Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Spinal Tap

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For the past couple of months (or more) I've been going through a workout that's evolved from a simple calisthenics routine, incorporated some basic karate movements, sprouted fish wings, swam in an imaginary sea, became the vial of eternal youth, and now provides me with enough sweat and muscle pains to hold my own in an arm wrestling match with a guy who executed a perfect German suplex on live television and maybe shed enough pounds to earn me a neck (this last part isn't necessarily colored for viewer entertainment).

The workout usually runs this way: first comes the aforementioned calisthenics routine for about ten minutes. Then some stretching exercises to make sure my bones and muscles are all greased up and good to go. The hard stuff begins when I set an alarm for twenty minutes later, put my mp3 player on random, and begin to methodically run around the apartment in a flimsy attempt to imitate jogging (I live in a village with very few paved roads, which in turn is along a mountain highway that is in Cagayan de Oro, the one city that beats Cebu (supposedly) in atrocious road discipline, thus I choose to run in my pad as opposed to using the thing they call sidewalks. Which technically do not exist in the Philippines, despite the rumors.

The run tires me out enough to clear my veteran smoking lungs of whatever phlegm it may have accumulated during the night. Thirty minutes later (twenty minutes to run, ten minutes to cool down), I'm ready for the next set of exercises.

And this is the source of my present dilemma.

For the longest time, the second part of my exercise routine consisted of a set of push-ups, sit-ups, and squats. I did ten push-ups (at 280 pounds), ten straight sit-ups and twenty left-right twist sit-ups (geared to work on the sides of the torso), and ten leg raises. Then, it's the final stretch, which was made up of ten squats and some more stretching, to keep them muscles from aching after the workout. I could follow this routine everyday. I kept my weekends free (my workout during the weekend involved friends and alcohol).

Then I got this crazy idea of jacking the push-ups to twenty. Which I could do, without too much difficulty (much to my surprise). When I discovered that I could still handle the burn, I added bicep curls, using a bucket filled with water. My body hurt the entire day due to this exercise, but it was all good.

Well, maybe not. At around the second week of this routine, I discovered that I was usually too tired to work out five days a week; I had to limit it down to three times a week, since the muscle pain was short of unbearable, and it was killing my breathing.

I mentioned this to the aforementioned suplex performer, and he told me that perhaps my body was shocked. Which made sense, and so I limited my exercise once again, keeping the push-ups to a minimum of eleven counts. I didn't change the number of sit-ups though (I just needed to make sure that my lower back was comfy during the routine), and lowered the bucket's water level.

It seems to be working. I'm feeling a bit better, and I've worked out consecutively (start date was last Sunday: we'll see whether or not I'm getting more energy by the end of the week). But you know how once a routine works for you, you'd fight to keep it steady? It's funny, but after the push-ups, I don't move on to the next exercise right away - I just lie there, quarreling with myself on whether I should do another set of push-ups or not. In the end, I don't, since the idea was to keep myself from losing too much energy for the rest of the day.

But for some reason, this doesn't sit very well with me.

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