PUMPING IRONY: The Whole Point

It’s been raining mornings and evenings the last two days, thus deleting my bicycle commute (My Lovely Wife has been driving me to and from), so I was anxious to get down to the gym tonight and rev up a good lather on the old EDM and see if my Thursday experience with the free weights was an anomaly.

Plus, today was the first time in four days I didn’t feel like my joints had rusted. After my Thursday workout, I spent the weekend schlepping heavy objects to and fro in the service of MLW’s mother (who’s moving) and Our Lovely Daughter (whose 21st birthday party inspired me to do a lot of unnecessary, but strategic, landscaping maneuvers in the back yard). In other words, plenty of bending, lifting and twisting — all the motions I can never seem to replicate during my workouts.

But that may be changing.

I wasn’t that energetic tonight, but I managed 25 minutes on the EDM, pushing my heart rate up to 152 and working up a good sweat. I didn’t stretch (of course), but immediately descended into the free weights pit, where I found a bench and tried to replicate the work I’ve done on the Clapping-Hands-Together machine by grabbing two 25-pound dumbells, lying down on the bench and bringing them together above my head. I managed to do three sets of 10 reps, but it was a stretch — which makes me wonder what it is about our physiology that makes it so hard. On the CHT machine, I can pretty effortlessly handle three sets of 10 reps with 120 pounds, and there I was struggling mightily with 25 lbs. in each hand.

Yes, it could be that I’m just a wuss, but I’m searching for more rational explanations. Obviously, the free weights are using more muscles than the CHT, and it’s just possible that I haven’t been using those muscles very much over the past 57 years. Also, there’s the whole balancing thing: free weights don’t move smoothly and happily up and down a pre-assigned track; you have to keep them from falling into your lap (or worse).

Anyway, I moved on to various engagements with heavy objects — squats, lunges, overhead presses, etc., plus  my first experience with the basic deadlift, which every serious weightlifter seems to say is the nirvana of lifting. I did 70 pounds and really felt it in my lower back — again, probably a good sign.

The weird thing about free weights is that you leave the pit without the sense that you’ve worked this or that muscle to its breaking point. It’s more like you’ve worked your whole body. Which, I suppose, is the whole point.

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