Saturday, December 26, 2009


He's in charge, he's the boss, the head man, the top dog, the big cheese, the head honcho...

-- Rex Kramer, Airplane!

They say near-death experiences heighten your appreciation of life, your family, the things that really matter. I now know that to be true. Because J2 left for a couple of weeks in Australia, lying on the beach, shrimp on the barbie, that sort of thing. A well deserved rest after being beaten up by his English professors, I say. But of course, the question remained, who would then put me through my paces? As it turned out M was out of town, too, so I got to work with J himself this week.

My initial impression of J was that he really knew his business, and that impression was confirmed this week. In working with me, he discovered that my slow-twitch muscle fibers, the ones used for long-haul, endurance-type activity, were even worse off than my fast-twitch muscle fibers, the ones used for quick bursts of intense activity. Regular readers of this blog (Hi, Honey!) will recognize this as the reason that 10 is a much better number than 20. And so, J decided we needed to build up a lot more of those slow-twitch fibers, which means tearing down those current, wimpy slow twitch fibers to make way for the new ones.

And that means drop-sets.

For those of you unacquainted with medieval torture techniques, drop sets consist of doing a set at your usual weight (you know, the weight where you almost can’t do the last ones), then dropping the weight 10 or 20 pounds and doing another set to exhaustion, and then perhaps dropping the weight yet again and doing a third set to exhaustion. As body builder and coach Dane Fletcher observes,

“Drops sets are very effective for two reasons. First, they require the muscle group to exert force using both the fast twitch fibers (from the heavy initial repetitions) and the slow-twitch muscle fibers (from the final high repetitions). Additionally, the overall volume of blood that is moved into the muscle group - the "pump" - fills that region of the body with oxygen- and protein-rich blood, which makes the muscle grow.”

And there you have the two basics of my near-death experience in a nutshell: 1) ALL of my muscle fibers pretty much got trashed, and 2) it was a much more cardiovascular experience than usual. In short, I was pretty much freakin’ exhausted by the end. During my final set on a pretty low-key exercise, I actually stopped to rest after the first 10, and J told me I was done. I think even he knew I was seeing the bright light, and considering moving toward it.

Now, I was exhausted after J2's first session with me too. As I waited for my wife to come and claim the body, I sat on a bar stool, drooping, with my eyes closed, thinking gray thoughts. But I managed to walk on my own power out to the car to meet her.

Tuesday, in what was likely my most manly and masculine moment yet, my wife came to pick me up and found me lying on the floor with my feet elevated. It might have even seemed that I was moaning a little, but I will continue to insist that it was just heavy breathing. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

Yes, it is clear that J knows what he’s doing. The question is, have I fully realized just what I’m doing, yet?

1 comment:

  1. I almost, ALMOST begin to feel a little something like pity for you. Almost.

    PS--I love the pictures.