The Holiday Minefield

I’ve written on this topic before but I wanted to add some more nuance as we head toward Thanksgiving and various other gluttony-based holiday events. I’ve written in the past about the need to plan ahead, to plan for cheating, to plan for failure, etc. But I wanted to talk more specifically about how to do that for the holidays, how I do it in general, and how I’m doing it now with my specific workout/eating regimen.

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Colossus Fitness – A Plug

Flat LogoSome things are changing at Colossus Fitness and I thought I’d both write about that, about the process that goes on with being a trainer outside the actual weight room, and also simultaneously plug my business.

So I’ve started online training and I think it’s going well, at least from what I hear from the guys doing it. There are advantages to doing training online and disadvantages, of course, and it isn’t for everyone. If you want to do online training, with me or with anyone, it’s a good choice if you physically can’t meet the trainer (because of time constraints or distance), or contractual things (you’re married to your own gym in some long term contract), or if for some reason you’re just really uncomfortable with the gym (though that’s something you probably should work on if you mean to transform your body and your life). The caveat is that in order to do online training, you have to be a pretty self-motivated person already. That is to say, if you need someone there to be your motivation, then online training probably won’t work for you… I can’t be there to motivate you in person. Some guys I work with only get in the gym at all because I’m there and I’m holding them accountable to be there. Otherwise they would be at home. But if you’re someone who can get yourself going, but you need my guidance to show you what to do and why, then online training probably would work for you.

From my end, online training would seem easier but it isn’t really. I miss the in-person motivation stuff as much as the client does. I can get a better read for how things are going with someone if I can physically see them (beyond just skype, that is). Plus there’s the danger of out of sight, out of mind. The constant presence of someone helps me too! But there are ways around all that. It just takes discipline, and I think I’ve gotten into the groove.

Also, when I set up the business I was kinda guessing at a lot of things like policies and prices, but now that I’ve been doing this for a few months I’ve got my feet wet and can set policies on purpose. I had set my prices arbitrarily low because I thought that mattered in the context I was used to working in (long story…), but now I realize I’m really way too cheap. The guys who want to work with me do so because of my expertise and my biography, not because of my used car dealer prices. Sure it’s a plus in some sense, but I could stand to price myself more in line with what I’m offering… Especially compared to other gyms in town which charge close to double what I’m charging.

In that vein, I am still working on a way to keep my time from getting wasted by flakey people. I’ve begun to really appreciate in the last few weeks why corporate gyms chain people to year long contracts and give them the hard sell up front… I’ve had so many people flake out on me in one way or another that it’s become incredibly frustrating. But I’m not going to do contracts or something. I just need a mechanism for charging people before they even see me… or maybe just accept that as the nature of the business. A free consultation up front has its benefits – it gets people talking and in my presence – but it’s also no-risk and people can blow me off pretty easily. It’s a tough line to walk.

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But, all that aside, business is going well! My first client, Jim, has made incredible progress. Since we started in May he has lost over 40 lbs and his strength is dramatically higher. More than that, though, he’s happier about himself both inside and out. It’s amazing the kind of transformation that takes place inside someone when they begin to take control of the outside. He’s a new person both inside and outside. All my guys are making progress in fact and it’s really rewarding to be working with them.

I still have room though. So if you live in the Chicago area and want to train with me, drop me a line. And if you don’t live near me, but still want to train, contact me about online training! I’m open to new clients either way.

See my site: http://facebook.com/colossusfit

Or see me: http://facebook.com/larkin.romaneski

My High Intensity 100s Routine

I’ve received several requests from people on facebook about my current routine, which I’ve been calling 100s but I’m sure has a more appropriate name that someone actually in kinesiology can generate (my PhD is in English, thanks. I’ll leave this fancy “science” stuff to others).

The premise of this regime is that 1) I hate cardio, 2) I want to maximize the value of my time, and 3) HIIT is a really effective way to burn fat. It also came about because, as I wrote a couple weeks ago, my goals just weren’t being met by lifting the way I was lifting (weird huh? Lifting slow and heavy like a bodybuilder made me gain weight. There goes that science™ stuff again). What this program does is combines HIIT with weight lifting so that I get my strength training in, but overlap it with my cardio in a way that doesn’t feel like cardio and thus I don’t hate it. It’s not designed to bulk, but my strength is better… significantly better. This kind of workout is unusual enough that the muscles will definitely respond to the stimulus and you’ll make some gains in both strength and endurance.

So here it is. My 100s routine.

The basic outline is that for each muscle group, you do 1 main motion in the 100s patters: 10 sets of 10. You follow up this main motion with 2 secondary motions that follow a different pattern: 3 sets to failure. For the 100s, you want to pick a weight that is about 60% of your regular 10 rep weight to make sure you get through the whole routine. For the 3TF sets, go with the weight you’d normally used for 10 reps (Important caveat: you won’t, or shouldn’t, get 10 reps out of the weight even though you normally would expect to. Keep in mind, you just did 100 reps on bench… don’t be mad if you can’t jam out your regular on incline bench).

The routine lasts 6-8 weeks, but here’s the trick, and where the HIIT part comes in: you aren’t paying attention to weight for this routine like you would for a regular workout. You’re paying attention to rest periods. For the 100s, on week 1 you begin with 60 seconds of rest between sets. Every week you should shave off 10 seconds of rest – you’ll notice this will keep your heart rate elevated and you in the cardio/fat burning range. On the 7th week of this routine, you’ll be jamming through a set of 100 reps with no rest… That’s a lot of increased stamina! And you’ll get your cardio at the same time.

