Monday, March 09, 2009

In the gym

We were discussing weight and BMI at work and the secretary who has named me Tigger was pretty adamant that that I was at least 2kg too skinny. I thought about it for a while and decided she was right so I'd set up a gym at home and see if I could put on a couple of kg of muscle, rather than fat. In general all of my exercise is opportunist at the moment. So here's the gym:

I can just lift one end of this railway sleeper and lever it to above my head. My workouts consist of moving moving it about. I spend about 30-60 seconds a day doing this. Been doing it for about a week and, despite muscle gain, I've dropped below 64.0kg for the first time in ages. I'll give it a month and see how I feel. So much for using exercise to gain weight!



Jase said...

Cycling to work has added a solid dose of muscle to my legs, and I can even feel a slight increase around my abdominal area.

I do the occasional press-up routines 2-3 times per week followed by some deadlifts.

Im not hugely muscular but I can hold my own.

GK said...

"30-60 seconds a day"?! Such endurance! (I think you meant minutes...)

Seriously, Peter, we're the same age (getting on, eh?), and if you're anything like me, putting on muscle mass is really hard.

When I went Paleo two years ago, I went from 155lbs to 140lbs. I have also been told I am too skinny.

Then pleased with my new extra-lean body, I rejoined the Y. Over the next year I drifted up to 146 where I've settled, BMI=20.4. And I'm sure I eat more protein than you...

Steroids, anyone?

Mark said...

Here's my understanding of gaining weight from exercise.

Exercise burns calories. So you lose weight.

Exercise influences certain hormones so that body composition changes more towards muscle and less towards fat.

Most people are stressed and produce too much adrenaline, cortisol. By working out, you increase these hormones. So if you workout, avoid aerobic exercise that is strenuous. And if you are stressed out too much, then really cut the intensity of your workouts.

If you do exercises that promote the production of the fast twitch muscle fibers, then you will have more dense muscles. You will look smaller for the same weight overall and muscle mass.

If you do exercises that promote muscle composition towards slow twitch muscle fibers, then you will have more poofy, less dense muscles with an increased blood volume overall for these more aerobic muscle fibers.


Unknown said...

Maybe you should try 2 minutes every other day. Muscles don't grow in the gym.

Peter said...

Hi Jase,

I currently have the strength to do whatever I want around the house, so yes, pumping iron is not for me. A little more muscle might be nice though. Aesthetics, vanity, you know the stuff...

GK, no it's definitely minutes. I was looking to lift something just on my limits, a few times, then go off and do other stuff. Time in the gym is at a premium! The sleeper is getting progressively easier but luckily I've got a heavier one up the garden for when I need it!

Mark, I've been careful not to burn any significant calories, I was aiming to stress my muscles occasionally and see what happened. I wasn't expecting the weight drop but with easy access to fat even without calorie burning, I guess what muscle I've gained has a higher metabolic rate compared to fat and has used a few calories on the quiet...

Nonegiven, I can see that it will end up that way as exercise fits in around late shifts. Really nice to have it light here in the UK to 6pm (unless you live up North, Chris).


Jason said...

Jason - G&T W. Lodge. The trainers at my gym have put me on a high weight low rep workout, this is working for me with loads of muscle going on. What do you think of this method - applied to your sleeper: lift 8 times in the same way, rest 30 seconds - then repeat process twice more - making 3 sets of 'reps'. If this does not test you to the limit increase the weight not the reps. The trainers reason that high reps will induce high cardio vascular activity - burning fat- which is a resource your body will need if you are bulking up muscle - is there any truth in this? Not sure if you can work out enough muscle groups in a balanced way by only using a sleeper for any length of time - might end up looking a little out of proportion!
I've also been told to eat a high protien diet to add muscle bulk in conjunction with this workout, but what is the safest way to do this - loads of pasture fed steak? As I'm worried about the high amount of cheese (from unpasturised milk), cream and butter (pasturised)I'm eating at the moment to keep the fat and protien intake up.
Also I've been told that working out in the morning (I can only fit gym in by going at 6.30am) stimulates endorphin production, whereas evening workout causes a different, tired feeling hormonal reaction in the body - is this true? It certainly feels like it is.

Bryan - oz4caster said...

Working out with that lumber looks like a great way to get splinters! But at least you should get more muscle mass in your arms and chest, whether or not you gain weight. My spring-summer-fall workout is with lawn mower, weed wacker, and hedge trimmers :)

Chris said...

It is getting lighter here too....I can't wait until May and June though when it hardly gets dark - there is always a bit of light in the sky...

Peter said...

