Monday, April 16, 2012

Fat Loss, Minus the Cardio: Weeks 3 & 4

Thought I would include a little FAQ with this post to address some common questions:

1) What's the point of doing this without any cardio?  Won't that be detrimental to your progress? 

I named a few reasons why in the first post, but it'll be good to get all of this in the FAQ.  I'm doing this with no cardio because: 

  • I would like to make a point that cardio is not necessary to lose fat.
There is a common train of thought that strength training is what you use to gain muscle and strength, and cardio is what you do to lose fat.  
  • Strength training is an extremely useful tool for losing fat. 
This is great news if you're someone like me who can't stand being on a treadmill for much longer than 10 minutes!  Would including some cardio speed my efforts?  Probably, but not by enough that I would want to do so.  Plus, that would kind of ruin the point of this experiment.  

2) So are you saying that I shouldn't do cardio?  Isn't cardio good for your heart and cardiovascular health?

I'm definitely not saying that at all!  If you enjoy cardiovascular training - whether that be running, biking, swimming, hiking, whatever - I would never steer someone away from that.  It's definitely a good way to relieve stress, burn some extra calories and promote a healthy heart.  

I intend on doing some of this in the near future.

However, although my main points of this experiment are about body composition changes, there is another point that I'd like to make:
  • Both aerobic and resistance training promote good cardiovascular health.  It is not only cardio that reduces your chances of cardiovascular disease.  
Here are a few excerpts from a study done on the effects of aerobic and resistance training on cardiovascular health: 
"Contrary to the age old taboo of exercise in cardiac patients, resistance training has been gaining importance recently as a safe, healthy fitness option in prevention of cardiovascular diseases, the leading killer disease in the population above 45 years in the United States." 
"In young normotensives, after 8 weeks of weight training, resting heart rate reduced from 63.9 ± 8.9 to 58.8 ± 6.5, systolic blood pressure decreased considerably from 119.3 ± 13.4 to 114.8 ± 9.0, whereas diastolic pressure remained almost the same (Stone et al. 1983). Another study also showed similar BP lowering effects (systolic (131 vs. 126mmHg) and diastolic (79 vs. 75mmHg, P<0.010) after 6 months of strength training in older men and women having high-normal blood pressure (Martel et al. 1999)."
Taken from: Endurance Exercise and Resistance Training in Cardiovascular Disease, Naga Meka; Srikanth Katragadda; Biju Cherian; Rohit R. Arora : 

Low-intensity cardiovascular exercise, however, does have it's place in anyone's exercise program.  It helps your muscle tissue recover, preventing ongoing fatigue and soreness by cycling waste through your body and delivering more oxygen to your tissues.  Would this benefit me?  Of course!  But again, this experiment is about body recomposition. 

I also wrote a blog post about this subject on my company's blog, if you'd like a summary in more layman's terms.  

3) I took a look at your food log, and I'm seriously confused about your food choices.  A cheeseburger with bacon and a fried egg on top?  What kind of diet is this?

A delicious one.

I lost weight eating this.

4) Har har, no seriously.  What gives?  

There was a point in time during this diet where I simply stayed relatively within my caloric ranges while eating what would generally be considered crap.  It was fun for a while, but I'm going to be including more vegetables from now. (Except on weekends, which I'm still struggling with)  Here are the general guidelines of what I'm doing:
  • General caloric ranges - Training Days: ~1800 calories / Non-training Days and Deload Week: ~1600 calories.  
  • I'm not worrying about the timing of my meals.  I'll talk more extensively about this point in a later post, but in general I'm not eating breakfast unless I really feel like it.  Instead I eat a larger lunch / dinner. 
  • Limiting my carbohydrate intake in general and eating mostly meat / vegetables / fruits.  
And although I am a trainer and have a good general knowledge of nutrition, it doesn't mean I'm not human and prone to making bad decisions even though I know better.  My weekend eating is a prime example of this.  It's an ongoing process to try and develop some more self-control and learning how I can deal with situations where bad food presents itself.  

Those are the most common questions I've gotten about this - if I get anymore I'll add them to the list later on.  

Weight (As of 4/13/12): 167lbs 

First time I've been under 170 since probably the beginning of my junior year of college, so that's exciting.  

Pull-ups and push-ups are already feeling a lot easier, which is really what motivates me more than anything, as one of my New Year's resolutions was to do a bodyweight pull-up - no assistance!  My overhead press may, however, be going down or stalling, though that's to be expected.  

Irrelevant picture, but I like it.

I'm not seeing a lot of differences myself personally, but I have had positive comments from others.  And they say that others always notice before you do, right?

Workout Log, Weeks 3 & 4

Monday (4/2/12)
  • Squat: 45x5, 80x5, 100x5, 120x3, 150x5, 170x3, 190x2
  • Glute Bridge: 3x8x185lb
  • 1-L Squat: 3x5 each side
  • Cable Crunch: 3x8x125lb
Tuesday (4/3/12)
  • Bench Press: 45x5, 60x5, 75x3, 90x5, 105x3, 115x3
  • Pause Bench: 3x5x95lbs w/ 3s pause
  • Chin Up: 3x5 w/ assistance
  • 1-Arm DB Row: 3x8x40lb
Thursday (4/4/12) 
  • Overhead Press
Saturday (4/7/12)
  • Deadlift: 135x5, 135x3, 175x5, 195x3, 220x2
  • Box Squat: 45x10, 95x5, 135x5, 155x5, 3x8x185lb
  • 1-Leg DB Deadlift: 3x8 each side x40lbs
  • Burpees: 30s every minute for 5 minutes
Sunday (4/8/12)
  • Threw the frisbee for about an hour.
Monday (4/9/12)
  • Squat: 45x10, 80x5, 100x5, 120x5
  • Speed Squat: 6x2x100lb
  • BB Glute Bridge: 3x8x135lb
  • Plank: 3x30s
  • Sled Push: 2x15yd down and back x 185lb
Tuesday (4/10/12)
  • Inverted Rows x 5 Superset with Bench Press: 45x10, 50x5, 60x5, 75x5
  • Chin Up: 3x3
  • Band Pull Apart x 8 superset with Push Ups x 3
  • Rope Drills: 30 seconds every minute x 5
Wednesday (4/11/12)
  • Conditioning that I don't remember
Thursday (4/12/12)
  • Overhead Press
Friday (4/13/12)
  • Deadlift: 3x5x135
  • Box Squat: 3x5x135
  • 1-Leg KB Deadlift: 3x8x44lb
  • Hyperextension: 3x5x15lbx5s hold
Saturday (4/14/12)
  • Worked with Habitat for Humanity building a house for ~2 hours. 
  • Threw the frisbee for about an hour.
Sunday (4/15/12)
  • Threw frisbee for 30-45min