Weight and Resistance Training - Need workout help




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ShannonM
12-06-2005, 08:19 AM
I am exhausted. I'm working 70 hours/week this month. Eating (except for this weekend) has been pretty good, because I keep it clean and simple when I'm at work and I'm too tired to eat junk when I get home. My problem is with the lifting side of things. I am finding I simply do not have the strength to get through a workout like I used to. (I think I've lost a lot of strength over the past few months anyway, but that's another story.)

My interest right now is in fat loss - I can get back to strength training later, when life isn't so crazy - and I'm wondering if anyone can suggest some lifting ideas that will help me lose fat and not put such a complete and total tax on my system that I am wiped out after 3x10 with a moderate weight. (Yeah, that happened the other night, and yeah, I actually cried out of sheer frustration.)

Do I just need to drop the poundage? Get away from the compound stuff and do higher-rep isolation work for mass-building? (Though I'm skeptical as to whether I can actually build mass right now, given the fact that I don't eat much, can't recover from workouts, and get what seems like not nearly enough sleep.) Working less and/or sleeping more are not options. 30 hours/week of this is OT and we need it badly. I cannot drop the workouts because I will gain fat like a fiend, and I'm not willing to settle for maintenance. It's the holidays, for God's sake, and the only way I'll get through them without gaining weight is to make it my goal to lose weight.

I'm not trying to gripe, y'all. I'm just so :tired:


RobertW
12-06-2005, 09:58 AM
Do I just need to drop the poundage? Get away from the compound stuff and do higher-rep isolation work for mass-building? (Though I'm skeptical as to whether I can actually build mass right now, given the fact that I don't eat much, can't recover from workouts, and get what seems like not nearly enough sleep.) Working less and/or sleeping more are not options. 30 hours/week of this is OT and we need it badly. I cannot drop the workouts because I will gain fat like a fiend, and I'm not willing to settle for maintenance. It's the holidays, for God's sake, and the only way I'll get through them without gaining weight is to make it my goal to lose weight.

I'm not trying to gripe, y'all. I'm just so :tired:

Sounds like you might be overtraining. I find high rep work (7 reps/set+) is very hard for me when I am following a restrictive diet.

Have you tried a lower rep scheme (5x5 or even 6x3)? I do a lot of ladders (1/2/3/1/2/3/1/2/3) with something like 85% 1RM or 6x3 with 75%. You don't want to approach failure on the lower rep stuff because it is really taxing on your recovery especially during a diet.

I have dropped 70# in the past year with only a 5-10% strength loss training this way. Exercises I am not really training (such as benchpress are really suffering, however). I am trying to train frequently and avoid failure in an effort to hold onto as much muscle as possible while I am following this restrictive diet. I am still hoping to hit my end of December goal of weighng in at 275#.

ShannonM
12-06-2005, 10:05 AM
Have you tried a lower rep scheme (5x5 or even 6x3)?

Yes. I just switched away from a 5x5 because it was wearing me out. In fact, rep scheme notwithstanding, I am now struggling with 50% of my 1RM. So I don't really know what options I'm left with.


RobertW
12-06-2005, 10:47 AM
Yes. I just switched away from a 5x5 because it was wearing me out. In fact, rep scheme notwithstanding, I am now struggling with 50% of my 1RM. So I don't really know what options I'm left with.

Drop the weight and work on Dynamic effort for a while? If that is no good I would try a bit of a layoff with a diet you can recover on.

Do you think your problem is your nervous system being exhausted? If so maybe all you can do is take break from the weights.

WaterRat
12-06-2005, 12:57 PM
Can you take a week off from lifting? It sounds like you really are just plain exhausted! Mentally and physically. I've been able to take a week off, and come back to lifting at the same level or a little more. I've also been reading a lot lately that getting enough sleep aids in weight loss! I think I'd try a week of eating well and getting enough sleep, then go back to exercising. Give your self a mini-break. :)

Elanajel
12-06-2005, 02:07 PM
I agree about taking a break. Since there's so much stress in your life, you don't want to get sick and completely conk out, esp. at this time of year.

You could do low-key core and abs. work at home.

Hope this helps.

ShannonM
12-06-2005, 02:41 PM
I hear what y'all are saying, and a rest is soooo tempting. But my workouts help keep me on track mentally, which means I'm better able to resist holiday food temptations. I am mortally afraid of gaining weight if I cut the workouts back or take a break from them, not only because I won't be burning as many calories but also because I tend to become undisciplined with my eating when I let my workouts slide.

I dunno. Maybe a break would help me mentally in other ways, which could in turn help me keep my willpower in place. (I tend to pig out when I'm stressed.)

