Ask The Hitman

Hey @Hitman :)

For a while now I have been planning to do some workouts. The best I have ever done is consistent one month exercising of crunches when I got some belly fat after many nights out drinking. It was that kind of a cycle a few times.

Anyway, that's not really the problem. I am too thin. 74kg while being 187cm tall. Very strong legs as I have walked a lot all my life, but palpable ribs, smaller, weakish arms and a stomach that could be a bit flatter. This state is a result of me rarely doing more demanding physical jobs, and while I think I eat healthy and with variety, my appetite is low. Not finishing my meal is not a rare occurrence, while for dinner I either eat some fruits or nothing at all. The bad habits I have are eating sweets regularly (though just like everything else, not in big doses), drinking Coke most of the days and the occasional smoking.

What do you think is the best set of exercises (without equipment if possible) to improve my strength and physique, and is there anything in particular you would advise me on my eating (apart from the probably obvious part that I should eat more)? Keep in mind that I don't want to get ripped or look like some of those guys who are obsessed with gyms. Just want to achieve a decent figure in order to feel better and healthier, as well as look a bit manlier, while when people look they won't say "this guy doesn't care about himself whatsoever".

While my willpower can be much better, the main reason why I am in this situation and why I am asking you for some guidance is because I don't really know what would be the best way to improve myself. Now that I have organized myself when it comes to my work, I would like to give this a shot as well.
 
@Hitman

On my 3rd week of the workout (A & B alternating) that you gave me. So far so good. Will write up a report when I finish 6 weeks of it.

Fasting.
What are you thoughts on fasting? Intermittent fasting?
Once a week fasting? I've never tried it before, but thinking of trying it. (for health benefits)
 

Hitman

Bionic Poster
@Hitman

When I stand up straight and try to touch my toes, I can't even come close. I am 16 inches short of my toes (6 feet tall 185 lbs, pretty long arms). Have you come across clients that are this inflexible? Similar issue with seated hamstring stretch. Guessing that it is mainly attributable to tight hamstrings. Doctor also mentioned on routine office visits that my hamstrings were tight.

I'm told that tight hamstrings can lead to other issues like lower back pain. Not experiencing any issue/pain that I think is related to the hamstring tightness. Was diagnosed with mild to moderate knee osteoarthritis but don't think the Knee pain is related to tight hamstring issue.

Even if the tight hamstrings are not currently causing issues, I would think it is a good idea to improve flexibility .

I never practice touching toes. So is it mainly a matter of doing it every day and gradually improving ROM? Better to hold dumb bell?
I think I have pelvic tilt. Heard anterior pelvic tilt and weak abs can cause tight hamstrings?

Can't get my heel in the position like the guy in the chair -- only about 90 degrees. If I then grab my pant leg, I can pull it up and get close to his position, but I cant get heel to the butt. Is that a useful exercise (think its a quad stretch)?

I would like you to start doing something known as Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation or PNF stretching, this type of stretching is far more effective than static stretching in opening up the muscle and tendons. I would recommend that you do PNF stretching for both the hamstring and the quadriceps three times a week, and the remaining the four days continue to do static stretches. If you are unable to get a partner to help with PNF stretching then you can do it by yourself, by lying with the back on the floor and legs stretched out. Then use a resistance band, or a towel which you hold in both hands, with it going around the sole of your foot, and lift the leg up towards a 90 degrees angle, and then continue to stretch it towards your chest. Hold each position for about 12 seconds, lower back to original position, and then do it again.

I would suggest that you keep to about 10 minutes each session.
 

Hitman

Bionic Poster
Hey @Hitman :)

For a while now I have been planning to do some workouts. The best I have ever done is consistent one month exercising of crunches when I got some belly fat after many nights out drinking. It was that kind of a cycle a few times.

Anyway, that's not really the problem. I am too thin. 74kg while being 187cm tall. Very strong legs as I have walked a lot all my life, but palpable ribs, smaller, weakish arms and a stomach that could be a bit flatter. This state is a result of me rarely doing more demanding physical jobs, and while I think I eat healthy and with variety, my appetite is low. Not finishing my meal is not a rare occurrence, while for dinner I either eat some fruits or nothing at all. The bad habits I have are eating sweets regularly (though just like everything else, not in big doses), drinking Coke most of the days and the occasional smoking.

What do you think is the best set of exercises (without equipment if possible) to improve my strength and physique, and is there anything in particular you would advise me on my eating (apart from the probably obvious part that I should eat more)? Keep in mind that I don't want to get ripped or look like some of those guys who are obsessed with gyms. Just want to achieve a decent figure in order to feel better and healthier, as well as look a bit manlier, while when people look they won't say "this guy doesn't care about himself whatsoever".

While my willpower can be much better, the main reason why I am in this situation and why I am asking you for some guidance is because I don't really know what would be the best way to improve myself. Now that I have organized myself when it comes to my work, I would like to give this a shot as well.
Hey @Doctor/Lawyer Red Devil

OK, lets look at this. The reason why you are unable to eat too much is because the metabolic demand is simply not there at the moment due to you not doing too much physically demanding activities overall in your day to day life. What this results in is a slow metabolic state, where your body has overtime adjusted to not needing food to provide energy in large amounts, by actually burning away your muscle in the upper body for fuel. You see muscle is the most metabolically active tissue in the body, if two people weigh the same, but one is pure muscle while the other isn't, even in their resting state, the one with the muscle will be burning more calories and will be able to eat through more food than the one who isn't.

Muscle cells have large quantities of what is known as mitochondria, these are like powerful batteries that power every living cell in your body. Glucose is broken down through a process called aerobic respiration to create ATP molecules, which provide energy to help the actin and myosin muscle filaments contract and function. When you consistently work out, you basically tell your body that it needs to hold onto muscle tissue because you doing all this strenuous work and not to burn it away...your body responds by increasing your hunger and overall ability to burn calories. Two keep hormones play a part in this, Ghrelin, which is released by the stomach to stimulate hunger and cause you to eat more to help preserve muscle and Leptin which controls how satiated you are...when your metabolism drops, these two hormones stop functioning as normal, and your appetite goes down as a result.

So how do we fix this? By adding on some muscle by doing functional multi jointed compound lifts that force the body to use all the muscle groups, and then by using all muscles groups, the demand to rebuild and replenish your energy reserves will go up higher. Your body will bring your leptin and ghrelin levels back to where they should be, so you are able to consume the calories your body is now demanding of you to build muscle. You see building muscle is an adaptation to stress, once you start to stress your muscles with resistance, and cause micro-trauma by tearing the muscle fibres during training, you body will respond or adapt by rebuilding that muscle bigger, thicker and stronger. The more muscle you put on, the higher the energy demand, as muscle is very metabolically active, and this then means you will feel your appetite grow and you will get bigger, as the calories you take in will help build that muscle back up.

