Am I Writing About Hitting The Gym Again? Oh, Yes I Am…

Sun Fitness; Pattaya Beach, Thailand

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When I began to consider doing another workout or ‘gym-post’ yesterday—after a workout at Sun Fitness just a half-click walk from my hotel—I remembered that the gym was what lead me to Paleo and dieting in the first place, way way back in 2007; 15 damn years ago, at the age of 46.

Resistance Training

From my first post on the topic, May, 2007.

I will have much more to say about this in months to come, but it’s becoming increasingly obvious to me that in terms of health and fitness, people have been suckered into a load of nonsense over the last 30 years with respect to the benefits of aerobics to the exclusion of all else.

Over four years ago, now, I embarked on a program of walking (briskly) every morning five days per week. I wanted to lose some poundage that needed losing, the dog needed walking anyway, and I like to walk. Well, 4,000 miles later (I was very religious about it, still am, and I enjoy it and intend to keep at it) I not only didn’t lose any weight but probably put on about 20 lbs. This was three miles per day (about 45 minutes), fifteen miles per week, every week. If you think you’re going to do much about an overweight problem with evening walks around the block you’re probably fooling yourself.


What really got the ball rolling was a comment on the post. Long timers will know the prominent name in the LC, Paleo, and Evolutionary Fitness spheres.

Yep, it was Art De Vany. It was perfect, really. He had both a sensible fitness approach and a sensible dietary approach—both modelled after evolutionary principles. To this day and as far into the future as humans manage to remain genetically human, one cannot go wrong by simply adhering to his ‘old’ advice.

The test of time is baked into the cake.

And so I made lots of progress in both areas and in terms of the gym, I blogged about it frequently.

Leangains by Martin Berkhan

This all culminated in working with Martin Berkhan, creator of the Leangains Protocol, beginning in April of 2010. Martin’s demeanor is as badass and no bullshit as is his 700# deadlift. I was using an experienced trainer at the time—one with an actual degree in exercise physiology—who took well to Martin’s approach, helping rather than hindering.

Six months later and I was ready to do a series of posts about all of it.

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Leangains: Martin Berkhan Means It

It was sometime in April of this year that I had an email exchange with Martin Berkhan of Leangains, private nutrition consultant and trainer. He’d emailed about some utter bullshit like I deal with here every day that’s not even worth mentioning.

We got to talking; he complimented me on my progress, I said I had 15-20 pounds more to go and without being the slightest bit pushy, offered that he could help me. Once we delved into what it was I was doing — that for more than a year at that point had not gotten me materially closer to my goal — he determined I was fucking around too much in the gym, doing high rep nonsense workouts that were a bad mix of conditioning & strength which, he tells me, he sees all too often in the paleo community. So, he thought I had lots of improvements to make here, with a no BS strength training routine. …Which turned out to be true — my training was fucking retarded…recalling, now, those silly-assed 3 x 10 x 135 lbs. deadlifts. Jesus.


Leangains: Martin Berkhan’s Workout Approach

You can find my introductory post to my ongoing Leangains experience right here.

This post is taking a different form from my original intention. I was going to post about my workout experience and how I see it as different from pre-Leangans days. And, eventually in the course of this series I’d shoot some interview questions at Martin, workout questions being among them.

But in discussing some of the goals I’d like to meet in a post like this with Martin it soon became clear that we ought to just partially do this in and interview format from the get-go, after a brief introduction summarizing my own experience. So that’s what we’ll do and, of course, Martin will be around to expand on his ideas and methods in comments. So let’s get to it.


As I blogged way back in the beginning, May 2007, I did have a sense that brief and intense was superior to the standard gym drudgery of 3-5 visits per week of an hour or more with significant time devoted to low-effort cardio. Instead, I went only twice per week, 30-minutes per session, did no cardio (I did a few sprints once or twice per week away from the gym), and focussed on 3 sets X 10 reps for as many as I could get in, i.e., little to no rest between sets or exercises. In addition, I normally did circuits of 2-3 exercises at a time, such that I could move from set to set with no rest, alternating between the exercises.


Leangains: The Dietary Approach

You can find the previous post in this series that discusses the workouts, right here.

I’m not going to lie to you: this could be the most controversial post of the Leangains series. I suppose the reason for that, were I to sum it up, is that the readership of this blog largely focusses on those with current or formerly damaged and broken metabolisms, and Martin Berkhan’s approach does not seem to zero in on that — at least from my perspective. A low-carb predisposition is an understandable aspect of my readership and in Martin’s case, low-carb, while being a valuable tool anyone can use, is not a requirement for all.

