Week 06: Monday/Tuesday Update

Weeks 04 and 05 seem to have vanished into the ether. Week 04 was a rest week, and then during week 05 I had some personal issues and some physical problems (took my bad neck to a chiropractor, and then was loathe to overwork it after he’d ‘corrected’ it) which combined to kind of wipe that period of time off of the map. No matter now; I’m back on it and looking at the Warrior Dash (Ohio II) coming up on 26 August as well as the Marathon Relay on 29 September.

Monday: I went to the gym and did a 12 min BodyRock to warm up. I didn’t use a video; instead I planned out a workout using moves I already knew:  3x(4x(50/10))

  • Sumo Squat + Knee Lift with a 12 lb medicine ball
  • Forearm Plank 5 sec + leg hops + 17lb kettleball drag
  • Sit Squats + 12lb medicine ball
  • Pushup + Toe Touch + Burpee Jump

I hadn’t really realized how much easier BodyRock was getting when I was doing one per day;  I haven’t done one in over two weeks and it was harder than I remember! After that warmup I did weights: squats, shoulder presses, lat pulldown, weight-balanced pull-ups, and the ab chair. I was exhausted afterwards.

Tuesday: Tuesday I did some speedwork: negative splits on a ~4mi road run. My Garmin footpod and my iPhone GPS disagreed on this run: the Garmin FR60 said I was about 10-15% slower than the GPS. Normally when they disagree, I err on the side of caution and go with whichever form of measurement says I am a worse runner (so that I’m not setting my expectations too high). However, in this case, I really feel like the GPS was correct. It tracked the entire run without losing signal, the road I ran didn’t have a lot of tree cover so I am pretty sure it was getting signal, and I do know the footpod needs to be calibrated soon. Plus, in terms of effort, I felt like I was going faster than the footpod said – and it was good effort, the kind that said you’re running better than you think you are, not the bad kind of exertion level where it’s hot as crap and I feel tired.
 
So if I go by that, I did 4.8 miles total (because I was following the footpod which was underestimating my speed), going from ~11:30/mi pace up to 10:00/mi pace. I kept with negative splits, too: each mile was faster than the last. It felt good.
 
Today I am very, very sore. Especially in my legs. I did bring my gym bag, because I am hoping to get into the gym to do some ab work, if nothing else – but if I am too sore, I’ll take today as a rest day. However, I’m going to visit my parents this weekend, so I would like to get one more workout in before I head up there.
 
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Let’s Talk About Things That Aren’t Running: NROL4W and BodyRock

I’ve been doing a lot of posts on running lately, but running isn’t all that I do – and if you want to be efficiently healthy, honestly, running isn’t necessarily your best choice. So I want to launch a second series of LTA posts, this time addressing stuff that isn’t running. It’s more related to weight training, cross training, and an intersection of the two.

This is just an introductory post and only involves these two programs that, right now, I’m making a part of my routine – I have many more thoughts on these kind of things and how they relate to efficiently honing your workouts, which will be coming soon.

The New Rules of Lifting for Women (NROL4W)

NFOL4W is a lifting program. It’s more than a program, I guess – it’s an entire book. The book itself is dedicated to a much bigger-lifestyle-type program that hits every area from diet to mindset to weight room. If you’re new to the fields of health, weight training, weight loss exercise programs, “dieting” and the like, it may be worth picking up. However, if you’ve done a little research on these kinds of things (or if you’re here), I can kind of sum up about half the chapters for you.

  • Eat more good stuff, eat even more protein, and eat less junk.
  • Lift heavy weights with your whole body.

The book’s main selling point is to convince women to lift heavy. There are some companion “unisex” programs, but since for whatever reason many women are still terrified by weights, by “bulking up”, by dumbbells, this book was designed specifically to sell women on heavy weightlifting. I do have to say that it’s interesting from a feminist perspective to be told “YOU can totes lift like a dude!! It will make you HOTTTT” — you think, do I like this message? or do I want to punch this author in the face? But this is about the program, not the book.