I would suggest a two pronged approach with your training. Two or three sessions of compound lifts - Squats, Dead lifts and Bench Press. I want you to do these three exercises every 72 hours, 4 sets each with a rep range of 8 to 12 reps. These exercises incorporate larges amounts of muscle, the more muscle you stimulate, the more bigger the adaptation response. And twice a week, I want you to do a body weight routine on the days you are not lifting weights, this will include body weight squats, push ups, lunges, and planks - 4 sets again, with 8 to 12 reps per exercise. The idea is to keep that metabolism high, and always keep the protein synthesis happening.

You do not need to do anything else, this will be enough to bring about the changes that you are looking for. As you see your hunger increase to make the demands of your recovery, focus on eating food that is as close to be as single source as possible. What I mean by that is, is avoid processed foods, foods high in salt and sugar. Eat lean cuts of meat, chicken, turkey, oily fish, and start consuming nuts such as almonds, Brazil nuts, Walnuts, also pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, avocados, celery, green and red peppers, along with ideally supplementing in a whey protein shake once a day. Try to add natural spices to your foods where you can and change the carbohydrate sources to much cleaner one like rice, yams, potatoes, and oats. These foods will work with your natural testosterone levels, and even help elevate it, to create a powerful anabolic environment inside you.
 
No question from my side, just here to appreciate you taking your free time to answer these people’s questions without requesting something in return. Very nice Hitman, shame people couldn’t nominate you as the most helpful TTW poster.
 
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Hitman

Bionic Poster
@Hitman

On my 3rd week of the workout (A & B alternating) that you gave me. So far so good. Will write up a report when I finish 6 weeks of it.

Fasting.
What are you thoughts on fasting? Intermittent fasting?
Once a week fasting? I've never tried it before, but thinking of trying it. (for health benefits)
Looking forward to the full report from you and I hope it is going well. Any issues, you know where to find me.

OK, the topic of fasting....

What are you thoughts on fasting? Intermittent fasting?

OK, there are many types of fasting you can do.

Dry Fasting - This is going without both food and water for specific period of time
Wet Fasting - You can drink water, black coffee, green tea, but cannot consume any foods, this includes vitamins and omega 3 fish oils capsules
Prolonged Fasting - This is when you fast for a several days, can be 72 hours or even more
Intermittent Fasting - This is basically when for a certain period of the day you fast, normally this is a wet fast, and you have small window each day for feeding and getting all your calories in for the day.

Intermittent Fasting does have great benefits if you are looking to use it, I know people often say that if you fast you will lose muscle or your metabolism goes down. This isn't quite true, and let me explain what I mean by that. The first thing we need to look at is growth hormone, when you in a fasted stated, your growth hormone levels rise massively, in fact blood serum levels of growth hormone can rise up to 5 times the normal amount than if you are eating and there are a few reasons for this. The first reason is that when the hypothalamus in your brain gets a signal that you are not getting any food, it sends signals to the pituitary gland to release growth hormone into the blood stream - this is because your brain still recalls the adaptive response to stress that was caused from working out and rebuilding muscle tissues. Since you brain still knows that you could be subjected to heavy weights again, it will not want to break down muscle tissue during the fast, so growth hormone is released which caused the mobilisation of fatty acids from adipose tissue to be burned for energy. So you begin to burn body fat and preserve muscle in the presence of high levels of growth hormone, secondly insulin levels are kept low as no food is coming in - Insulin and GH cannot co-exist, so the lack of insulin allows GH levels to go up.

The question is what about T3 levels? In a fasted stated your thyroid still remains active and iodine uptake is still happening, however secretion of T3 into the blood drops. T3 controls the overall metabolism, however its drop off is compensated for the by increase in GH which keeps things elevated in fasted stated that are not long in duration.

One of the health benefits of intermittent fasting is that it increases your concentration, your focus. You become far more alert in a fasted state and the reason for this is that the liver begins to create ketone bodies in the absence of glucose, and your brain can actually use ketone bodies far more effectively that glucose. So the ketone boides pass through the blood brain barrier and actually stimulate the brain more than glucose can. This helps with better memory, problem solving and is actually a good time to learn new things like languages or a musical instrument.

Another benefit is that it helps with cellular rejuvenation throughout the body. As you may be aware, cells grow old, get sick and weak, as part of their natural cell cycle. When you are in a fasted state, these cells undergo a process known as autophagy, in which they actually eat themselves or breakdown the weakened components of their cells, and speeding up their own demise, so new younger and healthier cells can replace them that much quicker. Intermittent fasting is a great thing just to help keep a higher ratio of healthy to unhealthy dying cells in your body.

Now, in terms of how it benefits an athlete. Well if you think about it like this, when you go to sleep you are entering a fast, so you are producing growth hormone at night to help repair your body, now if you stay fasted longer, for up to 16 or even 20 hours each day, you are keeping your growth hormone levels elevated all day long. This will help you burn fat, retain muscle, since you are still working out to create the stimulus for protein synthesis, and you are still getting in all the food you need when you do indeed break your fast each day. My advice would be to break your fast a few hours after a workout, so you can get the most out it. Which hours you want to do is up to you, as well as how many hours, but I would suggest to probably start off with 16 hours and then work up to 20.

How many times a week? Well, as many as you want. It depends on your lifestyle, when you go to the gym, when you can actually get your calories in.
 
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Hitman

Bionic Poster
No question from my side, just here to appreciate you taking your free time to answer these people’s questions without requesting something in return. Very nice Hitman, shame people couldn’t nominate you as the most helpful TTW poster.
Thank you.

Speaking of awards, I am counting all the votes today, since I am presenting them all this Sunday.
 
Hey @Doctor/Lawyer Red Devil

OK, lets look at this. The reason why you are unable to eat too much is because the metabolic demand is simply not there at the moment due to you not doing too much physically demanding activities overall in your day to day life. What this results in is a slow metabolic state, where your body has overtime adjusted to not needing food to provide energy in large amounts, by actually burning away your muscle in the upper body for fuel. You see muscle is the most metabolically active tissue in the body, if two people weigh the same, but one is pure muscle while the other isn't, even in their resting state, the one with the muscle will be burning more calories and will be able to eat through more food than the one who isn't.

Muscle cells have large quantities of what is known as mitochondria, these are like powerful batteries that power every living cell in your body. Glucose is broken down through a process called aerobic respiration to create ATP molecules, which provide energy to help the actin and myosin muscle filaments contract and function. When you consistently work out, you basically tell your body that it needs to hold onto muscle tissue because you doing all this strenuous work and not to burn it away...your body responds by increasing your hunger and overall ability to burn calories. Two keep hormones play a part in this, Ghrelin, which is released by the stomach to stimulate hunger and cause you to eat more to help preserve muscle and Leptin which controls how satiated you are...when your metabolism drops, these two hormones stop functioning as normal, and your appetite goes down as a result.

