T Nation

Help Improving General Conditioning


#1

Hi All, hope everyone is well?

Some background, am a 45 y/o male, carrying extra, unwanted body-weight (±25%), 5’11", 116 Kg’s.

Now, I hit the gym on and off. Not by choice though…no matter how “slowly” (I suppose I could go slower) I add in volume / days in the gym, I get ill with flu / general malaise, depression etc…and this takes a LONG time to recover from.

I was wondering if my aerobic conditioning is not the missing element? (Anaerobic “seems” to be fine though). i.e. my lack of conditioning is hampering my recovery and the accumulated fatigue is causing my breakdowns.

Is this even possible?

If it is, how would you suggest I go about improving conditioning?

I was thinking of starting with LISS, stationary bike / walking, building up to at least 30 mins / day, everyday for a period, then adding in HICT, going for 3 reps, 7 “nose” breaths, for 5 mins initially, then 10 mins (2 exercises) and ultimately increasing that to a total of 4 exercises, twice a week…and then ultimately, eventually adding in sprints over a period of 3 months.

Once that base is established, then maintaining and getting back to weights…

Would this be “do-able” or am I aiming to high, or worse, too low?

Any input and guidance would be most appreciated…


#2

If you’re depressed and that’s keeping you from living the life you want to live, get off the internet and have it treated professionally. If you are becoming physically ill from doing moderate work, that sounds like a medical problem to me as well. Don’t ask the internet for an answer, go visit a doctor. If neither of those are really the case…

I don’t mean to insult you, but this sounds like some bullshit you need to move past. If you just don’t feel like working out and would prefer to stay on the couch most days, well, I say welcome to the club and learn to suck it up like the rest of us.

Can you walk daily without slipping into a general malaise that takes a LONG time to recover from? If so, that’s a good start. Walk every day. Swimming, biking, zumba, aqua zumba, hiking, yoga, tai-chi, aqua tai-chi, and other light to moderate activities would be good ways to do something that’s a bit more challenging than walking.

Can you do basic resistance training? Squats and deadlifts are optional, as is everything else we do in the gym. Bands, light dumbbells, machine work and basic movements like air squats are a step up from what you’re doing now, and I think any normal adult can begin doing stuff like this without becoming ill. I know guys in their 70’s doing this stuff almost every day.

If you are not clinically depressed or somehow physically allergic to exercise, you might just be lazy, and very accustomed to being lazy. Again, I’m not saying this to insult you. I’ve been there before. The key is to start moving, get used to moving, and then find ways to move more productively. It must be kept up over time and you can’t quit when things get a little challenging. You’ll be sore. You might even feel less than your best. This is normal.

Don’t overthink this. You have to make moving your body something you’re committed to doing. Start with what you can handle, and then build from there. Don’t be a pussy. That’s about the best advice I can give you.

Good luck!


#3

Going from Nothing to Something is already a huge, huge increase in work load. Then adding more volume (even just a couple sets ) or more days in the gym(from 2 to 3) could easily add 50-80-110% to your workload.

Of course your body is like WTF!

You need to slow way, way down. Don’t worry about “progression” for awhile. Do 2 easy workouts, and start walking. No high intensity intervals, no adding 5 pounds every ssession, no sprints, no circuits. Don’t go to failure. Don’t even breath super hard.

Just get the activity in. Until you can get work in for 2-3 months you have NO idea where your base is, or how much to progress or add workout to workout.

Every session should be easy. Then keep doing it till it’s really easy. Don’t think of how you used to bust your ads when you were a 136 pound teenage whipper-snapper.

Illness, Flu/Malaise and depression are like, Classic signs of over training, or over exertion, or unsustainable workload. You’re burying yourself before you even get started.

Also, hugely important, is your diet. 25% bf is not good. How much protein/calories are you eating? Are you starving yourself from the start?


#4

Thanks FlatsFarmer…everything you say makes sense.

