Losing Body Fat or Gaining Muscle Mass: Which is more important?

From Mark Rippetoe’s Starting Strength podcast.

I find this one interesting as I now weigh what I did 5 years ago, but my body composition is entirely different.  Yes, I dropped a lot of weight and now got back up there in a very good and different way.

It is not about weight on a scale!

Reviews and the gear I use in my training

Most of you know I talk about brands I love and have no sponsorship arrangements with anyone.  If I ever get a free gadget for review I will disclose it.  If I ever have a financial incentive to promote a product I will also let you know.

That said, I post screen shots from some of my workouts while wearing the Atlas Wearables 2 wristband.

I’ve now been working out with it for a full year and it has been an integral part of my training and progression.

I have no ties to the Atlas Wearables company but just wanted you to know this is one piece of gear that has become an invaluable tool in my training regimen.

Here is my original written review and my video review is directly below.

 
Buy now through my Amazon Affiliate link:
Atlas Wristband 2: Digital Trainer + Heart Rate Band

Summary for 2017

The results of my paddling and gym training for 2017.  I didn’t paddle nearly as much as I wanted to the second half of the year due to a drought so I stepped up the volume in the gym.

On to 2018.

2017training

Last week of the year in the gym

And boy was it a big one.

I had a couple days off from work and I planned a recovery week starting tomorrow so I hit it hard during the lead-up this past week.

Just over 191,000 lbs. total volume this week.  I would not recommend this type of training to anyone.

I’m now ready to enjoy the holidays and give every muscle and joint in my body time to rest and recover.

My shoulders will be in the best shape ever come paddling season in the Spring.

lastweek2017

New piece of gym equipment

I knew it was coming for weeks, but today it finally showed up.

My neighborhood fitness center finally installed a Smith machine so now I have a reasonable way to work heavier squats into my workouts once again.

squatrackThe new Smith Machine

I had been putting off joining a commercial gym since my local Gold’s Gym closed at the end of September and now it looks like I can save myself the monthly fee as the biggest reason I went to Gold’s was for the squat racks and dumbbells that go over 50lbs.

I had explored other gyms and was heavily leaning toward joining Snap Fitness but after I sent them an inquiry through their website link and not getting a response after 10 weeks, (I hate poor customer service and I only imagined if they were that bad before somebody joined it would only get worse after joining) I held off to see what my planned local gym expansion would bring me.

Tonight I had the answer.

The Smith machine has a low pulley in it for seated rows which is an added bonus as I had been using a different piece of equipment that had a 100lb. upper limit which was a bummer.

So now that I have ~85% of everything I need I see no reason to join a commercial gym.

And I can start incorporating squats and legs into just about every workout again.

My legs will hate me for a while but then they will love me.

12-14-17-bodyTonight’s workout was a bit more balanced


Time to start sneaking additional plates into the gym for “donation.”  😉

 

A good training day

I finally made it back out on the water today during a well-earned day off.

I managed to paddle 10 miles in the Thunderbolt-X kayak and took it easy so I only averaged 5.7mph.  It was a cold, breezy day so I had to wear a full wet suit which definitely constrains the natural paddling motion.

Nonetheless, it was an extremely enjoyable paddle and the water was clear as crystal.  I also spotted a flock of turkeys on shore which was a bonus.

12-8-17_kayakTaking the Thunderbolt-X out for a spin with full wet suit


Then after attacking an item or two on the “honey do” list, I dropped off my son and his friend for basketball practice this evening and hit the gym while they were at practice.  It wasn’t my typical #MFN (massive Friday night) workout, but I managed some good volume in a somewhat crowded gym for a Friday night.  Usually I can have the place to myself on a Friday night but not tonight.

12-8-18_Atlas

I focused on bent over rows and flies and worked in some squats.

It was a good training day.

Oh, and I’ve gotten myself into dietary ketosis and I hope to stay here for a good, long while.

And in the interest of transparency, here is my starting point for this current “cut,” according to the Skulp Aim.

 

 

Compared to Jan., 2016.  They obviously re-scaled the index since then as it now appears as though Muscle Quality is on a scale from 1-100.  It’s a shame I don’t have a direct comparison.

Massive workout and some time to reflect on my training and my life

I was out of the country this past week and due to jet lag with disrupted sleep patterns, long work hours, and my own stupidity, I was only able to hit a gym twice last week.  Last Sunday and last Tuesday.

I flew back from overseas yesterday so today my typical Massive Friday Night Workout (#MFNW) had to become a Massive Sunday Night Workout (MSNW.)

12-3-17_MFNWMassive Sunday Night Workout recorded on the Atlas Wristband

12-3-17FatHeadDinner was a grain-free “Fat Head” pizza featuring bacon and provolone cheese 

I did a lot of total volume so I had a lot of time to clear my head and reflect on my life and my upcoming training over the next few months.

Typically I undulate between lifting heavy at low volume and then lighter but higher volume over the winter months and then try to back down and cut some fat and go into dietary ketosis in time for kayak racing season in April.

I’ve decided to do things differently this year.

