Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Avoid Strenuous Activity? - By Jim Duggan

     For the past five days, the daily weather forecast for the New York area would contain the warning" avoid strenuous activity," or the ever-popular "limit your time outside." Heat waves during the middle of July are not uncommon, and avoiding strenuous activity is usually sound advice when the temperature is in the mid 90s.  But, what if it's your birthday, and you plan on doing your customary "birthday challenge workout?"  Birthdays come but once a year, and it's not my fault that I was born during the hottest part of the year.  And for my 56th birthday, I had planned on doing something special, since I am now officially "over the speed limit."
     I have been doing my birthday challenge workouts for nearly fifteen years now.  When I was younger, I was always amazed at some of the feats that Jack LaLanne would perform on his birthdays.  And while I am not about to swim the length of the Golden Gate bridge while handcuffed, or perform thousands consecutive push-ups, I always want to mark the day by doing something meaningful.  This year was no exception, so I decided to do the following:
1) One-Arm Dumbbell Press with 56 Lb. "Bosco Bell."
2) One-Arm Kettlebell Row with 56kg kettlebell.
3) Anvil Curl with 125 Lb. Anvil
4) 180 Lb. Stone ( lift from ground to shoulder.)
5) York Krusher
     My original plan was to do each movement for 56 total  reps, in sets of 6-10.  I set up the first four movements, and would rotate through each one.  The York Krusher I would save for last, since it was the easiest to do.
     The One-Arm DB Press is one of my favorite movements.  I usually include it in my "Deck of Cards" workout, which I originally wrote about in September of 2016.  The "Bosco Bell" is a loadable thick-handled dumbbell that I bought from Sorinex.  It is an excellent piece of equipment, and I highly recommend getting one. You can load it with lead shot, sand, or BBs.  Mine is currently loaded to 56 Lbs.  I had originally had hoped to be able to do 112 reps for my birthday, but the combination of heat, humidity, and fatigue caused me to rethink strategy, so I stopped at 84 reps.  I was a bit disappointed, but the Rows, Curls, and Stone really smoked my arms, back, and shoulders. As the saying goes "Wait 'till next year!"
     The Kettlebell Row is something that I usually don't include in my workouts.  I've never been a big kettlebell advocate.  I much prefer good old-fashioned dumbbells or the newer Center Mass Bells ( CMBs).  I have to say, though, that the kettlebell row is an effective, and brutal, exercise.  I've done dumbbell rows with over 130 Lbs., but the 56kg kettlebell was more than enough to handle.
     Over the years, I have enjoyed using various anvils in my workouts.  Dr. Ken Leistner and Kim Wood were writing about the virtues of anvils decades ago, and I was fortunate enough to follow their sound advice.  I have nine anvils ranging in size from 50 Lbs all the way up to 206 Lbs.. I've used them for Presses, Curls, Carries, and neck work with my neck harness. I chose to use the 125 Lb. Anvil today because it weighs close to 56 kg( in keeping with the 56 theme.) Also, it is plenty heavy, and I don't think I can strictly curl my 150 anvil. At least, not yet!
     When it comes to my birthday, stones hold a special place in my heart.  Actually, I enjoy lifting stones throughout the year. I've even found a way to incorporate stones into my "Deck of Cards" conditioning workouts, and I could not have been more happy about the results.  This year as in years past, I decided to do one rep for each year ( plus I add an extra rep for good luck!) Lifting the stone from the ground to shoulder takes a toll on the skin of your forearms, not to mention your shoulder.  However, I decided long ago to not use gauntlets on my forearms. Embrace the discomfort is a familiar theme when it comes to strength training, and a high rep stone workout on a hot day will drive the point home very convincingly.
     After the four basic movements were completed, and after changing my shirt several times and drinking several liters of water, the last thing to do was to do 56 reps with my York Krusher.  I like my Krusher, and feel that it is an effective movement, even though this particular piece of equipment is almost as old as I am.  I also did it in part as a tribute to Bob Hoffman. My birthday is July 20, but it was on July 18, 1985 that Bob Hoffman passed away.  This year was the 35th anniversary of his passing.  So after the heavy work was done, I did two sets of 28 reps on my York Krusher as a tribute to the "Father of American Weightlifting."
     After I was finished, I was spent. The heat and the weights made for a powerful combination with which to contend.  I'm glad that I got through the workout, and I'm happy to report that while I was sore the next day, it was the soreness that accompanies the sense of accomplishment one feels after setting out to complete a difficult task.  I'm equally glad that I didn't pay attention to the weather forecast telling me to avoid strenuous activity.

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