Friday, June 09, 2006

Pumping Iron for a year

Blogger has been down or messed up for several days, so I couldn't post this. Tuesday (060606) marks the one-year anniversary of my first trip to SFU's gym "Piper's Fitness Club". Anyways, I started going there last year with Carlo, who wanted to get back into lifting weights after an extended hiatus.

I've been doing many different exercises, using a variety of equipment. Generally I do 3 sets of 12 reps each, in gradually increasing weights. For example, the barbells at Piper's are available in 5-pound increments, and I do 12 Bar Pull Ups with a 70-pound bar, then 12 with 75, then 12 with 80. If I can comfortably do a full set of 12 at the third weight category, I know that next time I should move the entire collection up one category (ie, next time I should do 75/80/85 Bar Pull Ups). If I cannot do 12 on the third set, I'm probably at the right level. The weights presented in the table are only what I can do 12 of as a third set.

When I first started doing this, I didn't know how strong I was for any given exercise, so I erred on the side of caution and scaled up slowly as I found weights I was comfortable with. So most of the 2005 side of the table is not from the week of June 6, rather from a few weeks later as I hit a "wall" for each exercise. Leg workouts are also part of what I do, but I've never hit a "wall" - been unable to complete 12 reps on my third set - with any leg exercise.

Another feature of this activity is that I have been experimenting with a wide range of exercise. I don't think any two exercises are directly comparable even when putatively using the same muscle groups, so there are few exercises that are directly comparable between the beginning and the current level of my strength. Only those exercises I have continued to perform in both years are included.

All the weights are in pounds (sorry, the equipment must come from the U.S.). I find it surprising how variable different improvents are - I've more than doubled my capabilities on the Pec Fly machine, but on the flat bench my Pec Fly has improved only a little. I have no training in Human Biology or Kinesiology, so I don't really know how to interpret this data. Not shown: my body weight, which has increased marginally from 180 pounds last June to 187 now. My arms and chest are noticably larger and more defined, and I can feel what I think are more well-defined and firmer muscles on my abdomen. Additionally, I think I've lost some (not much) subcutaneous fat on my abdomen, so I think the weight change reflects both a gain in muscle mass and some loss of fat. Cool.

Anyways, it's been a year, and I think this is mildly interesting. Feel free to lob insults my way in the comments section - this has never been about comparing myself to anyone but myself, so if you can lift more than me, good for you, but I don't care.

I had a picture for the top-left of this post all ready to go, but BLOGGER WON'T UPLOAD IT. Argh.

*Bench press does not follow the usual 12-12-12 formula. I typically do 12 reps at some low weight, like 95 or 105 pounds, followed by 6-10 at an intermediate weight, then as many as I can - perhaps 4 or 6 - at the maximum.


Carlo said...

That's cool man. I continued going to the gym for about 3 months here. Then my schedule just killed me. Last semester I was so stressed about getting my project up and running that I didn't go. Oh, and it costs more than $150 a year to go to the gym here too. I haven't gained any weight, but I definitely need to get back out there... maybe this will be my impetus! That is, if the teeth shit doesn't bankrupt me...

TheBrummell said...

Yes, this post was basically just me saying "Hey Carlo! I can Bench as much as you now!"

You're pretty much the only person to ever comment on this blog, so sometimes these posts feel more like very slow emails. Oh well, perhaps someday I'll be a big fat famous blogger.