Tag Archives: gym

Rise And Grind!

I’ve had times in my life when all my regular workouts took place after 7:00pm.  I’d go to work, come home, eat dinner and then head out to the gym.  I’d usually get back around 9:15pm.  I did that for years because that’s what my schedule allowed.  These days I do most of my workouts in the morning.  Given the two choices, I far prefer exercising in the morning.  That’s because after a good workout, I can start the rest of my day with a feeling of accomplishment.  It automatically sets my mood in the relaxed/happy part of the emotional grid and that’s a wonderful mindset to have when facing the challenges each day brings.  Obviously, getting a workout in, no matter what time is preferable to not doing any type of fitness activity at all but there are advantages to kickstarting the day with exercise.

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The following article by Melih F. Cologlu delves into the topic and posits some sound reasons to try and get those workouts in early in the day if you can.

Not a morning trainer? Too bad for you. Here are 8 reasons why those who work out in the a.m. have a big advantage.

Awhile back, a study came out that said your testosterone levels were higher in the morning—as if you needed a study to tell you that. Afterward, I heard and read a lot of talk about how the morning was therefore the best time to work out.[1]

Yet it’s not that simple, because of this little thing called “life.” The fact of the matter is that for most of us, the time we choose to work out corresponds with the time we have available, which explains why most gyms are typically packed after the work hours.

But perhaps we can give you a compelling reason—in fact, eight great reasons—to wake up a little earlier to hit the gym rather than save it for later in your day. Withhold judgment about how you’re not a morning person until you fully absorb all the advantages of morning training.

1. It’s Easier To Follow High-Volume Training Systems

Trying to do a triset or a giant set is all but impossible in a packed gym. This guy over here wants to work in. That girl over there wants to steal your dumbbells. Others cast an evil eye your way for hogging so much equipment. They would have a point—if the gym was crowded.

But it’s not, because you were ready to rise and grind before everyone else. Yep, it’s much easier to complete these types of training programs when the facility is less crowded. That just happens to be in the morning.

2. Your Hormones Are Working To Your Advantage

As mentioned, in the early morning hours, crucial hormones (i.e., testosterone) that help build muscle mass are elevated in the body. By exercising in the morning, you’re taking advantage of these naturally circulating hormones as they’re peaking, rather than later in the day when they’re lower.

3. It Leaves Times For Other Priorities

I may make a living from the gym, but it’s still not my number one priority. Nothing is more important than family. Clearly there’s a trade-off between the amount of time you spend in the gym and the amount of time you can spend at home. Which is why slicing off a small segment, like you can in the morning, is usually better than in the evening, when you have to fight rush hour, navigate a crowded gym environment, get home to shower, and allot whatever’s left for your family. The math simply works better if you get your workout done in the morning.

4. You’ll Be More Focused When You Reach The Office Or School

A bout of exercise increases your focus on the next activity, because your body is aroused. What follows a morning workout? For most people, it’s the office or school. Hence, one of the advantages of working out in the morning is that you’re more alert during those later hours.

5. You’ll Be Less Likely To Skip Your Workout

It may take a cup of coffee to get your morning going, but once you’re up, there are few distractions on your way to the gym. But later in the day, any number of distractions can sabotage your workout: less motivation, fatigue, the gang is going out for some drinks, a sick child, an overdue report for work or school.

If you’ve already completed your workout, you can simply roll with whatever obstacles come up later in the evening without feeling bad that you missed another day. You’re far more likely to be consistent with your training if you get it done early in the day rather than waiting for later.

6. Your Metabolic Rate Will Receive A Quick Boost

Without a doubt, exercise can boost your metabolic rate. The degree depends on your current fitness level and the kind of activity you choose. All other things being equal, working out in the morning will help to boost your metabolism, allowing you to burn more calories for the rest of the day. This phenomenon is called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, or EPOC.

7. You Won’t Have As Many Distractions

Chances are pretty good that you train with a number of friends, which makes socializing pretty easy. Don’t get me wrong—there’s nothing wrong with that. But it’s easy for a short gabfest to turn a productive workout into one where you barely break a sweat. If you’re serious about getting results and not wasting your time, you’ll want to spend your gym time with minimal distractions.

You can bet that people who get up in the wee hours are more serious about their workouts. From my personal experience, the chances of someone distracting your workout is much less likely in the morning.

8. Your Mood Will Improve

You’re probably familiar with the notion that some workouts release endorphins, feel-good hormones that are increased following exercise of sufficient intensity and duration.[2] But you don’t have to do hours of cardio to feel good about yourself; heck, you’ve just completed your workout for the day.

