Sunday, May 23, 2021

Physical Fitness Program 2021-05

It's been over a year since my last update.

This is my current weekly physical fitness program, following my Physical Fitness Principles:
  • Monday: Free weights and weight machine for strength.
  • Tuesday: Running for endurance.
  • Wednesday: Yoga for flexibility.
  • Thursday: Repeat Monday workout for strength.
  • Friday: Repeat Tuesday workout for endurance.
I've made a few tweaks from the previous version 2020-03:
  • I eliminated the Pilates for simplicity and time.
  • I reduced the strength sets from 3 to 2, but increased the weight a bit.
  • I separated repeated workouts by 3 days, including across weekends. That allows a little extra recovery time to avoid repetitive stress injuries.
  • I use running on the treadmill for all endurance workouts and warmups/cooldowns. This was the result of participating in the Massachusetts Virtual Endurance Challenge, running a 55-mile virtual course on the treadmill. I enjoyed adding up the miles on my main run days and the warmup and cooldown segments on other days.
  • I shortened the run interval cycle to 3 or 4 minutes, depending on how I'm feeling. Once again, this is part of keeping it at a manageable level.
I continue to use the full sport-specific stretch routines from Bob Anderson's Stretching: 30th Anniversary Edition.
This has worked well. I haven't had any back twinges or persistent muscle or joint soreness, and my left shoulder is doing much better, so for now this seems to be a well-balanced program. But it does show I can vary the specific details of workouts as my whim sees fit.

The other big thing of course is that we're still in the midst of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Fortunately, it seems to be winding down in the US. I've had my first vaccination shot and will be getting my second in a couple weeks, and have been working from home for the past 15 months. Unfortunately, there are parts of the world that are not doing as well, with many people suffering.

For the most part our extended family has fared well; one person lost their job due to it, as well as suffered a mild case of it. But the overall stress has definitely taken its toll. I've put on 10 pounds that I attribute directly to stress eating, despite the exercise and otherwise eating healthfully.

One thing I've done to manage the stress is use deep-breathing meditation more regularly. That includes daily practice sessions to be able to trigger the relaxation response described in Dr. Herbert Benson's 1975 book The Relaxation Response. I've also been reading Dr. Judson Brewer's 2021 book Unwinding Anxiety: New Science Shows How to Break the Cycles of Worry and Fear to Heal Your Mind. I've found these to be genuinely helpful.

Benson's premise is that stress is a direct contributing factor to medical conditions that can lead to death. While that was controversial back in the '70's, we've come to accept it these days. Therefore, actively managing stress and anxiety is an important part of long-term health.

I've largely stabilized my dietary changes to about a 50% reduction in animal-based foods. Where I used to have some kind of animal-based item at every meal, now many meals are entirely plant-based, or only a smaller amount of animal-based foods. That strikes a balance with my wife's more animal-based diet.

As before, I generally don't work out on weekends, and I try to make sure to have time available for each full daily workout. If I'm short of time, I can cut the number of reps or sets down, cut the time down, cut the rest periods by 15-30 seconds, or skip some yoga poses.

Monday: Free Weights And Weight Machine For Strength

Warm-up: 5 minutes on treadmill.

Stretching: 10 minutes of Bob Anderson's weightlifting stretch routine.

Strength part: 25-30 minutes of free weights and weight machine following Strength Training Past 50 by Wayne Westcott and Thomas Baechle. 2 sets of 8 reps for each of 11 separate exercises at slow, controlled pace, with 15-60 seconds rest after each set. I make sure the amount of weight I use doesn't cause any joint pain during or after completing all the sets.

The exercises and weights (pounds):
  • Squat, 85
  • Leg extension, 75
  • Leg curl, 25
  • Chest press, 75
  • Chest fly, 55
  • Seated row, 75
  • Shoulder press, 55
  • Lat pull-down, 75
  • Tricep push-down, 55
  • Bicep curl, 25
  • Ab flex, 65
These are mostly an increase of two 5- or 10-pound plates from the previous program, except for the squats, which is an increase of 45 pounds after my lower back recovered (which I did 10 pounds at a time each week for a month).

Since my weight machine doesn't have a leg press, I do squats with a barbell.

