Return to the Gym

Short version: ouch.

Longer version – The first day went well. The day after the first day was much less enjoyable.

Gyms opened up around here at lower capacity, which means fewer people and fewer pieces of equipment so that what remains can be spaced at least six feet apart. However, free weights are still free weights. The good news is that there are now little spaces marked on the floor, so people can’t carry off the various benches and leave them in strange places. At first, the indoor track was also closed (not big enough to mark lanes 12′ wide [in case people don’t stay properly distant at the edges of the lanes]) but that might change in a week more or so. There was also flow control, which meant that you could work out downstairs and then go upstairs, but not the reverse unless you were logged out, went to the front doors again, were logged in, and then went upstairs. That also got changed after two weeks.

So, I made one wise decision. After eight weeks of forced rest, I did NOT go back to the weights I’d been using before the lay off. I started with dumbbells, lighter weights, and strict form. Lifting in a mask and full-finger leather gloves also took a bit to adjust to (masks required, gloves “strongly encouraged.”) Bench press no problem, Arnold presses no problem, straight shoulder presses . . . hmm. A little twingy but OK. Deadlifts no problem. Squats . . . ow. Parts of my quads that I didn’t know I had until the next morning . . . very ow. My laterals and lower pectorals also hated me the next day.

Being young at heart if not in mileage, this did not deter me from going back four days later and doing shoulders and dead lifts. With the bar, not just free weights. Shoulders round one: “Hey, no problem!” Shoulders round two: “Why did you think this was a good idea?” Round three: “We’re going on strike if you keep this up.”  Shoulder presses are always my weakest area, and always will be due to being female. Plus, I’m no longer 21 and quick to heal.  Dead lifts, third round: “Are you done yet? We’re bored.” When you can do three sets of thirteen reps without thinking about it, it’s time to go up a few pounds.

Cardio . . . I’d not done the incline and I felt it. Worse, the mask made it harder to breathe. I’d love to know how badly my blood O2 was affected. I managed fifteen minutes at eight degrees and three miles an hour, but it was very not fun.

Once more unto the bench, dear friends! Five days later, bench press and squats. Bench press led to sore mid-back, and my left shoulder tendons were Not Happy. This is because I’ve discovered that I’ve started resting my left arm and not both arms on the arm rest when I type, and leaning. That stresses my shoulder.

[Chorus: So don’t do that!]

But I got through three sets with forty pounds on the bar. That’s all I’m willing to do on the free-weight bench. More than forty means I need the dedicated bench press bench, so I can rack the weights rather than resting them on me. Squats . . . less ouch but still ouch. Apparently all the walking I’ve been doing is not enough. And squats (and dead lifts) in the mask are icky.

Friday it was shoulders again (better), dead lifts with ten more pounds on the bar (I can go up another ten. My low back still likes me.) Cardio with the mask: worse, actually. I tried a higher incline, and having that fuzzy cloth restricting airflow really was no fun. It was also warmer, and keeping the gloves on was not helping. Since there are so few people yet, especially at 0630 on weekdays in the cardio area, I think I am going to take the mask off unless other folks show up or someone fusses.

Since mid March I’ve lost eight pounds. I have five more that I want to lose, then I’ll reevaluate things. At my height, I’m supposed to be down around 110-115 pounds. I have very heavy bones, plus lifting weights, so that’s not going to happen. I would like to slim down a little more, though.

8 thoughts on “Return to the Gym

  1. Yikes. Cardio and any kind of mask are a problem waiting to strike. Reduced airflow and higher resistance in both directions. Take any funny/fuzzy feeling seriously, before tipping over.

    Similar thoughts for when we get the restart, scaling back to 80% of the last consistent weights. OTOH, mulching, tree trimming, and brushing have ‘helped’.

  2. Glad you were able to get back to ‘work’ so to speak. And smart for starting light!

  3. My weightlifting has been limited to 2 cubic foot bags of Supersoil, though those can be a challenge when wet. That’s done, and the awkward tiller attachment got used, so the raised beds are ready and the tomatoes are freshly in the greenhouse. Next suitable day and the summer squash goes in the beds.

    Next up, light construction. “Light” is a relative word, however. Had to figure out one wall so I can get it upright without killing myself. Lots of in-situ work to do when it’s set, but that’s easier than lifting it intact.

  4. Oh yeah, tried 15 minutes with the flannel mask on at home. I wasn’t that active with it, and the Oxygen-sat value didn’t change. I’m in enough of the risk groups that I’ll avoid wearing a mask if I can do so. I assume the Not-a-flu from hell in March was Winnie-the-flu.


    More seriously, I don’t recall if I suggested Vitamin D supplements. You’re sun-sensitive, and D is good for bones and apparently good for keeping the immune system in its proper course during a coronavirus infection.

    I take a fairly large dose, but would suggest 1000 IU (25 mcg.) daily.

    • I’ve taken Vitamin D for several years, and added a calcium supplement due to a family history of osteoporosis. It is a bit difficult to keep a straight face when the PA (physician’s assistant) warns me about excess sun exposure and vitamin D deficiency in the same breath.

      • “It is a bit difficult to keep a straight face when the PA (physician’s assistant) warns me about excess sun exposure and vitamin D deficiency in the same breath.”
        I’m not so sure I would even try. Cackling madly sounds like an appropriate response to me.

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