 

Nothing feels better than having a good workout under your belt, especially if you’re prone to blowing them off at night. Which is why there’s no better way to get your day started. You can boost your mood and sense of accomplishment by just be setting your alarm clock for a little earlier.

Rise And Grind

If you don’t train regularly in the morning, you may find that, at first, your performance suffers during anaerobic exercise (like bodybuilding-type training) as compared to late-afternoon workouts. Nevertheless, you can make larger improvements in exercise performance if you make morning training regular; that is, you do it consistently.3 So if you’re new to morning training, be patient but consistent with your a.m. workouts.

Yes it’s tough to get up in the morning, let alone try to complete a good workout. Soon enough, however, with consistency you’ll see your performance skyrocket and you’ll have a slew of good reasons that justify setting that alarm just a little bit earlier. For those of us who are already there bright and early, the secret is out!

References
  1. Resko, J. A., & Eik-Nes, K. B. (1966). Diurnal testosterone levels in peripheral plasma of human male subjects. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 26(5), 573-576.
  2. Goldfarb, A. H., & Jamurtas, A. Z. (1997). B-Endorphin response to exercise. Sports Medicine, 24(1), 8-16.
  3. Chtourou, H., & Souissi, N. (2012). The effect of training at a specific time of day: a review. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 26(7), 1984-2005.
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Never Too Late

I follow a lot of other blogs and Lifting My Spirits is one of my favorites.  The author has a wonderful story.  She’s living proof that it’s never too late to change your physique for the better.  She absolutely explodes the myth that once you’re past 40 or 50 years old you just have to resign yourself to falling apart physically.  I’m about to turn 53 and I just love seeing how she transformed herself.  I want to give her a standing ovation! This reflects a bit of the journey she undertook to make herself stronger and to sculpt her body into a form that she found pleasing.

Transforming Into An Athlete In The Second Half Of Life

 

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The first time I touched a barbell, I was 48 years old.  I’m now 54.

Some people say my age is an irrelevant point about me as an athlete, but they are wrong.  It’s extremely relevant.   I was a fully formed adult with scars and strengths from living life before I decided to live a completely different way.  And my decision impacted a lot of people who thought they knew who I was before I decided to be someone else.  I’m still working on making sense of all this.  Something yanked my chain this last week and I need to write to figure out what I think about things.  Sorry – I need to be a bit cryptic about it because it’s private.  But I believe humans have similar responses to things, even if details are different.

Please forgive me for veering into the past for a moment.   If what I’m going to say later is going to make any sense, I need share parts of my personal history.  I don’t feel comfortable doing that, because I don’t want to give the impression that I think my life has been difficult.  It’s just been a “life”.  But these things are a bit relevant to why I think what I think as I keep transforming into an athlete in the second half of my life…

  • My scoliosis was diagnosed early in high school and I was pulled from all sports. I was told to be “careful” for the rest of my life.  Between the ages of 17 and 24, I had at least two episodes when my back would freeze up and I could not move for about a week.  I remember my mother pushing me around in a wheel-chair at the hospital to get x-rays.   I believed all the adults who told me I was fragile.
  • In my 20’s, I got a job at a gym as a receptionist. That’s when I first saw female bodybuilders in magazines.  They were about my age, but they looked so strong – not fragile.  I wanted that, but I was intimidated by it for a couple of really good reasons.  1) I have scoliosis and shouldn’t lift, and 2) women aren’t supposed to look like that – guys didn’t like it.  I didn’t question those beliefs at the time.  I accepted them and set other goals for my life.
  • My mother died from a brain aneurysm when she was 56 and I was 28.  I was the family member who was tasked with the decision to remove her from life support.  I watched her die.  I know some of you have had to do that, too.  It’s not exactly like how they show it in movies or on Grey’s Anatomy.
  • I decided to get a degree in mathematics and teach math because I was intimidated by it. That was when I began to do battle with my fears.  The time span from my first day of college to my graduation with a degree in mathematics was 16 years.  Mom died during this time and I lost my job because I needed to take a leave of absence to handle my mother’s affairs out of town.  Once I could get back to work, I had as many as three part-time jobs to support myself and still have a schedule flexible enough to attend school during the day when the classes I needed were offered.  This was the first time I set a scary goal and achieved it.
  • For the last 20 years, I’ve taught math to teenagers, ages 15-18. Takes a little courage to show up and do that every day.   Not many adults would want to attempt to manage a room of 30+ teenagers.  Fewer can handle it when a whole bunch of them are anxious about what you are asking them to do.  Math teachers are in short-supply these days.  Burn out is high.  Many students believe they will fail before they try, so they won’t try.  They will do a lot of other things to avoid trying.  While teaching geometry, I teach a lot of other things, too.

