Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Weights and muscles

We both lift weights.  Lynn has been attending a free weight class and I go to a room of weight machines. She is especially enthusiastic about her class.  I find going to mine and working through my schedule of lifts quite valuable, too.  I think my body tells me I am a good person as well as a stronger one, after lifting.  

I never thought of lifting weights until I was about 22.  Once in high school, a classmate asked if I lifted and I wasn't sure what he was talking about.  He invited me to visit his weight club and I did.  He told me that if I hadn't been lifting, it was clear from looking at me that I had "natural shit".  He meant I had a well-shaped body naturally, even though in those days that expression was much rarer and stood a better chance to shock or offend that it does today.  

At about 22, I read an article in Reader's Digest explaining the strength benefits of stressing one's muscles.  I didn't own any weights until about 10 years later.  I find that any interest can probably be assisted by reading and I did read some about weight lifting.  I was never interested in being a bodybuilder and just wanted good strength.  I knew from wrestling that strength was only one factor.  Speed, courage, knowledge and spirit matter as much or more, not to mention aerobic capacity.  High school wrestlers competed in 3 part matches that last a total of nine minutes.  College wrestlers had matches of 15 minutes.  You can get very tired in 9 minutes, even though you started fresh, well-rested and in good shape.

Kenneth Cooper's books on aerobics came out when I started graduate school.  I had slacked off from all exercise programs by then and I realized it would be better to do something regularly.  Many wrestlers jogged to increase their endurance but I spent all my time practicing holds and moves.  I read a short book on conditioning and found strength, endurance and flexibility were all important.  I had never worried much about flexibility but in one's older years, yoga or other such bending and stretching gets to matter very much.  

In high school and college, the usual view was that lifting weights would decrease flexibility and was not a good idea for those not after prizes and poses.  Now, it seems that all athletes make use of weights or other muscle-stressing methods.  Various body work and calisthenics, sometimes supplemented with hand-held weights of 1 to 10 pounds seem to be very popular in the college exercise room I attend.  There are student coaches overseen by professors so I take what I see to be indicative of the latest thinking.

I read in a magazine once that using a weight that I can manage comfortably for 8 lifts but not many more is about right to start.  Skip a day and do 9 lifts.  Skip and do 10.  Next week, do 11 and follow the same procedure until I reach 15.  Then, use a slightly heavier weight.  I have been following that approach for more than 30 years.  When I get as high a weight as seems safe, I stop for a few weeks or months and then begin again.  

The book "Total Fitness in 30 Minutes a Week" by Morehouse and Gross has been helpful and inspiring.  It takes a laid-back approach to being fit, asking what fitness is for and how to get the essentials out of the way with little disruption and stress.  The book "Age-Defying Fitness" by Marilyn Moffat and Carole B. Lewis, both experienced physical therapists and officials of the American Physical Therapy Association is the best I have seen for fitness ideas and goals for older people.  Too many fitness books have nothing to say about being 70, 80, or 90 years old, but this one does.  You can stay in pretty good shape with 20 minutes a day two or three times a week and a nice walk.

Main blog: Fear, Fun and Filoz
Main web site: Kirbyvariety

Popular Posts

Follow @olderkirby