One month has gone by since I started this project, but before we get into the results, let me walk you through my weight-lifting program. Or you can skip right to the end… I won’t hold it against you.
I’m training in ways I never considered before. Previous research and forays into weightlifting taught me the following, among other things:
1) Repetition to failure. This is when you lift weights for 12 to 15 reps, and then increase the weight each set (usually three sets total) until your maximum reps at maximum weight terminates at failure… when you can’t possibly lift one more pound. You see this in the gym a lot when the weightlifter has nothing left to give and drops the dumbbells with a loud crash. Not me, mind you. The other guys.
2) Lifting to a 2—1-3 tempo. That means two seconds on the exertion, one second hold at the apex and then three seconds on the release. That not only helps strengthen the muscle, but it forces you to exert control over your form. Control is important not to hurt yourself by jerking weights. Control is also critical for targeting the right muscle group (you see it in guys who do bicep curls by jerking their weights, thus using their shoulders and back to lift… big no-no).
3) One minute rest between sets, so that my body can bleed off some of the lactic acid build-up and I can push further. I later decreased this to 30 seconds.
My results with these techniques were decent; I was slowly getting in shape, but felt like I could do more. That was before my trainer, Matt Marshal with Monster Gym’s Fitness Factory, showed me entirely new ways to hit the weights, and the results had me floored. Or maybe that was the training that left me exhausted? Either way… I saw results more quickly. Now my skin feels like it’s constantly generating heat and I’m less foggy. So, what does my new training schedule involve?
1) Day 1 (2x a week): Chest, Biceps, Front Delts, Quads, Stomach.
2) Day 2 (2x a week): Back (Upper and Lower), Triceps, Hamstrings, Back Delts.
3) 5x a week: 60 minutes of Cardio.
Where the pain comes from is in the way I’m being trained.
1) Sets-and-a-Half: These are murder, frankly. Instead of lifting to full extension and release, I lift the weight fully, then release half-way, then back up again before releasing to starting position. That counts as one rep, and while I do it at a slightly diminished weight, it builds up the lactic acids fast. On a good day, I only need to do three sets of 12 reps, but on bad days, I have to do three sets of 15 reps plus a little extra. I think I’ll talk to Matt’s girlfriend and bribe her to give him plenty of good days… but I digress.
2) Super Sets: I frequently alternate my sets between two machines, with no break between machine one and machine two, but a thirty-second breather from two back to one. That’s to get my blood pumping or because Matt enjoys my facial contortions as I try to work through the burn.
3) Cardio Bursts: We don’t do these all the time, but on occasion after every two machines, I get put on the treadmill or elliptical walker. The former entails running for two minute spurts, three times over 10 minutes. The latter is one minute spurts, three times over six minutes.
4) Drop Sets: I was just introduced to this recently. I believe the Inquisition used this on heretics in the 1500s, but I have absolutely no proof to substantiate it so… take my word for now. After doing one set of one-and-a-halves, Matt immediately drops the weight by 20-30 pounds and has me push out 10 normal reps. And by normal, I mean, hellish because your muscles have got nothing left. After a 30 second break, it’s back to one-and-a-halves with another dropped set “weighting” in the wings. That last bit was actually a typo before I turned it into an awesome pun.
So, where has all this taken me after a month? What’s my progress? Here’s where we stand:
April 6 May 4
Weight: 282 lbs 268 lbs
Fat Ratio: 36% 31.20%
Muscle Mass: 180.48 lbs 185.76 lbs
Fat Body Mass: 101.52 lbs 84.24 lbs
Now, what this means is that I’ve lost weight a bit quickly, and over the next few months, the results should be more even. A loss of 3% body fat per month is more reasonable, but damn if I don’t feel… alive. And not just because of the results. I feel awake and alert and happy. Happy hasn’t been in my body chemistry in a while, but I’m energized and optimistic. I know endorphins play a big role, but I don’t care right now. My IBS has been under control as well, and while it was getting better before this, it feels like it’s almost gone. I suspect that (with me) it has to do with eating less fat.
So that’s where things stand for the moment. Month One is done and Month Two is underway. And I can’t wait for my next review.