Strength Training – One of a Few Big Workout Changes I’ve Made

Strength Training – One of a Few Big Workout Changes I’ve Made

That’s right, baby – I’ve now switched my workouts from bodybuilding to strength training. That’s just one of the changes that have come up for me in my fitness track this past year.

Welcome to another workout update!

Over the past few years, I’ve tried to provide you with status reports and some other facets of working out that have been helpful to me that I thought were worth sharing:

Although I post about fitness a few times a year, I’ve been releasing my workout updates in January.

Why January?

Well, it’s the time of the year for folks to make life-changing New Year’s resolutions that, unfortunately, tend to only survive for a couple of months. Losing weight and working out tend to top that list.

And while the intentions are always good, life seems to get in the way and send those masterful visions right down the tubes.

So I put these updates out there while it’s hopefully on your mind… strike while the iron’s hot, so to speak!

And remember this – no one can make these sort of changes for you. Just like the path to freedom through financial independence, it needs to come from you to make it a reality. From the fitness side of the equation, all I can do is offer up my update and hopefully motivate you to want to commit to making the change on your end.

So let’s talk about where things stand today and some of the changes that have taken place over the past year…

Bodybuilding to strength training

When I work out, I prefer to be by myself and just do my thing. I’m friendly and will talk briefly to people at the gym, but I really just want to focus on doing what I came there to do and then get the heck out of dodge. I don’t enjoy working out so I don’t want to spend my day there.

Along those same lines, I don’t want a trainer that I need to work with either. I just want to put in my earbuds and listen to my favorite podcast, The Clark Howard Show, and then rock out to my music. Plus, I’m too cheap to pay for someone to do this.

That said, I’m not a professional at the gym (though I think I graduated from rookie status!), and having a little guidance is immensely helpful.

That’s where the Fitbod app comes in. It generates workouts specific to me and my goals and slowly increases the weight/reps over time. It uses AI to help ensure that your muscles don’t get used to the same routines so the workouts will be more effective.

Additionally, you tell it what equipment you have (or none at all) and it creates different workouts each time, mixing up the routines so you (and your muscles) don’t get bored.

I’ve been using the Fitbod app for Android for almost two years now (they have an app for iPhone as well) and I absolutely love it. It’s like having a non-intrusive trainer for a fraction of the cost.

You don’t have to think about and decide what your workout will be each day and I like that. And there are instructions and videos to ensure you’re doing the exercises correctly if you need help.

When I first started toying with it in May of 2020, I had selected a fitness goal in the app of bodybuilding. There are several different choices from bodybuilding to strength training to general fitness and more:

Strength Training – One of a Few Big Workout Changes I’ve Made - Fitbod fitness goal

Since I was just testing the app out at the time, I didn’t think anything of it and had just chosen “bodybuilding.” Well, after about a year and a half of using it, I was looking at the settings again and thought, “Is this the right goal for me?”

So I discussed it with my cousin who’s been working out and training others for most of his life – he’s also built like a brick house. He suggested that at our age (we’re the same age), it doesn’t necessarily make sense to start bulking up. He also said that with my frame, I wouldn’t likely become huge anyway.

I agree with that as I’m looking to be healthy and in shape more than trying to impress anyone. Though I will say that it’s nice to see the progression in my physique over the past few years. If I had to choose, I’d rather be stronger than just “look the part” (although both would be ok in my book!).

After reviewing the Fitbod options with him, I changed the fitness goal from “bodybuilding” to “strength training.” The switch to strength training was probably about 6 months ago and honestly, I’m not noticing much of a difference in what my workouts entail, but hopefully, it’ll be the best choice over the long run.

In other news, it was interesting to see in my Fitbod 2021 Workout Report that I was logged more workouts than 95% of all Fitbodders…

Strength Training – One of a Few Big Workout Changes I’ve Made - Fitbod 2021 Workout Report

Whose idea was it to climb a stupid volcano anyway?!

A few months ago, I wrote a post about a challenge I put in front of myself: I’ve Decided to Hike up an Active Volcano…

Mountain climbing (or volcano climbing) isn’t something that’s normally on my checklist of things to do… and that’s partly why I decided to do it. I was excited to do something out of my comfort zone and I wanted to see if I could do it.

But in my head, I didn’t think it all the way through. You don’t just climb a volcano – there’s a good amount of prep that goes into it first (or there should be!).

I now have all the equipment and nourishment ready for the trek. But there’s something else that’s pretty important to do as well… training for the climb.

Now, I think I’m strong enough for this mission through my regular workouts. However, strength training is only one necessary part of the preparation… endurance is the other.

So I’ve been spending a lot of my days lately climbing up and down the steps of the amphitheater in Valle Escondido with my filled backpack on…

Strength Training – One of a Few Big Workout Changes I’ve Made - Walking Up the Valle Escondido Amphitheater Steps

Up and down I go. 53 steps. I count a roundtrip as “one” and, as I write this, I’m now doing 37 of these rounds with 14 pounds on my back. That’s 3,922 steps that my tracking app (Outdooractive) tells me equates to about 1.25 miles.

It’s a lot and I’m a sweaty mess every time I get done. But then I think about how my climb up the volcano will be a little over 8 miles each way and I realize that I’m not even in the ballpark here. Ugh.

This is going to be interesting for sure. By the time you’re reading this, hopefully, I’ll have increased my rounds to more, but will I be able to make it up this volcano?

