Well that completes the first 12 weeks of resistance work, and I must say I’m hooked. During that period I’ve tried out a number of exercises with the aim of finding both those which are providing me with the greatest gains in strength, and those which I enjoy doing. Fortunately the two goals overlap in my new friend the Romanian Deadlift. I love it.
My goals for this period were to learn the basic techniques for these exercises, as well as establishing a base of strength for future work. After a decade of working behind a desk – and doing little or no strenuous exercise – I’m somewhat weaker and less flexible than I’d like to be.
The major changes over the first 12 weeks :
- An increase in weight – around 4-5kg, although this was never a primary objective I’m happy with it (at 1.83m tall and 74kg I’m still much lighter than I want to be)
- Increase in size of upper arms, calves, thighs, chest, forearms – the most obvious gain here has been a 5cm increase of chest measurement
- Muscle imbalances have been made clearer, with the biggest being hamstrings/quads (the hamstrings were only moving around half the weight of the quads, but the Romanian Deadlifts are making a difference here)
- Most importantly, and perhaps the most difficult to measure, is an improvement in overall strength. Whilst I’m not about to race out and start picking up cars, everyday tasks are getting just that little bit easier.
Now the fun part – setting goals for the next 3 months :
A few months of resistance work has given me a taste for the benefits of enhanced flexibility, which again goes toward the idea of making everyday tasks just that little bit easier. Rather than limit my increased flexibility to the period just after a workout when I am still warm, I’ll be adding both dynamic and static stretching routines to the workouts in order to make the benefits available 24 hours a day.
I’m still considering ways in which to measure progress – for now I’ll use photographic evidence as well as the standard measurements for things like hamstring flexibility (one of the main areas I want to improve).
My overall goals centre around strength, and I’m a little closer aligned to the mentality of a powerlifter than a bodybuilder in that respect. Once the hamstring/quad imbalance has been corrected, I want to include more compound lifts – particularly squats – to my routines. The idea of getting my hands on a reasonable power cage is still floating around; and this would certainly come in handy for max-effort squats and bench presses.
I’ve decided to move from 3 to 4 sessions per week, using a simplified Westside-style upper/lower/speed/strength breakup. The basic breakdown of days will be :
Monday : Lower body – strength
Tuesday : Limited cardio / bodyweight resistance work
Wednesday : Upper body – strength
Thursday : Limited cardio / bodyweight resistance work
Friday : Lower body – speed
Saturday : Limited cardio / bodyweight resistance work
We’ll see how that goes.