Heading into Winter Bulking

Measurements: 

Weight: 154# BMI: 26

  • Neck: 13″
  • Shoulders: 44″
  • Chest: 39″
  • Biceps: 11″
  • Waist: 34″ (-1 inch from last month)
  • Hips: 42″
  • Thigh: 23″ (+1 inch from last month)
  • Calf: 15″

Strength 1RM’s: 

Barbells:

  • Bench Press: 110# (have reached my best PR)
  • Bent Over Rows: 100# (best so far this year, 15# away from best PR)
  • Dead lift: 210# (have reached my best PR)
  • Squat: 120# (+5# from Oct, 25# away from best PR)

Dumbbells:

  • Arm Curls: 30#
  • Arm Extension: 45#
  • Shoulder Press: 30#
  • Shoulder Shrug: 85# (kettlebell)

Stacked Machines:

  • Leg Press: 185# (+25# from Oct)
  • Calf Press: 325# (+40# from Oct)
  • Leg Extension: 160# (+15# from Oct)
  • Prone Leg Curls: 110# (+10 from Oct)
  • Chest Press: 90# (+30# from Oct)
  • Lateral Pull Down: 80# (-5# from Oct)
  • Overhead Press: 45#
  • Cable Biceps Curls: 60#
  • Cable Rope Tricep Overhead Extension: 50#
  • Cable Rope Tricep Push Down: 80#

Muscle Balance: 

  • My hamstrings are 69% of my quadriceps strength. I found more research giving a ratio of 50-80%; 75% I think is ideal; both are gradually increasing in overall strength.
  • My biceps are 67-75% of my tricep strength. Ideally this should be a 1:1 ratio, so I’ve been working to increase strength in my biceps.
  • My back muscles are 91% of my chest strength. This should also ideally be a 1:1 ration and if not the focus should be on strengthening the back muscles and looking for a 2:1 ratio. I’ve known this and continue to increase strength in my back; fortunately my back has increased quite a bit of strength these past few weeks.
  • The strength of my contralateral (left to right) muscle groups have evened out and are more 1:1 ratio now.
  • The strength-to-body mass ratio of my upper body is 59.5% of my lower body, which is on point in the 40-60% range.

Overall starting to feel noticeably stronger and better. I’ve been regularly lifting 3-4 days a week at the gym and cycling 3-4 days a week for the past couple months. I have a good foundation and lifting form. My posture has improved and it shows during lifts. The hard part now is really honing in on a proper and consistent diet.

 

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CAB Take on Taiwan: Adventure Time

This is WAY OVER DUE but here’s my recap/story on how a ragtag team of 14 college peeps Took on Taiwan! Days and dates may not match up due to the 12 hour time difference. We were 12 hours in to the future y’all!

DAY 1 – 04.28.16 – THURSDAY

All packed up, stayed over night in the Chatham apartments so I wouldn’t miss the shuttle. 4AM leaving Chatham and in route to the Pittsburgh airport. I have been up since 11am  yesterday, going almost 16 hrs strong with no sleep cause I’m so hyped!

About 30 or so minutes later we arrive at the airport and all meet up, check in, and wait for our plane to arrive. While waiting for the others to arrive and check in, I break out my old hacky sack in order to pass the time.

Time for some quick breakfast! Special Note: Do not parkour off a moving sidewalk at the airport! More importantly do not parkour off a moving sidewalk while holding your breakfast bagel and an iced coffee ‪#‎lifelessons‬

Time to line up to board the plane, quote while boarding the airplane in regards to this woman was looking at as weird and trying to break up our group in line: “We’re a group… We pop together” About 5 hours later and we have landed in San Francisco, CA.

First meal since leaving Pittsburgh/ the East Coast… pre-game for Taiwan… Veggie curry

Time to board our next flight! ’bout to be the longest flight I’ve ever been on – just shy of 13 hours!

DAY 2 – 04.29.16 – FRIDAY

I made it!!! I’m really here … in Taiwan… alive! Passing out tho cause early full day tomorrow + 12 hour time diff + been up since 11 am Wednesday !!

DAY 3 – 04.30.16 – SATURDAY

Day 1 and 2 (4.28 & 4.29) recap: traveling through time and space -> Pittsburgh to San Fran (-3 hr diff) to Taipei, Taiwan (-12 hr diff) -> ended up being up for a total of 50 hrs! 36 as a group!

Recap DAY 1 in Taiwan:  traveled back in time and lost a day but we’ll get it back later.

I’m already acclimated to the new time zone and new environment. We had an early morning toady; out by 8:30am, ate breakfast after walking through the hallways of some building to get to the place. We had an impromptu park visit with some parkour action.

Two trains and a bus ride later we arrive at the National Palace Museum then had some snacks with tea and coffee. Afterwards we explored the garden outside the museum and I parkour’d the heck out of some trees and rocks. 

Later on we had lunch then visited the Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines:

Followed by another impromptu park visit plus a sweet mini temple with some exercising action. 

Later that night we went to the night market for some shopping then had dinner. THEN Maryann Fix and I got left at market! Everyone was looking for each other for a couple but we kept missing each other. No worries though because we’re smart and resourceful. I remained calm, cool, and collected and was able to navigate our way back to the hostel. We got back well ahead of everyone else so we enjoyed some Bubble Tea!

Side note: even tho I got separated from my buddy Dee Clarke she knew what was up and that we’d be okay and make it back safely. I was bummed we missed the temple exploration but we were able to see it another day (turned out to not have been all that lol). Can’t wait to see what goes down over the next 11 days!

Foot Note: my phone is useless here and is just my camera now but I won’t be posting pics till after I return. Luckily I have my iPad so I can post updates and let y’all know I’m still alive.