Guess we’ll find out soon because my climb is scheduled for next week! Don’t worry, I’ll be writing a post about it as I’m lying in bed in agony wondering why I ever decided to do something like this in the first place! ?

Maybe I should just stick to strength training in the gym and forget about climbing volcanoes from now on.

I changed gyms to one twice as far away!

When we traveled back to Ohio for a visit in November, that was also the end of our lease at our condo in Valle Escondido. When we returned to Boquete in December, we immediately moved into our new place in Valle del Rio.

As I’ve talked about in previous posts, Valle Escondido has a beautiful gym with a ton of equipment and rarely anyone there. I like that a lot…

Strength Training – One of a Few Big Workout Changes I’ve Made - Valle Escondido Gym

The problem is that the gym in Valle del Rio doesn’t have much to offer…

The machines look like they were made in the 1970s, the biggest dumbbells are about 11 pounds and then there’s this rusty, torn-up weight bench outside that maxes out at about 80 pounds of weight. With this junk, strength training isn’t going to be something easy to do.

So I went to the Valle Escondido gym for our first month back and life was good… until I got called out that I needed to renew my membership. The discussion went sort of like this…

Valle Escondido: You’re no longer current and need to renew your membership.
Me: Sure, not a problem – how much?
Valle Escondido: $165 per month.
Me: I’m sorry… what?!!!
Valle Escondido: Our prices went up in December, but that includes all sorts of wonderful resort amenities that you can use at any time.
Me: Yeah, I don’t need any of that stuff. How much is the gym-only membership?
Valle Escondido: We eliminated that in December. You need to buy the resort pass in order to use the gym.
Me: Um, yeah… that’s not happening. Have a nice day.

I did try negotiating and she said she’d offer me the old prices but I still needed to pay for the resort pass… $144/mo. Yup, not happening.

So the next day, I went to another gym at The Haven and signed up at $58/month for three months. Still a little pricey, but for the final 3 months we’re here until we move, that’ll fit the bill just fine.

It’s a 22-minute walk to the gym from our place. That’s about twice as long as it was to get to the gym in Valle Escondido. That’s ok with me though since Boquete has such beautiful weather and it’s a nice scenic walk…

I like the gym at Valle Escondido a little better but this will accommodate my strength training exercise without a problem! Here are a few quick pics of the Haven’s gym…

The only downside is that previously I could walk out of the Valle Escondido gym and the amphitheater was right there for my training on the steps. The Haven gym though is completely in a different direction so it involves a lot more walking with a full backpack to knock out both missions.

However, that’s probably good for my training anyway and those amphitheater steps will be disappearing from my workouts after I attempt the volcano climb next week anyway.

Yeah, but how’s it going?!

Ok, those are the changes that have occurred regarding my workouts over the past year, but am I seeing any results?

I think so. I notice a difference when I look in the mirror now.

I feel stronger in general (thanks, strength training!) and I definitely have a better physique than I did years ago. Am I more built than I was compared to last year’s photos though?

WARNING: As always, I apologize for what you’re about to see. If you get queasy easily, you might want to bail out now…

I warned you, but I did try to distract you from my pale figure with a pretty setting in the background this time!

When I pose like this, I don’t see much of an improvement. But I can tell you that my muscles have grown and I’m a lot stronger than I was. I’m not going to be entering any strong-man competitions anytime soon, but I’m pleased with where I’m at on this journey.

Unless I start drinking protein shakes, taking creatine, and just aiming to bulk up, I don’t think much is going to change here. I’m not built for muscle mass. But like I said, my goal now is to focus on strength training and less on bodybuilding.

Here’s the string of photos since I started keeping track…

And the gun show…

It’s a slow progression but I can say that I’m happy with how it’s going. It’s become a part of my routine and I’ve done well in rarely doing less than my 5 days a week on it (I sometimes miss a workout when traveling though).

I’m still working on building out the guns to be like Jim Wang from Wallet Hacks (someday, my friend… someday). But now my focus is on strength training versus bulking up so this might make it a slower evolution.

It’s slightly possible that this photo just might be an obvious fake that I carelessly threw together with Jim Wang’s head and John Cena’s body… I can neither confirm nor deny! 😉

So there you go, my friends – another year of sharing embarrassing topless photos of me. I’m happy though that they’re getting at least slightly less embarrassing each year!

Ok, folks – it’s your turn… are you working on getting/staying in shape or is that low on the priority list?

Plan well, take action, and live your best life!

Thanks for reading!!

— Jim

You know you wanna share this!!

2 thoughts on “Strength Training – One of a Few Big Workout Changes I’ve Made”

  1. Thanks for the tip on the Fitbod App. It looks like the app is keeping you fit and that’s what is important. Sounds like Valle Escondido has changed their business model and gotten rather aggressive on pricing, possibly charging more than the market is willing to pay. Even in the US that pricing would not attract many takers. Personally, I have avoided gyms during covid for fear of exposure to the virus; but I walk a couple of miles every day to maintain a minimal level of fitness. I look forward to going back to LA Fitness when the pandemic is over. I think you are well prepared for your 8×2 mile volcano hike. I always enjoy the walk down the mountain more than the climb.

    1. I’ve been very lucky that both the gym and Valle Escondido and the Haven gym are generally empty or just a couple of other people in them. That makes me feel a lot more comfortable going. Once we’re back in the U.S., I think I’ll be a little more anxious like you are. That’s great you’re walking a couple of miles every day – they say walking’s one of the best things you can do!

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