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Super Ape
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I got my blood test results back today and for the first time since I moved to Japan I have no numbers in any kind of danger zone. My red blood cell count is "high normal" (it's usually well into the red zone) and everything else - including blood sugar and all the related markers - is right smack dab in the middle of normal (which, in Japan is a pretty strict and narrow range). I gave blood two weeks ago, so those results - possibly the best I have ever had - came after five weeks of dieting. (Or, one week of protein fasting followed by four weeks of chicken, eggs, yogurt, fish, avocados, lots of fruit and veggies, oatmeal, and fermented foods like miso and umeboshi with just one "no restrictions meal" per week). Gives me an extreme boost of confidence that I am on the right track. 

 

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Back to the usual grind this week. After the usual Monday stuff, like a dumbass I did bench and heavy curls on an EZ bar in a Scott bench because I didn't have the time properly stretch my legs during the workday, so squats or trapbar was out. So, obviously not too good results, but I did a 3 with 281 and a few sets of 3 with 264 and a bunch of lighter stuff. Considering I did a 7 with 220, it was obvious I hadn't recovered properly yet.

Took Wednesday off, Thursday was trapbar as follows: 10x140, 8x230, 7x352, 5x396, 5x451, 6, 3 and 4x473, 5x451 and then a bunch of shrugs. The 6x473 was a record so far, but it obviously taxed the next two sets.

Friday was just a big mess of chest flyes, lat pulldowns on the machine, pushdowns with the resistance band and some more curls and light overhead presses with two kettlebells.

As a whole, it was a good week, maybe next week I can stretch my legs properly so I can have two lower body workouts, but I'm just glad I'm feeling ok again.

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Got my schedule fucked up because my friend leaves town tomorrow and I'm, uh, not dealing with this well.  We said our goodbyes Friday and I would have rather done some crazy fucked-up workout that made me puke all over the gym than go through that.

But hey, Pull day yesterday was good - being pissed at the world helps, I guess.

I still loathe doing pull-ups, so I've been trying to throw some other stuff in that should possibly help make them easier.  Number one on that list: kneeling pull-ins.  One arm at a time, and I'm already moving 110 of the 150 on the cable machine for 3x15.  Too good of a lat contraction, all the way down to where it inserts, to skip them.  Did some lat pulldowns with the wider V-bar - we have one metal attachment that can be treated like those fancy $80 hook grips you can buy (basically the second-to-last one here) and man, is it SO much better than any other lat pulldown because you can get your arms into a more natural spread.  Then I did T-bar rows with the landmine set-up and chest-supported iso rows for my horizontal pulls. 

Finished back with some deadlifts, and I hit 255 for the first time in, oh, 7 years?  I had done 245 the last couple of times and they were just pain and suffering; something in the chain wasn't doing enough work, and I think it was my lats.  But I must have really started punching the shit out of them lately, because the 255 went up pretty easy (at least in comparison to how 245 had felt).  Most I ever DLed was 315 with the hex bar, which, in retrospect, feels like cheating to me, not to mention I really struggle with how I'm supposed to place myself within the bar (and that's probably what injured my back years ago).  I think with the straight bar, I can probably get to 315 by, say, April? May?  Something like that.

As much as I find Push day to be reaffirming, my back has most definitely been the part that has changed the most aesthetically over the last 3+ months.  Then again, this is easily the hardest I've ever gone at trying to improve it, so it's no surprise.  Too bad I can't show it off to anyone: not that I wouldn't normally, but holy SHIT I am getting old and getting hair where I don't want it.  Gonna have to wax that at this rate!

Legs today at some point, but I really gotta stop ignoring calves, forearms, and rear delts.  Either I need to go to a 6-day PPL split (ugh), or I just need to throw the extra upper-body stuff onto leg days in between bigger sets.

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Finally bouncing back from an injury and spinal surgery, and 2021 being a stressful pain in the ass in general and unable to focus on health at all, and trying to get back into decent shape.  Managed to run almost a mile and a half outside today.  I used to be able to knock out five miles but, shit, a few months ago I was limping like a fucking zombie, so I'll take it.

