Just once in my life I’d like to fit what textbooks say is “normal.” I’d also like to lose 15 pounds, gain an inch and a half in height, and discover a workout that doesn’t require the physical effort. Winning the lottery would be nice, too.
I recently added, or I should say returned to, bent-over rows, more flyes, and other upper back and shoulder exercises. I do this with some trepidation, in part because of injuries in the past, and in part because I can’t afford to replace any more shirts.
No, I’m not quite as hard as the Incredible Hulk is on shirts (or Doc Savage for that matter.) My problem is that I bulk up like a guy, not gain strength but stay lean like a girl. If there is a continuum of metabolism and physical development, with pure no-bulk female on one end and pure male (think Eugene Sandow) on the other, I’m closer to the male pattern than the female. Back when I started doing serious resistance training, DadRed suggested adding creatine supplements. I’m glad I didn’t. He bulked up fast. I’d probably have ended up looking like Lee Priest’s little sister.
My shoulders are, well, let me put it this way. My chest measurement says I should wear a women’s 6. My shoulders and upper arms require a 14. I flex my biceps and the guys boggle a little. The gals at the gym are mostly into fitness and don’t want those kinds of arms. I don’t blame them. Short and really, really sturdy is not what clothing designers have in mind as the ideal woman for their clothes, especially when it comes to sleeves.
About five years ago I injured my back, then re-injured it six months later. I suspect it is because I have the same genetic skeletal quirk as my mother and maternal grandmother. I have not gotten an MRI to confirm things because it can be managed through exercise and not being dumb. Being dumb was how I almost tore a shoulder ligament two years ago, and did set myself back for quite a while. I was using a weight machine that was not designed for people my size, and being careless. Bad idea.
Since then, I only use free weights for upper body stuff. The machines at my gym are designed for the average human. I am below average in height, and even the “stubby” setting on many of the machines puts me in very awkward positions as far as leverage and stress on my shoulders go. Women already are at a disadvantage because of our anatomy and relative lack of upper-body strength, and some of the machines compound that problem with the angles they force me to operate at. So I use free weights and strict form. I’m back up to shoulder presses of 40 pounds and benching 50 pounds. And 10 pounds per side on the bent over flyes and rows.
So weights twice a week, cardio 5-6 times a week. And I still want to be an inch and a half taller. And for the muscles on my triceps and biceps to move to my low back. And six-pack abds. Even when I was down below 110 pounds, I did not have a six-pack even though I wore a size four. Yes, I was weak, but I was skinny. Now I want to be strong and skinny. And to win the lottery. And to have a run-away best-selling novel. And to get paid six figures for teaching two classes per semester. And stand 5′ 2″ in my sock feet.
A gal can dream, can’t she?