Week 12 (ending) Sunday 14.04.13 Weight 12st 4lbs – My own measure of fitness has always been “Can I do stuff?” Yes, in the past, professional sport was the main driver but “Can you play football this weekend?” and “Fancy a game of tennis?” are not questions that I want to have to think twice about just because of fitness. Hidden within that lifestyle choice has been a complete rejection of the anti-competitive culture that ‘passive-aggressives’ try to use as a control mechanism and a life that has been fortunate enough to be able to enjoy dozens of different sports.
This final week has seen lighter nights and warmer weather, so I added cycling to and from the gym to my routine. It’s just over four miles each way with purpose-built cycle paths alongside the River Derwent, which is a real hardship. The training focus has remained on High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) with some amusing responses to me gasping for breath in my ten second intervals in the weights area! The cycling becomes the perfect warm up and cool down.
My recovery from the trapped nerve continues apace with the strength slowly returning to my right triceps. The nerve is still trapped but, by maintaining light / medium exercise for the affected muscle group, the neural connection appears to have started to re-route. Whatever, I now have a triceps that’s usable again five weeks after the event, compared to the 12-18 months quoted by the ‘experts’.
So, we’re at the end of my 12 Week Fitness Challenge. Big questions: Did I achieve what I set out to achieve? What did I learn? I’m undoubtedly fitter and stronger than when I started, so that has to be a tick. I already knew that constraining a programme to a twelve week target was somewhat artificial, particularly with the pressures of my campaign work. My challenge proved that any programme needs to evolve and adapt to changing circumstances but, again, no big surprises there. Once I’ve got rid of the trapped nerve, I’ll be in better shape to start my kart testing programme than I was twelve weeks ago.
Ok, so after 40 years of sport and coaching experience, here’s what I did learn in just twelve short weeks:
- Modern sports nutrition supplements, incorporated within a structured training programme and healthy diet, can provide a significant advantage both in athletic development and in recovery. I was not expecting to have to curtail the ‘build’ segment of my programme after just six weeks. The results honestly astounded me. At 54 years old, I have never in my life before felt so fresh and ready to go the day after a weights session as I’ve done whilst using nutritional supplements.
- A trapped nerve can atrophy muscle so fast you’ll think you’re being eaten from the inside. Stop training at your peril. You will have nothing left of the affected muscle group within a matter of weeks. Listen to your body and, if you consider it safe, maintain a light training regime on the affected muscle group. It is critical that you try and maintain some kind of neural connection to the muscle.
- When you’re putting together an intensive programme, for every piece of advice from an ‘expert’, you’ll find at least another two saying the complete opposite. Be thorough in your own research, listen to your body, trust your own judgment, and take nothing for granted.
- Regardless of what they say, do not expect other people to be supportive of your diet regime. Some may regard your discipline as being over the top but that’s often driven by their own insecurities. You will have to develop a very thick skin to go with your rigid discipline, if you are to hit your goals.
- At 54, you can be measurably stronger than you were at 24.
If you’re thinking about putting a training programme together, think carefully about what you want to achieve. ‘Cover magazine’ might be good for the ego but it’s practically useless for sport. If you are involved in competitive sport, remember whatever size and physique you end up with, what matters is not the size of the dog in the fight but the size of the fight in the dog…
See the full week by week account here!
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