Monday, June 21, 2010

After 3 Months of Working Out

By the end of November 2008, I was increasing the amount of weight I was lifting with each repetition, but doing fewer reps. I was also working out a lot less frequently, as responsibilities at my workplace ramp up in November. Indeed, I count only 9 workouts for the whole month. On average, each one included:

  • Bench Press: 80 pounds x 13 reps
  • Rotator Cuff: 30 reps
  • Dumbbell Flys: 8 pounds x 30 reps
  • Biceps Curl: 8 pounds x 30 reps
  • Dumbbell Lateral Raise: 5 pounds x 24 reps
  • Abdominal Crunches: 30 reps
  • No cardiovascular activity at all!
Given the small number of workouts in the month of November, I am surprised that I continued into 2009. After all, I had just begun a few months before, and it is very normal for exercise equipment to lie dormant soon after being bought. But I kept at it, whenever I had time. Through present day I see that my November 2008 averages were a low point. I have never had a worse month in terms of gross weight lifted (418 pounds/day), Rotator Cuff exercise (an average of 7 reps per day), and cardio duration and calories burned (both zero).

Dumbbell flys on a weight bench
I added dumbbell flys to my workout because that exercise also promotes pectoralis development, just like the bench press. Dumbbell flys (or is it flyes or flies?) involve lying prone (on one's back) and holding weights in each hand with arms outstretched perpendicular to the torso. Then the weights are raised up to a point above the body. I took special note of Delavier's caution about using weights that are too heavy; apparently this exercise can tear the pectoralis if too much weight is used. Of course, I interpretted that as >5 pounds! I'm now using 17.5 pounds and could probably go higher without difficulty. I have also learned from Scooby's Workshop internet site that this exercise can injure the rotator cuff if the arms are extended below the body's plane. I have encountered contradictory information about the angle of one's elbows when bringing the weights above the body--should they be straight or bent? I keep them mostly straight with only a slight bend, as this still satisfies the idea that they should be bent, but it also requires greater strength given the longer lever system involved. I have watched lots of videos produced by Scooby posted on his website. I am really impressed with his motivation to help his viewers workout safely.

I don't think I've admitted it anywhere--ever!, but one motivating factor in buying the weight bench and doing weight training is the fact that I judged my upper body physique as lacking. In comparison to other men, my chest muscles didn't seem to be as large or prominent. I have slowly increased my chest size to the point where I am much more satisfied (see graph). But two other things make one's chest muscles more obvious in everyday life. First, the clothing style these days is for men (women, too) to wear closer-fitting shirts. Second, my posture while standing is a little hunched-over, so when I stand up straight, my chest pops out more. So I stand up straighter when I think about it, and I actually bought a few shirts in a size a little smaller than normal. Unfortunately I am too self-conscious to wear them.

Maybe by lifting weights I can make my muscles bigger, but you've probably judged by now that my self image is a little small. Being  obsessed with how I look, I know I am acting only half my age. But as I said in my Blog's description, I never really went through the typical teenager phases so I guess this is my time!

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