Thursday, June 18, 2009

Watch Your Back

I recently read an article on there on the interwebs that stated something to the effect of: if you lift heavy weights, eventually, no matter how careful you are, you're going to get injured.  Well, yours truly found this out the hard way this past week, in the form of muscle strain in my lower back.

Don't Let This Happen To You...

According to WebMD, there are a myriad of things that can cause lower back pain, including "playing sports or working in the yard, being jolted in a car accident, or lifting something too heavy."  Since I'm not a member of any sports teams, don't have a yard, and haven't been in any ten-car pile-ups lately, I think we can all guess where this is headed...

I lifted too much weight.

Where I Went Oh So Wrong

A few weeks ago, my wife and I did a 5-rep max out to see where we stood on five different core lifts.  One of those lifts, to get an idea of leg strength, was leg press.  Well, I was pretty impressed with myself, pressing around 320 lbs for five solid reps.  Unfortunately, I also got a little full of myself, and decided to try that weight as my workout the next week.  Wow was that a mistake.  It turns out that, while my legs were perfectly ready to take on that challenge, my lower back was not, and now I groan like an 80-year-old every time I stand up.  Take it from me, trying to work your max as your workout weight is a dumb, dumb idea, ladies and gentlemen.

Do What the Web-Doc Orders

WebMD's section on lower back pain is a wealth of information, ranging from what causes lower back pain (duh... heavy lifting), to what symptoms to watch out for that could be a sign of more serious problems (no chest pain here, and I only lose bowel and bladder control during deadlifts, I swear it!), to what to do to ease the pain while your abused muscles repair themselves.  I've opted for the over-the-counter-pain-med-and-resting-myself treatment.  And while I've still been hitting the gym, I haven't been able to put in nearly the effort I usually do.

Do As I Say, etc, etc...

So you know the saying...  learn from my mistakes.  I certainly will!  Lifting appropriate weight with good form is always preferable to lying on the couch with pillows under your knees.  Not only will it keep you in the gym, it'll also keep you from looking, sounding, and feeling like an old lady.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

RANT: Profiles in Stupidity... the Grunter

We all work hard at the gym.  Well, some of us work hard at the gym, but we'll get to that another time.  So, some of us work hard at the gym, but that doesn't mean that we need to let everyone in the building know about it through primate-like moaning, groaning, huffing and puffing.  I'm not against working some heavy weights, but if you sound like you're poopin', you're probably in over your head.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not criticising those who get in there and need a little extra breath to press those last two or three reps up to the sky.  I'm talking about that guy... you know the one... who goes to the dumbbell rack, grabs as much weight as he can waddle back to the flat bench with, and squeezes out two or three of the most horrifyingly performed reps you've ever witnessed, all while doing his best impression of a birthing elephant.  This pointless display of man-less-ness is typically punctuated by the abrupt sound of the weights crashing to the floor, as they are entirely too heavy for our hero to place them there carefully.

So I say to you, "The Grunter": We're not impressed.  Your bad form and lack of control tells us that you're well on your way to an injury.  Your uncontrolled braying tells us that you want everybody in the joint to know it.  Just please stay out of my way.  I've got real work to do.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

So... Let's Get Started

Now that we've gotten through some of the background information, it's high time we start with the real meat of this blog.

The Workout Plan

Last week, I started a new workout plan based on a routine I found on  Basically, it's a full body workout split over five days.  Monday I do chest, Tuesday is bicep, Wednesday is tricep, Thursday is legs, and Friday is Back/Shoulders.  There is a conspicuous lack of ab work in this workout, but I'm not terribly concerned about that at this point, as abs and lower back will be involved in a number of the exercises I do, pretty much daily.  There is also no planned cardio, so I'll be working that in with my wife when she does her workouts.

How I'll Track

One of the most important parts of this whole exercise experiment is the ability to track my progress.  I feel it's key to success, and what I've been missing in the past.  In order to make things a little easier, I've set up an account on  If you've never seen this site, I highly recommend you check it out.  It's really easy to use, and it tracks nutrition, exercise, and body measurements.  It also allows you to set up your own custom workouts and share them with the other users.  My workout is called the Five-Day-a-Week Full Body Program.

If you're interested in how things are going, feel free to check out my profile, also known as a "locker room".  There's a chart there that can be used to check out any of my lifts.

So What's This Blog?

I'm going to continue to write AverageGeekWorkoutPlan, but I think I'm going to switch its focus more to general articles on weight training, exercise, nutrition, and supplementation.  If you're interested in my progress, check out my profile, but if you're interested in my opinion, stay right here on AverageGeekWorkoutPlan.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Why I'm "Average"

So, in my previous post I gave you a picture of my athletic "prowess", or lack there-of.  In the interest of time and space (I tend to get wordy), I thought I'd break this section out into its own post.  I call it, Why I'm "Average".

What I mean by "average"

When I use the word "average", I'm making a statement on my lifestyle.  I am a normal 29-year-old guy, married, no kids, 8 to 5 job, with friends and a social life.  I am not a gym-rat body-builder, nor do I have any aspirations to become that.  "Average" also means that I probably have the same goals as most normal guys my age, which are to lose a bit of weight, put on a little muscle, and as Lester Burnham put it in American Beauty, "look good naked".  However, just like other normal non-gym-rats, I'm not willing to sacrifice living a life to achieve those goals.  Being in shape is good, but I really don't think you should have to commit to a life at the gym, eating only dry chicken breasts and rice, to do it.

"Average" also means that I'm pretty much normal when it comes to being able to gain muscle and lose weight.  I'm not genetically gifted, nor am I willing to sacrifice my twig-n-berries to steroids to gain muscle faster.  I am, however, willing to try ceratin things to see if they work (i.e. certain supplements, reasonable diets, etc).  I want to be fit and be happy with my social life.  I don't think this is too much to ask.

