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Friday, August 31, 2007

Day 11 (off day)

Today's Notes:

I guess I'll start posting on my off days, since the off days carry with them the reprocussions of whatever happens on the "on" days.

Monday, I'll start everyday drills - some agility, some power, some technique and some just plain hitting stuff. Up until now, I've just been working to get the muscle memory back... Remember the steps, remember the position, the posture, etc. and whatever.

****************************************

The Workouts:
(You can read descriptions for all of these exercises here)


Morning Session (drills)

No drills today.

************

Evening Session (weights):

No weights today.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Day 10

Today's Notes:

(stuff)

****************************************

The Workouts:
(You can read descriptions for all of these exercises here)


Morning Session (drills)

No drills today.

************

Evening Session (weights):

Thursday: LEG DAY!!!!!

Squats - 4 sets: 1 set x 12 reps @ 135lbs (warmup), 3 sets x 10 reps @ 405lbs
Calf Press - 4 sets x 20 reps @ 470lbs

Leg Extension - 3 sets x 12 reps @ 175lbs
SUPERSET with Leg Curl - 3 sets x 12 reps @ 170 lbs


HOW I FEEL:

Leg day... Oh, how I loathe thee.

Actually, I just plain hate it. That's why I avoid it whenever I can justify avoiding it... Sort of like my family (kidding).

The machine I usually use for squats was broken today, so I had to drop weight and go with free weights on the bar. And that's scary. I wouldn't say I have knee 'issues' but all my years playing sports and the subsequent surgeries that come from them have definitely left my knees in a state where they don't like bending to nearly 90 degrees with 500 lbs on my back, which is why I use the machine - it's not possible to lose balance and sway with the machine.

Anyway, I never, ever have a leg day where I don't have massive blood rushes to the head afterward, so I never run or do anything after leg day, with the notable exception of a nice hot shower. And cortizone.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Day 9

Today's Notes:

I was feeling pretty bad this morning - partly because of a bit of leftover "ick" from last night, and partly because I skipped the workout last night. Then, things just got... Worse.

I won't bore you with details. All I will tell you is that some people I really thought I knew and trusted gave me a healthy dose of "you will NEVER make this happen" today.

Now, I didn't expect everyone who found out about this to be supportive - but I've been happily surprised to hear from some people whom I expected to be negative who ended up being very encouraging about the whole endeavor.

The flip side is that I found out today that some people I expected to be incredibly supportive ended up being exactly opposite of that. And you know something?

It doesn't feel too good to be wrong about people you think you know.

What's worse, I'm that kind of person who takes "You can't do this" to heart. I hear it come out of most peoples' mouths and I usually just ignore it... But when it comes from the "insiders" it hits. HARD.

I reached a weird point this afternoon - it's the peak of a very high and sloping curve that runs two ways. On the one side, you have forward movement, advancement, achievement and momentum. On the other side, you have all the backwards-moving forces... Depression. Self-doubt. All the gnarly things that, if you let them, people will throw at you and hopefully hold you down with.

I started sliding backwards down that one slope, the one we all know and hate - then somewhere just past the first few meters, I stopped myself. I decided to claw my way back up and turn all this negative into positive. And I had one of the best damn workouts I've had since I was in college that one year.


****************************************

The Workouts:
(You can read descriptions for all of these exercises here)


Morning Session (drills)

I coupled my "drills" in with my weights today. See below.

************

Evening Session (weights):

Wednesday: Chest + Tricep day, crazy blitzo nutjob workout

Bench Press - 4 sets: 1 set x 20 reps @ 135lbs, 4 sets x 12 reps @ 245lbs

Incline Bench Press - 3 sets x 12 reps @205 lbs
SUPERSET with: Reverse Overhead Tricep Curl (cable) - 3 sets x 12 reps @ 87.5 lbs

Decline Bench Press - 3 sets x 12 reps @ 205 lbs
SUPERSET with: Tricep Extension (cable) - 3 sets x 12 reps @ 95 lbs

Dumbbell Flys - 3 sets x 15 reps @ 45 lbs (per hand)
SUPERSET with: Skullcrushers - 3 sets x 15 reps @ 65 lbs (bar)

11 Stair sprints
2 mile run
25 box jumps


HOW I FEEL:

Right now? Like I could rip the world in half, and then do it again if asked. I just did a full interval workout with heavier weight and more reps than I've done in YEARS.

