Monday, October 11, 2010

Gym regimen - October 2010

A1: Quads and Biceps (MONDAY): 50 mins
92kg, BMI 25.5

Warmup: Calisthenics, stretching, leg extensions, curls, squats

Leg extension: 12, 10, 8 @ 30kg, 40kg, 50kg [110 lbs]

Decline leg press: 12, 10, 6 @ 140kg, 160kg, 180kg [~400 lbs]

Squat: 12, 9, 6 @ 70kg, 80kg, 95kg [210 lbs]

EZ Barbell curl: 10, 8, 6 @ 35kg, 40kg, 47.5kg [105 lbs]

Incline dumbbell curl (per hand): 10, 8, 6 @ 16kg, 18kg, 20kg [45 lbs]

Hammer and Underhand barbell curl: 6/4, 5/3, 6/6 @ 25kg, 35kg, 45kg/25kg [100 lbs / 55 lbs]

Cooldown: 27 Alternating incline crunches, 40 Russian twists, stretching


Yes, boys and girls, tonight was a mental workout. While driving to the gym after work, I looked at my workout plan and realized, "Oh, shit, I have to squat tonight." I had remembered tonight was a biceps night, but I guess I had "blocked out" the reality of the squat. It's a tough exercise, well known, and justly, as "the King of Exercises." I didn't do any real exercise this weekend, except for some walking and rowing in a moat during a lovely trip to Tainan. Of course, all weekend I was nursing my traps after my heavy shoulder and shrug routine last Friday. It was the closest thing to a tendon injury I've ever felt in my shoulder muscles, which is cool, since it means gains. Already my traps feel fine. I managed to get a lot of sleep since last week, so I felt well rested. I didn't feel I worked my biceps as hard as I could have tonight, but then again, my main target was the squat. I went heavier on all three quad exercises: leg extensions, leg presses, and squats. I think 95kg is a new PR for me on the squat, so, high five for me. I made a point of breathing more deeply and placing the bar lower on my traps, which I have read takes stress off the lower back. I felt very strong on these.

Meanwhile, I was once more astounded at how some big guys do such "fluff" sets. One guy with a much, much larger torso than me was doing maybe 20kg dumbbell shrugs. Combined 40kg shrugs! Are you joking? In my understanding, and in my own recent experience, shrugs should be done with at least your own bodyweight. So many people just want to get a pump, take enhancements (if not outright anabolics), get swollen, and "look good." I guess I'm into BB, by contrast, for the heavy, mentally challenging sets, the muscle shredding-and-repair cycle, the hormone release for growth, and ultimately real functional power. I'm not bragging––I never want to come across as a bragger, in BB or anything else. It's just interesting how some guys have totally different conceptions of what a good workout is.

I also experienced the "relativity of strength" tonight, perhaps more vividly than ever. A coworker of mine also works out at Central and I really respect his build, his intensity, and his knowledge of BB. He's the one that got me back into dips, for instance, and he swears by pullups and the deadlift, so, mad props! (At the same time, though, he doesn't do the squat because "he just doesn't like them." This is often code for "squats are hard.") Tonight I had to wait for him to finish his last set of deadlifts before my last set of squats, so, while respecting the gym etiquette of not staring or hovering, I had a chance to observe his form and his physique. I was spontaneously struck by the thought, "Hey, he's not so big after all." This is a common occurrence for guys who are making gains in mass, as I am. At first some guy looks huge but after a few weeks or months, if he's not training as hard as you are, he starts to look smaller, weaker. The same thing happened tonight when I was walking behind the "big torso guy" into the free weights section. "He's got no traps, and look at those calves. Come on, dude, push yourself!"

This kind of "predatory assessment" is endemic to athletics, so, while I try not to dwell on it and feed the fires of pride, I also realize it's a natural mechanism for assessing your own progress. Indeed, I applied the same kind of analysis to myself when I noticed there's not much a "cleft" between my bicep and deltoid. I visualized focusing heavily, in the coming weeks, on the long head of my bicep and median deltoids so as to "tighten the seam" between them. I've already thrashed out my inner anxiety about the narcissism of BB, months ago when I first got into the sport, so I will only say that the kind of mental sculpting I am doing is no more narcissistic than a runner noticing his stride is too short because he doesn't stretch his hamstrings enough, or a cyclist noticing his cadence is too low because his quads still need work. Or an architect noticing his spine is curved because he leans sideways ten hours a day in his chair in front of a computer monitor.

Patience, Humility, Confidence… Stay tuned.

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