I don't like the bicep curl station on it, so I do those with either Cast Iron Hex Dumbbells, or the dumbbells that come with the barbell. I have a range of hex dumbbells from 10-30 lbs., which is convenient for doing a variety of free-weight exercises without having to change plates.

I use a Bicep Bomber for bicep and tricep isolation with both the free weights and the machine.

Weight machines generally isolate the targeted muscles and joints well, so all the effort is directed to them. While that's good for building just those areas, it also means higher force on them and higher risk of injury. I pay close attention to make sure I'm not overdoing it.

I built up from the previous level by adding weight every 6 weeks, cutting back to 6 reps for each set for two or three workouts, then increasing to the regular 8 reps.

Cool-down: 5 minutes on treadmill.

Tuesday: Running For Endurance

This workout can be done almost anywhere outdoors, good for traveling. Also, many offices, hotels, and resorts have treadmills in their gyms. I do post-workout stretching to prevent tight or sore muscles the next day.

Warm-up: 5 minutes on treadmill.

Stretching: 10 minutes of Bob Anderson's pre-run stretch routine.

Endurance: 30 minutes on treadmill in 4-minute intervals: 1 minute walking at 3 mph, 3 minutes running at 5 mph. If I'm feeling tired, I use 3-minute intervals.

Cool-down: 5 minutes on treadmill.

Stretching: 10 minutes of Anderson's post-run stretch routine.

Wednesday: Yoga For Balance And Flexibility

This workout is very portable after memorizing the sequence of moves, good for traveling.

Because yoga workouts generally incorporate warm-up, stretching, and cool-down, I don't do those separately.

No matter what else I do during the week, if something disrupts my routine and I have to skip one or more workouts, I make sure to do this one, because of its general therapeutic and stress-reducing effects.

Balance and flexibility: 60 minutes of Power Yoga Collection: 3 Full-Length Programs by Rodney Yee. I cycle through the different programs on different weeks. They're all very similar, but with slightly different emphasis. I use a Yoga Mat, Block, and Strap Set. Sometimes it's convenient to have a second block. The 3rd program on that DVD shows best how to use the blocks and strap.

I also do some of the workouts on Yoga With Adriene for variety.

I'm not nearly as flexible as either of them, so I limit postures to only the degree I can do comfortably.

The postures, or asanas, not all of which appear in every program (most of the names from the book 50 Best Yoga Positions):
  • Tadasana, mountain pose
  • Adho mukha svanasana, downward-facing dog
  • sun salutation (this is actually a sequence moving through several poses, including mountain pose, lunge, plank, pushup, cobra, upward-facing dog, downward-facing dog, standing forward bend)
  • Biralasana, cat pose
  • Virabhadrasana I, warrior I
  • Virabhadrasana II, warrior II
  • Virabhadrasana III, warrior III
  • Trikonasana, triangle pose
  • Uttanasana, intense forward stretch/standing forward bend
  • Dandasana, staff pose
  • Navasana, boat pose
  • Balasana, child pose
  • Single-leg forward bend
  • Paschimottasana, double-leg forward bend
  • Upavista konasana, seated wide-angle forward pose sequence
  • Baddha konasana, cobbler's pose
  • Supta padangustasana, reclining big toe pose/raised leg stretch
  • Jathara parivartanasana, revolved abdomen pose
  • Marichyasana III, sage twist III
  • Garudasana, eagle twist
  • Kapotasana, pigeon pose
  • Anjaneyasana, crescent moon pose
  • Dhanaurasana, bow pose
  • Setu bandhasana, bridge pose
  • Purvottanasana, upward-facing plank
  • Urda dhanurasana, upward-facing bow pose
  • Virasana, hero pose
  • Utkatasana, chair pose/power pose
  • Prasarita padottanasana, wide leg stretch/wide leg forward bend
  • Savasana, corpse pose/relaxation pose
I built up to this level by using Yee's Power Yoga - Flexibility, 25 minutes. This is mostly the same set of asanas as the Power Yoga Collection, so it's both good training to learn them, and a shorter session if I have less time. It's also a good light flexibility workout any time I need it.

Adrienne also offers a number of shorter videos, as well sessions targeting different body areas or situations.

Thursday: Free Weights And Weight Machine For Strength

This is an exact repeat of Monday's workout.

Friday: Running For Endurance

This is an exact repeat of Tuesday's workout.

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