Fitness blogging

2009 08 22
One hundred push ups in “six weeks”

Posted by in: Fitness blogging

It seems like about half the people I know have tried this website’s six week push up regime. I’m in the middle of the program, if by “middle” you mean almost half way through the workouts. Alas, I’m not in the “middle” if we count by time elapsed: it’s taken me about seven weeks to get this far.

I shouldn’t be surprised. 100 push ups is a lot of push ups. Imagine doing 50 push ups in a row and then without stopping doing 50 more push ups in a row. That’s how many push ups it is. Over the last two years, my work outs at the gym have been almost entirely cardio stuff. So it’s not surprising that I’m still struggling. Still, the fact that I’m not even all the way to half way after seven weeks pretty much confirms what you’ll notice if you read the site’s notes: that the six week thing is just a gimmick. You’re supposed to repeat days before moving on, take time out to do stress tests to gauge your progress, and so on.

I wonder what the net motivational effect of the bogus “six week” gimmick is. I suspect it may account for the sheer number of people who have tried out the website’s program (and probably made its operator some money in advertising in the process). On the other hand, no one I’ve spoken to has actually finished the program. I wonder if the expectations they may have started with had something to do with that.

If you’re determined to get to 100 regardless of how long it takes, the website has a fairly nice graduated set of workouts. It’s certainly not perfect, though, and I wonder if that’s because for marketing reasons they ended up telescoping several workouts into a single one. Check out, for example, day one of week three. I find this easy. I found it easy four weeks ago. But then take a look at day two on the same page. It’s not just a little harder. It’s much harder. Indeed, I’ve been stuck on it for about three weeks now (this morning I got to 15 on the final set).

Howls of outrage (20)

2008 01 26
Kit Fine tribute video

Kit Fine is a philosopher who writes on logic, metaphysics, language, and other issues in a fairly technical way. With that background, I present Kit Fine: Doin it well.

Is Kit Fine hard to read, so we are macho if we read him? Does Kit Fine inspire us to do difficult things by his salubrious example? What is this video trying to tell us? I hope I’m not missing a philosophy joke out of ignorance; I’ll be really embarrassed if I am.

Whatever it is, I’m strangely fascinated.

Howls of outrage (5)

2007 09 08
Aristotle on proper weightlifting technique

Commenting on an obscure point about connate pneuma in his 1912 translation of Aristotle’s De Motu Animalium, A.S.L. Farquharson writes that a comment of Aristotle’s is, “a reference perhaps to holding the breath when a weight is lifted. A[ristotle], like gymnastic teachers to-day, supposed it gave power.”

Interesting that Aristotle’s assumption about breath still held in Farquharson’s day. My understanding is that this is not a good thing to do, and the laziest of googlings suggests that the current consensus is that the proper technique involves breathing out as you work the muscle through its range of motion and in as you relax it. So, also, I was recently told by a rather large man at my gym who noticed that I was holding my breath a bit without noticing it, and who shouted, “Gotta breathe, baby, gotta breathe!”

Howls of outrage (2)

2006 10 23
Bottoms of trousers rolled? Check. Dare to eat a peach? Check. Walk upon beach? Check. Mermaids singing, each to each? Check.

Posted by in: Fitness blogging

Fucking hell, my hip hurts. Again. And I’m only 33. What’s up with that?

Update: And don’t you dare tell me to stretch after I exercise! I hate stretching! Grumblegrumbleyoukidsgetoffamylawngrumblegrumble.

Howls of outrage (4)

2006 10 22
Fitness blogging (“Look like a tool yet persist” Edition)

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My new gym has a punching bag and a speed bag. Both are awfully difficult to use without looking like a tool. The speed bag is also difficult to use without looking like a dweeb, if, like me, you lack the co-ordination to get the rhythm right. (On the top of that, I think the bag is a bit underinflated.)

And yet I persist.

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2006 10 07
Pumpin’ up

Posted by in: Fitness blogging

I recently joined the Y, and as part of the joining package they gave me a complementary session with a personal trainer. The session was scheduled for yesterday. When I went in I told the guy that I had been working out for almost two years now, but that I had done mostly cardiovascular stuff, so was now thinking about lifting weights a bit more aggressively.

We decided to work on pecs and arms, so he had me do four sets of bench presses, four sets of incline presses, three sets of dips, three sets of tricep extensions, and then finally three sets of pushups. (Not counting the bicep exercises.) By the time I got to the push-ups my chest had turned into two quivering lumps of useless jello. I collapsed after 6 pushups on the final set. The guy had a Carribean accent, and he was sort of laughing at the time, but I think he said, “It’s ok if you want to finish with girl push-ups.” If I had had a bit more self-confidence, I might have continued with “girl push-ups,” but I was in the weight room of a gym, surrounded by large muscular men. As it was, I thought it more dignified to collapse into a sweaty, twitching impression of someone in the last stages of a losing fight with malaria. Anyway, today I think I must have the stiffest little man-titties this side of the East River.

Howls of outrage (4)

2006 09 10

Update #1: A while back I asked for advice about a teaching handout on writing. Many thanks for all the helpful advice. The link in the post now points to the revised draft of the handout. I took most of the advice I got, though a few of Anne’s better suggestions (by phone and email) had to be abandoned, since following them properly would have taken up too much time.

Update #2: I hate to admit when I’m wrong, but my fierce love of the truth obliges me to update this post on the miraculous powers of baking soda.