The program itself focuses on compound lifts. The beginning routines are built around squats and deadlifts – two of the most important and most effective compound lifts out there – and add in other things like lunges, shoulder press, pushups, ab work, seated row: stuff that generally hits more muscle groups. The program’s theory is that by building muscle (which involves the important steps of weight lifting and eating more, high quality food) we can design our bodies to burn more fat (since muscle burns more efficiently) which, generally, improves the look of one’s bod.

As a very brief summary, the program’s advantages are:

  • A good target: building muscle is in fact a good, efficient, effective way to eliminate fat and “look better”
  • A good plan: compound lifts are a great, effective, efficient way to build said muscle and get stronger
  • Focus on nutrition: many times when people are working out, if they don’t clean up their diet, they won’t see results as clearly – aka wasting time, aka inefficiency. This program emphasized a clean(er) diet and increased protein intake

and the disadvantages are:

  • The program requires equipment: namely access to a weight room. The compound lifts use dumbbells, barbells, a squat rack — you not only need access, but the knowledge on how to use it without hurting yourself.
  • The program does provide directions for the lifts, but it isn’t a trainer, so there is the chance for injury. Good form is required and must be learned to progress.
  • Weight training programs – although they can be more effective in the long run depending on your goals – may not provide results quickly initially, which can make them hard to stick with.
  • The general lack of cardio in the program – cardio burns calories, which is somewhat detrimental when you’re trying to build muscle – means runners can’t train for races, for example.

Overall, I do like NROL4W. I do find that as a runner and as a chronically injured person, I can’t stick to it as well as I’d like. But I think the program is sound, and I think if nothing else, it’s good knowledge to have in the bank.

BodyRock

BodyRock is a website which supplies a series of high intensity interval-style mainly bodyweight type workouts. That’s a lot to take in, so let me split it out: each workout provides you with a set of exercises. The exercises are usually based on bodyweight – using little to no equipment, and even when there’s equipment involved, there are almost always modifications one can make at home – and are usually very high intensity, meaning they’ll get your heart rate up quick. Exercises are done in intervals of 50/10, meaning perform the exercise for 50 seconds and then rest for 10. Usually exercises are presented in sets of 4 done 3x or sets of 6 done 2x, so each BodyRock workout is 12 minutes long. (of course, some are longer, some are shorter – the program has lots of options.)

The website has resources for diet and nutrition, but I haven’t explored those yet – I’ve done enough research thanks – so I can’t really speak to that side.

Because most workouts are only 12 minutes, BodyRock is built on a slogan of “no excuses” — everyone has 12 minutes in their day they could use to get their heart rate up and smoke some calories. The workouts aren’t a joke, either – the combinations of moves is quite challenging, and if there’s a move you’ve done for a while, there are modifications shown so that you can keep challenging yourself. I wear my heart rate monitor while I do these, and I find that in those 12 min I burn between 120-160 calories. For a day I would have otherwise done nothing, that’s a good addition.

In brief, the advantages are:

  • Accessibility: not only are workouts short, but there are almost always modifications for people who don’t have equipment — or people who might have injuries. And the program is available online for free.
  • A good concept: combining high intensity intervals with bodyweight work is an efficient way to burn some calories and improve cardiovascular health while also strengthening the body. You get dual benefits.
  • Good execution: the bodyweight exercises focus on full-body moves and will help balance, flexibility, and core strength as well as overall health/strength.
  • Variety: workouts are different every day and there are tons on the website, some with different themes (yoga, strength, weight training, etc).

And the disadvantages:

  • 12 minutes at a time may not be enough to see drastic results or changes, unless you also clean up your diet and maybe add other workouts.
  • With only 12 minutes, you are neither building large amounts of cardio endurance nor building significant muscle (like you would running or lifting heavy). Since you’re getting a small amount of both, you’re getting significant gains in neither.
  • Form is important, and if you don’t commit to the exercises and to making them hard, you won’t see results. It’s easy to cheat.

