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My time to get fit - stage 1 - The beginning.

Discussion in 'Sports Arena' started by RimBlock, Jul 2, 2009.

  1. RimBlock

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Nov 10, 2004

    Posts: 2,237

    Location: Expat in Singapore

    Ok, so that time has come.

    I have always been pretty slim but then the late 20's came and went and office days along with bad diet and no real exercise has taken it's toll.

    2.5 years after leaving the UK, I went back with the family to introduce the new baby to my parents and have a 3 week holiday with family and friends.

    Just about everyones first statement was "Wow, you've put on weight".

    My wedding photos show a much slimmer me (from 3 years ago) and I was not at my usual slimness then. I have gone from 34" waist to 38"-40" depending on the cut of the trousers.

    Check upwards and not much has changed, my arms are the same as ever as is my neck. My face has a little bit more weight but not significant and I still have a chin ;).

    I also gave up smoking tobacco after an acute attack of bronchitis last November and have not gone back.

    So current level of fitness is in the negative figures.
    Height 6' 1"
    Weight 107Kg (approx 235lbs)
    Don't drink, dont smoke now.

    Very low energy levels (2 flights of stairs and am panting). Breathing is difficult sometimes and now have an inhalar from the doctor although the peak flow test gave a 80% score where average fit is 100%. I very rarely use the inhaler.

    Have had a hernia repaired a number of years ago from jumping in to weight training to fast. Bottom two discs in my spine are about half the thickness to the rest so have to be careful lifting. Right knee pain believed to be from a damaged ligament on the side of the knee. Pulling my heal into my butt is fine but trying to straighten it again is pretty painfull like bad muscle strain. Same issue with kneeling down and trying to get up again. The knee problem is getting better though.

    Whenever I have gone to the gym before and had personal trainers I had expressed a desire to improve my diet (one trainer described my diet of the time as the worst they had ever heard of) I have never got any satisfactory results.

    I am cutting down on fast food. My kids and wife regularly go to the various places and I had fallen in to the habit since moving to Singapore. I am trying very hard not to go there at all but it is difficult when the entire family is going apart from you. I have cut it out at lunch times.

    I have tried to get breakfast in (oats) which is something I have never really done for the whole of my 35 years.

    I have now hit the stage where I would rather not go swimming as I now look like one of those fat, rich expats that are usually pretty arrogant and disliked by the locals.

    Clothed I can get away with it but with a t-shirt etc I am now quite embarassed.

    Ok so enough about the negative.........

    I am going to buy a bike tonight (hopefully if I can find the shop). I have a gym membership and will be going around 4 times during the mon->fri as it is near work and a number of friends here also go.

    I am trying to cut down on portions food wise and am now trying to get some fruit for snacks (mango, honeydew and pinapple). I am eating at sandwich bars or Subway but without the cookies (3 cookies are 660 KCal :eek:).

    What I need help with is diet and a routine to start off with.
    A good site to get calorie figures for different foods would be great especially if it also has chinese food (not westernised chinese). Has anyone got any good links ?

    The fitness plan for someone just starting out and in a very unhealthy state. Fist time in the gym running for 20 (10 min fast walk and jog then 5 min fast then 5 min jog) minutes had me feeling dizzy and faint which I believe is more due to lung capacity problems from the bronchitus and having recently given up smoking. I went up to 40 minutes on the cycle which was tiring but not too difficult over a couple of weeks but then became sick and travelled to London so I am back at the start again.

    I tend to push myself quite hard so I need to know what sort of thing is reasonible for a completely unfit person to start with for the first couple of months to build up the fitness levels to a point where I could then start with the Hiit and some weights.

    Oh and as much as I applaud the guys here who have become well muscled and quite 'big', I would rather have a climbers / Jason Lee (The Crow) type figure. Bit more bulk, better definition. I know you all hate the 'T' word so how about 'vacuume packed' ;).

    Thanks for any help / advice.

  2. Morba


    Joined: Mar 7, 2003

    Posts: 28,189

    Location: Krispy Kreme drive thru

    First things first:

    to get like this

    you need to train like these:

    that is all for now, i'll let you think about that for a while :p
  3. RimBlock

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Nov 10, 2004

    Posts: 2,237

    Location: Expat in Singapore

    Hi Morba,

    Thanks for the reply although I was under the impression that leaness and endurance without too much size gain is usually brought about by sustained lifting with medium weights rather than bursts of lifting with very heavy weights.

