This morning, like every Tuesday morning, was chest and triceps day at the gym. Not my favorite - I’m a biceps guy, like most narcissists - but hey: you still gotta do it, or else it shows. And, again, I’m a narcissist before I’m a lazy f**k.
I started with the Pec dec, the machine where you’e sitting with your arms bent up in front of you and moving like a duck trying - and failing - to fly. It’s also not my favorite, but I’ve come to realize with age that, if you start with the fun exercises, you’ll always find an excuse to skip the harder ones afterwards: phone call, lunch, Youtube… there’s always something.
I followed the Pec dec with the Incline chest press, another - you guessed it - chest workout to finish off that part of the body (the point is to not be able to even try flying afterwards). This being the second exercise, I felt myself gradually slowing down, so I figured I’d challenge myself: I decided I’d go for the record. Which isn’t hard to do, since I’m still pretty shit at any of these (in my defence, I’ve only been working out again for less than a year).
So I ended up cramming in 6 sets of 10 reps - instead of the usual 5: call that a revolution - with the last one being heavier than I’d ever gone for (100 lbs, which isn’t much because I hate this machine). I only managed 6 reps and had to take out some of the weight to finish off. And then some more: I ended with my starting weight (that would be 70 lbs), trembling like a teenager talking to a girl for the first time.
I also slightly hurt myself in the process: my left shoulder was not exactly painful, but I felt a weird sensation around the scapula that I’d never had before. And I’ve done enough of this to know that you’re not supposed to get new sensations as you try lifting heavier weights than you’re supposed to. So I decided to take it easy and switched to triceps.
To be clear - for anyone who would care - I used to hate working on triceps: it’s hard to do and it doesn’t really show. So why bother? Because it actually shapes most of the arm, but still: I was never into it. Until I exercised with a ridiculously skinny guy a couple of months ago - and he could lift 15 lbs more than I could. I could not believe that a guy who looked weaker than DJ Qualls could destroy me like that. So I started going for heavier weights, until I was able to beat the sucker. What they call healthy competition, right?
But today, with my shoulder feeling all strange, I did not show off (how could I anyway? As always in the gym before noon, I was surrounded by proper monsters). Still, finishing off my sets was hard, no matter how light I made them. Clearly, a lot of it was psychological: I was so scared of hurting my shoulder any more than I already had that I barely moved my arms. Then my back started aching.
This, however, is much more common occurrence: because I have a bad posture, I tend to have backaches anytime I’m tired and/or made some wrong move (I won’t change my posture, though, because I’m an idiot). Also, I had sciatica twice before: again, I am an old man. And I usually just take it easy for a bit, stretch some more until it goes away.
But today, because of my shoulder scare (I’m not a hypochondriac, It was real), I figured I could try something new: use one of those machines that strengthens the lower back. You know, one of those that women usually take over, because gym workouts are incredibly gender based (and I personally do very little to change that). The thing is, a massive guy was actually using it then, so it gave me the guts to go ahead and try it.
Who knew lower back exercises were good for you?