If any of this sounds like you, then read on.  There are plenty of websites out there for muscle-heads.  Not a whole lot for us "average" guys.  Hopefully I can fill in the blank, and maybe we'll both learn something along the way.

Behind the Average Geek Workout Plan

In order for you, the reader, to understand where this is all coming from, I think it's necessary for me to give a little bit of my background and lifestyle.  I need you to understand exactly what I mean by "Average Geek", and why I'm writing this blog.

The Picture of Non-Athleticism

I've never been what you'd remotely call an "athlete".  Sure, I played little league baseball when I was a kid, but I was really never any good.  I never played sports in school, and always leaned more toward activities that were brain-related.  I was, and still am an avid musician.  When I was a kid, my father got me into computers and technology, and I've been working and playing with computers ever since.  My current job, as well as my leisure activities, revolve around technology.

When I was in high school, I was required to take a couple of gym classes.  Being a non-athlete, those classes were torture.  I did all that I could to avoid going, using music practice as an excuse most days.  This eventually caught up with me.  My junior year, I was given a choice: workout in the weight room with the football team for a month in the summer or fail gym.  Fortunately, even as a geek, I had a couple of friends on the football team (can you believe one of them actually played in the orchestra with me?), so the workouts weren't that bad.  Plus I discovered that I actually like weightlifting.  The concept of competing with yourself alone was very appealing.

From High School to College to Now

After my initial experience with weightlifting, even though I had found that I like it, I didn't really gravitate to it.  In fact, I still avoided anything athletic until college.  I was a skinny kid in high school, starting my freshman year just below 100 lbs, and ending my senior year at around 130.  When I started college, however, and discovered "free" food and lots of it, I started gaining weight in a big way.  And not in a flattering way, either.  By the time my junior year rolled around, I'd gone from that skinny 130 all the way up to around 220 (thank you, Guinness Extra Stout).  That's the point where I decided something needed to be done.

I started lifting weights.  I'd read somewhere on the Interwebs that if you gain muscle, that muscle will magically burn fat.  What I didn't know is that, while this is to a certain degree true, it isn't to nearing the degree that I was banking on.  I also read somewhere that weightlifters should eat a whole boatload of food.  Well, crap, I was already doing that.  So I continued to eat like hell and started lifting weights completely wrong, probably twice a week, and remained a fat kid until graduation.

After getting out of college, things got a little better.  Sort of.  I was now responsible for buying my own meals, which, by default, helped me eat less.  You don't pig out nearly as bad when you have to buy your own groceries.  So I dropped a little weight, down to about 200.  I was still lifting all wrong, however, not really paying attention to what I was doing.  So I stuck at around 200 until about a year ago, when I got married.

About two monthes into our marriage, my wife and I discovered that she is a very good cook.  We got a whole load of cookbooks as wedding gifts, and she started trying out recipes.  Then I discovered I'd gain about 20 pounds.  It was at this point we decided to get a gym membership and start working on losing the excess weight.  Which brings us to today...

At the moment I'm weighing in at around 195.  I'm 6 feet tall, and according to our bodyfat scale, I'm carrying around 25% bodyfat.  This is my starting point.


Before I get into writing any of the articles I plan on writing for this blog, I need to state a bit of a disclaimer.  I want anyone who reads this to understand exactly where I'm coming from, and not be mislead in any way.

I am NOT a doctor, fitness trainer, fitness expert, nutritionist, any sort of physical therapist, exercise scientist, body builder, or any other sort of expert on the human body.  I am not offering any of this information as a means to treat a disease or prevent a disease.  I don't make any claims that by reading this blog and making use of it's information, you'll see any sort of improvement in your own physique or body weight, or anything else for that matter.  Hell, I don't even know if I'm going to see any improvement, so there's no way I could possibly claim that you will.

I'm writing this blog merely for my own introspection and analysis, as well as to rant and rave about the stupidity of the body building, exercise, and suppliment industries.  If you find this blog entertaining and informative, that's great and I'm really glad you did, but if you try something that you read on here and it doesn't work, please don't post mean things, because I never told you that it would work for you, and chances are anything I wrote on here is something that I'm trying out, and it might not even work for me.

Finally, I cannot, and will not, be held responsible for anything bad that happens to you at the gym, or as a result of a diet or suppliment you try out.  If you read my workouts and try them on your own, you do so at your own risk.  I did not tell you to try them, and therefore you dropping a weight on your foot is your own fault.

Thank you, and I hope you enjoy my blog!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I'm Just Your Average Geek


Welcome to my blog, "Average Geek Workout Plan"! First, a little about myself... I'm your typical geek, work a normal 8am to 5pm desk job, married, no children. I live in the midwest United States, and live a pretty normal life. In other words, I'm average.

Why are you writing "Average Geek Workout Plan"?

After getting married, my wife and I discovered she is an incredibly good cook. We also found out that the food we were eating wasn't the greatest for us. We both discovered we'd gained a few unwanted pounds, and decided to take action to fix the situation.

I decided to write this blog after looking around a few of the more popular exercise websites and seeing a huge lack of information for normal, average people. The sites I've visited, and been a member of, cater more to the body building types, and not to those of us who are not genetically gifted, and not willing to sacrific our bodies to steroids. A few of those sites even went so far as to belittle those of us who were there asking questions, and weren't already 250 pounds at 6% bodyfat.

I'm also planning on using this blog as a personal training log. I've found it's very helpful to be able to write down ideas and work them through. I'll use this space to do that, and hopefully anyone who stumbles upon this site will benefit from my thought process.

So hopefully you find this site a bit helpful, a bit entertaining, and a bit informative. Thanks for checking in!