Workout Journal: Alpha

Technically, this isn’t my “first” workout. Before leaving for Brazil we had signed up and undergone the “evaluation” workout session with their personal trainers. I got absolutely wrecked by mine in no time flat – to the point where my head was pounding to hard I was having trouble answering simple questions like “What did you have to eat today?”.  I spoke briefly about it in my [ Back in Black (& Blue) ] post, but I suppose for prosperity I should go into more detail here:

Most of the aftermath was completely my fault for being so out of shape, but part of it I put on the trainer who, having never met me, asked me no real questions and instead had me jump from a 10 min heart-rate warm-up on the bike straight into lat pull ups, rowing, bench press, dumbell squats, ab leg lifts… 3 sets of 20 reps each… on basically the first real resistance training I’ve done in… 4 years?

Trainer Evaluation Session Workout

  1. Stationary Bike: Warm up – 10 min, variable resistance, 150 target heart rate.
  2. Assisted Chin:  (Unknown amount) – 20 reps, 2 sets.
  3. Low Row: Uncertain amount (80lbs?) – 20 reps, 2 sets.
  4. Freeweight Bench Press: Uncertain amount (35lbs plates?) – 20 reps, 2 sets (only 16 completed on second set)
  5. Dumbell Squats (Vertical raise of bells during each squat) – 35lbs dumbells 1st set, 25lbs second set.  20 reps, 2 sets
  6. Leg raises (suspended) – free bodyweight, 20 reps, 2 sets (stopped after 1st set)

At first I was running on sheer will and adrenaline –  I might be overweight but I have muscle memory, so my form was good, but mostly it was the psychology of wanting to appear like I could handle whatever he threw at me.  Maybe he figured I was just out of practice. Maybe he was just on auto pilot and didn’t really care. Either way, by the time I could barely finish 1 set of the leg lifts, I felt like I was going to ralph and decided to cut the event short or risk passing out.

He said I did good, that there was really only one more exercise he wanted me to do. I spend the next 3 days, as I mentioned in the earlier post blog, feeling like C-3PO – unable to move my arms effectively.   Took me a full week to really recover to where I could more my arms freely without the sharp tug of soreness.

But hey, maybe I’m just not used to it, and maybe it’s supposed to be like that at first, but my gut instinct told me I pushed way too hard and basically injured myself.  A lesson, at least, in how much is too much.

The week in Brazil that followed was good for me. They don’t eat huge portions down there – and much of the local cuisine was… let’s just say not the awesomest thing I’ve ever put in my mouth, so it really helped to trim down my daily intake of food in general.  See, for some reason, when I’m doing Atkins – appetite is not an issue. I can eat what seems like a very small mass of food and feel good and not hungry for hours and hours – sometimes I have to just remember to eat just to keep the metabolism going, but in those instances I can’t say that I ever got hungry.

Trying to do the work out thing off of Atkins, I find myself in situations where foods that have enough carbs to tip the scale often leave me hungry, or at the very least, wanting to eat larger portions in that same sitting, which is very annoying.  So, where I can, I’ve been trying to stay “low carbish”.

Last night marked the first official, by myself workout night.  My girl and I decided to start off by going 3 times a week to space it out at first, then increase the days and duration as it becomes more of a regiment.

As you can see in the eval session – another problem was that I wasn’t really watching and he wasn’t really telling me how much weight we were using on some of the exercises. He was pretty much thumb-in-the-wind putting the pin where he figured would be good for me and having me hop on the machine straight away.  For a couple of the exercises towards the end we had to lower the weight used, as indicated.

So, last night I went with a modified version of what we did – and mostly took the time to self learn how much weight was enough to push me for the reps without blowing my arms out again, and certainly not as many of the exercises to prevent another week downtime if I was optimistic but wrong.

Workout: 02/21/2011

  1. Elliptical Machine: Warm up (Cardio setting) – 10 min, 150 target heart rate (~100 calories burned)
  2. Chest Press: 35lb plates (1st set of 20), 25lb plates (2nd set of 20) – the bench machine is arm-independent, with the 35s on I was able to barely finish but it felt more difficult than the free weight barbell bench we did during the eval session. So I lowered the plates to 25s. Was just able to complete the second set – felt like such a puss when I remember just how much I used to bench…
  3. Assisted Chin-ups – 20 reps, 2 sets @ 175lbs counter (80 net).  It took me roughly 4-5 trial pulls to arrive at a counter weight I felt I could actually do 20 times – and sadly that counter weight was at the bottom of the stack: 175lbs.  I weigh 255, so I basically did 40 pullups at 80lbs net weight.  Sad :/
  4. Low Row – Set this to 75 and knocked out 2 sets of 20. Felt about the same as when I did it during my eval.
  5. Elliptical Machine: Fat Burning setting – 10 min, (~100 calories burned)

After the row machine I decided to chill out – my arms were starting to feel gassed and I had no idea how they would feel the next morning, so I decided to finish up on the Elliptical with my girlfriend – a little over 10 min and 100 cal on the Fat Burning setting.  She had basically stayed on the Elliptical for the entire time while I was on the machines, so we ended our workouts around the same time at like.. 40 min of overall elapsed time.


This morning I felt good – I am sore in the same spots as before – forearms, shoulders, obliques, but not at all crippling like before.  The rest of my joints feel good, legs are not sore at all, back feels worked but not sore.  Having discovered the true weights for the given exercises, I think I will need to leave them where they are except for the row machine, which I believe I could stand to do more and still complete the reps.   I also think I could do substantially more on the elliptical – I took it easy as it was somewhat foreign to me so I didn’t want to be hobbling around today.  I always figured the elliptical was for the girls who wanted to get their asses looking good, so the only thing I’d done is stationary bike and treadmill before now.  It’s a good workout, although the arm things kind of throw me off – am I supposed to be putting muscle into it with my arms? Or just hanging on enough to balance but doing all the work with my legs?

I should be recovered enough for the next workout tomorrow night – I plan on doing another learning session but this time for my lower body and core so I can get a baseline for the amount of resistance to use for those.  Also setting a goal of 20 min on the elliptical after, with an overall plan of building out my cardio stamina in chunks as I get better.

I have little to be impressed with so far – I feel feeble for my frame and memory. The only thing I’m pleased with is my breathing and my heart rate control – for a guy who hasn’t done much activity I seem to be pretty good at getting into and anaerobic range – a mode I think my body remembers well from the types of stuff I was into (Baseball, Martial Arts, Tennis, Paint Ball) which required good strong bursts of energy over short periods of time.  Without even looking I can just feel when I’ve hit the range and when I look down the HR monitor is almost right at 150 on the nose.

Good for building muscle via interval training, but I guess a bit too high for just overall fat burning and stamina – so I think the elliptical time spent at the end of tomorrows workout will be focused on slowing down to the 120-130 range and going for a longer duration.

Till next time ~