I really wanted to write a gym column and put it on the site. I’ve lifted weights since I was 18, and ever since those days I’ve spent countless hours, getting hurt, doing research, getting hurt, reading papers and columns and magazines and blogs, getting hurt and lifting, lifting, lifting.
I’m not the strongest guy in the world, and I’m built like a 50’s wrestler. But you don’t have to be the best guy in the gym. You just have to do…something. There’s a lot of people out there doing nothing and just by doing something, anything, you’ve separated yourself from the pack. (Actually… that’s my philosophy behind the blog ).
The thing is Hamilton Nolan is writing I of the Tiger on Gawker and it’s a great column. (You should read it right now!) It kind of took away my desire to write anything on the subject.
But I was in the gym the other day. There were two guys working out together. One had bulging biceps and pecs, at the sacrifice of the rest of his body. (The bicep is roughly 1/3 of your upper arm, and in terms of size and function, is not as important as you would think. Want a big arm? More strength? Train triceps more than biceps.)
They began an endless bench press routine, where the smaller of the two got assistance on every rep from his larger friend. (There is no shame in getting a spot, once you’re near failure. But weight training is about synchronizing the brain, spine, nervous system and muscle fibers… all of which react to shock, and shock is failure, change…all things that happen when you LIFT YOUR OWN BAR!!!!)
Near the gruesome twosome was a guy that walked into the gym, dropped his bag, and immediately began doing shrugs with well over three hundred pounds. (Shrugs are a great exercise. To do last. After you’ve already done your shoulder work. Guys that come in and do heavy shrugs first, just want to throw around heavy weights without actually doing anything taxing.)
A middle-aged man talked to a woman for roughly fifteen minutes between sets. At one point he bragged about his 400lb leg press (the leg press uses the same muscles you use to walk, so if you don’t bend your knees too deeply, you can work your way up to heavy weight, quite quickly. Try this, when leg pressing, lift your butt up roughly inches off of the sled and you will feel like you’re going to die. THAT’S a leg press) but he explained how he had bad knees, so he couldn’t squat. (Squatting with proper form will strenthen your knees, not weaken them. Your knees improve through abuse, like Maggie Gyllenhaal in Secretary. Squat, deadlift, jog, and they will come back to you for more with an envelope in their figurative mouths. )
I shook my head and kept on working.
Maybe I do need to write this thing after all.