Hi Jason,

I don't really know much about exercise, I've heard that resistance exercise is what builds muscles and I have these railway sleepers lying around. There's no time to do anything sustained, let alone get to the nearest gym. Like Bryan I do loads of low grade workouts with a fork or spade and tend to jump the stairgate rather than opening it (on the way down!) but none of these builds muscle. Two weeks surfing does, very markedly, but that's not on the cards in the near future!


Markus said...

i follow the high fat low carb option. i have been on too much alcohol for decades, now i have given it up for 6 of 7 days a week.. normally i lose about an inch (i'm not fat but have a small spare tyre). after 6 weeks i have lost an inch - but the pace is painfully slow and i want to get "ripped". i eat one small meal a day and three coffees with cream. should i live off water and vitamins for a while to get 5% body fat?
because my carbs are now very low - i do not get much hunger pangs...
i am 50 years old


Peter said...

Marcus, I'm just a total amateur at muscle building. Lots of folks out there who know far more than I do. Chris (of the increasing daylight length) is a good portal at Conditioning Research...


Brad Reid said...

Mark Allen makes some good points here about exercise:

In summary, he discovered he was training too hard to use fat as the primary source of fuel, so a coach had him adjust his workload.

At the very end of the article, he claims this was an adjustment Lance Armstrong used to train post cancer for his bike races. In his case, his body couldn't hold up to the more rigorous over-training regimens common to that sport.

Well, this approach seems very reasonable to me, that the cardio-type work should be sort of like power walking as our ancestors likely engaged in over their lives... following grazing herbivores around.

This activity can be maintained using fat as the preferred fuel. Then, too, the occasional sprint or brief heavy lifting episodes, but this would be easily fueled by the available glycogen stores in our muscles.

This all sort of ties exercise in with the same genetic predisposition we have to certain food preferences. And, it sort of solves the issue of the constant inflammation one suffers from too much of the wrong kind of exercise.

Interesting... Cheers! Brad

Mark said...

Brad (JB), thanks for the reply.

Would like to reply with a more thorough read of the article, but I am rushing to get things done for tomorrow for school.

I used to work in a running store and remember all the aches and injuries that the long distance and marathon guys would come in with. They rarely ever looked vibrant, either. They all ate high carb diets and fueled up on those powergel things.

Just want to let you know I see the reply and appreciate it.


Unknown said...

I don't know much about exercise, but I have kept my carbs fairly low for about five years plus or minus. I don't go out of my way to eat fat although I eat more of it than I used to... like using half n half in my coffee. Initially I got about 25 lbs off in three months without any effort and sitting most of the time in front of my computer. I've upped my carbs a little now and I probably gained a couple pounds, but I still feel good and I'm still wearing a size lower. I get my vitamin C and others from vitamin pills. Just my two cents. I'm 61 now and since I lost the weight I was diagnosed with RRMS almost 3 1/2 years ago.

Peter said...

Hi itsara,

Just out of unforgivable curiosity, do you have the sinusitis connection? Are you grain free/legume free? What sort of time scale does your problem cycle on?


Anna said...

Hey Peter - going to post before and after pics? Pecs?

My husband and I have more recently noticed the effects of aging and change in activity level -some gradual loss of lean muscle mass, even if weight doesn't change, despite our low carb, low or no grain, high fat diet (well, I stick to it a bit more than he does). So it was time to put some work into not losing more muscle, and hopefully gaining some, if for nothing else than to avoid being weak old exercise haters with lousy balance and potential for injury (both of us like exercising for the sake of exercise as about as much as having a tooth pulled). It's not that we are especially sedentary, but I guess we aren't as active as we used to be, not to mention the hormones aren't either, but that's another story...

Plus there's a meeting at a ski resort coming up and it's been two years since we've done any skiing (and that last time I thought maybe I wasn't really fit enough to be safely skiing anymore).

So late January I went to the local YMCA's personal fitness center for their 12 wk class (at the "alternate" gym room for seniors, lapsed exercisers (like me), and rehabilitation folks), but I dropped out after only one session with a really bad attitude about their way to increase fitness; they are still spouting the same ineffective chronic cardio baloney they were spouting 5 years ago when I saw the light and quit, but now there are even more cardio machines and fancier flat screen TVs tuned to channels I hate watching. My thoughts about it have changed so much I can't, won't do it that way.

I had the Hahn/Eades Slow Burn book with me at my first workout session, wanting to do that kind of workout (I wanted help adjusting the machine seats, etc.), but they patted me on the hand and said they'd take care of me...after two hours I finished their recommended workout (only 3 weight machines and mostly treadmill and recumbent stationary bike - I just about fell asleep), so I left and didn't go back. I wasn't going to waste 6+ hours of my week doing stuff I figured would damage my joints more than it would build muscle when I knew there was another, more practical, efficient way.

