Fighting Blubber—The Gym Reassurance Questions.
April 20, 2008 8:06 AM   Subscribe

Fighting Blubber—The Gym Reassurance Questions.


Background: So here's the deal, during late high school and early college I hit the gym on and off for a month or so, always breaking my routine and never getting the the exact point that I wanted to reach—which was getting cut like B. Lee but with a bit more mass.
After college work left me drained so even though I had time to hit the gym after.. I rarely did.

Negative Result: The result of not hitting the gym was not so much as getting overweight (I have a relatively fast metabolism) but rather the addition of blubber... that fat over the 6 pack and the love handles and especially Gluteus Maximus.

Resolution: After a year I switched jobs (on my new job 5 months now) and I've forced myself to get back into shape—watching my diet and resurrecting my gym routine. My current weight is 190lbs, I guess that's not so bad for a guy who's 5'11. But there's definitely has room for improvement from what I've read.

The Stalling: So I've been hitting the gym 3 days a week for almost 2 months now. My routine involves 30 mins of jogging or stationary bike, followed by 45 mins to an hour of weight lifting.

Weightlifting Routine breakdown:

Bench Press: 3 sets/ min 127lbs max 157lbs
Lat Pull Down: 3 sets/ min 90lbs max 100lbs
Sitting Bicep Curl: 3 sets/ 22.5lbs
Tricep Pull Down: 3 sets/ 40lbs
Dumbell Shoulder Press: 3 sets/ 30lbs
Butterfly: 3 sets/ 110lbs
Shoulder Machine: 3 sets/ 70lbs
Glutes Leg Press: 3 sets/ 260lbs
Abb Death Circuit: 3 sets of: hard medicine Ball leg lift, large medicin ball crunches (lying on top), standing oblique lifts (45lbs each side)

Positive Results: I've noticed definition on my body in general and the showing of the 3pack lol upper abbs.

Again my goal still remains to: to get cut up but have a bit more mass than just the average kung-fu fighter lol.


I know that 2 months at the gym is a short time for me to expect major results, but I would really love to get rid of the blubber that is still covering the results that I'm trying so hard to improve (aka the muscles and the tone that is slowly appearing.. again very slowly lol).

1. How many moths do I have to wait to see substantial results aka the evaporation of this darn flab?

2. Is there anything I can do to improve the weight loss but not damage my other goal (building mass)?

3. My brother after a year of swimming completely transformed his body, would adding maybe 1 or 2 days of pool to my overall routine damage or improve the results I'm striving towards?

I told myself this time that I'm never quiting gym again.. and it looks like I've caught the gym bug as I get antsy (like an addict) towards the end of my work.. to get back into the gym.. :)

Andy advice is always helpful.
posted by wildrain2008 to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (10 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
how many reps are you doing in each set? for your goals, I would say 8 - 12 reps.

you don't really incorporate your legs into your workout. You might want to switch to a chest/tri and back/bi and then legs split for your workouts.

Yes, everyone hates legs, but their the largest muscles, and when you work them out, you trigger the largest hormonal response in the body - that helps all over

Another thing that helped me was doing the cardio after the weight lifting.

Final pearl of wisdom: they say that six-pack abs are made in the kitchen, not in the gym. If you really want to get a six-pack, you're going to have to get your body fat in the 6-8% range. No amount of weighlifting and running is going to help you if you have a crappy diet.

I don't think going to the pool will hurt you, as long as you take it slow. Use the pool as an extended, no-impact cardio session.
posted by unexpected at 8:17 AM on April 20, 2008

It takes a long time to get rid of fat, at least as long as it took to grow it. Keep exercising and eating right, and eventually the fat cells will realize they aren't wanted and kill themselves. Make sure you are always running on food and not storing or using stored energy.
posted by gjc at 8:17 AM on April 20, 2008

If you're looking for quick results I'd suggest having a look at Body for Life.

Ignore all the stuff on the website about Myoplex - you don't need it if you're eating right (although I do find that a Myoplex shake is very filling every now and again and I will usually have one about 20 minutes before I have a big training session). The exercise and nutrition information on the site is good.

The BfL programme is essentially very sound and if you work at it as they say, you will get quick results. I lost 35lbs and toned up considerably (even my abs were defined) in four months following BfL reasonably diligently.

