Archive for August, 2012


Today (Friday) was a weird convergence of events.  I had been fighting off an illness, but still wanted to workout.  I had legs left to do, I had shoulders left to do, and I really wanted to get one good session in at my hot yoga studio.  No problem, hit the gym in the morning, go to work, yoga after.  Great plan!

my coworkers approve, great plan!

Yeah, so Friday morning I slept in.

game over!

I should have changed my plans, but today I felt too stubborn to say die just yet.  I thought go to work, rush to a gym, run to yoga class, and die happy.  Too simple right?  OK.

So I went to work.  We had a goodbye party for our intern, we made him buy his own cake, ROFL.

Thanks Dosal!  Sorry, we told the cake store we wanted to be the ones to write on it.  And we wanted croutons on it.  LOL, trollin the interns!

Then because we have a long weekend coming up, my boss let us leave early!  YESSSSS Ok, off to the gym for shoulder and legs.

Shoulders & Legs

overhead dumbbell press (no rest) 40s x 25

arnold press (30 sec rest):  40s x  10, 7, 6, 5, 2

incline reverse fly (30 sec rest):  30s x 10, 9, 8, 5, 3

dumbbell shrugs (30 sec rest):  95s x 13, 12, 5

one leg bench squat:  10

one leg quad extension (no rest, leg to leg):  135 x 10, 9, 8, 7, 7

one leg curls (no rest, leg to leg):  135 x 15, 13, 10, 9/6, 3/6

standing bodyweight calf raises (1 min rest):  90, 90, 90, 90

notes:  I did 5 min of warmup cardio, but NO cooldown cardio!  I was in a rush to get to yoga.  yoga would have to be my cardio.

I was in no mood to play around, so I grunted my way hard through the overhead presses.  I mean, the weight wasn’t heavy, but those were a lot of reps to do all in one go.  Consequently, the arnold presses were tiring as heck, but I made it through another weight for another week.  My shoulders are steadily clmbing back to fighting form.

even the Three Stooges need to blast those delts from time to time!

I tried to do reverse flys on an incline bench.  Awkward!  Much as I hate doing them standing up and bent over, it feels the least awkward.  I guess the matter is settled.

 

After shrugs, I realized I didn’t have a lot of time for legs.  So I dropped the pistol squats down to a warmup set, then replaced leg presses with quad extension.  The extensions were hard as hell!  They felt hard on my knee too, if I had been thinking, I would have warmed up with a lighter weight first to warm my knee up.  I pushed hard through the leg curls, you can see by the numbers that my left leg lasted longer than my right leg, but they both reached 50 in the end.

I skipped leg raises since we would do abs at yoga.  So I did calf raises.  THEN… this buff and hot woman comes over to my mat area.  I mean, she had great shoulders and upper back, and had that bodybuilder swagger, but she was also pretty good looking.  So, she starts doing this triset for her chest or something.  She did some presses on the bench machine, then some pec dec, ok fine.  THENNN… she puts her feet up on an exercise ball and does pushups, BUT when she pushes back up, she uses the ball to push her hips up into the air, like an inverted V shape, this pushes her butt rightinmyface… UMMMM

Isn’t this how cats seduce each other?  They wave their butts in each other’s faces?  I won’t even look for an internet pic to illustrate what she did, it was obscene!  Let me just say… her pants were WAY too tight for what she was doing… leave it at that.

So she did that for a while.  I think I blacked out… I can’t remember if I did all my 360 calf raises (4 sets of 90).  I mean I think I kept counting, but I have no memory of the event…

So after the smoke cleared, I realized I was late for hot yoga!  OK screw it, I went home and napped for 30 minutes, then headed out to catch the late class.

I showed up, and realized it was going to be rough.  I was WAY rusty with my yoga, and had just come out of a legs and shoulders gym session, AKA what I would specifically need for yoga.  I resigned myself to getting pulverized.

This is Katie and John from the studio.  John worked the front desk, he wrote down my emergency contact, and cosigned my DNR form.  Katie would be teaching.  She would be the one kicking my butt, with a smile!

Thankfully, it was a Friday night by-donation class, which meant it attracted a more casual crowd, so the class isn’t as hardcore, more forgiving.

We did 60 minutes in the hot room, so 41 degrees, humid, etc.  It was a 60 min Moksha series, so 2/3 standing series:  crescent moon, Warriors, bent leg triangle, sun salutations, toppling tree, dancers pose, planks, side planks, etc.  Then it was 1/3 floor series:  locusts, bow poses, various hip stretches, endless leg raises and air bikes, etc.

I am a little ashamed to say I took a lot of breaks during the standing series, like 3 or 4, and my ab work wasn’t so hot either, lol!  Oh well, you can’t always be a yoga star.

dancer’s pose

bent leg triangle

Luckily, Katie is an awesome teacher, she makes getting your butt kicked fun! 🙂  After class, she indulged the blog and posed for some pixx, say thank you blog!

