Tuesday, May 14, 2019


My experience with physical fitness came later than for many, since I was successful in completely avoiding gym class in high school. When I was in graduate school, I needed something to help me deal with stress, so I would jog around the block a few times. That was about it. 

Running (2000-2001)

When I started working full time, I kept up the jogging, sometimes on a treadmill at work. That led to me running several 10k races from 2002 to 2005.

Strength Training (2001-2002)

One day when I was on my way to the gym at work, I ran into Lance. Literally - he knocked me down. He apologized profusely. I asked him to teach me about weight lifting in the gym, and he did. He explained the importance of doing 3 sets of 8-10 reps, to failure. And taught me about major muscle groups: Chest, back, shoulders, arms, legs. He showed me how to use the bench press for chest exercises, etc. Now I was able to mix some basic strength training into my workout program. I used the dumbbells and exercise machines at work regularly.

Gym (2002-2009)

In 2002 I changed jobs to a company without an adequate gym in the building, so I joined 24 Hour Fitness. I paid around $950 for a "lifetime" membership (annual renewal is $50 per year). That turned out to be a good deal - over the past many years I've paid very little per year for my gym membership. The gym gave me access to a greater diversity of equipment. I developed a routine, and changed it every 6 months or so to keep things interesting. But it was built around the same framework of repeating sets of reps of fundamentally the same exercises.

P90X (2009-2012)

In 2009, I had abdominal surgery and had to discontinue my gym-based workout regime for several months. That winter, I was laying in a bed in a hotel room in North Lake Tahoe watching infomercials at midnight, and I saw an infomercial for P90X. I have never bought anything before based on an infomercial. But a friend had told me about P90X, so when I got home, I bought it on Amazon.com for $140.

The box came a few days later: A nutritional booklet, an exercise guide, and about 12 DVD's, each with its own exercise program. The exercise guide contains a detailed, day-by-day, 90 day plan. The nutrition plan is equally detailed, but can be summarized as "low carb, low calorie, high protein". The only equipment needed are a pull-up bar (i.e., one you can put in your doorway easily), and a simple set of weights.

I started P90X in March of 2010 with a pull-up bar installed in my closet, and a set of BowFlex adjustable weights.

I thought my gym routine had been pretty good, but P90X was transformational. I completed the 90 day P90X program, losing 10 pounds, decreasing body fat by 5%, and increasing lean muscle mass.

Many people choose to stop P90X at the end of the 90 day period. I understand that - it's hard! But this had become a much more efficient use of my exercise time than going to the gym. So I chose to continue with a modified form of P90X. I tracked my progress using a spreadsheet, and viewed it as a long-term commitment.

When I was doing P90X I kept a blog about it, which I've consolidated into one (somewhat hard-to-read) post.

5x5 (2012-2018)

In Spring of 2012, I was still doing P90X, but I had heavily modified the routines so that I would not get bored. Despite the modifications, I was quite bored. It had been two years, and change was needed.

One day I was surfing around on the internet and read How I Got Ripped at 500 Startups (and the follow-up Entrepreneur's Guide to Fat Loss). The simplicity and minimalism, combined with effectiveness, attracted me. I set about creating a new workout routine, and started tracking points on fitocracy.com. My routine was built around alternating days of "A" exercises and "B" exercises, three times a week:

Routine A: Squats, Bench, Pendlay, Chinups
Routine B: Squats, Shoulder Press, Deadlift, Chinups

No cardio. I just ate less.

Back to Cardio

In spring 2018 I participated in Bike To Work Day, and really enjoyed biking to work. Throughout 2018 I biked to work once a week, which is 30-40 miles round trip. It was great exercise, and I plan to do that again in 2019.

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