Weight and Resistance Training - Real Expectations

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02-08-2009, 04:19 AM
I am 40. I have been a runner for 28 years. I have done triathlons, marathons, and 10 k races. Lately it seems that my body is so used to the running that my weight has crept up on me. The running does little to stop it anymore. I cannot swim due to a shoulder injury, so I had to rethink my solutions.

This year I promised myself that I would SHOCK my system and make some real changes.

I have been working with a personal trainer for five weeks. I have two 30 minute sessions a week(it is all I can afford). I know she is working me hard, I leave dripping sweat and feeling like I can't move my pinky much less my left leg!
but I have not been "sore" for the past 3 weeks. (this concerns me should it?)
Although the running is completely not working it is good for my spirit. I continue to run 10 miles a week (5 - 2 mile runs a week).

In the five weeks I have only lost 3 pounds and I assume most of that is water weight associated with my period as all of my clothes fit the same.

The trainer says that as muscle weighs more than fat, I will not see a drop in weight for a while.

What is a realistic expectation?
When should I see the numbers drop?
Am I expecting too much too soon?
Should I be sore after workouts?
Do I need to ask her to step it up?
Do I need 3 workouts a week?
Do I need hour long sessions?
When are you asking for enough, and when are you asking for too much? How do you know the difference?

02-08-2009, 09:14 AM
You've told us nothing about nutrition or other information that would help us answer your questions, so I will counter with some of my own.

How much of a caloric defecit do you think you are creating?
How are you estimating/counting your calories out?
How closely are you monitoring your calories in?
Are you weighing your food?
How much do you move besides that one hour in the gym and the 5 short (for you) runs per week?
What exercises does your trainer have you doing during your sessions?
What is the set/rep scheme?
What has your trainer directed you to do outside of your training sessions?
What are your goals and are these clear to your trainer?

Now I'll take a stab at some of your questions but the answers will be extremely general due to lack of information.

What is a realistic expectation?

At your weight, you don't have a lot to lose (I know how the mind works and you probably think you need to lose a lot, but lets be real, you are 140 at 5'5", you may need to recomp a bit and may need to lose some bodyfat but we don't need to move mountains here. You have kept yourself up pretty damn well), I would say .5-1 lb per week.

When should I see the numbers drop?

I can't even guess without knowing your estimated defecit and how you arrived at it.

Am I expecting too much too soon?

In all honesty, it sounds like it. I don't know your expectations, but it sounds like you are expecting awfully big things from that one hour in the gym. The other 167 hours per week are a lot more important but we basically know nothing about them.

Should I be sore after workouts?

Sometimes. Soreness is a relative thing and it also varies from person to person. Some people like feeling sore because it reminds them of how hard they work. It is a psychological thing. It assures them that they worked at least hard enough in the gym to do some microdamage to their muscles. Soreness, however, is not an accurate gauge of a good workout. I only feel extreme soreness after not having done an exercise in awhile. Usually my first week on a new program will bring some DOMS but the remaining 3 weeks, I rarely feel sore. However, my progress when measured by the weight on the bar or the weight on the scale (depending on the particular goal) shows that my workouts are working despite the lack of soreness. Soreness is not a goal. Do not measure soreness. Measure the weight on the bar. Measure body fat. Measure reps/sets/time whatever. Measure things that are relevant to your goals. Soreness is irrelevant (although, I admit, it is kinda nice in a slightly weird way.)

Do I need to ask her to step it up?

You sound like she is making you work hard. If you can hardly "lift a pinky" after your session, what do you want? To leave in a wheelchair? She has you 1/168th of the week. Now if her programming is inconsistent with your goals, that's another thing, but we no nothing of your program, so I'm giving her the benefit of the doubt until shown otherwise.

Do I need 3 workouts a week?

Probably, yes. 3 total body workouts is my favored setup for beginners. That is only the strength portion. This doesn't include enegry systems work, mobility, etc.

