I’ve mentioned before that I kind of fell off the active lifestyle bandwagon for the past several months while focusing on a new job and a move to Colorado, so I’m making a somewhat earnest attempt to get back to it. I still haven’t climbed anything, nor have I hit the slopes, nor have I summited any mountains, nor have I gone to the gym consistently…but I’ve done stuff.

Seems to me that beginners and re-beginners (like myself) have a belief that they must pummel their body into submission while regaining their once athletic prowess. I think that’s ass-backwards. The same people that pummel themselves will say things like, “I know I should take it slow and easy, but I should be able to do what I used to.” And so the pummeling continues. What seems to be missing is the fact that slow, steady, and consistent is actally faster. Meh. Getting back to me (cuz that’s what Einstein says my world is all about)…

I’ve hiked consistently every weekend since I got to Colorado, each outing going a bit higher, further, and longer than previous weekends, but that’s not adding (or re-adding) to the muscle I’ve lost or removing the layer of fat I gained as fast as I’d like. Without climbing (indoors or out) or any other load bearing exercises, I can feel my grip is weakened and my physique is suffering. I won’t ever lie about this: I train to become a stronger climber and to look good naked. That’s it.

Enter the Fat Gripz

Fat Gripz are a great tool in building hand and forearm strength. Counter to what a lot of climbers believe (that word is important), climbing is not the only way to build/maintain strength. They attach to all standard dumbbells and barbells, most cable attachments, and some pull-up bars. They add an inch or two of diameter to the bar and increase the emphasis of grip strength on most movements and relieve stress on elbows and shoulders on others.

I chose to use the Fat Gripz for two reasons: 1) Grip strength; 2) I know that I’m so out of it, that putting an emphasis on strength building would yield similar work capacity for the session as a whole.

Let me clarify that 2nd point:

When first starting out and using Fat Gripz, your grip is likely to fatigue faster than the primary muscle of your chosen movement (legs for squats, biceps for curls, glutes for deadlifts, etc.). But because I’m “out of shape”, I would have ended up with similar reps and sets even without the Fat Gripz. So why not use them? Get it?

Because I’m a firm believer of slow, steady, constant progress, I chose four extremely basic movements for my dumbbell complex: hammer curls, push-ups (using the dumbbells for increased range of motion), squats, and shoulder press. I did these in circuit fashion: 10 reps of the movement and then immediately move on to the next movement for 10 reps until I’ve done all four movements, then rest.

I knew, in addition to muscular fatigue, that my lungs would have trouble keeping up too (thanks to altitude and general lack of conditioning). In order to complete 40 continuous reps, I had to leave my ego in the other room and pick a dumbbell weight appropriate: 25 lbs. :-/

All of the excuses considered, I managed to only complete three rounds of these four movements in about 17 minutes (I forgot to start a timer). Disheartening? Yes. Embarrassing? Yes. But, a starting point is a starting point. Where you start doesn’t matter, where you end, does. The last few reps of the last set were, admittedly, full of effort (of which, I avoid in a controlled, training environment), and I knew it was time to stop. Sure, I could have waited 5 minutes and done another circuit, but at what cost? The benefit would likely have been very low, and the cost would be increased soreness (DOMS), late(r) for work, and potentially requiring an unnecessary day off.

Three rounds is just fine for me. I’ll do more tomorrow.

Skipping Breakfast

Unless you’ve mosied on over to my other site, AthleteCreator.com, and spent significant time reading there, you wouldn’t know that I adhere to a (mostly) intermittent fasting (IF) lifestyle.

Just skipping breakfast (much less an entire 24 hours) is an absolute shock to most fit-nuts, but here I am, skipping a breakfast that would have landed squarely in the “anabolic window”. Am I crazy?!?!

Listen, the anabolic window is squishy at best. Sure, your nutrient uptake and ability to synthesize protein immediately following a workout is slightly higher, but it’s not nearly as scientific law as most “bros” will have you believe.

Also consider how “light” my workout was and how out of shape I currently am. I really did not break down that much protein that would require that much repair. Eating a decent-sized breakfast under the false context of an anabolic window or going into that mythical “starvation mode” would largely negate everything I had just done. Not only would I likely consume more calories than I had just burned, but I would also disrupt (or block) any of the other added benefits of IF, requiring at least the full 18 hours of fasting (some don’t even take effect until the 24 hour mark).

Had I been in shape; had I burned 700 calores; had I moved 20,000+ lbs. (total) during the workout, then I would consider throwing IF out the window and ate breakfast. Under those conditions, a decent amount of muscle protein would have broken down requiring repair. This little thing I did this morning? Hell nah, son!

I know this post is “all about me” and my singular workout this morning, but take the time to read between the lines and see what it means for you. Do you hold on to some of those beliefs? Are you doing things differently? Could you improve on them by experimenting what I’ve done here? Let me know your thoughts!

Don’t Miss Your Chance

I was stuck in Corporate America for 9 years. I was miserable.

Then I took control.

You can too, and it starts right here.