Wednesday, July 4, 2012

I Am Not A Body Builder

My endurance training took some time, but I finally made enough strides with basic exercises. I was easily getting fifty reps per set in four sets. I figured it was time to implement the final phase of my workouts: augmenting my strength by adding weight. I am not going to lie, I thought that I was going to be able to pick up forty pound dumbells at this point. With all of the big, buff people throwing around the weights they use, forty seemed like nothing. To be safe, though, I purchased a set of ten pound dumbells to use. It was amazing; I was still a weakling that could barely lift them. I had to go back to Sports Authority and purchase two-and-a-half pound weights to use.

With all of the kicks to my pride, this one was nothing. I was at a point where I figured I just had to add a couple more steps into the process. I started using my new weights and, for consistency with my goals, kept with my standard fifty reps in a series of four sets. It took me about six months of working out without weights to get to benchmarks. When I started using my first set of weights, it took me about four months before I started to hit the benchmarks I had set in different exercises. I moved on to the ten pound weights I had previously purchased and maxed myself put after three months. Talk about an adrenaline rush to realize that my muscles were gaining strength at a quicker and quicker rate. I moved to twenty, thirty, and then forty in the weights I was using. My body's progress had hit its limit though. At twenty pounds and above, I was finding that it was taking me about two months to hit my benchmarks.

When I made the two month mark with the forty pound weights and still hadn't passed twenty reps, I knew something was wrong. My muscles had become complacent and had hit a road block. I didn't have anyone to help with workouts, so I had to be careful with my safety. With all of my knowledge and research, I knew this point would come but I figured I would be bench pressing 250 pounds at that point rather than eighty. I decided to implement some new techniques. The first thing I did was relegate certain muscles to once or twice a week only. I needed to let my muscles fully rest. The second was to start using many more lesser used exercises that directly targeted secondary and tertiary muscles for strength in those muscles. After a few weeks, I had passed the twenty rep mark in several exercises with the forty pound weights.

The third technique that I incorporated was negative reps. This refers to doing as many reps as you can per set without a set number of sets. I then went further with it by downgrading the weight in the negative reps. What does all of that mean? Using the press as an example, I would press eighty pounds until failure wait a few minutes and then press eighty pounds again until failure. I would keep this up until I couldn't press more than ten in a set. I would then pick up half the weight and continue to failure and so on until I was just making the pressing motions. You do NOT want to do this more than once a week!

I am still working on those forty pound dumbells, but I have made it up to fifty reps in at least two of the sets. I have added more exercises to create a synergy. Sometimes, I may not perform a certain exercise for two weeks, but I experience no lack of strength and in some cases come back with double the capacity. The best part about all of this tedium is that my body never feels fatigued under normal conditions anymore. My mind is an entirely different matter.

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