Monday, October 31, 2016

AN INTERESTING PROGRESSION

A couple of you may find this of interest.

SOME BACKGROUND

I started lifting weights when I was 50 - 1995.
I started running when I was 54 - 1999.
I have done both off and on, or one or the other since then.
There have been periods when I did neither.
The lapses have mostly been dictated by my job situation.
I have never stopped doing either of them because I did not enjoy them.

I stopped doing weight workouts and running when I took a job as a janitor in 2012.
I found that, while the work was relatively easy, there was a lot of walking and plenty of pushing mops and large brooms for eight hours a night.
The initial effect the new job had on me was to make me tired.
I did not believe I could do both, so I stopped working out and running.

THE PROGRESSION IN 2016

When my job hours changed in January 2016, I immediately began doing my weight workouts and running again.
I assumed that I would not be as strong as I was when I stopped doing weight workouts, but I was surprised how weak I was.

Understand that I was doing weight lifting to maintain my strength rather than to build muscle, as I was trying to do when I was younger.
At my age (71) there is little hope of gaining any muscle mass.
The battle is to hang on to what little I have remaining.

These exercises were selected because they require little set-up, use my bodyweight for resistance, and are compound/full range movements.
Because pull-ups are so difficult for me, I can do only a few.
This causes my biceps to receive a smaller amount of reps compared to my triceps and other areas.
So I added standing barbell curls to give some added work volume for my arms.

My point of reference was what I was doing in my last weight workout in February 2016.
My last workout was as follows:

Crunch 30 repetitions
Pull-up 6.5
Push-up 12
Standing Heel raise 60
Standing barbell curl 16 x 40 pounds

I count a half a repetition or incomplete movement as a half a rep for more accurate statistical analysis of my work load.

My first workout in April 2016 after I quit my job was as follows:

Crunch 30
Pull-up 4
Push-up 6
Standing Heel raise 50
Standing barbell curl 16 x 40 pounds
Squat (no extra weight) 20

PUSH-UPS

I was surprised by my poor push-up performance, which had fallen to almost half in just two months.
The next workout, the following day, I did 10.
The following week I was up to 12 and stayed there for about a month.
Then in May I did 14.
Two weeks later I did 16.

In July, I felt like I could do more, so I began doing two sets of each exercise.
The first two-set session I did 14 and 10 reps of push-ups.
I bounced around between 14 and 16 reps on the first set and 12 and 15 on the second set for the next three weeks.
Then on August 18 I did 18 push-ups on the first set and 16 on the second set.
I fluctuated between 18 and 12 for the two sets for the next eight weeks or so.
Then on September 23 I did 20 push-ups on the first set and 16 on the second set.
Since then my push-ups have varied between 18 and 14 repetitions for the two sets.
On October 26 it did 20 reps on my first set, then 17 and 14.
An average reduction as the muscles fatigue.

STANDING BARBELL CURLS

Standing barbell curls demonstrate another interesting progression.
I started doing them to provide a better balance of work volume for my arms.
They are one of my weakest areas.
In February I did one set of 16 with 40 pounds in my last workout before stopping for six weeks.
When I restarted my weight workouts in April I did 15 reps with 40 pounds – almost no loss of strength.
The next day I did 17 reps with 40 pounds.
The following week I completed 18 reps.
The following week I did 20.
Two days later I did 21.
A month later – June - I did 22 reps.
The following month I completed 23 reps with the 40 pound weight.

At the end of July I started doing two sets of each exercise.
My reps dropped to 21 for the first set and to 17 for the second – same weight both sets.
By the beginning of August my reps were holding at 20 – 21 for both sets.

The first week in September I increased my weight to 50 pounds.
I did 15 reps the first set and 11.5 for the second, an expected decrease.
The following week I was doing 14 and 14 reps.
In October first set reps increased to 16 and second set reps stayed at 14.

OTHER EXERCISES

In September I decided to add some variety to my exercises.
I replaced push-ups with bench dips and pull-ups with bent barbell rows using 135 pounds in the Wednesday workout.
My first workout with these new exercises produced the following:
BB Bent Row 20 x 135, 20 x 135
Bench dip 24 reps, 22 reps (partial bodyweight = 110 pounds)

This change in exercises has had the effect of improving my push-ups a little.
Push -ups are holding at around 18 and 16 reps.
Bench dips are up to 26 and 24 reps.
At this rate I will be doing 30 reps soon.

Since I prefer to hold my high rep exercises to a maximum of about 20, I may have to consider replacing bench dips with parallel bar dips.
Which has the effect of increasing the weight, which will decrease the reps.
I do not like parallel bar dips as much because they seem to not work the chest as much and work the triceps more, because of the angles of the range of motion involved.
But the variation will be useful in rounding out my “development” - such as it is.

As of mid-October 2016 I have increased my sets to three per exercise.
The downside of increasing the number of sets is it takes more time – about 15 more minutes per session with these exercises.
After just a couple of three-set workouts, I am surprised at how easily my system has accommodated the increased work volume.
I do not feel tired, and only slightly sore a day or two after the workouts.
The downside is this added volume may make it easier to overtrain.
I will have to watch my reps.
If my reps begin to drop, it is an indicator that I am overtrained and need to take some days off.

To be continued…..


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