One year later

14 02 2014

It’s been about a year since I started consistently weight training again, so I thought it would be interesting to look back and see what kind of progress I had made.

“Consistently” needs a little bit of a qualifier. I had several weeks here and there when I wasn’t able to train, largely due to travel; although I’ve done better than ever at finding gyms when I’ve been out of town, sometimes it just wasn’t possible. I also had my training impacted a bit by a shoulder injury that caused me to not train upper body for about a month.

I’ve been training using Jim Wendler’s 5-3-1 program, which I highly recommend to everyone who wants to increase strength in a straightforward way. One of the great things about it is that it pushes you to set new personal records every time you go to the gym, which also makes it easy to track progress over time. I took my calculated 1 rep max for each of my major lifts and put them into a chart:

training progress

Deadlift (280 to 468: +67%) – The deadlift is by far my favorite of the big lifts, and I’m quite happy with how much progress I’ve made.

Squats (250 to 373: +49%) – I took a break from heavy squatting starting in September, because I was experiencing hip pain, and I wanted to work on my flexibility. Despite the break, when I resumed squatting last week, I immediately set a new PR, and then broke it again this week.

Bench press (233 to 304: +30%) – Due the shoulder problems, I hadn’t bench pressed in years, but I decided to start doing them again midway through the year, and I’m making great progress.

Military press (140 to 180: +25%) and push press (180 to 215: +20%) – For overhead pressing, I started the year doing military presses, then switched to push presses (where I can obviously move more weight), then recently back to military presses again.

Goals for 2014

29 12 2013

I’m not typically one for New Year’s resolutions, but I do have some things I want to accomplish this year, that I’m going to throw out there for accountability purposes:

  • Weigh less than 210 by the end of the year. Possibly 200.
  • Be able to carry on basic conversations in Spanish
  • Be able to surf
  • Brew a drinkable batch of beer
  • Develop more of a social life

Back, Maybe?

20 09 2013

I’m feeling somewhat motivated to start blogging again. Not that anyone will notice.

A lot has happened in the past three years. I married Amy at the end of 2011, and she moved to California. We now live in Encinitas. I also found my birth family last year, and they are amazing! Sadly, I also experienced the death of both of my adopted brothers. I’m probably going to post a bit more about those things soon, but in general, my posts going forward will be less of a personal nature, and instead focus on fitness and the occasional political rant.

Speaking of fitness, after reaching a low weight of 197 about 3 years ago, I started gaining it back. By the time I got married, I was up to 225, and by the beginning of this year, I was up to 253. This was all pretty much due to me falling off the wagon, both with diet and exercise. Since the start of the year, I’ve been weight training pretty consistently, despite a nagging shoulder injury (tendinosis and impingement), and my diet has been more on than off. I currently weigh 234. My goal is to get down to 215 by the end of the year. I’m pretty motivated to get stronger and lose some fat.

Weightlifting goals

18 09 2013

Here are my short and longer term weightlifting goals, relative to my body weight. I hope to reach the short term ones by the end of this year, and the long term ones sometime next year. The plan is to do this both through increasing my strength and dropping some fat.

Short Long
Squat 1.5 x BW 2 x BW
Deadlift 2 x BW 2.5 x BW
Bench 1 x BW 1.5 x BW
Overhead .75 x BW 1 x BW

My new favorite protein shake

30 03 2012

I started making this recently, and now crave them all the time:

2 scoops of vanilla whey
1 frozen banana
1 graham cracker square
Water based on the consistency you like

It tastes like banana cream pie.

Calories: 375
Fat: 3g
Carbs: 38g
Protein: 50g

A couple weeks of milestones

24 09 2010

The last couple of weeks have seen some significant milestones.

On September 13th, my kids moved to Italy with their mother. Perhaps “moved” isn’t the best word for it, because it’s a temporary thing; they’ll be back in 3 months. I’m excited for them to experience this adventure, but I miss them. Their internet access is sporadic, so I can’t talk to them very often. I AM going to see them in a few days, so that will be good.

