Friday, November 19, 2010

Strength Training

I have participated in strength training ever since I was in high school. The 1980’s had my heroes on the cover of muscle & fitness including the Austrian Oak and Samir Bannout. The movie, “Pumping Iron” was released in 1977 and I had a worn out VHS copy that I would occasionally watch.

The goal was simple, the media had made it seem like strong men were more attractive and successful. As an awkward teen, I certainly wanted those things. My journey started simple enough with a cheap weight bench and plastic weights in my friend’s rec room. As I got involved in high school track, I had access to the weight room in the summer and would strength train for sports and physique.

In college I enjoyed the “state of the art” facilities at my disposal, but did not really focus my efforts much. In my senior year, I got a little more serious and a friend of mine would pick me up in the mornings and we would lift for an hour. At the time, the goal was to get in shape for spring break. Regardless of the goal, I felt great from the 6 month training program.

My next deep dive into strength training was during graduate school. A friend of mine was pretty serious about strength training and I got back into it. He had played division I lacrosse in college and taught me a lot about isolating muscle groups and good form for dynamic exercises.

My only real success came when I started working at StorageTek. I met up with a few gym rats and we kind of had a happy hour workout going. Around 5:00PM, we would all roll in and perform pretty intense sets at some really solid weights. It was a 5 days/week program with Chest day (Monday), Back day (Tuesday), Leg day (Wednesday), Arms & Shoulders (Thursday), and lagging body part (Friday). Friday was more of a make-up day than anything else as all of us would miss a day or two occasionally. My bench press was up to 185 lbs and I was squatting 225 lbs. I have more pictures with my shirt off in that era than any other time in my life.  My favorite blog at the time was "Dr. Squat."

Currently, strength training is part of my off season agenda to be a better athlete. While triathlon is more endurance dependent, I want to be stronger for injury prevention and general fitness. The past 3 weeks have been very encouraging as I went from maybe 30 minutes/week strength training in season to 60 minutes/week. I would like to build up to three 45 minute sessions/week. Currently my bench press is at 155 lbs and my squat is at 115 lbs.

I have not gotten caught up in the latest fitness trends such as P90X or other muscle confusion type routines. I am also somewhat intimidated by the group training sessions offered at my work place. I have been sticking to a chest/back routine and a legs routine. I would like to add an arms/core routine as well. I have access to a gym at work as well as a membership at Planet Fitness. Both are great facilities, but what I am missing is a training partner that would help me take it to the next level.

Strength training has been recognized as a cornerstone of vitality as men age. Cardiovascular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight are essential for everyone. However strength training adds stimulates the body for general fitness.

While I have dabbled in supplements, I have never made the time to get serious about nutrition.  I have also avoided steroids as an effective cycle would have required a serious financial and time investment.

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