Saturday, February 19, 2011

Is There Anything Worse Than Going to the Gym on Valentine's Night?

I'm constitutionally unable to work out in the mornings. (Seriously, it's like my Eighth Amendment of the Gym -- the bit about barring cruel and unusual punishment. The First establishes the freedom to grunt; the Second guarantees the right to keep and flex big guns; the Fourth provides protection from unreasonable use of the squat rack for curls; and so forth.)

Since I continue to work stupidly late at the office (a trend that I've followed for years), that means I'll get to the gym at 8 or 9. The fact that this means I'll be on the shoulder press machine right outside the activity room just as the Zumba class gets out is just a coincidence.

After I work out, I'll start out being too tired to do anything else, followed up by being too keyed up to sleep. Which means I get to be really late, which means I can't work out in the morning, which means I stay at the office late, which means I work out late, etc.

It's a vicious cycle.

Now, as it happens, I did not work out Valentine's Night, an activity that strikes me as kind of... pathetic. If you're a singleton working out at the gym on Valentine's Night -- really, why are you even bothering? The only thing more pathetic would be staying late at the office, which, of course, is what I was did.

Gym Notes:

* I don't like it when they change the layout and lineup of the machines. This usually only happens after I come back from an extended hiatus, but this time around, they replaced the dedicated lat pulldown, upright row and tricep pulldown machines with another multi-function station unit. The first two are okay, but I liked being able to lean back against the tricep machine. Maybe you get more use of stabilizer muscles, I don't know.

What I do know, though, if my understanding of pulleys is correct, the weight label numbers lie -- since the weight stack on the multi-function station is topped by a movable pulley, the mechanical advantage means you're only moving half the weight.

* Tabata Intervals: Since I hate doing cardio, I've been focusing more on high-intensity Tabata intervals, where you do something 20 seconds at high intensity, followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeated 8 times. It means you get done in 4 minutes, which appeals to me (unless you go around for another set, which does not.)

You can do Tabatas on anything where you can change intensity instantly. (So no treadmills or escalator-style stairmasters.) Mostly, I've been doing my Tabatas on the jump rope (shooting for a pace of at least 60 jumps in each 20-second interval, followed by rest periods of 10 seconds dogging it at a slow pace), though I've been trying to mix in burpees, and hitting the heavy bag. (I used to do them on the Versaclimbers, but they've moved those machines back to an inconvenient corner.)

* Lifting Straps: I finally bought and started using weight lifting straps. They're cheap, and you can use them for any pulling exercise where your grip gives out before the big muscles do (Primarily deadlifts and lat pulldowns. Shrugs, too, but I'm lazy.)  This video has a pretty good explanation of how you should place the straps (start wrapping from the side opposite the bar from your hand, to counteract the weight of the bar trying to peel your finger grip open.)

That's about it. I've been pretty good this month about going, and I'm plateauing right now, so next week I'll probably switch to lighter weights/more reps, and try to focus on my diet, which has always been my weak point -- I just don't vary my eating habits that much. Fortunately, since I can't really drink during the week any more (getting old), that makes things a bit easier.

Going to light reps will also give me a chance to reset on squats to work on my form. I've been doing leg press the past few months, mostly because I kept jacking my back up doing squats, then coughing my back out at various times (the new heat pump has helped with that, I think -- my place is a lot warmer now when I get out of my warm bed.)

Now, off to undo any benefit I made at this afternoon's workout.

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