Overall, I love BodyRock, but that’s because it has filled a distinct hole I had in my workout regimen. I’ve always loved yoga and many of the exercises seem rooted in yoga poses (to me at least) so I feel like the overall full-body workout is more useful than “bicep curlzzzz again”. Personally I use BodyRock as part of an overall workout plan. I’m not sure using it by itself would produce the kinds of results I want.

And there’s an overview. I have plenty more to talk about, but if you have questions or anything specific to ask, please let me know.

Wednesday and Thursday Summary

I forgot to post Wednesday’s summary! Whooooooops.

On Wednesday, I did this BodyRock workout. I’ve done this one before – it was still a burn!

On Thursday, I did weights: upper body mostly, all machines at the apartment fitness room.. 3×10 of shoulder press @20-30 lb, 3×10 of lat pulldowns@80-90lb, 3×10 seated rows @70-80lb, and a bunch of abs in the elevated ab chair of doom.

Both of the days seem a little light, but I have an hour-long run tomorrow (that I will try to get up early for! Ugh) so hopefully that will make up for it.

I have the hot pad on my back/shoulder right now. It’s still a little funny.

Welcome to Healthefficiency

I’m a researcher. If I spent as much time actually working out as I do reading about it, I wouldn’t still have tummy pudge. I love learning about things, but putting it into practice is the hard part. I’m an engineer, so I’m all about efficiency, and if I feel like I’m wasting my time, I stop doing things. This is a great way to suck at consistency. and when you’re trying to get into shape, consistency is key.

This is meant to be a journal which tracks my own exploration into getting healthy, losing weight, building muscle, and training for races — while acknowledging that I’ve got a full time job with a high stress load and a crappy schedule, a part-time graduate degree I’m meant to work on, some health issues to fight, and lots of other responsibilities, including “sleep” and “not getting so stressed I punch someone in the face.” I want to be accountable, even if it’s just to the anonymous Internet. I also want to share the stuff I’ve learned – by researching – and the stuff I’ve learned from experience.

Today is Sunday 01 July 2012, and it seems like the perfect start date for a first post. I’m setting up microgoals and macrogoals for myself — so first, let me explain what I’m working towards at the moment.

  • For my first month, I want to either lose weight or lose inches (losing pounds is not necessarily the same as getting thinner; I am okay with either). This means I’ll be trying to hit a small calorie deficit every day.
  • I am training for the Warrior Dash, which is at the end of August, so I’ll be trying to do weight training twice a week, and BodyRock (body weight HIIT-type exercise) a few times a week. This also means I am aiming for 35-40% of my calories through protein, or 1 g per bodyweight, especially on days I have done weights.
  • I am also training to run a 7.5 mi leg of a marathon relay, which is at the end of September. I’ve created a 12-week training plan using Runner’s World and my previous running experience. July will be the first month of this plan, and since I am recovering from an injury and moving into mid-minimalist running shoes, my goal this month is just to get slow base mileage back up.
  • I need to learn how to be consistent. It’s really difficult right now – I am really busy and really stressed, and fairly injured / in pain. However, that’s what BodyRock is for — the Burn workouts are only 12 minutes, but are enough of a challenge that they feel significant. On days I’m too burnt out to do a larger / longer workout, I can at least run an easy 2, or do 12 min of BodyRock.

So my Month One Macrogoals are

  1. Noticeable difference in body, either weight or inches
  2. Hit 12+ miles per week running to start off training
  3. stick with all workouts for this month (consistency is hard)

And my Week 01 Schedule is:

  • Sun: 2 mi easy run, BodyRock
  • Mon: weights (upper body)
  • Tues:5 mi tempo run
  • Wed: Rest
  • Thurs:BodyRock
  • Fri:6 mi long easy run
  • Sat:weights (legs)

This looks aggressive right now staring me in the face. But Wed/Thurs are easy — I’m exhausted from my job at that point, and I’ve found I skip workouts if they’re scheduled there, so I leave that as my “workout weekend” — and only 3 of the 13 miles have to be at any kind of speed.

We’ll see how I do.