DAY 4 – 05.01.16 – SUNDAY

Recap DAY 2 in Taiwan: Managed to go to bed around the same time and wake up the same time as day before. I had some super delicious breakfast this morning. It rained a bit more today (light rain yday) but was still super warm out.

I’m getting really good at oriented self each place we go and navigating around this city. Today we went to the Flower and Jade Markets. I got to see some real life haggling action and some cool plants. Can only look because we can’t take plants back with us.

Afterward we went to the Linsen Forest Park. We saw a cool, sustainability festival going on and learned about bears, bats, reptiles, oceanic animals, wild vs domestic cats. We saw a good amount of stray dogs just walking around and chilling.

We went to the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial next and played a pick up game of soccer with the kids and parkour’d more. A festival or conference was going on so there were parts we weren’t allowed in. Saw a cool dance battle action go down though.

Later we went to the hot springs – Beitou public hot springs I think – this was SO nice and very relaxing after walking around all day.

For lunch I had a guava passion fruit smoothie (very Taiwan I’m told) with veggies, tofu and dumplings. We went to the night markets again – had more bubble tea, a bunch of super delicious, fresh fruit including mango, pineapple, watermelon, and this Taiwan fruit that looked/tasted like an asian pear.

Tomorrow will be our last day in Taipei, Tuesday we head off to Taichung.

DAY 5 – 05.02.16 – MONDAY

Recap DAY 3 in Taiwan: early morning, went to the same place from yesterday for breakfast (so good). Today we went up to the mountains; to Jiufen where the anime film Spirited Away was inspired by. While there we navigated through this long strip of markets – all kinds of food and shops, pretty much the whole town is a market place.  we ate lunch here and gathered up snacks for later. The view from this place was so beautiful! Just amazing!


Saw more stray dogs and some cats roaming around – the stray dogs tend to be medium sized or larger. Seems most people own smaller sized dogs or cats, which makes sense given the space capacity of Taiwan. 

I tried some stinky tofu and… NOPE! not for me lol. I’m not a fan of tofu to begin but I had to try this local fav and the locals get a laugh out of seeing foreigners try this dish. 


Went to Bai Sha Wan (White Sand Beach) and it starting turning dark when got there since the multiple bus rides ti get there were very long. It was very cool to step into the pacific ocean from a different country, across the globe.

Ate dinner after beach time and drank lots of juice then made a mad dash for the bus back to hostel! The server from the restaurant we ate at was so dope and held the bus for us, which was great since it was also the last bus of the night.

Everywhere we’ve been so far, our group has managed to get “scolded” for being to loud lol classic teenage Americans. I’ve also become the navigator and co-captain since I keep all the directions and location written down and no one is getting left or lost!

Tomorrow we are getting our assignments for the next part of this trip and checking out of Taipei Discovery Hostel then heading down to Taichung via the High Speed Rail.

DAY 6 – 05.03.16 – TUESDAY

Last day in Taipei and DAY 1 in Taichung:
Checked out of hostel. Glass door got busted (wasn’t me!) Had breakfast at this place that had the cutest lil restaurant owner ever … She was 4-5 yo
Road high speed rail (HSR) train = Super efficient
Took taxis to new hostel. Reservations were made late so our group got split up into two hostels – both nice but one was WAY nicer and fancy – shade was had.
Had some dinner then went out on some adventures. 

DAY 7 – 05.04.16 – WEDNESDAY

**I have totally lost track of the days and don’t really know what official day/time this is;  thought it was MON and it’s freaking WED**

Went to Dharma Drum Buddhist today and did a walking meditation. After the walk we checked out the Monks’s building. Enjoyed a really good lunch here and was very pleased everyone had to eat vegetarian meal.

Later on we went to a local middle/high school where we chilled and chatted with some of the students there. They who were so adorable and so excited to see us! Heard a lot of cool stories from the kids and got tons of food recommendations and took pics together.  I got to play hackie sack with one of the students (who plays soccer) and one of the teachers have some cool new friends now. Did some more wandering around the city after visiting the school then had dinner. Got back to hostel after going to the night markets here. Party on the roof top! Got lit with pals lol shared all the good stories.

DAY 8 – 05.05.16 – THURSDAY

DAY 8 aka the day after we all got hella lit on da rooftop! I slept in so hard even though my body wanted to wake up at 8 and I said no we will chill.

Breakfast/brunch/lunch included an assortment of bakery items and delicious milk tea from Diagon Alley!


Visited a local university and made some more awesome new friends! Got to eat this fruit, yogurt, ice cream thing that the school is famous for. They have their own dairy cows are right on the campus! It was really good.

We talked about our projects and food of course. We all went out to the night markets and basically ate everything on the recommendation list including these drinks we thought were called “mini coopers” turns out it’s not called that lol. The kids at the high school are amazing. I mean truly, amazing they are in school from 7:30a-5p then it’s off to cram school (required) until 9:30pm.

By the end of this trip I was pretty much covered in a sleeve of mosquito bites on each of my lower legs. I also finally got to ride on a moped. It was super fun. If I thought I wanted one before I def want one now!

DAY 9 – 05.06.16 – FRIDAY

I’m so sad we only have a few more days left! Today was a long day – we went to a lil ecohub place, which was this mostly outside deal with fans and some coverings for shade. Of course today happened to be the hottest day on our whole trip = 91°F!

We spent the whole day there then wandered around the town afterward. On our wondering travels we got beer from the locals – they traded 2 huge bottles of beer for a couple of photo ops with all of us.

 We also found a cat cafe like with real cats in it and it was the best!

