Thursday, 26 February 2009

False Economies

Today was my second day at work for the week. Unlike next week, this one is normal length, and unfortunately I didn’t use up any of my many flexi-days to get time off work.


No, I was sick. Fully sick, you might say.


I had some sort of fever, involving aching limbs, a sore throat, difficulty in moving and, most importantly, sweating. The sweating was extraordinary really. I lay down in bed for a couple of hours, dozing, and I’d have sweat stains on my clothes. If I moved the sweating was even worse, not requiring much exertion at all to get going.


It was at its worst at 4am on Wednesday. I woke up and I was literally squelching in bed. I’ve never sweated so much! I was too weak and tired to move much from there, so I found the driest part of the bed (only partially above the high water mark) and made the best of it, while resigning myself to a second day at home, too crook to work.


Obviously I didn’t eat much in those two days, and drank a lot of water (which didn’t stay in my body for long), so, despite not going to the gym in the last week, and only getting moderate exercise, I actually did pretty well.


I even had middle-aged women at work perving on me and congratulating me on losing weight.


But it’s a false economy. Like the all-fruit-juice diet Grant Thomas took when he was coaching the Saints. Or Grant Thomas himself coaching the Saints. It can’t last. The fluid I lost has to come back on doesn’t it?


Anyways, I’m down again this week, to 92kg, but it won’t stay that low for long.


Unless I can manage to get gastro…

Thursday, 19 February 2009

The Workout Analysed - Part One

So the workouts continue. Its been an awkward week on my march to the seventies. Working late yesterday meant I couldn't get to the gym until about 7pm, which left me with only about an hour to work out, once warmups were done. I chose to focus on cardio, reasoning that it had more of a chance of getting me fitter and losing weight.
Add to that some serious temptations during the week. A big feed today for lunch at an excellent Chinese restaurant was something I couldn't knock back, especially as Dad was paying. Cricket training was pretty much normal, but being a selection night we had a sausage sizzle. But possibly for the first time ever I didn't have any.
Even so, I had a quiet weekend booze-wise so I should've been ahead of the curve there.
In the end, it balanced out exactly. I'm stable this week at 94kg. Still 15kg to go!
I had planned to give a full analysis of my workout this week, but, like just about everything with this workout I ran out of time. So here's the first half of the workout:
Warm up

5 mins cardio

Generally rowing as it's a good all-round workout – upper and lower body, By the end of it I'm normally sweating pretty decently.


Given I'm running on an incline it's surprising that I'm not asked to do a calf stretch. I do one anyway. In fact, the number and range of stretches I need to do are generally less than previously required. Very little is done to stretch my groin for example.

Main Programme

weights – dumbbell chest press 3 x 12, 10kg each

This is pretty tough actually, and a good start. Using dumbbells rather than barbells means both arms need to be strong. And using free weights is excellent at working my supporting muscles. One thing the workout otherwise misses is strengthening my forearms, which I find really important for cricket. But they do get a workout as balancing and supporting muscles.

weights - lying down dumbbell fly 3 x 12, 7.5kg each

Again, dumbbells used here. Not so difficult, but I need to be careful I don't relax my arms too much and have the weights fall below chest level, especially as I hold my arms out for this exercise. This means there's very little rest between reps; I'm working all the time. This exercise is one of the reasons the outside of my boobs are so sore at the end of a session

cardio - rowing - 2km @ 28-32 strokes/min (8-9 mins)

I actually tend to do the rowing a little later on than this, for a couple of reasons. First, I've just done rowing to warm up. Secondly, it's an exercise that, no matter how tired you are, you can push yourself to do. Unlike running, where you're not sitting down so don't have great control over the pace of your workout. With the rowing the key for me is to make sure the machine is working OK – one of them seems to do crazy things like claim I'm rowing at the rate of a 45 second 500m, which is ridiculous (more like 1:40). Also important to use the whole body and tighten your glutes a bit.

