My Fitness Experiment No. 3

OK, here’s the new plan.

For aerobic and cardiovascular endurance:

  • twice weekly 15-minute treadmill high intensity interval training

For strength:

Twice weekly…

Why dumbbell weights?  ‘Cuz that’s what I’ve got.

I chose push-ups over bench presses because the former probably uses more muscles.

My hesitation about the pull-ups/chin-ups is that they may be redundant, i.e., working muscles already used in the other exercises.

Rather than counting sets and repetitions (e.g., three sets of 10 pushups), I’m going to continue using the exhaustion technique Chris Highcock taught me in Hillfit:

  • 90 seconds on each exercise
  • use enough weight that I’m exhausted after the 9o seconds
  • 10 seconds up and 10 seconds down for each repetition

If I skip the pull-ups, I could probably get the resistance training done in 20 minutes.  (I think I’m talking myself out of the pull-ups!)

My current fitness measurements are recorded elsewhere.  I’ll recheck after about six weeks.

None of this is etched in stone.

My goals are here.  Comments?

Steve Parker, M.D.


My fitness experiment No.1 was Mark Verstegen’s Core Performance.  No. 2 was Chris Highcock’s Hillfit.

Update May 22, 2012

The first workout went well.  I need to review the various types of dumbbell presses and decide which one I want to stick with.   Not doing the pull-ups/chin-ups.  I hope I’m a little sore tomorrow.  These are the dumbbell weights I used today:

Dumbbell squats: 25 lb (11.4 kg)

Push-ups: 25 lb (11.4 kg) in backpack

Dumbell presses: 15 lb (6.8 kg)

Romanian deadlift with dumbbells: 30 lb (13.6 kg)

Bent-over one-arm rows: 25 lb (11.4 kg)

Update May 25, 2012

I was sore in the back, quads (anterior thighs), and arms the next day.  I even postponed my second workout of the week for one day to allow lingering right arm soreness to resolve.  For my workout today, I reduced the overhead press weight from 15 to 10 lb.

Update May 27, 2012

Right arm/shoulder soreness is gone.  Now I’ve got soreness in my left hamstring, likely a strain related to the deadlifts.  Started 24 hours after my second workout in this experiment, and persisting 36 hours at this point.

Update May 28, 2012

Right hamstring soreness almost gone.  Instead of 30 lb dumbbells with the Romanian deadlift, I cut to 25 lb to avoid aggravating that hamstring.  Probably back to 30 lb next time.  With bent-over rows, I’m ready to progress to 30 lb.

Update June 9, 2012

It’s going well.  No injuries; no unusual aches.  Here are the dumbbell weights I carry in each hand: for squats – 30 lb; for push-ups – 25 lb in backpack; for dumbbell presses – 25 lb; for Romanian deadlifts – 40 lb; for bent-over row – 30 lb.  The set of dumbbells my wife got for me (used) in CraigsList was from 5 to 30 lb.  So I had to go buy a 40-lb pair, which set me back about $80 (USD).

Update June 26, 2012

Going well.  No injuries.  Haven’t missed any sessions.  Had to decrease backpack push-up weight from 25 to 20 lb  about 10 days ago—I just couldn’t keep up the exercise for 90 seconds at the higher weight.  A couple weeks ago I increased the bent-over row and squat weights to 40 lb.  I’m noticing much use of back and shoulder muscles when I’m doing exercises that superficially seem to target other muscles. E.g., the Romanian deadlifts and squats target the buttocks and thighs, but having to carry 40 lb in each hand works out my arms, shoulders, and back.

Update July 9, 2012

Having started my current fitness experiment six weeks ago, it’s time for a retest of my fitness to assess results.  But I’m not going to do it now.  I was at my son’s Boy Scout camp all last week and unable to do my regular routine.  (By the way,  jogging at 6,700 feet above sea level is definitely harder than at 2,000 feet.)  I’m going to do another two weeks of the program, then test.  Fair enough?  I’m a little concerned about some mysterious pain in my left forefoot that started roughly two months ago.  That may prevent my work on the treadmill.

Update July 21, 2012

I finished Fitness Experiment No.3 today and will retest my fitness after a couple days.  Originally planned as a six-week trial, I missed week six due to Boy Scout camp.  I made up for that by doing another two weeks.  I’m happy with my push-ups, dumbbell presses, and dumbbell squats.  By happy, I mean I get a good, exhausting workout in the allotted 90 seconds.  With push-ups, I wear a backpack holding 20 lb (9 kg).  Presses are with 30 lb (14 kg) in each hand.  Squats are with a pair of 40 lb (18 kg) dumbbells.  The bent-over one-arm rows have just now become too easy at 40 lb.  I’m not pleased with the Romanian deadlifts while holding 40 lb in each hand—they’re too easy.  I don’t have any heavier weights, so I’m looking at buying a pair of 50s for about $100 (USD) new, or $50 used.  Or I could 1) make the deadlifts more stressful in some way, 2) do them for longer than 90 seconds, or 3) find a substitute for the deadlifts.