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high intensity training « The Word

The Word with Rev. C. Bennett hoffman

24Aug/091

Becoming Leonidas – Day 30

My 30 day high intensity training trial has officially ended. Of course, that doesn't mean that I'm through with exercise or watching my diet. I really should have called the trial as a whole "Becoming Leonidas, Part 1" because I still have two months until Halloween and lots left to do. Although it got difficult at times and I could have performed better, I feel very satisfied with the results I've achieved. I'll go over what I did well and what I need to improve upon before posting my last two workouts.

The Good

First of all, I'm stronger. I feel much stronger and I look like I've gotten bigger. I think The workout numbers back this up pretty well. Using a one rep max calculator as a crude metric, my leg press improved ~20% (309 lbs. to 372 lbs.), my pullover improved ~45% (64 lbs. to 93 lbs.), my pec-dec improved ~22% (147 lbs. to 180 lbs.), and most of my other results were similar.

I experience a compulsion to workout. I've heard it said often that exercise is addictive and there's probably a grain of truth there. However the word "addictive" seems out of place, in the way that it wouldn't sit right to say that sleep is addictive. I now have a better appreciation of how much physical activity adds to my health, energy, and sense of well being. Most importantly, the habit has integrated itself into my life and sustaining it should prove straightforward.

Despite a number of shortcomings with my diet plan (discussed below), I had a good deal of success. Most notably, I've ceased any habitual consumption of soft drinks and have studiously avoided most things that one would consider junk food (chips, cookies, etc.). Except on Saturdays of course, that's my day off ;-) .

The Bad

Even though my diet improved markedly, I didn't stick to the course I set out at the beginning. I kept it up at first because I took the time to make a bunch of food beforehand and that made it easy to take lunch (and sometimes dinner) to work. When my initial supply ran out though, I just didn't buy and cook more food. This particular diet wasn't the problem: I failed because I eat out for the vast majority of my meals. In order to succeed with dietary change, I need to first begin preparing my own food.

To that end I've started ordering food from Amazon Fresh, a grocery delivery service. While eating a healthy diet remains critical, I need to focus first on streamlining the process and making food preparation a sustainable part of my life. By using Amazon Fresh, I can save a lot of time that I would normally spend shopping and traveling to/from the store.

If I automate getting food to my house, then that just leaves cooking it. My next 30 day trial should help out with that part... more to come soon.

The... Ugly?

I haven't yet gone and had my vitals remeasured. I bought a scale that supposedly measures my body-fat % today and expected some variance from the reading taken by a personal trainer at the beginning of the trial. He measured 16% body-fat. I've gotten noticeably slimmer, but the scale insists that I'm at 24.5% body-fat. That would mean ~137 lbs. of lean mass and ~45 lbs. of fat which is just plain wrong.

So it looks like I'll need to setup a meeting with a personal trainer and re-run the tests after all. Even though the primary objectives of the trial were to setup a sustainable exercise and diet routine; even though I didn't stick to the plan perfectly, I'd like to see how I stacked up to Mr. Ferriss in the end.

The last two workouts follow. As of this writing, I weigh 183.2 lbs. for a gain of 3.4 lbs. in 4 weeks.

Workout #7

I weighed in after the workout at 181.0 lbs. for a total gain of 1.2 lbs. over the course of the trial. This was my first workout after being sick for a few days. I hoped that most of my weight loss was due to dehydration, however it looks like that's not the case as I only gained back another 1.4 lbs. by the last workout.

Exercise Weight Reps
Pullover 70# 7
Bent row 115# 7
Leg press 290# 7
Pec-dec 145# 7
Leg curl 150# 7
Rev. barbell curl 55# 5
Weighted dips 30# 6
Calf raises 150# 9
Forward bend 40# 8
Sit ups, inclined 30# 14
Side bend, right 40# 6
Side bend, left 40# 6

Workout #8

I weighed in after the workout at 182.4 lbs, for a gain of 2.6 lbs. over the course of the trial.

Exercise Weight Reps
Pullover 75# 8
Bent row 125# 6
Leg press 310# 7
Pec-dec 155# 6
Leg curl 155# 8
Rev. barbell curl 55# 6
Weighted dips 35# 4
Calf raises 170# 9
Forward bend 45# 8
Sit ups, inclined 30# 20
Side bend, right 40# 7
Side bend, left 40# 7
17Aug/090

Becoming Leonidas – Day 21

Success and Failure

I've been sick for the last few days, which traditionally puts a fatal damper on any workout routine I'm involved with. Happily that's not the case here, as I worked through mild discomfort on my most recent Friday workout and have every intention of working out again on Tuesday.  While lying in bed on Sunday, I grew restless and wanted to do something physical, even just a set of pushups.

In terms of having developed a habit of working out, I'd say that I'm hooked at this point.  Unfortunately, the diet plan has shown its weakness in the face of my minor cold and I fell back into eating whatever sounded tasty at the time. I even failed to procure provisions for the week, so it looks like a careful day of eating out on Monday, followed by cooking Monday night. I've had trouble with the diet plan throughout the trial, which means I didn't plan ahead enough and have had to rely too much on willpower.

Often lauded as the cure to all personal ills, willpower can actually only accomplish so much. For those with extraordinary reserves of the stuff, it may be enough to create a new habit or stop a bad one on its own. However for most people, willpower will last only a week or so at best. Being endowed with an extraordinarily small portion of willpower and the tendency to become frustrated easily, I need to rely on other mechanisms to induce change.

To be effective, I need to use my allocation of willpower to change my environment all at once. As a programmer, I've developed a love for being lazy. It's seriously one of my greatest assets. So, if I can make it easier for me to eat a healty homemade lunch than for me to go out and buy something, I'll end up eating well. That's the key, and that's what I didn't quite acheive with this plan.

As I have 2+ months before Halloween, I'm certainly not just going to stop after the 30 days of this trial are up. In a future article, I'll detail what I did with my diet, why it failed, and what I plan to do to make it work next time around. To the extent that my willpower can help me stick to it for the last week of the trial, I will ;-) .

It's been a while since my last update, so I've got two new workouts to post. Nothing tricky about 'em.

Workout #5

I weighed in after the workout at 184.4 lbs. for a total gain of 4.6 lbs. over the course of the trial. The leg press is marked as 'split' because I neglected to link the plates on the machine, so they moved independently. This actually showed me that my legs were not as balanced in strength as I thought, as my left leg suffered less fatigue. Additionally, the sit-ups are marked with an asterisk because I did them with a faster cadence.

Exercise Weight Reps
Pullover 65# 8
Bent row 115# 6
Leg press, split 270# 6
Pec-dec 135# 6
Leg curl 130# 9
Rev. barbell curl 45# 7
Weighted dips 25# 6
Calf raises 125# 10
Forward bend 32.5# 8
Sit ups, inclined* 30# 20
Side bend, right 32.5# 7
Side bend, left 32.5# 7

Workout #6

I weighed in after the workout at 183.0 lbs, for a gain of  3.2 lbs. over the course of the trial. I didn't feel well and spent most of the day asleep, so I performed this workout later in the day without having eaten a proper meal.

Exercise Weight Reps
Pullover 70# 6
Bent row 115# 6
Leg press 270# 7
Pec-dec 135# 6
Leg curl 140# 8
Rev. barbell curl 50# 6
Weighted dips 25# 7
Calf raises 135# 8
Forward bend 35# 8
Sit ups, inclined 30# 10
Side bend, right 35# 7
Side bend, left 35# 7