New Approach: Stronglifts

I have decided to take a new approach at the gym since I have been a bit discouraged with the results I have not been seeing. This could be attributed to have no partner to lift with, someone who is also there to push you, someone to bounce questions off. The way I see it, going to the gym is better than sitting on my ass on the couch and playing XBox, so ANY exercise I am getting is better than none. I have been very dedicated as well, getting to the gym 3 to 4 times a week, but have lacked the strength and muscle gains. Enter Stronglifts 5X5.

Still looking at my body log, which tracks measurements I have not see much of a change. The only exception my waist, where I have dropped 3 inches. I figured after 6 months I would see some better definition in my arms and chest. While surfing the Internet last weekend in search of who knows what I ran across a site called by a guy named Mehdi. I started reading about him and identified with him.

After I got through reading, I decided to sign up and get his free 5×5 starter kit, which required nothing more than my e-mail. I started reading The 5X5 Report, which Glenn Pendlay, MS USAW, Olympic coach says “will work for virtually everyone.” His method is nothing revolutionary, but a simple program that will gain muscle, develop strength, eliminate stubborn fat and improve my health. What’s not to like about this program. Best of all it’s only a 3 day a week program with a combination of 5 exercises.

I watch many other guys at the gym and watch their routines. I was on a 4 day weight program that isolate muscle groups (arms, chest, back and shoulders), rarely working on my legs or gluteal muscles. Still I was hoping to increase muscle and gain strength, but I wasn’t see that happen. “Muscle size is directly related to strength gains.” This is a themed echoed through Mehdi’s report.

The “5X5 stands” for 5 sets of 5 reps. At this point, some 40 pages into his report I am skeptical. So I jump ahead and start reading some of the 50 real life success stories included in the report. I jump to those guys in the 40-49 year old bracket. I was able to identify with many of their comments and figured if they could do this, I know I could. What was even more impressive were seeing the before and after pictures of guys after they had been on this program for 6 to 8 to 12 months and the gains they had made in strength and muscle.

So I decided to take the 12 week challenge that Mehdi discusses in his 5X5 Report. Without going into the many details that would probably bore you, the workouts are divided in Workout A and Workout B. So starting yesterday, Monday I did Workout A, Workout B comes on Wednesday and Friday it’s back to Workout A. At the start of week 2, I begin the week with Workout B. Easy, huh? Workout A consists  of squat, bench press and barbell rows, while Workout B is squat, overhead press and deadlift.

I have already taken my “before pictures” and recorded my body measurements. The rest is up to me. Yesterday I spent maybe 30 minutes doing Workout A, but today I feel the results unlike the 5-7 exercises I had been doing when I was isolating muscles. Hopefully this is a good sign of things to come.


Knee: Post Op

I had what was hopefully the final appointment with the orthopedic surgeon on Monday and he released me to start being more active with the knee. the stitches were removed and sutures were glued on to the three incisions on my knee. I was also provided a comparison of what a healthy meniscus looks like and what mind looked like when he got in there with his light and camera. In the image, the healthy meniscus are the top two images. The lower two images are how mine looked.

My meniscus was torn on the medial (inner) part of my knee and bent back 180 degrees causing the pain, which in turn caused the pain and swelling I had been experiencing for 2 months. He trimmed out of the torn piece of meniscus, while preserving a majority of the meniscus on the front and anterior of my knee.

I only worked out once last week after my surgery, doing 30 minutes on an elliptical machine. Last night was the second time I worked out and noticed a firm bump on the front of my knee. Thankfully it coincidences with one of the incisions, so hopefully it’s just a matter of time before than swelling (if that is what it is) decreases and the pain subsides.

I still have pain on the inside of my knee, more where the ligament is located at. I am sure we would have seen something on the MRI, but that pain has not gone away. I will give it 4-6 weeks and if the pain still exists might request my MRI and send it to another doctor for a second opinion. Thankfully I have very little pain now walking up stairs or during my daily routine.

