Tag Archives: Doug McGuff

Your Fitness Program Is Different From Mine

Eighteen months ago I was sedentary.  I had developed some mysterious shoulder pain that I was able to cure with a rehab program.  Soon after that, the family went bowling for the first time in years.  After just three lines (games), my bowling arm got weak and sore.  That was a wake-up call for me. 

I needed a fitness program with a strength training component.

Assembling a fitness program for yourself is like figuring out your weight loss and management plan.  Lots of idiosyncrasies and variables to consider.  You have to determine what works for you, sometimes through trial and error.  Your plan may not work for your neighbor.

You could always go to a personal trainer who’ll devise a plan for you and supervise implementation.  That’s not a bad idea at all, and probably the best choice for someone not familiar with exercise yet serious about long-term health and weight management.

Future posts will address exercise-related issues peculiar to people with diabetes.  These are important.

I remember reading somewhere on the ‘net over the last year about “the big five” exercises for strength training (aka resistance training).    Turns out there are lots of Big Five lists.  Here’s one:

  • squats
  • deadlifts
  • bench press
  • overhead press
  • chin-ups
And another, similar list (a blog commenter said these were the five free-weight exercises at the top of Dr. Doug McGuff’s list):
  • squats
  • deadlifts
  • bench press
  • standing overhead press (same as military press?)
  • bent-over barbell row

If you’re not familiar with these, go to YouTube and browse.

In case you’re wondering, I’m not interested, at my age, in growing large muscles. My goal is to be injury resistant and as strong as I can be without spending too much time at it, regardless of muscle size.  Size doesn’t necessarily translate directly into strength.  My wife, on the other hand, appreciates large arms—think  Thor in The Avengers movie.

I’m tempted to put together a program composed of man-makers, Turkish get-ups, High Knee Walk to Spiderman With Hip Lift and Overhead Reach (HKWTSWHLOR?), and treadmill HIIT.  I’m saving that for another day, however.

I’ll share my new program tomorrow.

Steve Parker, M.D. 

PS: In case the appropriate link above is broken, the shoulder rehab exercises I did were from an online pamphlet from The Nicholas Institute of Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma, probably in the Physical Therapy section.

Baseline Measurements Before Starting a Fitness Program

Impressive jump!

Before beginning or modifying a fitness program, it’s important to take some baseline physical measurements. Re-measure periodically. That way you’ll know whether you’re making progress, holding steady, or regressing. Seeing improvement in the numbers also helps to maintain motivation.

Not taking measurements would be like starting a weight loss plan without a baseline and subsequent weights.

Around this time last year, I finished a home-based, 15-week, six-days-a-week fitness program called Core Performance, designed by Mark Verstegen. I was pleased with the results. The only problem is that it’s very time-consuming. Perhaps fitness just has to be that way.

I regret that I didn’t take any fitness measurements before and after starting Core Performance.

For much of the last year, I modified Core Performance to a thrice weekly, then twice weekly program, until a couple months ago when I pretty much abandoned it. I miss the benefits now, but just didn’t want to put in the time to achieve them. In other words, I lost my motivation.

Who needs this much flexibility?

Intellectually, I know that regular exercise is important. I’m starting to get motivated again. Not sure why. Perhaps because I’ve read that you can be fairly fit with as little as 30 minutes of exercise a week. I’m not convinced yet. I’ll be test-driving some of these time-efficient programs soon.

This new style of fitness is promoted by the likes of Dr. Doug McGuff, Chris Highcock, Skyler Tanner, Nasim Taleb, and Jonathan Bailor, among others.

What to Measure

  1. Weight
  2. Blood pressure
  3. Resting heart rate (first thing in the AM before getting out of bed)
  4. Waist circumference (upright and supine)
  5. Height
  6. Body mass index
  7. Mid-arm circumference, both arms, hanging relaxed at your sides
  8. Maximal calf circumference, both calves, while standing at ease
  9. Maximum number of consecutive pull-ups
  10. Maximum number of consecutive push-ups
  11. Maximum number of consecutive sit-ups
  12. Run/walk one mile as fast as you can
  13. Maximum vertical jump (stand by a tall wall then jump and reach up as high as you can with one arm, noting the highest point above ground your fingers can reach)
  14. Can you touch your toes? Stand up straight, locking knees in extension, then bend over at your waist and touch your toes with your fingertips. If you can touch toes, can you flatten your palms against the floor? If you can’t reach your toes, measure the distance from your fingertips to the floor.
  15. Optional blood work for special situations: fasting blood sugar, hemoglobin A1c, triglycerides, cholesterols (total, HDL, LDL, sub-fractions)

The particular aspects of fitness these measure are strength and endurance in major muscle groups, cardiovascular and pulmonary endurance, a little flexibility, and a hint of body composition.

You may appreciate an assistant to help you measure some of these.

Record your numbers. Re-test some or all of these periodically. If you’re in fairly poor condition at the outset, you’ll see some improved numbers after a couple or three weeks of a good exercise program. It takes months to build significant muscle mass; you’ll see improved strength and endurance before mass.

Am I missing anything?

Steve Parker, M.D.