I noticed that my progress, as measured by the weights I'm controlling for between 4 and 7 super-slow repetitions, had slowed. This was expected: as the weights increase, effort and intensity also increase, and so should recovery time. Strength gain isn't my primary goal this year; jettisoning 30 more pounds is. But since raising my resting metabolic rate via efficiently induced muscular hypertrophy is — thus far — my primary change of strategy for reaching my primary goal, and since my weight loss has been slow lately, I needed to change my strength-training routine.

Change of exercise routine

Rather than go to the gym less frequently, I've been continuing to go twice a week, alternating between my original workout routine (largest muscle groups) and a second one (smaller and/or complementary muscle groups).

Strength gains

Progress on routine #1

After 10 more workouts:

  • Leg Extension: 90 -> 110
  • Leg Press: 405 -> 405
  • Shoulder Press: 65 -> 70
  • Row: 75 -> 80
  • Chest Flys: 100 -> 115
  • Chest Press: 70 -> 85
  • Crunches: body weight -> body weight

One more slow, controlled crunch and I'll start holding a 5-pound plate during that exercise. Two more slow, controlled reps on the leg press and I'll have to go even slower and controllier.

Progress on routine #2

After the first 5 workouts:

  • Back Extension: 110 -> 210
  • Leg Curl: 50 -> 90
  • Pulldown: 70 -> 95
  • Shrugs: 25 -> 50
  • Biceps: 30 -> 50
  • Triceps: 50 -> 90

I lied (sorry!)

I've actually been going slightly more often than twice per week: every three days, like clockwork, to mesh the gears of my workout and travel schedules. I'm operating on the theory that the recovery interval to be concerned with is the one between identical workouts, in which case 6 days' rest is plenty more than the 3.5 I'd been getting before, and so it's worth it (for now) to squeeze in trips to the gym reasonably tightly.

Having just completed routine #2, I'm off to Boulder for a week in a rented house with parents, sister, and niece. (It's a regular work week for me. Too much going on right now to take vacation.) Then the parents and I will road-trip to Las Vegas, where I'll be attending the Scrum Gathering.

Weight loss

Aside from the numbers on my workout sheets, there's also the number on my scale. After holding steady for a couple months in the low 230s, I finally reached my first sub-230 weigh-in on Friday morning. According to the burndown chart, I'm still on pace to reach 200 pounds by January 1, but only because I got off to such a quick start. To stay on pace, I'll need to consistently drop a few pounds each month. If May goes by and that hasn't started happening, it will again be time to change my routine.

Fun and/or effective

Ignoring the numbers entirely, I'm enjoying what I'm doing, I feel good while doing it and for days afterward, and I'm continuing to notice improvements to my weight distribution and overall shape. The only reason I would consider stopping is if it were somehow at odds with my 2013 weight loss goal. Based on my reasoning and observations, high-intensity strength training alone may perhaps be insufficient exercise to deliver the goal on schedule, but the only way it could be an impediment is if the hypothetical other exercise that does suffice is also of fairly high intensity and has to happen daily. In which case I'd still lift, just less often.