G-Day 7 and 8 – Rest and Chest

I have missed a few days posting here but the reason is that I had to skip a couple of days for rest purposes and due to the fact we were just too busy. However, I managed to squeeze in Chest and Back at the gym, my second time around with that particular routine.

Chest and back went according to plan, the only adjustment I made was to do single arm pulls for my rear delts instead of doing the rear delt machine. This movement replaces the bent over back flys which to be honest are both difficult and potentially dangerous to do sitting down. A standing pull with your arm parallel to the ground with a cable at shoulder height gives you an excellent isolation of the rear delt without the pressure on your back that sitting provides. I find that doing pull ups at the gym is radically different than at home. The equipment is built for it, the extra space around me seems to provide me with extra strength and the fact that there are huge mirrors right opposite the pull up station is a huge bonus. I also have found that doing bench instead of push ups is also radically different. I am on program to get my bench up to 225 for the push up portions of the program which would make me happy. However, you need to be aware that the bench will never replace the push up as an exercise because of the isolation of the chest. I would recommend that you leave at least one push up movement maybe with a BOSU ball in your repertoire.

G-Day 5 – Legs and Back

So here is my interpretation. It is basically the same as doing the DVD in fact, I have only substituted a couple of moves. I cannot nail down the best way to work in the incline leg press so it may never make it in to the workout.

I posted this before the workout, so here it is again with the numbers included. This was a long (48min without warm up) and difficult workout. Surprisingly one of the hardest things was the Chair Pose on the BOSU ball. I was sweating bullets after that one and shaking like a leaf while attempting it.

Legs and Back


24 24 Balance Lunges
30 30 Calf-Raise Squats
13 FULL Reverse Grip Chin-Ups
15 15 Super Skaters
4x15s 60s Wall Squats
7 FULL Wide Front Pull-Ups
20 20 Step Back Lunges
20 24 Alternating Side Lunges
12 FULL Closed Grip Overhand Pull-Ups
6×10 60s Single-Leg Wall Squats
8 12 Deadlift Squats – SINGLE LEG SQUATS
9 FULL Switch Grip Pull-Ups
25@50 24 Hamstring Curls Machine
14 24 Stiff Leg Deadlifts – No Weight on bar
9 FULL Reverse Grip Chin-Ups (again)
2x30s 60s Chair Salutations or Squat hold on BOSU
20 12 Toe-Roll Iso Lunges
9 FULL Wide Front Pull-Ups (again)
5 20 Free Squat 4 count down 4 hold 4 up
47 20×3 Calf Raises
7 FULL Closed Grip Overhand Pull-Ups (again)
20 20 80/20 Siebers-Speed Squats
10 FULL Hammer Grip Pull-Ups

G-Day 4 – 5K Run for Charity

Share the outdoors with your kids. They will thank you for it (even if they are 40 before they do...)

Share the outdoors with your kids. They will thank you for it (even if they are 40 before they do…)


Rather than spend my time alone in the basement, I took the opportunity to go on the 30th Annual Howl On The Hill 5k run with my wife and some kids from her Fit Kids class. I am sad to say there wasn’t much running to be done but spending time with kids and in the cool autumn air was a great experience. It brought back many memories of being a kid out hiking with my Dad in the Yorkshire Moors complaining about how far it was to the next Youth Hostel. In those days we did 15 miles a day at age 12, these kids were complaining about a 5k walk on suburban streets. Can’t blame them, of course, they are products of their environment and I think all kids are, to some degree, wired to whinge a lot of the time. However, they will grow up with their own pleasant memories and as I get older I realize just how lucky I was as a child not to live in a big city and to have parents who cared about and loved my sister and me enough to truck us out to the countryside and make us carry our own backpacks from Youth Hostel to Youth Hostel where we had to help in the cooking, cleaning and general upkeep of the hostel once we got there. Life wasn’t hard by any means and looking back on it I really really loved those weekends away and although I seem to have lost my point along the way here, those memories of my childhood exercising with my Dad are some of the best that I have. Maybe as a surrogate point here we should agree that although fitness and weight loss are incredibly personal things, they are also things that you can share with your kids and maybe give them some memories like I have of times out in the open country with their parents just having fun.

Tony is a great motivator and an awesome specimen but spending time with him instead of your kids is not the idea. The point is to do what you can with him to make sure you are able to do the other fun stuff with them.

Balance, I am a fan…

G-Day 3 – Shoulders and Arms

Here is the plan for today, shoulders and arms G90X styleeee!