The book is excellent, it has clear exercise instruction and the diet information is particularly useful. It's available on Amazon for a little over $4 (including shipping).
posted by essexjan at 8:48 AM on April 20, 2008

Always do cardio after lifting. Not only do you hit the lifting fresh with the most energy and no annoying fatigue shakes but the cardio will help decrease soreness by flushing lactic acid out of your muscles. You seem to be doing a lot of different exercises per visit, which will limit their efficacy. I would switch to one big movement per day, which will work especially well with a 3-day a week thing. Maybe a modified Westside for Skinny Bastards template would work for you; something like:
Bench Press, 5 sets (1 warm-up set) pyramid to a 5-rep or 3-rep max. NB: Not an absolute max, you should leave something in the tank, but a weight that you strain quite a bit on the last rep of the last set.
Bent over rows: 5 sets of 5 reps, 1 warm up set, pyramidal or flat
Dumbbell or rope tricep extension, 4 sets of 6 or 3 sets of 8
Ab work of your choice
Rear delt raises, 3 sets at a comfortable weight (useful for preventing shoulder injuries)
Squats, 5x5, pyramidal or flat. Either way the last set should be hard, aim for a weight that forces you to pause a few times during the last set or Deadlifts, 5x5, pyramidal or flat, last set should be very difficult
If you squat, do stiff leg deadlifts, glute-ham raises, or reverse hyperextensions as a supplement (stiff-leg deadlifts will probably be the easiest, as not all gyms have equipment for the other two)
If you deadlift, do leg presses as a supplement.
Ab work of your choice
Bench press, 4 sets of 8 or 10, pick a weight that tests your endurance more than your strength
Dumbbell military press, 3 sets of 6 or 4 sets of 8
Dumbbell curls, 3 sets
Face pulls (get a split rope cable extension, position one end on each side of your neck with your elbows pointing directly outward, pull towards you; this will make your traps feel like they're on fire but it is well worth it), 3 sets of 10 to 20
Ab work of your choice, any miscellaneous stuff you didn't do elsewhere

How lean you get is entirely a function of diet: The strongest people are usually not all that "cut". Swimming would be fine as a cardio choice, provided you don't beat up your shoulders too much.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 8:48 AM on April 20, 2008

Ok, here's my advice: your workout plan is kind of crappy right now. It is great that you are getting to the gym and lifting but you are not working out very efficiently. Everything I tell you comes with the caveat that everyone is different, and you need to find the plan that works for you, but here is some common advice from hardcore gymrats:
1) Don't do your cardio first. It is counterproductive. You have begun to wear yourself out before you get to the weight room which means you'll probably lift less, with potentially worse form. By all means warm up for 5-10 minutes, but 30 minutes of jogging is unnecessary. Do your cardio after, or even better, in a different session. You don't really need to do it every time you work out anyway, even if you're trying to lose weight. And look into adding some intervals or perhaps a session of HIIT to your cardio routine. Swimming wouldn't hurt, it is always good to mix things up.

2) Your leg work sucks. Get your ass off the leg press and into the cage. Add heavy squats and deadlifts, as someone said above, this has a positive hormonal effect that will improve your whole body. Dollars to donuts someone will come on here and tell you to do crossfit, but I wouldn't even think about it until you learn how to squat and deadlift a decent amount with good form.

3) You don't need all those isolation exercises, especially not at this point. Here's a pretty decent 3x/week full body routine. Yes, this website is aimed at women, but it is quite solid advice for anyone. Notice that this routine is broken up into heavier and lighter days, that vary the reps and weights. You want to vary those things frequently. When you have gotten solidly in shape and still are obsessed with getting hyooje biceps, then maybe you add in the vanity isolation work, but right now it is wasting your time.

4) You get abs by lowering your body fat. You get muscles most efficiently by eating more calories than you burn. Don't expect to be able to do a great job of both at once beyond maybe the first few months. The easiest thing for you to do right now is probably to concentrate on getting enough protein and not eating too much. When you're ready to bulk, find a good meat head website (I dunno, tnation?) and ask there because askme is not really great for that sort of question. As for how long this will take, no one here can tell you exactly, but probably at least a few months.
posted by ch1x0r at 8:58 AM on April 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

check out Strong LIfts Beginners Program. the workout are simple, efficient and hard. ditch the machines. squats and deadlifts should be the core of your program. they will stress all of your muscles and cause you to grow.
if you're really serious about getting rid of the blubber, consider going on the anabolic diet. i cannot recommend it enough, although getting through the first couple of weeks is hard.

if you go anabolic and lift heavy, the fat will melt off with very little little cardio.
posted by ye#ara at 9:16 AM on April 20, 2008

Seconding essexjan's Body-for-Life recommendation. I've been following the BfL workout routine for 9 years now after previously having a body much like you describe above (not fat, but not fit either). Also agree with her that as long as you eat properly you don't necessarily have to buy the exact supplements they hawk (but again, in my experience the workout routine is solid).