DAY 10 – 05.07.16 – SATURDAY

Went to a Monastery today, took a tour; it was really cool and fancy. SO much money went into building this and for real one of those gold Buddha statues could pay for me for life. We weren’t allowed to take pictures once inside the grounds. We had lunch at a hotel restaurant deal by the Sun Moon Lake then went for a walk along the boardwalk tail. The water of this lake was so pretty, super blue and clear. We had ice cream. People got left and lost again on the way back to the bus. Found them at the local police station.

Headed out to the Tea Factory for a tour and some tea shopping.



We had dinner after this and some shopping around the local area. I got cool shirt with a bear that looks like Taiwan on a bike. Later on peeps were trying to go to a local club but it is really expensive (like what amounts to $20-30 cover) and super sexist (cater to men pretty much with servers that look like teen anime girls) plus these places are not too friendly to foreigners. There really much of a party scene so it’s mostly to make money of tourists and it is def a straight dude oriented club which means it is not gay friendly either. 

DAY 10 – 05.08.16 – SUNDAY

Only a couple more nights left in this beautiful country.

Day 11 – 05.09.16 – MONDAY? 

aka yday aka ilegitdevenk what day of the week it is anymore lol:
Up early again
Trip to Lukang with some new university pals


Explored the markets and local sites
Ate some food, had lots of treats
Got to see a pilgrimage parade and somehow ended up in the middle of it
There was SO much smoke everywhere from burning incense sticks and candles 

Day 12 – 05.10.16 – TUESDAY?

Today marks our last full day in Taiwan. It’s medical Monday so we’re visiting the Medical Universities and getting good stuff for my project. We had a good bit of free time this afternoon so of course we went out to buy all the things, eat more food and drink more bubble tea, get lit – the usual at this point.

DAY 13 – 05.11.16 – WEDNESDAY?

We leave Taiwan today, which is sad but cool we get a layover in Tokyo, Japan. After a few hours in Tokyo, some really good sushi and saki we head out for our long plane ride back state side.

About a 5 hour layover in Chicago and this landing was a lot smoother than the last one! Special note on airline food: the vegetarian (Asian) option is so good and way better than the chow hall food back at campus. Been up for a total of 30 hours at least with a good amount of that just flying.

DAY 14 – 05.12.16 – THURSDAY? 

Officially home in the 412.

Mosquito count: 146 count! known/visible/have been itching up a storm lol
RT arm = 26 count
LF arm = 6 count
RT leg = 54 count (including 4 on my tattoo = so disrespectful)
LF leg = 60 count

I definitely felt safer walking around in Taiwan at 3am than I do walking down Penn Ave during the afternoon in Pittsburgh, PA. I was also pleased that only after a couple weeks I was starting to pick up some Chinese – I could recognize some characters, speak a few common phrases to get around and understand some of what was spoken to me. I do also note that it was a privilege to be able to go on this trip and I was so fortunate to have had this experience.

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I did a Thing…

In addition to experimenting with foods / diets that work best for me, I like investigating different health related fads. I haven’t experimented with ALL of them since most are quick tricks people use to lose weight fast without putting in real work then end up gaining it all back or more. One fad I’ve been really curious about, is some kind of juice cleanse/fast/detox.

$$$Cost $$$: Pricing depends on a few factors including how many days you want to fast, where you buy your ingredients from – online made for you or make it yourself, and whether you have a really good juicer or need to buy that too. Generally you are looking at spending a couple hundred dollars. I was only able to do this because I found a Groupon deal online.

Research: read up on some of the benefits; potential harm if done incorrectly; different companies to get juices from etc.. I also looked at what people have done to do to prepare, how people have completed cleanses safely, cautions to be mindful of; post cleanse care

 

 

 

 

 

Pre-cleanse: decrease solid food intake about a week before the cleanse; doing a 24-48 hour solid food fast before the juice cleanse; doing some sort of colon therapy before a juice fast (this can help not to overload your gut with toxins as you’re trying to rid of them)

 

 

 

 

 

During the cleanse: hydration is very important – water consumption is very important, hot tea is okay too, maybe soup for 1 meal; if doing a 3-day cleanses do so over 5 days with a day of recovery in between juice days if can or doing so over a weekend where there’s less energy expenditure

                                                   

 

 

 

 

Post cleanse: do a gradual re-introduction of solid foods;  avoid processed foods & high sugar content foods particularly right after the cleanse (this will undo any benefits gained from the cleanse)

Current Eating Habits:

I’ve been eating a vegetarian based diet for about 5 years now and very recently have added fish/seafood (namely sushi, salmon, tuna, & occasionally scallops). I still primarily eat vegetarian based meals but occasionally 1 meal has fish.

  1. My breakfast is usually a yogurt & fresh fruit or a smoothie when I plan ahead, maybe a small cup of coffee; a chai or matcha latte and some sort of pastry (scone, croissant) when I can’t plan ahead
  2. I have a morning snack of granola or nuts or protein balls when I plan ahead; chips, popcorn or a pop tart if I can’t
  3. My lunch is tricky during my work week since I have to bring it to work or put together a lunch from the family dollar store (no bueno). When I plan, I have a variety of veggies/fruits with rice & some sort of protein… often left overs from the previous night’s dinner end up being my lunch… if I’m unable to plan I usually have top ramen or soup
  4. My “afternoon snack,” usually post workout during the work week is protein balls or protein shake and sometimes fruit; my off days I usually have tea or a smoothie or no snack at all
  5. Dinner is usually some rice and veggie combo with a protein like beans/legumes/fish when planned ahead; mac n cheese or pasta of sorts if not.
  6. Before bed I try to have a cup of hot tea (this is a new habit I’m working on)

Dietary/lifestyle changes I’ve been working on or want to improve:

  1. Portion control – being mindful of what I eat and how much based on fitness goals
  2. Decrease caffeine intake, particularly with coffee
  3. Decrease sugar intake = VERY HARD TO DO because this stuff is in EVERYTHING but gotta do it!
  4. Decrease process food intake – again VERY HARD TO DO for many reasons that are worth a whole separate post
  5. Decrease dairy intake because mild-moderately lactose intolerant depending on the dairy (mostly it’s the milk that gets me). I’ve been doing this for years now but still something I’m always trying to be mindful of.
  6. Decrease simple carbohydrates (fits into decreasing dairy, sugar etc.)
  7. Decrease wheat, grain, and gluten intake because I have realized that I’m really gluten intolerant and my digestive tract hates it when I eat things with gluten

I did a 3-day cleanse/fast/detox (whatever you wanna call it). My order came with 6 juices for each day – to be consumed every 2-3 hours. Instructions suggested a schedule of 7am, 10am, 12pm, 3pm, 5pm, and 7pm intakes or what works best with my schedule.

Meet the Juices:

  1. Sunrise = blueberry, blackberry, raspberry, greens, apple, oats, flax, banana, chia
  2. Power green juice = apple, celery, cucumber, kale, spinach, chard, lemon, parsley, habenero
  3. Recharge = spinach, mango, avocado, celery, orange, apple
  4. Roots = carrots, celery, orange, apple, pineapple, ginger, turmeric, lemon
  5. Passion juice = watermelon, cucumber, strawberry, apple, triphala tea (with added cranberry & hibiscus)
  6. Puri Tea (best heated in a mug, sipped) = fennel, coriander, cumin, senna, cayenne, lemon, turmeric, ginger, apple

Here’s how it went

For breakfast I had the “Sunrise” juice along with a cup of hot tea & water. I usually walk to work each and this morning was nice since it helped work through the energy of the juice. For my morning snack I had the “Power Green” juice. I felt really hungry (stomach growling) around this time and afterward I felt a little light headed like I drank too much too fast, which is why I then added extra snacks of popcorn and a granola bar. My lunch was a little later than usual today, normally I eat around 2pm but today was around 3pm. I had the “Recharge” and some dumpling soup for this meal. I started feeling good again after lunch. No gym workout today so my afternoon snack was had later at home and it included the “Roots” juice and a little granola, nut and berry mix. For dinner I had the “Passion” juice with some top ramen noodles minus the seasoning packet though (I probably shouldn’t have but I needed something soup like with the juice). Unfortunately I was unable to consume all 6 of the juices for this day as it got to be too late for me to have the last juice; “Puri Tea.”

Notes from D1: I had a bowel movement after I woke up, a little soft but good color, girth etc. … no other BM’s for the rest of the day though. I felt a little light headedness and sleep deprived but I also did not get a full night’s rest so the tiredness and fatigue were more likely to due actual lack of sleep rather than the cleanse. A bit of a rocky start but overall not as terrible as thought.

My Day off! this means I got to sleep in; I definitely felt better after getting a full night’s sleep. My period also started (a couple days early). I hadn’t really accounted or thought of the affects this might have and most sites suggest holding off on a juice fast until after the menstrual cycle is complete as this is already a natural detox for my body (my uterus in particular). However, since I had already started the fast I decided to continue and add a little more foods/ snacks such as soup and an assortment of nuts.

For brunch I had a small latte (with almond milk) and a zucchini chocolate chip muffin from Black Forest Cafe along with the “Puri Tea” that was meant for last night oops! I also drank it cold instead of heated as suggested. My juice schedule will be off a little bit today so I did my best to have a juice about every 2 hours. I felt really hungry by afternoon lunch time; had the “Sunrise” juice and a chipotle burrito bowl (white rice, pinto beans, sprinkling of cheese & lettuce plus the new queso because I had to try it lol). My afternoon snack was the “Power Green” and today I had an early evening snack; the “Recharge” and some nut/berry mix. For dinner I had the “Roots” juice and a small glass of cashew chocolate milk. I also had an post dinner snack; the “Passion” juice and a cup of strawberry yogurt. I also added a bowl of oatmeal to add some extra fiber.

Notes from D2: I had a good BM in the late evening. I did complete all of the juices but the order was a little wonky – had the Puri Tea meant for last night this morning and did not have the Puri Tea juice meant for this day.

Another say off! slept in again till about the same time. Had a morning BM and it was looking good. Feeling good today. **My computer went wonky and deleted my nutrition log so this day won’t be as detailed as the other two. **Brunch was the “Sunrise” juice and some water. Ate soup and had the “Power Green” juice for lunch. I had the “Recharge” juice for my afternoon snack and the “Roots” juice a couple hours later. I had the “Passion” juice for dinner along with some white rice and a cup of cashew chocolate milk a little after.

Notes from D3: I had 2 BMs this day. The first was had earlier in the day (was a little more runny but expected due to consuming mostly liquids for the past couple days). The second was sometime in the evening (more like my normal BMs).

Overall I think it went alright, some hiccups along the way (period started during the fast; juice schedule got mixed up; ate more solid foods than anticipated; the fast fell on Halloween weekend and finished the day before Halloween, which made keeping good habits really difficult). I feel more sensitive to things like caffeine and alcohol. Going into this my main thought process was that I wanted to change my diet / habits and use this as a way to transition from old habits to new.

Some immediate changes:

  • Cut caffeine intake down to coffee only 2x a week with a matcha/chai tea once a week. Drinking more tea – green & herbal.
  • The sugar/ process food/simple carbohydrates intake is still a struggle but I’m paying more attention to what and how much I eat in order to limit this.
  • I’ve decrease my wheat/grain/gluten intake some but will really need to work on this one.

I’d considered doing another (3-day) fast with better planning haha and/or doing a 1-day or 3-day fast like once a month or something.