Shoulders and Arms
First Circuit:
Alternating Shoulder Presses
Straight Bar Bicep Curls
Tricep Cable Pushdowns
Second Circuit:
Deep Swimmer’s Presses
Full Supination Concentration Curls
Feet Up Bench Dips
Third Circuit:
Upright Rows – Straight Bar
Static Arm Curls  – Straight Bar
Overhead Dumbell Tricep Extension
Fourth Circuit:
Standing Front and Side Shoulder Fly
Seated Concentration Curls
Tricep Extension and Close Grip Bench Finish
Bonus Circuit:
Hero Flys (Shoulder Fly to Y Position)
Straight Bar Curls with French Curl Finish
Free Dips on Dip Station

I will fill in the weights and other details including the obligatory whining about how sore my arms are going to be later…

I Ran (G-Day 2 – Plyo Substitute)

Knee pain? Hip pain? Low back pain while running? Check your ITB.

Knee pain? Hip pain? Low back pain while running? Check your ITB.

As I was preparing to go down to the basement to do Plyo with Tony, the ever modest, humble Tony, I recalled something he says during the Plyo workout. “You should see me play hoops after doing this for a couple of months… Unbelievable”. Well, I wondered just what he could have meant by unbelievable and if there was an equivalent level of disbelief that I could test for myself. So I decided that I would go for a jog. Now, those who know me are familiar with my stature and know at first sight that although my body is designed for many things, running is not one of them. The last time I ran with any regularity was after I graduated University and was still playing club rugby for the Oakville Crusaders. That was many many years ago and also many many pounds ago. When I was playing last I weighed about 210lbs. I currently weigh in at about 255lbs, mostly due to a big push during the late ’90s when I gained about 40lbs of muscle over the course of about 2 years while trying to make a living as a personal trainer. Anyway, the point being that running is in my far distant past. I have tried over the last few years since my back surgery to run so that I could drop some weight but my runs were more of a walk with some really fast walking mixed in. I would call it jogging but that would probably be an insult to joggers everywhere. I developed shin splints, my tight hip/ITB tore at my knee joints and the whole experience was awful.

Needless to say, my expectations were low and as the rain lightly fell on my face I started out into the darkness to see if my 3 month affair with Tony had been worth it. With my iPod on and thoughts of Tony berating his minions I forged ahead, expecting the usual sad performance. However, I am happy to report that I completed approximately 2.25 miles only stopping at the 3 major intersections to stretch my ITB. Other than that, I RAN THE WHOLE WAY!!!! Unbelievable doesn’t even cover my feeling after I was done and even though the elusive “runner’s high” was nowhere to be found, I was definitely impressed with myself and can say without any uncertainty that P90X was the ONLY reason I was able to do what I did. I know it may not seem like much, but one man’s 2.25 mile jog is another man’s 350lb bench press.

So colour me tickled, I was very happy with myself. That was, of course, until I tried to get out of bed the next day.

Tony, I hate him, but I love him…

G-Day 2 – Come back Tony, all is forgiven

Day 1 of G90X was great. No, wait, it sucked. Well, at the time it was great, now, 2 days later and I am facing Plyo while unable to walk properly I can tell you it was awful. I thought for sure I wouldn’t get sore, after all I had been doing pushups and pullups, what would a little weights be after that?

Well, as you can see below I didn’t use heavy weights, in fact I should have used the pink Olympic bar my bench was so light. In any case, I subbed what I could and did chin ups on the chest fly machine… An enormous double stack of weights with rowing machines and lat machines attached. The cool thing is that it faces the mirror wall and unlike my basement all the mirrors line up properly so you don’t look like a Salvador Dali painting as you are sweating your nuts off.

It was odd being back in the gym especially since I was there NOT doing my gym workout. Instead I had a list to get through. That list is here:

Day 1 Chest and Back


Set 1

Set 2

Flat bench 25 @ 135 20 @ 135
Wide Front Pull Ups



Narrow Grip Bench 25 @ 135 10 @ 135
Reverse Grip Chin Ups



Wide Fly Press 20 @ 25 15 @ 25
Closed Grip Overhand Pull Ups



Incline Bench (OR INCLINE DB PRESS) 20 @ 40 12 @ 40
Heavy Pants or Seated Cable Row 15 @ 150 12 @ 150
Diamond Push Ups / CABLE FLYS 20 @ 50 20 @ 50
Lawnmower 20 @ 30 20 @ 30
Dive Bomber Push Ups



Back Flys with machine 10 @ 110 10 @ 110
2 days later and I am in critical condition I am so sore.

Day 89, 90 and 1! P90X is dead, long live G90X!

The Return of the Gym Rat

The Return Of The Gym Rat…

It’s time for a rebirth. Time to reinvest in myself and to take what Tony taught me back into the gym.