So how do we fix this? By adding on some muscle by doing functional multi jointed compound lifts that force the body to use all the muscle groups, and then by using all muscles groups, the demand to rebuild and replenish your energy reserves will go up higher. Your body will bring your leptin and ghrelin levels back to where they should be, so you are able to consume the calories your body is now demanding of you to build muscle. You see building muscle is an adaptation to stress, once you start to stress your muscles with resistance, and cause micro-trauma by tearing the muscle fibres during training, you body will respond or adapt by rebuilding that muscle bigger, thicker and stronger. The more muscle you put on, the higher the energy demand, as muscle is very metabolically active, and this then means you will feel your appetite grow and you will get bigger, as the calories you take in will help build that muscle back up.

I would suggest a two pronged approach with your training. Two or three sessions of compound lifts - Squats, Dead lifts and Bench Press. I want you to do these three exercises every 72 hours, 4 sets each with a rep range of 8 to 12 reps. These exercises incorporate larges amounts of muscle, the more muscle you stimulate, the more bigger the adaptation response. And twice a week, I want you to do a body weight routine on the days you are not lifting weights, this will include body weight squats, push ups, lunges, and planks - 4 sets again, with 8 to 12 reps per exercise. The idea is to keep that metabolism high, and always keep the protein synthesis happening.

You do not need to do anything else, this will be enough to bring about the changes that you are looking for. As you see your hunger increase to make the demands of your recovery, focus on eating food that is as close to be as single source as possible. What I mean by that is, is avoid processed foods, foods high in salt and sugar. Eat lean cuts of meat, chicken, turkey, oily fish, and start consuming nuts such as almonds, Brazil nuts, Walnuts, also pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, avocados, celery, green and red peppers, along with ideally supplementing in a whey protein shake once a day. Try to add natural spices to your foods where you can and change the carbohydrate sources to much cleaner one like rice, yams, potatoes, and oats. These foods will work with your natural testosterone levels, and even help elevate it, to create a powerful anabolic environment inside you.
Thanks a lot for taking your time to make a well detailed response. Really appreciate it. :)

The food part will be harder as I am not sure if I will be able to find or afford all the listed things you mentioned. :D But I will give it a shot, as I already consume some of them.

Edit: Actually it won't be hard. I already eat a good part of those foods, turns out my English on that topic is average so I didn't realize it at first LOL.

Regarding the exercises, is there any possible substitute for dead lifts and bench press for the start? Not asking because I want to avoid those two, it's just because I don't have weights right now and I am not sure how heavy should be the ones I should look for. Should I do something else instead of that in the beginning, or just start with the rest of the exercises you listed for now, or wait completely until I get the necessary equipment?
 
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Looking forward to the full report from you and I hope it is going well. Any issues, you know where to find me.

OK, the topic of fasting....

What are you thoughts on fasting? Intermittent fasting?

OK, there are many types of fasting you can do.

Dry Fasting - This is going without both food and water for specific period of time
Wet Fasting - You can drink water, black coffee, green tea, but cannot consume any foods, this includes vitamins and omega 3 fish oils capsules
Prolonged Fasting - This is when you fast for a several days, can be 72 hours or even more
Intermittent Fasting - This is basically when for a certain period of the day you fast, normally this is a wet fast, and you have small window each day for feeding and getting all your calories in for the day.

Intermittent Fasting does have great benefits if you are looking to use it, I know people often say that if you fast you will lose muscle or your metabolism goes down. This isn't quite true, and let me explain what I mean by that. The first thing we need to look at is growth hormone, when you in a fasted stated, your growth hormone levels rise massively, in fact blood serum levels of growth hormone can rise up to 5 times the normal amount than if you are eating and there are a few reasons for this. The first reason is that when the hypothalamus in your brain gets a signal that you are not getting any food, it sends signals to the pituitary gland to release growth hormone into the blood stream - this is because your brain still recalls the adaptive response to stress that was caused from working out and rebuilding muscle tissues. Since you brain still knows that you could be subjected to heavy weights again, it will not want to break down muscle tissue during the fast, so growth hormone is released which caused the mobilisation of fatty acids from adipose tissue to be burned for energy. So you begin to burn body fat and preserve muscle in the presence of high levels of growth hormone, secondly insulin levels are kept low as no food is coming in - Insulin and GH cannot co-exist, so the lack of insulin allows GH levels to go up.

The question is what about T3 levels? In a fasted stated your thyroid still remains active and iodine uptake is still happening, however secretion of T3 into the blood drops. T3 controls the overall metabolism, however its drop off is compensated for the by increase in GH which keeps things elevated in fasted stated that are not long in duration.

One of the health benefits of intermittent fasting is that it increases your concentration, your focus. You become far more alert in a fasted state and the reason for this is that the liver begins to create ketone bodies in the absence of glucose, and your brain can actually use ketone bodies far more effectively that glucose. So the ketone boides pass through the blood brain barrier and actually stimulate the brain more than glucose can. This helps with better memory, problem solving and is actually a good time to learn new things like languages or a musical instrument.

Another benefit is that it helps with cellular rejuvenation throughout the body. As you may be aware, cells grow old, get sick and weak, as part of their natural cell cycle. When you are in a fasted state, these cells undergo a process known as autophagy, in which they actually eat themselves or breakdown the weakened components of their cells, and speeding up their own demise, so new younger and healthier cells can replace them that much quicker. Intermittent fasting is a great thing just to help keep a higher ratio of healthy to unhealthy dying cells in your body.

Now, in terms of how it benefits an athlete. Well if you think about it like this, when you go to sleep you are entering a fast, so you are producing growth hormone at night to help repair your body, now if you stay fasted longer, for up to 16 or even 20 hours each day, you are keeping your growth hormone levels elevated all day long. This will help you burn fat, retain muscle, since you are still working out to create the stimulus for protein synthesis, and you are still getting in all the food you need when you do indeed break your fast each day. My advice would be to break your fast a few hours after a workout, so you can get the most out it. Which hours you want to do is up to you, as well as how many hours, but I would suggest to probably start off with 16 hours and then work up to 20.

How many times a week? Well, as many as you want. It depends on your lifestyle, when you go to the gym, when you can actually get your calories in.
When you say 16-20 hours of fasting, does this include the hours spent sleeping?
(e.g. if you stopped eating at 8pm, went to bed at 10pm, woke up at 6am, and then at again at 12pm the next day, would that be 16 hrs of fasting?)
 

Hitman

Bionic Poster
Thanks a lot for taking your time to make a well detailed response. Really appreciate it. :)

The food part will be harder as I am not sure if I will be able to find or afford all the listed things you mentioned. :D But I will give it a shot, as I already consume some of them.

Edit: Actually it won't be hard. I already eat a good part of those foods, turns out my English on that topic is average so I didn't realize it at first LOL.