Fitness Strategies

As an exercise scientist, I enjoy experimenting, especially on myself. I’m getting back into training and am looking for what works best for me. For those who read my posts (thanks!) bear with me as I work through my thoughts and such. I like writing things out so I can plan ahead and keep track.

Previously, I was VERY focused on loosing the fat mass I gained over this past year, regaining my strength and speed lost over this year that I lost sight of the bigger picture stuff. I got distracted trying to calculate exactly how I can loose 10-15-20 pounds of fat as quickly as possible, while ALSO trying to gain the same strength & flexibility as quickly as possible. While ALSO trying to be mobile in any way possible as much as possible. While ALSO thinking about how I miss running, biking, and racing. I miss competing and being able to go everywhere I want whenever I want on my bike. I was spending too much time thinking about the wrong parts of getting back into shape. Thinking about everything I lost and how quickly I wanted it back. SO… I got out of my head for a bit then redirected my mental & physical efforts.

I have my list of goals of course:

  • I want to run my first ultra marathon (50K or 31.06 miles)
  • I want to bike my first century (100 miles)
  • I think it’d be cool to bike the Pittsburgh marathon course then run it
  • I want to do more bike touring – I’d like to bike from Pittsburgh to DC, across the US (west coast to east coast or vice versa), and get into international bike touring
  • I want to finish a triathlon for real (completing the swimming portion)
  • I would like to reach my ideal racing/competing weight, which is ~132 pounds of bodyweight at ~14% body fat
  • In general, I’d like to get more trail time and compete again (running, biking, mud runs)
  • I want to hit my previous lifting, running etc. PR’s
  • I would also like to compete in power lifting

These are the things I want to accomplish but before I can even consider that, I must get back to basics. I started with smaller, more obtainable goals. Walking ~10,000 steps a day via my commute to/from work & recreational walks. Biking more with a trainer at home, a stationary bike at the gym, and the occasional group ride around the city. I’m pausing on any running for now. Then added on weight lifting regularly.

It’s been over a month since I’ve started everything and I’m feeling good. I’m using proper form when lifting and creating goods habit via going to the gym often. Additionally I have noticed improvements in my posture as well as a decrease in chronic pain in my neck, back and knees (big thanks to the chiropractic treatments!). I am now starting to just weight training at the gym while cycling on my home trainer; alternating days. This should maximize my efforts for fat loss and muscle gain.

I’m working on correcting some muscular imbalances:

  • I have rounded/ hunched shoulders = poor posture; tight pectoral muscles;  lordosis, sway back, forward head.
    • To correct this I need to strengthen my back muscles (upper, mid, and lower) while stretching & improving flexibility in my chest via doing more back exercises with only 1-2 chest exercises.
  • I also have a weak core particularly my abdominals (i.e. rectus, external & internal obliques), weak posterior chain muscles (i.e. glutes & hamstrings) and tight hip flexors (i.e. quads).
    • To correct this I need to strengthen both of these areas

Body Type:

There are 3 main body types:

  1. Ectomorph – the naturally-slim person, smaller bone-structure and seem to “eat whatever they want and not gain an ounce”
  2. Endomorph – the heavyset end of the scale, typically gains & holds onto fat easily and has a harder time losing it, tends to carry more muscle mass than the ectomorph
  3. Mesomorph – the naturally muscular person, characterized by having broader shoulders & a narrower waist (known as a “V” taper), gain muscle easily & lose fat easily

Here are my body type results…

TRAITS

 ENDOMORPH: 50%
 MESOMORPH: 25%
 ECTOMORPH: 25%

Endomorph: You struggle to lose fat but can usually gain more muscle than the other body types. Strength training should be done to get a better muscle-to-fat ratio, which will help to boost your metabolism. Use moderate weights at a fast training pace, allowing for very little rest between sets & exercises. Get your heart pumping by engaging in some form of daily activity such as brisk walking or biking. Maintain a calorie intake at or near maintenance, and if you’re looking to lose fat, be prepared to eat in a caloric deficit. Sugar, sweets, and junk food may hold you back more than they do for a mesomorph or ectomorph, so be prepared to seriously cut back on them when weight loss is the goal.

Mesomorph: You have a naturally fit body but, to maintain or improve it, you should adopt an exercise and diet regimen that compliments your build. You can strength train more often and for longer periods of time, but be careful not to overdo it. Train with moderate to heavy weights and keep a moderate pace, making sure not to rest too long between sets. If you train and eat well, you may find you gain muscle quite easily. When you’re happy with your muscle size, simply train to maintain. Stick to a good, healthy diet to stay lean and muscular, and watch for any slow-creeping fat gains. Engage in and enjoy aerobic activities, but be careful not to overdo it.

Types of Cardio Training:

  • Low-Intensity – walking or slow cycling, can be done almost every day for longer periods of time. Very easy for the body to recover from. Will have little negative impact on muscle gain & can help burn calories for fat loss.
  • Moderate-Intensity – jogging or swimming, done less frequently. Requires more energy both to perform and to recover from. If trying to lose fat perform 4-6x/wk for 20-30 minutes each session. If trying to gain muscle reduce to 2-3x/wk.
  • High-Intensity – sprinting and interval training, running up/down hills, done less frequently. Is the most difficult but greatest/fastest results, do as hard as you can for a short period of time. Intense weight training with short rest periods is very good for cardio capacity. It is extremely effective for fat loss = burn a lot of calories during the activity, raises metabolism for a long time post activity. If trying to lose fat perform 2-3x/wk. If trying to gain muscle reduce to 1-2x/wk.

