Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Working Out

I've written before about aging and how it's affected my gym workouts. For several years I've noticed that I don't have the strength I used to. But I've tried my best to keep lifting the weight I used to lift as best I can.

It occurred to me yesterday that may not be the best approach. I was working on bicep curls, which I used to do with a 45-lb bar laden with 50 lbs of weight. A few years back, in a nod to diminishing strength, I took 10 lbs of weight off the bar. But I've noticed that my form has nonetheless become pretty ragged -- I swing my body a bit to lift the weight, and I don't concentrate the movement in the muscle. Bad form can lead to injuries and a lot of exertion with little result.

So I pulled another 20 lbs off the bar and tried to focus strictly on my movements, rather than on maximizing weight. I think I got a better workout.

I'm toying with the idea of scaling back on weight in other exercises too, making sure my underlying form is sound, and perhaps varying weight more so that I lift heavier weights for fewer reps, and lighter ones for more reps. (As opposed to doing three sets of 10 reps of bicep curls with 40-lb dumbbells every single week, for example).

I think the variety may make me stronger and perhaps avoid injury. (I've thought perhaps I need to talk to a trainer, too, about my changing body -- but who can afford a trainer?)

I'm not at all glum about lifting less weight. I used to love the immensely powerful feeling I got weightlifting -- that "oomph!" of exertion and sense of smooth strength, and I don't really feel that anymore. Weightlifting is just plain harder now. But I still feel good after my workouts, and I wouldn't trade the gym for anything.

(Photo: This big white tree is directly across the parking lot from our apartment. It's an ornamental pear, I think, but it looks like a big cloud!)


Lorianne said...

It looks like Callery pear, which is blooming everywhere these days.

I recently started lifting weights at home using Miriam Nelson's *Strong Women Stay Slim* book. She's a big advocate for women using strength training to avoid osteoporosis as well as lose weight. Even with the TINY dumbbells I'm using to start (5-8 lbs), I'm amazed at how strong & energized I feel at the end of even a short workout.

I'm guessing weight training is like yoga: it isn't how "much" you lift (or how "far" you stretch); it's about pushing your self to do a little more than what is comfortable, while maintaining proper form. It seems natural that what is "comfortable" would change over time.

Barbara said...

I think we constantly have to readjust to find that edge we can reach without injury but which still gives us the benefit of the exercise. I have to remind myself how good I feel after a workout to motivate myself to go when I'm not seeing Emily, my trainer. I've never been a gym rat, but getting older is making the gym a necessity!

Reya Mellicker said...

The tree is a "luv cloud."

Cut back on the weights. You're in fine form, no need to injure yourself.

Aging is humbling, and also aging is kind of a relief. You can put down the burdens of youth, finally. Ahhh ... sweet.

Merle Sneed said...

I gave up the gym as a bad idea. I've learned to accept the shell of a man that is me.