Am I wasting my time?


Old 05-14-2012, 04:59 PM
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Default Am I wasting my time?

I have tried to keep fit all my life (almost 55 now), having played rugby and football (soccer) until five years ago, when yet another knee injury ended my career, such as it was! I was an enthusiastic amateur and have what I can best describe as "an amateur rugby player's physique", ie I'm a big guy, not fat, but definitely not toned either. I'm 6'2" and havealways floated between 16.5-18 stone (approx 231 - 252 lbs). I realise that's a big swing, but I can carry extra weight without it being noticeable, so it creeps up, then I lose it.

Since I gave up sports, I have stepped up the gym work. I can't run (total knee replacement surgery last year), but my regime has been more or less the same for some twelve years - I'd say I average four or five visits per week, spending about an hour, hour and a quarter. I do a fifteen minute stationary cycle, then fifty squats with a large ball behind me (leaning against a wall - something I started doing after the knee op) - then four exercises on machines (arm curls, pec deck, overhead pull-downs and a sort of sitting-upright chest press - I do 3 x 10 reps of each).

I don't exert myself such that I'm grunting and straining (I go to the gym alone, and am a bit self conscious!), but I do increase the weight as it becomes easier. I then do five minutes cross trainer and finally another fifteen minutes on the cycle. The reasons for two sessions on the bike are that I feel it's aerobic and seems to get me sweating, something I want to do for weight-loss. I also read on the bike, so I find that therapeutic.

I never kidded myself that I had a great physique, but I saw a video of myself in just shorts the other day and was surprised at how poor I do look. Man boobs, flab around the waist, very little definition in the biceps - my shoulders look OK and my legs and butt are well toned (though my legs are not very big for someone of my size). Looking in the mirror you can kid yourself a little, but the video was very revealing.

So my question is - what have I actually been doing for twelve years in the gym? I eat reasonably healthy, though I love my food and have a sweet tooth. I'm permanently on a diet but occasionally fall off the wagon.

Can anyone recommend a change in my regime that might bring about visible results? I am a creature of habit and have been very comfortable in my routine for years - I'm either reading or listening to music in the gym so I enjoy the act of actually getting up and going there.

I'd appreciate any help.
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Old 05-14-2012, 10:46 PM
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The road to fitness starts in the kitchen and ends at the gym.

Sorry to see that you aren't quite meeting your goals. But don't give up now! You know what it is like to be fit, so you just need to make a couple of adjustments to get back to the body you had before.

Try dropping the sweets first. I know it is hard, but you know what they are doing to your body. Then work on reducing the processed sugars and grains. I don't think you need to eliminate them totally, just think of them as periodic treats. Finally go for whole foods: fruits, veggies, eggs and other unprocesses protein sources.

I bet with a little tweeking of your diet the next video of yourself will be much more to your liking. (Although some of us never like seeing ourselves on video - no matter what our size )
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Old 05-16-2012, 03:13 PM
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Thanks very much for the reply Pam. I'm not too bad with the sweets - all my treats now are "diet" ones, albeit I know they can be deceptively unhealthy, but one step at a time! I can't imagine a day where I'm choosing an apple over a crunchy cereal bar but hope springs eternal...
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Old 05-16-2012, 07:48 PM
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I agree with PAM. You can't out train a bad diet. But I wonder if you are getting the most out of the time you spend at the gym? I realize you have a bad knee that will inhibit you some but in my opinion if you are going to go to the gym then get the most out of it. Sounds to me like your workouts are lackluster at best. Our bodies are also very good at adapting to what we ask them to do on a regular basis. If your routine doesn't change often your results will stagnate also.

If you are not working up a sweat with your weight lifting routine then you aren't lifting heavy enough. Increase the weight so you can only do 6 reps before you either can't perform the movement or you lose form. Continue to do 3 sets of each movement. Get off the machines and perform the movements you can with free weights whenever possible. (Even bench press movements can be done with dumbells instead of a barbell if you don't have a spotter.) Machines are good but using free weights recruits other core/support muscles to stabilize yourself. Superset your exercises when possible (2 or 3 different lifts that work different muscle groups) moving from one exercise to the next allowing only enough time to reposition or change the weights. This builds a aerobic component into your weight routine. If you aren't breathing hard and sweating you aren't getting the most out of your workout.

Visit a site like or Riptoes to get ideas on changing your routine, alternative exercises and split schedules. I think you will be pleased with the results an increase in your intensity will bring. Good luck!
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Old 05-18-2012, 10:12 PM
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Default Thanks Ron

That's really constructive, just the kind of thing I was looking for. I'll definitely take your advice on board - moving to free weights might be tough as my gym doesn't have a huge selection and they tend to get monopolised at busy times, but still, many thanks for taking the time and trouble.
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