Bah humbug. :devil:

RobertW
12-06-2005, 03:04 PM
Then i would knock the intensity way back and increase the frequency/volume. It is the high % of 1RM stuff done to the brink of failure work that really overtrains you.

I do abbreviated work (4 or so lifts) two to three times a week and completely avoid failure while I am dieting.

I have been thinking about alternating bodyweight exercises (push-ups etc) and rowing with my weight training over the next month while I am trying to drop weight at a rapid pace. I figure that I should train very frequently to prevent muscle loss while I am dieting, and the light workouts should help give my body a better chance to recover.

Mel
12-06-2005, 04:54 PM
Hi Shannon :wave:
I agree with everyone above: you are just too exhausted and need a break, however, I also personally share your fear about resting. What I've done when I get into that state and need a break, is to switch to very different workouts for a week. Two weeks ago, I abandonned my usual 5 day split, and did 3 full body workouts, one spinning class, and a "body pump" class. It's not true physical rest, but it's a great mental break and a whole lot easier on my body than my usual workouts. If you keep your food clean as usual, you shouldn't gain or lose strength. I came back stronger, looking forward to my lifting workouts.

The other suggestion I'd make (after you get a little rest ;) ) is that if your goal really is fat loss at this point, pick up the pace of your workouts. Do lots of supersets and keep it moving. Don't worry about going for personal bests on any lift. Maximum time under tension and keeping your heart rate high throughout your workout seems to work best for weight loss.

Mel

ShannonM
12-06-2005, 06:09 PM
Mel - :thanks: Let me make sure I've got my terms straight:

- time under tension does not equal superslow, right?

- by supersetting you mean alternating something like a set of squats with a set of DLs or a set of bench press with a set of military press?

And if I need to drop the weight quite a bit, which I think I do, then that's okay for now, right?

RobertW
12-06-2005, 06:21 PM
Mel - :thanks: Let me make sure I've got my terms straight:

- time under tension does not equal superslow, right?

- by supersetting you mean alternating something like a set of squats with a set of DLs or a set of bench press with a set of military press?

And if I need to drop the weight quite a bit, which I think I do, then that's okay for now, right?

You can also achieve TUT with lots of volume. 10x10, drop sets etc. That stuff is still to advanced for me.

I think the idea behind supersets would be to train two opposing muscle groups without rest in between, IIRC from my reading of Muscle&Fitness back in the '80's. So you would superset a row and a press not two different presses. Advanced bodybuilder training IMHO.

Why do you think you need to lose 10#? 125# sounds like an ideal weight for a non-lifter or a "ripped" bodybuilder. Maybe you should focus on being leaner at 135# rather than dieting down to 125#.

Do you have an idea of what your bodyfat% is? I am planning on really slowing down on my diet when i get under 20% bodyfat.

ShannonM
12-06-2005, 06:29 PM
It's just vanity. I have this continual tension between wanting to be strong and wanting to look a certain way, and at the moment I'd rather be a comfortable size 4 again than a snug size 6, even if I am a bit stronger this way. If I were able to get serious about the weight training I could probably hit the size goal without dropping the weight, but that's an issue of lack of resources.

I'm not sure on the bf thing. Earlier this year (when I weighed 125), I had a 3-point caliper measurement taken (those are not the most accurate, I know) that came out to 14%. I personally think it's closer to 17-18%, especially considering the weight gain.

RobertW
12-07-2005, 08:52 AM
If I were able to get serious about the weight training I could probably hit the size goal without dropping the weight, but that's an issue of lack of resources.

I'm not sure on the bf thing. Earlier this year (when I weighed 125), I had a 3-point caliper measurement taken (those are not the most accurate, I know) that came out to 14%. I personally think it's closer to 17-18%, especially considering the weight gain.

I think you are getting too thin. What is the average woman? 25% bodyfat?
Your percentage is lower than most men's.

If you really want to be a size four just step up your diet and cardio and eas off the weight training, but I counsel against it. Regaining all that hard won muscle might not be so easy, especially if you are really going to lean out to a super low bodyfat

ShannonM
12-07-2005, 02:13 PM
I think you are getting too thin.

You couldn't know that without knowing what I look like. People can carry the same body fat percentages in vastly different ways.

What is the average woman? 25% bodyfat?

If the average woman is 25% body fat, she's in the red zone.That's not where I'm trying to be.

If you really want to be a size four just step up your diet and cardio and eas off the weight training

Did you miss the part where I said my metabolism works in just the opposite way - responding better to weight training than cardio?

(Not to restart the whole debate - I'm just speaking for myself.)

I counsel against it

I in turn would counsel against eating only 1500 calories, over half of them at one meal...but that's your choice.

I think it's possible to gain lean mass without gaining fat, provided the eating is strictly regimented. But again, that's not my priority right now.

