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  • The Heavy Strikes Back

    Now back in the Navy days when I first started weightlifting, I remember reading Muscle & Fitness Magazine, soaking in every nuance of exercise and variations, looking to build the perfect bicep, tricep, and deltoid combination. Everyone was into it, at least everyone at the 32nd Street Naval Station gym where I worked out, and there was always a conversation about a new technique or someone who just busted through a plateau on their bench press or their squats. Really good memories, my friends. Everyone wanted to be Arnold!

    These days, at 61, my aspirations are slightly less, but then again, Arnold isn't Arnold anymore, at least not the Arnold of yore. Yesterday, I did the first “Heavy” arm and shoulder routine. Did it work? Well, I'm still feeling the pump, even after 15 hours. It was awesome.

    I began with Shrugs for the shoulders, using 50 lb (22.7 kg) dumbbells that I set up for just this occasion. Three sets of 10 reps felt awesome, and when I was finished, I could feel the burn in all three heads of the deltoids. The secret to making this effective is to make sure you use slow, deliberate movements and complete a full rotation on every rep.

    Next I placed the Bicep Blaster around my neck, secured the back strap, and proceeded to do my bicep curls with 50 lbs on the bent barbell. Again, slow, deliberate movements in both directions, making sure to concentrate on the biceps contracting. By the end of the third set, my biceps were rock hard.

    I set the barbell down only long enough to remove the Blaster, then used the interior grip on the bent barbell and proceeded to do standing overhead tricep extensions. You have to be careful with this one, making sure your feet are planted securely and evenly and your back is properly supported. As always, I wear a heavy leather belt designed for back support whenever I am lifting. By the third set, my triceps were screaming at me “enough”, even though it was the same 50 lbs I had used in the bicep curls.

    I set the barbell down and picked up the 25 lb (11.35 kg) dumbbells and proceeded to the standing side shoulder raises. I can't say this enough, it's important to make sure your feet are planted firmly and your back is supported. The secret to this exercise is to resist the temptation to “throw” the weight up by rocking your body from the waist. That's easy to say on the first set, not so easy to do on sets two and three. The last three reps of the third set, I had to throw them up to complete. Since this was the second shoulder set, the deltoids were beginning to feel the burn about the middle of the second set.

    Moving to the bench where I already had the Preacher Attachment in place, I did three sets of cable curls with 50 lbs mounted on the extension. Using the straight bar, I concentrated again on the biceps doing the work, and managed to complete all three sets, although the last one was completed in 7 reps, 2 reps, and the final rep. I could tell my biceps were beginning to reach exhaustion.

    Removing the preacher attachment and raising the short portion of my bench to elevate my head, I reached back and performed three sets of tricep pullovers using the cable attachment and the straight bar. Again, the last set proved to be more challenging than the first two, but I completed it without having to stop.

    Back to the bent barbell for standing upright rows, the final polisher for the shoulders. The key to making this effective for the shoulders is to keep your elbows extended out during the exercise to prevent the arms from doing most of the work. By this point, my shoulders were telling me to proceed with caution, so I moved through the exercise carefully, concentrating on form and getting the full range of motion, beginning at the waist and ending just below the chin.

    I sat on the bench and prepared to do my concentration curls with the 25 lb dumbbells, and managed to get through one set per arm before my arms failed. Just dropped. At the beginning of the second set, I tried to get my right arm to move. No dice. The bicep was telling me enough.

    And believe it or not, that is a good thing. Peak contraction is the result of concentration on a particular muscle doing the work through its entire range of motion. When you've done that enough times, the muscle goes into failure, or exhaustion. And when that happens, the muscle tissue is forced to grow.

    I'd already completed my ab workout prior to starting the weights, and decided against the Gazelle. I'll be doing another ab workout today, and spending at least 30 minutes on the Gazelle today, but I didn't want to lose the “pump” from the muscles by pushing the blood flow to my legs.

    Feeling pretty amazing right now, even though there are some aches and pains in my shoulders and along the trapezoid muscles at the upper back, but these are normal pains and nothing out of the ordinary. Later today when I do my abs and Gazelle, I may do a couple of additional free curls just to pump again.

    Still tipping the scales at 190 lbs (86 kg) and feeling good.

    I warn you, this stuff can be addicting. Especially for us high testosterone types. But ladies, you need not raise the weights to enjoy the benefits of anaerobic exercise. And the benefits will be just as strong if you do them. I always remember the anecdote about the young woman who could open the pickle jars when her husband couldn't. Not only did it make her feel empower, but it also motivated her husband to get with the program.

    I hope you are all having a blessed and wonderful day.

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