Regarding the exercises, is there any possible substitute for dead lifts and bench press for the start? Not asking because I want to avoid those two, it's just because I don't have weights right now and I am not sure how heavy should be the ones I should look for. Should I do something else instead of that in the beginning, or just start with the rest of the exercises you listed for now, or wait completely until I get the necessary equipment?
You're welcome

There are six main movements that body does which I spoke about earlier in this thread

Vertical Push
Vertical Pull
Horizontal Push
Horizontal Pull
Squat
Hip Hinge

Dead lifts fall in the Hip Hinge group of exercises, if you don't have access to heavyweight, maybe you can use a kettle bell weight, and perform two arm kettle bell swings, using a sumo standing postioning and swing the weight like a pendulum between your legs. If you do not have access to even that, then it is time to get create and improvise while you are waiting to get access to the weights room in a gym or at home, by mimicking a dead lift using things around your house. Place it on the ground, and bend down maintain proper form, chest out, back tight and lift the object by generating the power from your feet and feel it transfer up through your posterior chain of muscles.

Bench Pressing falls into the horizontal push group of exercises. If weights are not available, then I would like for you to try my push up routine, that will help build good strength and muscle in your upper body. Start by doing push ups with your hands as wide apart as possible, this is going to be your weakest position, but since the muscle is fresh, you will be able to get several reps in. When you reach failure, pause for one minute, bring your hands a little, and perform the exercise again. Repeat this process until the fingers of your hands are now touching directly under your torso and try to perform more reps. This technique will work your chest from the outside in, but it will also hit the anterior head of your deltoids, your triceps, forearms, serratus.

Give it a go and see what happens.
 

Hitman

Bionic Poster
When you say 16-20 hours of fasting, does this include the hours spent sleeping?
(e.g. if you stopped eating at 8pm, went to bed at 10pm, woke up at 6am, and then at again at 12pm the next day, would that be 16 hrs of fasting?)
Yes, that does include when you are sleeping. So if you are sleeping, lets say 8 hours a day, that will count for 8 hours of fasting.

There is a reason why breakfast is called such - Break Fast. You are breaking your fast every morning after not eating during the night because you are sleeping.
 
Yes, that does include when you are sleeping. So if you are sleeping, lets say 8 hours a day, that will count for 8 hours of fasting.

There is a reason why breakfast is called such - Break Fast. You are breaking your fast every morning after not eating during the night because you are sleeping.
Ah. That makes it more doable.
I think I intermittent fasting (16/8) once a week to start would be doable for me to try.
 
Is simply only working out going to give the "toned" (or is it called lean?) look on its own, or do you have to do cardio as well? (and good nutrition I'm assuming)

I put toned in quotations because I'm not 100% sure if using the phrase 'lean' is interchangeable within my knowledge, but I assume there are nuances between lean look, toned look, and lean muscle, muscle (?). I don't want to get across the wrong questions so I thought the best way to address the already confusing questions is to make it clear and admit that I'm not sure what the differences are.

But an image to explain the toned look I am referring to:

 
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dman72

Hall of Fame
Is simply only working out going to give the "toned" (or is it called lean?) look on its own, or do you have to do cardio as well? (and good nutrition I'm assuming)

I put toned in quotations because I'm not 100% sure if using the phrase 'lean' is interchangeable within my knowledge, but I assume there are nuances between lean look, toned look, and lean muscle, muscle (?). I don't want to get across the wrong questions so I thought the best way to address the already confusing questions is to make it clear and admit that I'm not sure what the differences are.

But an image to explain the toned look I am referring to:

That's just low bodyfat. You could do no cardio and look like that just by controlling your diet. However, the calorie number you'd need to achieve that might be 1800 as opposed to Novak's 3000..because he spends so much time on the court.
 
@Hitman whenever I climb over ten floors, am noticing tingling sensation under my right foot/toe (area under metatorsophalangeal joint) as if a nerve is being compressed. It is hard to walk on that foot. Also whenever I play tennis for over 30 minutes area near my hip's illiac crest is sore for two or three days. This is not the delayed onset of muscle soreness....I can tell the difference. Am I at risk of developing herniated disc.
 
@Hitman

I'm looking to improve my stamina for long matches and slightly increase the pace on my serve (core workouts then?), BUT... after work I always just find myself preferring to get on the courts to play rather than workout. Probably from the stress of work. Thoughts and recommendations? Currently I'm just playing until exhaustion and as much time as I have, but it's probably not the most efficient. I realize I probably need to do off-court work to get back to my high school/junior college days. A little about myself for context: 180lbs at 5'11, I've lost over 80lbs this last year. Still looking to drop more, but my goals are stamina and added strength on serve (I have no issue with pace on the groundies). My technique doesn't seem to be a problem according to a few others that have watched. 4.0-4.5 level of play.
 

Hitman

Bionic Poster
Is simply only working out going to give the "toned" (or is it called lean?) look on its own, or do you have to do cardio as well? (and good nutrition I'm assuming)

I put toned in quotations because I'm not 100% sure if using the phrase 'lean' is interchangeable within my knowledge, but I assume there are nuances between lean look, toned look, and lean muscle, muscle (?). I don't want to get across the wrong questions so I thought the best way to address the already confusing questions is to make it clear and admit that I'm not sure what the differences are.

But an image to explain the toned look I am referring to:

Cardio training, and by that I refer to isotonic movements, such as running, cycling and jumping rope assist in creating a caloric deficit so that your body taps into its adipose tissue to mobilise triglyceride fatty acids to be burned for fuel. The key words here are - assist and caloric deficit. To get that lean look, you need to change your overall body composition, that is increasing lean muscle mass and losing fat, and cardio by the definition I gave above helps an individual get there by forcing the body to burn additional stored calories from bouts of exercises.

However, you can achieve that same look, by just lifting weights, maintaining muscle mass, and focusing on the main thing....your nutrition. You cannot ever out train a bad diet, so the first thing you need to do whenever going on a quest for re-composition of your body, or exercise in general is to get your kitchen in order. Eat the correct foods that promote muscle growth and help burn fat, and that provide you with caloric deficit over a period of time. I will say this, it is not wise to be in caloric deficit every day, you body needs refeeds to ensure your leptin levels are with there should be, leptin helps control your metabolism. You can lift weights, and use your diet and muscle to help shed the fat if you so wish.

I have done this many times, I admit it takes a bit longer than if I put in sprinting or jumping rope, but there have been times I wanted to attain a much fuller muscular look, but look dialled in also, I would eat super clean for 16 to 20 weeks, using things such as carb cycling, fasting, re feeds etc but lift heavy and hard five to six times a week without any cardio and still get that look. I can speed it up to 10 weeks if I put in the cardio, because as I said before, cardio assists, but it is not the be all end all. There are many ways to do, but the key is the same, to get a caloric deficit.

Djokovic uses a variety of techniques, cross training his tennis with strength and conditioning training to help build his stamina and endurance and of course his diet is spot in that photo.
 