Previously my cardio program had been based on whether I was training for a 5K or a Marathon or a bike race. Since I’m not really racing or competing in anything at the moment my cardio is health based. That is reducing rates of health risks, improving VO2 Max rates, etc.. Right now I’m doing weight training 3-4 days a week and low-intensity cardio 2-3 days a week. This looks to fit alongside with the research I did for my body type and goals.

Some Credit Shout outs: bodybuilding.com and NCBI – National Center for Biotechnology Information and other related articles on exercise science/physiology for help with research on programs, benefits, workouts etc.

Physical activity isn’t the only part of the equation to being fit, healthy, and strong etc.. Diet plays a very key role in obtaining and sustaining a healthy life. More on my struggles and strategies in another post.

Check In. Check Up. Part 2

Measurements and 1-RM’s: 

Weight: 155# BF%: will be getting a caliber (6 Best Weight Lifting Tracker for the Gym) BMI: 27 

  • Neck: 13″ (same as Sept; has remained consistent, month to month – year to year)
  • Shoulders: 44″ (same as Sept; stays fairly consistent, usually within 40-44 inches)
  • Chest: 39″ (up 2 inches from Sept; tricky to measure accurately but averages ~36 inches each year – since 2013)
  • Biceps: 11″ (same as Sept & has been throughout 2017 so far; stays fairly consistent, usually within 10-12 inches)
  • Waist: 35″ (down 3 inches from Sept; also tricky to measure accurately without help and tends to yo-yo depending on training & diet)
  • Hips: 42″ (same as Sept; range 37-42 inches)
  • Thigh: 22″ (down 1 inch from Sept; stays fairly consistent, usually within 21-23 inches
  • Calf: 15″ (same as Sept; stays fairly consistent, usually 14 or 15 inches)

Lost 2″ overall since last month (aka since I started going to the gym and biking more)

Barbells:

  • Bench Press: 105# (regaining strength; down 5# from best PR 110#)
  • Bent Over Rows: 95# (regaining strength; down 20# from best PR 115#)
  • Dead Lift: 185# (starting to regain strength; down 25# from best PR 210#)
  • Back Squat: 115# (maintaining strength; down 30# from best PR 145#)

Dumbbells:

  • Arm Curls: L30# R25# (lost a little strength in my right arm)
  • Arm Extension: 45#
  • Shoulder Press: 30#
  • Shoulder Shrug: L65# R60# (lost a little strength in my right shoulder)

Stacked Machines:

  • Leg Press: 225# = 160# (this was done on a incline so this number gets multiplied by 0.707 to account for the 40° angle; lost quite a bit of strength; half as much as best PR 450# =320#)
  • Calf Press: 405# = 285# (same x0.707 deal as leg press; lost more strength here than I realized; down 270# from best PR 675# or down 190# from 285#)
  • Leg Extension: 145# (lost strength here; down 55# from best PR 200#)
  • Prone Leg Curls: 100# (lost strength here too; down 85# from best PR 185#)
  • Chest Press: 60# (this was measured on a new machine so not sure can compare to previous maxes but this is down 65# from my best PR 125#)
  • Lateral Pull Down: 85# (this was also taken on a new machine but is comparable; down 31.6# from best PR 116.6# – the add on weights are 5# not 3.3#)

Thoughts:

Keeping track of my progress/ training and de-training has become really important to me. It definitely is a shocking feeling to wake up one morning and realize how out of shape I am and how it happened. A lot of things led up to this point but I’m on the right track now and moving forward. I’ve been getting treatments with a chiropractor and it has helped a lot with the pain and has been improving my posture. This will be a tremendous help during my exercises and help get those lost gains back in a healthy way.

In an effort to makes things simpler for my brain and get started in doing any physical activity, I made the mistake of oversimplifying what I know to be a more integrated process. This had an overwhelming effect on my motivation seeing as in spite of simple math, calories in calories out, burning 500 calories each day through diet and exercise etc. I had zero results. Moving forward with my recovery and physical fitness game I need to consider and work on the following…

10 “Commandments” of Fitness:

  1. aerobic endurance
  2. anaerobic endurance
  3. agility
  4. balance
  5. body composition
  6. coordination
  7. flexibility
  8. power
  9. speed
  10. strength

Muscle Balance:

Current standard ratios recommended for agonist-antagonist muscle groups are:

Muscle Group

Muscle Balance Ratio

1. Ankle Inverters & Everters 1:1
2. Ankle Plantar Flexors & Dorsiflexors 3:1
3. Elbow Flexors & Extensors 1:1
4. Hip Flexors & Extensors 1:1
5. Knee Flexors & Extensors* 2:3
6. Shoulder Internal & External Rotators 3:2
7. Shoulder Flexors & Extensors 2:3
8. Trunk Flexors & Extensors 1:1
  • The hamstrings should have at least 75% of the strength of the quadriceps’ strength.
  • The imbalance between the strength of contralateral muscle groups (left vs. right sides) should not be allowed to become greater than about 10-15%.
  • The strength-to-body mass ratio of the upper body should be at least 40-60% of the lower body relative strength. Ex: compare the bench press 1-RM/BM to the 1-RM/BM to that of the Leg Press.

Any muscular dysfunction caused by muscular imbalance will require 2 or 3 sets/exercises on the weak side/group for every 1 performed on the strong side until balance is obtained.

