Def Not My Workout

But at the end of a freaking surreal year, it may be just the envoi we need here.

Bonus cool: the glass artist, Jen Detlefsen, is the Navy Vet daughter of Secretary of Strip Mining the Interior Ryan Zinke, who does not seem to share her father’s politics.

The Princess Industrial Complex isn’t going anywhere. Instead of fighting against a landslide of pink, I choose to rewrite the narrative of what it means to be a princess, and in doing so reject pink’s stigma as a color of weakness and frivolity. Enter a decadently adorned, glittering space in which femmes of all types are welcome to build strength, backbone and confidence. This journey is just getting started – get your glow on and share how you #liftlikeaprincess with me.

Not really something I plan to try (I am across the street, up six flights of stairs and on the other side of the building from femme, and still remember being the butchest thing and the only chromosomal female at a cookout hosted by a trans woman and her friends). Though I could get behind one of those cast glass kettlebells — two of my favorite things in one package (glass art and weights). If only they weren’t pink. And if only Virginia Beach weren’t at the other end of the state.

May you have the power to lift all your burdens lightly in the New Year.


I haven’t done a flat-bench dumbbell press with a 45-pounder in each hand since, I think, my days at the biker gym. (I believe on one occasion there I hoisted a couple of fifties.) I tend to be a little chickenshit about chest and shoulder work, on account a real injury could put me out of work for days (though, having lightly torn a bicep muscle and worked right through it a couple years back, I’m wondering what that injury would be; I mean, there’s only so much damage you can do in the gym, bar dropping something on yourself). So I top out my last set of dumbbell presses at what I can shove for five or six reps and for years that has been forty pounds. Only something happened and suddenly those puppies started flying up in the air, and I had to start and finish five pounds heavier to feel as if I were doing anything at all. I love that last set, when it feels like you are pushing a styrofoam kickboard through half-congealed asphalt and you can’t help yelling Yip when you drop’ em.

This seems to be the tipping point at which the guys with thighs for arms start looking at you from under their baseball caps. I don’t know whether they haven’t seen an old babe working heavy before or whether they’re worrying I’m going to drop it on myself. Maybe on them.

Whatever, it feels righteous. Mmmmm.

Shoulder Work

shoulder workIt has been a while since I did any dedicated shoulder work. The thing is, if you work your chest and your back with anything resembling serious intent, your delts will come along. I used to work on a woman who had swum for the East German Olympic team in training, back in the day, and consumed a steady diet of what the trainers told her were vitamins. We concluded that the pills were more likely Dianabol but anyway she had magnificent deltoids, elliptically graceful and striated, which she could pump up just by doing her warmups on a rowing machine for a week or so. In fact rowers are my other contingent of shoulder pinup girls, closely followed by rock climbers.

Lately, though, what with the lingering susceptibility of my left leg to a day or so’s revenge after long burns, I have been digging into upper body and returned to the wonderful dumbbell maneuver known as the Arnold Press. Supposedly Schwarzenegger in his prime loved these. You curl up your dumbbell to shoulder height, punch it straight up and lock it out, then drop it down back into the curl position (a nice, gratuitous bicep burn in passing) while you punch up the opposite side. It makes you look a little like a cheerleader with a really industrial set of pompoms.

It feels as if I am pummeling the sky, my shoulderblades braced against my ribs like a shieldwall. After I have finished a set I do a whack of dumbbell curls and another of bent-over kickbacks, until the arm muscles balk and go into slo-mo like those vacuum dinguses you use to get the air out of a wine bottle. Then I do it all again a couple more times.

Did I mention I love lifting? If I had to choose between this and, say, sex or food, something might blow up.

Okay So Far

I had a couple of quarters loaded and was just retrieving my belt when some unfamiliar yokel wearing earbuds got between me and the squat rack. We made the eye contact that characterizes simultaneous approaches to a piece of loaded equipment: “You workin’ here?” he asked. He was a little taller than me and solid, about forty-something, I guess; not quite young enough to be my son, in other words, but probably too young to remember Watergate.

“Work in if you want,” I said. “I swap off with leg curls.” Leg curls are for me a painful, meditative experience like firewalking, owing to an old charley horse in my right biceps femoris, so there is plenty of time for the average bozo to knock out a set while I am doing them.

Bozo smiled indulgently. “Oh, I’m doing squats and deadlifts so I’d have to be changing the weight,” he said, all but patting me on the head. “It’s okay.” About that time the guy who was using the only other rack cleared off, so Bozo popped right over without breaking stride. Probably lucky for him.

I cranked up and got to work while he warmed up with a series of kickbacks. After a while I looked over. He had a pair of quarters loaded on the bar.

After another while, as I was swapping up to the forty-five pound wheels, I looked over again. Bozo was also working with a pair of wheels. I wanted to go over and comment that it was a good thing he had found a rack free so he wouldn’t have to change up from my weights, and all, but there is no point in being smarmy.

Eventually he got up to deadlifts with one-eighty-five, which is a handsome effort and not one I have any plans to duplicate, but I was long off the rack by then.

When I left he was popping out reps with the sled, the one you see at the top of this page loaded for my last set, using a couple of plates on each side. Well, fair for a cooldown. I did think of asking how many sets he had just to see if he’d offer to strip it for me.

I need moments like this, weeks when I’ve been feeling frazzled.

Old lady’s still got it.

Go Heavy Or Go Home

I work on a guy who knows the guy who trains this guy.

It hurts to watch. Not because of imagining that it hurts. Because of loving to imagine what it feels like.

That moment in the squat, with 706 pounds. There’s that place where it’s not going to go up unless you tell yourself that no matter what the laws of physics and physiology are, it will go up. You see it? Right about 0:45? We just won’t talk about where I hit it, versus where this kid hits it.

There’s a saying: “If the bar ain’t bending, you’re just pretending.”

(No belt…. dear God, no belt…)

I do that thing with my left leg too, on the bench press.

Wait Long Enough And Everything Comes True

When I was a schoolkid, if someone came along and asked someone else “What’re you doing?”, and Kid #2 wanted to be a snotty little bastard, as most kids do in my experience, the smartass answer was often “Playing tiddlywinks with manhole covers.”

Striking image, anyway.

Today I was upside-down on the glute-ham bench, counterweighting the move with a 45-pound plate, which gym rats are likely as not to call a “sewer lid,” and when I tossed it aside to do a few more reps with no weight it spun on its edge, walked and pinked the edge of another plate that was lying there, enough to budge it anyway, finally gyrating to rest against the frame of the bench.

I wonder if you could plane down the edge of one of those things enough to get a good tiddly snap.