I guess I did not realise how unfit I became with aging and neglecting consistent exercise in favour of building my own business, attending to clients, continuing professional development, studying further, raising two children and life in general. Guess I should stop being “lazy”, meh…

Anyway, I’ll implement your recommendations and see how it goes, but yes, I am going to focus on building work capacity for 6 to 8 weeks before hitting the gym again.

You are right of course, diet could use a lot more attention, but I suspect my water and juice fasting phase did some serious damage to my metabolism…

Will keep you updated as to progress…

Thanks again.


#5

Don’t get hung up on my choice of words. I was in the same boat you are now, prioritizing family and career over my own physical well-being for many years. I’d say I was pretty lazy, but that’s me being realistic about what got me to that point. If you forget about the grit/willpower/whatever-you-want-to-call-it that it takes to get moving and stay moving, it is simply a matter of priorities, and how you choose to spend your time.

If you are sedentary, daily walking and 3-4 hours per week of more strenuous activity can completely change your life.


#6

No problem man! I know you’ll have lots of success with this.

You’ve prioritized other things for awhile. Now that you’ve taken care of business and got the family going, you can designate some time for training.

The issue is that you are out of shape. Plus you’re older, so your body is Different now. Like a car/automobile. You’re not ready to race yet. You gotta do the boring stuff like changing the oil and pumping up the tires.

There is this idea; If I sent you to a lumber camp and made you work hard all day with the strong Lumber Jacks, on limited rations you’d either get tough or die. But as you know now, there is a 3rd, more realistic possibility. You’d hang on for a week or two, running on adrenaline and cortisol. Then you’d feel worse and worse until you were a total wreck, who can’t sleep, can’t eat and feels like shit. From there, it would take a month to “recover” and be worse off than you were before.

It takes guts to “lock it in” do what you can handle, and embrace the idea that this is going to take awhile. Going full blast, like a Rocky training montage, may be months away. But you’ll get there way, way faster if you do the boring, not-cool-looking stuff starting now.


#7

I don’t have much to add to what the guys already said, so I’ll just toss out some reading that may help. Happens to be all Dan John, who has a ton of “real world” practical info.

Real Life Training and Eating discussing some stuff from a basic training approach to useful meal prep.

4 Ways to Fire Up Work Capacity with some ideas on, um, four ways to fire up your work capacity.

Work, Rest, Play, Pray: Explained with under-rated info about creating life balance, which it sounds like could be useful for whatever you’re sorting out.


#8

Thanks Flats, Chris, your responses are much appreciated…

Chris, I will look at those links that you sent, thanks.

Dan John, the man is sort of an enigma no? I fully expect him to one of these days transcend to a mountain top above the clouds meditating on all things muscle greeting you with words like, “so Grasshopper, you want to learn, are you worthy? Give me 44.4 minutes of body-weight squats to allow me to see if your form qualifies you…” after you made the two day trek up the mountain pass fighting off lions, snakes and man eating bats… He really knows a lot…

Having said that, I have managed to perform steady state cardio for the past two days totaling 20 mins Monday and 24 mins yesterday. I am dog tired today tbh. So I will more than likely wave it today by falling back to 20 mins or even 18 mins.

Stay well


#9

Since its “General,” don’t be afraid to use a different exercise.

Varying the activity(altering the stride) can help prevent minor overuse issues(like a sore knee/ankle).

Even walking outside feels good after rattling away on the eliptical machine.


#10

Hi Chaps, just a quick question…

How would being a pre-diabetic / diabetic affect recovery? I am assuming it would have a negative effect, perhaps even a big negative effect, especially after a hard gym session…

I am going to be monitoring my blood glucose level for a while and will report back, I was just curious about the effect…

Cheers

Klippe


#11

Playing sports. I really can’t say enough good about playing sports, even if it’s just a game of 5 a side football (soccer) with friends or a game of tennis. If you go hard and keep up with your other activities and a good diet, your conditioning level will skyrocket quickly.


#12

Of course you are right Toffeecj, doing anything is better than nothing…In trying to “make time” for conditioning / sports I think that mind set is as important as anything…not forgetting the social aspect of it all.

