I just can’t write about politics right now. Let’s face it, politicians suck and they’re too easy of a target. However, I am happy to hear Ted Haggard has been cured of his homosexuality. I think he was inspired by the now infamous Snickers Super Bowl ad and ripped out his chest hair. Just to cover the bases, my parents forced me into a permanent hair-removal procedure when I was ten and it works. I’ve been straight ever since.
Anyway, as per the title, this will be a boring post about my workout/diet/supplement routine that began about three months ago and has been very effective. Since it may not interest you, I’m going to include the rest of the post in the extended entry. Feel free to read on, if you want. (It’s long.)
First, a little background, from my mid-20s until about three years ago (36 now), I was a workout fiend. We’re talking 4-5 days a week of lifting weights and some form of aerobic activity, mostly basketball. My diet usually consisted of three well-balanced small meals and two hi-protein MRPs (meal replacement powders). Supplementation was normally creatine, glutamine, and fish oil tablets. At my peak, I was around 180 pounds (at 5’10’), a 31″ waist, and a body-fat below 10%.
Three years ago, I began to taper off quite badly to the point that three months ago, I took a look in the mirror, dry-heaved, and realized things had to change. I’m at that age now where your metabolism begins to slow down considerably and if changes aren’t made, it becomes more and more difficult to get back in shape. The below are the general steps I undertook at that time and the results have been great. I don’t think you’ll find it particularly earth-shattering or crazy.
Of course, the standard disclaimer: I’m not a personal trainer or nutritionist so this may not work for you and you should consult with your doctor beforehand, blah, blah, blah.
I certainly didn’t want to do anything drastic that makes it virtually impossible to stick with and usually makes things worse after awhile. That means making sure the food you eat is enjoyable without over-indulging, i.e. moderation is key. Here are my simple rules:
1) Your meals should contain a fist-sized hi-protein portion and one or two low-glycemic carbohydrate sources. (Here’s a link to what low-glycemic means. Basically, you avoid simple sugars and focus on those carbs that take longer to digest.) My favorite is a simple spinach salad with some feta or blue cheese, red onions, crushed walnuts, and olive oil/balsamic vinegar combo.
2) Don’t avoid fat! Again, moderation is important. Stick with healthy fat sources as much as possible though. I try to incorporate olive oil in my cooking and eat quite a bit of seafood, i.e. salmon, tuna, and shrimp. Lean beef and organic eggs are fine a couple times a week.
3) I’ll only have bread or pasta once a week and stick to 100% whole wheat with extra fiber. (Gotta have my fajitas!)
4) Stay away from processed foods and especially anything with high-fructose corn syrup.
5) Eat only when hungry. Eat slowly. I’ll drink some water before the meal to feel “fuller” and my beverage of choice in between bites to slow me down some.
6) Alcohol is okay in moderation, of course. I stick with red wine.
That’s it in a nutshell. I’ve also found my appetite decreases as time goes on. I can’t over-emphasize the moderation aspect enough. Enjoy what you eat and combining it with a steady workout routine enables you to do so. A friend of mine said it sounded a lot like the South Beach Diet. I’m not familiar enough with it, but you might want to look into it.
Again, I keep it simple here. Weights every other day and at least two days of cardio a week (your choice).
Keep the weight workouts to no more than an intense 35-40 minutes, followed by a 20 minute moderate cardio workout (if you can.) I’ve just found going longer than this gets boring fast.
To get the best results from cardio, 30-45 minutes in the morning on an empty stomach has worked incredibly well for me (I drink some coffee beforehand to help me along.) At that state, your body will only have fat to use as an energy source. If you can’t workout in the morning, try to wait until about three hours after your last meal.
Donï¿½t overexert yourself. Go in intervals of intensity, i.e. 5 minute warm-up, 3-5 minutes hard, 2 minute slowdown, repeat, etc. Your body will tell you what to do. I donï¿½t worry about heart-rate monitors or pulse readingï¿½itï¿½s the actual doing of the activity that is important. Also, I avoid eating for 30-45 minutes after the workout. Your body will continue to burn calories during this time.
Hereï¿½s my typical weight-lifting routine (either stretch or do very light warm-ups with the weight before each exercise):
Note: I try to increase the weight every set, rest at least 1 ï¿½ minutes between sets, and keep the reps between 8 and 12. Also, going to failure isnï¿½t really that important, unless you plan on competing! Again, donï¿½t overexert yourselfï¿½start low with your weights and adjust with each session.
Another note: Try to lift weights about an hour and a half after your previous meal.
You can, of course, use other exercises other than those listed below.
Monday: Chest, supersets of biceps and triceps
1) Six sets of bench presses, followed by three upper-incline dumbbell flyes.
2) Three supersets of barbell curls and triceps cable pulldowns. Supersetting means you immediately follow each set of barbell curls with a set of triceps pulldowns.
3) Three supersets of hammer curls and lying triceps extensions.
4) 20 minutes on the bike
Wednesday: Legs (God, I hate these days!)
1) Six sets of squats.
2) Five sets of deadlifts.
3) Four sets of calf raises.
4) 20 minutes on the bike
I know it doesnï¿½t seem like a lot, but I plan on adding more next week.
Friday: Back, shoulders, and abs
1) Five sets of lat pulldowns.
2) Four sets of seated rows.
3) Three sets of dumbbell shoulder presses
4) Three sets of dumbbell raises
5) Four sets of ab crunches. (Can superset with the dumbbell raises.)
6) 20 minutes on the bike
Pretty simple, huh? Find the exercises per body part that work best for you and try to change it up at least once a month. You’ll tend to reach a plateau after awhile and the ï¿½shockï¿½ of a new routine helps get over it.
Also, itï¿½s very important to immediately nourish yourself within 30 minutes after your workout. Depending on your weight, at least 25-40 grams of protein and a low glycemic carb portion should do the trick. Or you can use a meal replacement powder (see below.)
Most people donï¿½t take supplements (other than a vitamin), either because theyï¿½re too expensive or arenï¿½t aware of them. With a well-balanced diet, you donï¿½t need them, of course. However, Iï¿½ve found the below to be effective in producing faster results and reducing soreness between workouts. Iï¿½m not going to go into lengths about each one so please do the appropriate research should you decide to try them.
1) Creatine is pretty well-known by most people and it does work very well in increasing muscle mass. Itï¿½s also gotten much cheaper over the years so I think itï¿½s a worthwhile investment. My usage is five grams after every weight workout and sometimes another five grams on non-weight lifting days. Itï¿½s best to cycle it, i.e. two weeks on, two weeks off.
2) Glutamine helps in reducing muscle soreness and promotes faster recovery. Iï¿½ve also found it helps boost my immune system in that I donï¿½t seem to get sick as often. Same usage as creatine.
3) Flax oil (capsules or liquid form) is a great source of essential Omega-3.
4) Meal replacement powders (MRP) are a great and quick source of nutrients that I use immediately after every weight workout. I normally donï¿½t use them to replace actual food though. I try to find something with at least 40 grams of protein and 25 grams of low glycemic carbs. After each weight workout, I typically combine the three supplements above with the MRP.
Should you decide not to use supplements and rely solely on food, the most important thing is to get enough protein to support muscle building. The usual recommendation is at least one gram of protein per pound of body weight.
Told ya it was going to be a long and boring post! But, like I said, itï¿½s worked well for me. Iï¿½ve purposely avoided weighing myself because the adding of muscle tends to skew the results (muscle weighs more than fat.) However, I have noticed an increased definition in my body and my pants size has gone down two inches to a size 32. Iï¿½m also sleeping better with increased energy. Let the Body by Blake routine change your life!