Friday 24 November 2017

Six week challenge: Gym agony is already paying off

Six-week dad bod challenge: Our writer puts himself in Pat Henry's hands

Weighty issue: Dave Robbins starts his restistance training with Pat Henry.
Weighty issue: Dave Robbins starts his restistance training with Pat Henry.
Dave Robbins week 1 lunge 2
Dave Robbins week 1 squat 1
Dave Robbins week 1 squat 1
Dave Robbins week 1 squat 2
Dave Robbins week 1 squat and military
Dave Robbins week 1 squat and military press 2
Dave Robbins week 1 squat and military press 3

One week into the regime he hopes will help him lose 14lbs, Dave Robbins is sore but happy - and he is starting to see results.

I am standing in Pat Henry's gym in a very unflattering lycra top, about to have my first weights session in my bid to lose my dad bod - or one of them, at least.

Pat, who sometimes reminds me of an old gunslinger at the back of the saloon who can size up a man with a single glance, asks: "How fit are you?"

"Fairly fit," I reply. This is a big mistake. Later, I learn that a few cast members from Vikings recently came in to work with Pat. He asked them the same question, and they gave the same answer. During the workout Pat put them through, two of them had to go out to puke.

My answer was based mostly on nostalgia. I played rugby for 25 years. I was a regular gym-goer and runner. But that was some years ago. Now that I come to think about it, more recently I have played only sports that allow you to smoke during the game: cricket, golf, tennis (between sets).

"Take two of the 5kg dumbbells off the rack there," says Pat. They seem small and light in my hands. Innocuous little things, I think.

We do 18 different exercises with them. By the end, I can hardly lift them. I am dripping in sweat, and breathing hard. The dumbbells become impossibly heavy. Did Pat swap them for kryptonite ones when I wasn't looking?

Pat sits on a bench beside me, that gunslinger look on his face. He counts the number of repetitions - we do 15 of each exercise. He doesn't say anything, just counts.

The lunges and squats are the worst. Muscles that have led a life of ease and seclusion for the last 10 years are suddenly pressed into action, and they don't like it. The sessions ends with 35 sit-ups with a 5kg kettle bell.

You can train heavy and slow - lifting big weights with lots of breaks - or you can train fast and light, explains Pat. Heavy weights will build muscle, but light weights and fast repetitions will turn fat into muscle.

Pat wants me to do the weights workout on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, with a one-hour cardio workout on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The cardio session involves 30 minutes on the cross-trainer, 15 minutes on the treadmill (at least 7km per hour) and 15 minutes on the bike (at least 80 rpms at level 6).

For the first three days, I am in agony. I am stiff and move like an arthritic crab Getting out of chairs, lifting things, turning over in bed, all these are torture. Even lifting the kettle off its base is beyond me.

I'm in so much physical pain, I don't have the mental resources to feel aggrieved about the diet part. Michael Cantwell's eating regime seems sensible and practical. Michael doesn't supply a six-week menu plan, but rather recommends certain foods and discourages others.

"It's the difference between giving people fish and teaching them to fish for themselves," he says. "I try to get them to buy into the philosophy of a low GI diet. That way it can stay with them even after the programme is over."

By day four, the feeling of being beaten with a baseball bat has all but disappeared. The weights workout is still a killer, but there is no stiffness afterwards. Pat has sneakily increased the reps to 20, and says eventually I will do three sets of the 18 exercises, with a jog around Fitzwilliam Square in between.

This sounds a bit optimistic, but if Pat says it, I just do it.

The moment of truth (the weigh-in) came yesterday, exactly a week after starting the programme.

"I'd be happy with a 2lb-loss," says Pat. I get on the scales and discover that I've lost 6lbs. "That's very good," says Pat. Immediately, I make plans for an extra slice of pumpernickel bread that evening.

So how's Dave really doing?

Trainer Pat Henry spills the beans

Dave's programme, when completed, will have at least 18 different movements and maybe a few more.

Depending on how we get on initially, as with any exercise programme, certain movements may have to be modified to suit each individual. For Dave, his legs are particularly tight with hamstrings near rigid which, if not loosened out, can eventually cause back problems.

He's doing well, if finding squats a bit difficult. On his first day, we started with 15 repetitions of each exercise, total time 20 minutes - a bit slow, but this will improve.

Our target would be 3 sets + 3 x 5 minutes jogging on the spot in 45 minutes. That is achievable once the groundwork is put in. As I said previously, diet is 60pc of your success if you are going to succeed. All we are looking for is 2lbs weekly. Dave's weight before Christmas was 15 stone 3 pounds, after Christmas it's 15 stone 6.4 pounds, so a little gain of 3 1/2 pounds, which isn't too bad.

At least we have an accurate starting point and if you are taking measurements, make them realistic.

You may fit into a 34in pair of jeans, but measure over your belly button and you will find it's 40 or 38 inches. The extra inches will be hanging over your jeans. Many clients are surprised with the real measurements.

While Dave felt okay on the first day, as I predicted his body was quite sore two days later, especially his legs, and he felt a bit queasy. This is fairly normal as squats are the engine of your body and help to release HGH (Human Growth Hormone), which diminishes as we get older.

But medically it has been found that weight training stimulates the pituitary gland to secrete natural growth hormone, which helps promote more lean tissue, reducing body fat and increasing energy, all in all a good result.

This programme is suitable for people of all ages, including children. It's simple but effective and something the whole family can do.

So, week 1-1 set of 15 repetitions of all exercises, building up to three sets. If at any stage you don't feel well, stop. If it continues, see your doctor.

Irish Independent

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