And that brings me back to my first point – the first time I touched a barbell, I was 48 years old.  All of these other things happened years prior to that.

To decide to become a female bodybuilder at that point in my life, I had to challenge and beat down a lot of my own thoughts about what women can do, what a person with scoliosis can do, what a busy teacher can find time to do, and what a post-menopausal woman can accomplish in bodybuilding.  I’m not saying my journey has been harder than someone else’s, because I know it hasn’t been.  There is no comparison to what others have had to deal with to just get through another day.  I have not had to survive trauma.

That said, I’ve still accomplished enough hard stuff to feel like I can do more.  It’s my journey.   I’ve already lived a life and I’m still in the mix.  My ego tells me that I should be respected for that, but I can’t control what others say or think.  (Yeah, something happened a couple days ago. I was hurt by it, but I learned something useful.)  I remind myself what I’ve done to get here.  My ego wants to puff up – that’s what others do, right?  But that’s not going to help me do anything except become an asshole.  I don’t need to defend my thoughts.

I am sensitive.  I am scared.  I am brave.  I reflect.  I learn. I overthink.  I lose my focus sometimes, but I get it back.  I tell my ego to shut the hell up.  She just wants to generate negative thoughts that feed uncertainty about whether I will ever have tangible success as an athlete.  I may always be a novelty act in public, she tells me.  Ageism is alive and well, we all know that.  Is that my only obstacle?  Of course not.  But it’s there.  I can’t get younger, but I can improve.  I may always be switched to the outside of the youngest, most novice bodybuilder in the line.  If I’m a better bodybuilder than I was the last time I showed up, I guess that’s going to be enough.  My voice may shake when I say “my journey on my terms“, but I’m still saying it.  I’m still insisting on it.

“Why bother?”  I ask myself almost every day.  Almost every day, I quit.  And then I recommit to what I’m doing as an athlete.  The last year has been difficult.  I may not be able to break this cycle until after I compete again.  That last competition experience needs to be replaced by a new one before I’m going to get closure on what happened that day.  Simply getting on stage again will be a win because I will be able to put away two years of trying to make sense of what will now be called the “2015 WTF Happened? Blesson”.

And then I touch a barbell and I happily battle gravity.  I get a little bit of clarity when I’m at the gym.  Lifting still fixes me.  I love to train.  That’s why I bother.   Everything else is just distracting noise, whether it’s external or internal.

Before

I’ve completed week 1 of my new plan by Jim Stoppani.  I’m feeling happy and energized.  At the end of the week, I was quite sore.  I see that as a good thing since it means I’m taxing my body differently than I was before I started the program.  They say “Pain is weakness leaving the body.”  Apparently, I had a lot of weakness that needed to be shown the door.  That’s perfectly fine by me!

I thought I’d take a “before” photo so I could do a side-by-side comparison after week 12.  That way I’ll be able to see how it’s going.

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This is where I’m starting. I’m hoping for more muscle and more definition…and more time in the day. Can Jim Stoppani make more time in my day? Nah…but while I’m hoping I might as well add that to the list!

New Plan For The Fall

It’s time for something new!  I’ve been coming up with my own workout programs for 25 years and even though I was tweaking them and rearranging them regularly, the ideas in my head were just feeling stale.  I decided to let someone else do the planning for a change.  I went to Bodybuilding.com and found a free 12 week workout plan that seemed fresh and interesting.  Yesterday, I started Jim Stoppani’s 12 week Shortcut to Size.  Yes, of course, I’m looking for more mass as always.  My body defaults to scrawny very quickly if I’m not careful.  This program relies on periodization.  In this case, it means alternating in micro-cycles between high reps (doing a rest-pause on the last set of each exercise), using lighter weight and low reps (doing drop sets on the last set of each exercise) using heavy weight.

It’s actually refreshing to have a prescribed program like this.  I’ll have to personalize it a little to make it effective.  I often workout at home these days and I don’t have access to a seated calf raise machine, for instance. That’s O.K.  I can figure out the few little kinks while still relying on the program overall.