Burn & Quiver

What a difference! While I have just signed up the family for membership at the local gym, I am already feeling a difference when working out. If it all works out I will be at the gym 4 days a week working on different body parts and including cardio, starting with 30 minutes and working my way up to 60 minutes. Thankfully I have a co-worker, who was a body builder and he has been introducing me to difference exercises depending on the body part we concentrate on.

Take nothing away from the Bowflex Revolution, it was great to start working out with this machine but I don’t want to go back to it. If I miss a day due to plans or scheduling that’s fine, but hopefully I can work my way up to 4 times a week at the gym. I think the dividends will pay off sooner than expected. Tuesday we worked our chest, I missed Wednesday due to my son’s swimming lessons, he took Thursday off and we did arms today. As I sit here typing I can feel my triceps still quivering. I believe I will be sore in the morning.

I never really got sore with the Bowflex. It could have been I wasn’t using enough resistance when doing each exercise, but after just two days at the gym I feel different. In fact my arms felt HUGE today with as much as we worked on them. I leave the gym feeling very good, much like the feeling I got when I started using Tony Horton’s P90 program back in 2003. This time around I already have the diet under control, so I should see some faster results, not that I have any immediate goals set. I do believe working out with a friend at a gym will be more beneficial than going solo at home.

It will be interesting to see some of the pictures I have to see if the changes are apparent. Much like P90 taught me, take a before picture, 30, 60 and 90 day picture. Three months should provide enough time for the exercise to make some of those physical changes.

Surgery Scheduled

Surgery has been scheduled for May 8 to remove a torn piece of my medial meniscus. It’s a procedure that is common and should take about 45 minutes with the orthopedic surgeon making three incisions around my knee. He tells me (although I am having a hard time believing him) I will walk out with nothing more than an ace bandage on. Okay doc! And this initially WAS just osteoarthritis. Right?

Currently I am not planning on taking any time off from work, with the hopes of returning to work on Thursday, just 2 days later. My mom has her doubts as she has undergone this routine procedure numerous times. Regardless of the outcome, I am done with soccer something I have mentioned before.

In place of soccer, I have started working out at the local sports club (aka gym). After a 90 minute workout session with a co-worker of mine I was able to ride the equivalent to 11.19 miles on a stationary bike, keeping my heart rate above 142 BPM for all but 4 minutes. The knee didn’t feel too bad after the end of the ride, so I am hoping to slowly increase the duration of the cardio.

With any luck I will make it to the gym 4 days a week working chest, arms, shoulder and back with increasing cardio each workout, as well as cardio on days I am not lifting weights. Since I have already backed out of the target date of September 22, which was the Tough Mudder competition in Lake Tahoe I am just aiming to improve my physique and continue to lower my blood work numbers. In fact with the surgery I am required to have another blood test, so I will see if my numbers have improve over the a month.

Gym Bound!

In my quest on the road to health, I enrolled the family in a local gym membership with a month to month contract and no initiation fees. While I haven’t worn out the Bowflex Revolution I have, I have been looking to add a minimum of 45 minutes of cardio to my workout, which would put at about 90 minutes of exercise a day. Having this equipment in the garage, which doubles as the workout room is very convenient but does have some drawbacks.

Thankfully my wife and I both have friends who are members at this gym, which also gives us someone to workout with. This is only the second time I have made the decision to join a gym. The first time was back in 2003 when I lived in Redondo Beach and I had dropped a fair amount of weight using Tony Horton’s P90. Unfortunately I did not have the diet portion of a healthy lifestyle in place like I do now. I suspect the additional daily exercise, mainly the cardio will give me some quick results that I probably wouldn’t see if I continued to work out at home. Who knows, maybe I sell the Bowflex and put that money towards the gym membership.

Hopefully it all works out for us. Thankfully, our 6 year old can go to a kids area and be watched and we know he is safe. That is a great benefit of this club! With any luck I should see that target weight I am looking for, which improving on my blood numbers thanks in big part to my lifestyle change.