Feb 212012

The weight for squats and bench press is still embarrassingly easy, to the point that instead of 5×5 for bench press, I did 5×10-9-8-7-6. The barbell rows, however, at 80 lbs, are starting to require a little effort.

I still think my form for barbell rows isn’t quite right. I’m trying to keep my back flat while still rowing from the floor to my chest and back, and getting everything coordinated is tricky.

I must have slept at a bad angle last night, because it hurts right over my left shoulder blade when I inhale, though it felt fine when I went to bed.

Feb 102012

Went to the Anytime Fitness near Arbor Lakes. It’s smaller than the Maple Rd. one, but newer and nicer.

Again, the squats and bench press were embarrassingly easy at 55 lbs. and 50 lbs., respectively. The barbell rows were a little harder at 70 lbs., and I was having a hard time rowing all the way to the floor without rounding my back. At first I thought it couldn’t be done without larger diameter plates on the bar, but no, I was just too stiff to squat down far enough. After making some adjustments I managed to reach almost to the floor on the last two sets.

Something tells me that in a few weeks I’m going to miss how easy this is now.

Feb 082012

I started a new workout routine Monday. I’ve fallen so far from my peak of about 18 months ago that I had to get back on the wagon. I was doing so well, then right around Thanksgiving of 2010 all my motivation simply fled, and it’s been downhill ever since. I’ve managed to rein in my weight when it threatened to get out of control, but I’ve lost a ridiculous amount of muscle mass. I’ve made a few false starts, but nothing as regular as I was doing.

Sunday night I was searching for a workout routine, because the one I’d been using from Men’s Fitness was worn out. I’d decided to go back and do the modified DC-style workout a previous trainer had me on that worked pretty well, and I’d gotten as far as planning my workouts and setting them up in a spreadsheet.

I hadn’t written down, and couldn’t find in the old forum I’d used to track my progress, the proper technique for some of the exercises, so I started hunting. I stumbled upon an article about compound exercises on skinnybulkup.com, which led me to stronglifts.com. It sounded intriguing, and I couldn’t find anything wrong with the theory, so I put in my email address, downloaded the report/instructions, and started reading.

Some of the writing sounded a bit “As Seen On TV!”, which initially made me detect a whiff of snake oil, but as the author is from Belgium I cut him some slack; his English is far better than my Flemish (or German, or French). Besides, anyone casually throwing around the word “bullshit” in his writing is unlikely to be a salesman.

The gist is this: three workouts per week, three exercises per workout, fives sets of five reps per exercise (one set for deadlifts). The kicker is that you start the program with an empty 45 lb. barbell. The next time you do the same exercise, you add 5 lbs. (total, not per side). The other main point is that you do squats in every workout: three times per week, adding 5 lbs. each time. I HATE squats, but they really are the most effective compound exercise you can do; they work nearly every muscle if you do them right.

After reading through most of it (skipping the overabundance of testimonials and before/after pics), and still finding no sales pitch, I decided to bite the bullet. It sure beat what I was doing, which was nothing.

Because technique is so heavily stressed, I decided to wait until 10pm Monday to hit the gym, so I could practice getting everything right without hogging the power rack. It went pretty well, though I was concentrating so hard on getting everything right, I forgot to put weight on the bar for the barbell rows (one of the two exercises that start with more than an empty bar). Jumping from 45 lbs. to 70 lbs. next time I do them will be interesting.

Tonight was the second workout, which also went well, but let me tell you this: NOTHING will test your ability to ignore what others are doing, or what they might think of you, like lifting an empty barbell for five sets.

There was a short blonde kid working out next to me, in a “U of M Medical School” hoodie and “US Naval Academy” shorts. Tight, muscular body; very intense; had “future officer” written all over him. He’s doing barbell chin-ups, then crunches, then one-armed rows, then running over to do lat pulldowns, then repeating the whole cycle at least five times.

Meanwhile, I’m standing there with my barbell, a 2.5 lb. (yes, I said two-and-a-half) plate on each side, doing squats, then taking those OFF to do overhead presses. I feel like a complete schmuck, while Mr. Type-A is engaged in warrior training not five feet away. Still, I gritted my teeth, focused on doing everything right, and kept my eyes off of him while doing my sets.

I console myself with the fact that, if all goes well, I’ll be squatting more than my own body weight by the middle of April.

Nov 242008

Yesterday I went with my buddy (and occasional trainer) Aaron and his co-worker Jeremy to the Lifetime Fitness in Shelby Twp. for a workout. I needed a motivation boost, and a refresher on my form and technique for some exercises.

We did a new kind of shoulder press using a power squat machine. It’s a great exercise that lets you use tons of weight and really nails the front delts. I could hardly lift my arms above my shoulders this morning. LOL

Here’s me rocking 320 lbs. first time out with this one. Sorry for the crappy cell phone video, but it should give you an idea of how it works.

Mar 202008

Two weeks ago I hurt a muscle in my lower back, just above my ass and to the left of my spine, while doing squats. Over time it mostly got better, but putting on pants and shoes, and sitting up from a prone position, was good for a gasp and a flinch. I still worked out, but took it easy on any back-related exercises.

This past Monday, while at the doctor to get a scrip refilled, I asked him about my back. He asked a couple questions, took a look, and figured I’d sprained the sacro-illiac. He put me in the aqua massage table for 10 minutes, then did a couple of chiro-jitsu moves that got my lower back to pop in both directions. Amazingly, by the time I got home the residual pain and stiffness was almost completely gone. So what did I do then?

I went to the gym of course. *forehead smack*

Everything went swimmingly until the last exercise, T-Bar Rows (which were done on an inclined padded board, not “freestyle” like the pic below).

On the third rep I accidentally jerked at the bar instead of pulling smoothly, and the muscle strained again. I told roadster_guy my story, who promptly and rightfully lectured me for working out before the injury was actually healed. I took some Motrin, put some Icy Hot on it, and went to bed. It was somewhat better the next day so I came to work, but found that sitting in a chair gradually made it worse. The boss was kind enough to cut me loose to work from home, so I spent the afternoon in bed with the laptop on my chest. I told jockbdboy my story, and HE tore me a new one too, being the unfortunate expert on neck and back injuries. Told me not to use Icy Hot, but put an icepack under me for 10 minutes, several times a day, which worked much better.

I related all this to my trainer, who commiserated, but then laughed and told me I was now thinking like a true weightlifter: ignore injuries as long as you can still move, keep lifting, and walk it off afterward.


(and a dumbass)

Jan 172008

bobzilla773 gave me a link to an exercise site called Testosterone Nation, where I read this in an article about Arnold’s training methods. I had to slap the mute button on my conference call before I brayed laughter at a roomful of people.

“1-10 system

Use this Austrian torture method with barbell curls and bench presses. Load up the bar with a weight that you can only handle for one maximal rep. Curl it or press it, then immediately strip off just enough weight so that you can get two reps. Again, take off just enough weight so that you can get three reps. Continue until you do a final set of ten reps. That’ll be 55 reps.
Now go find your left testicle. It rolled out of your shorts leg about halfway through the set.”

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