Sashenka
12-07-2005, 02:25 PM
Shannon,
Apart from advice - how is your iron, did you check your hormons if youa re exhausted (I had both cases and i fainted once during work and my iron was 0!!!) - another advice about your workout routine. Why don't you take it easy and try pilates and yoga for one week? Even though they are not cardion - however I noticed that they still keep your mind clear and even though it seems like "no sweat" workout, you are in the regime of exercising - not taking break from exercise. And also hatha yoga CAN be challenging and you can pick up videos OR DVDs in your library.

Yoga and pilates week is what I do as a week of break.
Sandy.

ShannonM
12-07-2005, 02:36 PM
Apart from advice - how is your iron, did you check your hormons if youa re exhausted (I had both cases and i fainted once during work and my iron was 0!!!)

Wow, good point. I nearly fainted the other day, and it certainly could be low iron because I've had that problem in the past. Thanks.

RobertW
12-07-2005, 02:45 PM
in turn would counsel against eating only 1500 calories, over half of them at one meal...but that's your choice.



So far my reptilian eating habits are working for me, but I think it would work poorly for a thinner person. Now if my workout poundages went south I would try something more conventional...

In fact I am planning on bumping up the calories to Lean bodymassx15/day as of January 1st. I figure my margin of error will get smaller and smaller as I approach my goal of 10% bodyfat.

You couldn't know that without knowing what I look like. People can carry the same body fat percentages in vastly different ways.



Definitely true, but women tend to think they should be lighter than they really should be and men heavier. I have found the "Ideal bodyweight Calculator" to be uncannily accurate for me thus far: http://www.halls.md/ideal-weight/body.htm My own perception of my ideal weight has dropped the more weight I have lost at exactly the predicted rate.

Essential Body Fat -- For the body to function normally and healthily a certain amount of body fat is required. This is called essential fat. For women the average amount of essential fat is 12% of bodyweight and for men it is 3%.

At 14-18% you are barely out of the unhealthfully lean range.

Does anybody that actually knows you think you are too fat?

ShannonM
12-07-2005, 04:13 PM
In fact I am planning on bumping up the calories to Lean bodymassx15/day as of January 1st.

Have you thought about throwing in some zig-zag? Maybe alternating low and high calorie intake every other day or every few days? (Not that you need to - just an idea.)

women tend to think they should be lighter than they really should be and men heavier

That bodyweight calculator listed my perceived ideal weight as 127...where I've been before and am trying to get back to. The "healthy" range given was anywhere from 114-150. I guess at this point you just have to know what weight looks best on your frame. 150 might be considered healthy for my height, but no way does it look right on me.

Does anybody that actually knows you think you are too fat?

No, and I don't think I'm fat either. That wasn't the issue.

Mel
12-07-2005, 04:42 PM
Robert, the charts that come with Tanita scales and other body fat charts are way different than the classifications used by American Council on Exercise.
ACE classifications for WOMEN are:
Body Fat Guidelines from American Council on Exercise
Classification Women (% Fat) Men (% Fat)
Essential Fat 10-12 percent 2-4 percent
Athletes 14-20 percent 6-13 percent
Fitness 21-24 percent 14-17 percent
Acceptable 25-31 percent 18-25 percent

Over 31% for women is considered obese, though in my experience it can also be classified as "undermuscled".

IMO, women with a lot of muscle generally aim for lower body fat levels because they feel thick with an "acceptable" layer of fat over hypertrophied muscles.

The average woman may be 25% (or greater!) but she's usually quite undermuscled.

Shannon- Every once in a while I take 1/2 and iron tablet. If you tend to live on chicken, egg whites, cottage cheese, fish, turkey, etc, you really may need an iron boost!

RobertW
12-07-2005, 04:53 PM
Have you thought about throwing in some zig-zag? Maybe alternating low and high calorie intake every other day or every few days? (Not that you need to - just an idea.)

Yes. I should have written "averaging 15xLBM/day". I think mixing it up is important.



That bodyweight calculator listed my perceived ideal weight as 127...where I've been before and am trying to get back to. The "healthy" range given was anywhere from 114-150. I guess at this point you just have to know what weight looks best on your frame. 150 might be considered healthy for my height, but no way does it look right on me.



No, and I don't think I'm fat either. That wasn't the issue.

Hmm. If you are not too fat than I guess those "excess" pounds are muscle.

There is nothing wrong with being 125#, but it might make hitting strength goals a lot more difficult if you have a super low bodyfat percentage. Cheryl Zovich believes that she really hindered her bodybuilding career by leaning out for too many contests too soon.

I think body image issues are very tricky. In my case I am always shocked when I see pictures of myself at how I fat I still am. My mental image of myself is out of whack by a good 30#.

