The Old And The Clueless

Well, middle aged, anyway.

He was sitting on the Nitro abdominal machine, one of those type where you hold handles at shoulder level and hook your feet under pads to do a counterweighted upright ab crunch. We have only one of those left; I like the control it gives you, plus the fact you don’t have the 15 pound weight of your head flailing away at the top of your spine with every rep of a rectus abdominis contraction. I don’t do front abs from a lying down position any more. Just vertical, or inverted.

He kept on sitting there.

I came back a couple of sets later. He was still sitting.

Oozing false bonhomie I asked: “Have I got time to work one in or are you about to hit it again?”


“Are you resting long enough I have time for a set?”

“Uh… I have two more reps.”

A rep is one contraction. He looked reasonably healthy and I hoped he was not so feeble that this was all he could manage at one time.

“Repetitions?” I said. He looked at me blankly. “Just give me a few minutes,” he tried despairingly.  The last time I tried to explain the concept of “working in” to someone she got all huffy and stomped away; I just was not in the mood for another one of those.  “OK, repeat away,” I said with a manic grin that was all that stood between him and evisceration. He kept on sitting there.

I wasn’t in the mood to explain myself to police. It just takes up too much time. He was coming close to evening the odds though.

When I finally found the machine vacant it looked as if he had loaded it up to something like bodyweight. Another one of these frantic ab-crunchers who thinks the key to life’s problems is an abdominal wall so short and bunched that he will be walking with his head forward like a hood ornament in another few years.

You can’t cure stupid.


8 thoughts on “The Old And The Clueless

  1. “an abdominal wall so short and bunched that he will be walking with his head forward like a hood ornament in another few years”

    oh don’t, stop, it hurts when I laugh.

  2. The rowing machine-like thing, where you pull towards your chest — it’s a back exercise. (I can be stupid about what things are called, and that’s not curable either. It’s why I did poorly in Chemistry.) Anyway, it was next for me yesterday, and a guy was straddling the bench reading the paper. He was resting between sets. Straddling the bench, reading the paper. I thought of you. There was another machine, similar, not the same, but close enough so I used that. But later, the thing you pull the bar down, like pull-ups only you sit and it has weights — should I someday learn what these things are called? Nah, I’d just forget again — he was doing the same thing. This time I asked if I could play through. He grunted and said okay and staggered off with his papers. Later I saw him using it, grimacing and leaning forward and rising out of his seat to pull 130 lb to a spot slightly behind the top of his head. Bah. I’m not a snob about weight, but if you use bad form you’re not going to get so far, my opinion. It’s the sight of him hogging it up between sets that fries me the most, though.

    • Seated cable row and lat pulldown. That will be five cents. 🙂

      What baffles me over a quarter century of lifting is how miffed these people usually get if you suggest they are doing something they shouldn’t by clogging up equipment they are not using at that moment.

  3. I don’t do all my reps on the same machine all at once. Instead I choose three complementary machines and do a circuit of them three times, one series of reps on each machine. This was suggested to me by the guy who set up my programme for me and I like it.

    Luckily there aren’t many people at my gym who just sit there hogging a machine between reps – they usually get up and stand to one side until they’re ready to go again.

    • Yeah, that’s called “supersetting” or “circuit work” and is pretty much accepted practice, but a dismaying number of people don’t seem to have ever thought it out.

      I usually alternate two complementary moves that work antagonistic muscle groups, which flushes the resting muscle while you’re working the other one. Amplifies the training effect and saves time — which when I was first training, trying to get into actual competition shape and doing a full time job, was the original motivation. I did not have the extra minutes (they add up) to loaf around waiting to do another set of the same thing. I don’t know who does, unless they are just trying to say “I spent an hour in the gym” half of which was consumed by camping on the equipment.

  4. Supersets were fun with my personal trainer, but I could never do them without him because the machines I wanted to use in the superset were never open at the same time. My trainer looked like The Thing from the Fantastic Four so people moved aside whenever he asked to work in.

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