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  • Concentration and Intensity

    For all you ACDC fans, you may want to crank it up

    This week begins the second of two “heavy” weeks.

    I was talking with a friend last night about my chest and back workout today. When they asked about how long the workout would take, I said about 45 minutes of lifting weights plus the 60 minutes of mental preparation beforehand. They seemed surprised at that.

    You see, before every “heavy” workout, I relax, close my eyes, and picture the workout in my mind. Not only the exercises themselves, but the feel of the weights, my breathing, my concentrating on the specific muscles that will perform the work. I picture the results as well. I picture the pump, how it should look, and what the next step will be.

    Does that seem extreme to you? It isn't, really. Especially when you're working with anything over half your body weight. I'm no Schwarzenegger, nor do I ever want to be. But there is a certain muscularity I am trying to achieve for myself, and I know what I want my body to look like. Thanks to my education and certification as a Physical Trainer, I know how to make it happen.

    I also know the quickest way to get derailed from the path I have set myself on is an injury. Which is why I am so meticulous in my preparations. Getting injured while working out is completely avoidable, if you take the time to focus and concentrate on what you are doing.

    That's true for any exercise, no matter what your fitness goals are. I don't care if you are at home or at the local gym, if you do aerobics or spinning or run around a track. No matter how you exercise, if your mind is not focused on what you are doing, you more than double your chances of getting injured.

    Sometimes it's a minor injury, a “wake up call” if you will to tell you to pay attention to what's happening. Sometimes it can be far worse. A torn rotator cuff, an strained or torn Achilles tendon, or even a broken bone can set you back for weeks while you recover. And the set back isn't just physical. It's also emotional. A long enough delay in your program can take away your drive, cause you to shrug off your commitment and consign yourself to being out of shape with an excuse, something along the lines of “Well, I'm older so my body just can't take it anymore.”

    Take the time to prepare for your workout, no matter how long, how difficult, or how strenuous. Experts these days debate the benefit of stretching, but no one debates the value of concentration. When a person concentrates on what they are doing and focuses on what they want to achieve, they usually do so in record time. And they do so safely.

    My workout today, Chest and Back, will be a repeat of last week's Monday workout with a couple of changes. As always, each exercise will be 3 sets of 10 repetitions.

    Bench Press @ 100 pounds

    Seated Low Rows @ 100 pounds

    Inclined Bench Press @ 75 pounds

    Standing Bent Over Rows @ 75 pounds

    Inclined Dumbbell Flyes @ 60 pounds (30 pounds each dumbbell)

    Kneeling Single Arm Rows @ 30 pounds (alternating left and right arms)

    Pushups (106 pounds)

    Seated High Rows on the Total Gym @ level 5 (63 pounds)

    Chest Presses on the Total Gym @ level 5 (63 pounds)

    As I mentioned last week, the reason for the declining weights is to achieve complete muscular exhaustion while maintaining the proper form throughout the exercise. This is how you achieve a fully developed muscle, by making sure you work it through its entire range.

    Since I mentioned safety, it's probably a good idea to remind you I always wear the proper gear when working out; clothing that doesn't bind but isn't loose enough to get caught on anything, solid athletic shoes with plenty of support for my arches, a heavy weight belt to support my lower back and abdomen, and workout gloves for a firm, solid grip that won't slip. In addition, I don't collar my weights on my barbell, so if there were ever a rep I can't get back up, I can always tilt the weights and drop them on the floor rather than having the weight end up on my chest. I'd rather have to repair a dent in the floor than be admitted to the ER for chest trauma.

    It's also a good idea to have a towel or rag around to wipe sweat off, and I always have a water bottle nearby. Working out can cause you to dehydrate in a hurry and you need to replace that fluid to exercise at your peak level. Some guys I know are sports drink advocates, but I prefer plain old water. Either will work as long as you have something to drink nearby.

    This week will be the last “heavy” week for two weeks. Next week and the week after, I'll do circuit training on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays with a bit more weight than the previous weeks to add a bit more mass and coordinate the overall proportions of my body, then go back to two “heavy” weeks with a slight increase in the amounts I listed today. I'll “see-saw” through this pattern from now until June,when I will repeat a “Rip” week to check my results.

    My overall goal is to be able to press and lift my body weight, row across the Illinois River at Lake Peoria without stopping, and bicycle at least 20 miles with only minimum stops, if any. They are modest goals, in my opinion.

    What are your fitness goals?

    I hope you are having a blessed and glorious day.

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