VO2 Max:

How To Improve Your Cycling VO2MAX

How To Increase Your VO2MAX
Running:
Cycling:
An in depth look at a VO2 max test
Detraining:
Here’s what a few articles I found online have to say about detraining and loss of fitness gains. Normally I’m one for listing sources because credit but since there’s a lot of info bullet pointed below just do a quick Google search on muscle strength loss, fitness loss etc. and you’ll find what I found…
Anaerobic/ Strength Gains:

  • You can lose up to 80% of your fitness level in as few as 2 weeks if new to exercise.
    • If incredibly fit / been training for years, can lose in ~3 months.
  • Detraining can lead to muscle strength loss within 2-6 weeks.
    • However, your age, exercise program and fitness level play significant roles in how long it takes you to detrain.
  • Competitive athletes may experience muscle loss after 2-4 weeks of no exercise, and recreational athletes between 6-31 weeks.
  • Your training program impacts how quickly you detrain and lose muscle.
    • Endurance athletes may experience muscle atrophy slower b/c their muscles are leaner and predominantly slow-twitched muscle fibers vs. power athletes, who predominantly have fast-twitch muscle fibers.
    • Endurance athletes take up to 12 weeks to lose muscle mass & slow-twitched muscle fibers.
    • Power lifters/ competitive weightlifters can lose muscle strength as early as 2 weeks with inactivity.
  • Muscle loss with an increase of fat in the muscle, aka sarcopenia, is a common aging process.
    • The elderly may experience quicker muscle loss or more muscle loss during inactivity compared to younger individuals.
  • Competitive athletes appear to lose muscle quicker than recreational athletes, but their strength levels are typically higher.
    • Competitive athletes also tend to regain muscular strength levels quickly during retraining.
  • Different muscle groups can experience atrophy and strength loss at different rates with inactivity as well.
  • Detraining influences muscle size and strength as well as muscular endurance and cardiovascular fitness.

Aerobic/ Cardio Gains:

  • There are 2 “types” of fitness (when it comes to running or cardiovascular based activities): aerobic fitness aka endurance and your orthopedic/ structural fitness aka the ability of your muscles, bones, tendons & ligaments to withstand the impact of running.
  • For most runners, it takes ~ 7-14 days for aerobic fitness to start declining.
    • Initially you lose the gains made in the last several months of training.
    • If you’re a lifelong runner, you’ll retain much of your aerobic fitness for several months.
    • The better shape you’re in, the more fitness you’ll hold onto when you’re not running.
    • If you run consistently / have a higher level of fitness than a beginner, you won’t lose your gains as much as if just starting out.
  • Structural fitness is critical for injury prevention. It helps absorb the impact of running without suffering an overuse injury.
    • It takes longer to gain structural fitness as opposed to endurance. Many runners experience more rapid declines in this area as well.
    • This means that for any period of inactivity, your body’s ability to tolerate running declines more quickly than its ability to run. This puts you in the injury danger zone.
    • But after a week of faster running and feeling good, aches and pains pop up. You may even experience an injury because your structural fitness is much lower than your aerobic fitness.
  • During any period of inactivity, a small amount of strength work can help you maintain your body’s ability to withstand running. A short gym workout or a series of medicine ball exercises can often mean the difference between staying healthy and taking even more time off because of a running injury.

Weight Loss and Gain:

  • Skipping a few gym sessions won’t derail your weight loss efforts, going 2 weeks without breaking a sweat can though.
    • In addition to taking a toll on your physique, physical fitness & strength, it will take you triple the amount of time you were inactive to regain the muscle mass that you lose after a 2-week hiatus.
  • The old adage “use it or lose it” really does hold true.

Am I A Natural Athlete?

 

Looking to work smarter and harder to correct current muscular imbalances, improve overall fitness and health, gain the strength loss and lose fat mass. Once I’ve maintain a strong foundation, I’ll be able to accomplish my all fitness goals and then some.

Check In. Check Up. Part 1

Winter had passed but now it’s just around the corner again! Goodbye summer, hello fall aka “pumpkin spice everything” season.

Miles to date …

  • Jan: 187.43 miles biking (moderate-intense physically active 14 out of 31 days)
  • Feb: 144.26 miles biking (10 out of 28 days)
  • March: 61.17 miles biking, 2 miles walking (active 16 out of 31 days)
  • April: 41.68 miles biking, 9 miles walking  (19 out of 30 days)
  • May: 36 miles biking, 54 miles walking (19 out of 31 days)
  • June: 42 miles biking, 36 miles walking, 19.5 miles hiking (21 out of 30 days)
  • July: 68.02 miles biking, 55.7 miles walking, 10.5 miles hiking (26 out of 31 days)
  • Aug: 37.1 miles biking, 39.04 miles walking, 6 miles hiking, 1 hour of swimming (21 out of 31 days)
  • Sept: 158.59 miles biking, 83.48 miles walking (27 out of 30 days)

I am very surprised and proud of myself for being more consistent with physical activity than I originally thought. It’s been a rough start but, I have finally been working out at the gym (lifting) and biking 3-4 days a week.

It’s only been a month but I’m feeling better and for these first few months of training I’ll be focusing on:

  • Form and technique for my power lifts
  • Muscle endurance based workouts – lower weights and higher reps
  • Decreasing fat mass – starting with the weight I’ve gained since being hit last summer

Workout line up for the first month…

Week 1: 

Monday – Barbell bench press medium grip 2 sets of 8, Standing military press 2 sets of 12, Lying triceps press 2 sets of 15, Chin ups 2 sets to failure, Barbell bent over rows 2 sets of 10.

Wednesday – EZ bar curls 2 sets of 12, Hammer curls 2 sets of 12, Seated calf raise 1 set of 15, Stiff legged barbell deadlifts 2 sets of 15, Hack squats 1 set of 8 then 1 set of 20.

Friday – Incline dumbbell press 2 sets of 12, Seated dumbbell press 2 sets of 12, Triceps dips 2 sets of 12, Lateral pulldown wide grip 2 sets of 10, Barbell deadlifts 1 set of 8 then 1 set of 4.