    I also should have said that I would like to get back in to climbing and not just look like a climber. I need to get a reasonible level of fitness before starting that though.

    Of the people I knew who did climbing regularly, I knew of none who did any heavy gym lifting as whilst they need strength they also need endurance and the rest is usually technique.

    Oh and it is Brandon Lee not Jason (Scott) Lee I meant. Jason played Bruce Lee and Brandon played The Crow. Jason is to my memory a bit bigger than Brandon was. My mistake, too many Lee's around :D.

  4. xxalxx

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Oct 17, 2005

    Posts: 2,285

    Location: Perth, Australia

    Good luck with your fitness training.

    you need to get over the self conciousness of swimming as it will do you the world of good, do what we did, join a (semi) expensive gym, were the pool is not full of kids messing around, and do the gym stuff, then 1.2 hour in the pool works wonders for you.

    Diet is everything though, you need to burn off more than you intake so have a good look at what you eat, and look for ways that you can just change certain things to a healthier alternative, no point being skinny and fed up at the same time cos you can have things you like!

    Anyway .. good luck with everything.

  5. Morba


    Joined: Mar 7, 2003

    Posts: 28,189

    Location: Krispy Kreme drive thru

    there is a misconception that size = strength. Climbers are exceptionally strong while staying relatively light.
    There aren't many powerlifters here and the bigger people will have mostly grown from intensive weights routines in rep ranges over 5.
    You can train as hard as you like, what will make you grow is food, eat enough and you grow, eat less you lose weight. So, you can hit the gym hard and control your growth in your diet :)

    (forgive me if my replies seem a little short, i'm posting from my mob :( )
  6. fluffmct


    Joined: May 20, 2008

    Posts: 527

    Location: Belfast

    Think of it a different way mate. Say I wanted to be able sprint twice as fast as I do now. I wouldn't train to sprint slowly, I'd train to sprint like Usain Bolt so that I'd reach my goal as efficiently as possible. I'm not going to wake up and find that I can sprint like him, but if I train like him then I'll reach my own goals quicker.
  7. platypus


    Joined: Jul 25, 2003

    Posts: 38,980

    Location: Rhône-Alpes+Cambridge

    Yep. I'd take any of you lifters on up a rock face :p. Back in university whilst climbing regularly I could do chin ups with my index fingers. Would take a long time for me to be able to do that again.
  8. Django x2


    Joined: Sep 28, 2008

    Posts: 13,004

    Location: Britain

    Rowing is somewhere you want to start if you are not keen on getting in the pool. I reached my target weight in a few weeks doing 2 to 3 half hour rowing sessions. My PB is now 7km in 30m which is a fair pace I think.

    I vary my routine as often as possible but in usually consists of 3 x 10, 50kg, 60kg, 80kg bench press, lat pulldowns, a lot of ab work and biceps / triceps.

    I'd be inclined to suggest loose the weight through intensive CV otherwise you'll turn your fat into muscle and weigh the same if not more.
  9. Pookie Bear


    Joined: Jun 28, 2006

    Posts: 5,189

    Location: Newcastle upon Tyne

    I'm in a similar position to you - well, I was. 6 foot 2, 120 kgs, broad build and obviously overweight - to everyone but me! I just thought I was maybe getting a bit chunky.

    I went down the local gym and got given a routine by the instructor - 30 minutes of cardio, followed by a simple routine on the machines, 2 sets of 15 on each (heavy enough to feel it burning). So, I started going three times a week - and maintaining the same diet, sort of.

    In the first four weeks, I lost a ridiculously small amount of weight - barely 2 pounds. But I looked and felt so much better.

    It's now been ten weeks and I've lost 20 pounds (although this includes a rather alarming 5 pounds in the last week - I use the same machine every time - hopefully tomorrow will be a little more appropriate). My double chin has all but disappeared and my belly is half gone - I appear to have sprouted muscles on my shoulders and arms which I thought had disappeared about 10 years ago :D

    So, my advice to you is to not look at weight as the only indicator as to how you're doing. Follow other people's advice and check yourself out in the mirror now and then - just remember that looking better in the mirror is just one part of what you're working towards.

