Harkening back to my annual physical earlier this year, when my doc commented on the ferocity of my ab muscles, I figured I should probably actually start working on them. (Apparently you can feel the abs, even if they are covered with a layer of squishiness.)
I met with Kelly, Fitness Director extraordinaire at BMI, about weights and lifting and in particular, my fear of the Smith Machine. The smith machine is basically a squat rack where the bar is supported on cables and can be stopped in its descent very quickly. So, if you’re at the gym by yourself and don’t have a spotter, it’s pretty much perfect.
Except that it only goes straight up and straight down, which is not the motion that your body makes naturally. Normally you shift a bit from side to side or forward and back when you’re going up and down. It’s not possible to do that when the machine forces you into a straight up and down.
Here’s the thing, though. You don’t need a spotter. And I, well, I generally work out alone. Also, my gym has four smith machines and one regular squat rack, and that squat rack is in the gym with the seriously disturbing dudes. (My gym has a co-ed part and a fully equipped women’s gym. I generally lift in the women’s gym because the co-ed free weight area is loaded with dudes who take drugs to make them that size.)
Kelly told me to not fear the Smith, but to really work on my form to make sure it’s perfect. She told me to start light and take my time in setting up and getting ready and doing a couple of test lifts. Since I’m always protecting the one knee, that needs to be my guide for form.
So I went to the gym this morning. I did the following super-sets (pairs of exercises), 3 times:
- Squats (using the Smith) and upright rows using a barbell
- Chest presses (using the Smith) and deadlifts using a barbell
- Tricep extensions and bicep curls
I followed everything up with two sets of one legged calf raises. Super fun! Then I did two sets of the brutal core exercises “dead crab” and “ball pass”. The dead crab is where you curl your legs up in the air and do a crunch and hold it as long as possible. The ball pass is where like on your back with a ball between your feet and raise your feet in the air, take the ball from your feet, extend your arms back over your head and your feet to the floor, then raise your arms and feet and pass the ball back to your feet and lower it back down to the floor. I was in the fetal position after these two exercises.
I’m a little wrecked right now. I had a couple of eggs and some cherries when I got home and am shortly going to shower. Honest! I’m hoping my stretching after the workout and the shower will combine to a decent and small ache, instead of the “oh my god” delayed onset muscle soreness that I normally get. I’ll let you know if I have a problem getting down and up from the toilet tomorrow!
Oh, my legs. Oh, my abs. Oh my holy hannah.