The Routine

Well, I’m finally putting my master theory into practice in regards to exercise. Furthermore, I’ve finally sat down and written it all out. Behold!

My (probably unremarkable, but for some reason seemingly brushed aside by most) hypothesis is that the best exercise we can perform is that which most closely approximates natural exercise patterns to which our bodies would be subjected in those conditions foisted upon our ancestors for the greatest duration of our evolutionary development. This runs contrary to my (and most others’, it seems) practice in college; I used to go for the standard-issue hit-the-gym-nightly-until-you-can’t-move routine so commonly held among actual and aspiring bodybuilders. Sure, there were those who argued for HIT (High Intensity Training) in which one warms up and then performs single sets of 2-3 reps at a very high weight (maybe 85% of one’s one-rep max), or those who argued for various kinds of randomization or other injections of variability into the routine, but everyone basically hit the gym for one extended duration, or maybe two if they were really insane, since they were trying to really wreck house each time, each day. The goal was to utterly exhaust the body, and awkwardly waddling down the stairs on spent legs, and the like, was a badge of accomplishment.

But it’s unlikely that evolution has selected for bodies which respond best to this treatment, since the sheer exhaustion renders one basically incapable of exerting the recently-exercised muscle groups for a day or two following their (ab)use. Those who followed that path would be less likely to survive incidents occurring during those times, obviously, so it’s probable that our ancestors more evenly exerted themselves to moderately high intensity throughout the day. Activities common to our ancestors probably generated relatively short periods of strenuous activity against a baseline of activity which far exceeds the standard level of inactivity plaguing modern man, but which is likely relatively easy for well-honed bodies to accomplish (it should also be considered that the mindfulness with which one accomplishes moderately intense exercise has the potential to dramatically alter the benefit; strong exertion through good form is always hugely superior to equal generation of force through lazy form which takes advantage of leverage and other particularities of movement to spend the least energy while accomplishing a roughly similar result, and I like to consider my ancestors as heroes of yore who were eminently mindful and attentive to reality). At the end of the day, so goes my hypothesis, one should feel thoroughly well exercised, but not destroyed.

So that drives the creation of the following routine, through the application of which over the last three weeks I have lost 10 pounds and gained back 1.5. I am using a biometric device to track my exertion and its results, and I’m going to be getting a scale which can gauge body fat percentage relatively accurately (through bioelectrical impedance) to get more data. Expressed (where appropriate) in set-1-rep-count(@weight)/set-2-rep-count(@weight)/set-3-rep-count(@weight) notation, my average day is something like:

Daily (Totals):

15,000 steps comprised of:
-Daily activity
-Three 20 minute/1.25-ish mile walks during breaks at work
-Maybe an evening walk with my family

Daily (Morning):

-15/10/5 Modified Sit-Ups (Rise to a 45 degree angle with a straight back, perform a full twist to each side, then complete the curl)
-15/10/5 Push-ups
-7/4/1 Closed-grip pull-ups
-5/2/1 Dips
-5/2/1 Wide-grip pull-ups
-10@20/5@15/3@10 lateral raises
-30 Walking lunges

Monday/Wednesday/Friday:
-1.5 hours of relatively intense racquetball

Twice a week:
-1 hour of moderate-easy swimming or some other recreational physical activity

Now that I’ve been in it for a while, I’m going to add to my day the following:

Daily (Evening):
-15/10/5 Modified Sit-Ups
-10@35/5@30/5@20 curls
-10@35/5@30/5@20 bench tricep extensions
-10@20/5@15/3@10 lateral raises
-10@45/5@35/5@20 bench rows
-10@45/5@35/5@20 bench press
-30 Walking lunges

It looks like a lot, and it is a lot when compared to average nothingness, but the morning and evening routines take only about 25 minutes each with a fair amount of rest built in. The walks add up to an hour or so each day, and the racquetball combined with the 2x a week recreational stuff (go hiking or something) adds up to another hour 5 days a week, so while you’re exercising about 2.25 hours each day, it’s spread out and it makes me feel a hell of a lot better. Sitting at my desk and scrutinizing system behavior or writing code is much easier when I feel good about my responsibility to my body.

Throw in nutrition and sleep tracking among the biometrics gathered by a fitness tracking device such as the Jawbone UP3 and you’ll be amazed at the coolness your progress achieves when you can see it in all its data-driven glory. It kinda game-ifies the process, too, and being conditioned to seek video game superiority for a significant chunk of my life, I find I respond well to this.

I can’t wait to put up some results and data aggregates. I always looked for this sort of information in my youth, but just never found it. Wouldn’t it be awesome to have such data on, say, Arnold Schwarzenegger? I’d love to see what that guy did and how he did it in such detail.

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