    Good luck!
  10. Buffman


    Joined: May 4, 2007

    Posts: 7,609

    Location: Warwickshire

    This is poor advice, you can burn calories following a weights routine and fat does not turn into muscle. You may want to try other cardio equipment such as rowing machine/cross trainer etc and combine it with some weight training.
    An example routine could be:
    10 mins rowing machine
    15 mins cross trainer
    10 mins stepping machine
    5 mins treadmill (could not bother as well if you dont like it)
    Followed by 3 sets of 8 for:
    Machine bench press / freeweight bench press
    Lat pulldowns
    Leg press
    Shoulder press
    (back exercise)
    Cable pushdowns

    Then see which weights you like to do etc and start to mix it up
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2009
  11. RimBlock

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Nov 10, 2004

    Posts: 2,237

    Location: Expat in Singapore

    Thanks for all the replies guys.

    Understood but to use this analogy, say I wanted to sprint twice as far rather than twice as fast. Would I still train for a 'bigger burst' by using heavier weights or train in being able to exercise with those weights for a longer time ?

    I found that swimming has not done a lot for me in the past for weight loss. Maybe it was a diet problem. I used to swim competitively in my mid teens and was slim. Since gaining weight with office work I have tried a number of times swimming at lunch time at a local gym but the weight didn't seem to come off. As I said, maybe it was a diet issue. The gyms here rarely have a swimming pool as there are so many community pools here which are dirt cheap to use and open air as it is tropical climate here. They get packed as you can imagine and so it is hard to swim lengths (also owing to the fact that one length and I am out of breath).

    I don't mind doing the bike at the gym. I was advised to stay away from the treadmill due to my knee for the time being. Maybe I will try again as it seems to be getting better. Once I have a little less weight (i.e. tummy) I will probably try and go swimming with my 10 y/o who is taking lessons and enjoying it.

    Thanks Morba,

    So the suggestion would be high (say max - 5KG) weights for > 5 reps for strength or <5 for growth but with a linked diet.

    This would work better than med (say max - 10kg) weights for 20 reps (3 sets).

    The formula I read many years ago was find max reps you are able to do for a set weight, divide that number by two and then do 3 sets. Slowly reduce the reps and increase the weight until you just about fail at the 3rd set of 10 then work at it until you can do it then increase the weight and continue from there. This came from a book probably written in the 70's though (many big bushy moustaches and 118 type guys in the photos) so techniques have probably improved.

    Np, you first one was a little blunt but then with a jetlagged 17month old, tiredness is also a close friend at the moment so I am probably a little fast to react.

    It was great the first time I was able to cross a small bit of the ceiling at The Castle Climbing centre. I also remember seeing some guys at the Mileend Climbing wall just bouncing all over the ceiling like spider monkeys. They made it look so easy. My finger strength was never that great and so it was my fingers giving out more than anything that kept stopping me. It was also a great confidence booster. Getting up most of a 8 metre wall free climbing and then getting stuck, saying to myself that I had to push on or I am going to be stuck until my arms gave out and then making it over the top. On another occasion I was loosing the last reserves of strength in my grip near the top of a wall and feeling my fingers just letting go, pushing off from the wall and just dropping to the double layer of crash mats was also quite a weird feeling. Damn I miss climbing and I still have the gear (not that it would fit me now) with me here.

    Thanks Lucero, rowing may be an option as the one machine in the gym is usually free although bending right forward may be difficult to start with my tummy and will have to be careful of my back.

    It really was not until I got the feedback from London and saw the photos that I realised as I also had the 'I am still reasonably slim with a bit of a belly' mentality until then.

    When I joined a gym I got a free 'PT session' which was a quick run through of weight, BMI, height etc and the guy kept asking me what I wanted my ideal weight to be. I just kept repeating that weight is not so important but I want to loose some inches around my stomach and get fitter. He found it hard to get that. He also showed me some compound exercises which my physio (for my knee) told me I should not be doing whilst trying to get my knee back in to shape. He then tried the hard sell for a PT package at a few thousand dollars and was not pleased when I declined. This is one reason for asking for advice here on a routine, especially a starting routine as I can build on that myself from previous info here.