Today is going to be Day 1 of G90X. My gym infused version of P90X. Since I have a gym membership and my psyche still requires that public exposure as mild motivation I will be taking my P90X workout to the gym. I haven’t worked out the whole program yet, I have a 5 day rotation with which to work and I am going to be doing the Cardio, Kenpo, Plyo and Yoga components of P90X mixed into the newly revamped gym workout.

All I know right now is that if I take Chest and Back to the gym I will have 3 or 4 days to figure out Shoulders and Arms. If I don’t go until I figure it out, I will stay home and watch TV eating bonbons…

So here goes, this is the plan which will probably change once I have a chance to go through it once or twice. I’ll be keeping an excel spreadsheet to record my reps and weights which I will scan later.

6 Day Rotation with rest as required (but with 2 days off a week, rest should not be an issue.
Day 1 – Chest and Back
Day 2 – Plyo with Tony
Day 3 – Shoulders and Arms
Day 4 – Yoga
Day 5 – Legs and Back
Day 6 – Kenpo or Cardio or Core Syn

I am not sure I will be incorporating a rest week or not. I will see how I feel after the first 3 weeks.

•Flat bench with 2/3 body weight (up to full body weight, no more)

•Wide Front Pull Ups

•Narrow Grip Bench with 2/3 body weight (up to full body weight, no more)

•Reverse Grip Chin Ups

•Wide Fly Press (start at 40’s)

•Closed Grip Overhand Pull Ups

•Incline Bench with 50% bodyweight up to full bodyweight (OR INCLINE DUMBELL PRESS)

•Heavy Pants or Seated Cable Row

•Diamond Push Ups / CABLE FLYS


•Dive Bomber Push Ups

•Back Flys with machine

Day 87 – Heart Monitors and Stretching

Extreme Relaxing... Bring It (to me on the couch)

Extreme Relaxing… Bring It (to me on the couch)

I was reminded today while watching the Biggest Loser on TV the importance of a good heart rate monitor. Even if you are not particularly concerned with your heart rate per se you should have one that tells you how many calories you have burned in any given workout. This will give you a ballpark idea as to the rate at which you are working. Personally I usually burn between 500-700 calories during an hour long P90X workout. This was overshadowed yesterday by my pathetic count of 200 calories burned during stretch X. It’s not that I am dissing Stretch X, not at all, in fact I actually enjoy the stretching when I do it. The sad thing is that it is usually a choice between Stretch X and Couch X and regardless of the outward appearance that I am a fit healthy and active individual, the couch and I still enjoy a strong and intimate relationship when Tony isn’t looking.

So I opted out of doing Cardio X as a substitute and a dash of adventure and instead went about stretching every muscle known to man. I really enjoyed Stretch X, it’s kid of like a kinder, gentler Yoga X without the leg pain and the Yoga Belly 7. It is a real mind calming workout, and if you choose not to do it on your days off during the phases, make sure you don’t skip it during rest week because I am sure that it is often overlooked like a red-headed stepchild (or the middle child if you are one and just have to throw your $.02 in). It left me at peace, relaxed and feeling much better than I did after a pan full of beans and turkey sausage that I had for dinner.

I have coaching Thursday night and since it is Thanksgiving in Canada this weekend ahead of the big freeze I should be able to squeeze out the last 3 workouts from Friday to Monday. Especially since this is an International Break weekend for Football in England so I know Liverpool won’t be playing and the next Formula 1 Grand Prix isn’t until next weekend so the TV will sit idle on Saturday morning.

Day 82 – Redemption (I am so lost sometimes)

So my last entry lamenting the fact that I missed my last weights day was a little premature. Fact is that I have one day left. The day 81 workout was the Kenpo that I switched with Yoga leaving me with Legs and Back today and then Yoga on Friday (or not, as noted).

Sometimes I wonder...

So I am now in a position where I have one resistance day left and then one cardio day and then a full week of rest week and then I am done.

I’ll let you know how the last resistance day goes. Nothing out of the norm I can’t imagine.

So it would figure that once I did the math and figured out I still had one day left to do that I would be feeling like garbage. I think I had a little too much coffee today because I felt shaky and weak, a sure sign of caffeine overload. For me, when that happens I get the feeling that I can’t get any blood flow to my muscles, I feel weak and surprisingly lethargic. Once I start working out however I find my heart rate goes higher than normal and I sweat like a wildebeast. Speaking of which, here’s an interesting fact for the day that I think maybe everyone except me knows… The wildebeast is the same animal as the Gnu. I had literally no idea. Besides, it sounds less dramatic to say I was sweating like a Gnu.

