Back in the gym – lessons learned

Been a while since I had something to write here, but I think fitness is a good topic.

As of Christmas last year (2017), I decided to get fit again. I picked up the running and, not long afterwards, signed up for a personal trainer with my fiancĂ©e. We now have dedicated lifting, cardio and nutrition plans which are having amazing results (we’re 10 weeks into the program). At 38, I’m in – by far – the best shape of my adult life. I’ll go into the details of it in a later post, and probably put up a banner ad for the trainer soon; maybe my own success story will motivate others, too.

It’s not like I’ve been avoiding the gym. I’ve probably averaged 80-100km a month running for the last year or so, while lifting maybe 3 times a week, but I wasn’t really going anywhere. People who know me will know I managed to lose an awful lot of weight in 2006 through enforced starvation (couldn’t afford to eat as a university student out here), and again a fair bit in 2016 while doing Freeletics, but I never got into this kind of shape. That’s because I was making some big mistakes, the kind I now see in people around me at the gym.

The first mistake, and not one I can actually observe in the gym, was nutrition. Eat clean, train dirty, right? It’s so easy to justify that Starbucks chai (it’s only 200 calories!) or the big dinner (hey, the carbs in pasta are good for the run tomorrow, and that steak is all protein!). But the fact is, no amount of training is going to overcome a poor diet. I’m now eating 6 times a day, and my average caloric intake has actually gone up, but my weight is lower than it’s ever been in my adult life because I don’t order pizza at night or have all-you-can-eat pancakes and syrup for breakfast. Eating clean works. Side benefit: you feel better, more alert, smarter and overall healthier when you eat right.

The second mistake was a lack of focus. So many people get to the gym, pull out there phones, and start putting their feet into repetitive motion. Maybe they’ll knock out a set and then watch the TV for five minutes, or chat with the guy on the next bench for a while. The gym is not a social hangout. You go there to sweat, to push yourself, not to relax. If you’re not pushing hard, you’re doing something wrong, and you’re wasting your time.

The third and final mistake for today was a lack of form. Like everyone else, I from time to time start concentrating on the amount of weight I’m doing, the number of reps, that sort of thing. I want to see those numbers grow, and I throw myself into it. But sometimes, that focus on moving up means a lack of focus on form. If the motion isn’t perfect, you might as well not do the lift. Poor form not only increases chance of injury – meaning you’ll be out for a long time and greatly slow down your overall progress – but it also means that you’re working muscles other than those you’re targeting. Remember, if you’re trying to squeeze out that last rep on the biceps so they totally collapse and come back bigger and stronger, it doesn’t help if you actually shift some of that load to the delts! I’ve adopted a mantra – when my form fails even slightly on a rep, and I can’t correct it on the next one, I’m done. Move on to the next set. I try not to even let it get to that point.

Anyways, that’s two months of (re-)learning boiled down right there for you. Hope it helps someone out there!

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Steph’s got her very own blog and is in the process of creating it – don’t forget to check out!

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Kurventechnik and farkles

Yesterday I had my Kurventechnik course, which is the last of my mandatory lessons before the license exam. Given how much I’m learning, I’ll probably keep taking lessons, sending a portion of my paycheck to Urs Tobler’s vacation fund, but it seems worthwhile. I’ll think about posting a picture when I get them – who knew that I could get such a steep lean angle in a parking lot, or that my teutonic street fighter could have such fun in the mud? It’s no problem starting on any kind of wet gravelly hill, let me tell you; I did it perfectly from the start, and the ABS never kicked in. I’m also much more comfortable with the bike sliding than I was two days ago, though I’m still not all that good with hands free negotiation of curves or side saddle riding at 80kph, and I want to improve my countersteering quite a bit (I just picked up Lee Parks’ Total Control book, too).

In other biking news, I just ordered another farkle today: a set of grip puppies to bring down the vibe. I’m concerned about how they’ll interact with the heated grips (believe me, the other students were jealous of those yesterday!) but I really want to start riding higher in the rev range, and to do that for any amount of time I’ll have to find a way of dealing with the insane engine vibration in the right half of the tach. I’m thinking I should put together a list of the farkles I’ve put on (most I ordered with the bike), either for fun or so that I have an easy-to-reference list for the insurance if I have to lay ‘er down sometime.

  • Grip puppies – see above, not yet here
  • Mirror wideners – got ’em, but not yet installed
  • Tank pad – carbon look, BMW logo
  • FLM seat bag. Plenty of storage capacity for everything I’ll need at my destination.
  • Engine bars (factory) – to prevent serious damage if I lay it down
  • ABS (factory). Duh. I hear it’s standard on all 2012 BMW bikes now (it was actually standard on mine as well, though not on the American version)
  • Heated grips (factory). Oh lordy do I love thee.
  • TPC (tire pressure sensor) (factory). Let’s me know if the air inside the spinny parts is too much or too little.
  • Power outlet (factory). Never used it, but if I ever decide to buy heated gear or something, I’ve got a place to plug it in.
  • Center stand (factory). Let me tell you, this bike goes up on it’s center stand easier than any bike I’ve ever heard of before. I rarely use the side stand!
  • LED blinkers (factory). They look pimp.
  • Fly screen (factory). I can’t remember if it’s an option or not, but I think so. Like the headlights it’s a bit odd, but effective enough. Rattles due to vibrations, though.
  • Raised seat (factory). Gives me a couple extra centimeters, makes my legs feel a lot better.
  • Tom Tom Urban Rider GPS. I actually got it as a gift a month before I bought the bike.

That’s all, folks!

Posted in Motorcycle Ride-outs 2011 | Leave a comment

Ski Trip: Davos

Worst. Skiing. Ever.

That’s twice I’ve been to Davos, and twice I hated it. I hit Jakobshorn today with Leon, who is quite frankly way out of my league when it comes to skiing. My legs were unaccountably sore from running during the week, and visibility was such crap that I couldn’t see 4 meters in front of me at one point. Why can I not see Davos when the sun shines? Does it never shine here?

Not a good way to end the season, but it’s practically summer already, and there won’t be any more skiing for me this year.

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