So I think it’s fair to say that a lot of paleo / Primal practitioners out there might not necessarily see eye to eye with all the Leangains approach to diet prescribes. But I also see this as a temporary thing for me. I simply want to get as lean as I want to be and then carry on more or less as before, though with a Leangains informed approach, which I might sum up as: lift really heavy; briefly, a couple times a week, eat lots of meat, and go good & hungry for some period almost every day. Also, from my perspective, I see Martin as highly supportive of paleo principles, but with some added tweaks owing to what he knows about the science of nutrition and conditioning.


It wasn’t long after those initial three posts, with plans to do another that never materialized, that I got a cervical injury which took some all the wind out of my sails.

No, I never for a second implicated or blamed Martin or the Leangains Protocol. I blamed myself for taking on too much weight too quickly. Here I was, age 49 by then, taking a body never adapted to lifting heavy—three to five rep range for deadlifts and squats, 6 – 8 for bench, etc—and having the hubris to believe I could just shortcut the process through enthusiasm, can-do, and determination.

Human physiology and its inviolable individual age and foundational physical-strata don’t give an eff about your goals, and violating nature in that way always comes with consequences. At 50—without years of gym experience and all the nuances and little things that go into foundational building—summed up to injury and putting me substantially completely out of the game. The cervical injury was manifest in excruciating pain in my right arm and shoulder and I was so weak in that area for months that it was quite a pathetic sight to behold.

It eventually healed itself, but leaving me unconditioned, I could not just resume even close to where I’d left off. So I didn’t. I quit the gym entirely, only making a couple of half-assed attempts to get back into it over what would become an ensuing dozen years that have seemingly passed by in a flash.

So Booze It Up, Then

And that’s exactly what I did.

Here’s where I was shortly before the injury and just a few months away from turning 50 years old.

That’s compared to where I was a year prior. The protocol matters.

Rather than at least try to maintain while waiting to get back into it at full force, I chose instead to increasingly drink too much, too often, and it too was a violation of nature not without its predictable consequences.

The result was a culmination of real sarcopenia onset, combined with a pronounced loss of all appetite.

This was posted just a bit over 2 months ago: I don’t like food anymore. This is how bad I’d become. Check out the arms, compared with the pics above.

Now Knock Off The Damn Booze, Dammit

Going to absolute abstinence on August 7, 2022—just 2 months and 3 days ago—was motivated primarily by the best-hypothesis that it was behind my loss of appetite. It was. It took just a few days of zero alcohol and I was eating like a madman. And I still am. I can’t seem to get enough. I’ve literally had two full dinners back-to-back at times, thinking the first one would be sufficient. It wasn’t. It only served to wet my appetite. An example? Two nights ago.

I had the baby-back ribs dinner with an American expat friend of mine who lives here in Pattaya. Then, he took off and I headed over to Hungry Hippo and had a second dinner not 30 minutes later. Cottage pie. Did the trick and hit the spot.

Think that’s crazy…?

Yesterday was gym day and the Sun Fitness is so well equipped I had a field day. 120 baht for a day; that’s 3 bucks 20 cents. Shortly after, I had a Sunday roast beef dinner at Devonshire’s just next door to where I’m staying.

Then I had 300 grams of amazingly tasty, tender, and well-prepared pork loin over at Wursty’s.

Then I think ‘well, let’s go have a small vanilla ice cream Sundae at Hungry Hippo’… And it still wasn’t enough and I shit you not.

I went next door—first time to McDonald’s in many months—and had a double cheeseburger with bacon and an Americano coffee (skip the fries). Once I got back to the room, I half considered finishing off the two large skewers of pork and chicken I had in the fridge. But, alas, I have my limits.

…Yes, so there was also the gym and workout component to my notion of what was behind my loss of appetite, but since stopping drinking entirely completely fixed that, I could have left it there (and probably would have packed on fat too, going from drinking too much and too often…to eating too much, too often…absent the gym framework and aim to recomp the bod).

But there was another component I hadn’t considered and integrated yet, until the breakup and consequent chick-chasing, again. I wrote up an extensive post about it, accompanied with a video that lays out the whole thing.

The Secret For a Man: How To Get That Initial Positive Visceral Reaction From a Woman

This post roughly falls under my series of posts, What Caused My 40% Hormone Increase? (I changed out the T-word in there because of the maternal spam filters…)

This was something I was informed of, but didn’t think much about because I didn’t have the problem.

Then, within a short time, I developed that specific problem and noticed a tremendous difference in my interactions with women, in a negative way.

Chicks were not approaching me or behaving towards me as I’ve enjoyed all of my adult life. Because of the very short time frame involved, I was able to form a hypothesis as to the cause and I took action immediately. This state of affairs will just not do.

Not at all.

…And to confirm that this untold, unknown secret was precisely at the root of the problem: then once I took the requisite actions, executing on those actions fixed the problem. All went back to normal. […]

I’ve been doing videos—a lot of videos—lately, so I did one on this problem and its solution. In my daily 90-minute walk, I can do about three videos, and this was one of them.