Week 2: 

Monday – Alternating dumbbell biceps curls 2 sets of 12, Plate twists 3 sets (as much weight as possible) to failure, Calf press 1 set of 15, Lying leg curls 2 set of 12, Barbell squats 1 set of 8 then 1 set of 20.

Wednesday – Decline barbell bench press 2 sets of 8-12, Machine shoulder military press 2 sets of 8, Barbell bench press close grip 2 sets of 15, Chin ups 2 sets to failure, Bent over 1-arm long bar row 2 sets of 10.

Friday – Preacher curls 2 sets of 12, Zottman curls 2 sets of 15, Standing calf raise 1 set of 15, Barbell squat wide stance 2 sets of 15, Leg press 1 set 20 to failure.

Repeat for the following two weeks

General Fitness Goals:

  • Walking: 10,000 steps a day
  • Running: currently on hold
  • Biking: ~4x a week; build up endurance then speed; improve VO2 Max
  • Lifting: master proper form & execute each power lift correctly; gain the strength I lost since last summer; crush PR goals

Winter has passed – Time to GET BUFF!

Summer is HERE! mostly…

First up:

  • Neck: 13″
  • Shoulders: 42″
  • Chest: 38″
  • Biceps: 11″
  • Waist: 37.5″
  • Hips: 38.5″
  • Thigh: 23.5″
  • Calf: 15″

Weight: 152# BF: 27% BMI: 27 

Body Fat (BF) % Categories:

Classification Women (% Fat)
Essential Fat 10-12%
Athletes 14-20%
Fitness 21-24%
Acceptable 25-31%
Obese 32% +


Understanding your Body Mass Index:

If BMI is below 18.5: considered underweight.

If BMI is between 18.5-24.9:  considered normal.

If BMI is above 30: considered overweight.

BMI is only a snap shot of what’s going and one should look at all variables such as diet and exercise habits etc.

To maintain my current weight I would need to consume 1,966-2,185 calories per day (based on my sex, height, weight, age, and activity level).

Nutritional needs based on the aforementioned calories per day:

Carbohydrates 222-320/246-356 g/day 885-1278/984-1421 cal/day
Proteins 50-173/55-192 g/day 197-689/219-765 cal/day
Fats 44-77/49-85 g/day 394-689/437-765 cal/day

Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR): 1,472 (based on sex, height, weight, and age)

Max HR for my age is 189 BPM (beats per minute) and my Target HR range is 103-16- BPM. This will be useful for when I incorporate aerobic (running, biking etc.) based exercises to my day.

One downside to being hit by a car, is being thrown off the wagon of regular exercise and good eating habits. It’s been over 9 months since and my physical activity levels have dramatically decreased. I’ve gain weight (fat mass > muscle mass) and inches (namely around my abdominals – more health issues occur with higher waist circumferences), & haven’t been biking as much (before I was hit: 20mi everyday during the week & 50+ over the weekend).

Fortunately, I now work at a Bike Share, which gives me access to bikes, though not the same as having my own. In the meantime, it is something and my commute to/from work plus test rides equals ~2-3 miles that I get to bike each day. I sometimes ride a couple miles through the cemetery or vacant parking lots. Additionally, I lift 6-13 bikes/day, 4 days/wk as part of my job. Each bike weights 52#!The weather is nicer and I’m getting outside more. I’m walking a lot and biking a little; I want to increase the biking of course and start running/racing again.

OK! now for the fun stats … 1RMs:

Even with all that said, there is some very exciting news…

Barbells:

  • Bench Press: 105# (increased! I just starting hitting 100# & now I’m only 5# from my last PR 3 yrs ago!)
  • Bent Over Rows: 90# (steady increase, 25# away from last PR 3 yrs ago)
  • Dead lift: 210# (new PR! and 40# away from current goal)
  • Squat: 145# (this was a bit of a surprise tbh but also the 2nd time I’ve hit this weight mark since last Dec and I’m only 5# away from current goal)

Dumbbells:

  • Arm Curls: 30# (another surprise & the 2nd time I’ve hit this weight mark since last Dec & only 5# away from current goal)
  • Arm Extension: 45# (new PR! since I surpassed my previously set goal, I have now up’d it to 50#)
  • Shoulder Press: 30# (still keeping it strong and am 5# away from goal)
  • Shoulder Shrug: 65# (still keeping it strong)
  • Lateral/Frontal Shoulder Raise: forgot to test this one, so no data but based on othes probs still able to lift 15#

Stacked Machines:

  • Leg Press: 286.3# (8 [45#] plates plus 45# weight of machine)
  • Calf Press: 477.2# (14 [45#] plates plus 45# weight of machine, maintained this PR from last assessment) my calves are small but mighty!!
  • Leg Extension: 170#
  • Seated Leg Curls: 170# (increased a lot since last assessment)
  • Chest Press: 125# (new PR!)
  • Lateral Pull Down: 100# 

I am really impressed with just walking and biking a few miles everyday (hills and all) and the lifting I do at work I’ve been able to gain or maintain a lot of my strength and in key areas that I had previously been concerned about. I’m very pleased to have hit 3 PR’s this assessment round, one for each category too!

Goals Again:

  • Ideal weight
    • For a person my height that is between: 110-140 lbs – so looking at 132 lbs with about 14% BF
    • Each pound of fat = ~3500 calories
    • Cut 500-1000 calories per day = 1-2 lbs a week
  • Run ultra marathon: 50K
  • The PGH Marathon was earlier this month and unfortunately, due to injuries sustained from the SUV I was unable to participate, so I’m planning to bike/run it next year.
  • Bike a Century
  • Complete a Sprint Triathlon
  • This summer I still plan on hitting the trails (hiking, biking, running), go camping, travel some (small trips), do a bike tour (weekend trip to Ohiopyle and back maybe)