Hitman

Bionic Poster
@Hitman whenever I climb over ten floors, am noticing tingling sensation under my right foot/toe (area under metatorsophalangeal joint) as if a nerve is being compressed. It is hard to walk on that foot. Also whenever I play tennis for over 30 minutes area near my hip's illiac crest is sore for two or three days. This is not the delayed onset of muscle soreness....I can tell the difference. Am I at risk of developing herniated disc.
OK, there are two different things here, but both could be related to your tennis.

Lets look at the issue with the metatorsophalangeal joint, now normally such impingement of joints in this area happen due to a misalignment of the foot under stress, which is a common occurrence in a sport like tennis where you have to run, stop, change direction and run in another direction. In situations like this, you can unwillingly turn your foot so that the toes are pointing inward towards your body and the heel of your foot begins to push outward, like an ankle twist, but not quite as exaggerated as that. This puts your Achilles tendon in a compromised position and stretches the muscles around your lower legs also, and consistent movement like this eventually can lead to softening of the cartilage around the joint. I would suggest that your treat your foot with ice and heat remedies to prevent the onset of rheumatoid arthritis, from what you describing it looks like the cartilage has been negatively impacted for sudden starts and stops and sharp changes in the foot alignment with all the force of your moving body.

OK, soreness with the illiac crest. This is could be an issue with several things, but I would think since this is tennis related, I feel its from your glutes doing lunging towards balls on the court. The muscles that are most responsible for soreness in this area are your lower back, abdominals and glutes, but continued soreness tells me it is more lower body related. I would suggest that you work on strengthening your core and in particular the glutes.

For your core workout, using the medicine ball to help perform pelvic raises, and incline and decline planks. Combine this with walking or standing weighted lunges, and make sure you lunge as deep as possible to work those muscle groups. These are very core workouts that tennis players I know do, and especially beneficial for any athletic movements.
 

Hitman

Bionic Poster
@Hitman

I'm looking to improve my stamina for long matches and slightly increase the pace on my serve (core workouts then?), BUT... after work I always just find myself preferring to get on the courts to play rather than workout. Probably from the stress of work. Thoughts and recommendations? Currently I'm just playing until exhaustion and as much time as I have, but it's probably not the most efficient. I realize I probably need to do off-court work to get back to my high school/junior college days. A little about myself for context: 180lbs at 5'11, I've lost over 80lbs this last year. Still looking to drop more, but my goals are stamina and added strength on serve (I have no issue with pace on the groundies). My technique doesn't seem to be a problem according to a few others that have watched. 4.0-4.5 level of play.
Welcome to the world of Serratus Training.

You serratus is what connects your upper body to your top of core on each side from the front, and these muscles play a very integral part in explosive movement where the arm needs to move in a vertical arc either from the front to the back, or the back to the front, in the case of a tennis serve, it is both. Your serratus allows an incredible transfer of kinetic energy through your lower body into your shoulder and arm, and training it can quite possibly give you that extra power you are looking to obtain. So, how do you train the serratus?

The ab rollout machine is one of the best ways to train this muscle, where you roll all the way out, pause to kill the momentum and then pull back in again, using those key muscles groups that this activate the entire core. Have you ever seen Rocky IV, where Rocky is chopping wood with a massive axe he is wielding with both arms overstretched over his head? He is working his serratus muscles, which then helps gives the boxer more punching power. A tennis player and boxer are very similar in this sense, whereas the boxer is looking to maximise the power at when the arm is horizontal, the tennis player wants it from a more vertical position. Now, I am not saying you need to go to Siberia and start chopping wood, but you can start picking up heaving medicine balls over head and slamming them into the ground, or if you have access to it, hit a big tire with a sledgehammer. I am certain your power will increase.

Finally, don't forget to focus on trunk rotation movements, so moving with resistance force across your body. This helps works the obliques which tie into the serratus and just overall makes you tougher in that area. A good exercise to combine with the serratus ones is to stand sideways against a wall, a few feet away from it and rotate your arms holding a medicine ball and hit it into the wall, doing this on both sides until you fatigue.

Give this a go and see if what I suggest helps you out.
 
been times I wanted to attain a much fuller muscular look, but look dialled in also, I would eat super clean for 16 to 20 weeks, using things such as carb cycling, fasting, re feeds etc but lift heavy and hard five to six times a week without any cardio and still get that look. I can speed it up to 10 weeks if I put in the cardio, because as I said before, cardio assists, but it is not the be
Thank you again for replying and explaining!

Unrelated, but perhaps you could be a teacher of some sort? Your ability to consistently deliver a complex message in simple words is remarkable as evidenced by this entire thread.
 

Hitman

Bionic Poster
Thank you again for replying and explaining!

Unrelated, but perhaps you could be a teacher of some sort? Your ability to consistently deliver a complex message in simple words is remarkable as evidenced by this entire thread.
Surprisingly or maybe not so, I have been a teacher in the past also, but I'll leave that subject for another time. :)
 
Here are my 6 week results from using the workout Hitman gave me. (actually 2 days short of 6 weeks).

THE WORKOUT:
  • Alternated between workout A and workout B.
  • Workout every 3 - 4 days.
  • 90-120 seconds rest between each set.
  • For each exercise, go to failure on the last two working sets, the first couple of sets, go 80% close to failure.

Workout A - The Barbell workout (Each exercise to be done between 8 to 12 reps and for four working sets)
Flat Bench Press
Barbell Back Squat
Barbell Dead Lift
Barbell Miltary Shoulder Press
Bent over Barbell Row
Standing Barbell Curls


Workout B - The Dumbell workout (Each exercise to be done between 8 to 12 reps and for four working sets)
Incline Dumbbell Press
Dumbbell Lunges
Bent Over Dumbbell rows
Shoulder Dumbbell Press
Standing Alternate Dumbbell Curls
Plank to failure and Hanging Leg raises to failure


Goals: steadily increase the weight, focus on progressive overload, to get bigger, and stronger. As for your diet, try to get more protein in, so you can benefit from this workout, a whey protein supplement can help post workout, and a caesin protein can help in the evenings.

ADDITIONAL EXERCISE I DID during the 6 weeks:
Doubles Tennis 6x
yoga class 4x

BEFORE VS AFTER:
Forgot to take before and after photos & body circumference measurements, but waist is about 31.5" and hip about 39"

Using Omron bodyfat scale/handheld electric measuring thing.
Nov 7:
height: 182.5 cm
weight: 74.4 kg
bodyfat %: 17.3 %

Dec 17:
height: 182.5 cm
weight: 74.3 kg
bodyfat %: 15.7 %

The Omron scale is probably not that accurate, but the gym I go to has one so I used it.

