Archive for the ‘Physical Training’ Category

Why I Go to the Gym, and What I Do When I Get There

Sunday, November 17th, 2019

gym-logs

Well one thing I do is read logs1.

I go to the gym for two fairly obvious reasons: the first is to get better at physical tasks, and the second is to engage in the glorious blow-off-steam/enjoy-endorphins cycle. There aren't all that many contexts in which you can noticably, tangibly improve at something within as short a time period as in fitness; or perhaps it's simply easier to admit to progress when there's little else but labeled weights in front of you. In any case, watching yourself grow unequivocably stronger, or faster, or whatever else, is pleasant. Meanwhile various other aspects of everyday life, from walking to hauling groceries to fucking to sleeping to recovering from minor injuries, gain major passive bonuses. As for attending the gym mentally, working out frustrations on metal and rubber is guaranteed to make things look and feel a lot better. No amount of spinning or nail-biting or imbibing of whatever the fuck substances can hold a candle to the quality and longevity of relief and calm available after a gym session. It's a controlled, socially-acceptable rampage, with many of the benefits and none of the potentially negative repercussions of an idiosyncratic one.

All of this should be part of simple maturation and self-maintenance for human beings. I don't think anyone'd be shocked by the observation that in many parts of the world, it's...not. Plenty of people live out their days with a mere smidgeon of some of these most basic elements of existing as a physical entity in a three-dimensional world. Several markets focus solely on providing people innocent of this facet of self-ownership with convenient (read: ineffective) solutions for the problems that inevitably arise as the body hollers for the mind's awareness. Sure, there was some growth in adolescence, a sport here or there even. But just as with the average dearth of reading after school, a lot of people simply stop doing it once there's no longer some daily authority figure reminding them that they need to exercise --muscles and ideas.

There's naturally also a component of exerting control over appearance, inasmuch as that's possible. I find that's not sufficient motivation for sticking to a gym program on its own --it's a byproduct, and a great one, but it's not a cause. Gyms are also reasonable venues for building local WoTs in new places, especially since the vast majority of people there are ahead of the general public curve in terms of focus, commitment, and willingness to hustle.

My gym program2 is pretty standard. I go four days and spend 10-12 hours a week, alternating between lower and upper body exercises, with a half to three-quarters of an hour of cardiovascular stuff first. I prefer walking a 10% or so grade at a moderate pace (like 5 - 5.5 kph) for this, though I think it's important to change exactly what this looks like fairly often. Intervals of higher and occasionally lower incline are essential to avoid getting used to the same movements over and over again. The floor also has to be raised regularly --either the lowest incline used must go up, or the highest, or the speed must grow, or some combination of all three. Occasionally I'll do something different, such as a stairclimber, or spending the last fifteen minutes walking for speed instead of steepness3. This keeps me from getting bored and helps find other muscles (typically tiny stabilizer guys) that aren't getting as much attention.

I always stretch after cardio, and a good ten minutes of it at least, too. It helps prevent injuries, but I insist mostly for the sake of how hedonistically good it feels, honestly. After the stretching comes the foam rolling. Basically you counteract the pleasantness of the stretching with a few minutes of steady pain as the pressure of the roller against your muscles loosens them and gets more blood in the area so more lactic acid and friends can be carried out.

Bigger, heavier, and more complex exercises come first, so I'm not left with them at the end, tired and not as able to focus. Each type of day, upper and lower, has two distinct days. On lower body days I either start with Romanian deadlifts or barbell back squats. RDL days also see dumbell reverse lunges, leg presses, free-plated clamshells, back/glute extensions4, and hamstring curls. Squat days get barbell hip thrusts, kettlebell swings, cable kickbacks, and visits to the abductor and adductor machines.

Upper days are split like so: the first day starts with a superset5 of military presses and side flyes, then a superset of bent over rows with tricep presses, after which there's seated dips, the deltoid machine, tricep dips or a tricep machine, and a row machine or two (for the upper and lower back). The second day starts with the same superset, followed by front dumbell raises, preacher curls, chest presses, a lower back press, and the delt machine again6.

I'm happy with this routine for now, after a couple of years of figuring things out, and getting knocked out for a few months with a surgery here and there. I don't know that the gym is necessarily "better" than a given sport or some physically intensive hobby, but I wholly recommend it for people otherwise unengaged and aware of the woes of their sloth.

  1. Or, I should say, re-read. Running into log material on the first pass in an environment where I can't readily respond is a recipe for baking a read-only mind. []
  2. Not prescriptive, but who knows, maybe someone's clueless or curious, or wants to compare --or critique! []
  3. Keeping up with MP's prodigious walking speed without breaking into a run is no joke, and I honestly can't come close when he turns the vroom on full blast. We clocked him at 14.4 kph at one point. Yes, walking. I just broke half this. []
  4. I used to do back extensions on upper body days until I learned that turning the feet out twenty degrees or so and not coming up as high forces the focus on the glutes. It feels very different for such a seemingly small modification. []
  5. Just one exercise after the other before pausing between sets, rather than one at a time. []
  6. I'm pushing a little harder for my shoulders these days as they've been performing in the "noodle" class. []

Guts I've Lost

Thursday, January 24th, 2019

Who knows, perhaps they'll be the guts someone else gains. In any case, I charmed some pix off the doctor and I find the general population lacking in gore disclosure; let's see what an emergency appendectomy looks like, mm?

When I was little I regarded the concept of surgery as so abhorrent, I resolved I'd simply off myself if a situation requiring it were ever to arise later in life. As it happens, my appendix microperforated this past December 1st and the presiding whitecoats prescribed total eviction. I didn't have such a bad time, all things considered.

appendectomy-1

Pre-op was the worst, attended as it was by the visceral agony of the insubordinate tissue's sequelae. There was also a botched visit to an initial ER that sent me home with suspected stomach infection and a basket of meds that made just about everything feel just slightly worse. The hours before surgery included a dozen or so failed IV placement attempts and administration of a high-viscosity analgesic whose effects were arguably worth the sudden desire to gnaw my arm off and throw it at the poor nurses, experienced during the infusion.

Such unpleasantries were offset by the palpable precision of my surgeon, clinician, and ultrasound doctor, who managed a clear response to a very cloudy presentation fast enough to prevent rupture. Ultimate redemption arrived with the jolly anesthesiologist, who recommended himself to my confidence convincingly and then told me I was about to love him outright for the delivery of that there hypodermic of fentanyl. He was right, and he promised to give me back to the boss later on, which he did.

Much bloody mess was probed, as you can see.

appendectomy-2

The offending tubule's mugshot.

appendectomy-3

The procedure was laparoscopic, leaving me with two half-inch scars and a very mildly rearranged bellybutton. All was secured with dermabond glue --no external stitches to fuck with.

appendectomy-4

I stayed at the hospital a few days until my doctors were happy with my bloodwork; the appendix had left a good amount of untenable disguststuffs here and there, and we had to wait a little for my immune system to prove it could handle things. Three days of ambulatory ER visits followed for the sake of supporting antibiotics.

Here's my last IV line being taken out, exactly a week after symptoms had started.

appendectomy-5

I was forbidden to lift anything for a couple of weeks, and from the gym for about a month, which in retrospect seems like the hardest hit of the affair. On returning after the new year, I found I'd lost 10kg on my barbell squat and a good 20 on seated abductions, both hard-earned over a longer course of time than my recovery. I'm still clawing them back.

Let the childish or uninitiated mind take comfort, though; a little slice and dice is, assuming one's lucky enough to have the professionals and endlessly patient, doting visitors I had, not such a big deal as all that.