Notice how Katie’s feet are together for crescent moon, and she is lifting her toes?  That’s why she’s the teacher, and I am not, haha.  NO, your eyes do not deceive you, we are bending space and time, and combining our yoga powers to summon…

 
by our powers combined…

CAPTAINNNN PLANET!!! RRRARRRGGHHHHH

Yeah, we summoned Captain Planet using yoga.  No big.

I have a special treat coming!  Starting tomorrow (Sept 1), I am starting a “30 day challenge”.  What does that mean?  yoga every day, resistance training as per usual, super clean and tight diet!  What does that mean for you??  You will get my daily updates, how the challenge is going, the yoga, the all natural superclean diet, how my brain is coping without junk food, etc.

September will def be a yoga and diet heavy month for posts.  Hope you enjoy it!

pull yourself up

As it turns out, I was coming down with something.  Tuesday I took off, stayed home, rested, tried to recover my energy, wait for the sore throat to go away.

 

Wednesday, I was still not feeling awesome.  But I had something to prove.  Sometimes you step into the gym and you are walking on clouds, you feel like the world is perfect and your friend.  And sometimes you step in and you feel wretched, your energy is low, and the gym is the last place you wanted to be.  I have been that guy who skipped the gym because he didn’t feel on top of the world.  How many dozens of times have I brushed the gym off?

 

But things are different this year.  This year, I feed off the gym, I don’t go in there feeling awesome, I walk out feeling awesome.  It makes me better, stronger.  I felt low and weak, but I was going to go into the gym and bleed all over the floor if I had to to feel that buzz.

White men love Fight Club. It’s a fact.

 

Back & Biceps

assisted chinups (1 min rest):  11, 8, 6

one arm bent over dumbbell row (10-ish sec rest, back and forth arm to arm):  70 x 10, 9, 6

closegrip row machine (30 sec rest):  240 x 8, 4, 5, 5, 3

pinwheel curls (2 min rest):  80s x 5, 5, 5

seated dumbbell curls (30 sec rest):  50s x 12, 8, 6, 5, 5, 4, 5

 

notes:  cardio 10 min before, 20 min after.

chinups better than last week, 1 more rep each set across the board, so I am happy 🙂

 

I would like to take a moment to point something out.  I am so glad my gym has an assist machine for chinups/pullups.  Every gym has lat pulldowns.  Lots of people can’t do a pullup and so do lat pulldowns instead to get stronger.  On some technical level, this is correct.  But I have found doing a pullup is WAY different than doing a lat pulldown.  It should be roughly the same but it is not.  So I will state here my opinion:

The only way to get better at chinups/pullups is to do them.

 

Simple as that.  Lat pulldowns are great for building strength, but something about a pullup is superior for building strength in my mind, and lat pulldowns will not make you better at pullups half as fast as doing a pullup.  Seems almost TOO logical, right?  If you can’t do a chinup, find an assist machine, find a resistance band you can loop under one foot, focus on doing negatives stepping off a chair, SOMETHING.  But learn how to pull yourself up

Your life lesson for the day 😛

 

OK, dumbbell rows getting harder, haha!  I have had to take a few seconds breather between arms.  The closegrip row, I was not confident with my form and my control, so I will chalk it up as a fail, and do 240 again next week.  To my horror, I realized later I was supposed to take longer rests with the machine rows!  It was supposed to be 30 seconds rest the first few times, then up it to 45 sec rest between minisets 3-5.  So if I had followed the plan and gotten full rest, I might have done better, haha oh well, I will try to redeem it next week.

 

one arm bent over DB row

 

Went for the 80s with the pinwheels this week.  I might have to start leaving them on a bench in between sets, yanking them off the ground is tiring, and I need all the energy I can get!  One tip I would give for weights in general, TIGHTEN UP.  You often hear people say explode with the weight.  What I take that to mean is tighten up your core, squeeze with your grip, go for the weight agggressively.  If you squeeze the dumbbells with your grip, you activate the forearms, you tense up your core, you will do better, trust me, this also works quite well for bench presses, but it really applies to most exercises, you have to get fired up.

So with the pinwheels, I pull them off the ground hard and get to it, and don’t let up on my grip.  The worst thing I could do is to lift the dumbbells off the ground, let them hang by my sides and stare into the mirror uselessly.  If you do that you lose your grip, your arms pull out of the sockets a little, you lose tension in your biceps, you make it way harder on yourself.

this pic is supposed to be demonstrating hammer curls. this pic is a total failure.

 

Then it was time for seated alternating twisting dumbbell curls.  All out war!  I threw myself at it hard.  Try as hard as I did, I legitimately could not hit 50 good reps with 50 lb dumbbells.  No shame in saying I failed that one, so I will hit it again next week.  But when I was done…. WOO BOY did I feel a good pump in my biceps!  I just straightened my arms out and stared in the mirror for a bit, it was intense!

