The Waistline Warrior Project or Dale 2.0…Part 1

It was all the fault of the “Globolgym”.  You know, the large chain that I have a lifetime membership to. When I joined back in 1984 it was Holiday Spa, then it was Bally’s now it is something that will remain un-named. Each iteration removed more of my beloved free weight equipment, replacing it with soulless machines. From a business standpoint this is great. Your instructors don’t really have to know physiology or spend time teaching people to do a barbell lift correctly, don’t have a ton of weights lying around and you can move people in and out fast.

But, I still believed in the magic of free weights and the benefits of using them in ways that mimic real life. Movements that move weight and utilize balance. Efficient movements that train whole muscle groups at one time.  Not some artificial axis, groove or plane determined by a machine to isolate a particular muscle.

So, I waited…..again for a chance to get in the power rack and move some iron. Again, wasting time because the equipment that would do most gym members the most good have been replaced with a machine. Time I could be building strength and muscle instead of watching people flail away on a machine with the same weights they used last week, last month and probably last year. Then I got angry with the waiting and left.

Having belonged to a gym for years, I learned a long time ago that lifting free weights was the best way to improve your body, it’s strength and its look. Progressive weight training with a barbell stresses your body in way that can’t be duplicated by a machine. Let’s use the king of exercises the squat and compare it to a leg press.

Muscles worked in leg press
Muscles worked in leg press

The pictures show that you work both your quadriceps and your gluteus muscle groups in the leg press. A decent exercise as far as machine exercises go. But compare it to a squat.

squat diagram.
Muscles worked in the squat.

Look at how many more muscles are worked in the squat. You hit the same quads and glutes but also back, shoulders and abdominals are called in to assist. This is a picture of a front squat but the preferred back squat works a few more muscles. (couldn’t find a picture.) Don’t know about you, but if I am busting my butt in the gym, I want to get more work done in less time. Exercises that work more muscle groups at one time are more efficient than doing multiple exercises that work one or two muscles at a time. Compared to the leg press, the squat is an exercise bargain.

Back to the gym, or actually leaving the gym in disgust. Went right home and got on the computer to find a gym that offered more real weight training equipment. I knew from past experience that a person could train on three to five exercises and make more progress in a shorter amount of time with the right system and equipment. My must haves were;

  1. Must have enough free weights so waiting was a thing of the past’
  2. Must be newbie friendly. Even though I trained years ago, I am 55 and have lapsed back to “beginner”.
  3. Must be reasonably close.

In the next installment we will cover what I found in my area.

How Do You Feel About Being Average?

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.

shoveled driveway


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.



Weekend Workout For Weight Loss.

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.

great smelling flowers along the trail.
great smelling flowers along 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.

Georgetown Cathedral from the Key Bridge.
Georgetown Cathedral from the Key Bridge.

Also get some great views of the Potomac running past the Kennedy Center and the people down below enjoying being on the water.

Looking down from the bridge.
Looking down from the bridge.

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.

A Fountain To Cool Off In along the Potomac.
A Fountain To Cool Off In along the Potomac.


Let me know what you did this weekend.