Wednesday, March 19, 2008

So, wot's th' plan, eh? Part 2 - Exercise

I am doing a mixed exercise plan to tackle the weight loss and fitness gain.

One of my main goals is to simply be more active in general. Calorie burn is significantly increased over what is burned by sitting just by moving around more. Puttering around the yard or house instead of sitting and watching TV, walking more instead of driving, even just frequently getting up and stretching at work instead of sitting all day adds up over time. I was inspired by a recent thread on Lyle McDonald's "secret" forum that discussed the Bodybugg, a device that you wear on your arm and it tells you your calorie burn throughout the day. The people using it found that simple housework burned more calories than an equal time of weight lifting.

I am not talking about doing this instead of an exercise program; I am just incorporating the extra movement into my life.

As for more formal cardio, I recently bought a new bike - a 2007 Jamis Durango 1.0.

It's an entry level hardtail but good quality and has been a lot of fun to ride so far. I haven't tackled any trails yet since they are still snow covered.

I have also started doing some walking combined with a little running after work. I needed to start doing this if I am going to hit my goal of running the local 5K fun run the first weekend of June. It's a little dodgey at the moment as I haven't been able to find a decent pair of running shoes that actually fit.

I also have a Concept 2 rowing machine in the house for when the weather gets bad but I haven't been using it much lately. It gets a little boring and it has been aggravating a sore elbow that I have been dealing with lately.

On the strength training front, I started out with a mixture of calisthenics, isometric exercise and DVR's. DVR's are a type of exercise where you move against your own muscle resistance. An example would be to pretend that you are going to do a curl with the heaviest weight you can imagine. Really flex the muscles in your biceps and forearm as you prepare to lift. Keeping the tension in the muscle, slowly perform the curl against that tension, keeping the tension through-out the movement. On the way down, transfer the tension to the triceps. A much better explanation as well as a description of the seven Tiger Moves routine that is my mainstay routine, can be found in the book The Miracle Seven by John Peterson.

For the first month, my routine was to do one set of ten of each of the Tiger Moves, two sets of what John Peterson calls the Panther Stretch push-up (it is also known as the fifth move of the Five Tibetans ), two sets of Hindu squats and two sets of an exercise we did in the army that I don't know the name of (basically stand feet shoulder width apart with arms straight overhead, then lean forward while keeping the legs straight and reach and touch the ground as far back as possible, then return to starting position). I eventually added in two sets of Hindu Push-ups (about 20 total).

I did this routine earlier in the day, usually during my lunch break. When I got home, I would then do one of the isometric workouts from the book Isometric Power Revolution, also by John Peterson. I also did one set of Tiger Moves and then rowed for awhile after the workout.

I made a lot of progress with this routine. However, the exercises were aggravating a sore elbow and balky knee that I had been fighting since last summer. It got to the point where I finally just stopped out of frustration and did nothing but ride occasionally the last half of February. Combined with falling off of the food wagon, I gained back everything I had lost and basically felt terrible.

After a couple weeks of inactivity, I figured that I should be doing something and so started back on the only thing that didn't bother my elbow - the Tiger Moves. I started doing a full three sets of ten on my lunch break and rode or walked after work. It has made a large difference. I am getting noticeably stronger and adding muscle, particularly in my arms, back and chest.

My elbow is starting to respond to some trigger point therapy that I started on it and I am hopeful that I can add back in some calisthenics and isometrics soon.

I really like the DVR's and isometrics. They can be done anywhere, anytime and need no equipment or gym membership. They are by no means easy (effort-wise) but aren't as taxing as weights. I never felt well after lifting - kind of drained and sore. I get tired after my routine but also strangely energetic. They are also much easier on the joints which, unfortunately, is getting more important as I get older.

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