 

When I was doing cardio I noticed the gym was full of hotties!  Was it hottie night?  I don’t think my cardio was all that superintense, but my neck is a little sore, haha.  Oh well, too bad I am a fat schlub.  *sigh*

 

bye guys!  would love to read any comments you might have!

dealing with a bad day

Some days things just don’t seem to be going your way.

I woke up on Monday (aren’t they always Mondays?), and was dog tired, maybe even fighting off something, a bug or something.  I postponed my workout until the evening (first bad decision), and went to work.  Crossing the street this guy takes a hard right and almost runs me over, cursing and flipping me off as he does so.  Wouldn’t that be a good way to die?  Smooshed on the street right in front of your office building?

they let the intern organize my funeral

Enter my building, take the elevator up, 2 people in there, man and a woman.  Right as I step out of the elevator and am walking down the hall, he mutters to her, “Some days I wish I had a .22 with a silencer.”  She laughs.  And in my head I am thinking, “why did he wait until I stepped out? was he talking about me? why am I just being dogged today?”

Yeah, one of those days nothing seems to be going your way.  By the end of the day I was miserable, bordering on angry.  Irritable, maybe a touch of sad.  Some days you just get the blues and become very irritable to boot.

I came home, and just stewed.  After a few hours, I was just pissed off.  Everyone has those days, just frustrated at everything.  You don’t know how to handle these feelings, they are antisocial, improper.  You want to be alone, but as you sit alone you just get more cheesed off.

In the past, I would handle these days by playing video games, loading up on junk food, yelling at my screen until I got tired, and go to sleep exhausted and bloated with pizza and soda and what have you.

I am in better shape now.  But I still don’t know how to handle a slow-building rage, noone does.  I decided to go exercise.  I couldn’t go to yoga class, it would calm me down a ton, but I wouldn’t be good company.

I decided to make up for the gym session I missed in the morning (good decision!)  At the gym I could be alone and just grind out the burn until I worked the grumpiness out of my system.  I headed out to an all-night gym.  Got there about 9:30 pm.

chest & tri:

cardio warmup 5 min on the arc trainer

dumbbell presses (2 min rest):  55 x 21, 65 x 12, 75 x 8, 85 x 6, 85 x 6, 75 x 10, 65 x 12, 55 x 11

pec dec (30 sec rest):  130 x 23, 11, 6

two-handed dumbbell extension (30 sec rest):  75 x 13, 7, 3, 5, 2

pushdown machine (1 min rest):  170 x 10, 10, 7

cardio cooldown 10 min on the arc trainer

notes:  I was tired, it was the end of a long day.  I was also very distracted with all of my gripes.  I was able to pull it together for the sets, but between exercises, I needed slightly more time to cool off.  The gym was busy, which made it ambitious to monopolize the dumbbells like that, but thankfully it was a more casual crowd, and they weren’t messing with much past the 60 pound dumbbells.

 

less popular than the barbell, the dumbbell flat press remains an excellent exercise

Normally I go up 10 pounds if I can squeeze out 6 reps, but with the 85s, the 6th rep felt REEALLLY shaky, I was good until about 75% of the way up, then control was not all there.  I DID squeeze out the 6th rep, but I didn’t feel confident about it, so I compromised.  Instead of going up to the 95s, I did a second set of the 85s before climbing back down the ladder.  As far as I am concerned, form is everything, and if I can’t do 6 good reps, then I didn’t do 6 reps.

On the way back down the dumbbell weights, I actually did better on the 75s than on the way up, so I was happy about that.  But by the time I made it back down to the 55s, my left shoulder was plain tuckered out, so I couldn’t do more than 11.

The pec dec in this gym had free moving handles!  Oh glorious day!  The flys felt much more natural, and as a result I did slightly better than last week.

You can see with the tricep extensions that I struggled with the weight.  I rallied and hit my rep goal though, so it only gets harder.

Check out Scott Herman, he is pretty awesome and has a ton of youtube videos to watch.

My triceps were tired, so I went to a pushdown machine, and finished myself off.

For the cooldown cardio, I noticed the arc trainer in this gym felt different on similar settings than what I am used to, that is the thing with new gyms, speed 7 or incline 9 doesn’t mean the same thing between sets of treadmills or arc trainers or whatever.  I found incline 16 and resistance 60 worked quite well for me here.  On the plus side, the heart rate monitors worked!  Hooray!

I checked my heart rate every 5 minutes to see what my burn was.  After 5 min I had a pulse rate of about 145, which is the upper end of the aerobic zone for me.  I decided to go harder.  At minute 10 I was about 160, upper end of the anaerobic zone for me.  That is pretty much as hard as I should go, and by this point it was almost 11 pm, so I called it a day and went home.

On the way home I stopped at an all-night pizza place and had a slice of vegetarian pizza and a diet coke, haha.  Dirty calories!  But it was a crap day and I felt like I earned it *halo*  by the time I laid down to sleep, I was actually feeling much better.  I felt like I had dealt with my negative emotions in a constructive way, and that’s how you gotta do it.  Just exercise.

