Gotta Start Somewhere

OK so this post is not really fencing related, but more about me recording a starting point on my own fitness & weight journey and putting down some ideas to clarify them in my head. I'm putting it up here because I want something I post regularly, aiming to keep me on track.

To the surprise of most people who train with me, I'm actually older than I appear, and have really been suffering from the middle age metabolic slow down, coupled with a work from home situation that has really curtailed any physical activity outside of fencing teaching. So for the record, I'm 175 cm, 99.5 kg and 46 years old as I write this. I'm sure most people can recognise that one of those numbers is much larger than it should be. This is also probably one of the reasons I also go through depression episodes, as obesity and depression are closely linked. Diet and exercise are really the two main options I can use to move forward to a better place.

On the diet front, I was put onto the ketogenic diet by my friend Guy Windsor the last time he visited Sydney. In fact he recently blogged about his experiences with the diet, so you can read it from his perspective if you like. After reading up about it, I decided to give it a try and actually lost 2 kg over the month coming into Christmas. I did put most of it back on over the break during our NZ touring holiday though so I'm doubling down and trying again. I'm trying again because this was a diet that didn't leave me constantly hungry, and without the blood sugar crash cycle I've known for many years. It's not an easy thing to switch off sugars and carbs if you're like me and really enjoy good crusty breads and pastas etc but I've got an end goal in mind so carbs are down to <5%, and "white" foods are out.

For the exercise front, I'm going back to the calisthenics program, aka Convict Conditioning. It all fell apart on me when I got sick last year, and I just stopped. So I'm back into the big 4 exercises, and working up to doing the big 6 after a 6 month lay off. You can see a summary of the program here:

For the exercises, I have a weak core but stronger upper body. (All that holding swords at extension no doubt!) Starting out this week for both the pull up and and push up exercises I could easily manage the level 1 exercises of vertical pulls and wall push ups, hitting the progression standard straight up for both. For the squat and leg raise exercises it was a different matter. The level 1 leg raise exercise (knee tucks) was seriously hard due to lack of core strength and I'm about half way between the beginner and intermediate standards. For the squat exercise (shoulderstand squats), I could just hit the intermediate standard for the exercise, but I can't get the full travel as my gut is stopping me touching forehead with knees. So those 2 will be at level 1 for a few weeks whist I work on them, and the successful 2 exercises will progress to level 2.

One of the biggest problems I had with CC before was understanding the sets programming for the exercises, but I recently found this article on Scribd about how it should be done So what I learnt from that article was that for every exercise you should always have at least 4 sets of reps. The first set is a warm up, and in my case is a lower number of reps. For this week I used the beginner standard for my warm up set. With the progression to level 2 for pull ups and push ups, it'll mean I'm doing 2 sets at level one, using the number of reps required for the progression standard. For the other 2, it'll be either half the work set requirement, or at least the beginner standard for the warm up set, which ever is higher.

The information about programming the work sets progression is where it really became clear for me reading that article. The idea is to do 3 work sets, and for the first 2 sets do the average number of reps for your 3 work sets from the previous workout, and on the 3rd set as many reps as you can mangage up to the next standard. So if you're below the intermediate standard, you aim for that number, and if you're over the intermediate standard you aim for the progression standard. The other key, is once you hit 90% of the total of the next standard for the first 2 work sets, they should be done to the next standard rep number anyway. It makes sense as a way to program your workouts in a manner where they continually build the intesity requirement.

It may seem funny that I'm looking at calisthenics for my fitness training, but I really need the strength training work and I don't enjoy the gym nor do I want outlay the money on membership. This program I can do at home with the barest of equipment and it works all the major muscle groups in a wholistic functional way, something I value for my fencing. The only thing I needed to get was a pull up bar, and I got one of the the door frame mounted ones for ~$40, which is almost nothing. I could use the outdoor gym 15 mins walk down the road at the park, but this  home set up takes away my excuses for not training. So that's the strength training program for 3 days a week. For the other 2 days of the week, I'm thinking of cycling between swimming laps, cycling around the Bay, sword and buckler or spadone progressions for aerobic fitness. The weekends will clearly be rest days from the training program.

So my starting stats on 22 Jan 2016 are:
Chest (cm)    111
Waist (cm)    109
Hips (cm)    110
Thighs (cm)    65
Calves (cm)    43
Bicep (cm)    39
Forearm (cm)    34
Wrist (cm)    20
Neck (cm)    46
Weight (kg)    99.5

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