Do I need hour long sessions?

Can't hurt but again don't put all your focus on 1 or 2 hours in the gym. Strength training is not a magic pill. It is part of an overall healthy lifestyle. It only works if the other 167 hours are consistently working to your goals.

When are you asking for enough, and when are you asking for too much? How do you know the difference?

Again, clearly stated goals would be helpful here. What are your expectations from this one hour per week. You are only talking about weight loss here. Remember, assuming that you are working hard (and it sounds like you are), you are still only buring about 700 or so calories (not counting any additional EPOC). So assuming that nothing else has changed, then a 1 lb loss every 5 weeks or so would be expected. However, the only thing outside of the strength training is that you've cut back on your running, so your caloric defecit may be even less. See why we need more information?

02-08-2009, 12:29 PM
I see your point, thank you for your careful response. I had not really considered the other 167 hours that I need to fill with new movement. I will have to re-visit my budget to see if I can afford 3 a week. I feel an urgency in all of this.

While I may not be moving mountains, I am trying to get out of the path of a train. My older sister let her weight get away from her and now is on meds for diabetes and heart disease. While my cholesterol and sugar levels are normal, I am aware that these things run in families and I have the responsibility and power to control their impact in my life. I thought my active life would be my "get out of middle age free card", but the genes found me in my jeans!

My workout is CORE strength training, and it is never the same workout twice. I love it because I never know what is coming next so the time flies and it is over before I have a chance to look at my watch.

My trainer hasn't offered any dietary advise, so I did consult a nutritionist. I am presently on a diet that focusses on high protein, high fiber, LOW FAT - and I feel like I am eating all the time. I went from a 2 - 3 meal a day routine to 3 small meals a day and 2 snacks. I never feel hungry and maybe that is why I am so concerned that it is not working. I am not counting the calories here - perhaps I should revisit that decision.

Typically I have an egg beater and a piece of 7 grain bread toast for breakfast I have a snack 2 1/2 hours later of 20 SoyJoy chips (love the BBQ). Lunches are difficult as I work in sales and often meetings are over lunch - I try to have a garden salad, light dressing and a protein (even if that protein is a spoon full of peanut butter in my car after the meeting). 2 1/2 hours later it is time for another snack, in the afternoon I like an apple and some peanut butter. Dinner is usually a piece of white meat (fish, chicken sometimes pork) on the grill and another salad. I do snack on 20 SoyJoy chips after dinner from time to time.

02-08-2009, 01:00 PM
Your diet sounds like it is probably on point. You are eating clean, but judging from the weight loss, you are probably at your maintenance level. That's good information to know because you have to have an accurate gauge of your maintenance in order to create a defecit.

As for affording the third day, I would ask the trainer to write you out a program that includes a day when you are training on your own. Many trainers will be glad to do this free of charge for you, others will add a small one-time fee but it is cheaper than a third in-person session.

CORE training means different things to different people. Some people only think abs, some abs and lower back, others include anything except arms and legs so heavy back work (upper and middle as well as lower) and lots of hip work are included. Can you remember the exercises you did over the last few workouts and list many of them? What is included now let's us know what we can recommend you add without jeopardizing your ability to recover from the workouts you are already doing.

In addition to your regular runs, I would suggest that add some interval running in as well. Can be sprints mixed with walks, faster runs mixed with jogs, or you can have some fun and pick your intervals at random. Perhaps as you run around your neighborhood, determine that anytime a neighbor waves at you, you will all-out sprint in the other direction. This is a great random way to vary your intensity (it may confuse the neighbors and cost you a few friends though, so you may only want to do this with the annoying ones).

Try to sneak in activity whenever you can. It doesn't have to be high intensity in order to burn a few extra calories.

You haven't gained on the program your on, so you've already stepped off the tracks to get out of the way of the speeding train. You'll get yourself going in the right direction soon. Stay positive and keep moving and you'll get there.

