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Absolutely no progress from anything I do? About to give up.


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Hi, nice to see you back! I don't know much about iron deficiency, but that definitely sounds like something that could be impeding fitness progress. I'm glad you got some answers and hoping that taking iron helps. Looking forward to hearing your report after a trial period.

 

P.S. I wouldn't worry too much about "low intensity" vs "high intensity" or whatever. People get into the weeds with it, and you can go through the pros and cons and all that stuff, but the bottom line is, find what you enjoy doing and feel like you can keep doing for a long time (in terms of habitual exercise, not actually the length of the individual workouts) and the results should come.

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"For God did not give us a spirit of fear; but a spirit of power, love, and self-discipline". - 2 Timothy 1:7

"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us." -Gandalf

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If the OP wants results, then they absolutely need to worry about high versus low intensity. There really aren't any "weeds" to get into, and the list of pros and cons isn't that long: high-intensity gets results...low-intensity does not. End of story. If the activity does not tax you enough, you will not get any results...and if results are what's important to a person (which they are to the OP, given the subject line of this thread), then you need to do what GETS results.

 

However, the last comment is right about one thing: worry about something you can stick with, not the length of the exercise. In fact, you need to do away with worrying about length of exercise entirely. When it comes to exercise, "more" is NOT "more." If you lift weights seven days a week, you won't get results any faster than someone who lifts just two or three. In fact, you might even get LESS results because you aren't giving your body time to heal.

 

Steve G.

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33 minutes ago, GeekWingChun said:

If the activity does not tax you enough, you will not get any results

This is true, but "high intensity" in the fitness industry typically is used to refer something like HIIT or zone 4 training. Zone 2 training is low intensity, but it has its own set of benefits which doesn't make it better or worse necessarily than zone 4 training, it just depends on what your goals are. For strength training, I would consider high intensity to be something more along the lines of circuit training with short rest periods and low intensity to be straight sets with longer rests. Both will get you results. What you are talking about I would more term "progressive overload" than "intensity," and I think if we get our vocabularies in sync, we are more in agreement than not.

"For God did not give us a spirit of fear; but a spirit of power, love, and self-discipline". - 2 Timothy 1:7

"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us." -Gandalf

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49 minutes ago, GeekWingChun said:

If the OP wants results, then they absolutely need to worry about high versus low intensity. There really aren't any "weeds" to get into, and the list of pros and cons isn't that long: high-intensity gets results...low-intensity does not. End of story. If the activity does not tax you enough, you will not get any results...and if results are what's important to a person (which they are to the OP, given the subject line of this thread), then you need to do what GETS results.

 

However, the last comment is right about one thing: worry about something you can stick with, not the length of the exercise. In fact, you need to do away with worrying about length of exercise entirely. When it comes to exercise, "more" is NOT "more." If you lift weights seven days a week, you won't get results any faster than someone who lifts just two or three. In fact, you might even get LESS results because you aren't giving your body time to heal.

 

 

7 minutes ago, Artemis Prime said:

This is true, but "high intensity" in the fitness industry typically is used to refer something like HIIT or zone 4 training. Zone 2 training is low intensity, but it has its own set of benefits which doesn't make it better or worse necessarily than zone 4 training, it just depends on what your goals are. For strength training, I would consider high intensity to be something more along the lines of circuit training with short rest periods and low intensity to be straight sets with longer rests. Both will get you results. What you are talking about I would more term "progressive overload" than "intensity," and I think if we get our vocabularies in sync, we are more in agreement than not.

 

I sort of agree with Artemis Prime low intensity in cardio usually means zone two, which does have benefits, namely that you can rack up a lot of hours without undue fatigue. That's great for creating endurance adaptations. Intensity in powerlifting or bodybuilding refers to the percentage of your one rep max, and is relative. For example, bodybuilding is "lower" intensity than strength training, but can still be 70% and up. Truly low intensity (under 50%) is used for skill, speed and power (e.g. for training olympic lifts), as well as muscle endurance. I will agree that effective training tends to take us into a range where things are subjectively difficult, regardless of heart rate or weight on the bar. There's another measure for that called rate of perceived exertion, and it too is used in a quite specific way in different forms of training. For example, in weight lifting you would talk about how many reps from failure you were, and there are good reasons to go reasonably close to failure without hitting actual failure, for strength and hypertrophy at least. You wouldn't want to do that for speed or skill drills, I think, though I know less about that.

You can't say we need high intensity to get results if you don't specify what results you mean (endurance, muscle endurance, hypertrophy, peak strength, power, or speed) or what intensity means (heart rate zone, percentage of one rep max, rate of perceived exertion etc.)