Thanks for the reply, much appreciated.


#13

I am not sure if this is the right place to do this, but I am going to start keeping a log of changes / progress I have made and hopefully I will be able to keep it up to date.

With that said:

21/08 - 114.6 Kg’s (Would like to lose around 8 Kg’s initially)
21/08 - 8.5 mMol (sugar, would like to urgently reduce that to proper levels eg. 5)

Will measure regularly. Will not however initially show what it is that I am doing as I do not want to start a debate on what is better than this or that…


#15

How has it been going?


#16

Hi Flats, thanks for checking in and keeping me accountable…

For the past two weeks (after completing my thesis for my studies and mid year end for our clients), I looked back into picking up where I left off…

With that said, for the past two weeks, I have been performing weight training (40 - 60 mins a shot depending on how I feel) ) 3 x a week @ roughly 40% 1 rep max for around 10 reps, 3 sets and LISS cardio (treadmill walk) for 30 mins with 1’ incline and 3mph on different days to try and do something everyday… just to get into things again.

Weird thing though…I have been trying to eat enough to compensate for the extra activity (appetite is fairly poor, despite being in excess of 240lbs) and whilst I felt that I was managing the constantly creeping fatigue well, I made a stuff up yesterday…I did LISS TWICE (once with the wife in the am and once with the kids in the pm), this morning I felt that I was hit by a bus, really tired, irritable and generally more of an asshole than I usually am…my poor family.

Needless to say I felt it prudent to skip the gym session this afternoon and rest up for the next two days to see what develops, perhaps I can recover…I still plan on doing the LISS as this is “supposed” to be restorative.

This happens to me every time, regardless of how easy or hard I go at it, two weeks max, then I’m done. blech

I’ve managed to get my weight down to 111.5 Kgs (3kg decrease, 1 notch lost on my belt, so some belly fat did go, or perhaps I am just not so full of shit anymore :wink: ) just by keeping carbs to weight training times, other times only fat & protein (fibrous veg included of course)

My blood sugar also improved hitting 4.9 at one stage, but lately, blood sugar has been extremely variable, going as high as 6.9 fasting, but it does not seem to want to stay steady, at all. I am at a loss for this tbh, even after a no carb day, FG has been in the high 6’s, whilst after a carb day (with weight training of course) FG was in the mid 5’s so colour me, or rather my body, confused…


#17

Funny thing that I forgot to mention, in the 1st week when I was “fresh” I had insane pumps that lasted until the next gym session, but I still felt fresh…enter the 2nd week and when I noticed some fatigue creeping in, the pumps vanished, completely, perhaps a small hint in the arms when going light for 20 reps (duh…) so I am assuming that the two have a link to each other and are probably a symptom of something, but I am not sure what.

ITO workout nutrition, it consists of pre, during and post (as mentioned above, carbs only before and after exercise) I do not think that we can get the Biotest products here, so I have got some local things…


#18

I don’t know man, if you feel bad, and you know you feel bad, I would probably rest. If you know you’re about to mess up, DONT MESS UP!

If you absolutely must do something, try 18 easy minutes on the exercise bike. Give your body and brain a break. New exercise, new motion, different pace, different duration.

If something busted you down, I wouldn’t count on it to restore you.


#19

I hear you, thanks…

I am just flabbergasted that the tiny increase in volume did me in…I must be really fragile, eish. Maybe the accumulation just pushed me over the edge.

However, will keep on.

Thanks again for the reply


#20

After reading through this thread I have to go with this. The fact that you’ve taken a few weeks to acclimate and are still getting destroyed by very easy weight and treadmill sessions and experiencing overtraining symptoms (severe fatigue, loss of appetite, etc.) leads me to believe that something isn’t as it should be


#21

If you experience symptoms of over training, is it possible that it’s from over training?

If we know the work load that produces fatigue, let’s use that as our Max Workload. Then do 60-70% of our max, for like, a training effect.

Chase performance, not fatigue!