02-08-2009, 01:47 PM
I love the idea about the sprints, my neighbors will be puzzled! How funny!
My trainer doesn't seem to care about me outside the gym and the extent of her interaction with me outside of workout time is just scheduling the next workout. I am a big girl, so I try to learn from everything (including you here today - thanks!)

the last workout started by jacking up my heart rate
using a step I do up-up, down-down;
then I jumped rope

lunge squat lunge squat

I did pull-ups, and then rowing

ooo and the famous crawl across the floor on your hands and toes keeping your butt low; do 30 push-ups

kettle weight arm extended overhead walking tip toed and straight legged
then climbed a high step UP and DOWN with the kettle over head

sprint around the building - jacking up my heart rate
crunch plank crunch plank

I may be leaving a few things out, but we are basically reaching to hit big muscle groups because big muscle groups will burn the most calories

Thighs Be Gone
02-08-2009, 02:27 PM
I just wanted to say that the intervals are a really great idea. Your diet sounds good too. I have also started to "sneak" in activities in addition to a run. A couple of times a week I do Jillian Michaels 3day shred (it's 20 minutes and free on ON DEMAND). I also do things like running from the far parking lot to my daughter's school--it's a little ways. Bookfair is going on right now and I usually sign up to help with sales. This year I signed up for the setup--I knew there was lots of lifting and moving. Yesterday our housekeeper came to clean the upstairs. I decided I was going to clean too--LOL--we had fun although she was a bit puzzled! :)

ETA: I also think you should be proud of your three pounds in five weeks. At your weight, it is much more difficult to drop than say, if you were 50 pounds up. So congratulations on your achievements thus far. I look forward to reading about your continued progress.

02-08-2009, 03:25 PM
I'm not a PT, nor do I play one on TV, but if you're used to running long distances, I can't see 2 miles being much more than a warm-up. Sounds like you're eating is on track, so I'd amp up the exercise. If you want to keep running 2 miles a day, I'd just call that my warm-up, then get busy with the workout part. Your session with your PT sounds like a good cardio workout, but I'd look for something to do the rest of the week. For some shock and awe, try a spin class, elliptical, yoga, or mix up the running, as Depalma said, with some sprints one day, a long slow run, hill sprints, your best 5K, etc. Crossfit(dotcom) is a great site for ideas in the shock and awe department. Are you doing squats with a barbell, or bodyweight/little hand weights? If it's the latter, you might consider some actual weight lifting. New Rules of Lifting is a good book to check out for that (there's also one with "for Women" added to the title, and either is a good intro to lifting). If you're struggling with the bodyweight exercises, though, then it doesn't hurt to do that for a while before you look at adding weight with a barbell. Good luck to you, and have fun with your workouts. :)

Oh, and :wel3fc:

02-08-2009, 09:23 PM
lunges, squats, pullups, planks, weighted step ups, rows, pushups... I like it! I like it alot!

Instead of investing a third session, I'd first take that money and invest in a set of adjustable dumbells and replicate some of what she has shown you unless you can afford both. The dumbells will be around longer than the trainer. I would still push her to write you up something that you can do on your own for the third day, but if she won't, Come up with a simple total body exercise pulling from the exercises you have been taught and can do with good form.

Choose 1 each of:

A squat variation
A deadlift variation (if she has not shown you any yet, substitute a lunge here)
A pushing movement (some type of pushup or a press)
A pulling movement (some type of row, pullup if available to you at home, or a dumbell pullover)
A single leg movement ( step ups, lunges, etc)
One or two core exercises (planks, rollouts, reverse crunches, etc)

This will give you a good balance workout and since your other two days are total body workouts this will fit right in. Vary the exercise choices every 3rd or 4th week but choose from the same movement types. For starters choose a basic rep range of 8-12 reps for 2 to 3 sets per movement to start. This will give you a good blend of strength and hypertrophy.

Anyways, it sounds like you are working hard and it does appear she is giving you a nice program for the time you are together.