But I agree with GeekWIngChun as well; low intensity (that is, low % of 1RM) strength training is unlikely to optimise hypertrophy, which seems to be what OP wants, along with fat loss. I'm not familiar with the programmes OP mentioned, but it sounds kind of like yoga and pilates and bodyweight exercises. Though bodyweight can be used for hypertrophy, it's harder to programme with. I don't think yoga and pilates will help much at all. They are, as you say, too low in intensity (%1RM) to create much in the way of hypertrophy adaptations.

 

@station_7 I'm glad you're getting the iron fixed. The fatigue from that could make you feel that your workout is subjectively hard even though it's not objectively hard enough to give you the adaptations you're looking for. You want slim arms and defined abs, right? That's mostly a matter of bodyfat percentage, combined with your own body's fat distribution. I'm sorry to say that I don't know how to get to a very low body fat percentage in a healthy and sustainable way, so if you don't have abs at this level, it may not be realistic. Hypertrophy is more achievable. Let me know if you want detailed notes on hypertrophy programming. 

 

 

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Let cheese and oxen and mead crowd out our secret desires for power and domination - Harriet the Viking

Just be bold, fluid and unapologetic, not small, hairy and indecisive - Harriet the Artist

You can absorb me! - Harriet the Contextless Guru

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55 minutes ago, Artemis Prime said:

This is true, but "high intensity" in the fitness industry typically is used to refer something like HIIT or zone 4 training. Zone 2 training is low intensity, but it has its own set of benefits which doesn't make it better or worse necessarily than zone 4 training, it just depends on what your goals are. For strength training, I would consider high intensity to be something more along the lines of circuit training with short rest periods and low intensity to be straight sets with longer rests. Both will get you results. What you are talking about I would more term "progressive overload" than "intensity," and I think if we get our vocabularies in sync, we are more in agreement than not.

I'm not talking about H-I-I-T though. That is classified as a "cardio" workout, but I am talking about weightlifting.  (Of course, having said that, there really is no need to split your workouts between "strength training" and "cardio." All that does is complicate your workout, and exercise should NEVER be complicated.) Some folks call it High Intensity Training, WITHOUT the second I"," but I hate that name, specifically because it makes people think I mean the OTHER workout. Also, high intensity training is NOT circuit training. Granted, you do strive for minimal rest between moves, but that is about the only similarity between the two protocols. Lastly, all that "progressive overload" means is that you are putting a higher and higher demand on your body, AKA you are lifting heavier weights. 

 

And yes, sure, every protocol can get results because you are doing something other than sitting on the couch. I guess it's just a question of when you want to actually SEE results. With low-intensity protocols, it is going to take longer...but if you have the free time, go for it.

Steve G.

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@Harriet without fatiguing yourself, you will not get results because you will not be making your body say, "Whoa, that was tough. We need to be stronger before we go through THAT again!" 

 

As for specifying results, when most people say they want results from an exercise, they mean they want less fat, more muscle. All the other things you mentioned can stem from being stronger, and I know because it is what I have experienced myself, and what many others have who train similar to me.

 

I'm not saying the way I do things is the only thing that will cause changes to your body composition. However, it DOES do it faster, not to mention safer. 

 

I'm not here to make anyone drink MY Kool Aid. I'm simply stating what I have observed, and what many scientific studies I've read back up. I'm not the Exercise Police, coming to arrest anyone who does something other than me. We all have the freedom to choose whatever we want, just like we choose the books we read or movies we see. This is merely what I believe based on the evidence I have seen.

Steve G.

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55 minutes ago, GeekWingChun said:

@Harriet without fatiguing yourself, you will not get results because you will not be making your body say, "Whoa, that was tough. We need to be stronger before we go through THAT again!" 

 

I didn't say people shouldn't accumulate any fatigue. I like to use the concept of minimum effective dose and maximum recoverable fatigue. Trying to hit somewhere in between. 

Let cheese and oxen and mead crowd out our secret desires for power and domination - Harriet the Viking

Just be bold, fluid and unapologetic, not small, hairy and indecisive - Harriet the Artist

You can absorb me! - Harriet the Contextless Guru

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Whoops, I feel like this thread got derailed by the definition of "intensity". To clarify, the training I was doing is called "LIST" - a term which I think was made up by the program's creators. Anyway, I went back and looked it up, and it actually stands for "Low-Impact Strength Training". I got confused because it was named and described in a podcast, and they spent a good portion of the time at the start discussing the "intensity" of various types of cardio - a topic unrelated to what they've named their strength program. So anyway, the word was "impact" and not "intensity". Sorry for the misunderstanding!

