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The Six Unwritten Rules of the Gym

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I get the Weekly Dose T Nation. If you don’t subscribe – you should. Yeah – much of it is real metal heads – but I pick up hints almost every week. Hints that make my work outs more effective.

Today’s Weekly Dose includes an ArticleThe 6 Unwritten Rules of the Gym by by John Romano.  Check it out.

This article particularly resonated with me today. At the gym this morning, I had to go in search of a Swiss Ball – all of which were not where they should be. Then this individual dropped 2 – 20 pound dumbbells on the linoleum walk way with a Bang and just left them there while she did something else. She did it a 2nd time with another set of DBs. It took me awhile – but I finally recognized her – she used to work out at NYSC where I worked out years ago – before it recently close. she is in law enforcement – really – she enforces the rules we live by.

So here are the rules – with a bit of my personal commentary.

1 – Put Your Shit Away

This is probably the one that gets everyone annoyed. Someone will load up a bar – do their sets – and just leave it there. Damn – it is part of the exercise to load and unload the bar. Picking up dumbbells or kettlebells and returning them – is just common courtesy. Leaving them lying around for someone to trip on – your bad.

2 – Treat the Gym Like Your Home (Or Better)

People can be slobs. Sweat on a bench and leave it. Spill your water bottle and don’t clean up. Spit into the water fountain – yech. Fail to flush the toilet – come on!

3 – Don’t Flirt. Or At Least Don’t Be Creepy

I’m an old married guy – but I can spot the guys that are on the make. Some are down right creepy. Others – well – things are OK until they’re not. Yes – there are clubs that pander to the single crowd. Then go there. 

4 – Don’t Steal From the Gym or Other Members

This is the one that gets me crazy. Do you really need to pocket a $3.00 item – so I have to go looking for the various hooks and other smaller items  – particularly the carabineer . Seriously – where is your moral code?

5 – Don’t Block the Mirrors

The mirror is a tool to check out your form – not to check out your biceps. I do enjoy watching the college guys do a quick mirror check – it is funny – if they only knew that others were laughing at them.

6 – Never Distract Anyone Doing a Set

Why does this even need to be said. You see someone in mid set – stand back. What ever you need or where ever you are going – can wait the couple of seconds – or you can take a detour.

There are many other “rules.” 

Don’t do curls in the Squat Rack

Don’t hog a piece of equipment – let others play through while you take a break.

What are your pet peeves?

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Unintended Consequences – Part Three

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I never exercised as a young man. Bluntly – I was in corrective gym supervised by a sadistic SOB. Pain, intimidation and degradation were the name of the game. It was 1958-62, an earlier day when you did not report mistreatment to your parents. 

It wasn’t until the late 70’s that my business partner and I went to a Nautilus gym. It took all the guts in the world to walk through that door. 

And so began my Start and Stop relationship with Exercise. More stops than starts.

This time around – I knew would be the last go round – do or die – literally.  Between the Weight Loss and the Exercise – my body changed – significantly. Hallelujah! I am buying thin cut clothing. Tapered shirts and suits. Happy as a Pig in Slop.

Then I set some exercise goals. I wanted to do a Century Push-up challenge – that is  100 push-ups in a row. Did it! Then I wanted to finally do unassisted Chin-ups. Really focused on that goal. Today – I do 50 push-ups and 15-25 Chin/pull-ups – almost daily. Really feel good about that.

So what is the unintended consequence? Slowly but surely the Slim cut shirts started to split around the arm holes. I finally realized – I had outgrown slim fit shirts and sport jackets because my upper body development had gotten too big for them.

WTF?

My exercise goals had destroyed my weight loss dream of wearing Slim Fit clothing.

Not really sure how I feel about this. I will not stop doing the push-ups and the chin-ups. Nor any other upper body exercise. Just gonna have to find a tailor to modify my clothing.

 

Lifting Heavy Weights vs Light Weights

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There is a constant argument between those that believe in lifting Heavy Weights versus those that believe in lifting Lighter Weights. Their Goal is the same – build strength and muscle mass.

