I was asked in a comment how the exercise program is going. The short answer is: beyond my wildest fanciful expectations (keep in mind: I began this just under six weeks ago). The long answer could be very long indeed because I have so much to say about it. So let me see if I can provide something in between.
It all started when I came to the the realization that my health was less than optimal, getting worse, and I was generally feeling tired and lousy most of the time. This, in spite of a religious walking program over the last four years that has logged over 4,000 miles. Then I bought a blood pressure instrument pretty much knowing what I would find, then being not too surprised over the first two days to record readings of 152/103, 142/104, 137/98, 147/98, 151/101, 126/90. Those were all the readings on May 2nd and 3rd. A few days ago I measured a 107/72 and generally I'm averaging 125/85, which is probably the high side of normal.
Interestingly, though, I didn't modify my diet much. I figured that initially it was better to focus on building muscle mass. I gained about 5 lbs. the first two weeks while my pants got more comfortable to wear, so it was muscle on the chest, shoulders, back, arms and legs responsible for the weight gain. Physically, it's very noticeable. I have bulked up substantially. Then, in the last three weeks the weight came back off (fat) as I was still building additional muscle mass. This is really about tipping the metabolic balance, such that your baseline metabolism is increased substantially by virtue of the added muscle tissue. (Remember: 1 to 2 lbs. of new muscle requires the equivalent caloric value of about 10 lbs of fat per year simply to exist. Work that muscle, and you burn even more.)
The key is brief and varied intensity. It is intensity that builds muscle and very high intensity is required to engage the fast-twitch tissue, which is where your best potential gain is. Intensity and time or frequency are inversely related. The more intense, the less time, repetition, and frequency you can endure. So, ironically, the most effective workout is of high intensity and short duration.
It was an interesting process getting here. I hired a personal trainer and since I wanted to do a lot of swimming, opted for 30-minute sessions instead of an hour. Then he put me through an amazing workout that had my head spinning after 30 minutes. I'm no stranger to gyms and weight rooms and many times have I worked out for 1 1/2 to 2 hours; and yet I had absolutely no doubt that I archived more in that 30 minutes than I had ever achieved in a workout on my own, regardless the activity or duration.
So I began thinking. I went to the bookstore and a book caught my eye. Max Contraction Training, by John R. Little. I thumbed through it, bought it, and then began reading and only afterwards found it was interesting from the standpoint of what I will call "buzzwords." By that, I'm talking about a certain manner of expression where someone familiar with Greek philosophy, Ayn Rand, much of libertarian thought, and so on, can peg someone else, even if they might be talking about how to cook broccoli, or whatever. It's the way facts are identified, integrated into essential principles, and applied. I could tell after only a few pages that this guy was quite knowledgeable (also a big fan of Will Durant with lots of quotes: yea, in a body-building book). So, essentially, his message is that the Greeks had the mind-body relationship right and everyone has gotten it wrong since; modern body-building is a big mess (and he's trained some of the best), and since only the greatest intensity can engage all muscle fibers and hence promote growth, and since intensity and time are inversely related, the most muscle gain is theoretically only possible in the shortest time.
I tracked down a personal trainer here in San Jose who does both full range training (like I'm doing now) and Little's Max or Static Contraction and he says that results for his clients are about double in the latter case, and with much less time. I plan to hire him for some test workouts in August or September.
So then I posted the bit about resistance training linked at the beginning of this post and a commenter mentioned Art De Vany. And I must say that it's probably the only blog where I've ever gone back to read much of the archives going back years (the stuff on marathoners with disproportionate incidence of heart disease and brain and other cancer is fascinating). And then, I also find that he appears to be pretty libertarian, has written stuff for CATO, appears to dismiss religion, and so on.
Hmm; coincidence? Stumbling upon rational people, experts in their fields, confirming conclusions I'm coming to because of my own personal experience (observation) over a wide range of time and experience, thinking about it, realizing that most everyone — including "experts" — are full of crap most of the time because they hold fairy-tale and/or collectivist premises, (or if they don't, they're either ignored or their work is reported improperly). And I'm quickly coming to conclude that virtually everything you've heard in the last three decades about diet and exercise is nearly complete bullshit.
Here. Do yourself a big favor and take the 30 minutes it takes to read this. It really is very important. There's two or three small points that I'm not sold on, but they aren't even worth mentioning. It's amazing; the sort of clarity that can present when one isn't encumbered by the the premises of fairy tales or anything of the sort. Really. Read it. It could be very valuable in how you think about your human evolutionary life and in consequence, manage it.