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Did some lifting today!  10 exercises, three sets each, 8-12 reps.  Essentially, the old time lifting method of "shoot for 8-12 reps in your first set and if you can do more than 12, you need to up the weight."  Did a combination of machines and dumbbells.  I'm stronger than I thought I'd be so that's good.  What's helping is that I'm back in the office a few days a week and we have a really good gym.  It'll be tougher on my days at home because it's light free weights, bodyweight exercises, and running on our treadmill or outside in the cold.  Doing my best, though.

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Got some adjustable dumbbells (can go up to 72.5lbs on each) and an incline bench for my home gym.  Between that stuff, the rack, barbell and plates and some bands, I'm pretty much set up to do anything I want at home.

This week I started this: https://www.jimwendler.com/blogs/jimwendler-com/101075206-5-3-1-and-bodybuilding

I've been on 5/3/1 for about a year now.  I had done it for about nine months before lockdown, so this is my first year doing it straight through.  I'm finally back to around where I was weight-wise before then.  I've been feeling a little beat-up so I thought that template would keep it a little more "fun" for me.

Anyway, in that article, he recommends just walking 30-40 minutes a day for conditioning.  I've never been a cardio guy, so that's fine with me.  So, for the last couple days, I've taken a walk during lunch at work.  I've got to say I love it!  It's just great for clearing my mind and still being a little active when I'd normally just be sitting.  

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After a nice, relaxing weekend, I decided to mix things up a bit and try the bench and heavy curls with the EZ bar on Monday. Between the warm up bench sets I did a set of curls, going 5-3-1 quickly before going for 94lbs +the bar (18 lbs?). I managed a decent 5 with it, so I figure I add another 5 lbs. As I'm getting into the position to lift on the Scott bench I hear this disgusting crunch on my right arm. Obviously, I stop what I'm doing and assess the damage. It's moving alright, the range of motion is full, I can move my fingers, no intense pain, so I didn't break anything. I take a bunch of weight off and see if I can lift 60 or so lbs. That's fine but the right forearm does feel tight.

I was going for 286 on the bench, so I take it down to 242 and 264 and they go with no trouble. I clear the 286 and do 2x297 almost clean and get decent reps going down as well, so whatever happened, doesn't seem to affect my bench.

So, I guess it's a bunch of legwork for the rest of the week just to be safe. The forearm isn't bruised or swollen, but certain movements of the wrist still make it feel tight and tense. Two days later it still feels off, but it hasn't gotten any worse, so I guess I got lucky. It just sucks that the left forearm had been giving me some trouble for more than a year and now that it's doing ok again, then the right one bails out on me. I guess this is mid 40's, then?

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Coming back from holiday, I did ramp ups to single challenging sets:

1) Bench (10), Low Cable Row (10), OHP (10) and Lat Pulldown (10) followed by accessory work sets of 2 x 20-22 (Decline DB, DB Upright Row, Tricep Pushdown, Pinwheel Curls)

Bench was tough, only got to 85kg on a medium-wide grip. I think I was neglecting it a bit before I went on hols. Oh yeah and I had slept badly and took a Ibuprofen for a headache so it probably was ok.

2) Highbar Squat (10), Narrow stance SSB GM (10), Plate Machine Hip Thrust (12), followed by accessories 2 x 16 Leg Curl, Seated Calf, Ab Machine & 1 x 16 Hyperextension

So the Squat was my first non-SSB back squat in over a year. My elbows were not impressed. I actually meant to do 8, but somebody wanted to use the rack so I decided to do 10 at 90kg rather than try for 8 at 100kg. I felt like I had a couple more reps in the tank no problem even then so I'm actually ok with this, though my knees were a bit unimpressed. I'm not sure whether I'll go back to SSB or try and test a max with the straight bar. I had significant butt doms from the secondary lifts.

That was Sunday and Monday. My gf rejoins Saturday so I face today and Thursday, then Sat/Sun. Gnarly. I will probably take it pretty easy today and tomorrow - speed work and a couple of accessories.

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@ShartnadoSome kind of weird connective tissue injury?  If it's still bad in a week, get it checked out!  I once severely fucked up the tendons in my wrist doing dumbbell bench presses.  60 in each hand and instead of keeping the weights stable, my wrist decided to bend to the outside with the weight in my hand.  All that torque fucked my shit up.  Had to wear a brace 24/7 for a month.

