Monday, November 7, 2011

Working Past the Injury

Now back to the rhetoric of “You don’t go to the gym to show off, you go to the gym to show off elsewhere,” and “Lift for results, not for ego, and you will be rewarded with something to be egotistical about.” After a month off of lifting and an injury I am forced into a start over mode. This is not only for my physical well being but it doesn’t hurt my mental as well. First I either had to get over myself or I had to get honest with myself. Either way I have to admit that I am not going to walk into the gym and start benching 250. I could have made it a hell of a lot worse by trying to lift fractions of it, so what I did was reset back to zero, accepted that I am injured and taken the couple of weeks necessary to get back into a routine. Here’s what I actually did once my ego was set aside.

Now as easy as it sounds, taking two 25 pound plates and calling it a bench press, takes some humility. Like any other man I scanned the gym when I went in and made sure there were no women around to see my lack of manhood. I laughed to myself and thanked God I am happily married and then started the process of benching 50 pounds {ok 95 if you include the bar} and then made sure that I did it completely strict. The hardest part with the strength drop off that I had was in making sure that my entire body stayed in the perfect form. No raising my hips, no lifting my neck. Strict adherence to my shoulder blades pinching together, arms out to my sides perfectly. Using perfect form I managed to get quite a workout even though at the end of three perfect sets of 12 I managed to get up to 90 pounds {135 with the bar} and that was about half what I had done two months ago. The important part is to remember two months ago I had been injured and this probably had a lot to do with it.

Moving onward to the incline presses I was able to identify a real problem. I couldn’t keep my head pressed to the padding no matter how low I went. My ego and I had a conversation and I was doing incline presses with a whopping 0 pounds {ok 45 for the bar} and just by keeping strict form I was getting results albeit in a form that would have been embarrassing at one time. At this time keeping my mind focused on the reset and the results I managed to get as high as 50 pounds {95 including the bar} and had the results I at one time would have had on near 300 pounds. On a lighter note when I went into decline presses there was no real strength drop off but the weights were still drastically reduced thanks to the horrible form I had taught myself over the years. It’s still a good sign as far as definition goes because the declines widen your pectorals. I did drop to near nothing in my cable flies but that would be expected too.

In theory I reset everything I do back to zero and then work up until I am at my zone weights. This should affect muscles like my biceps but I start low with them. Rather than going for the 30 pound dumbbells and working my way up, I start right down at the 20s and figure that I am going to reset there as well. Using strict form I learn to arch my back properly and look upwards towards the ceiling instead of down at the floor. This is very important because I had learned that looking down while I work out aggravates my neck. Keep all of these things in mind and change neck locations and always keep in mind how your posture is. If your posture is bad then it will cause injuries to joints that are in bad positions. Fact of life and even I have to learn these things. For my efforts’ I did get a much improved strain in my biceps from this that I can hope will improve the shape of them.

Now of course comes the hardest part as my triceps had been screaming at me throughout all of this that there was a problem. I had totally ignored the fact that my right arm {my dominant arm} had lost its strength. Over the last year or two I had accepted that my left arm was a lot stronger than my right and had even adjusted my workout so that all triceps exercises started with my right arm since it was weaker. Now keeping in mind that strength really does have little to do with building my right arm still grew at a rate that was comparable to the left and always maintained a larger mass than the left, my own ego interfered with spotting a real problem. The physical trainer showed me how he could break my elbow on my right arm effortlessly and not my left, and this identified how my nerves affected my strength. Here I had to change my form around the most and really bring my weights down to effect change in my strength and workout goals. This was also where my form and balance and the position of my neck was harming my entire body.

Knowing this all was one thing but changing it all around was another. First and foremost I had to take what were once exercises in the hundreds and drop them down into the low double digits. My form was so bad that it took me forever just to set myself up right. Using a rope and doing my press downs just getting my back strait and my shoulders back we were talking 50 pounds and remembering to focus on something up {like the sprocket on the machine} took all of my concentration. Again I thank God that I am happily married because I could blow off all {ok both} of the women in the place that my ego once would have focused on instead of my workout. I’m only human after all. In the end I was up around 80 pounds using good form and getting a real ripping burn in my muscles. Good job Jeremy; it’s time to do reverse curls starting at a whopping 10 pounds.

Well needless to say as I sit here typing this I have the perfect feeling of stress and burn on my muscles today. I did hardly any weight compared to what I used to but that isn’t the point. My own rhetoric about showing off at the beach and not at the gym helps me to remember that the ends justify the means. Try this for any of the things that you don’t feel you are getting the results, and you should find yourself getting a different and far healthier set of results. I find that using a combination of the scales and the belt line come in far handier than the amount of weight that I lift. I want to get healthier {and more important healthier “looking”} and I also want to do it pain free. My neck injury is still there but the brain numbing pain and the loss of feeling in my fingers is going away. The physical therapist can no longer break my arm at the elbow, and that is the most important part. Tomorrow I will tell you how all of this effects my legs and lower torso, which you would think it doesn’t, but it does. Happy lifting.