Walking and water aerobics won’t help preserve your bone health, but lifting heavy will.
In part 1 of this series we covered the frustration of training at the local global gym. Part 2 covered my requirements’ for a new place to train and the success of finding Fivex3 Training in Baltimore.
The basics of Starting Strength are simple. A series of four to five basic exercises that work large areas of the body, Think efficiency of effort. More muscle groups exercised in less time. With a measurable increase of progress every workout, in Starting Strength terminology, linear progress. A better explanation can be found here.
Having trained in a similar fashion years ago, I made great progress and changed my body over the course of about one year. I realize that some people, specially women, worry about getting muscle bound or looking like a man. But since the fairer sex produces less testosterone than men that is normally not an issue. To see what Starting Strength has done for women click here , here and here.
We all know that strength training builds muscle. Muscle burns more calories at rest than fat. Strength makes every day tasks easier to perform. Plus things stop jiggling around, you look and feel better. Internally and externally.
So my plan is to get stronger and at least keep my bodyweight the same the first couple of months (maybe lose a few pounds), then as I run up to the end of linear progression start focusing on losing weight.
By now you are thinking, hell….I can do that at my local gym. Maybe you can. Plenty of people follow the system on their own. You may even have a home gym with the basic equipment needed. (list of needed equipment here) You can purchase the books and even DVD’s to show you what to do and there is a website that has a ton of free resources.
I wanted to start off with correct form so I went to Fivex3 Training to learn proper form. Something that none of the other gyms I trained at offered. In fact, they always wanted to steer you to the machines. It’s easy to show you how to use them and to be honest, most of the trainers in the chain gyms aren’t qualified to teach you the lifts correctly and I wanted to get it right from the start.
Even as a guy, I thought I’d be intimidated by the people there but it was totally different than what I expected. People were warm and friendly. From the first day you could see people cheering each other on. Coaches were always there to give encouragement and correct form. Even though the idea is to constantly add weight to the bar every workout, safety and good form are not sacrificed.
Training at Fivex3 is unlike any other gym I’ve ever been to. Even one that was owned by a Mr. Olympia contender. I’ve never been to a gym where everyone trained hard. Women and men both. Never been to a gym where people were so friendly. It’s inspiring to be surrounded by a room of people all committed to achieving similar goals. Nobody putting anyone down but instead lifting them up.
The results speak for themselves. Started on 3/2/2016:
Squats: 155 lbs. Press: 95 lbs. Deadlifts: 190 lbs. Bench Press: 155 lbs. Power Snatch 65 lbs.
Six weeks later 4/13/2016:
Squats: 245 lbs. Press: 125 lbs. Deadlifts: 250 lbs. Bench Press: 215 lbs. Power Snatch: 95 lbs.
I would highly recommend the Starting Strength method for everyone. If you are lucky enough to have a Starting Strength gym in your area, go. If you don’t, get the books or attend one of their seminars teaching the lifts. You will not be disappointed.
Wasting time in the global gym and barbell exercises in Part 1 of this article (rant) were only part of what the recent journey. Like most people, I have no room or desire to have a gym at the house and already have a gym membership. If this battle against the bulge were to succeed, I needed access to my preferred method of exercise, barbell training. And not only access, but the ability to get the work done without endless waiting for the few pieces of equipment that my current gym used.
After leaving the gym in frustration, I went home and surfed the net looking for a gym that would meet the parameters mentioned in Part 1. Having just started using the highly regarded Starting Strength method of training, it would be nice to find a place that had the proper equipment and lots of it. Surfed around the net and found a couple of places worth checking out and made plans to visit them during the times I could train.
Having already decided to check out a few gyms, I went back to surfing the Starting Strength website to find out when and where they had seminars for coaching in proper exercise form. Lo and behold out of the eleven Starting Strength gyms in the world two happen to be in Maryland! Now that changed everything. They were farther than I wanted to travel, 40 minutes to one hour, but the goal is more important. At least I could check one of them out because there were other options closer.
Several evenings later I made the trek to Baltimore and visited Fivex3 Training and was immediately greeted by Diego who asked if he could be of any help. As I looked around I could tell this was the kind of place where people came to better themselves. There were no endless rows of machines , and people were actually training, not pumping and primping. Told Diego that I was interested in training and I was introduced to the owner Emily Socolinsky. She was very kind and gracious with her time, answered a TON of questions and a half hour later I was out the door.
It was a struggle for over a week. I had goals that I wanted to attain but I am also currently debt free. Did I want to spend the money? Did I want to drive 40 minutes just to get there? I had the time, I had the money. My current gym membership was useless since one could not count on being able to use the equipment. The coaching would help insure that one could lift in proper form and progress through the system in the best possible manner. So on my birthday last month I made the call and signed up.
Part 3 will go into the basics of Starting Strength method and what its like training at Fivex3 in Baltimore.
Average. 1. equaling or approximating an arithmetic mean. 2.being about midway between extremes. 3. not out of the ordinary; common.
A 2012 Gallup survey found that most Americans exercise for 30 minutes three times per week. (51 percent) Another 18 percent exercise two days per week and a third doesn’t exercise at all. Seems that people exercise more in the spring and summer than in winter. Obese people and those with incomes under $36,000 per year tend to exercise the least.
