Saturday, April 10, 2004

Here's what abs/arms days looks like:

I start with the floor exercises. Four sets of 30 crunches, and every other time I do that I do them flat footed and alternately do them with knees at a 90-degree angle on an exercise ball. (Think medicine ball size, but lightweight.) The next exercise I do is leg lifts--3 sets of 20, with legs bent so that they form roughly a 45-45-90 triangle with the floor as the hypotenuse, if that makes any sense. It turns out these are a lot harder than straight-leg lifts. Then I do 3 sets of 15 of what I call "ax-handle crunches. In standard sit-up position, feet on the floor, it's a crunch to the middle and then one toward each side. Three crunches, then, is 1 rep. The last abs, and also lower back, exercise is called a "Good Morning" (liars!). Standing with knees locked, hold a barbell behind your neck and bend forward as far as possible, then straighten up again. I do 3 sets of 20 of these, and recently I've started adding token weight to the bar--5 pounds per side.

I follow this up with 3 or 4 arm exercises. In each of these I do 3 sets of 15 reps, or to muscle failure. The first exercise is a straight shoulder press, done on a machine with a slightly reclined seat. I do this machine at 60 right now. The next exercise is a standing cable triceps exercise. Standing facing the machine, I keep my elbows at my side and reach up to grab the bar with palms facing outward, and push straight down. I recently moved up to 100 pounds on these, a good news/bad news scenario. Good news: my triceps are pretty strong and getting very solid. Bad news: I'm risking seriously overdeveloping the back of my arms relative to the front. But that's better, I guess, than the shapeless lumps I used to have. Anyway, for biceps I do curls in one of three ways--with a cable like the triceps (roughly 60 pounds), with a 50-pound barbell, or the dreaded preacher curls at about 40 pounds. The key to the first two options is keeping elbows tight to your sides, not cheating them forward through the motion, and not leaning your back away from the motion. I'm not doing a particularly impressive amount of weight on the curls, but I'm building my biceps pretty successfully because I've done a good job at sticking to the strict form my former trainer instilled into me on curls. The last exercise I do about every third time--these are apparently called Upright Rows, except I do them with cables instead of a barbell, and at about 50 pounds.

After that, of course, is 35 minutes on the bike as described the other day. Next time I'll talk about the third of my exercise "days"--chest and back.

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