Later guys!

weekend catchup

this weekend, I had a dream.  and that dream involved getting some cardio under my belt.

 

I am dreaming of cardio here… I can multitask!

 

Sometimes I have taken one or both weekend days off, but

A. I was feeling solid

B. I wanted to test the preworkout powder out, without the “pump” pills

C.  I wanted to keep burning away

 

So Saturday I showed up with my neighbour for a little Saturday morning Spin class.  It seems like it is pretty much a different instructor every Saturday morning, must not be a popular slot.  This morning it was an older lady… well I don’t mean OLD, but when the avg age is mid 20s and you see someone obviously over 40, then they are relatively old.  Hey, I love older teachers, they give you more breaks!  Seriously, I love getting pummelled into the ground, but a decent restbreak can be nice too. 🙂

By that logic, I should be down in Boca del Vista, rocking the stationaries with this crafty old vetter

 

To be fair, my teacher on Sat looked AWESOME for her age.  She was hotter in her 40s than most men or women in their 20s.  I can only hope I look that fit in 10 years.

The Sat class itself was pretty good!  She could work the crowd quite well, for a floater she managed to get her hooks into our motivation quite fast.  The only downside is that she had really wild, crazy aggressive eyes and a big wide cocky grin.  She reminded me of Jane Lynch.

 

it was at this point she didn’t seem quite as sexy any more

 

As for the N0 Extreme powder, it held up!  I was sweating like crazy, but it was a clean hard sweat, no jitters, even energy.  Often by the last few songs of the class I feel beat up and depelted, but this time I still had some pep in my step!  The best indicator is typically in our RPM class we do intervals at about Song 5/8 (up, down, up, down), then a straight ahead race on Song 6, then we do some standing climbs on Song 7.  Normally I am pretty wobbly on that last standing climb, but this time I still felt peppy, I could hover low over my bars and sway from side to side like I do at the start of class.

sorta like this

 

Interestingly, this was roughly how I felt Friday when doing my leg workout, the same kind of energy and focus.  Which MIGHT suggest the NO3 Chrome does nothing.  I will keep that in mind.

 

After the hourlong Spin class, I actually still felt ready for more punishment!  Luckily, I has not had my second calf session yet that week, so I did some standing bodyweight calf raises:  4 sets of 85, with about a minute rest between each.  then I went home and chilled out 🙂

 

Sunday!  I got up for another morning Spin class, this time with my fav regular RPM teacher.  Again, took the powder w/o the pills.  Again, crazy solid class.  I had energy from start to finish!  Not that I took it easy on myself.  I was not shy about turning up the resistance, and actually ground to a halt a few times in both Song 3 and Song 7.  Like, you turn it up so high, you HAVE to go into a standing climb, we do a standing climb, then back in the saddle for a “power climb”, then we turn it up again, then another standing climb, then we go back down for another power climb, that was too much for me, my legs came to a complete stop.  Not that I should be surprised, if I am barely making the pedals turn pushing down with all my weight and my muscle strength when I am standing, I am gonna be screwed when I sit down 🙂  So that second power climb I turned the dial down, tried to move my legs, nope, not happening.  I turn it down two more times, ok NOW they can move, so I start chugging away again.

Some people might say I had it up too high, I say NAY.  You have to challenge yourself!  I detest those people that don’t crank up the resistance, and it’s like a whole hour of recovery.  You can do that on your own time, when you show up for a class, you push it beyond your edge and follow the teacher’s lead like the rest of us!  And if you fail and stop, then that is how you get stronger!

 

I read this saying the other day:

Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger

 

That is SO true.  People can’t be afraid to fall down.  When trying to get fit, you can’t be afraid to fall down, and you can’t be afraid to rest when it’s over.  These things both make you stronger.  So I cranked up the resistance so high, I spun until I failed.  That to me is a sign of a good class.

 

Again, the preworkout powder held up.  I didn’t do anything after the class, I had errands to run, including typing up this post!  I hope you enjoyed it 🙂

 

I will leave you with some further motivational from once again Arnold

 

firewalking

What is astrology?  I think of it as an attempt to look for patterns in the universe, and apply them to your own life.  People chart the stars, and link them to the animals or the elements, anthropomorphize them, give those animals or elements human traits, then link them back to us.  So, let’s say, that constellation looks like a lion, lions are proud and commanding, someone born under that sign has been influenced by that constellation, and that is how they will be.

But how could every single person born under say Scorpio all act the same way?  Personally, astrology is a fun game for me, not a superstition.  Everyone is different, shaped by their environment, their genetics, their circumstances.  So, you can choose to let your astrological symbol suggest a possible path to you, a way for you to act that is fitting for what your strengths could be.  It’s as ok a system for “how to act” as any.  But your path is still your own to navigate, it isn’t predetermined.  Your options may be limited, but it isn’t all worked out already.