    I had the same for the first two or three weeks with improvement in cycling distance, not being anywhere near as out of breath etc but then became unwell for a week and then 3 weeks in London has blown that all away.

    Congrats and it certainly adds to my motivation.

    Yes, size is my main concern. inches around the waist. The photo idea is one that has been mentioned here a few times and I think it is a very good one. Now I have to get my wife to take the pics of the worst of me without her laughing and me getting upset at her.

    I like to think these are miss types and what Lucero probably means is that you will swap fat for muscle.

    Thanks, this sounds very reasonable. Biggest problem I have with the bike is my butt going numb after 20 minutes. Moving to a cross trainer may be a very good move.

    Maybe I will use the bike as a warm-up in place of the rowing machine and swap the stepper for the rowing machine as there are no steppers in my gym to my knowledge.

    The leg press I will give a miss to at the moment due to the knee, the rest are fine although I note in Gordy's sticky people seem to advise on keeping upper and lower body and cardio mainly on different days rather than all on one day.

    Now the main question I had for this was how should I start off. I do nothing and then suddenly hit the gym for 30mins cardio and a weights workout then the next day I am going to be like the tin man..... no arm or leg bending possible for the next 3-4 days (happened last time and just about every time I start off exercising). I would like to avoid this very uncomfortable time so what do people recommend I can do for the first 2-4 weeks weights wise (cardio rarely gives me muscle pain as my lungs give out first at this fitness, or lack of, level) to get my body used to exercising without hitting it with 'Shock and Awe'........

    Once again, thats to everyone for taking the time to read and reply.

    Last edited: Jul 3, 2009
  12. ***F1ZZY***


    Joined: Jan 5, 2004

    Posts: 640

    Location: Wiltshire

    Hey RB

    I am/was in a very similar situation to you. I have just gone 37, have recently stopped smoking, live in Malaysia for past 5 years, have a 2 YO son now and have been trying to lose the gut since January and generally trying to get fitter.

    It was the being a father and the pathetic lung capacity I had due to 20 years of smoking that forced me o change my ways. Like you, a walk up a couple of flights would leave me panting and any further the burn in my legs would build up due to oxygen shortage.

    I am only 5'9" and around 80kg (175lbs) and have actually maintained that weight exactly for six months but lost nearly 4 inches off my gut. My 34" trousers used to not fit, they now hang off me.

    It will be hard to recommend an exact program for you as a) I am far from qualified and b) do not know the full extent of your injuries and also what equipment you have available. However, what I will say is that - get your diet in check and do as much cardio and heavy weights as you can fit into a week, every week.

    At our age, putting on muscle is never easy. Don't worry about suddenly waking up like Arnie - it will never happen. However, an increase in strength and muscle mass will help fitness and weight loss generally.

    I think the most important thing is diet, diet, diet and for an ex-pat in Singapore it is easy to hit the hawker centers. Food is such a big thing in SEAsia; particularly if your line of work has many lunch/dinner functions as the Singaporeans are great hosts when it comes to eating and drinking.

    Just try to eat small, often and healthy. It is too easy to grab a bowl of noodles for lunch that are almost 100% carbs. It is better to find a mixed rice place (nasi campur) where you can get a buffet style and I basically eat half the rice and twice the vege as I would normally put on my plate and normal amounts of meat.

    If you can swap all white stuff (bread, rice, pasta) for brown/wholemeal that’s great too. I also now drink green tea and not the Nescafe 3in1 coffee things that are full of sugar. Try not to drink calories as they soon build up and most Asian drinks are so sickly sweet it is untrue. I really only have green tea or water now.

    What I end to eat is:
    Porridge oats or organic meusli for brekky
    Snack of homemade muesli bar with whey protein
    Lunch of mixed rice as above
    Aternoon snack of fruit – often apple or banana
    Evening meals have all but diminished and now I tend to have sardines on (one) wholemeal toast or tuna with salad etc. (no more family blow outs)
    I find a late night snack helpful too but you will probably struggle to get cottage cheese (what everyone on here will recommend) in Singapore. I try to eat really low GI late at night to keep the fuel trickling in. A small handful of nuts and some sunsweet prunes keeps me going (literally, he he )

    Then do the gym every evening for 5 or 6 days a week; alternate cardio days (whatever you like and can do) and weights days (probably full body routine with as many different compound lifts as poss and can cope with). Important is to keep pushing yourself. Keep setting and breaking goals both in cardio and weights. Not only is it fun but it keeps you motivated and is better/faster results than doing the same old routine time after time.

