Archive for November, 2011


November 22, 2011 Leave a comment

It’s slow.

I hired a trainer.  She comes over a couple times a month and forces me to exercise more rigorously than I might usually do.  She’s strong and disciplined and honed right in my nutrition.

She gave me a plan.

Of course, I tweaked it.  It had some traditional understanding of grains, but gave me some perspective.  We talked of “baby steps” – ways to trick the mind into thinking that it wasn’t giving anything up.  It’s a crucial part of a lifestyle change.

It includes not saying “no” but “maybe later.”  Of allowing a taste of a dessert.  For example, I would usually right now be finishing a bottle of wine.  But since I was already out, I’m choosing tea instead.  I had a couple glasses, but I’m done.   This morning I went out for breakfast.  When I was full, I stopped rather than finish the half omelette remaining on the plate.

Her guidelines regarding fat were a little antagonistic, but perhaps  the occasional helping of brown rice isn’t a sin.

She gave me a quick test:  how many pushups could I do in a row, without stopping.  I discovered the answer:  44.

Normally I would do five sets of 20.

We did jump ropes and dynamic stretches.

So here’s my report.

First, healthwise, I still have high cholesterol.  But also good cholesterol.  My tri/hdl ratio is 141/69.  Doctor’s orders = drink a little less, lose some weight.

I’ve hit some good records:  Backsquat 5x3x255; frontsquat 3x3x150; deadlift 5×265.  All consecutive.

Bench 4x2x205; 3x5x185. I followed it with 16 plyo pushups (to failure).

Military press 2×145.

Estimated total 285+340+155= 780

I’m going down a bit for the chest, intending to hit 5x5x195 the next time, finishing with as many dips as possible.

I’m coming to grips with the fact that improvement, at my age, is slow.  At most I can trust 10 lbs a month.

Categories: Uncategorized

You Make Me So Sad

November 7, 2011 1 comment

You make me so sad.

Yes you.  On the elliptical machine.

I see you reading.  You’re reading People.  Your kindle.  Or the Brothers Karamazov.  Or Nora Roberts.  But you’re gliding by, moving, thinking you’re getting a workout.

But you make me sad.

You could be going full speed.  Just for 20 seconds.  Pushing yourself to the limit.  That’s the only reason for an elliptical: to raise the heart rate without litigation.

And yet, right in front of you is a rowing machine.   Rowing is a real producer of strength and endurance.  Rowing uses the entire body, harnessing that natural chain of events that produces force.

But you on the rowing machine.  I want to come up to you and gently let your back lean back as you pull that chain.  Why are you pulling so hard with your arms?  Do you not have legs and hips?  Why is your back at a 90 degree angle?  Let the chain go; Lean forward; push with your magnificent legs; open with your hips, let your back go back, and the arms follow.  It’s a full body workout, if you let your body work out.

And you on the abductor machines.  Do you imagine that will make you more sexy and appealing?  It does not.  I was once one of those who didn’t know how kettlebells, lunges and split jerks would empower the hips so much more effectively.   Instead, I am sad because you know so little.  I am sad because it reminds me of how little I knew.  And who I am I to tell you?  Like you, I probably would have thought some dude approaching me was an arrogant musclehead who’s sense of literature was Muscle and Development magazine.

The Smith machines.  In my small YMCA I am only happy you know little because you do not take the single squat station which I monopolize for my hour.   You do presses perfectly without training your muscles to do so.  There is no weight resting on your chest or your back.   It is held by the machine.  You see yourself lifting mad weights, I am still sad.  You see me looking at you.  You probably think I’m a stalker.  But no, I am just contemplating my sadness.

Why not the barbells?  Why not the dumbells?  Why not simply any weight, lifting above your head?   There is one excellent use for the Smith Machine:  bodyweight rows or assisted pullups.