Mel,
What range of bodyfat would you recommend for men and women looking to build muscle?

Mel
12-07-2005, 04:57 PM
Ah- back to the original workout question...
Time under tension would technically include super-slooooow, but having tried that I think it's a waste of time. I'd go the higher reps route. Super-sets can mean different thing. Either opposing muscle groups, or the same muscle group to pre-exhaust or burn outthe muscle. I like to do same muscle group sets. For example, I'll do dumbell chest presses, then as many pushups as I ca do, with no rest between the exercises. For legs, I'll superset a balance or plyomentric exercise with a pure strength exercise, such as leg press or squats, supersetted with something like vertical jumps onto a platform, or one legged bosu squats.

Mel

ShannonM
12-07-2005, 06:34 PM
Mel, thanks for the exercise ideas. I was looking for a way to incorporate some new stuff.

I think body image issues are very tricky.

Why would you assume that I have body image issues just because I want to lose a bit more weight? I don't really get where all this is coming from. I looked fine at 125 - healthy, toned, and thin within reason. Why all the concern?

Mel
12-07-2005, 07:36 PM
Robert- Body fat and muscle building are two separate issues. If you strictly are interested in building muscle, don't restrict calories, and don't starve your muscles for more than 3-4 hours. If you are aiming to lose fat, I can't recommend a body fat level other than the charts above and telling you that it's a personal decision based on how you want to look and what you are willing to do to maintain the look. Personally, I liked myself best at about 14% body fat, but I couldn't live that way for very long without it becoming my full-time job.

Some people can maintain at the lower ends of the br ranges quite easily and still keep their muscle, but I don't think those people are frequenting 3FC! ;)

Mel

RobertW
12-08-2005, 09:06 AM
Why would you assume that I have body image issues just because I want to lose a bit more weight? I don't really get where all this is coming from. I looked fine at 125 - healthy, toned, and thin within reason. Why all the concern?

Because virtually EVERYONE has them. I know I do, and I could clearly see from playing with that "Ideal BWT" calculator that my perceptions about weight, in spite of my above average lean bodymass, were right in line with most men of my weight, age and height. When I was 385# I thought 287# would be a reasonable weight, now at 290# I am thinking 242# and the calculator is saying most people picked 239#. At 242# the calculator came up with 214# which is definitely too light for me (at 227# LBM), so at that point, if I don't break from the trend i am definitely having bodyimage issues IMHO. I am sure I could be a very healthy 214#'er if I really wanted to be, but I do think that I would have to fight my body very hard to be so light, and I would be sacrificing an awful lot of muscle.

If your plan is to stay in the midteens for bodyfat at a weight 10# lighter that is fine. There are certainly 6' tall fashion models weighing less than 125#.

Mel,
I was think along the lines of a reasonable BF% to try to build muscle at, but i am sure you are right and i can't know until I try. Hopefully I can really gain muscle at a bodyfat level I am happy with, say 10%?. It would be nice to have lean 18" arms, but dissapointing if I have to look like I don't lift while I make the required gains.

ShannonM
12-08-2005, 04:26 PM
There are certainly 6' tall fashion models weighing less than 125#.

Sigh.

They look anorexic, yeah? Now picture 125# on someone seven inches shorter. Not anorexic so much.

I will concede that if I could get back the size 4 I had, I wouldn't give the least about the numbers on the scale.

RobertW
12-08-2005, 04:40 PM
I will concede that if I could get back the size 4 I had, I wouldn't give the least about the numbers on the scale.

I think that is a better goal. For me the goal is a low enough fat to see my abs. The number on the scale doesn't matter, although I am guessing it will be in the 240's.

ShannonM
12-08-2005, 05:01 PM
How tall are you anyway?

RobertW
12-08-2005, 05:16 PM
How tall are you anyway?

6'4".

ellenuw
12-11-2005, 11:17 AM
Shannon - to get back to an earlier suggestion: I am in the yoga bandwagon, and about to climb back on it myself. I was my strongest and leanest when I was doing Vinyasa (or "Flow") 2x a week (in addition to my regular strength and cardio workouts) and have signed myself up to start again (tomorrow, in fact). Yes, it is a great mind clearing activity, but my instructor is also at PT at my gym (though not my PT) and the results are amazing. Find a local class to get a feel for the positions. Around here you can "drop in" on a class for under $20. If you are into DVDs I recommend Baron Baptiste or Shiva Ray. Try out different ones from the library or Netflicks (this is an expensive season, after all). What ever you do, stay away from Iyeager if you want to build strength. For me, it just made me sore and I was bored to tears. I need motion and activity. And look at the arms and backs of some women yogis. Wow, I can only dream ...