ADDITIONAL NOTES:
  • I didn't follow @Hitman's advice 100% due to laziness and also the following reasons listed below:
  • hard to get inexpensive whye or caesin protein where I live.
  • I sprained my right knee slipping on a tennis court week 1, so I took it easier during leg exercises the first few weeks.
  • He recommended not eating for about an hour before and after the workout, but I only started doing this the last 2 weeks.
  • I was lazy with the ab workouts and usually only did 1 set of planks or leg raises and not at every workout.
  • It is hard to go to failure on barbell bench presses b/c I didn't have someone to spot me. (sometimes I hate asking a random stranger for a spot b/c the moment the bar even slows down a little bit, they yank it up)
  • could probably get more sleep, but work schedule and addition of a new family member make this difficult.
  • I didn't really change diet overall during the 6 weeks.

OBSERVATIONS / THOUGHTS:
I'm used to resting about 3-5 minutes between sets during my workouts, so reducing the time to 90-120 seconds made my workouts go quicker and also reduced the amount of weight I could lift after the warmup sets.

I liked having the workout lasting less long than my previous workout. I think I usually spent about an hour each workout in the gym.

NEAR FUTURE GOALS:
  • gain muscle but reduce bodyfat %
  • increase flexibility (just started doing yoga again after a 2 year break, so this should help with this)
  • try occasional intermittent fasting
  • improve my diet
 
Last edited:

Hitman

Bionic Poster
Here are my 6 week results from using the workout Hitman gave me. (actually 2 days short of 6 weeks).

THE WORKOUT:
  • Alternated between workout A and workout B.
  • Workout every 3 - 4 days.
  • 90-120 seconds rest between each set.
  • For each exercise, go to failure on the last two working sets, the first couple of sets, go 80% close to failure.

Workout A - The Barbell workout (Each exercise to be done between 8 to 12 reps and for four working sets)
Flat Bench Press
Barbell Back Squat
Barbell Dead Lift
Barbell Miltary Shoulder Press
Bent over Barbell Row
Standing Barbell Curls


Workout B - The Dumbell workout (Each exercise to be done between 8 to 12 reps and for four working sets)
Incline Dumbbell Press
Dumbbell Lunges
Bent Over Dumbbell rows
Shoulder Dumbbell Press
Standing Alternate Dumbbell Curls
Plank to failure and Hanging Leg raises to failure


Goals: steadily increase the weight, focus on progressive overload, to get bigger, and stronger. As for your diet, try to get more protein in, so you can benefit from this workout, a whey protein supplement can help post workout, and a caesin protein can help in the evenings.

ADDITIONAL EXERCISE I DID during the 6 weeks:
Doubles Tennis 6x
yoga class 4x

BEFORE VS AFTER:
Forgot to take before and after photos & body circumference measurements, but waist is about 31.5" and hip about 39"

Using Omron bodyfat scale/handheld electric measuring thing.
Nov 7:
height: 182.5 cm
weight: 74.4 kg
bodyfat %: 17.3 %

Dec 17:
height: 182.5 cm
weight: 74.3 kg
bodyfat %: 15.7 %

The Omron scale is probably not that accurate, but the gym I go to has one so I used it.

ADDITIONAL NOTES:
  • I didn't follow @Hitman's advice 100% due to laziness and also the following reasons listed below:
  • hard to get inexpensive whye or caesin protein where I live.
  • I sprained my right knee slipping on a tennis court week 1, so I took it easier during leg exercises the first few weeks.
  • He recommended not eating for about an hour before and after the workout, but I only started doing this the last 2 weeks.
  • I was lazy with the ab workouts and usually only did 1 set of planks or leg raises and not at every workout.
  • It is hard to go to failure on barbell bench presses b/c I didn't have someone to spot me. (sometimes I hate asking a random stranger for a spot b/c the moment the bar even slows down a little bit, they yank it up)
  • could probably get more sleep, but work schedule and addition of a new family member make this difficult.
  • I didn't really change diet overall during the 6 weeks.

OBSERVATIONS / THOUGHTS:
I'm used to resting about 3-5 minutes between sets during my workouts, so reducing the time to 90-120 seconds made my workouts go quicker and also reduced the amount of weight I could lift after the warmup sets.

I liked having the workout lasting less long than my previous workout. I think I usually spent about an hour each workout in the gym.

NEAR FUTURE GOALS:
  • gain muscle but reduce bodyfat %
  • increase flexibility (just started doing yoga again after a 2 year break, so this should help with this)
  • try occasional intermittent fasting
  • improve my diet
Good feedback and you have dropped bodyfat. The key is consistency.
 
@Hitman
Why is my breathing so heavy even after an hour after a muscle workout? (the best way I can describe it is, the frequency of my breathing isn't as quick or rapid as during a cardio session, but I'm having to take deeper, bigger breaths at slower intervals (2-3 sec inhalation) even after 30mins after working out my muscles.) I don't breathe this hard half an hour after I finish my cardio sessions :/

I don't think my aerobic capabilities are that horrendous if it relates to my problem e.g I am able to run 10km between 55-60mins for example

Is it because I haven't worked my lungs in a while? Because the last time I did a 30min bike/run was at least 3 or 4 weeks ago...but I haven't been completely inactive as I have stepped on the tennis court for low intensityl doubles (idk if this detail was useful but hopefully it is)


TL;DR:Why am I out of breath for so long after a muscle workout?
 
Last edited:
Hi @Hitman i am wondering what you think about intermittent fasting as effective tool of losing fat while maintaining muscle. Out of curiosity I have done the 16h fast /8h feed for three non consecutive days. The experiment turned out pretty easy. During week days it is not hard at all to keep the fast from 10pm to 2pm next day. I will be only drinking black coffee and water. I can also do low volume high intensity training in the morning. Do you think the 16/8 fasting method is a legitimate method to lose body fat? What’s the risk of losing muscle?
 
I hate to say this, but it's likely that they are working this area intentionally, to turn you off.
Well just yesterday, college girl that is home for the holidays asked me come to her party yesterday. She said there will be bunch of hot college girls there. Are you jealous ?
 

Hitman

Bionic Poster
@Hitman
Why is my breathing so heavy even after an hour after a muscle workout? (the best way I can describe it is, the frequency of my breathing isn't as quick or rapid as during a cardio session, but I'm having to take deeper, bigger breaths at slower intervals (2-3 sec inhalation) even after 30mins after working out my muscles.) I don't breathe this hard half an hour after I finish my cardio sessions :/

I don't think my aerobic capabilities are that horrendous if it relates to my problem e.g I am able to run 10km between 55-60mins for example

Is it because I haven't worked my lungs in a while? Because the last time I did a 30min bike/run was at least 3 or 4 weeks ago...but I haven't been completely inactive as I have stepped on the tennis court for low intensityl doubles (idk if this detail was useful but hopefully it is)


TL;DR:Why am I out of breath for so long after a muscle workout?
This could be down to several things. When you are working out and building muscle, you are normally using biochemical pathways that are very different from the aerobic ones that you would use when you are doing CV training. This is due to the muscle fibres that you are primarily, engaging, which when you are lifting weights, you will be using more fast twitch fibres. The reason why they are called fast twitch is that they normally produce ATP for energy in the absence of oxygen, hence anaerobic respiration, this produces a by product called lactate or lactic acid. Lactic acid, just like any other acid, will temporarily change the pH of your blood, dropping lower than where it should be.