I like the rowing machine, although this workout is different to my previous, interval-based exercise. It's more constant. I did really like challenging myself with a hard workout on the rowing machine but these machines just don't have that option. Shame.

weights - leg press 3x12 @ 40kg

A real token leg workout. It will be good for my glutes and core strength, and I'll keep it as it keeps my legs toned, but adding strength to my legs isn't a priority as they're too bulky already.

weights - leg curls 3x12 @ L3

This is not quite as token. It gives the quads a good workout and I feel it in my hamstrings also, especially when releasing. I generally find this easy and compensate by doing more reps.

cardio - bike (10 mins - 30 sec hard [130rpm@L8], 30 sec rest [100bpm@L4])

This is a cracker. Ten minutes of going up and down in intensity. Bike work makes me sweat a heap anyway. By the end of it it's very difficult to get up to 130rpm, which is good. It should be hard. My only regret is that it's not an all-over workout. But otherwise it rivals my old rowing exercise as my favourite bit of gym work.

weights - seated row – 3 x 12 on 35kg

This is quite good, if a bit uncomfortable - you sit on the hard ground for this. But the difficulty is in keeping your shoulders and back still while you work out. Seems easy at first but gradually gets harder, which of course is fantastic. But to be honest I wonder if there are better ways of working on these muscles. There are certainly better exercises in this workout.

weights - bent row 3x12 12.5kg

The first of two confusing exercises. I stand bent over with an erect back and lift weight from knees to shoulders, keeping my wrists and elbows above my shoulders at all times. It doesn't really wear me out or take too much effort, but the key of course is to keep my back straight, and not yank the weights. It's an OK workout but is something I could just as easily leave off, especially as I don't feel that it does all that much.

weights - smith machine shoulder press, 30kg, 3x12

What the f*ck is going on with this one? The Smith machine is a mix between free weights and fixed weights – you have freedom moving them up and down but none to move sideways. So it gives some support, and only some work is needed by the supporting muscles. The shoulder press is hard work though – I previously did it on the machine. And it does work my shoulders pretty well. But to be honest I haven't done this exercise all that much as it's a bit intimidating. And that is an awful attitude to have.

weights - standing row 15kg 3x12 (or 3x12 lateral raises 5kg)

This is suspiciously like the bent row except … straight rather than bent. Still the same deal with the elbows and wrists, and keeping the back straight and still. I guess this exercise does more work on the shoulders, while the bent one works the upper back a bit more. It's a good workout but I could imagine dropping this from my routine.

weights – reverse fly 3x12 on Level 3

This is really awkward. Reverse flys are the opposite of the pec-deck, which I do not do in this workout. That's strange: usually you work opposite muscle groups. What makes this awkward, other than mounting and straddling the machine, is that the handles for moving the weights are not stable, so moving them is very difficult (and not in a good way that encourages support muscles to kick in – it just moves the handle further away from my body, for no observable reason).

Thursday, 12 February 2009

"I'm noticing things about my body"

Before alarm bells go off, let me assure you this entry is not going to turn in to a “so you’ve decided to go through puberty” sixties-style school special. Not on my watch.

I’m not quite stupid enough to believe that I have made a huge difference to my body yet. Not quite.

But for someone who, according to his friends, is a little too concerned with his body image (strange for someone who is neither too big nor perfectly chiselled), I’m noticing things.

I can’t really deny that, during my magnificent 2007 when I lost a shedload of weight, I would look at myself in the mirror and notice that some bits that used to be there weren’t anymore, or that some bits didn’t stick out as much, or that my shape had changed a bit. Rightly or wrongly, I convinced myself that I could notice these changes very frequently – on, say, a fortnightly basis.

The good news is that I am noticing some of the same, since-enlarged or since-reappeared bits are making themselves scarce. Probably, only I can tell at the moment, which probably makes these changes the equivalent of an imaginary friend. But some things, like a change in posture which lifts my shoulders have exaggerated these changes.

Anyways, knowing what changes to look for, and actually seeing those changes, it quite heartening. More details about my progress are coming in the next blog entry.

Ooooh, that’s a bit presumptive. Despite noticing these changes I’ve stuck to my regime of not weighing myself until the weekly weigh in on Thursday nights. I could well be writing checks my sizeable arse can’t catch. Because of its size.

... but on weighing myself tonight (after writing the rest of this blog), I can confirm I'm down to 94kg. And I had deep fried chicken masquerading as Japanese today.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

The First Workout

"That's rubbish. The guy doesn't know what he's talking about."

