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Charlie Martin, Late-Blooming Athlete: Week 1

Charlie also writes:

I don’t do boring well. I’ve got a million interests, I’m always many books and projects behind, and I can’t imagine spending seven to ten hours a week exercising.

Good. He doesn’t have to, and not just because he doesn’t want to be in elite shape. Charlie could get himself from where he is to elite shape in five or six hours a week, and that includes warming up, practicing, cooling off, etc. Actual time spent exercising per week need only be about two hours -- at most.

More Charlie:

I’ve also been looking at various exercise plans, and I’ve learned at least one thing about them -- there are even more determined, dogmatic, and argumentative people talking about fitness than there are talking about diet.

Still, there is some good new science, and the CrossFit folks have in general got what looks to me like a very good philosophy of fitness with decent science backing them. So as I’ve mentioned before, I’m at least using the advice of a CrossFit trainer, our own David Steinberg, to set this up. But I’m not using an official CrossFit routine, at least not to start.

Again, he’s right, and this is why Charlie is a good person to demonstrate this with: he’s a logic and science guy. He understands the difference between noise and truth; that all that matters is the numbers. It’s because of this that I expect him rapidly to get sold on Crossfit.

Here’s Charlie’s initial idea for an exercise plan:

A Sun Salutation yoga routine every morning.

One aerobic session using a Tabata protocol every day except Sunday. I’m going to mix this up among kettlebell exercises, martial arts exercises, and exercise bike.

Lift weights twice a week using the same slow-repetition routine I started in the first season. Basically the reasoning was good, my compliance was dreadful.

Either a yoga lesson or a Pilates lesson every week.

It sounds like Charlie kinda likes yoga and Pilates and martial arts, and that’s great -- I just want him to look at these activities as sports, part of an active enjoyable lifestyle that he has never experienced before, and not as workouts.

These activities are not efficient ways of achieving fitness. Moving is better than not moving. But yoga and Pilates classes tend to run 60 to 90 minutes. Recall our “power output” measure of the efficiency of a workout -- I’m sure you can all think of ways to create more power output than a yoga class in much, much less time, or ways to exercise that full 60 to 90 minutes with greater power output. Additionally, you can see progress in flexibility, balance, coordination, and a few other well-defined measures in much less time. Also, not everything those activities ask you to do is safe, injury-wise. (I will explain how to define “safe” in future posts.)

As for lifting, and what exercises you should be doing, and how fast: the logic and science answer derives straight from your genes.

Why do human legs look like that? Why does your foot look like that?