 

At the time I posted this thread, I was doing bodyweight/yoga/pilates program IN ADDITION to the strength training program (on my off days) resulting in working out 6-7 days a week. For the next couple of months, I'm going to only do strength training 3 days a week (along with my new iron supplements) and see how it goes.

 

Quote

I'm glad you're getting the iron fixed. The fatigue from that could make you feel that your workout is subjectively hard even though it's not objectively hard enough to give you the adaptations you're looking for. You want slim arms and defined abs, right? That's mostly a matter of bodyfat percentage, combined with your own body's fat distribution. I'm sorry to say that I don't know how to get to a very low body fat percentage in a healthy and sustainable way, so if you don't have abs at this level, it may not be realistic. Hypertrophy is more achievable. Let me know if you want detailed notes on hypertrophy programming. 

@Harriet  I hope you're right about the fatigue. I suspect/hope that could be the reason I can't complete workouts or sets and then feel tired the rest of the day, and feel like I never progress at all. Yes, ideally, slimmer and more toned arms and a nice hint of abs. I'm not looking for very low fat percentage or to look like a professional athlete. Something around the 23-25% bodyfat as shown in the blog post I had linked to in one of my early posts would be perfect. Just .. less muffin top and old-lady saggy sad arms LOL. I would even settle for being able to do 10 push-ups.. or even 2 pushups ;)  or do a bunch of yardwork without being totally wiped for the day (increased stamina). Baby steps!

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1 hour ago, station_7 said:

For the next couple of months, I'm going to only do strength training 3 days a week (along with my new iron supplements) and see how it goes.

Thos sounds like a great plan. I know it seems counterintuitive, but sometimes less really is better. I think the iron is going to really help too.

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8 hours ago, station_7 said:

At the time I posted this thread, I was doing bodyweight/yoga/pilates program IN ADDITION to the strength training program (on my off days) resulting in working out 6-7 days a week. For the next couple of months, I'm going to only do strength training 3 days a week (along with my new iron supplements) and see how it goes.

 

Sounds like a plan! I still don't know what the parameters of your strength training are but I'll just assume your programme is appropriate 😄

 

8 hours ago, station_7 said:

 

@Harriet  I hope you're right about the fatigue. I suspect/hope that could be the reason I can't complete workouts or sets and then feel tired the rest of the day, and feel like I never progress at all. Yes, ideally, slimmer and more toned arms and a nice hint of abs. I'm not looking for very low fat percentage or to look like a professional athlete. Something around the 23-25% bodyfat as shown in the blog post I had linked to in one of my early posts would be perfect. Just .. less muffin top and old-lady saggy sad arms LOL. I would even settle for being able to do 10 push-ups.. or even 2 pushups ;)  or do a bunch of yardwork without being totally wiped for the day (increased stamina). Baby steps!

 

I think those things sound achievable. Best of luck!

Let cheese and oxen and mead crowd out our secret desires for power and domination - Harriet the Viking

Just be bold, fluid and unapologetic, not small, hairy and indecisive - Harriet the Artist

You can absorb me! - Harriet the Contextless Guru

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Just as a further update to this thread: in spite of about 7-8 weeks of iron supplementation I still struggle to do my workouts (in fact, this week I haven't even done any! But at least over the weekend I did some heavy outdoor chores). After my weight training workouts I would experience 2-3 days of such bad soreness that I wouldn't be able to do the next workout even if I wanted to, even though I was using the lightest weights. I could NOT understand why I could not build up a tolerance to the exercise like everyone else seems to do.

 

And then yesterday I got some test results back and discovered that in fact I have Hashimoto's (autoimmune hypothyroidism) along with low levels of associated hormones like norepinephrine/epinephrine and sex hormones.

According to my health practitioner, THIS is the most likely explanation why I have exercise intolerance, low muscle tone, lack of progression, exhaustion (and just cannot lose that last 5-8 lbs). The low iron would just compound that.

I guess the moral of the story is: if you think your body isn't working right, there's probably something wrong LOL.

I was thinking it was something I was doing or not doing. Ended up being actual physical issues which luckily are treatable.

If anyone else finds themselves in the same boat as me where nothing is working, a complete functional medicine testing workup might be in order!

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H-I-I-T will not do much of anything for you because you can't ramp up the intensity (not enough for hypertrophy anyway), and they have you in the gym WAY too much. The so-called "cardio gains" people get from that are an illusion because if you took a HIIT participant and asked them to take part in a sprint or even a marathon, they'd be gassed out in no time. What you are really seeing when someone can do an entire HIIT workout without breaking a sweat is someone whose body has made that activity easier to do. Are they healthier than the person who sits on the couch binge-watching STRANGER THINGS or whatever show people binge on these days? Sure, but they're not TRUE cardio gains; they've simply become more skilled at that HIIT routine.

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