– The manly motorcycle ride to the Windmill Viewpoint, no helmet
– The introduction to the talk
– Going it manly barefoot
– What gets women viscerally when they see a man, positive or negative?
– Shout out to Alexander Cortes
– The secret revealed
– Absolutely true! And from PERSONAL EXPERIENCE
– So here’s the story part 1
– The laboratory
– They aren’t approaching me, so who are they approaching?
– Now the rest of the story: the radical transformation and results
– What’s next? Part 2, about what motivates women after the visceral or chemistry-box is checked


If you’ve paid attention thus far, you know what I mean about The Secret. I’m telling you it’s real and it’s so easy to verify, especially if you’re deficient in that area.

…So I cut out the booze and have made videos and posts about it extensively over the last 2 months. I call it something along the lines of The Easy Way to Stop Drinking. Or something. Yea, I know about Allen Carr series of books….

There’s a whole lot more to write about alcohol cessation, but that’s in my post in draft about my first two months, along with a video I recorded on Pattaya Beach to mark it. My whole series of posts and videos on the topic will be outlined there.

Leaning And Gaining My Way Back

Well, who knows who might scoff at or ridicule this, but it struck me as I was editing the not-yet-published video in a damn! sort of way.

The arms are totally back, really, and the upper bod is leaning. On the stomach, the subcutaneous fat is withering away—getting smaller and flappier. No, I’m not showing a picture of that. There’s this interim stage where you actually have a bit of a worse belly appearance because of the fat loss, if you can picture that.

More work needs to be done.

I don’t think for a second that the excessive and chronic alcohol consumption didn’t play a major key role in never quite being able to lean out in the past. Alcohol—as empty calories is tantamount to isolated sugar or fat…like the abomination of ‘keto-shots’—is very fat sparing, even if you can manage to not gain fat and lose lean mass.

Truly, excessive alcohol consumption that pushes out nutritious food through diminished appetite, combined with lazing around, combined with a lack of even bare minimum physical movement and activity, combined with crappy sleep, et al, is a perfect storm for exactly the way I was headed.

It appears that I stopped and reversed it in time.

My Easy Method Of Gym Gains

Sun Fitness; Pattaya Beach, Thailand

What can I say? I just think that if shit is too hard, it’s for a good reason. So, I was compelled to figure out achievable goals and sensible, easier means of attaining them where the path might actually be enjoyable rather than atonement and drudgery. That 2 hrs per day in the gym—day in, day out, to see and be seen? Ain’t gonna happen…

I’m no expert Gym-Bro. Hell, half the time I can’t even understand all the exercise lingo and I still have trouble with the names of various skeletal-muscular parts of the human anatomy. I swear that for some, part of the motivation for being a gym rat is to learn to speak this Bro language they all seem to speak. Toss in all the supplements and chemical options, and mastering it all is tantamount to earning a Bro PhD.

There’s no way I could ever be that much into it all.

…I sort of morphed into doing what I’m doing now very effectively. It’s an integrated approach with four principal elements.

  1. Alcohol cessation
  2. Whole food eating that targets adequate to highish protein
  3. Some regimen of intermittent fasting (18/6 or simply going long stretches of at least 8 hours between eating sessions are my go-tos)
  4. My own hybridized way of weight lifting, outlined below

OK, first, what did I do before? I began back in 2007/8 by increasing the intensity in order to reduce time spent. So, I didn’t rest between sets. What I did was to do 2-3 different exercises at the same time, in rotation, using different primary muscles. I’m sure there’s a formal name for it, but I’d just do one set in one thing, then immediately a set in another thing, then a 3rd thing, and then back to the first thing. Rinse, wash, repeat.

Limited, but effective to at least make some progress, slowly as it might be. And, it was basically 3 sets of 10 reps for each thing. I wasn’t thinking about lifting to failure but rather, checking the reps and sets box. Better: had I just kept the rotation going until successive failure in all three exercises.

But I didn’t do that smarter thing.

Then I went to Leangains as already outlined. In retrospect, I note that failure is more of a discreet thing. For example, on the deadlift, I built up to 325# for 3 reps. I could not do a 4th, and, if I could not do the 3 minimum reps then I’m either having a crap day or I’m lifting too heavy and getting too close to 1-rep max and injury (especially at age 50 with my limited foundational experience in the gym).

Now, contrast that with what I’m doing now. So, say I do 4 reps at 325# and then 3 reps at 305#. The total weight lifted (is that volume? I don’t know) is 2,215#. What I’m doing now is 70 kilograms (154#). But, I’m doing an initial 3 sets x 10, then a 4th set, which is the “failure set.” BUT, and big but to my mind, failure is progressive, not discreet. It’s seems to happen over the space of 3-4 reps where you feel and know doing another rep is iffy, so you stop there.

