Year Two March 2, 2010 - March 1, 2011
When the human body gets old and sits idle for long periods of time the body’s muscle factory (where proteins and amino acids build muscle cells) begins to shut down thereby causing the muscles to deteriorate and the body to weaken. In order to reverse this process the body’s muscle factory must be rejuvenated before the body can begin building muscle again. Giving the body the necessary foods required to build muscle cells is the first step, then the muscles must be stimulated. While some muscles may be stimulated by walking or jogging, weight resistance training is the best way to stimulate the entire muscle infrastructure so that the body will begin rehabilitating the tools necessary to facilitate muscle restoration .
It is important to remember that muscle and strength building is done from the inside - not from the outside. All that can be done from the outside is to eat the proper muscle building foods and supply muscle stimulation. The inner body does all the real work by directing its muscle factory to produce more and more muscle tissue for bigger and stronger muscles.
In Year One I stimulated mostly the larger muscle groups. Halfway through Year Two I began to expand my workout routine to include more muscles. My thinking was that if I stimulated all my muscles rather than just a select few my body’s natural muscle building mechanisms would be more likely to respond. I thought that by subjecting all my muscles to strenuous resistance for a sustained period of time my body would once again activate those mechanisms that do the muscle repair and rebuilding.
Like an old factory that has been setting idle for years, in order to get it producing again, all the machinery within that factory has to be reactivated, not just a few selected parts.
Year Two Exercise Routine
The need to expand and vary my workout routine required I build some cable equipment for that purpose. This I did. It also required me to increased my free weights poundage, so I purchased more dumbbells. I now have dumbbells ranging from 10 lbs to 50 lbs. (I began using dumbbells for almost all my exercises because they are easier to control and therefore easier on my joints)
I started Year Two using my original workout routine, then about half way into it I added the extra exercises that engaged all muscle groups. I used that routine with good results until November. Then in November I got a little over confident and began pushing myself. I thought I could do even more. I worked out a routine whereby I would workout two groups of upper body muscles very hard two times a week rather than working all four muscle groups modestly three time a week. I would still work out six days a week but now I would be concentrating on chest/arms on Monday and Thursday, shoulders/back on Tuesday and Friday, legs/abs Wednesday and Saturday. This way I was able to really intensify my workouts. For example, I was doing 15 exercises for my chest and 22 exercises for my arms.
However, after a couple of weeks of this intense training I began to feel as though I had been in a car wreck. My body felt like it was beaten and battered all the time. Finally after five weeks of this new routine I had to give it up because I injured my left shoulder. It was so bad I had to stop working out my upper body entirely. It took two weeks before I could start training again. My body is just too old for two-hour-a-day intense training. Needless to say I went back to my previous workout routine having found my age limitations.
Here is my current workout routine:
Upper Body - Monday, Wednesday, Friday
Bench Press 3 sets 10 reps
Dumbbell Bench Press 3 sets 10 reps
Standing Dumbbell Curls 3 sets 10 reps
Dumbbell Preacher Curls 3 sets 12 reps
Seated Dumbbell Curls 3 sets 10 reps
Triceps Kickback 4 sets 12 reps
Triceps Pushdown 4 sets 12 reps
One arm Triceps Pushdown 4 sets 12 reps
Seated Lateral Raise 3 sets 4 reps
Bent over Lateral Raise 3 sets 4 reps
Lat Cable Pulls 4 sets 12 reps
Legs - Abs - Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday
Leg Extensions 4 sets 12 reps
Leg Curls 3 sets 12 reps
Dumbbell Squats 3 sets 10 reps
Calf Raises 3 sets 20 reps
Ab Crunches 5 sets 30 reps
I fashioned a system of cables for lat rows, triceps pushdown, and various other exercises. For under twenty bucks I made myself a perfectly good apparatus. As I said before, there is no need to spend a lot of money on equipment, just a little creativity and a trip to Home Depot will do the trick.
In Year One I had problems with my hands, my wrists, my elbows and my shoulders. Arthritis in my hands would sometimes flair up to the point where I could almost not grip the weights. It turned out to be the pineapple in my diet. For years I had been eating a fresh fruit salad for lunch that included fresh pineapple. When I eliminated the pineapple the arthritis flair ups in my hands stopped.
I used wrist wraps on my wrists for most of the year and apparently my wrists have now strengthened themselves to the point where I no longer need them. The elbow pain has gone from my right arm and is almost completely gone from my left arm. I still use elbow wraps for my bench presses but otherwise I have no problem with my elbows. My shoulders are still the most venerable parts of my body. My left shoulder is still sensitive to some exercises. I have learned which exercises aggravate it and I now revamped my workout routine around those exercises. I have also had to reduce the amount of weight I use in order to keep these body parts from getting injured again.