Your body responds with bouts of prolonged deep breathing, if you are not efficient at removing the lactic acid. Basically your diaphragm responds by forcing more oxygen to enter your body to help remove the lactic acid, and this will normally happen when you have finished your training and your body chemistry is now initiating what is known as EPOC - Excessive Post Oxygen Consumption, to help to recover and adapt to the stress your body has just been put through. If you have strong intercostals muscles that help expand your breathing capacity, this period should reduce very quickly. My advice to you is to start doing more circuit training, so you are working on your overall conditioning, this isn't about how long you can ride a bike, it is about how quickly your body can adapt to different stress variables.

I would recommend that going forward you circuit train with weights, like a power pump class, to strengthen what I stated. Over time, your body will begin to adapt and it will reach back to normal state a lot quicker.
 

Hitman

Bionic Poster
Hi @Hitman i am wondering what you think about intermittent fasting as effective tool of losing fat while maintaining muscle. Out of curiosity I have done the 16h fast /8h feed for three non consecutive days. The experiment turned out pretty easy. During week days it is not hard at all to keep the fast from 10pm to 2pm next day. I will be only drinking black coffee and water. I can also do low volume high intensity training in the morning. Do you think the 16/8 fasting method is a legitimate method to lose body fat? What’s the risk of losing muscle?
I have answered this question here. Hopefully this will be what you are looking for.

OK, the topic of fasting....

What are you thoughts on fasting? Intermittent fasting?

OK, there are many types of fasting you can do.

Dry Fasting - This is going without both food and water for specific period of time
Wet Fasting - You can drink water, black coffee, green tea, but cannot consume any foods, this includes vitamins and omega 3 fish oils capsules
Prolonged Fasting - This is when you fast for a several days, can be 72 hours or even more
Intermittent Fasting - This is basically when for a certain period of the day you fast, normally this is a wet fast, and you have small window each day for feeding and getting all your calories in for the day.

Intermittent Fasting does have great benefits if you are looking to use it, I know people often say that if you fast you will lose muscle or your metabolism goes down. This isn't quite true, and let me explain what I mean by that. The first thing we need to look at is growth hormone, when you in a fasted stated, your growth hormone levels rise massively, in fact blood serum levels of growth hormone can rise up to 5 times the normal amount than if you are eating and there are a few reasons for this. The first reason is that when the hypothalamus in your brain gets a signal that you are not getting any food, it sends signals to the pituitary gland to release growth hormone into the blood stream - this is because your brain still recalls the adaptive response to stress that was caused from working out and rebuilding muscle tissues. Since you brain still knows that you could be subjected to heavy weights again, it will not want to break down muscle tissue during the fast, so growth hormone is released which caused the mobilisation of fatty acids from adipose tissue to be burned for energy. So you begin to burn body fat and preserve muscle in the presence of high levels of growth hormone, secondly insulin levels are kept low as no food is coming in - Insulin and GH cannot co-exist, so the lack of insulin allows GH levels to go up.

The question is what about T3 levels? In a fasted stated your thyroid still remains active and iodine uptake is still happening, however secretion of T3 into the blood drops. T3 controls the overall metabolism, however its drop off is compensated for the by increase in GH which keeps things elevated in fasted stated that are not long in duration.

One of the health benefits of intermittent fasting is that it increases your concentration, your focus. You become far more alert in a fasted state and the reason for this is that the liver begins to create ketone bodies in the absence of glucose, and your brain can actually use ketone bodies far more effectively that glucose. So the ketone boides pass through the blood brain barrier and actually stimulate the brain more than glucose can. This helps with better memory, problem solving and is actually a good time to learn new things like languages or a musical instrument.

Another benefit is that it helps with cellular rejuvenation throughout the body. As you may be aware, cells grow old, get sick and weak, as part of their natural cell cycle. When you are in a fasted state, these cells undergo a process known as autophagy, in which they actually eat themselves or breakdown the weakened components of their cells, and speeding up their own demise, so new younger and healthier cells can replace them that much quicker. Intermittent fasting is a great thing just to help keep a higher ratio of healthy to unhealthy dying cells in your body.

Now, in terms of how it benefits an athlete. Well if you think about it like this, when you go to sleep you are entering a fast, so you are producing growth hormone at night to help repair your body, now if you stay fasted longer, for up to 16 or even 20 hours each day, you are keeping your growth hormone levels elevated all day long. This will help you burn fat, retain muscle, since you are still working out to create the stimulus for protein synthesis, and you are still getting in all the food you need when you do indeed break your fast each day. My advice would be to break your fast a few hours after a workout, so you can get the most out it. Which hours you want to do is up to you, as well as how many hours, but I would suggest to probably start off with 16 hours and then work up to 20.

How many times a week? Well, as many as you want. It depends on your lifestyle, when you go to the gym, when you can actually get your calories in.
 
Thanks @Hitman ! Looks like I missed a page of this thread which I am catching up on now. Again your information are so comprehensive and clear.

And timely too. After I posted my question, I took a careful look at myself and cant help notice the belly is a little bigger after I did the fasting for three days in the past week. I almost decided to drop the idea. I am thinking the adverse effect is probably a combination of eating too liberally in the non fast days and dropping the training volume too much. Now I am going to keep doing it till the new year and see how it goes!
 

Hitman

Bionic Poster
Thanks @Hitman ! Looks like I missed a page of this thread which I am catching up on now. Again your information are so comprehensive and clear.

And timely too. After I posted my question, I took a careful look at myself and cant help notice the belly is a little bigger after I did the fasting for three days in the past week. I almost decided to drop the idea. I am thinking the adverse effect is probably a combination of eating too liberally in the non fast days and dropping the training volume too much. Now I am going to keep doing it till the new year and see how it goes!
Good luck!
 
This could be down to several things. When you are working out and building muscle, you are normally using biochemical pathways that are very different from the aerobic ones that you would use when you are doing CV training. This is due to the muscle fibres that you are primarily, engaging, which when you are lifting weights, you will be using more fast twitch fibres. The reason why they are called fast twitch is that they normally produce ATP for energy in the absence of oxygen, hence anaerobic respiration, this produces a by product called lactate or lactic acid. Lactic acid, just like any other acid, will temporarily change the pH of your blood, dropping lower than where it should be.