    Good luck with the progress. Change has to start somewhere. Make sure that you choose things that you like so that you can maintain it. After a while (when you can see progress) it becomes more of a lifestyle change and less of a chore.

    --- note, this is only based on my personal experience. I have not even consulted a PT (hate them). I just started slowly and learn from t’interweb. I hope that this helps ---

    edit/ ooh 500 posts, not bad in 5 years :)
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2009
  13. RimBlock

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Nov 10, 2004

    Posts: 2,237

    Location: Expat in Singapore


    It is great to know I am not the only one at my time in life trying to improve from almost nothing. Very encouraging, thanks.

    Great result and one I think I will be aiming for for the short(er) term. I bought a Boss suit before moving to Singapore. I wore the trousers twice from this GBP500 suit and they have not fitted me for two years.

    For A and B, sure, understandable and I am just after direction to build on at this point. 5 times a week (Mon - Fri) are possible with maybe a bit of riding at the weekends.

    My wife will be pleased. She really dislikes the muscular look. It seems to be a very asian thing with the slim slightly effeminate guys being seen as more sensitive and caring. Luckily my wife was getting older and so was not so picky :). Yes, a couple of pics of her are in the 'Show us your girlfriend thread'.

    I really am not in to the hawker centers. My wife would eat there all the time if she could but most of the things there I find hard to recognise, they are often made on a very tight budget, have minimal meat (you'd be lucky to get half a slice of beef or pork in most dishes). The western food is all deep fat fried. A lot of the dishes are also cooked in butter with thick sticky sauces and unknown quantities of MSG. Chicken is also usually cooked with the skin on although both the rosted and steamed chicken is usually very nice and I don't eat the skin if possible.

    Ok so I should try the mixed rice or two/ three dish type stalls. I will give that a try and see how it goes. Thanks.

    I do tend to drink the 3-in-1 maybe twice a day as I enjoy coffee very much. I am drinking milk tea more at work now and with only one sugar in a big starbucks size mug. I am also eating oats with milk and again one sugar for breakfast.

    I need to find a way of getting more small meals sorted out. I can get the oats for breakfast but then it is waiting for lunch and I can get a sandwich or salad and some fruit (as a later snack) then dinner. I need to find a way to get the mid morning snack sorted and my breakfast at work tends to drag a bit too long.

    Yes this can be a problem and the blowouts are usually at the fast food places as my wife never gains any weight, my older kid loves it and it is very convenient. I have to show them 'Supersize me' which I have seen but they haven't.

    Cool, so M/W/F for weights and T/T for cardio and a bike ride at the weekend. I recently found there is an international standard mountain bike trail abount 15 minutes away from me hence getting the bike.

    Ha, look at my start date and post count. It is not about volume it is about quality ;). Now if it was a word count then I would be much higher
    than some of the people here with large post counts :p.

  14. h00fzilla


    Joined: Jul 1, 2009

    Posts: 674

    Location: Finsbury Park

    Apologies for off topic response, but Platypus = Russ?

    Yours sincerely


    /hides again
  15. Django x2


    Joined: Sep 28, 2008

    Posts: 13,004

    Location: Britain

    Que? By fat turning into muscle I simply meant the space that is currently filled with fat will instead be filled with muscle. How is intensive CV poor advice when you have given him 40 minutes which is at least 10 more than I would class intensive. :p
  16. Buffman


    Joined: May 4, 2007

    Posts: 7,609

    Location: Warwickshire

    I was reffering to fat turning into muscle, but yes you where correct you will replace fat with muscle if you go often and eat well.
  17. RimBlock

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Nov 10, 2004

    Posts: 2,237

    Location: Expat in Singapore

    And we are off.....

    So two days in and a few questions.