There are times that I feel like I have the Devil (heavy) on one shoulder and the Angel (light) on the other. My head is in between these two opposites – it gives me a head ache.

Then – of course – there is the big bad – Ego. You look around the gym and the “Guys” with big guns are always lifting heavy weights. Am I being shamed by lifting lighter weights.

Spotted this Article Lifting Lighter Weights Is Just As Effective As Heavy Weights.

A new study from McMaster University in Canada has shown that lifting lighter weights is just as effective for building muscle as lifting heavy ones.

Researchers say the key is to get your muscles just as tired as they would with heavier weights by lifting lighter weights for more repetitions.

“Fatigue is the great equaliser here,” said Stuart Phillips, a professor of kinesiology at McMaster University. “Lift to the point of exhaustion, and it doesn’t matter whether the weights are heavy or light.

Then there is the question – How light is light? – How heavy is heavy?

The first group lifted lighter weights (30-50 per cent of the maximum weight the individuals could lift), for 20-25 repetitions per set for three sets. The second group lifted heavier weights (between 75-90 per cent of the maximum weight people could lift) for 8-12 repetitions per set.

So we define lighter weights as the weight which brings you to exhaustion between 20-25 reps – and – heavier weights as the weight which brings you to exhaustion between 8-12 reps. Assuming that each rep – no matter what the weight – takes the same amount of time to complete – the lighter workout is going to take 2-3 times longer than the heavier workout.

Since most of us are time limited when we walk into the gym – then stick with heavier weights. Maybe – when you have time on your hands – switch it up with lighter weights.

At least now, I have a standard to follow.

But – if I should “Lift to the point of exhaustion” what happened to the rule about “leaving one in the tank.” 😉

Seniors: Pump Iron, Live Longer

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Found this Article in HealthDay: Seniors: Pump Iron, Live Longer.

When people 65 and older did strength training twice a week, they lowered their odds of dying from any cause by almost half during a 15-year study.

“The secret to a longer and healthier life may not be available in pill form, but it may look like a barbell,” said lead study author Dr. Jennifer Kraschnewski. She’s an assistant professor of medicine and public health sciences at Penn State College of Medicine, in Hershey, Pa.

Living longer is always nice. But – and here’s the rub – What condition will you be in at the end game. No fun – to be severely impaired those last years.

While the study didn’t prove cause-and-effect, it found that people who did strength training at least two days a week were 46 percent less likely to die from any cause. And they were 41 percent less likely to die from heart disease, Kraschnewski said. She added that seniors who did at least two days of strength training were also 19 percent less likely to die from cancer compared to those who didn’t do the training.

Reduced heart disease and cancer – sounds good to me.

Responding to the study findings, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Brad Thomas said, “Strength training has been well identified as a means to strengthen our bones and joints, but with this study we have a new benefit of longevity.” Thomas, who was not involved with the study, is an associate professor at UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine.

Previous studies have shown that strength training may improve muscle mass and chronic conditions such as diabetes, osteoporosis, lower back pain and obesity. Stronger muscles may also result in better stamina, physical function, and balance, according to background information in the study.

The big question is what exercises and how much. The article seems to waffle on this issue. I quotes public health guidelines and seems to call for really low impact workouts. Not me.

I started this round of exercising at 62. I was in the worst physical shape of my life and 80 pounds overweight. I focused on building muscle and being able to handle free weights. Took some time – but not limiting myself to machines and exercises for seniors paid off.

Even when – at age 70 – when I messed up my hip and was unable to exercise for close to 4+ months – I was able to re-bound and rebuild the significant muscle loss suffered during those months. I love it – when I get the looks from the younger guys for being able to grab the bar and do 10 chin-ups with leg lifts.

I aim for functionality. I will not lean on the table or the arm of the chair to stand up. “Thank you for offering – but I can lift that or do that.” 

What about you?

 

 

Exercise as Self Medication

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Stress comes from many sources. Work, family, emotional turmoil, illness, and loss. How each of us deals with stress is as varied as who we are.