“Yeah so, what the hell does this have to do with your workout?”

Be patient, grasshopper.

you have much to learn

All my life astrology keeps telling me I am fire.  Western astrology, Eastern astrology, fire fire fire.  Your primary animal is a fire element, your secondary is a fire element, you were born on a hot afternoon in the middle of summer, fire!  At the start of the week, I was having lunch with a girl (a pretty cute girl, I might add!) and she was talking to me about “doshas”.  Think of doshas as Hindu medicine with an astrological/elemental twist.  You are fire, water, air, varying degrees.  So I go take the online quiz… guess what I am?  FIRE

http://doshaquiz.chopra.com/

Even when I was a kid, they wouldn’t let me donate blood, they said it was too warm… but I digress.

Today I started a new pre-workout, NO3 Chrome.  They are pills and I am taking them with the N0 Extreme pwo powder.  NO3 is the Arginine, to give you a pump, but is otherwise stim free and creatine free.  N0 Extreme has stims, but is creatine free.  I cycled off stims pwo’s for 2 weeks, and am now ready for them again.  I am taking creatine on my own (mono).  So, why not buy the C4 and get pwo and creatine together?  Well I am trying the N0 Extreme, and if I like, I can cycle onto it when I cycle off creatine but still want stims.

All that to say, I was trying some new stuff to get me going for my workouts.  To bring some fire to my routine.

NO3 Chrome

N0 Extreme

This was my first day, first workout taking it!  I took 3 pills of the Chrome, and 1 scoop of the powder, about 60 min before the workout.  On with the show!

cardio 10 min

uneven one leg bench squats (1 min rest):  15, 10

one leg legpress (no rest, back and forth leg to leg):  235 x 25, 15, 10

one leg legcurls (no rest, back and forth leg to leg):  135 x 10, 10, 6, 6, 7

stretch 10 min

cardio 20 min

notes:  I don’t think I felt an arginine pump, but I am a big guy with a high tolerance, so I will give it some time to kick in as I keep taking it.  However, I felt great focus and some good energy right at the start.  And did I mention I was sweating bullets??  The one leg squats felt strong right off the start, good initial burst of energy.  My reps blew my old reps out of the water.

Leg presses were pretty intense.  I didn’t realize how much they tuckered me out until I went to do leg curls.  My right hamstring is what gave out first.  Overall I was disappointed with my leg curls, my goal was 50 reps, I only did close to 40.

Note that under this system, I do NOT go to failure.  I go until I feel like I am about to fail, sometimes I also fail spontaneously.  But some people like to keep going until they flat out fail hard.  I don’t do that because it is hard on your joints.  If you are in your 20s, you can do it if you like.  But once you hit your 30s, the injuries start popping up, and you realize you need to take care of your joints.  So I go until I feel like I will fail on the next one, like my control is gone.

After the leg curl failure, my back felt quite sore.  From what, I do not know.  So I decided to cut the volume off at that, and do some stretches before the cardio.  I did 10 minutes of my favorite yoga back stretches or restorative poses:  waterfall, supine butterfly, cobblers pose, seal pose.  I didn’t hold them as long as I would in Yin, but they still felt really good.

waterfall

supine butterfly

Then it was time for more cardio!  Again, the N0 Extreme was still raring to go!  I did 20 minutes of heart pumping cardio.  Even though my legs felt like lead, my brain was growling, “MORE”.  So I burnt a hole through that one.

And as I was sweating like crazy and emptying my tank all over the arc trainer, my mind went back to fire.  I was born under a fire sign.  Maybe the only way out for me on this whole losing weight and getting fit thing is to push myself through the burn, to dance into the fire and come out the other side.

 

ok maybe I don’t get a baby dragon out of it, but it was a pretty cool scene 🙂

 

I went home after the workout and collapsed.  I am dead tired.  But I wanted to type this up for you guys!  Hope you enjoyed it!

By the way, speaking of fire and ice, one of my favorite movie moments as a child was the opening scene from “A View To A Kill”.  That was the James Bond movie from 1985.  Say what you will about the movie, but that title sequence was hot as balls!  I think I went through puberty immediately from watching that sequence… I’m telling you, the girls in the glow in the dark skisuits?  I still have dreams of women that glow in the dark doing cartwheels through the air on skis.  Any woman who can recreate that scene will be the woman I MARRY.

Don’t believe me?  Watch it

pressed for time

Woke up Thursday, blackberry was blowing up.  It seems everyone at work had spontaneously experienced mass psychosis.  It was wall to wall ape shit, people were getting drunk and sending out regrettable emails at 11 pm, other people were sending threatening emails at the end of the Wednesday day (so they could run away right after), so by Thursday morning, the situation looked tense!  People were losing their goddang minds!

 

emails at 11 pm? really?

 

I knew I did not have much time to devote to the gym, but I didn’t want to skip my Thursday morning.  I was pressed for time.  So I did my weekly shoulder workout… and pressed… for time…

 

Get it???

