Yesterday, I became a member of a gym for the first time in two years.
It’s not like I haven’t been working out — I run or cycle 3 times a week — but COVID has kept gyms either closed or on modified (shorter) hours based on local government rules. What used to be weight room time for me those other days of the week has become calisthenics: squats, lunches, planks, pushups and such.
That shit gets boring after 6 months. Plus, I like lifting weights.
A good thing about living in condos is they have resident-only gyms attached. But even those, usually open 24/7, have access restrictions now. Combine that with the fact that condo gyms don’t have the same amount of equipment as public gyms, and I’ve bitten the bullet and re-joined the (public) gym.
I’m not training for any sporting competitions anymore (save for a couple 10K foot races I’ll enter in the Fall— IF they happen), so I technically don’t need to lift weights. But I like how I look and feel when I’m lifting regularly, and that’s worth at least $30-50 / month to me.
So here we are.
If you’re used to being in a certain shape (like having 6-pack abs or being 20 pounds lighter than you currently are) or being able to do certain things (lifting a certain amount of weight, going through bootcamp class without needing a break), getting back to certain aspects of fitness can be a challenge: you’ll try to get it all back in one day.
I’ll use myself as an example.
I became a fan of the deadlift a few years ago, after learning the proper technique for the move. The deadlift is, with respect to the squat and kettlebell swing, the best total-body exercise you can do if you were restricted to doing only one thing in the gym.
At the peak of my deadlifting power — this was post Marathon #2 when I wasn’t running at all — I weighed ~180 pounds (same as now) and was lifting 350 pounds for 5 reps per set.
People in the gym, seeing how much weight was on the bar in front of me, used to watch me do my sets. Though I’m tall, I’m not a big-muscle guy; I’m built more like a basketball player than a linebacker. It even surprised me when people seemed impressed by my lifts.
That was around two years ago, though, and things changed.
I started running again. It’s a much bigger adrenaline rush for me than lifting weights, and it’s quite hard to deadlift 300+ lbs on Monday then run 6-8 miles on Tuesday. Deadlifting and running are both taxing on the hamstrings. If you’re going hard, you have to pick one.
I also started using my building gym. It seems that building gyms in Miami aren’t allowed to have free weight bars (like weight benches or squat racks); everything is machine-assisted. If you lift, you know: even at the same weight, the machine isn’t the same as a free bar.
All this led to a loss of that deadlifting power. Not all of it, but I couldn’t have lifted 350 today even if I’d tried.
I started today deadlifting my body weight: 185 pounds. I could’ve gone heavier, but this is the discipline. Next time, I’ll go up to 195, then 205, 215… any time I struggle to complete my reps on any weight, I do it again the next time, and the time after that, until I can do it smoothly.
I can follow this disciplined progression because I know the strategy works.
I’m not in a rush to get back to 300+ lifts (which I won’t try to do until after my 10K races anyway) because I know what works to get there. I trust the program. With that, I can focus on the process for what it is and enjoy it. I don’t even think about lifting 350lbs except to write about it here.
The key to all this: trust your strategy.
When you know it works, you won’t feel the need to do too much or to try rushing the results. You know your plan works and you’ll be comfortable letting it play out.
By the way, if you want to feel more confident in letting your own plans work, get my book The Mirror Of Motivation free so you can learn the strategy for getting the most out of yourself — which means you can repeat this over and over again through life.