So the start of the workout was difficult but I pushed myself to do more knowing how I would feel after 10 minutes or so. That is an incredibly important part of fitness and weightloss. Knowing how your body will react to something is a powerful tool in your arsenal. It is obvious that some days you are going to be better in the gym than others, it’s just a fact. During those days that you feel great and want to do more, you should do whatever you can because you know that there are going to be days when you have to take it easy because you don’t feel so good. The point is to recognize the difference between your body sending you a message to take it easy and your brain telling you to relax because it is being lazy. Laziness doesn’t have an equal and opposite force, it is just a drain. Lazy people are lazy in all facets of their life including at the gym and with their diet. Strong motivated people know when to push and when to hold back and that is something that will always work to their advantage.

In other words, learn to recognize your BODY’S signals, not your brain’s.

So I started off not feeling great, but after the first round of pullups and lunges I started to come around. As usual for me, once I get going I feel fine, which is why I have a long standing agreement with myself that if I don’t feel like going to the gym I will go anyway and see how it is. If I still feel like I don’t need to be there after 10 minutes, I am allowed to leave. Of the dozens of times I have thought of this rule, I have only ever once turned around after 10 minutes and left.

So what have I learned about the leg days? This is important to me because when I first hurt my back way back in 1997 or so it was on an incline leg press doing slightly over 1000lbs. The sled came down on me and I was unable to turn the stop handles quickly enough. Due to the fact that I was not flexible, something had to give and it was my back. Now, I am not blaming my entire history of back problems on that one event, but what I do know is that morning laying on the floor of The Workout was the first time I ever remember feeling the pain of disc herniation. I continued to work on my legs for the next few years without much incident, I mostly did squats and extensions and stayed away from the sled. Once my back started to give out more regularly I gave up working out my legs because it seemed that every time I did something with my legs I put my back out. I even recall doing the original P90 workout a few years ago and after leg day the next morning I couldn’t walk because of my back. After my surgery I was left with a weak right leg having lost about 30% of the muscle mass in my thigh. I tried in vain to rebuild the leg but found it incredibly frustrating. Looking back I wish I had listened to myself when I used to tell my PT clients about the importance of stretching, not for flexibility necessarily but for warmup and warm down purposes. Had I realized that my back problems were linked directly to my leg issues and the lack of hamstring flexibility I could have saved myself a lot of grief. But, you live and learn.

So what I have learned about leg days is that your legs are a critical part of your lower back health, your overall flexibility and even your core strength. If you are smart and look after your hamstrings, keep them flexible and strong you will go a long way towards preventing unnecessary back pain. This also applies to knee pain and hip pain since the leg muscles are the connection between your hips and your knees. I can’t stress how important it is to keep the back of your legs supple and the proof is the fact that I am able to do the intense workouts for my legs in P90X without any adverse effects on my back. This alone has been both a major benefit but also a major surprise to me. My right leg has grown in strength and size over the past 90 days which I was unable to accomplish in the 8 years since my surgery. It just goes to show, you should try everything once because you just never know what might work.

Except acupuncture. Don’t bother with acupuncture it doesn’t work. I can tell you that from experience.

Day 38 – 1 Week To The Top

Back, Biceps

I always imagine the half way point of any venture as the top of the mountain, once you are past half way, things always seem to go more quickly towards the finish line. One week from today I will be half way through the P90X program and although my “transformation” is not significant, that was not my goal. In fact, as I stated at the outset my goal for doing this was only for the challenge and the variety. The fact that I have lost a few pounds and made some significant fitness gains is a bonus.

It has been really weird not going to the gym every day and still getting the quality of workout that I have been. I have always been of the opinion that you need to be in the gym to get the quality of workout that you need to succeed in fitness. This stems from the arrogance of my initial certification as an ACE Personal Trainer. When I got certified, the culture was that the gym was the law not the guideline and the notion of working out without weights was almost non existent. Since then a lot has changed, the improvisation of the fitness industry and their desire for money has generated a whole industry around working out at home. From the very early days of at home aerobics to Billy Blanks and his Tae Bo all the way up to P90X and beyond, the fitness industry now accepts the notion that you can get a great workout anywhere you want to. Ask any Personal Trainer worth their salt and they will now be able to give you a dozen alternatives to replace your gym exercises no matter if you are at home, at a hotel or even at the beach. My experience with P90X has taught me that not only is it possible to get a top class workout at home, but also that the workout that I impose on my kids at gym every year is a reflection of my own insight into that area. Without even knowing it I had developed a workout regime that could very easily have served as an at home workout for anyone willing to put in the time and effort.

Speaking of gym, I am going to start (hopefully) to develop the conditioning for the year before we start, that way I will have lists defined, workout schedules made and a well balanced approach to their fitness ready to go. Much as I enjoy making stuff up as we go, it does make me stressed and can occasionally lead to unbalanced workouts. So this year I hope to incorporate some of the Plyo and other P90X stuff into the conditioning and to have a set of workouts of various lengths I can pick from.