Still not my worst workout injury.  That award goes to herniating a disc in my neck doing lat pulldowns.

Edited by Technico Support
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23 hours ago, Contentious C said:

Good thing you guys don't stand next to me while I'm doing shoulder stuff.  I have what would be generously described as "Rice Krispies Joints".

Yeah, mine make pretty interesting sounds every now and again, too!

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Working from home the rest of this week...combo of running/walking yesterday (my legs are killing me as I try to get back into this) and today was freeweight and bodyweight stuff in the basement.  The injury and operation layoff apparently did kill off a lot of my strength, as I could only muster ONE pushup!  I did the knees-on-the-floor style instead 😄

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So yeah, Tuesday was a leg day for the aforementioned reasons, so I did a bunch of stuff on the squat machine and plenty of calf raises. Also tested the right arm by doing curls with the 22lb plates. No problems there.

After taking Wednesday off, I did dips and reverse shrugs with 66lbs. Opted out of doing pull ups after testing the arm with bodyweight only. It was fine, but I didn't feel safe trying anything with extra weights. So 4 sets of dips and reverse shrugs. No drop sets this time, just 4 sets with 66 lbs. More curls with 22's, lat pulldowns with the resistance bands and push downs as well.

Due to maintenance, I have an unexpected (well, to myself at least) extra day off from work today, so no Trapbar, but that is just as well. I think it will be good to not push my luck with the arm any more this week.

Work has been uncharacteristically busy for this time of year, which is good, but it's also kicking my ass. The weather, however, has been quite decent for the time of year, so that has helped with the bike rides.

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Ok, so the right arm still feels different from the left one and heavy curls and pull ups are out for the time being, but bench is pretty much unaffected, although this may push back the clean 300 lb bench press even further. 3 sets of 3 with 275 was as good as it got this week. I did try the trapbar on Monday night and went all the way up to 473, but only for two sets of 3. Did a set of 3 with 451 before and after those two, so overall it was good, but I did not want to risk anything by going crazy on the reps. I took yesterday off, but tonight I'll be going again, although I'm not quite sure what I'll be doing there. I guess we'll see once I'm there?

I ended up doing dips and reverse shrugs with 66 lbs 4 set both and then one set each with 44 lbs. Then a bunch of lat pull downs, push downs and chest flies with the resistance bands. Good workout, very intense pump on my chest and lats afterwards. Tonight, I should still go and do some squatting.

Yeah, squats and calf raises on the machine, didn't go crazy with it, or anything, but it's 4 workouts this week, so it's good.

Edited by Shartnado
Last night's workout edited in
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I've still been working out lol. Bench yesterday was absolute dogshit after too much hedonism. Today I really did not feel like going at all, but I actually ended up getting my first 3 plate (140kg) safety bar squat - admittedly I set it up only just below parallel, but I was happy with it for an offday. 3x3 at 112.5kg afterwards, then pin GMs 3 x 6 at 80kg, then some fluff.

I will be back working out with my gf on Wednesday and then probably the weekend. Time to get her back on the bench I think, as I don't think the chest press is cutting it for me.

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Three workouts in, one more to go. I did bench again on Monday. Additional moves were lat pulldowns on the machine, chest flies and light curls. I went up to 286 pretty quickly, warm up pyramid was 3x198, 5x242, 5x258, 3x275. I asked a co-worker who happened to walk by to spot me on 286, so I could do a clean 1, but few others gathered around to peek over the fence, so after I did the one, I just continued. I stopped at 4 or 5 without the actual need for the spotter. The last couple of reps weren't clean, but still pretty good. So, I guess the audience helps, sometimes. Well, after a set like that there was no point in trying anything heavier, so I go back down to 275 and get 4. The same with 264, so the 286 really took it out of me. 253 and 242 go around 5 and 220 maybe 7 good reps. Then some pumping with 11x198 and 17x132.