 

A joke?

 

 

Fine!! Nevermind.  I did a shoulder/aux workout

 

overhead dumbbell press (30 s rest):  35s x 20, 5

arnold press (30 s rest):  35s x 14, 9, 7

reverse pec dec (30 s rest):  60 x 18, 11, 6

dumbbell shrugs (30 s rest):  90s x 10, 10, 10, 5

short bridges (1 min rest):  50, 50, 50

prone frog raises (1 min rest):  25, 13, 14

standing bodyweight calf raises (1 min rest):  85, 85, 85, 85

 

notes:  no cardio!  sorry, short on time.

I blazed through the shoulder work, partly because they are all limited rest exercises, and also the weight was light, since I am still building my shoulders up.  Well, the shrugs didn’t feel light per se, but they were not very draining.

dumbbell shrugs

 

However, the reverse pec dec… YEESH.  I knew my gym had a pec dec, I tried to just put the pads all the way back, and sit in it backwards.  But for it to really work when you are a big guy like me, you need free swinging handles, not fixed pads.

It should look like this

free swinging handles

 

Not like this:

 

I don’t mind using it for forward facing, but when I turned around, it locked my arms into a goal post shape, and it did not work AT ALL for my reverse flys.  It felt like a sure way to hurt myself.  Luckily the weight was light, and it was over before I realized how much I hated it.

I guess I am stuck using dumbells for now until my gym gets a decent pec dec.  pfft, weak.

 

When I looked at the clock, I realized I actually had time and energy to burn, so I decided to do some leg raises and short bridges and calf raises.  Those were more tiring than the weights!  haha  I hadn’t done bridges in a whikle, last time I tried them I almost pulled my hamstring, but to my relief they felt pretty good today.

 

short bridges – I hope I made it look better than this

 

I was actually quite happy with the frog raises, I finally pumped out a full set of 25!  These heavy-ass legs of mine can’t stop me now!

 

my hands weren’t under my butt, that is a wuss move 🙂

 

And then I ran to work, and saved the day!

 

Lesson here is:  don’t let a hectic life keep you from the gym.  You need the gym, it will help you do the rest of your day too.  Just find ways to shorten the time, don’t take long rests between sets, do supersets, trisets, giant sets, limited rest-pause methods, whatever you have to do!

 

see you later!

 

 

back for revenge

If you recall, last time I did back and biceps, I did not give myself a win on the bicep sets so that I could work on form and control.

It was Tuesday, and I wanted some revenge.

do you feel lucky?

assisted chinups (1 min rest):  10, 7, 5

bent over one arm DB row (no rest, arm to arm):  65s x 20, 5

closegrip row (30 sec rest):  225 x 10, 8, 4, 3

pinwheel curls (2 min rest):  75s x 5, 5, 5

seated dumbbell curls (30 sec rest):  45s x 15, 9, 7, 6, 6, 5, 2

cardio:  arc trainer before and after weights

notes:

f ya

OK, maybe I am exaggerating my accomplishments.  But the biceps felt really good, and I smashed my curls!  Beasted them.  Or whatever it is the kids say.

push that button

The chinups felt better than last week, I started out with more intensity than I normally do, maybe my chinups have been weak as of late because I haven’t warmed up yet, still half asleep, whatever.  I think 2 people were waiting for the chinup assist, but I was in the zone and they could wait until I am done for all I care, haha.

That intensity carried over into the bentover rows, and I flew through the macroset with the 65s.  By the time I hit the machine rows I was all greased up, and though tired, I was able to still pace myself and spread it out through the last few minisets.

Pinwheels flew by, but the form was good, helped me warm up the biceps some more.  I am ready for more on those.

Then the bicep curls.  I decided not to pace myself on the first miniset like last week, to go until I couldnt go anymore on the first one, then just do what I can on subsequent ones.  Those extra few made the early difference, by miniset 7, I only had 2 reps left  to do!  Way better than last week.

On to bigger and better things!  I decided to reward myself with a massage.

 

I deserve a reward for all my hard work

 

See you next time!

the beauty of inches

One of the things I like about weightlifting is that you can measure your progress in single digits.

I pressed 185 lbs 6 times last week, and I did it 7 times this week.  I have gotten better.

I pressed 185 lbs and waited 60 seconds before doing it again.  This week I only waited 45 seconds.  I have gotten better.

My arms are 1 inch bigger around.  I lost 2 pounds.  I swung the kettlebell 3 inches higher.  GETTING BETTER.

 

See what I mean?  inches, seconds, pounds, reps, sets  – it all becomes a game of single digits.  You can watch yourself incrementally, mathematically improve.  All very appealing to the meticulous, calculating mind.  Also a treat for the OCD crowd.

 

Monday was chest & tri day.

