Posted: Mon May 26, 2008 3:56 am
by pdellorto
Glad my advice helped!

Sorry about the news...his shoulder hurts when he benches so he's stopped squatting? I've heard variations of that many times...

Posted: Mon May 26, 2008 4:39 am
by Jungledoc
Well, he thinks that the only lift that matters is the bench, and has a goal to bench 225 by the time he leaves home in August. Last time he was plateaued and frustrated, he finally said, "You just set up a program for me and I'll follow it." When he found out that it included squats, and only allowed him to bench every other workout, he rebelled at that. He keeps finding excuses not to squat, and just today said that he wouldn't do it. He might try front squats. He wants to keep on benching despite the fact that every time he lifts anywhere in the range of his training weight he gets a sharp pang in the shoulder that nearly makes him drop the weight. So, yeah. I'm just the dad. I'm hoping that in college he can find a real coach.

Posted: Mon May 26, 2008 4:39 am
by Jungledoc
And thanks for the good advice!

Posted: Mon May 26, 2008 8:56 pm
by pdellorto
Re: Advice. You're welcome. I'm making karmic paybacks for the advice I've gotten here from others.

And :lol: It hurts when he bench presses so he's stopped squatting and wants to bench more. That's pretty typical I gather...even I see it. Maybe you can get him to stop benching for a while and do overhead pressing and dips? Probably not. Oh well. It's hard to advise loved ones, like I said to KPj in that thread about his dad. Every suggestion carries emotional and familial baggage with it...

Posted: Wed May 28, 2008 3:42 am
by pdellorto
Do you have a video camera or a digicam that will do video? Sam can shoot video of you while you some bar-only, some warmup reps, and then your max effort ones. Edit them into one video and you can have people here view it and critique your form.

Posted: Wed May 28, 2008 6:00 am
by Jungledoc
Yeah. I've been thinking about that. That way you also get to see our fine "gym" and you'll all be jealous!

Posted: Thu May 29, 2008 7:20 pm
by pdellorto
Well, you train in a small, dark, rusted-tin roof shack, right? With snakes slithering around outside, pools of water on the ground? That critter that goes "oo-oo-aah-aah" in all the jungle movies making noises in the background? Restless drumbeats in the background forcing you to hurry up and finish your set before Kong comes?


Posted: Fri May 30, 2008 10:12 am
by Jungledoc
Yeah, doesn't everybody? Snakes slithering OUTSIDE? Why would they stay outside?

You got the small, rusty-roof shack right. The background noise today was a huge game of touch rugby nearby (man, I wish I could run and cut like those guys do). A critter tried to come in, but got scared when it saw me. It was a kitten. On Wednesdays there really are drumbeats. And guitar and bass. It's the musicians for an evening devotional service practicing nearby. There often are curious faces at the windows. Culturally, there is not the expectation of privacy that we Westerners are accustomed to, so no one thinks twice about coming by and standing at the window and watching you work out. I haven't gotten used to it yet, and sometimes ask them to leave.

Posted: Sat Jun 07, 2008 11:19 pm
by pdellorto
I read about dropping squats and deadlifts.

The deadlift is probably more likely to be the problem with an overtrained lower back. You might want to drop the deadlift, and just do every other week, every 4th week, whatever, and continue to squat. You need a strong back to squat, but I find 1 x 3 deadlifts at my max weight takes more out of me than sets of 5 across of back squats.

You can also try other squat variations for a break - front squats work well for me as a break from back squats. But I think your back can recover fine even as you squat if you deadlift less. You did what I did - a whole lot of sets of increasingly heavy DLs for a while. That adds up...take a break. I don't think squats will interrupt that break.

I'm doing a cycle of deadlifts right now, and I'm specifically mixing up three DL variations so I don't overdo it!

Posted: Sun Jun 08, 2008 5:08 am
by Jungledoc
Thanks, Peter. I'm going to look at my schedule again, and maybe split things into 2 workouts, and only DL on one of them. For now I'm skipping a day of each.

I've also noticed at times that overhead pressing bothers my back. I think I'm using better technique now.

This evening I'm going to review the Squat Rx videos on ham and glute activation.

Posted: Sun Jun 08, 2008 5:22 am
by pdellorto
That's probably a good idea. I think squats bother the lower back less than deadlifts, and you and I are in a similar boat - we're not DLing heavy per se, but heavy for us! And neither of us is that semi-mythical beast known as the teenage male novice athlete, with plenty of food to eat, time to sleep, and incredible recovery time. So we can pull heavy, pull heavier, pull heavier still...and then accumulated fatigue just adds up.

The shoulder presses can work your back, too, because you need to keep it rigid.

I need to review those videos, too. Boris should make a DVD, I'd buy it, it's damn inconvenient to keep queuing up the videos in YouTube.

Posted: Sun Jun 08, 2008 7:27 am
by Jungledoc
Well, you're a lot closer to a teenager than I have been for a long time!

I use Firefox, and got a plug-in called Download Helper that allows you to download and save YouTube and many other video clips. So I have them all on my hard drive. I also have a video converter so that I can change the flash video into .wav or .avi or whatever.

I agree that he should produce a DVD, but I hope that he would re-shoot the whole series. The current videos themselves are not of very high quality. The audio is awful on some of them. Lighting is poor, some backgrounds are distracting, and editing a bit choppy.

And the overall organization is not that great. He should have started with one or two just on good technique, instead of starting off with how to correct mistakes. I had the feeling that he started off without the whole series in mind, just doing the first few for specific needs, then maybe just kept going.

But overall, they are full of great material. He obviously has a great deal of knowledge. He's one of the few "experts" on line who doesn't seem to have something to sell, but just shares knowledge. Of course, if he took our advice and produced a DVD, that would no longer be true. I enjoy his blog.