This will be the final update in the Four Day Fitness section. It was a lofty goal: get in shape by working out twice a week and eating right twice a week. It’s a really appealing idea; a limited time commitment, limited self-control, slow-but-steady results. And there were even studies to back the concept up.
But all of the appeal and all of the case studies in the world don’t mean anything compared to real-world results, and my real-world results were … uninspiring, to say the least.
The strength training was actually fairly successful. By the end of my experiment I was benching 250 pounds for reps, cold, and was overhead pressing 180 pounds in a fatigued state. My arms and legs, the leanest parts of my body, were noticeable more muscular. And my joints, which have given me problems for years, are feeling a lot better. So that I count as a win.
My cardio capacity didn’t fare as well. One session of kettle bells per week did a lot to increase my work capacity, but I still didn’t feel like I was actually improving, like I was actually getting back into my former shape. I was just not being such a slack ass. It’s nice to be able to walk up the stairs without getting winded, but it’s not enough. Call this one a wash.
But when it comes to weight loss, I count the four day fitness experiment a failure. I’d lose a couple of pounds here and there, then go off-plan for a day or two and gain most of it back, struggle back to baseline, loose another pound or two, and repeat the process over again.
Also, I have no idea what this did to my blood chemistry, because I can’t afford to have work done every week. So my numbers might have improved, but I can’t prove it.
This program might have merit in once case: for a beginner (or a new beginner) that’s looking for a gentle introduction to eating right and working out. This plan doesn’t demand a lot from you, and that might be perfect for someone who’s afraid of committing to a health program.
But for me, who’s very much all-or-nothing and very used to seeing fast results, it’s just annoying.
So I switched things up. Last week I decided to go whole-hog with the low-carb diet and hit the gym three times: two sessions of kettle bells and one session of strength training. Here’s what the program looked like:
Monday and Friday
- Kettle Bells, 10 sets of 20 reps
- Pikes, 10 sets of 10 reps
- Deadlift, 225 pounds x 5 reps, 315 pounds x 5 reps
- Bench Press, 200 pounds x 90 seconds
- Seated Row, 200 pounds x 90 seconds
- Leg Press, 400 pounds x 120 seconds
- Calf Raise, 400 pounds x 120 seconds
- Overhead Press, 150 pounds x 90 seconds
- Pulldown, 150 pounds x 90 seconds
- Wrist Curl, 30 pounds x 90 seconds (each arm)
I don’t count reps for the 90/120 second exercises; I just keep moving the weight (very) slowly until my stopwatch tells me I’m done.
Monday – Saturday
- Wake-up: 1 32g protein shot
- Breakfast: 6 eggs scrambled, with peppers and mushrooms
- Lunch: 2 South Beach Diet meal bars
- Snack: 1 South Beach Diet meal bar
- Dinner: various low-carb meals The Lady was kind enough to prepare. Mostly chicken-based
I didn’t count calories, or even count carbs. I just avoided anything starchy (bread, pasta, potatoes, etc) and cut down on dairy (the hardest part of this, actually) and stopped eating when I was starting to feel full.
Sunday is a cheat day. I don’t recommend the “go crazy and gorge yourself” method of cheating, or eating until you make yourself feel sick. I had pancakes for breakfast, pita chips and a couple of handfuls of candy here and there, and pizza for dinner. And honestly, all that sugar kind of made me ill.
The result? I dropped 8 pounds in one week.
This is where a bunch of people chime in with cries of “it was all water weight.” Which is mostly true. But here’s the thing: when you start dieting, the first few pounds are always water weight. That’s because you lose water when you burn glycogen, and your body prefers burning glycogen to burning fat. If you don’t deplete your glycogen you’ll never actually get into that fat burning state.
So the fact that I had eight pounds of water weight to lose meant my four day fitness experiment never depleted my glycogen stores, and probably never would have resulted in significant weight loss.
This is a program that I think will be effective, but I’m still going to tweak it some more.
First, I’m going to split the weight training up into two days. I’ll be doing the same exercises and the same volume, but I’ll be doing the first half of the above workout on Tuesday and the second half on Thursday. This is because splitting training into multiple events elicits a greater adaptive effect, and it gives me one less day to be lazy.
Second, I’ll be adding in a third day of kettle bells and pikes, doing 10 sets of 20 reps on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. This is because two days a week is still too easy for me. I’m pretty good at kettle bell swings, and I’d rather add another day than spend an extra half hour waiting for myself to gas out.
I’ll report back with the results later.