 

dumbbell press (2 min rests):  50 x 21, 60 x 15, 70 x 10, 80 x 6, 90 x 5, 80 x 6, 70 x 8, 60 x 15, 50 x 17

pec dec (30s rests):  120 x 13, 9, 8, 7, 3

2 hand dumbbell extension (30s rests):  70 x 15, 7, 2**, 5, 2

rope pressdowns:  120 x 6, 5, 5

 

notes:  I was running late, so brief cardio before and after, maybe 10 min before, 10 min after.

Once again climbing the ladder of dumbbells.  The weight keeps steadily going up every week not because I am gaining muscle every week, but because I am establishing the mind-muscle connection, getting used to the demands of this exercise in this way.

Whenever someone is new to lifting, or has been on a break, their weight goes up steadily.  5 pounds a week with no stopping is pretty normal.  That doesn’t mean it lasts forever, don’t think for a second you will be benching 400 pounds in your first year.  You aren’t Superman.

this isn’t you

 

No, your weight is going up steadily because your mind is “learning” how to use the muscle you have to its fullest extent possible.  You are finding your potential, so to speak.  Once the progress slows down to a crawl, and you are lucky to put 5 pounds on your bench every other month, THEN you are growing muscle and your potential has increased.  Then you start to measure your progress in terms of “one more rep”.

 

So during this “neural adaptation” phase at the start, be grateful for the steady progress, and focus on keeping good form.

so, I am adapting, and the weight is rising.  I couldn’t do more than 4 reps with the 80s two weeks ago, and this week 6 reps, then 5 more with the 90s.  Very exciting!  The 100 pound dumbbells are almost within my grasp!  It’s an awesome moment when a guy gets to use the 100 pound dumbbells, whether he is a featherweight or a lardbutt, he gets excited.  I can’t wait…

oh yes… you will be mine…

 

 

When it was time for triceps, I experimented with the rest-pause.  Normally it is 30 seconds but I was eager to go on my third mini-set, and I jumped back in after 20 seconds.  My triceps failed fast!!  At first I thought I was just running out of gas, but on my next miniset I waited the full 30 seconds, and felt MUCH stronger, finished out the macroset.  See what I mean about a game of single digits?  10 seconds meant sooo much to my muscle recovery, every inch counts, it is a constant struggle to overload yourself in a constructive way every time.

 

two handed extensions

 

So the extensions hit the long head of my triceps, then I did some pressdowns to hit the lateral head, but by that point my arms were pretty dead.  so I kept it slow and tried to squeeze them out.

 

See you later!

Have you heard of endorphins?

No, not the things the Japanese catch in their tuna nets.

get out of my net dorphin!!

They are those happy feelings you get after strenuous activity, like a “runner’s high”.  Wikipedia suggests you can get them from: exercise, pain, spicy foods and orgasms.  Also known as how I spent my weekend.

“endorphins allow animals to feel a sense of power and control over themselves that allows them to persist with activity for an extended time”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endorphin

Arnold swears by them.

I was going to put that theory to the test.

Saturday I went to the backup gym for a little shoulder and aux work (aux meaning extra stuff I throw in for the heck of it)

(rest bw sets 30s)

overhead press:  30s x 20, 5

arnold press:  30s x 10, 8, 6, 6

dumbbell reverse flys:  25s x 7, 7, 7, 7, 7

widegrip lat pulldowns:  170 x 8, 8, 6

dumbbell shrugs:  85s x 15, 12, 8

standing bodyweight calf raises:  80, 80, 80, 80

notes:  lots of young dudes slowly wasting their glory years in the gym, as per usual.  Man, I am such a bitter old man.

get out mah FACE!! punks

The dumbbell presses continue to be really easy.  But I am building up the weight slowly because I want to take my time ramping up the joints.  The delts I am not worried about, but I want my joints to take their time getting used to weight.  So I chain the overhead presses and the arnolds back to back with limited rest, and by the end of the arnolds they have gotten fairly tired.

I couldn’t find a machine that would let me do reverse flys (wfuq?), so I had to do it with dumbbells.  Normally I advocate free weights as superior, but I just find the ROM on reverse flys so AWKWARD, I wanted to use a machine.  Sorry, I feel like a tool bent over swinging the weight around, it just doesn’t look cool, in my egobrain.

one good fart and I should be ready to take flight

With all the people around, I decided to do it sitting bent over on a bench.  In my mind I would look less foolish.

a little better

Right before I was about to embark on this fantastic voyage, cutegirl comes over to ask for my help moving a bench out of her way.  She was doing bicep curls over there, but decided she wanted to do them over here, and the bench was in her way.  Not a heavy bench by the way 🙂

can you help me?

I move the bench out of the way, she stops to lean forward, make that exaggerated eye contact with me as she says, “thank you”.  Or maybe I am just imagining it, and she just simply said thank you, haha.