Fortunately my knees have never given me any trouble so I have had two years of continuous pain free leg training. When I see some men my age using a cane, and in some cases even a walker, I think of how fortunate I am to have started working out my legs before that happened to me. My legs are now in pretty good condition due to two years of weight training. Your life can be very restricted if you are unable to walk without assistance. Your legs give you freedom to move about at will, and when you are old that is the real definition of freedom.
As I mentioned last year I keep track of all the food I eat with photos and a daily calorie and protein consumption chart. Depending on weight, gender, height, age, a person needs between 1800 and 2500 calories a day. For most of Year Two my calorie count was between 2500 and 3000 calories per day. In December I decided to try to lose the remaining belly fat that I had. So for the past three months I have been on an 1600 -2000 calorie diet. I sometimes go above 2000 calories a day but for he most part I have succeeded in staying below it. Meanwhile I have increased my protein consumption from around 150 grams to around 170 grams per day or about 1 gram per pound of body weight. What I am experimenting with is the notion that I can starve my fat cells with the lower calorie count and feed my muscle cells by increasing my protein intake. I will carry this program on into Year Three.
In Year Two my body weight reached a high of 179 lbs and a low of 160.5. lbs. Today as I start Year Three my body weigh is 165.5 lbs.
In addition to the protein I get with my meals I continue to take whey protein isolate. Over half of my daily protein comes from whey isolate protein. I have increased the amount from 75 grams to 100 grams per day. That boosts my daily protein from all sources to around 150- 170 grams a day depending on my dinner menu. I also take the supplements Glucosamine Sulfate, Creatine, and L-Glutamine. Glucosamaine Sulfate is for cartilage and joint support. It seems to have helped. Creatine and L-Glutamine are muscle building amino acids. They are normally found in the body, however, at my age, and because of the small amount of food I eat, I am not sure my body produces enough to properly utilize the amount of protein I ingest. So I take 10 grams of each per day to be sure my body has what it needs to build strong muscles. There is a good chance I am overdoing it but I would rather my body have more protein, Creatine and Glutamine than it needs to build muscle rather than not enough. At my age I can never be sure what my body can make on its own, so a little extra muscle building ingredients won’t do any harm, if there is excess it will just get passed through. I also take flax meal, a daily multi-vitamin, an anti-oxidant and a fish oil capsule.
It is important to note that at 74 years of age I take no prescription drugs - absolutely none!
Out of a possible 312 training days in Year Two I missed 42 days due to injuries, illness, or travel. In the coming years of my marathon if no trips are planned and I suffer no injuries or illness I may have to take some voluntary days off. As I age my body may need a few weeks off from time to time to heal itself properly. My ability to keep the current pace of training could be counterproductive to my overall health if I’m not careful. I will have to monitor and heed my body’s need for rest once in awhile to avoid overtraining.
When I started my Muscle Marathon two years ago I took the first step in trying to get my muscle factory operating again. It required a lot of hard work and proper diet but after nineteen months of rehabilitation I could see visual results. (see photos below) After years of neglect, my body’s muscle building machinery was up and running and producing muscle again. Instead of the normal loss of around a pound of muscle a year for a person my age, my muscles are now actually growing.
In Year Two I pushed myself to see just how much I could take, both physically and mentally. Physically I pushed myself to the limits and suffered injury setbacks as a result. Mentally I had to overcome the difficulties of a complete lifestyle change that consists of monitoring my food intake every day and scheduling domestic affairs around my workout schedule. It also meant that the food most people enjoy like ice cream, candy, sodas, pastries, chips, beer, wine, and a host of other treats, are now off limits to me. (I allow myself a small piece of birthday or anniversary cake upon occasion)
I did have doubts during Year Two about my ability to sustain such a difficult ordeal, particularly when I was injured. But because the rewards are so great I have been able to convince myself to overcome the doubt and pain and push on.
Now that Jack Lalanne has passed away there is a need for someone else to carry the “fitness through strength training” torch forward. I hope I can, by example - through my muscle marathon, contribute something to the growing need in this country for physical fitness and good health. I look forward to year three with renewed faith that I will be able to see the marathon through to the end and in doing so inspire others to begin making the lifestyle changes necessary to improve their overall strength and good health. As we grow old we should strive to be an asset to our country and our children, not a burden. Our rallying cry should be, “A strong mind in a strong body till the day we die!” I believe it is possible for all of us to achieve this goal if we apply ourselves.
Check back next year on Marsh 1, 2012 to see how I’m doing after another year of the Maestro Muscle Marathon.
Posing Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XZIYULVAZ-s
Who is Maestro Gaxiola: http://www.artist-link.blogspot.com/