Update #3: 400 flights in an hour on the stairmaster, celebrated in this post, has now become fairly easy for me. This surprises me, since the first time I did it it nearly killed me, and that was less than a month ago. Also, it’s not as if I built up to it slowly. Before that my previous personal bests were 386 on Aug. 18th, 370 on Aug. 14th, and 351 on Aug. 12th. Yes, I record all that in a little book. Do you have a problem with that? (I put on a huge push to get to 400 because “A” and I had a family membership at Ballys, and “A” was sick of it. Since I strongly suspected that Ballys was too stupid to attempt to keep me as a customer, I had to get to 400 before I moved to the cheaper Y, which sadly lacks a stairmaster.) Anyway, I have a hard time believing that these gains are all physical. Rather, I suspect that something here is 90% half mental – probably the psychological aspect.

As for Ballys, wow am I ever glad that I didn’t commit to three years with them. I probably would have been content to stay if “A” hadn’t detested the Ballys at Tilden in Flatbush so much, but then I have more patience for things like buckets strategically placed all over the floor every time it rains, equipment that stays broken for long periods of time, etc. etc. etc. What kind of gym runs completely out of paper towels and then doesn’t do anything about it for weeks? Also, when I went to try to find out what would happen to my rates once “A” left the club, I had a series of irritating and inclusive exchanges which culminated in a phone call to a 1-800 number, at which point I was put on hold for 55 minutes. And seriously, what kind of company puts a customer on hold for that long? What a bunch of fuckers.

By the way, if you live in NYC, the Y is having a membership drive now. The joining fee will be waived if you join before the end of September, and if you’re a student, the rates are especially low.

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2006 08 20
To the stairmaster machine at the gym, which I suspect harboured doubts about whether I could climb 400 flights in an hour

Posted by in: Fitness blogging

In yo face, muthafucka.

Howls of outrage (5)

2006 07 10
Fitness blogging

Posted by in: Fitness blogging

The good news is that I’m inching ever closer to my goal of being able to climb 400 flights of stairs in one hour on the stairmaster at the gym.* The other day, I hit 359, which is close, though I think adding those remaining 41 flights is going to be difficult.

The bad news, though, is that they really aren’t joking when they say that exercise is addictive. I try to set up my exercise schedule so that I never go more than two days without an exercise day containing an hour of cardio (on other days, I lift weights, do stomach crunches, or rest). Going one day without my cardio workout is fine. Going two days gets a bit dicey, though it’s generally manageable if I’m doing other things. Three days is bad. Three days has me alternating between anxiety and rage, as I mentally work through a long list of suddenly discovered grievances with the world at large.

In November 2004 I was a confirmed couch potato. A year and a half later I’m a serious endorphine junkie. What the hell happened to me?

* I intend to prove that I have the ability to climb 400 flights in an hour by actually doing it.

Howls of outrage (6)

2006 03 10
Diagnosis: Stupidity

So, I think I may have given myself a (inguinal) hernia. “A” diagnosed it first after googling a bit and asking some questions. (Those in the audience anxious about the issue of marital fidelity will be relieved to know that the diagnosis took place over the phone and so at no point involved fondling my balls and getting me to cough, which is apparently part of the standard check for hernias.) She and Yoon finally succeeded in getting me to go to a doctor. That wasn’t easy for them to do since there’s no real pain, just a bit of worrying discomfort in my lower right abdomen, accompanied by the bizarre sensation that my right testicle is getting sucked back up into my body. (Is it Koro? That would be awesome.)

I went to emergency because the way my insurance works, the visit is capped at $50, whereas if I visit anyone in-network in NYC I end up paying $20 plus 30% of the cost – and I know from last year that no one will tell me the truth about what that cost will be. Anyway, the doctor did a perfunctory check and said it might well be a hernia, though if it was, it had temporarily righted itself. He gently suggested that 32 years old is just about the age that exercise fanatics begin the long process of breaking down into decrepitude. He also suggested making a small incision in my bank account in order to drain it properly, but I politely demurred.

Anyway, I have three things to say about this whole business. First, you probably don’t want to look at this diagram that A found online. It’s really disgusting. Don’t look, ok?

Second, when the doctor wanted me to slip down my boxers (undergarment of a real man), he said, “OK, I’m just going to ask you to drop trou.” Drop trou? Drop trou? What the fuck? There’s something really icky about that expression, no?

Third and finally, those in the audience with good memories may recall that I wound up in emergency almost exactly a year ago. The initial diagnosis was “pericarditis,” an inflammation of the tissue around the heart, but that turned out not to be the case. (They thought that partly because my pulse was 44, but it turns out that my heart is just so incredibly healthy that I’m practically dead.) A battery of tests later, and a doctor finally suggested the most likely culprit: my stomach muscles were spasming as a result of all the stomach crunches I was doing. Now, my current suspected hernia was most likely brought on by doing ab work, so I can see how careless readers might jump to the conclusion that I’ve gone and injured myself two years in a row doing exactly the same thing. But I think it would be a mistake to jump to that conclusion. See, last year’s injury was probably a result of doing side-crunches, whereas this year’s injury seems to be the result of lower ab work. So any resemblance between the two injuries is superficial, and I think we can safely set aside any lingering questions about my sanity.

Howls of outrage (11)

2006 01 22
Darth Vader as personal fitness trainer

Posted by in: Fitness blogging

I’m sorry, but every time I’m at the gym I end up siding with Darth baby on this one: the dark side really does make you stronger.

Howls of outrage (2)

2005 04 01
More cheese please

I had my cholesterol checked for the first time the other day. The nurse just called with the results: “Everything is absolutely perfect. Whatever you’re doing dietarily, just keep it up.”

Hot damn! Even though I’ve been dieting a bit in the last few months, my diet is still pretty cheese and fat heavy. And I’ve gone through periods of my life in which I ate nachos 5 or 6 times a week. The news that I can continue to do this completely free of guilt makes me giddy with delight.

A single voice crying in the wilderness (1)

2005 03 24
Health update for friends and family

Below the fold, of course.
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