Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Keeping a Regular Workout Schedule

After 6 months of working out (February 2009), I was really quite proud of myself. I had struggled in the early months to keep to a regular workout schedule, but in Jan and Feb of 2009 I worked out nearly every day. Here's what I was doing on the last day of February:
  • Bench Press: 20 @ 85 pounds.
  • Rotator Cuff Exercises: 55 reps.
  • Dumbbell Flys: 2 @ 15 pounds.
  • Biceps Curl: 30 @15 pounds.
  • Dumbbell Lateral Raise: 30 @5 pounds.
  • Abdominal Crunches: 45 reps.
  • Stationary Bicycle: 20 min.
A few things to note. First, I see that I did a very small number of dumbbell flys. I had been doing 30 reps up until February 22 and then I went down to 5 on the 23rd and 7 on the 25th and then 2 each on Feb 28th and March 1. It wasn't until March 13th that I was back to doing 30 reps. Although I didn't make note of this in my exercise log, it is clear that I must have hurt myself. Another example for my post on shoulder instability!

Bench press with a light amount of weight
Second, the weight I was lifting for the bench press was 85 pounds. This had not changed much since I started lifting 80 pounds on November 7, 2008. Instead, I was concentrating on increasing my reps and not the weight. More reps can tend to increase slow-twitch muscle fibers that contain lots of mitochondria and blood vessels. Having this kind of muscle tissue improves systematic cardiovascular health and increases the body's metabolic rate as well as endurance of the particular muscle being trained. Given that I wanted to strengthen my shoulder joints to prevent injury, increasing endurance was a reasonable goal, as the muscles would not fatigue as quickly (muscle fatigue puts the joints at risk).

Keeping a logbook that records all the exercises done each day is a great way to monitor progress and push yourself to improve. A day that goes by without a log entry is a day where no progress has been made, and the longer the gap between workouts, the greater the risk that progress might be lost. So if I went a day without working out I would feel guilty. Again, it is an excellent motivator.

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