mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

madanthony is at the gym, getting ripped...

Up until about the middle of 2005, I'd never set foot in the gym at the college I work for (and graduated from), except to work on the computers there. But a few months earlier I had decided to make a commitment to lose weight, and to do that I needed to exercise. I had been walking laps around a nearby reservoir, but it was getting to be summer and hot outside, plus when it rained I was out of luck.

I got in the habit of going pretty much every day, unless I have something else I have to do. But in those 5 years, I've always stuck to the cardio side of things, eventually settling on the Precors and Ellipticals for my daily 90 minute workouts. Until a few days ago, anyway.

For the last year or two I've said I was going to do some sort of strength training or lifting, but never have. I've always been intimidated, both by the equipment and by the people who use it. But it's summer, and the gym is mostly empty, so I figured it was a good time to get a start - hopefully by the time September rolls around and the gym fills up I'll be comfortable enough to be around the kind of people who can lift Volkswagons, even though I struggle with lifting Matchbox cars. A coworker of mine who has a pretty serious strength-training routine generously agreed to show me the ropes, so last Sunday I dipped my first toe into the waters of upper-body conditioning.

I got a flurry of possible exercises. I've adopted a couple, the rest I plan to work in slowly once I become more comfortable with the equipment and better at using it. I've decided to ignore the conventional wisdom of doing a big 45 minute workout 2 times a week, and instead do 10 or 15 minutes every day. While I figure that isn't optimal, it fits better into my current workout schedule - I can do it after my daily cardio - and it's a lot more manageable.

My goal in this isn't to get ripped or anything. But I have pretty much no upper body strength, and have had my arms described as "spindly" by one of our student workers. I'd be happy if I can lift heavy boxes and open jars of pickles without straining - although I figure that it can't hurt me dating-wise, since I've never seen "spindly" as a "want" in a woman's online dating profile.

Of course, 10 minutes a day probably isn't going to get me that, but I do intend to increase it, and it can't hurt. When I first started exercising, I would walk for about 15 minutes. Now I do six times that. When it comes to strength training, I'm where I was at at cardio 5 years ago, when I weighed 100 pounds more than I do now.

There are some things I'm getting used to about the difference between cardio and strength training - when you do cardio for fat burning, the goal is more to be doing something so you burn calories and less to push yourself - the "fat burn" settings on the Precor aim for 65% of your max heart rate. Strength training is different - you want to do a small amount of intense stuff at your limit. You need to rest between sets. And while a good cardio workout and careful diet can shed several pounds in a week, especially if you are fat to begin with, the time frame I see in articles about lifting is "weeks and months".

Still, I have noticed that I can do a few more reps with a little more resistance than I could a week ago, which means I must be doing something right. And I don't feel nearly as sore afterwords as I did the first day, although that may be more my much-reduced workout length than anything else. But it's not like I could get any less strong, and hopefully I can build this up into a decent daily workout.

And never struggle with a pickle jar again.


At 7:56 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

I have decent upper body strength and I still struggle with pickle jars on occasion. Don't hate on people who struggle with pickle jars.


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