Tuesday was trapbar and since there were two of us with the same idea, it worked out nicely. I missed the first couple of warm-up sets, but I did 15×140 with the kettlebells and jumped in at 275. So, 8x275, 5x341, 5x385, 5x430, 7, 4 and 4x473, 5 and 5x451. As usual, shrugs while unloading. Total of 25 reps with 400+ was pretty damn nice, as I wasn't expecting anything special. I guess the competition helped.

Today, I did the dips and reverse shrugs with 66 lbs, 5 sets each. Then low incline dumbell bench press with lat pulldown combos with the resistance bands in between sets. Then plenty of light side delt work and pushdowns with the resistance band.

Tomorrow, hopefully the squat machine and calves. I have the Friday off, so long weekend. Next week, I'll have my first sports massage session in about 22 months, on Wednesday. Here's to hoping that such close contact will be safe-ish to resume on a more regular basis again, next year.

If tomorrow goes ok, this was definitely a good week.

The weather was decent until Thursday morning, as a fucking blizzard (relatively speaking) said "fuck your leg day!" Took me an hour to get to work. Well, I'm still doing the squat machine today, but still, this was a shitty surprise!

Edited by Shartnado
F'n snowstorm(ish)
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Did 155 lbs on flat bench for the first time in 7 years yesterday, and it wasn't too bad.  I've been taking relatively wide grips, though, and while that feels "easier" with respect to getting the weight up, it's absolute ass in a can for my shoulder health.  Narrowed my grip to something closer to normal, and my shoulders instantly felt like they were functioning joints instead of sacks of skin and bone full of over-caffeinated wasps. 8/7/5 on the sets, and I guess I'll give 165 a shot on Push day Friday.

Today was Lower, so I've resolved to just rebuild my squat technique yet again.  Cut it back to 95 lbs and went as deep as I can get without lifting my heels or feeling like I'm going to topple over, then stayed there for 3 seconds, then only came up 3/4s before going back down again.  They were pretty disgusting, but not nearly as CNS-wrecking, which, frankly, is half the problem with doing squats.  Did most of my usuals - hack squats, Bulgarians, sumo deads, Nordics - and a set of Smith machine close-stance squats that were decidedly no fun for my quads after having just done leg extensions.  But, a good day nevertheless; I could really stand to keep doing days like this to improve ROM and my strength in deep stretch positions.

Did 260 on deads last time, will probably just skip the line a bit and see if I can get 275 on Saturday - I think that will tie or beat a PR for straight-bar (though I never used straps in the past).

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Yeah, Squats and calf raises all the way to hell, as promised. A little bit heavier than last few times, too! Had to bike only half way back and got a ride home by car. Well, all the snow was still waiting for us, when we got home, so that took another 45 minutes to clear up. Thank goodness I have a day off tomorrow. Oh, and I made a Black Friday purchase of a bunch of supplements, so I'll be all geared up for next spring well in advance.

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Here's a thoughtful and thought-provoking video from calisthenics guru Al Kavadlo about how he eats. Main reason I'm posting it here is that he makes genuinely funny use of pro wrestling pictures in the video. I legit lol'd twice while watching this, and I wanted to share:

Second reason is this: I'm down under 100 kilos for the first time in probably 20+ years! My health markers are all genuinely good and I'm feeling the best I have felt, physically, since my second daughter was born and I got very lax with my eating habits.

I'm 56 years old now, and over the past couple of years I have transitioned from always wanting to be the biggest and strongest guy in the gym (or at least one of the top 4 or 5) to paying more attention to "functional strength" mobility, health, longevity, etc. My daughters are 7 and 10 years old and I'm more concerned with being there for them than with anything else. It's good motivation!!

The Kavadlo brothers (bodyweight training, getting ripped, sensible eating), Mark Wildman (kettlebells, mobility, function), Martin Burkhan (Leangains, intermittent fasting), my friend Chizuki (fasting, natural eating), Chris Shugart (the Velocity Diet) and to a slightly lesser extent Pavel Tatsouline (kettlebells), and Ori Hofmekler (warrior diet) have all been major influences on how I think about eating and training and on how I have been successfully changing my body (though I have not been strictly doing intermittent fasting, I have been influenced by their thoughts and ideas, and have IF as a strategy I can go to if I hit a major plateau or if I eventually decide I want to try actually getting ripped some day).

