Tag Archives: weightlifting

One Badass Workout

I promised to keep you, my two loyal readers (Mom got bored), up to date on my progress with my new bulking/shredding program called BodyBeast which is designed to get me huge and ripped.  Previously I would have thought those were two things I wanted to avoid.

Last week I finished week 1.  True, I had spent the two previous weeks messing around with it.  It usually takes me a week or two to get things like a new diet under control (especially when that diet has me jump from about 1700 calories a day to 3400).  I had done some of the workouts using limited equipment I borrowed from a friend and a stability ball I picked up at Walmart.

Last week, though, I was set and committed.  It’s either going to happen or it’s not.  What motivated me was the knowledge that if I had been so committed in the first two weeks I’d be approaching the end of the first phase right now.  OK, just get it done.

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That’s what I’m talking about!  A nice looking set of dubmbbells and plates right there.

On Friday I went to the trainer’s house.  Yes, the point of this workout is that you don’t need a trainer and you do it all at home.  But, I like the guy.  He’s given me great advice and stuck by me while I wallowed in the many failures I’ve endured trying to get into his shape.  Most of the time, he hasn’t even laughed too hard at me.  He and I ran through a 45 minute workout on the pavement of the driveway behind his house.  We each had sufficient weights, each had a stability ball.  He has an awesome pull-up bar rigged up over his 8 foot fence and that came in handy.  At the end of the routine I was pleased to discover that he judged my form to be great and he was impressed at my ability to complete a pretty tough workout.  Did he have a drop of sweat on him?  What do you think?  Nonetheless, I felt confident that I was doing something good.  If this guy, who is a training god, came very near to expressing pride in his wannabe-protege, then I can’t be too off.

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A closer look.  These range from 10’s on the left to 40’s on the right with a set of interchanging weights in the middle and some plates for the bar.

Today, it was back to chest and tri’s.  This time, though, I’ve expanded my arsenal.  From yet another friend I managed to borrow even heavier weights.  For many movements lighter weights aren’t a bad thing.  I’m thinking of shoulders.  At the end of a workout, you try lifting more than 15-pounders in a military press over your head.  It’s hard!  But for chest workouts, I can definitely go higher than the 20’s I had maxed out with.

A note on all these friends who have weights to spare…  It seems a universal truth to me that in America when a young man enters his 20’s and has a trifle bit of spare change he invests it in weights.  He uses the weights religiously for a short while, then trails off.  Evermore the weights remain in his possession until his wife, who long ago gave up caring what he looked like naked, puts them on eBay for extra Christmas money.  Either that or he repurposes them into a coffee table in his pseudo man-cave.

Anyway, I’m definitely feeling this.  It’s going great and I feel great too.  I also was one of those who had weights once.  My excuse was the two spinal fusion surgeries I had so I’m going to stick with that.  It’s been years since I lifted anything and it’s taking some time to get back into it but I feel it coming back to me.  Drop a prayer now and then, if you would, that I don’t injure myself and that I complete these twelve weeks so I can be “beastly”.

The Beast Stirs

I was going to call this “The Beast Awakens” but I feel like that’s been taken already.  Also, once you read all the way through you might scratch your head and say “what beast is he talking about?  What’s he stirring?  Why am I still reading this dude’s blog?”

It’s time once again to return to a topic close to my cardiac muscle.  I’m talking about what I’m currently doing in the gym.  OK, I don’t actually go to a gym.  I work out at home.  I used to belong to a gym that was open 24 hours a day and provided fitness.  I don’t like to mention actual names lest I get sued.  I used to think how cool it would be being able to work out at 3AM when the rest of the world sleeps.  I can’t even imagine the joy in my heart as I’d get out of bed all bleary-eyed, put on my gym shorts backwards and upside down in the dark, and drive off to the gym in a semi-conscious state resembling intoxication only to drop heavy weights on my foot.

Who thought up this concept?

Also, I don’t like gyms.  Lots of fit people there.  I’m nothing if not easily shamed.