Your body responds with bouts of prolonged deep breathing, if you are not efficient at removing the lactic acid. Basically your diaphragm responds by forcing more oxygen to enter your body to help remove the lactic acid, and this will normally happen when you have finished your training and your body chemistry is now initiating what is known as EPOC - Excessive Post Oxygen Consumption, to help to recover and adapt to the stress your body has just been put through. If you have strong intercostals muscles that help expand your breathing capacity, this period should reduce very quickly. My advice to you is to start doing more circuit training, so you are working on your overall conditioning, this isn't about how long you can ride a bike, it is about how quickly your body can adapt to different stress variables.

I would recommend that going forward you circuit train with weights, like a power pump class, to strengthen what I stated. Over time, your body will begin to adapt and it will reach back to normal state a lot quicker.
Thank you. Everything is much clearer now. I had totally the wrong assumption to begin with :(

Although just to clarify about anaerobic respiration and lactic acid in your first paragraph, would it also help to do sprints since that (i assume) works on anaerobic respiration, (on top of your suggestion on doing more circuit training) and would make the body more efficient at removing lactic acid?
 

Hitman

Bionic Poster
Thank you. Everything is much clearer now. I had totally the wrong assumption to begin with :(

Although just to clarify about anaerobic respiration and lactic acid in your first paragraph, would it also help to do sprints since that (i assume) works on anaerobic respiration, (on top of your suggestion on doing more circuit training) and would make the body more efficient at removing lactic acid?
Yes, doing sprint training is a very powerful way to work on your anaerobic biochemical pathways.
 
Any advice on exercising/working out when one is sick? Been busy and have a cough the last couple days. No exercise since last monday. Hope this doesn’t mean the progress I made in the last 6 weeks are gone.

I’ve always used the following personal guidelines:

If cold symptoms are from throat on up (sore throat) then okay to exercise unless there is a fever

No exercise if fever or any symptoms below throat (eg coughing — especially wet cough, etc)
 

Hitman

Bionic Poster
Any advice on exercising/working out when one is sick? Been busy and have a cough the last couple days. No exercise since last monday. Hope this doesn’t mean the progress I made in the last 6 weeks are gone.

I’ve always used the following personal guidelines:

If cold symptoms are from throat on up (sore throat) then okay to exercise unless there is a fever

No exercise if fever or any symptoms below throat (eg coughing — especially wet cough, etc)
My advice is quite simple. Don't exercise unless you are in contest prep. The most important thing, was, is and always will be is your diet. Your diet is up to 80% of the equation when you are very conditioned and no less than 70% the rest of the time. As long as you are getting in nutrient rich foods that your body needs, use this time to rest and recover. Training increases cortisol, the stress hormone and lowers the potency of your immune system...if anything, training is more counter productive than anything.

Learn to master self control of the mind, and understand you are not in a normal state. Your body is trying to heal from an infection or illness, let it focus it's energy on that, instead of the repairing of damaged muscle. You will NOT lose your progress, trust me on this, at worst the only thing that goes is the pump, which you will get back with three days of training again.
 
@Hitman : First of all, thanks for doing a great job of answering questions.

I have a question regarding a problem that keeps recurring - lower back stiffness. When it happens, it is usually after some heavy hitting/serving. I never get spasms, but when the stiffness sets in, it really limits movement to the point where I have to stop playing. I have been stretching the lower back regularly, and strengthening the gluteus medius, and that has helped, but not entirely. I started experiencing this sometime after I turned 56 or 57 I think, and I am 62 now. I am beginning to think that some muscles related to the lower back have weakened and get stiff when they tire, and I have no clue what more to do to fix this condition. I look forward to your opinion on this problem. Thanks!
 
@Hitman : First of all, thanks for doing a great job of answering questions.

I have a question regarding a problem that keeps recurring - lower back stiffness. When it happens, it is usually after some heavy hitting/serving. I never get spasms, but when the stiffness sets in, it really limits movement to the point where I have to stop playing. I have been stretching the lower back regularly, and strengthening the gluteus medius, and that has helped, but not entirely. I started experiencing this sometime after I turned 56 or 57 I think, and I am 62 now. I am beginning to think that some muscles related to the lower back have weakened and get stiff when they tire, and I have no clue what more to do to fix this condition. I look forward to your opinion on this problem. Thanks!
I'd also been getting this problem.
I started doing the 7 core exercises for tennis

https://www.active.com/tennis/articles/7-core-exercises-every-tennis-player-should-do

I could always do a minute of plank but some of the other excerises, esp the balance ones and the windscreen wiper last one, I found very challenging.. but the fact that these exercises release my tight back has meant I was spurred on to do them regularly and build my strength.
I'm now getting near the rep max and with good form!
3 weeks in I'm stronger than ever and not getting the tightness I was..
Core is really important!




Sent from my Moto G (5) using Tapatalk
 
@speedysteve : Thanks Steve, this is good advice. I also do some core work, but of late, it hasn't been as effective as it was initially. Maybe I have to change things in some way... go back to doing some weights, maybe...
 

Hitman

Bionic Poster
@Hitman : First of all, thanks for doing a great job of answering questions.

I have a question regarding a problem that keeps recurring - lower back stiffness. When it happens, it is usually after some heavy hitting/serving. I never get spasms, but when the stiffness sets in, it really limits movement to the point where I have to stop playing. I have been stretching the lower back regularly, and strengthening the gluteus medius, and that has helped, but not entirely. I started experiencing this sometime after I turned 56 or 57 I think, and I am 62 now. I am beginning to think that some muscles related to the lower back have weakened and get stiff when they tire, and I have no clue what more to do to fix this condition. I look forward to your opinion on this problem. Thanks!
Firstly, very nice advise provided by @speedysteve - Good to see everyone positively helping each other here.

Right, a part of the issue is I think you are starting to to suffer from an acceleration in sacropenia - this degeneration and loss of muscle mass that occurs as you get older. I have always said, and I stick by it, that the most important thing can person can ever do in their life is lift. Lifting increases bone density, helps with mineral cycling within your bones and ligaments, and most importantly, prevents the loss of muscle tissue, which itself prevents weaknesses, injuries, drop in metabolism and a drop in the optimum functioning of your endocrine systems.

The pain in your is back could likely be from the gradual loss of muscle density around the posterior chain through your body, I have seen this many times before in my clients who are around your age. The loss of muscle, the puts more pressure on the tendons, in particular the TLF tendons that make up the classic Christmas Tree of the lower back, originating from the pelvis, upon which numerous muscles attach. I would strongly suggest that you start to dead lift and work that entire posterior chain, tennis as great as it is does not prevent accelerated ageing, only true lifting, the lifting that is ingrained within your DNA from millions of years of evolution can and will. Start to work on building some muscle strength by dead lifting at least twice a week, going up to 80 percent of your maximum weight, keep the rep ranges between 8 to 12 reps, and focus on the form. I would also advise to up the protein by 20 percent in your diet, I can confident that should you do this, it will positively impact your time on the court.
 
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