Uncle Josh Empties the Tank

I have been lax on my strength training lately. By lately, I mean the past two years or so. I get a good run of a week, maybe a month, of consistent workouts and then it stops, and I start over sometime later, usually by pushing myself too far too fast.

Too far too fast is pretty much how I feel after trying the 500-Rep Unloaded Barbell Challenge from Men’s Health. I’m no longer a MH reader, but this linked entered my world and I thought I’d give it a try to kick start myself back into training. Yeah, stupid move for a fat guy two months shy of his 45th birthday. I’m not in great shape, and I’ve never been aerobic. We walked 600 feet to Starbucks after the movie yesterday and it hurt like hell.

But, being an idiot, I tried this challenge. Everything is done with a 45 lb barbell. I have a standard bar, so I had to add 30 lbs.

Hip Thrust: 50 reps in 3:31. These weren’t bad. I’m supposed to be doing this move unweighted every day anyway, as part of a flexibility program. One of the reasons I can’t go 300 feet for a mocha is because my legs are way too tight to move. I felt pretty good but it didn’t occur to me that I was rushing things.

Floor Press: 50 reps in 2:23 I had to drop a yoga mat on the garage floor for these first two. I didn’t think I had room and lack of a bench means I don’t include the bench press as part of my regular workouts (when I work out). I try to remember to do push-ups once a week, usually when American Ninja Warrior is on and I feel guilty about just sitting there. This didn’t feel too bad, either, and the time didn’t seem unreasonable. I credit this to SMIS*.

Zercher Squat: 50 reps in 10:47 Here I got a sudden reminder of what a 5×3 progressive program leaves me unable to do: Lots of reps. I ended up taking this one in four sets: 10, 15, 15, and 10. I think I also need to learn how to breathe in this form. Strength training squats are performed with the torso full of air, inhaling before the descent and exhaling after the lift. Maybe sometimes I start to exhale once I’m about three quarters of the way up. This kind of squat is different. I can’t hold my breath for that long, and I struggled finding a comfortable breathing pattern. I also started spending at least 1 minute between sets trying to get my heart to calm down.

Bent-over Row: 50 reps in 6:37 I managed to pull these off in three sets (15, 20, 15). They went pretty easy. I found inhaling for two reps and exhaling for two reps a pretty good pattern.

Overhead Press: 50 reps in 17:01 The press is also another lift that feels completely different than I’m used to. There is a whole body movement I couldn’t really do involving a hip thrust that takes more time. This really felt like a speed challenge. One of my resting periods involved going back into the house for a glass of water. I took a silly number of sets to finish this: 15, 10, 10, 10, and 5. My shoulders were pretty much toast at the end.

Biceps Curl: 20 reps in 6:55 I did 10. Well, I did 9 and begged my arms to give me one more. Then I rested at least two minutes and managed 8, and begged for two more, which my arms did, and then I heard the equivalent of “If you touch that bar one more time today we’re just going to fall off and drag ourselves away from you.”

So I quit. I had some yogurt and some peanut butter and more water and stopped moving for a while. My next step is to hit the foam roller and try to recover, but I really needed to stop moving for a while.

Will I try this again? Probably. I should, because I don’t like giving up on a challenge, and this doesn’t seem like an unreasonable goal. The remaining exercises don’t look that bad (except the lunges) so I should be able to get to them some day, just not today.

I also need to give myself normal sets and rest periods, even in the early exercises. My tank is not yet big enough to pull this off, and it certainly isn’t controlled enough. I don’t have a good energy control valve. I am happy with my strength, but I have no endurance. When I work, I give it my all, which doesn’t last long enough.

So I will try again, maybe in a month, maybe around my birthday, and see if a regular training regimen will get me shape enough to beat this challenge.

* Stupid Male Impervious Syndrome

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