Some caveats apply that I’ll explain at the end.

Workout 1: Bench Press (10×10), Dumbbell Incline Press (3TF), Low Chest Cable Cross (3TF). Lat Pulldown (10×10), Cable Row (3TF), Barbell Pullover (3TF). Crunch (10×20)

Workout 2: Squat (10×10), Hack Squat (3TF), Leg Extension (3TF), Leg Curl (3TF). Tricep Press (10×10), Reverse Grip Tricep Press (3TF), Forearm Curls (10×20).

Workout 3: Barbell Shoulder Press (10×10), Upright Row (3TF), Bent Over Shoulder Fly (3TF). Standing Barbell Curls (10×10… I use the Bicep Blaster accessory for this), Seated Incline Curls (3TF), Hammer Curls (3TF). Calf Presses (10×20).

Workout 4: Bench Press (10×10), Incline Barbell Press (3TF), Incline Fly (3TF). Lat Pulldown (10×10), 1 Arm Row (3TF), 1 Arm Pulldown (TF). Decline Crunch (10×20).

Workout 5: Squats (10×10), Static Lunges (3TF), Leg Extension (3TF), Glute Machine Kickback (3TF). Tricep Press (10×10), Rope Press (3TF). Forearm Curl (10×20), Forearm Extension (10×20).

Workout 6: Shoulder Press (10×10), Bent Over Shoulder Fly (3TF), Reverse Pec Deck (3TF), Shrugs (10×10). Dumbbell Curls (10×10). Calf Press (10×20).

Caveats: You’ll notice that the pairings are fairly random. That’s fine. Go with it. You’ll also notice that you do muscle groups twice a week and that the pairings make for a very difficult second round sometimes. That’s fine. Remember: weight doesn’t matter as much as volume (reps) and rest periods. So if you’re weaker on Workout 4 because you killed shoulders on Workout 3, just go with it. Get your reps in and take your rests short. Pre-exhaustion of that muscle is actually really helpful! Finally, you will notice that core, calf, and forearm exercises are listed as 10×20… This is because those areas need much, much more volume than normal muscles in order to respond. Half the reason guys have tiny little calves is because they don’t realize that calves need a ton more work as a rule because they are a support muscle.

Enjoy! It’s really working for me so far… Which is nice because God knows it’s rough for me to cut, even at the best of times.

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Force of Habit

So much of the work I did – and still do – in taking control of my body involves what seems like a very basic thing… Changing habits. But I’m continually learning that this is one of those things where you do it once, then assume you’ve mastered it until you hit a wall and realize you need to do it again. And again. And again. So it has been with my own habits. Just when I think I’ve mastered “good habits”, I find that I’ve really just mastered the art of telling myself I have good habits.

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Revenge Dating as a Swan

A lot of us who grew up fat or were fat for a long time but overcame that have what I call “Ugly Duckling” syndrome. I’ve mentioned it before obliquely, but it’s basically what you’d expect: we went from fat to fit but still carry the fat kid with us in a few ways. It actually reminds me of something my brother said – though it’s a pretty common aphorism I think – when talking about chasing women. He said that you don’t want the girl who has always been hot, because she knows she’s hot and expects more. You want the girl who used to be a fat dork because she doesn’t know she’s hot yet and you have a much better shot! A lot of us are like that. No matter what we look like on the other side of our journey through fitness, we will still be, to a lesser or greater degree, dysmorphic. What we see doesn’t really line up with reality entirely.

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Wishing Away Reality

I’ve caught a lot of flak recently for a few things I wrote on facebook about obesity. Things that are objectively true, but are offensive by virtue of the fact that some people wish they weren’t true. I got attacked, in fact, for being cruel or heartless. A couple of people were shocked, shocked, that I would say such a thing considering that I used to be fat myself.

They don’t seem to realize that it is precisely because I was fat myself that I’m in a position to point out how reality actually works for fat people.

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If I Could Change…

Since I was fat for most of my life it seems as though a lot of issues that appear discrete from the outside actually converge in a lot of ways. Few more so than identity issues… who and what am I, exactly?

There’s a very clear memory of mine from when I was in grade school… one of those memories that sticks with you because of keenly it alerts you that something is amiss. Something in life isn’t what it seems. I remember I was flipping through a magazine that had an article about Dolly Parton. At that age the only thing I knew about Dolly Parton was that her boobs were enormous… and that’s basically what I got from the article too. She said, “I do have big tits. Always had ’em – pushed ’em up, whacked ’em around. Why not make fun of ’em? I’ve made a fortune with ’em.” That’s literally the only thing I remember from the article, but this was almost twenty years ago and it’s pretty clear in my mind. But that isn’t actually the memory that’s important here… What I remember more was the advertisement on the opposing page. It was an ad for Jockey athletic wear with two buff, athletic guys fighting over a volleyball. I remember seeing it and thinking, “Oh… that’s what a guy is supposed to look like?” Neither of them looked anything like me. How did they get that way? Why didn’t I look that way? Would it just happen when I grew up? And why are they so much more interesting than Dolly Parton’s chest?

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