The workout routine is based on a pyramid system. To give you a "Cliffs Notes" overview, say you're working your chest doing an exercise like the bench press. You do sets of 12-10-8--6 reps, increasing your weight with each subsequent rep. After your set of 6 (which should be extremely difficult for you, pushing the limits of what you can do) you do another set of 12 at the initial weight you started with. You follow THAT up with another "superset" of 12 working the same bodypart, but doing a diffirent exercise (in this example, maybe you'd do pec flys).

As someone who needs an organized routine to stay on track, I like the BfL routine if only because there is never a point where I go the gym without a clear idea of what I'm going to do doing that day. Along the same lines, I know that if I skip a day, the whole routine is off, since the exercise regiment is based on a 6-day-a-week system, which helps me on those days when all I want to do is veg out on the couch.
posted by The Gooch at 9:55 AM on April 20, 2008

Just as a reference point, I have been trying to lose some unwanted fat cover this year.

I started on Jan 20 at 191 lb (I'm 5"8') several weeks ago I stabilised at 177 lb while I had some other business to attend to, now I've started again. Judging by calipers and tape, the loss has been almost all fat.

However my regime has been rather different to yours.

1. I've been watching what I eat. You don't mention diet at all, but the fact is losing fat means being in calorie deficit, so you must achieve that somehow. For me, giving up alcohol and sweet things and making a healthy lunch every day has pretty much done it.

2. I do fewer lifts. But I deadlift. Specifically, I've been cycling:

Every M W F:

week 1: 2 x 10
week 2: 2 x 8
week 3 and 4: 2 x 5
then a week off.

Starting weight for deads was 80 kg, end of last cycle was 145 kg. I also do dumbell military press, and chin with weights from a weight belt. Apart from that, I do some floor work movements from capoeira.

Previous cycle was squats, weighted dips and chins. If I get bored next cycle, I might do a military press and row as my last two exercises instead. If I feel moved to do direct ab work, I'll do crunches holding a heavy plate or dumbell.

3. I don't do that much cardio. I ride my bike to work sometimes and I do capoeira twice a week. Cardio's good for you, but doing enough to put you in calorie deficit without eating less would take all day every day.

So my takeaway points are:

1. Fewer lifts, bigger lifts, cycle the lifts.
2. Eat less if you're cutting.
3. Looking back, I've lost approximately a pound a and a half per week. As far as I know that's close to the upper bound of what anyone can manage long term.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 12:35 PM on April 20, 2008

Swimming is great exercise. If it appeals to you at all, and you won't be overly discouraged by not being very good for the first month, go for it. (I phased it in until I began to enjoy it, doing nearly a full workout on the bike or treadmill and then 10-15 minutes swimming, eventually doing 20-25 minutes swimming and then a little bit of jogging).

In general, I've always repeatedly found that switching from one exercise (eg, jogging) to another (eg, swimming or cross-country skiing or ...) works my body in a whole different way, with good results for both blubber and muscle tone.
posted by salvia at 2:39 PM on April 20, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks for all the detailed answers guys, I'm carefully reading over each response and constructing my new routine.. I especially like the fact of doing cardio after weightlifting.. I think I'll have better results.

So here's my last question on this getting-into-shape topic. What is a good daily diet? I like routines so I don't care if it's the same for most of the week.

Currently this is what I eat:

bkfast.. rarely on time if I even have one.. usually vegetable omelet and ice tea (low sweet)

lunch: salad with dressing or if hot plate.. meet/potatoes/steamed veggies

dinner: meet/broccoli/mushroom stew.. (my own creation.. my fav)

supper: ah .. anything i can get my hands on in the fridge.. fruits/yogurt... sweets..

My ears are opened.. what do you guys suggest?
posted by wildrain2008 at 7:20 PM on April 22, 2008

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