    1. I would guess I was on around 3000Kcal a day or more and watching the diet.
    first day approx = 2061Kcal (carb=319g, Fat=53g, Protein=94g)
    Second day approx = 1671Kcal (carb=182g, fat=64.74g, Protein=100.48g)

    So yesterday I dropped my Kcal intake by almost 50% over two days and whilst I may not keep at that level it occurred that I don't really know what level I should be aiming for with what ration of carb/fat/protein. More importantly what levels are 'too much'.

    I am still aiming for building lean muscle without gaining too much in size and slimming down the body fat at this stage. I may consider building a bit more after the fat levels are more reasonable. What I do not want to do is to cut the Kcal down so much that it hinders building lean muscle.

    Any advice on what sort of levels and rations I should be aiming at.

    2. Anyone know what the average 'dry' weight (ie no extra weights) is for a Smith machine.

    3. Following The Craig's plan I notice there are no exercises specifically for bicep, abs, calves etc. Are the compound exercises given adequate for also exercising those areas as well or should something be added.

    4. Last for now. During the muscle ache / rebuild period is it better to stay away from the gym and let it heal or to keep the training up ?

    Many thanks for the previous advice and any enlightenment for the above questions.

  18. Smit


    Joined: Mar 6, 2003

    Posts: 6,224

    Location: West Lothian

    My opinions for your questions. Sorry I don't have an answer for question 1 since I am hopeless when it comes to monitoring diet and it's not something I ever do since I'm not really taking working out seriously at the moment until I hit a plateau in my training.

    2. I am going to guess that it depends entirely on the manufacturer. Do you know who they are? If you check their website then it's possible that it tells you there. If not then most of the machines that I have seen, actually tell you on it somewhere what the starting weight is.

    3. I haven't seen the plan but compound exercises should be sufficient to start off with. The biceps should be worked out quite hard while doing any back workouts but you could always through in a few isolation exercises at the end of your workouts I guess.

    4. I think there are conflicting opinions on this one. I think if you are going to work on a different body part then you could get away with still training and of course depends on how much pain you are in. I work out even if still a bit sore but since I have a 4 day split then I am always healed and rested by the next week so it's not a problem.
  19. RimBlock

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Nov 10, 2004

    Posts: 2,237

    Location: Expat in Singapore

    Hi Smit,

    Thanks for the reply.

    I was of the understanding that an olympic bar was 25Kg (although I could be completely wrong here) but this bar felt much lighter. While I was in the gym I didn't notice a starting weight on this machine (there was on others) and as someone was constantly using it I didn't want to linger staring to try and find it and put them off their session. I will check when next in the gym.

    Cool, I will stick with that for now then unless anyone has any other opinions.

    The soreness and stiffness is very mild compared to what I have had before but it is still sore. Have taken the Whey proteen after the workout which I think probabaly helped quite a lot.

    I am doing a Weights / Cardio alternation for 6 days so yesterday was weights and today is cardio. My legs are aching from the previous cardio and the incline leg presses from yesterday but I will give it a go and push through. Only one more day and then maybe a bike ride on Saturday before a rest day.

  20. Izi


    Joined: Dec 9, 2007

    Posts: 2,716

    I was 107kg only 1 year ago, I am now at 88.5kg, and still losing.

    How did I do it?
    No fad diets (e.g low carb rubbish).... I simply ate much less and exercised.

    I must say however, most of my weight loss has been since Janurary this year. I was 102kg in janurary meaning I have lost just over two stone since.

    I needed more motivation, and less temptation! .So..I signed up to a 40 mile bike ride for charity. This meant I had to train. I have now signed myself up to the great north run, so training again for that. If i didnt do this I think it would be easier to give in.

    FYI, my average day in terms of food is:

    cereal (all bran) + fruit smoothy for breakfast
    ceral for lunch (all bran again)
    home cooked supper, such as:
    spag bol - tin tomatoes, 250g LEAN mince, 1 onion
    chicken cooked in spices (curried spices) with tomatoes. - spice is good for speeding up metabolism

    I exercise at least three times a week - running / squash. I cycle to work (7 mile round trip)

    Having said all of that, I havent been good 100% of the time! If i had I would be 10% body fat right now and looking amazing. Its hard to keep at it but working towards something really helped me

    EDIT Oh and final tip: Dont worry to much about %fat%carb%etc - just do a simple calorie count, and eat a well rounded diet - if you do this you will find it easier to stick to. It did for me.
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2009