I promised I wouldn’t do any more boring exercise statistics posts but I can’t resist.
After a good start on my first (recorded) day moving iron at the gym I’ve pushed up from 14,000lbs on first day to 19,720lbs today. A big chunk of that (2400lbs) is just adding one more machine to my routine but I’ve also pushed up some of the machines where my initial baseline was probably too low. As a consequence, now with five recorded sessions I’ve move 135,440lbs total. That sounds amazing to me but really much of that comes from the leg exercises where I already knew I was much stronger than upper body. But, nonetheless, my upper body totals have gone up a ton, from 6900lbs to 8900lbs. Translating that to lbs/rep has a much less impression 36.6 lbs/rep with my weakest (surprising to me) of bicep curls at only about 23.3 lbs/rep.
In contrast my 55 days of recorded “sitting” exercise has moved 100,340 lbs but that’s only half my reps and with a mere 5lbs. But interestingly I still can only do about 60% as many reps with the 5lb weights as with none at all (just moving arms themselves, no idea what they weigh). The total number of reps has just passed 40,000 so I’m averaging about 756.9 reps/day (better than just sitting!). I suppose it seems a little easier than when I started but I can’t say I feel much change.
And my other upper exercise at home, the chest expander with springs (no idea what force is required to use but perhaps about 20lbs, maybe even 50lbs) comes in 1897 reps in 30 days which has the most impressive “gain”, starting with 27 reps/day (7-day moving average) to now 98.1 reps/day (also a maximum, now, of 13 reps per set, vs only 4 when I started this).
But most of these numbers are reaching my maximum as the easy gains are over. Whenever one starts an exercise usually one builds up fairly quickly (unused muscles remember) but then hits a plateau (maximum amount of current muscle now working well). So the interesting question will be whether I can build up any of these numbers much more.
I fiddle with free weights occasionally and those are definitely harder than the equivalent weight on a machine with similar motion so I guess I can see the argument that free weights are better for training. But it’s a bit more difficult to have a routine with the free weights than on the machines (also those are less used at the gym).
Now I have no comparable data from when I was younger, especially while rowing crew in my college days. But I know, from various other exercises I can use for rough calibration, that I am way weaker than I was then. Of course that was 50 years ago and I was rowing 5 days/week almost all year (indoor exercise when the Charles River was frozen). Crew was great exercise, both aerobic and strength with emphasis on all muscle groups (perhaps unknown to people who don’t watch the Olympics closely, in crew, most of the power for the stroke comes from legs, but certainly all the upper body muscles are involved as well).
It’s also not clear what to expect – for instance, if I kept up this training and kept pushing up my workouts (as best I can) is there even any chance to return to the same strength I had 50 years ago. I wouldn’t mind returning to that weight either, as I rowed lightweight crew and had to make the 165lb maximum just before races, 30lbs less than I can maintain (or 20lbs less than my best I’ve achieved in my last three years of weight loss).
I am finding that the idea of a day off between workouts seems to make sense (desiring calorie burn I’m motivated to work out every day, but since I’m now focusing on strength and intense cardio rest days seem like a good idea, I had a tough time while training for triathlon to avoid over-training but not taking rest days so I learned, then, the point – fewer but better workouts, training while really tired doesn’t help much).
So, anyway, just wanted to get some of this on the record – I’ll try to refrain from any more boring stats unless I get to some milestone that deserves mention.