A few months ago I took on a personal challenge in the form of a workout called Insanity Max:30.  Well, over the course of two months (and then an additional month where I simply continued the program because I didn’t have anything else to do) I shed some serious bodyfat.  I didn’t really add any muscle which was one of my hopes but I was pleased with the results.  I’ve learned to try focusing on whether I feel good about my progress.  If I focused on externals, I would be miserable.  I’m the one who never sees progress in myself and always believes that the super-fit people of the world are only condescending to me when they offer their compliments.  Kind of like: “Good boy!  You’re not nearly as fat as you used to be!  So proud.”  Yes, I’m sensitive to that kind of thing.  I’m also not likely to believe I can actually achieve the real goals I have in mind so I want to underestimate my results.

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I’m using dumbbells.  These things just look strange.

All that aside, I have moved on to the newest program from the same people.  This one is called BodyBeast.  The stated goal is to help you get huge.  I’m torn on this.  I’ve always wanted to be bigger and yet smaller at the same time.  Maybe I’m schizophrenic.  What I mean is I’d love more solid muscle and less non-solid composition.  This workout is performed using weights (dumbbells) and is done at home.  I borrowed dumbbells from a friend who wasn’t using his anymore.  By the way, it seems to be true that most men at some point in their 20’s will invest in a set of weights.  It’s almost part of the man code.  Whether you ever use them or not, you must buy them and make sure they’re prominently displayed in your garage.  “Look at me!  I do muscle stuff.”  I myself once had an entire set complete with bench and all.  I even used them at one point.  The thing is, I never knew if I was lifting effectively or even the right way.  Could explain why I failed to reach the goals I had in the past.

Oh… this program also calls for a bench.  They’re kind of pricey so I opted for something called an anti-burst stability ball.  Buying this made me laugh.

I have not seen results yet but it’s only been a week.  Also, you might remember that I said I don’t ever see results and I tend not to believe those who tell me that they see results.  But I will tell you two things about this program I’ve noticed already.

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I wish I looked as good as this dude from Cocoon.  I’d love to know what program he’s using.  I’m not even close.

First, the diet is intense.  Far from feeling hungry and eating things I dislike in abundance I have to take in about 3400 calories a day.  The problem is that they come from “clean” sources.  I could easily do that many calories by sucking down fast food and I’d probably enjoy myself too.  This program, however, insists I get 3400 calories from an enormous amount of food that seems to lack calories to begin with.  I’m struggling to get the calories but eating way more than I ever used to.  This may be a problem.  Also, I have an innate fear that eating this much will undo whatever results I saw from the previous routine.

Second, the workouts are insane.  Six nights a week I stream videos from my laptop featuring an Israeli trainer named Sagi (sah-GEE) who, though pleasant and inspiring, also uses a healthy dose of insult to motivate.  “You want to get big?” he says while pointing at the screen with an arm that can barely be raised above his waist for sheer size, “then do this movement right or I will come into your home and crush you.”  Perhaps I exaggerate a bit but you get the point.  Again, I have the constant notion that I’m not lifting properly or lifting heavy enough weights and then my insecurity takes over and I wonder if the next 12 weeks will produce any results at all.  At best I might look like a somewhat less-soft version of myself.  At worst, I’ll get huge in completely the wrong way.  But, I’ve made a commitment.  No matter what else, I take my commitments seriously.  Even if I know it’s not getting me anywhere, I stick with it because that’s who I am.

So, in twelve weeks I’ll come back at you and let you know how this has gone.  You can be assured that I will have completed it.  I may have also gone out of my mind and chucked a dumbbell at Sagi but I will finish what I start.

Meanwhile if any of you lovely readers have suggestions or similar stories about your own fitness routines I’d love to hear them.  Share away.

Fit in 2016?

Thinking about my musings on resolutions yesterday…

About a month ago I kind of gave up put aside my fitness regimen for a little while.  Christmas was going to be an unconquerable foe for me.  I could have exercised more will power but I didn’t.

