Chest and Back
It was like a trip down memory lane. The Chest and Back workout was the workout that I did on the first day of P90X 57 days ago. I haven’t done that particular workout since Phase 1 and it was really weird being reminded of where I started. Luckily, my numbers were way up from what I did back then but I was still exhausted after. In fact, for the first time in 58 days I finished doing Ab Ripper and as I rested I fell asleep on the floor! It was really encouraging to see that my reps were up, I managed 30 pushups in 60 seconds the first month, this time I was up to 50! My chinups were also better, and I measure by percentage here noting that I was up as much as 50% on some of the pullups. Having come so far it was refreshing to see the changes but also to have a different pairing on the workout as far as body parts goes. That is the one thing I really enjoy about the program, the mix of bodyparts that they put together. For years in the gym I did chest and triceps on the same day. Last year I decided that I would mix it up (after working out that way since I was 16!!!) and try doing chest and traps, back and triceps, shoulders and biceps with abs every other day. It had never really occurred to me that maybe I should change the pairing more than once a year. I had toyed with the idea on many occasions but never gone ahead with it. I guess success leads to complacency, what I was doing was working and working well so why change? This P90X journey has been so much more than a workout video. It has opened my eyes again to the infinite possibilities for my own workouts just like I coach the gymnastics kids. After all, I design specific conditioning programs for them every week to keep them on their toes, why wouldn’t I do that for myself? What I am going to do, and I have mentioned this before, is to create my own 2 or 3 month program that will bring what I have learned from Tony and the gang into the gym and the basement to give myself a whole new way of working out.
Maybe I will never bench 375lbs again, maybe I will never reach the magical 400lb mark that I have chased for so long but at this point that max weight mentality has taken a back seat to the max health mentality and the amazing feeling I get from being in control of a body that feels like I can do things with it other than lay down and push metal. In the end I can say that my max weight records are somewhat impressive and something I can be happy about but what about my health? I measured my bodyfat at university and was 11.5% but I was teaching aerobics step class and working out 3 hours a day. I have been as low as 174lbs (pictured above) after I had mono at Western but that wasn’t a conscious decision. What I cannot say is that at any point in my adult life I have been “super fit” and in control of my weight. I think it is about time that I did that so I can look back on things and say that I achieved that too. My whole life I have managed my weight through exercise and it has been a constant battle balancing my strength with my weight. Maybe if I take the weight requirement out of the equation it will open up a whole new way of doing things… I guess we will see. It is going to be immensely difficult not being proud of my max weight just as it is difficult for some people not to be proud of their bodyweight.
There is a disease called Anorexia whereby women (generally speaking) become fixated on their weight and go to terrible extremes to control that number. In the same vein there is a disease called Bigorexia (Muscle Dismorphia or The Adonis Complex) whereby men (generally speaking) have the idea that no matter what they are never big enough (or, by association, strong enough). It is a socially accepted stereotype that men should be large and muscular, just look at how the superman action figures have changed over the years. I am smart enough to realize that I am a part of this issue, that my size, the Big Guy Complex as I always though of it, is something that is a mental crutch. It defines me as much or more as my job, my marriage and my heritage. I am also painfully aware that a departure from being known as “that big fella” is something I will have to deal with if I expect this new approach to work. Trading in a 400lb bench press for 12% body fat may be more difficult mentally than physically for me but at this time in my life, the 12% bodyfat will give me an extra 10 – 15 years on my life over a 400lb bench press or a 300lb shoulder press at 25% body fat.
In the end isn’t that why we work out in the first place, so that we can live longer, healthier lives?