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Nick in June on Maui. He’s even bigger and stronger now!

I’m perpetually fascinated by the limits of my mind, especially when I break through them.

When I turned forty I was blessed with a new lease on life, increasing my healthiness and happiness. I had been limited by unwillingness. Various aspects of me held me back. As new doors opened, willingness grew. My life is a makeover. Since I’m happy and healthy, should I be content? Or can I be grateful and in pursuit of more?

Why not continue to seek a better me? A beautiful opportunity presents itself regularly: my kids love to lift weights. They have passion for building muscles. It’s a heart-warming pain in my ass. Literally! Also in my chest, triceps, biceps, lats, hamstrings and back. It hurts so good!

I spent the last decade and a half in self-limiting thoughts like these:

  • I’m too old to really build much muscle.
  • Older folks should lift light weights and just try to keep some muscle.
  • If it hurts, don’t do it.
  • I am strong enough.
  • Too much upper-body muscle will be too heavy to carry around on long runs.
  • My body just isn’t the type to build muscle.

I’ve seen the aging process reduce strength, flexibility, balance and confidence.  I know it’s coming for me, if I’m lucky. Can I stave it off a while? Fight back a bit? Optimize my gift of life? Glow in the beauty of existence?

I want to live as fully as I can! My ego loves hitting 270 – 300 yard drives. 320 sounds even better. I want to be able to do whatever I feel like doing. I hope to limit my limitations and expand my abilities. So I had to try something new. Nick opened a door.

He explained to me that to really build muscle, you have to lift heavy. He recommends sets of six to eight repetitions of weights you can barely manage.  Previously I learned that to run fast, I had to practice running fast. An obvious statement, but I had to run intervals at higher speed to improve my long-run speed. So I finally bought in to lifting heavy.  My mind opened up to the realization that I’ve spent years marking time, making minimal improvement in muscle gain. Perhaps this is expanded awareness of “no pain, no gain.”

It has only been a week. My commitment and gains will play out over time. I must say, however, that this is an exciting week. I am lifting stronger and heavier than I ever have. “Chest and triceps day” last evening was my best, as well as Jaslyn’s and Nick’s. It was so fun! How will bicep and back day go today? Legs on Sunday? We will see. In between, we’ll watch the Ducks visit the Cougars in my favorite stadium. Another great opportunity! Go Cougs!

If sore muscles are a sign of progress, things are looking good!  Today I’m resting, hoping to work out hard again tomorrow.  Seeing really healthy people, whether it’s physically, spiritually, emotionally and/or socially, really inspires me.  How healthy can we be?

Muscles!  We want them!  We love what they do!

They lift us, they love us, they carry us through!

All kinds of adventures come streaming our way

when strong supple muscles prepare us for play!

Run faster!  Jump higher!  It’s all in the script,

lift heavy, pump often, come on, let’s get ripped!

Live better, live longer, enjoy your stay!

Trip out on endorphins and savor your days!

Collage of several of Gray's muscle pictures, ...

Collage of several of Gray’s muscle pictures, by Mikael Häggström (User:Mikael Häggström) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There should have been a warning!  Yesterday’s “drop sets” nearly dropped me on my ass!  I suspected progress when my legs quivered uncontrollably as I layered up to leave the gym.  This morning, it’s more about soreness, in many places.  Annie suggested to do drop sets for a couple of different exercises, at the end of a workout.  Yesterday, in a “more is better” spirit, I did them for 1.2 hours.  Today, I’m dreaming about my upcoming bath!  Nick’s birthday cake is in the oven; if it wasn’t, I’d be typing this from warm, soothing waters.

I’ve learned a little about drop sets.  Some people claim they’re great for building muscle bulk quickly, but not necessarily the best for adding strength.  Others suggest them as yet another option for stimulating muscle confusion, which arguably aids progress by avoiding the plateaus experienced when our muscles become accustomed to routines.  I’ve found this strategy of mixing up routines, activities, pace and exercises to be very effective.  It’s easy for me to slip into routines though.  Thank God for people like Annie who keep suggesting new ideas!

My version of drop sets, which I’ve tried twice recently, involved starting with medium-heavy weights and doing enough repetitions to approach failure.  Then, as quickly as possible, I dropped a little weight and approached failure again, with as little rest as possible between switches.  I continued this until the weights were very light, totaling a lot of repetitions.  Theory suggests that this approach engages many more of our deep muscle fibers, as the mounting repetitions at near failure need their help.  My deep-down soreness seems to confirm the theory!  ( :


I love health, humor, adventure, exercise, romance and competition. Well, I just love life! ( :

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