What did I stop doing?  I stopped running.  Stopped working out.  Stopped caring.  At least for a little while… and I’m OK with that.  I feel like I needed the break psychologically.  I didn’t feel like I was getting anywhere, lost my motivation.  I was always fearful that I wasn’t getting this whole thing “right” in the first place and I need the encouragement of experienced pros to fuel me along.

Did this move make sense for me?  Well…

It’s January.  I can see the results of my work-stoppage.

Who knew I could put on weight so quickly?  I’m feeling it, too.  I didn’t realize I had developed as much muscle mass and tone as I had until it all but vanished seemingly overnight.  Oh, and guess who’s got a bit of a gut now?  Yeah, I put on a suit this morning for work.  It doesn’t fit like it did three weeks ago.

My point in writing this?  I toyed with the idea of setting a realistic goal for the new year regarding all of this.  NOT a resolution.  Part of me wants to go big.  In 12 months could I run a half-marathon?  Part of me wants to go laissez-faire.  In 12 months could I walk a half-marathon?

I’m sure there are other middle-aged men out there who’ve experienced the same sense as me.  I’m almost 40, never got serious about fitness until the past six months, was doing sort of OK, accepting that I’ll never have the cover model body, want to keep going, hit a wall, lost motivation, doesn’t want to give up or be a loser at this, can’t decide how to proceed.

Anyone have any thoughts?

I had a trainer who provided me with more help than anyone every has in this area and I will always be most grateful to him.  But I can’t keep taking up his time when I can’t even figure out what I’m doing.  He’s solid in that he’s been doing this so long it truly is a habit he cannot break.  He will run 7 miles every Friday no matter the weather just because he always does.  I think he’d tell me to keep at it, though I’m not sure he truly appreciates what it’s like for guys like me (average, ordinary human beings).  And I feel like there are others who would say “life is short, enjoy it, stop running, and spend time with your kids.”  But I know that I was doing this FOR my kids.  I still have to tip the scales in the direction of doing something because I CANNOT allow my spine to fall apart.

Ah, self doubt…  I’ sure I’ll figure something out.

OK, you can go back to your lives.

Pumping Iron

It actually looks more like a ski lodge except there's no fireplace or brandy.

I did it!  After a long absence I started working out again.  I actually used to enjoy lifting weights.  It’s something I only really got into in my twenties.  I was never athletic.  OK, that’s an understatement.  For much of my life I was an amorphous blob, uncoordinated, ungraceful, unenthused by anything physical.  I first started lifting the first time I engaged in physical therapy for my back about fifteen years ago.  Lo and behold, I found that it was something that I could actually do.  I enjoyed lifting much more than, say, riding the bike.  And I got pretty good at it.  I even had a Bowflex.  Although I never saw the results I wanted to see — that is, I was never going to be anyone’s cover model — I still enjoyed it.  Or at least I recognized the benefits of how I felt (stronger, more energy) during those times I would take “a break” from it.  And so, on and off, over the past ten years I would return to lifting.  Well, for the past year I’ve been off.  I was beginning to think it would be a permanent off because of my back; but the thought kept coming back at me.  As long as I was doing exercises that didn’t require me to stand or really use my lower back or legs I could probably do this.

Well, for the Epiphany, my lovely wife gave me a gym membership.  Actually it as a membership to the rec center just outside our development.  It’s a two minute ride from our house and the gym there has everything I need and, best of all, appears to be frequented by absolutely NO ONE!  It was fun getting back on the bench.  I remember a time when I could really lift.  I used to bench well over 200 and on one occasion I even benched 300 lbs.!  I could do this.

Strange looking machines, but they help those of us with back "issues".

Started stacking the weights on the bar.  Think I’ll start myself out small, let’s say, oh, I don’t know…  How about 150?  Yeah, sounds good.  Locked the bar and got on my back.  Thank God there was no one around because I would have been thoroughly embarrassed.  So I’ll be starting out really small.  But it was a good set overall and I guess you could say that I’m “freshly pressed”.  Curls, presses, lat work.  And the nice thing is that I had control of all three of the TV’s in the room.

I’ll keep you updated.  Maybe in a few weeks I can work myself up to something not so pathetic.