Saturday, February 18, 2012

Free Your Weights

Still haven’t been on the scale. Maybe tomorrow.

“Free your weights and the strength will follow”  - En Vogue, badly paraphrased

For the record, “Free Your Mind” is a great song and an important part of my workout tunes, along with “Never Gonna Get It” by En Vogue (whom, when I forget the actual name of the group, I think of as the Funky Divas which is the title of their album that I actually own. Or owned. I’m not sure if I still have it in storage or if I sold it to a second hand CD shop during a cash crunch. Anyway, it’s a DAMNED GOOD album).

Right now, my shoulders, back and arms are aching, groaning and complaining (“We thought you loved us. Why? Why did you make us work?”). I’ve altered my workout routine again and shifted from the Nautilus machines (for the most part. More on that in a minute) to the free weights.

6 (No. It’s 2012. 7 years ago. Damn. Time is FLY-ING) years ago, when I worked out with “The King,” he had me skip the circuit training machines and hit the free weights, telling me that it was a better workout because maintaining form and balance provided additional work to the muscles that they didn’t get from pulley systems. The Nerd Fitness Rebellion ( If you haven’t signed up for the free newsletter, do it. It’s the most entertaining fitness blog I’ve ever seen. And helpful, too. Suck it, Dr. Oz) is of the same mind: do exercises that use your body weight (pushups, crunches, pullups) and free weights for more bang for the exercise buck. Since The King had a degree in kinesiology, I was inclined to listen to him. The man knows his stuff.

Free weights are not barbells and dumbbells and the big dumbbells who sling them around. Well, not just. There are some machines that look similar to the Nautilus types except that there are no pulleys and one uses the weight plates that go on barbells to increase resistance. Without the pulley systems, even though the movement is the same as the Nautilus, it’s tougher to move them because there are no pulleys to take off some of the load (Get a copy of “The Way Things Work” by David Macauley. It explains machines from screws and levers, past  pulleys all the way  up to CD players, cars and computers using  woolly mammoths. ABC had a fantastic Saturday morning cartoon called “Cro” that was based on this book. They dumped it in favor of a cartoon version of “Dumb and Dumber.” Oh, the irony).  For instance, on the circuit machines, specifically the chest press, I had been able to 50 lbs. Today, I loaded up that weight on the free weight machine, started to push and got “Who are you kidding?” I had to move it down to 20 lbs. (And before anyone starts snickering, you’re not only moving whatever weight plates you put on there, you’re also moving a big, steel framework, too. Without pulley assist).

Like I said, my shoulders, arms and back are achy (it’s just lactic acid from the work, no damage) like they haven’t been in months. Due to the traitorous right knee, I’m sticking to the circuit machines for some of the leg moves so that I don’t put too much stress on the joint. I had one of the trainers explain the “Burpee” move to me (and it’s not a packet of seeds. See “OC Freedom Garden” blog to learn how to run your own organic garden. Stick it to Archer Daniels Midland and Betty Crocker). It’s a jump straight up in the air, come down to all fours, kick backwards with both feet, draw them back in and do it all over again. After a demonstration that had my right knee telling me “Bitch, don’t even THINK about it”, she chirped, “Now you try it.” Nuh uh. To quote a former one-term President (whose coke addict, spoiled rich kid son ran 3 oil companies and one super power into the ground), “Not gonna do it. Wouldn’t be prudent.”

It’s necessary to rest a bit longer in between sets. I was standing aside, breathing hard when a gentleman on the next apparatus told me, “You can’t just think about it. You’ve got to get on there and do it.” True, but, as I told him, my heart was saying, “Bitch (yeah, my body parts think they’re street. It explains the Eminem, House of Pain, Flo Rida and Public Enemy in the workout mix. And Morris Day, “Jungle Love.” Really. I’m the whitest person I know), you wait a minute or that knee is least of your worries. I will fuck you up.” (And the stomach was threatening to reverse gears. Since the left arm wasn’t numb, I knew it wasn’t a heart attack, just a really good workout).

I’ve shifted the upper body from machines to the barbells and dumbbells. Again, the added work of maintaining form and balance. In the quest to master pushups by December 31, 2012 (unless the Mayans are right), I shifted from doing pushups against the wall to incline pushups today. MUCH  harder (I was using one of the benches in the free weight area). Same with tricep dips: simple, hard to do.

I have found that the real body builders tend to be pretty kind, see the above-mentioned conversation. If asked, they’ll answer questions (if you’re a hot blonde, they’ll help whether you want it or not. I’ve got the blonde part, not so much the hot) and show you a move.

Today’s shift in exercise strategy felt like a graduation to something that’s going to be a tremendous benefit. I’ve got definition in places (everywhere but the Great White Belly. However, heh heh, that’s getting worked pretty hard, too).

The free weights don’t seem to have as much traffic as the cardio or circuit training sections, which suits me just fine.

Just leave me in peace with Morris Day. Oh ee oh ee oh.

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