Friday, March 02, 2018

Exercise Sweet Spot

Damn, how much exercise is too much? I never seem to be able to hit the sweet spot.

In the last months I was going to the gym 3 times a week for an hour plus each time (over a number of weeks I'd taken it up from three-quarters of an hour). This exercise consisted of 20 mins warm-up on a rowing machine or cross trainer, followed by a varied selection of weight lifting. I seemed to be rolling along fine with that. I then changed it to half an hour in the morning on weekdays, except for one day when I went in the afternoon and did about an hour. This was because I was dopy in the morning and it seemed to take forever to get going. I thought this might give me a boost and it did. For a week I was fine and much more awake. I steadily upped the time to (thus far) 37 minutes and then just as steadily, along came increasing midday knackerdom and the need for a ‘power knap’ (which always sounds better than a snooze on the sofa).

One of the things that came across in various articles I read was that if your basing your life around your exercise then you’re getting a bit OCD with it. Well I guess I am in the sense that my work is suffering because I’m wearing myself out. Another thing I read was that, per week, 150 mins of moderate exercise or 75 mins of intense is a kind of minimum, while 3 to 5 times that is best. I was doing the 3x – about 3.5 hours intense, but dropping 3 hours when I moved to the mornings and steadily climbing again. But it didn’t seem to work out so well.

I guess one has to look at other factors. I’m no spring chicken anymore; I’m 57 (Fuck! How did that happen?). It could simply be that I need to slow down a bit and get more rest, which is an idea I do not like at all. Also, though there’s no blood involved, men go through hormonal cycles. Perhaps I just hit a testosterone dip or something? Then there’s the time of year and the weather. It’s Winter and like us all I definitely slow down at this time of year. Also, right now, it’s Siberia outside. It’s not beyond reason to suppose evolution has provided us with a genetically transcribed instruction: ‘Snow, cold, slow down shutdown and conserve.’

Anyway, in the end I can read all sorts of articles on the internet about this sort of stuff, but always they fail to apply to me. A lot of strength training bumph is focused on the age groups ten or twenty years behind me, where you can basically get away with hammering your body. Look at ‘senior’ stuff and it’s always ‘you need to maintain your health with a little gentle exercise’ and ‘take advice from your health practitioner’ and, essentially ‘don’t go taking my advice and blowing the rivets out of your heart’.

I guess I’ll just have to keep altering things, trying new things, and hoping to find the exercise sweet spot for me.       


Roger Schweingruber said...

Hi Neal.. In the Gym 4 - 5 times a week for 60 Minutes of weight lifting and around 30 minutes of cardio... Did not find the sweet spot yet. Just train as much as you think is ok for you... if you are more tired then refreshed after your body has recovered then it's too much.

Since I'm the first commenting I do have to ask something on another topic. Since you are commenting regularely on other autors and stories I wonder if you have read the Hyperion Books from Dan Simmons. I'm re-reading them right now (after maybe 10 years) and I'm hooked (again).

Well, I have to bridge the time somehow until I can buy your next book ;-)

Regards and keep pumping

Richard Parry said...

Neal I always like how you share what's going on in your life :)

FWIW, I'm 45, and after being very fit in my 30s, the age impact was a bit of a shock. The #1 thing that impacts my energy is sleep, followed by diet as #2. If I'm not sleeping, I can't move, and if I hit the beers too hard (obviously a purely hypothetical situation) that makes everything grimed up.

My take on it? Assume you're going to have green, yellow, and red days. Green, you can go hard. Yellow, moderate exercise. Red days? Do some stretching or walking. Listen to the body, and it'll look after you.

One trick I've used is in between writing sprints, I do some resistance work - 10 reps of bench press, say, or some dips, pulls, squats, whatever. Push-ups, it doesn't matter. But it gets frequency up, heart a little pumped, and keeps my body from decaying into a pile of dust while doing sedentary work :)