Anyways, I was in pump iron mode, so I said no problem, than skipped back over to my bench for some bent over reverse flys.  Am I a loser or what?  I should have started flirting with her or something, but all I could think was, “get these sets done”.  Oh the irony of looking better from going to the gym, and growing less capable of capitalizing on it.  *shakes head*

After my reverse flys (they felt sooooo awkward, that’s why the numbers of reps were so even, they just felt stupid) I went to do some chinups but remembered their pullup assist was broken, so I did some lat pulldowns instead.  As I left I noticed a young guy run in and push the bench back in to the cutegirl’s curl space, he wanted to do some bench presses… maybe it was cutegirl having the off night, haha

After it was all said and done, I was feeling those endorphins.  See how I brought it back to the main subject?

How good can the endorphins be?  Can they give me a sense of power and control that allow me to persist with an activity for a prolonged time?  I wanted to test that theory.

There was a cheap multiplex next to the gym.  they show movies that are done their run in the regular theatres for 4 or 5 bucks.  There was nothing playing that I wanted to see.  But I was feeling runner’s high.  I walked over there to see what the very next movie was showing.  It was Men in Black III

WELCOME TO ERF!!

This was going to be a trial by fire!  Can endorphins carry me through a mind-numbing paint-by-the-numbers cash-in?  I headed right in.

You know what?  I rather enjoyed it!  Not that the plot made any sense when placed beside the plot of men in black 2 (why would K retire in 2 and get his mind wiped when he needed to get J ready to travel through time in 3 and help him set up the arcnet 40 years ago?  why would J be able to reverse time and have the bogdosian or whatever forget about it so he could dodge his palm thorns?  why was K so happy in the new timeline? watching the army guy die but arresting the alien makes him bitter but watching the army guy die and killing the alien makes him happy go lucky?  if J didn’t get his mind wiped at the start because he was “always” there, doesn’t that mean K should stay bitter after they win the movie because J “always” saved him?  why does K keeping an eye out for J as he grows up translate into him being a good candidate for an Agent?  why is it when K dies in 1969 that J is “still” an Agent?  my brain just exploded)

CONCLUSION:  endorphins work.  next time you aren’t looking forward to doing something dumb, crank out a good workout first.  the next thing you do will just glide by!

form is everything

Thursday I slept in.  Lazy!  I think as I get older, sleep feels BETTER AND BETTER.

sleep feels so good!

So that meant I had to do my gym after work.  I also wanted to get in some more yoga, so that was pretty much going to be my night.  Back and biceps today.

assisted chinups (palms in):  8, 6, 6

one arm bent over dumbbell row (no rest): 60 x 12, 6, 5, 2

closegrip row (30 sec rest):  210 x 8, 6, 7, 4

pinwheel curls (2 min rest):  75 x 5, 5, 5

seated dumbbell curls (30 sec rest):  45 x 12, 8, 6, 6, 6, 6, 5

cardio: 20 min arc trainer, 75% resistance, incline 9

notes:  my chinups continue to feel stuck, like I am not improving.  maybe I just need to lose weight, haha!

Intensity built up with the DB rows, then I was nice and warmed up for the machine rows.  I am finding I like the pattern of start heavy with longer periods of rest, then transition into medium to heavy with short rest.  By the end it feels like all out war!  The machine rows felt great, and that particular machine is running out of plates for me.  As always, I try to keep my shoulders down and back, and not rely on my upper traps.

getting intense!

By the time I got to biceps, I felt this mix of fear and heightened agitation.  The rows had given me something to think about, I knew the curls would be killer.  I warmed up with the pinwheel curls.  I got through them, but I wasn’t totally comfortable with my control, so I will keep the same weight next week, and try to tighten up on the form.  Form is everything.  A little body english can be ok with the heavy weights, but it can be a slippery slope to “sloppy”, and you have to be brutally honest with yourself as to the difference.

Then it was showtime.  My biceps run out of gas early, so the limited rest curls last week were intense, and I knew these would be too.  I alllllmost got the required number of reps, but my form was getting sloppy (at least in my mind), and my grip had been toast for the last 3 mini-sets, so I restrained myself from trying to pump out a crappy looking 50th rep, and will work on it more next week.  I didn’t feel like I had mastered the curls at this weight, so I can still reap the benefits of progress by doing it again.

the weight is the same… how come we look so different?

Went home, napped for about 30 min, then headed to yoga.  It was a Yin class, which meant deep stretches, which is great, because I felt too pooped to do anything active.  Passive all the way baby!

To my total delight, the instructor chose to focus on the back (spine) for this hour-long class.  This meant I could give my back a great stretch after the workout a few hours before, and minimize the recovery time.  Bonus!

We decompressed, we compressed, some seated cobbler (which I love, first time I touched my face to my feet was a thrill), some Seal pose, some Snail pose, all stuff I love.  How lucky was I to get this lineup?

cobbler

seal

snail

After yoga, I went home loose, tired and happy, and fell into a deep blissful sleep.  I knew right away I was damn well going to sleep in the next morning.  And the circle continues 🙂

f ya