Sunday 25 September 2016

Six week dad-bod challenge: A dumbbell to the face? No pain no gain...

Week three has left Dave Robbins' face bloody and ego bruised, but there's life in the 40-something yet

Published 19/01/2016 | 02:30

Mr Muscle: Dave Robbins is put through his paces at Pat Henry’s gym. Photo: Steve Humphries.
Mr Muscle: Dave Robbins is put through his paces at Pat Henry’s gym. Photo: Steve Humphries.
Shoulder press 1
Shoulder press 2
Single punch 1
Single punch 2
Squat 1
Squat 2

Week Three of the dad bod regime, and it was all looking good. Ten days off the fags. Six pounds lighter. Workouts getting more manageable. And then it hit me.

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Yep. Right between the eyes, on the bridge of the nose. A 5lb dumbbell. Blood everywhere.

It happened like this. I was on the second set of reps, doing tricep curls, which involve straightening your arms in front of you and then bringing them back either side of your head. Except I was getting tired and I was losing my form. My arm wobbled under the strain, and bang! The edge of the dumbbell caught my nose. Compared to the screaming agony of my triceps, it was nothing.

Apart from that, Week 2 was shaping up well. I was managing two sets of the 18 exercises, and getting through them much faster. Maybe, I was beginning to think, just maybe this will be kind of doable.

Then, on Wednesday, Pat changed the routine. Out went the (bloodstained) dumbbells that I was getting used to, and in came a murderous routine involving free weights, weight machines and a harness hanging from the ceiling.

"Your muscles get used to doing the same exercises over and over again," explained Pat. "We're going to wake them up."

It's fine for anyone following the programme at home to keep going with the exercises given here and online - Pat just wanted to vary it a little to challenge the main muscle groups.

He woke them up alright, and they've complaining since. The new routine was a fast succession of bench-presses, squats and curls. Then came a little gem called the Burlesque Bump. I'm still not sure if it's even legal.

It involves placing your heels on a small step, bending low into a squat, coming up half way and then thrusting your hips forward in a way that the Sisters of Mercy would surely disapprove of. It looks ridiculous, but it does work those leg muscles.

"Jonah Lomu couldn't finish a set of these," remarks Pat. That's the kind of thing he comes out with from time to time - a throwaway line about some sports star or celebrity.

The other day, he mentioned that he had trained the late David Bowie for a while, and that Room director Lenny Abrahamson is coming to him to get in shape for the Oscars ceremony.

Other news penetrates the basement gym too. From the Irish premiere of Room the other night comes word that President Higgins is following our progress in this series. Colleagues from DCU and the media are following us too, mostly so they can slag me. Last week, I appeared on Today with Seán O'Rourke on RTE Radio 1 for an item on election canvassing. As I enter the studio, Seán starts doing fake bicep curls in ironic homage.

Back in the gym, things are getting borderline kinky. I find myself hanging from a harness suspended from the ceiling.

"Now, pull your knees up to your chin," says Pat. "Try to feel the pleasure of the pain."

Eh, right. Despite Pat's encouragement, I can only feel the pain of the pain. The pleasure comes when it's all over. It seems worth it when yesterday's weigh-in shows that I have lost another 2.4 pounds.

That's a realistic amount, according to Pat. "If we keep that up for the rest of the programme, I'll be happy," says Pat. And when Pat's happy, I'm happy.

Pat Henry says: 'Don't be disappointed if weight loss slows down'

After Dave's great start to our programme - with a 6.5lbs weight loss, which is a fantastic result - this week still we're on target with 2.5lbs weight loss which is exactly what we recommended. Initially it's a quick weight loss, but remember weight loss will not continue at such a pace.

The initial weight loss will be from waste and water plus some body fat. So don't get disappointed if weight loss slows down. All we're aiming for is between 1.5lbs and 2lbs per week. Medically this has been proven to be the most actual fat loss you can lose in one week, the rest will be fluid.

The average person has between three and five meals left undigested. In 30ft of intestines this brings its own complications, such as constipation, bloated tummy and body odour. So allow for elimination to take its course naturally with increased exercise and better quality food.

If your body is functioning properly you should use the bathroom on awakening and one hour after each meal. The more efficiently your system works the more waste you pass through your gut which will result in better weight loss.

Dave has now increased his exercise to two sets of 15 reps of each movement, finishing one set, then five minutes stationary jogging or using the bike, then moving to the second set and repeating.

His form is getting better, his legs are beginning to loosen out and he's moving better from one exercise to the next.

At first all movements were very tight and awkward - which is fairly normal when starting any new programme. Just persist and it will get easier.

To surprise Dave, we changed the routine just to give the body a little shock treatment, with bench press, incline press, plus a unique freestyle squat called the Burlesque Bump, which is very effective working the legs.

The day after, Dave was very tender and found it difficult getting up from any seated position - but it was a nice pain. You have to keep pushing yourself to get the results.

Try and avoid bad form as this helps avoid injury and muscle strain. And as you perform each exercise correctly, muscles will start to reshape, posture will get straighter and as your posture improves, everything will start to pull back, your body will be more in line, your tummy will retract, helping with digestion.

If you're very forward, your internal organs will not function well and your tummy will start getting bloated as the intestines will push the ab wall forward.

Dave made the mistake of having some non-alcoholic beer thinking this was okay - it's not. Yeast and sugars in beer can cause candida albican which is a fungus growth, which brings on symptoms such as low energy, and bloatedness.

We should now be well up to doing one hour cardio two to three times weekly, whether it be cycling swimming or walking. With walking try and reach four miles per hour, change your stride every mile, walking heel to toe, this will avoid hip and back strain. And if you walk heel to toe you'll also avoid shin strain.

The next three exercises are working hips, legs and shoulders and arms. Move from one exercise to another without any break if you can and our end result will be three sets of 15 reps in 45 minutess or less - a great target to aim for.

Week 3: 3 key exercises

Shoulder press: Stand with feel shoulder-width apart and weights at shoulder level tilted slightly inwards. Raise arms up over the middle of your head and return to shoulders

Single punch: Stand with feet hip-width apart and hips slightly dropped. From chest, punch arms out in front, alternating right and left

Squat and double punch: Feet flat on ground, hip-width apart, weights at waist level. Bend knees, squatting down slowly to a parallel position, keeping back straight. Return to standing position, raising both arms up to chest level and extend outwards, then return to squat and repeat

Irish Independent

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