I am not a purist.  I do not begrudge the occasional leg curl or extension. I don’t dismiss the leg press to complement deep barbell squats.  Some machines help the entire body to lift.   In those cases, the use is not to replace full body exercises, but to assist in building up strength, especially for those who are beginning or injured.  Otherwise, they are merely a short liturgy of unimportant things that may be done, that allow the body a little more to lift when it should be resting, but mainly to provide psychological satisfaction.

But you make me sad.

You make me sad at the ab curl “machine.”  Why don’t you tighten your abs when you do the squat?  Or do some knee to elbows?  Lift your toes to the bar and you’ll get a great stretch, using your entire body.  Do five and you’ll feel it.   Three sets of ten good mornings. Planks as long as you can take it.

And last, you make me sad because you have no fun.  There are a wide variety of effective and demanding functional games you can play.   My warm ups are simple and enjoyable:  500 meter Row; 20 double unders; 20 kb swings.  I may include 20 lateral jumps over some hurdle, overhead squats and ten plyo pushups.  That’s my warmup.  It’s fun.

Then it’s strength and power.  My goals are clear.  I seek to improve and fine tune them, recalibrating when necessary.   Once I started, the feedback loop made them enjoyable to continue.  There’s exercise, which is preventative and useful.  We should all do that.   But then there’s training – training to reach goals that you set before yourself.   That’s where results visibly happen.  The rate is different for everyone, but you may then enter a world of joy.

Still, until then you make me sad.   But there is another world.  One where you may get real results.  Then, I will be happy.

Categories: Uncategorized

Dreaming about Squats

November 7, 2011 2 comments

I dream about squats.

It’s to a point that if I don’t do heavy squats twice a week, my life is a disaster.

Three weeks ago I saw a young man in his late twenties two three sets of five at 225, a set of three at 315, fail at one, and then do another set of 225.  He followed that up with leg presses and front squats at 135.   I said to him, “I love squats.  They’re awesome.”  Admittedly, I was upset he was using the sole squat station, but this was tempered by my admiration at his form.

“Squats are the best.  It makes you strong.  You have the legs of a horse.”

Since then I rock myself to sleep by counting myself doing squats.

I used to think about the trinity.  About the lottery.  My ideal woman.  But now it’s about lifting heavy.

And I just got lifting shoes.

So here’s my most recent stats:

Back Squats:  Warmups to 5x5x225, 8×135.  The next time I did a heavy three set of 245.

Front Squats:  With lifting shoes I did 3x3x95.  I need to get my forearms stretched a bit, but with the shoes I was able to go deeper than usual.  I’ll try overhead squats in a couple weeks.

Presses:  I did a heavy 2-2-2-2-2-2 reaching 145 for my last set.

Bench:  3x3x225  Although I recently couldn’t do a set of 3 at 225.  I think I’m over training here, because my biceps feel weak.

Deadlifts:  5x1x275; another day 1-1-1-1-1-1-1 to 335.   My grip has been weak so I’ve been doing some lower weights to focus on strengthening my grip.  I did 5x5x185 while my hands were the same direction rather than opposite hands (which seems to allow for a higher weight).  I’ve been also adding Romanian deadlifts, which I hope will assist my basic deadlift routine.

I’ve been starting off with a variety of warm-ups.  I always do 500 meter rows.  Sometimes I go for five minutes, which takes me to about 850 meters.  I may add kettlebells or jump rope for 2 minutes.  But I’ve started adding a set of jump squats, lateral jumps and bear crawls.  These seem to stretch out the body.  I don’t do many of them, but it’s always more than what I would normally do, which is none.

But my diet:  Sh!*.  I’ve had more sugar in the last three weeks than I’ve had for the previous two years.  It started with my friend Colin’s homemade cheesecake.  Then I ate a bag of potato chips.  The next weekend I had two desserts (one, however, was at one of Mario Batali’s restaurant in Port Chester, and it was worth it).   Then we bought cake for the bishop.

I only had one bite.

I’m not beyond redemption.

Categories: Uncategorized