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  • Break time over

    If you follow this column, you know I didn't post over the weekend. As I've said in the past, I tend to listen to my body when it comes to working out. After Friday's leg session, I woke up Saturday with a few additional aches and pains, and since I had stopped taking my pain meds for the dental surgery I had last Monday, I decided to hold off on my workouts for a couple of days rather than go back to the meds. I finished off the antibiotics yesterday, and this morning I am feeling ready to go.

    It's been a busy morning, shoveling more snow (another 4-7” today) and doing a few minor chores about the house, and I have a 1:45 appointment this afternoon I have to make, so I'm going to work out about 5 o'clock. Everything is set up.

    Today's bench will be 120 pounds, as will the seated rows. For my incline presses and standing rows, 95 pounds, and for the inclined chest flyes and bent over dumbbell rows, a total of 80 pounds. That's a 10 pound increase over last week's session. As always, I'll polish off with the Total Gym, remaining at level 6.

    One of the reasons I will be waiting until later to work out is safety. I want someone in the house in case I need help getting 120 pounds off my chest. Don't think that will happen, but better safe than sorry.

    Another reason, and the more significant one for me, is focus. I've been picturing this workout in my mind since early this morning, going through every move in my head, balancing the weights, timing the lift (you always lower at half the speed you lift, letting your muscles work against gravity), and getting the form of each exercise pictured perfectly in my mind. For me, it isn't so much the weight as it is the form.

    Poor form will get you injured with even a relatively light weight. If you don't have proper form, you aren't working the muscles you intended to, and you're overworking the smaller support muscles that are involved in the movement. With the bench press, that's the entire shoulder girdle, the trapezius, and your arms. Those rotator cuffs you hear about athletes injuring all the time are small muscles that stabilize the shoulder. If you move wrong, they will be the first thing injured, and they take a very long time to heal properly.

    A proper bench press is done by lying flat on the bench with the weight just over the top of your chest. When you reach up to grab the bar, your arms should be slightly angled back. This way when you actually lift the weight up, your arms are straight up, and the line of the bar should be across your chest at the midpoint. When you lower the weight, the movement should be deliberate and timed, not just dropped toward you, and when you touch your chest with the bar, the movement should immediately and explosively reverse.

    When you are working out to build larger muscles, the repetitions should be between 8 and 10 per set with increasingly heavier weights. If you are working out for leaner muscles, your repetitions should be between 12 and 15 per set, but your weights should not exceed 50% of your body weight. Ladies, if you are looking for that Supermodel body, or just to be the best you can be, 25-35% of your body weight will develop the kinds of muscles that will burn fat, but not appear bulky or too “muscular”.

    It's almost 8:40, and the workout went as planned. That's an increase of 40 pounds in one month for all of the exercises for the chest and back. Not too shabby for an old guy, I'd say. Hell, not too shabby for anyone.

    Oh, I'll wake up tomorrow with some aches and pains, and frankly that's to be expected. But the end results: maintaining my weight and building hard, lean muscles that do what I want them to when I want them to, are worth the pain. When I've reached my goals, the maintenance routines will require less strain, so less pain. And I'll have a body I'm proud of. Now if I can just keep the mind going as well.

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


    PS. After a hard workout like today, I like a little soothing music to relax by. Here's a little Satchmo for you. Enjoy.
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