I'd recommend checking out The Kavadlo Brothers and Mark Wildman's videos on youtube, and the Kavadlo's books  (particularly Get Strong) and The Leangains and Warrior Diet books if you are interested at all in functional strength and/or fat loss. Interesting food for thought!

I'd also very much like to hear about whoever all y'all watch on youtube and whose books you read w/r/t training and diet. 

In particular, @Shartnado, I'd like to hear more about how you eat to get ripped.

Edited by Gordberg
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@Gordberg Thanks for the interest in my dietary habits, I'm not sure if I'd recommend my diet for anyone looking for a long(er) term lifestyle change in terms of their eating habits, but I'll be happy to share, as usual!

During my spring and summer diet I simply try to shift into the heathier option in everything I digest all year round and try to cut out the most unhealthy options out completely, for awhile.

Things like eggs, chicken breast, tuna, fat-free cottage cheese, low fat feta cheese, kiwis, avocados, salad with all the fresh summer vegetables, green tea, boiled potatoes. Also, in Finland, rapeseed oil is readily available in every food store, and despite the offensive name, it has a wonderful ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 9's. I add that to pretty much everything, all year around.

Also, as much as it pains to admit it, significantly cutting back on the times of consuming alcohol HAS had a positive effect in my body composition over the past two plus years. So that can't be stressed enough, if you feel like that's something you can cut back on, it's a huge amount of empty calories, right there!

Timing of meals is also important, in so much as doing a cardio before breakfast and eating only after you start getting hungry for real, avoiding snacks and having actual, small meals throughout the day.

Checking the labels for healthier options can be a chore, but cooking your own meals with healthy ingredients helps a lot, when trying to maintain a reasonably healthy diet. If you have enough room in your freezer, you can make a bunch of ready to defrost meals, which saves both time and minimizes wasting food.

While you definitely CAN have too much lean protein, it's pretty hard to have too much fresh (or frozen) vegetables and greens. Adding those to your diet as much as possible can only help. Protein does keep the feeling of hunger away better than carbs or fat does and body uses more energy in order to digest protein, so you can eat more high protein foods, quantity-wise, but overdoing it is probably not the way to go. I'm trying to not get crazy with that these days, but I certainly overdid it for several years.

Between meals, keep active. As much as you can. Take the "harder" option in everything. Even small things add up over time.

Also, trying to get enough sleep and maintaining a reasonable stress-levels is very important as far as keeping your cortisol-levels somewhat in check. I have NO room to talk about this, as I'm a giant ball of stress a lot of the time, but I work on it, as much as I can (not CAN, more like "feel like").

I hope this helps. I'm not really the guy to take tips from, as I started out at 140 lbs, being already kinda ripped, but scrawny-ass young adult, when I started the current way of living, long before the working out actually came back into the picture. If you have any more, more specific questions, I will do my best to give you more info.

Oh, and whatever you decide to do with your dietary habits, they shouldn't ever feel so strict that you'll go: "You know what? Fuck this shit, I'll go back to eating whatever I want, whenever I want! This shit is not worth it!" Avoid that at all cost.

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Getting really close to a parallel Nordic curl; can't quite fire back up and return to starting, but it's close. The only shitty thing about it is I had to get rid of 10 pairs of pants that don't fit my legs anymore! Maybe I will be the gym douche next week who records the next set of Nordics...

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FINALLY got back into a healthier diet as part of my "rebuild from spinal surgery" project.  Started lower carb (I don't want to say "keto" as it seems to draw strong opinions) yesterday and did pretty well, only 13.3 net carbs all day.  Drinking water like a goddamn fish as well, and no alcohol last night.  Trying to limit to booze to maybe just weekends.  Did some at-home lifting, dumbbells and bodyweight stuff and will do some treadmill work today.  WIsh me luck, fellas. 

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Hit 275 on deads today, but it was a struggle to get 4 reps of that; 5 per set would have blown a gasket.  But that's definitely a PR for straight bar, with or without straps.  I think I need to start doing warmup sets at 225 without the straps from now on, as my grip really is lagging a bit.

Also probably saved some old guy's life when he was trying to bench 115 and nearly guillotined himself with it.

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