I’m going No Beer No Wine (NBNW) effective immediately along with going very strict on my No Sugars, No Grains (#NSNG) lifestyle.  I will stay as strict as I can through most of kayak racing season, my 100-miler with Vinnie Tortorich down the Bayou LaFourche in Louisiana at a date yet to be determined, probably late April or early May, and the James River Rundown some time in June.

BayouLaFourcheBayou Lafourche, LA

I know there will be some weeks where this will be difficult if not impossible over the holidays and with some scheduled business meetings, so I’ll allow for these brief setbacks but get right back on the horse immediately afterward.

I’ll get in as much paddling time on the water and on my indoor trainer as possible and let my gym time fill in the gaps rather than making gym time the centerpiece.  I also want to get back on the bike and work in some more cardio training.  I’ll let my body judge what my gym training will look like, but I anticipate fewer workouts with moderate weights and reps with a focus on legs and core.  In short, this is going to be an extended period of leaning out and cardio conditioning.

I also want to get back in touch with my guitar as it has taken a back seat for the past year or so and has collected too much dust.  That had always been an important part of my mental health and I need to bring it back into my life for some balance.

I also hope to get back in the gym later this week to record a new episode of “Exercises for Kayakers” for my YouTube channel.  The next exercise will be a modified bench press.

I’ll keep you informed as I try this new style of training and living.

Changes are in order.

 

 

Next generation fitness trackers

fitnesstrackers

We’re having a drought here in Central Virginia so I have not done much paddling during a time of year where I typically love being on the water and logging many of my annual kayaking miles.

So in the absence of much to talk about in terms of my kayaking and on-water adventures, let me  explain several of my recent posts involving fitness tracking technology.

I started searching for a fitness and gym tracker a few years ago in order to log and track my training both in the gym and on the water.  Being able to track paddle cadence on the water and progress in the gym would be very useful.

I started out with the Amiigo device, then moved to the Xiaomi Amazfit Arc followed shortly thereafter by the Atlas Wearables Wristband 2.

As a result of reviewing those units in YouTube videos and on this blog, two other companies reached out to me and sent me devices to evaluate in exchange for fair and honest reviews.  Those devices were the Actofit Wearables tracker and the MBHB Sport Smart Bracelet.

I have also researched countless other devices to find the right one.

So far not a single device meets all my needs.

Many of them do not count paddle strokes as “steps”, some are not reliably waterproof, and some do not have the battery life to last for an all-day outing or ultra-marathon kayak trip or race.   Some let you train new movements or exercises while others do not.

The one device I am truly in love with is the Atlas Wearables wristband for in the gym.  It recognizes my exercises, lets me train new ones and allows me to enter the amount of weight on the bar or edit the number of reps right on the wristband during my workouts.  It has completely replaced my clipboard with paper exercise log in the gym and the online dashboard lets me review my training progress and areas of focus over time.  It is a great training tool for the gym, but is not intended for all-day wear.

I am looking forward to seeing what Atlas Wearables comes out with next.  This is the one company that seems to be truly innovating and delivering on their promises and their customer service and support is awesome.

Aside from the Atlas device, there are many, many other fitness trackers out there that all do the same basic things and maybe have one or two unique features such as blood pressure measurements that set them apart.  There is no lack of affordable trackers with basic functionality if that is what you are looking for.

But, again, I have not yet found one device that meets all my needs.

I have also been approached by a few companies doing market research asking me what I’m looking for in a fitness tracker so I thought I’d share what I’m looking for in a next generation device.

My ideal next-generation fitness tracker would be/have:

  • Waterproof
  • Comfortable and stylish enough for all-day wear even in professional settings
  • 5+ day battery life before the need to recharge
  • Good tracking exercises in the gym and allow you to train new, custom motions/exercises (such as kettlebell sumo squats and the kayaking wing paddle stroke)
  • An online dashboard that allows you to track progress over time
  • Export capabilities of all data so data can be imported into a spreadsheet for long-term tracking and analysis
  • A display on the device that allows you to edit exercises and change functions during exercises and activities without access to the paired phone (my phone is either in a kayak hatch inside a dry bag or in a gym locker people!)
  • Automatic sleep tracking
  • Ability to measure blood pressure on-demand
  • Heart Rate (HR) capabilities both on-demand and automatically at pre-set time intervals
  • Resting Heart Rate (RHR)
  • Heart Rate Variability (HRV) measurements to better understand recovery
  • Basic functions such as steps, calorie burn, distance, etc.

I just don’t understand why this device is so elusive.  There are trackers already that do all of these things, but not one single one that does them all.

If you find it or know of this elusive beast, please let me know.

 

 

Sleep is an important yet often overlooked part of training 

sleeper

I don’t usually get enough sleep myself, but after 4 straight days in the gym I’ve focused on trying to get good sleep for the past few nights.

I’ve been doing pretty well, my resting heart rate is dropping and Heart Rate Variability (HRV) increasing.  Both good indications.

See also:

The Importance Of Sleep For Weightlifters And Other Athletes