Thursday, November 29, 2007

Workout Journal - Personal Training Sessions

It has been almost 2 months and about 20 sessions in my current PT package that I paid for when I first signed on for my gym membership. I have to say that it has really been money well spent for me as I have begun to see improvement both physically and mentally from these sessions. No doubt that most would say that what ever you can learn with a PT, you can actually learn it for free by watching other people work out but I have come to understand how much personalized the training programs could be for the individual. Without having someone to really show you how it should be done, you might even, in the worst case scenario, hurt yourself.

My PT program started off with a little bit of this and that to help PT identify what was my strengths and weaknesses. Right off the bat, we set goals of what I wanted to get out of the session. For me it was to lose weight, gain muscle definition and learn the techniques that I could use in my own workouts. We also identified things that I am good at and what I need to improve. For me it was my stamina and recovery times which was quite good to begin with considering my level of fitness when I started. I already had be frame to support the muscle mass that I was targeting for but I had to build both definition and muscle strength.

Earlier in the program, my PT sessions focused on my learning how to use the equipments correctly and strength training to see how far I can push myself. Gradually, it moved from that to muscle building phase. My workout sessions currently are broken down to 3 components namely a cardio warm up, weight or circuit training and a cardio cool down. I used to just have an hour of PT session but the new program that my PT has designed for me at the moment makes me work for it for almost 2 hours per session. While my PT officially only has to spend 1 hour per session with me, we have an arrangement that I would start the cardio warm up session on my own and he’ll check in with me from time to time until my ‘official’ PT time slot. Cardio cool down is similarly done outside of the official PT slot but considered part of the program.

Since I can’t run worth a damn without looking like Richard Simmons being chased by a pack of lions, my cardio workouts have been mainly on the stationary bikes. I first started out on the Level 3 mark doing just manual cycling for about 20 minutes which was quite challenging for me when I began. Over time I have gone up the Level 5 mark while doing the built-in interval cycling program for 40 minutes. Intervals basically simulates cycling on along a path with different gradient hills. First 20 minutes or so wasn’t that bad but the second half of the programs consisted of me cycling 3 times with max resistance for the selected level. That’s when my legs normally would start screaming at me. To make things more interesting, I also have to maintain sprinting speed (between 100 – 115 rpm) for the last 5 minutes straight. After 2 months, I’m currently averaging about 17.5 km cycling distance and burning off between 290 – 295 calories per cardio warm up session.

After the cardio warm up, my current training plan calls for either weight or circuit training depending on the schedule. I’m currently going through between 6 to 8 different exercises with the weight stack machines per session. We currently combine exercises for a pair of muscle groups in opposite locations of the body per session so I would do chest-triceps in one session, upper back (delts)-bicep in another session and so forth. I currently have 4 combination sessions (chest-triceps, upper back (delts)-bicep, core muscles – abs and lower back, legs and shoulders) that I run through before I complete a circuit training session that hits all muscle groups and the repeat the cycle of sessions. I’m currently doing 3 sets per exercise with a reducing rep count for each set beginning with 12 reps but increasing weight load with each subsequent set. According to my PT, this will help me build the muscle mass that I want to achieve.

I’m not looking for big muscles that would make me look like someone who has to turn sideways just to walk through a doorway so I keep my weights on medium workout intensity. Just enough for me to put in an effort to lift them but not really too heavy that I get discouraged when I can’t. One thing that I have learned from working with my PT is that 9 times out of 10, I would sell myself short when it comes to how much I could do when it comes to weight training. I would tell myself that I would never be able to lift it only to find that it was just all in my head. Sure there was some amount of pain involved in getting to lift almost double what you’ve been lifting before but after the initial shock of realizing that you can actually do it, the pain was just something that I had to file away in the back of my mind as I focused on completing the reps.

Weight training or my circuit training sessions with the PT would normally last between 45 minutes to 1 hour depending on how much time I take to rest between sets and exercises. That resting time has been getting less and less as the sessions progressed as my PT wants me to stay in active fat burning phase by moving quickly to the next exercise. Once that’s all done, I would return to the stationary bikes for a cardio cool down. Unlike the warm up at the beginning of the session, I usually set my cool down for 20 minutes cycling on flat terrain on a Level 2 setting. To make things a little more challenging, I set a goal of burning off 100 calories and maintaining a constant sprinting pace between 100 – 115 rpm for the duration of the 20 minutes. Suffice to say that I would be sweating profusely again at the end of workout session.

A 10 minute session at the sauna, cool down and a drawn out shower later, I would be ready to leave the gym after getting dressed. I’m currently spending almost 3 hours at the gym on each visit. Given that I go there 5 times a week, that’s actually quite a lot of gym time clocked but it’s not like I have anything else to do in the evenings anyway. Out of the 5 times a week that I’m at the gym, 3 of them with be sessions with my PT and the remaining 2 would be just me on my own using the knowledge that I have learned from my PT sessions. Most of the time, I would be focusing on working out my core muscles when I workout on my own since they would be the easiest ones to work on without someone to spot you. Good thing that those are the muscle groups that I’m most excited about developing.

I still have 6 more sessions with the PT which would last me until the middle of next month. I’ve already made up my mind to renew it for another 24 sessions once I get paid my yearly bonus at the end of December. It still costs a bomb to renew, the cheapest that I could get was RM 110 per session, but the results that I’m seeing from these past 2 months working with my PT has done nothing but reaffirmed that this was an investment worth it’s weight in gold. I’m also thinking of going to at least one of those free with membership GX classes that I have been to date too intimidated to join. I have been eyeing the spinning classes since I’m already doing my cardio on a stationary bike which makes sense to transition into. Other classed like BodyStep or BodyJam would be a bit of a stretch for me since with my coordination skills, I’m more likely to accidentally poke someone’s eye out with my flailing arms.

I have quite a ways before I look anywhere near like an older A&F model but at least I don’t look like an overweight troll that I used to before. Knowing that gives me hope that I can be better and that’s the crux of why I put myself through all of this.

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