Sunday, July 25, 2010

Gym regimen - July 2010

25 July 2010
89kg, BMI 25
A4 workout: Traps, Tris & Shoulders: 80+ mins
(Since most of these exercises are dumbells, but can be done with barbells, I have listed the total weight, not just the weight for each hand.)

Warmup: Calisthenics/stretching... lots of stretching

Dumbbell military press: 12x, 10x, 8x, 6x @ 14kg-36kg/32kg/27kg

Dumbbell upright row: 12x, 10x, 8x, 6x @ 14kg-36kg

"Kowtow" dumbbell reverse flye: 12x, 10x, 8x, 6x @ 14kg-27kg
(I learned this form of the flye from Pac Man [see below], but I made up the name myself. Kowtow is Cantonese for 叩頭 [kou4tou2], which means to bow and 'knock' one's head on the floor in deference to another. You bend down to rest your head on a padded back support, or something around waist height, and do normal flyes in that position. I like these because they also work the neck and abs.)

Shrug: 12x, 10x, 7x, 6x @ 80kg-120kg

Supine triceps extension: 12x, 10x, 8x, 6x @ 14kg-30kg

Elbows-out extension: 12x, 10x, 8x, 6x @ 14kg–27kg

Rope triceps extension: 12x, 10x, 8x, 6x @ 15kg–30kg/25kg (?)
(I'm still too feisty with these, going for too much weight at the expense of clean form. Patience. Humility. Confidence.)

Rowing shrug: 20x @ 50kg;
Barbell grip: 2x @ 60kg (to failure)


A unique workout today. My friend–-call him Pac Man––invited me to try working out at his gym, a World's Gym. I began the workout a bit antsy, since Pac Man was thirty minutes late for the time he had already asked to shifted from 3:30PM to 4:30PM. In this case, that was like the sun beating the moon to the dawn. At least it gave me time to stretch, And practice that subtlest of old virtues, patience.

Once he got there, I pretended to speak no Chinese at all, sort of on the premise that I was "a new foreigner in town" looking for a gym. I got a 7-day guest pass, but bow howdy what a hoot it was to pretend I understood no Chinese at all! It took me back years! I forgot what it felt like to have Taiwanese people talk about me or just past me to "my Taiwanese friend" and I had to catch myself many times before I let spontaneous Chinese out.

Great Scot, World's Gym is so snazzy compared to Central Power! I knew this going in, but I was struck with mixed feelings by the forgotten novelty of a "nice gym" after so many years of working out at home or outside. The AC was a big adjustment and not entirely welcome. After every set I could feel myself tightening up in the cold air, so I had to keep stretching myself out. On the other hand, the equipment was superb: Ivanko plates! I was initially tripped up by the blend of pound and kilogram weights in the free weight section, but did my best to find the right weight by feel. By far the greatest boon is that World's has a hot tub, sauna, and showers with hot water. The owner of Central sees no reason to turn on hot water during the summer and I don't use hot water when I shower at home, so today it was delicious to get warm and loose in the hot tub, unwind and get clean in the shower, and then cool down with a cold rinse and the AC. After a normal workout, at home or at Central (I have no AC at home, either), I generally sweat for about an hour afterwards, but I am happy to report I had stopped sweating half an hour after today's workout. Such a sexy beast, I know!

Today I tried a new exercise, the elbows-out extension, and I agree they really "work the tris." I did them at a slight incline, instead of prone, like I did my barbell extensions. This exercise and the dumbbell military press showed me in short order how much weaker my left arm is compared to my right arm. I'm left-handed but my throwing, hitting, yanking hand is my right, whereas I use my left hand for writing and smaller motor actions (like entering personal PIN numbers [HT to Erick B.!] or talking on the phone). That's why I love dumbbell exercises: they strip the exercise down to the bone, activate finer, deeper accessory muscles, and display weakness right away by way of wobbly form and uneven weight movement. A barbell can mask asymmetrical weakness as the stronger side shifts its power through the body to compensate for the weaker member, thus keeping the bar's motion basically uniform. Meanwhile the weaker arm is hiding, not growing like it should. This doesn't mean you shouldn't use barbells. I also love barbell exercises, since they tend to concentrate the power on the target muscle without losing effort lot on sloppy form. Every now and then, though, you need to use dumbbells as diagnostic tools. Now that I know my left arm is weaker, when I do barbell tricep exercises, I will add a tiny amount of extra weight to the left side so that over time it will catch up with the right arm. There's a fine analogy for life in the Church in all this, I'm sure… oh, that's right! I Corinthians 11:22ff:

[22] On the contrary, the parts of the body which seem to be weaker are indispensable,
[23] and those parts of the body which we think less honorable we invest with the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty,
[24] which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior part,
[25] that there may be no discord in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.
[26] If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

I lost weight on a few exercises compared to my last A4 workout, but my form was much better and I know I worked really hard today. I made yet another big leap with my shrug, partially because I've broken the glass ceiling and realize light shrugs are a waste of time (truly a case of "go heavy or go home"), but also because I used a shoulder-width grip. Two A4 workouts ago, I was gripping the smooth ring-gap between the knurling (now there's a word I'd have never learned if not for BBing!), last A4 I was gripping the inner knurling. A shoulder-width grip gave me more range of motion; if nothing else, they looked good in the mirror! The weight was so heavy in fact, that I had to use a mixed grip (or deadlift grip) to keep the bar from rolling out of my fingers. Grip strength is one of the most essential but most underestimated components of weightlifting. If you can't hold the weight, you can lift it. If you can't hang on to the bar, you can't do another pullup, no matter how much more you lats might be able to do. And so on. This is why I think I will start wrapping a towel around the grip for curls, extensions, rows, deadlifts, etc. I could use gloves, but I don't like them (not for now, at least) and the added girth of the towel will do just as much good for my grip. Interestingly enough, while looking for a photo of the deadlift grip, I learned it should only be used for competition weight, while a normal prone grip should be used for training evenly.

My rib injury is annoying but I'll just have to keep working around it. It's not a fracture, just an inflamed muscular lamina, or an intercostal, that must have gotten really poked by the weight belt when I did squats last time. Leg raises don't hurt, so I'll work those a lot next week to get my stomach back up to speed with the rest of my recent gains.

Take heart, I've got a couple "serious posts" about Freud, evolutionary psychology, and memes coming down the barrell, so, always, stay tuned.

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