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Do You Even Lift

Turns out that making up lost ground on an exercise program is a pretty terrible situation. On the plus side, you’ve already built the mental toughness for the weight you’re aiming at. On the downside, when you fail – and it takes surprisingly little time for your lifts to backslide, so don’t dismiss the possibility – the internal recriminations and disappointment can be catastrophic. Fail a lower weight on the first day back? That doubt carries through for every workout until you’re back at your PR.

This time, I actually started C25K when I got back – first, because I figured it’d be some nice mild exercise to lead in with, and second, because my aerobic capacity is genuinely atrocious and I’d kind of like for that not to be the case. But there’s still that doubt that perhaps I would have been ready to take on a lifting program that first week, maybe it was just cowardice keeping me on the treadmill.

In any case, soon I will be invincible capable of actually running a handful of kilos without gasping like a landed fish. Broscience insists that as long as I’m spending time on the ‘mill, my mass gain is going to be troublesome. Coming up short in the oxygen department has cost me more gains than failing muscles, though, so I see it as a necessary foundation for further work regardless. I can afford to invest 2 months in my lungs.

Just wish it didn’t feel like I was running away.

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The Borg were a perfect foe for Captain Picard; defeating them was never a matter of brute force, but always relied on imagination and intellect. The reason behind this, and indeed their most famous attribute, was of course their ability to adapt to any new attack. An initial foray might be devastating, but subsequent attempts would be brushed aside.

It’s a funny thing, the metaphors that’ll pop into your mind while you’re limping to the car the day after trying some new exercise technique.

When I started going to gym last year, I was pretty much tabula rasa. I hadn’t engaged in anything more than some treadmilling and elliptical wanderings before. Given that initial success is generally a function of preparation, I engaged the services of a trainer so that I might learn how to… everything.

The results were catastrophic. Every new routine ruined my flesh in new and alarming ways. I’d spend a few days hobbling about unable to swing my legs over the seat of my motorcycle, only for the next session to destroy my ability to turn the steering wheel of my car. And so on.

With perseverance, though, I discovered something intriguing; one’s body, it seems, is an outpost of the Borg. Every exercise that had wrecked me before was easier the next time that I did it, and the dreaded muscle pains and stiffness were diminished such that they were barely even the same manner of beast. They were still there – it’d hardly be exercise if they weren’t – but it was no longer a debilitating assault on my confidence and mobility.

As I pass through another patch of personal torture training, it’s comforting to know that the aphorism is correct: “If you’re going through hell, keep going”. The biological and technological distinctiveness of these techniques will inevitably become my own, and their assimilation will aid my journey toward perfection.