We were at Madge and Hopey's wedding last Saturday, but Leppitch wasn't talking about Hopey, or the best man, of even the celebrant. Which was good, because he'd only just started his rant.

"He's been to one of theose courses where they say 'YOU CAN BE A GYM INSTRUCTOR IN SIX WEEKS', or maybe he got it in a Corn Flakes box."

Leppitch had every right to be aggreived. He's a Human Movement graduate, but is not using it now (are any of them?), and I'd just told him what Chris, who did my assessment and organised my gym programme, what he'd told me.

Specifically, I mentioned that my fitness advisor said you should not train for more than one hour at a time. The reason, he said, was that the mentioned that after burning sugar I will burn muscle. So I miss the whole burning fat bit.

Despite Leppitch's rantings, I decided to keep an open mind and headed along for my first full workout on Wednesday. I was a bit sore after a decent cricket training session on Tuesday.

The workout is included below. Needless to say I was totally fingered afterwards.

But it gets worse. I arrived at 6pm. When the gym closed at 8:30pm I hadn't finished my workout.

To be honest 8:30 is a ridiculous time to close a gym in an inner city. My old one closed at 10pm. And sometimes that wasn't enough.

But I'm not willing to leave work any earlier than 5pm to get there (which was what I did on Wednesday), so I'm stuck with finding ways to cut down my programme.

As mentioned I'll give a commentary on the workout next week - there's no room to do that now - but needless to say that I was knackered. Actually I've already said that.

I got home at almost nine, and boiled some water for some corn while I cut up some pears to eat beforehand. I almost gagged on the first piece of pear I had. I couldn't handle eating a lot so didn't bother with the corn at all.

When I headed to bed (unusually early at 9:45), I was lying there, still cooling down really, and convinced that I would not be able to get out of bed. It turns out I wasn't too bad until later today when I got a bit stiff.

Cricket training was downright difficult.

By the way I weighed myself again tonight. Steady at 95kgm which is a bit disappointing.


New Workout

Warm up

5 mins cardio


Main Programme

weights – dumbbell chest press 3 x 12, 10kg each

weights - lying down dumbbell fly 3 x 12, 7.5kg each

cardio - rowing - 2km @ 28-32 strokes/min (8-9 mins)

weights - leg press 3x12 @ 40kg

weights - leg curls 3x12 @ L3

cardio - bike (10 mins - 30 sec hard [130rpm@L8], 30 sec rest [100bpm@L4])

weights - seated row – 3 x 12 on 35kg

weights - bent row 3x12 12.5kg

weights - smith machine shoulder press, 30kg, 3x12

weights - standing row 15kg 3x12 (or 3x12 lateral raises 5kg)

weights – reverse fly 3x12 on Level 3

cardio - run (15 mins @ 12km)

weights - tricep dips 3x12

weights - triceps on rope 3x12 on Level 3

weights - seated bicep curl 3x12 5kg each

weights - preachers curls 3x12 on 15kg

cardio - 10 mins of my choice (cross trainer)

core strength – fitball jack-knife 2x20

core strength - reverse crunches 2x20

core strength - oblique fitball crunches 2x20

core strength - side planks 2 each side x 40 sec

Cool Down

run/swim for 10-15 mins


Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Snow News Day

Well that was foolish.

At midnight I heard on the news the utter catharsis of London’s transport system, buckling under the weight of snow. Not only were 10 of the 11 tube lines down, but buses stopped also, which I’d never heard of before. Ten inches of snow and basically you were stuck.

Thinking it was an opportunity to gloat, I sent a text to about ten good friends in the UK, boasting that tomorrow we were expecting 34 degrees (err, Celsius that is).

What surprised me was not that I got eight replies, way more than normal, but that all but one of them responded within ten minutes. And the tales they told – snowball fights with previously unknown neighbours, going to the pub … and most importantly not working.

I’ve been in London when it snows and the city looks utterly beautiful. No doubt this is partly relative to the usual grimy streets one encounters.

But I should’ve known better than to gloat about weather on the one day of the year when Londoners are happy that it’s cold and stuff is falling from the sky.

I’m a victim of my own hubris. And obviously now I want to be back in London even more.