The Maryland Population Research Center funded a study that found that Americans average about two hours per week engaged in sports or fitness activities. They also found that dedicated walking was the most prevalent activity and that 5 percent of Americans spend about 53 minutes daily walking. Two hours may not sound like much, but is way more than what we were getting in 1965 when the first U.S. National Diary was conducted.
Average. Is that that good enough for you? Do you go to see average movies? Spend you weekend seeking out average restaurants with average cuisine? Looking for an average job or and average mate? Do you want just an average body?
Don’t know about you but average? That’s not what I want to put the effort into. (Although an average body is an improvement for me) One of the planks of my 20/18 plan is exercise or training 4 hours or more per week. More than average, faster improvement and some flexibility. That comes out to 18 hours per month. Something every one of us can find the time for.
About four hours per week is what the U.S. Center for Disease Control recommends for adults aged 18 to 64. Four hours of physical activity each week by combining moderate exercise for 2.5 hours per week and a vigorous activity, such as running and muscle strengthening, for an hour and fifteen minutes per week.
Over at Prevention Magazine they have an interesting article that cites an even higher amount of exercise. Seems that the JAMA Oncology magazine published a study that 300 minutes of exercise per week was linked to the greatest weight loss and fat loss.
Was worried about getting behind on exercise because of being snowed in over the weekend. It started to snow when I got home on Friday and 20 inches later I am still home on Sunday as I write this. But I did get in 1 1/2 hours yesterday and two hours today of shoveling snow. My week starts on Sunday so I finished last week with 4.3 hours of exercise and started the current week with two hours.
Now back to average. Is average really what you want? Obviously it is better than nothing, but it is still average. Can you commit to more and would you? How often do you exercise? Would love to hear from you.
On holiday weekends like this past Memorial Day, its easy to get caught up in the party’s, get together’s, cookouts and such. Hey! It’s a three day weekend and we worked hard all week right? I did do one cookout, but also managed to exercise every day. Each workout about doubled the previous one in time/duration, which was an accident. It just happened that way.
Monday, I was up early so I grabbed coffee and snacks and headed down to the most powerful city on earth for some hiking. Washington DC was pretty quiet at 8:30 am as I pulled to the curb in West Potomac Park just a couple of blocks from the Lincoln Memorial. Apply some sunscreen, throw some water in the backpack and head over the Memorial Bridge into Virginia.
As you cross to the Virginia side of the bridge you can look down on the Mount Vernon Trail. They don’t have (or I couldn’t find) a trail leading down from the bridge directly to the trail. It was early and there was little traffic so I just hiked across the grass and the highway onto the trail at the safest spot. Its a great trail that is 14 miles long, paved and meanders along the river. Around one bend there was a great sweet smell coming from some kind of wild flowers lining the edge of the trail.
The trail takes you past Roosevelt Island and then up a hill and over the Key Bridge back into Washington DC. There was a steady stream of all types of fitness enthusiasts. Walkers, runners, cyclists and family’s just seeing the sights. Crossing the bridge back into DC also gives you some good views of Georgetown Cathedral.
Also get some great views of the Potomac running past the Kennedy Center and the people down below enjoying being on the water.
That is about the halfway point. Across the bridge and you can follow the C&O Canal. Instead I chose to walk beside the river and enjoy the cool little parks, fountains and shade covered benches. It was there that I took a break, drank more water and did some work in my goals book. People were starting to come out and enjoy the sunshine before it got too warm. After a brief rest it was time to finish up the hike and get outta town before the traffic got heavy and the city got full of people.
On the way back to the car it seemed like I was not pushing myself. The book I used as a guide claimed this to be a two and one half hour hike. I was going to make it in under two. So I decided to kick it up a notch and started using the phone app I installed two days before and finished the last mile and a half running intervals. Running (or something like running) one minute alternated with walking two minutes.
Finished the 5.7 mile journey in under two hours. Including a 10-15 minute break in Georgetown. Really enjoyed that circuit and see me doing it again. Look for a write up on the guidebook and the phone app in the future.
Let me know what you did this weekend.
It HURT. It pounded, throbbed and was a distraction.
Smashed my thumb with a hammer at work Friday. Hit it right on the joint next to the hand with a BIG plastic tipped hammer on the last stop of the day. By the time I got home it was throbbing and painful as hell. It helped me realize how important opposable thumbs are to everyday life because it hurt to use it.
Fast forward to Saturday morning. At the track running (if it can be called that), trying out a new phone app for intervals. (run 2 walk 1) to help me get back into running. Am walking around the track, can’t figure out how to stop the annoying tick sound every second. Load it, unload it, start it, stop it, can’t save changes, ARRRRRGH!!!!!. Finally get it working and realize that I already walked in circles for 30 minutes! (Admittedly a good thing) Proceeded to do 7 intervals and call it a day after 51 minutes total work time.
I guess the point is, don’t let pain and aggravation stop you from pursuit of your goals. It would have been easy to give up because of not being able to run with the phone in my other hand. It would have been easy to throw my hands up in total exasperation at the difficulty in setting up that phone app. I didn’t and overcoming those two obstacles made completing that exercise session all the more sweet.
Have a great weekend!