Some meditate. Some turn to therapy. Some turn to their Doc for a happy pill. Others turn to God. There are a few who self medicate with alcohol or drugs.

The last four years have been extraordinarily stressful for this guy. Almost 4 years ago my wife had a serious stroke and was in residential re-hab for 3 months. She could no longer be my business partner. 3 1/2 years ago my son’s cardiac condition stopped him from working in our family business. 3 years ago he had open heart surgery and was on life support for close to 3 weeks. Last winter, I fell and fractured my new right hip just 2 1/2 weeks after surgery. Another surgery ensued, a month in the hospital and 3 months of rehab. This past week my son once again had open heart surgery and is now in the ICU – doing well – thank you. 

It has been a helluva a 4 years. – Oh wait – I forgot – my mother was in a Nursing home during this period and passed away 3 years ago.

During all of this, it would have been easy for me to pop a pill, dive into a tub of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and Fuhgedaboud exercise.

What I found was that continuing my routine of going to the gym each morning and doubling down on my eating plan, kept me sane and gave me the strength to face each day.

Yes, for me, the structure of the 52DC and daily routine of exercising, was and is my self-medication. The gym became my sanctum sanctorum. 

And now you know why this Blog has been silent for while. Been a little busy. 

Coffee and Exercise Performance

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A recent Study out of University of Georgia at Athens was published in the November 2015 issue of the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism. This was a review of previously published research articles and studies.

The take away:

Looking at the nine trials, Higgins found that between 3 and 7 milligrams per kilogram of body weight of caffeine from coffee increased endurance performance by an average of 24 percent. 

Assuming 180 pounds (82 kg), then 245 – 575 milligrams of coffee will increase endurance performance. 

This NCBI link gives further links to other studies and papers.

There is a ton of information out there defining the amount of caffeine in a cup of coffee. Depending upon the coffee bean and the brewing method the amount varies tremendously.

The standard cup of coffee has 120 mg of caffeine in an 8 fl oz cup. However, an 8 oz cup of coffee from a standard 2 oz K-Cup contains between 100-140 mg of caffeine. Most K-Cups consist of 2 tablespoons of ground coffee which equals 2 ounces of coffee.

I like the taste of dark roast coffee, which I now know has less caffeine than other types. The longer (darker) the roasting – the more caffeine is taken out of the bean.

I start each morning – before heading for the gym – with one 8 oz K-cup with 20 grams of whey protein mixed in. End result – I am having only half the amount of caffeine that will produce a result.  

BTW – this is not really new information. I had read articles that recommended two cups of coffee pre-workout, and had been doing that many years ago when I exercised lunch time and before I started a Low Carb diet.

I’ve got to re-think my morning. Is it really worth having a 2nd cup in the morning before working out? I do have that 2nd cup after working out and with breakfast, so switching it up doesn’t add to my overall caffeine consumption. I may just need to run my own little experiment to figure this one out.

The 2016 Winter 52 Day Challenge Starts January 6th

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The Sign-Up post is up.  The Weight Loss Challenge Sign-Up post is up. The Tracking Spread Sheets for for the Winter Challenge and the Full 2016 year are attached to the updated FAQs.

Although many of us are still in holiday mode, the Challenge is coming together and we know we need it.

Winter finally arrived in the Northeast.  Woke up to Snow/Sleet/freezing rain yesterday.  Too dangerous to drive to the gym, rolled over and went to sleep.

This morning, I dug out all my Winter wool pants.  It has been a solid 6-8 months since I wore them.  Hallelujah – they fit.  

It is a joy to be able to rotate my seasonal clothing and have them actually fit.  So many years of not being able to get into last year’s cloths.  Year after year – the weight just kept going up.  Now – pretty much steady.

No – my weight does not stay at one number day in and day out. After all – I am human and this holiday season has been rough.  Still – a couple of pounds up and down is different than a couple of dozen pounds up – up – up and away.

The 52DC is my steady weight secret. It keeps me focused – not only on my fitness but on my eating. And ……. that is why I already signed up.

See you at the Starting Line on Wednesday January 6th.