September 16th marked a year since my first date with Amy. I still remember it vividly, especially the nervous excitement I felt. I already knew I liked her from the conversations we’d had, and the first time I met her in person, there was an immediate attraction. We spent several days together, going to a Weezer/Blink 182 concert, the Wild Animal Park, SeaWorld, the beach. I was so unhappy when she had to return to Utah, not knowing what the future would hold due to the distance, but I knew that I wanted to spend more time with her. Since then, it has been an amazing ride. I still feel the same nervous excitement when I’m about to see her, and the same sadness when it’s time to part. She made the last year the best in my life so far, and I’m excited to see what the future holds for us.

The 20th marked the date that my divorce from Melissa became official. There was no particular sadness associated with it. We first decided to get divorced nearly a year and a half ago, and I moved out more than a year ago, so I had processed it, and we’ve both moved on (obviously). We chatted briefly when she was at my place with the kids, and we both acknowledged regret at the things that went wrong, but we’re both happy now and wish the best for each other. Looking back, I was definitely unhappy, but the good times stick with me more than the bad. I’m especially thankful for the 5 fabulous kids we had together, and my only significant regret in all of this is that I don’t get to see them as much as I’d like now.

Finally, today, after what seems like ages, I broke the 200 pound barrier. I don’t remember for sure the last time I weighed less than 200 pounds, but the most recent it could have possibly been was in 1994, which was my first year of marriage. I had initially hoped to break this barrier on September 1st, and I got within a couple of pounds of that, but a trip to Seattle and 10 days with my kids derailed me a little bit.

So what’s next? I knew that at 200 pounds I’d still have a little fat around my middle, and I do. My best guess is that to get as lean as I’d like to be, I’ve got another 10-15 pounds to go. Possibly more. Part of me wants to focus on building muscle for a little while, but I’m pretty sure that if I do that right now, I’ll gain a lot of fat at the same. So for now, I think I’m going to continue to focus on losing fat, but a bit less aggressively than what I’ve been doing. I’m going to just continue to eat healthy, be active, and weight train without a specific goal until the beginning of November. Then I’ll see where I’m at and set my next goal. Ideally, I’d like to finish losing before the holidays, so I can use them to start my bulking cycle 🙂

Weight: 199.5
BF%: 22

Jan 1st starting weight: 232.5
Starting BF%: 31

Gymtards #1

1 09 2010

This is a post that I’ve been wanting to write for a long time, but I kept getting hung up on wanting to make it as comprehensive as possible. Then it occurred to me that I can just make this a recurring theme, so here’s the first.

I’ve been working out on and off (more on, lately) since I was about 12. I’ve done a lot of different things, lost (and then regained) a lot of weight, and I like to think I’ve learned quite a bit, especially over the past 5-6 years as the Internet has made access to reliable training and nutritional information readily available.

Over the years, I’ve seen a lot of other people, especially at commercial gyms, that I tend to think of as “gymtards.” This term is probably a little harsh, but it does drive the point home: many, and perhaps most, people working out these days are making major mistakes. This may just mean that they’re not progressing as well as they could, but it could mean that they are doing things that are entirely contrary to their goals. I probably wouldn’t care if they didn’t frequently prevent me from using equipment I want to use.

I’m not claiming to be any kind of authority on training, but I have spent a lot of time reading information and research from leading trainers and coaches, and applying those things to myself, so I have a pretty good idea of what works and what doesn’t. My intention here is to draw attention to many of the common mistakes that people make, and in so doing hopefully encourage some of them to better educate themselves.

So with that introduction out of the way, I want to get to what inspired me to finally get this posted: the leg press.

The leg press is not a useless exercise. The biggest problem with it is that people use it instead of squatting and deadlifting, rather than as a support exercise, which is what it should be. What’s worse is that many of the people I see doing it aren’t even doing it properly. Lately, I’ve witnessed a number of people who load the leg press up with as many plates as possible, and then move it through a tiny range of motion, as illustrated in this video I captured last night:

If this guy were to actually attempt to go though a full range of motion, the ridiculous amount of weight that he’s using would drive his knees through his chest and into the pad behind him. He may feel like he’s accomplishing something, but the truth is, he’s probably getting more out of loading the weight onto the leg press machine than he is out of the tiny movements he’s doing.

There is a time and place for using a partial range of motion, but this is an advanced technique, used by people who are legitimately moving massive amounts of weight and trying to overcome weak points. Most people should be using a full range of motion, and if you can’t do that with the weight you’re using, check your ego at the door and reduce the weight. You’ll benefit more in the long run.