Instead I right away the home version in the Slow Burn book and I really like it (that's saying something for someone who really hates exercise routines). 30 minutes, twice a week, using a kitchen timer, some rolled up towels, a sturdy stool, an adjustable ankle weight, and a few dumbbells. My weight and eating habits are about the same, but I can see some spare fat loss in the middle and I feel stronger overall. The swelling in my lower legs after a long day on my feet is reduced, too, and it's only been since the end of January.

The second week I had to resist the urge to do the routine more than twice a week, so that's a complete switch for me.

My husband just had a hernia repair surgery last month, so he started the exercises just last week. But I encouraged him to do about a third of the exercises that wouldn't strain the hernia/repair before and not too long after the surgery, so he didn't lose more muscle "protecting" the hernia site. He's now just able to do all the exercises wthout undue strain and he's finding it's easier to fit this into his schedule than he thought.

This technique has a very effective return for the effort put in. Slow Burn is one of the super slow, low rep methods. I can't believe how long I've had this book, but never got around to putting it into practice (I did read it when I got it and found it full of sound info). I also like that all the "equipment" I already had (except the ankle weight, and I quickly needed another heavier one) and it all fits in a small cabinet in the family room. Easy to get out, use, and put away, sort of like that railroad timber...

Chris said...

If you are interested in mimicing the hunter gatherer approach to exercise one of the most provoking and intelligent things I've read is Art DeVany's Evolutionary Fitness essay .

His analysis of movement patterns is great - the idea that animals all move according to a power law distribution. Lots of low intensity stuff - lounging around, easy walking - with a few hard high intensity stuff thrown in - think some hard sprints, heavy lifts.

What you do not get in nature is a half hour jog or 20 minutes on a stationary bike. It is lots of easy stuff with a few hard heavy bits thrown in.

You might also be interested in my interviews with Erwan and Tamir

Unknown said...

Hi Peter,

Thanks for your last reply to me re: amines. Yes, I have to let you all know that after 2 very bad weeks of bright red inflammed eyes and pouring sinus I read up on the amine link and decided I had to stop the zero carbs, high fat, protein I have been eating for 5 months. I couldn't even read a book my eyes were so sore. Against all my wishes I dropped all meat and fish completely, I don't have cheese or dairy anyway, all coffee and tea, all fats including the goose fat and beef fat and the olive oil. The whole lot had to go. I have had a week on white rice and plain white flesh of potato and Matzos- 100% wheat and water ! I know, you must all be groaning. But, thank god - the eyes have gone away and teh nose is no longer a pouring stream.

But of course - eating daily rice and potatos is not what i like at all.

I thought I would pass this on in case others are similarly affected by the high amine content of meat that has been hung or pre-packaged and tuna and sashimi and salmon, olive oil etc - all the terribly high amine foods I have been living off and also been frying which makes it even worse.

I hate to succumb to this but will have to make a very slow and careful switch back over to simple protein such as poached chicken and eggs. For now, I am stuck on the carbs only route for a few more days just to make sure I can clear the whole inflammation that was going on.

Don't others who eat the high protein and fat diet come across this problem?

It can't just be because I am immuncompromised. I am sure other people have experienced less than good reactions to constant meat and fats? I would be interested to know...

Peter said...

Hi Elizabeth,

Glad to hear you are making some progress and that the link to Emma's blog was useful.

Why a given person is food intolerant is a bit of a mystery to me. Emma feels it is largely genetic but that leaves me wondering why you were OK for years but are not OK now. I feel there must be more to it, but I've no idea what exactly goes on.

On the diet basis please bare in mind that you can live perfectly healthily on eggs and butter long term, not something which is possible on rice and potatoes, unless you are eating enough spuds to meet your protein needs (which Emma claims is possible, and she is usually correct, though it's not the way she eats).

Ultimately most people have a better mono amine oxidase than you, so dealt with amines quite easily.... Whether you were born this way or have lost MAO ability is an interesting question.

Good luck


Peter said...


I'm one of the least photogenic people I know!


Unknown said...

Thanks Peter for the comment - yes, eggs and buter are good except I can't cope with the butter! - Such fun - hence I am still trying to find other forms of low amine/ no dairy fats - the only one that seems to be OK is the Sunflower oil - not one you guys favour I know!

Thanks again for your feedback on the last post.

Peter said...


Unknown said...

Interesting article. I have always read the opposite:

That we were designed for long distance running.

Unknown said...

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