So, say that I fail on rep 7 of the 4th, failure set. How much total weight have I moved from the floor to mid quadricep and lowered back down to the floor? 2,590 kilograms (5,698#). More than twice as much weight moved than in the heavy example.

Now, it seems pretty obvious that there are other advantages to doing the heavy that go beyond the summing up of weight moved. How do you quantify it and compare it to what I’m doing now?

Don’t ask me. I don’t effin’ know. Though I’m sure there are Bro PhDs out there who can give a good analysis of it.

But here’s one difference that is hyper critical for me: risk of injury. I already got injured twice owing to my own stupidity of insisting on lifting too much too quickly. This new method tends to protect me from at least that level of stupidity.

…Another factor is what my priority is, and that’s lower body. I basically do two exercises: the deadlift (classic, not Sumo, straight bar), and that incline leg press thingy with the sled (I have no idea of its weight…20 kg would be my guess). The latter is a similar procedure to the DL. I used to load it the hell up, like around 450# if I recall, same basic 3-5 rep range. Now I’m happy with 250# and I mix it up…sometimes seeing how many reps in a single set—like 30+—or doing 3 sets of 10, and a 4th set for failure or near it that’s progressive failure over several reps…seemingly 6-8 reps. It seems like I can almost always get at least one more rep in.

So, when I hit the gym, DLs are first, the leg presses 2nd. Then it’s the back, and I do sitting rows and pulldowns for that, both with hands facing out like a pullup, and and hands grasping in, like a chin up.

Then I eff around with dumbbells in a variety of ways to cover all the upper bod bases; a variety of exercises, and I’m not afraid to be seen doing DB shoulder presses with puny 15#ers to do lots of reps…because that exercise is a bitch of a deltoid ache; at least it is for me.

Anyway, here’s the progress so far and the most remarkable thing to me is that those pipe-cleaner arms were just 2 months ago. That’s no more than a dozen gym sessions because if sore, I’ll take another day or two of rest and I don’t sweat it at all.

Continuous improvement process!

…And…something I can truly believe it.

Conclusion: The Prime Motivator

Don’t kid yourselves, dudes.

If you are, then I advise you to consult my series What Caused My 40% Hormone Increase? (hint: T-increase). Now, that was tested in May, 2021, about 16 month after being in Thailand and nearly just as long with a girlfriend in her late 20s.

“Nature” programmed us to be horny (เงี่ยน – ngeī̀yn) as hell every waking hour and it’s only by the grace of God that we get to continue fulfilling that urge and desire for decades after its evolutionary reproductive impetus is no longer the imperative—pleasure, satisfaction, increasing well being, and grateful, mature romantic love becomes the imperative. In a word? How about appreciation?

Or at least to my mind, it should be an enormous aspect of a mature man’s drive, and not the sort of shameful and dirty thing it’s too often characterized as being.

Look, I have no idea of any other older man’s personal situation, how his values link together, how his lifetime of investments in time, money, focus, and energy play into all that…nor is it any of my business. Likewise, what anyone happens to think about my antics with 20-something chicks less than half my age is none of my business either.

Think what y’all will anyway.

Regretfully, that relationship ended not so long ago. Of course, those are all beautiful pictures. This other one is perhaps my favorite, though.

Squid-Face Yui

…Well, that’s how things work out sometimes and one perhaps tries to regroup for the better—though relationships like this are fraught with uncertainties.

Had it not broken off, I might not have come to the point that I did, quitting the booze. And then, hitting the chick market again, unmistakably noticing that I was not engaging them as I had before—leading to my zooming-in on something completely physical—I might not otherwise have fixed shit in a real hurry—at the speed of light.

And it worked. These two are a couple of my casual ‘consorts’ for the time being.

Nam and Ice

Nam is pretty recent, maybe six weeks. Just moved to Phuket not long ago. Ice; I’ve known her for nearly a year and up to recently, we’re just pool-playing buddies. She’s remarkably good. The other affinity with her is that she’s from a small rural Isan city in Si Sa Ket, Kukhan, that I know quite well…it being less than 10 km from where I built the house out there.

Anyway, that’s the current chick SITREP, and I bring it up only because I’m honest with what the goal of sober mindedness, decent body composition, vibrant energy, a focus toward continuous improvement is…really. And it’s imperative. At least it’s mine, and part of what’s taking me so long to finish my 2-months no-booze update is a whole lot of thinking about how that focus ought play out when attaining mature-man status.

…And for men who aren’t fulfilling that imperative in whatever style fits best for them, then why not?

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  1. Mark J on October 11, 2022 at 01:09

    Looking good Richard!

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