This program comes with a nutritional guide which I will also customize to fit my tastes.  There are sound, scientific reasons for the amount of sugar (particularly after the workout) he recommends but I don’t like to spike my blood sugar.  I’ll pass on the after workout big blast and cut down on the rest of the sugar a bit too.  Since the program is designed for people between 160lbs and 200lbs I’ll adjust my food intake to reflect my much lower weight.  I’ll just cut the portions in half (or just above half) for now and see how that works.  I’m also not big on supplements.  I’ll take the multi-vitamin and the protein powder but leave the rest of the suggested supps alone.  In this plan, there are no cheat days/meals and as you know, that isn’t the Lynnie plan.  I’ll stick to the guide carefully during the week then allow room for some deviation on the weekends.  I actually like the food he recommends and it’s not far off from what I eat anyway so I don’t expect this part to pose any challenges.

Deck

This is what I look like now. Note the muscle loss. Yuck. Oh well, no use complaining. Better get to work! In 12 weeks, we’ll see what I look like.

Since I started today, the end date of the 12 weeks will be close to my birthday.  I always take a birthday photo to document my physique from year to year so we’ll all see if the program produces results.  If I look like a doughy, skinny wreck I’ll put the workout in the circular file and re-tool.  Hopefully, I’ll be pleased with the results!  At the very least, it’s a new adventure in my routine.

This was what I did today (day two of the program)

shortcut to size

 

Mmmm…Delicious?!?

Everyone knows I have a love affair with chips.  I love all kinds….tortilla, pita, corn, and especially potato.  When I’m hot and heavy into a clean eating phase but decide to deviate a little for a treat, I’ll always pick chips to satisfy my cravings.  At this moment, I’m maintaining a reasonably healthy diet but I give myself more leeway than I do when I’m earnestly trying to de-fluff.  Therefore, I have a few chips almost every day.

Not too long ago, I was in the store and a new flavor of chip caught my eye.

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After thinking it over while looking at the photo on the package  I came to the conclusion that if you just try hard enough you can ruin the most wonderful, delightful things in life,  including potato chips.

Last week I saw Peaches and Cream flavored chips. I started to wonder what other oddball chip flavors were out there on the market.

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Goat cheese and pepper?  Well, maybe that’s not too bad.  How about this one?

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Yorkshire Pudding and English Roast Beef chips?  Somehow, I’m not anxious to taste them…or these…

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What, exactly, does mischief taste like?  Maybe you don’t think those flavors are so bad.  Fine, how about these?

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The last three were just jokes but I couldn’t resist.  I don’t think they’re that far off from the real flavors they’re producing right now.

I was thinking, if these were the only chips available, my biggest nutritional vice would disappear in the blink of an eye!

Happy August!

Oh my!  it’s August, which means that summer for the kids is just about over.  Both of them start school this month.  My oldest will be heading off to college (he already got a head start by taking a couple courses at a junior college this summer) and my “baby” will be moving into middle school (7th grade).  They do have a couple weeks of summertime fun left to enjoy but I can see the end of their carefree days from here.

The transition of summer into fall means I inevitably return to a more standard workout schedule.  The days lapse into a routine and so does my lifting.  I like it.  I’m a creature of habit so although the “catch as catch can” workouts of June and July are refreshing in a way, I love chugging along during the school year with regular intervals for my fitness pursuits.

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Progress photo 

As most of you know, I changed my routine around significantly several months back.  As a result, I’ve lost some muscle mass which I’m still struggling to accept.  I could go back to my heaving lifting days and tweak my eating a little to hold onto more muscle but my joints are much happier these days and my enthusiasm for workouts is holding steady. The heavy lifting was taxing my motivation level quite heavily in the year or so before I made the changes.  Right now, although I miss a more muscled physique when I look in the mirror, I know what I’m doing is sustainable into the future…and isn’t that the whole point?

Wishing you warm and joyful days as we head into a brand new month!

Thursday Smile

A little gym humor…That expression is priceless!

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What’s The Point?

Do you need a few reasons to add some activity to your day in order to get your heart rate up? Here are 50 of them!

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Coincidentally, number one on this list is my favorite, immediate gratification result of exercising.  I always say it keeps me stress free…and HAPPY!

 

Throwback Thursday

A photo from 2011…

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One of the interesting things about having photos from a few years ago is that I can do a side by side comparison and determine if what I’m doing today is producing reasonable results.   I actually find it very helpful because I can see clearly if my current workout is allowing me to stay in the acceptable zone or if I need to amend my program.

If you never photograph yourself, I suggest you do so.  You don’t have to show anyone. You can keep the photos entirely private but they’re a good comparison tool and can be used for effective self-assessment.

 

Throwback Thursday

You know what Throwback Thursday makes me think about?  Ummmm….better get my hindquarters to the gym and workout harder!

Keep going strong, my friends!

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A photo from 5 or so years ago, I think. The photo is filed under 2013 but that’s when I uploaded it to my computer not when it was taken…

 

 

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