All I can say is that I'm no longer interested in just "seeing what happens" anymore... Not after the workout I just had. If I don't make this team, it'll be because someone was better - not because I wasn't good enough. And there IS a difference.

Let me be honest: I knew there would be doubters. I knew there would be laughing and pointing and giggling and whatnot... And I really am fine with it. I'm not angry about it. It just fuels me.

I've never let anyone be right about my not being able to do something. I'll be damned if I start now. I don't hate them. It's not their fault.

People who tell you that you can't achieve your dreams are simply too weak to follow their own.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Day 8

Today's Notes:

First day of the second week. I've officially made it through one week of training. Go me.

I already feel a little better during the drills and interval-style training sessions - I think that, with constant training and determination, I will be able t0 walk into the tryout and at least not make a fool of myself.


****************************************

The Workouts:
(You can read descriptions for all of these exercises here)


Morning Session (drills)

5 x shuffle-step (agility ladder)
5 x cariocce step (agility ladder)
5 x Icky Shuffle (agility ladder... and yes, it's a stupid name, but that's what it's called)
10 x 3-5-7's (resistance band on ankles)
5 x 100 yard dash


HOW I FEEL:

Do you know how long it's been since I've done a 100 yard dash?

Twelve years.

That's ten years, plus two years.

That's older than any child born in 1996 or beyond.

I'm old.

************

Evening Session (weights):

(skipped)

HOW I FEEL:

Like total garbage. Around 4:00 PM, my head filled with clouds and I couldn't stand up without feeling slightly dizzy.

This happens sometimes when the pressure outside goes nuts. My sinuses just go haywire. The thing is, I have no Sudafed or anything... Blah.

I just need to lay down.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Day 7

Today's Notes:

Oh boy, another video today! Great fun! And you get to meet the newest edition to our family!




(Note - again, you're only seeing one iteration of all the drills. Also, I'm bruised and bloody now. The ground hurts when you hit it... Who knew?)

(Also, HUGE THANKS to Phil Grossman for the new camera - the one I shot the first video on is nowhere near as nice. You ROCK! Now, If I can just learn how to use it...)


****************************************

The Workouts:
(You can read descriptions for all of these exercises here)


Morning Session (drills)

10 x Ball Awareness drill
10 x Crab Crawl to Fumble Recovery drill
10 x Bouncy Ball grab-and-cover
10 x catch off the ground recover
5 x Canine Pull & Yank strength drill


HOW I FEEL:

I'm going to really, really hurt in the morning. I can already feel a pretty large goose egg rising up on my left arm, and my knees are nice and scrapey. But it's been a LONG time since I got to roll around like that... It was fun.

I definitely have a lot of work to do still. I wasn't as huffy and puffy between sets or drills today, but I imagine that has something to do with the fact that it was only 76 degrees when I went out.

Also, Michael Vick IS a dick.


************

Evening Session (weights):

Monday: Back & Bicep day, heavy

Iso Row - 3 sets x 12 reps @ 280lbs

Upward Iso Row - 3 sets x 12 reps
Superset with Bicep Curl (dumbbell) - 3 sets x 12 reps @ 45 lbs each hand

Lower Iso Row - 3 sets x 12 reps @ 185 lbs
Superset with Bar Curl - 3 sets x 15 reps @ 65lbs

Run: 2 miles

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Day 5

Today's Notes:

Well, today was supposed to be a fantastic day filled with football drill goodness. I even had some help coming to both run drills with me and hold the camera.

But then, a damn tree fell on my house.

So, my day of training today was spent doing the following:


****************************************

The Workouts:
(You won't find descriptions for all of these exercises here but feel free to go there anyway and see the other stuff I'm doing)


Morning Session (drills)

Iso-lateral Buy-A-Chainsaw x 1
Frontside Chainsaw Assembly x 2 (yes, i had to put it together twice. Don't ask.)
Group Tree Felling x 3 (3 other trees were in very poor shape after the storm, so i went ahead and brought them down)
Individual Log-cut x 45 (3 trees I cut down, three trees already fell including the one that HulkSmashed my deck)
Bundled Branch Removal x lots
Individual Log Roll x 10 (just got too late in the day, gonna have to finish another day)


************

Evening Session (sushi):

Dragon Roll x 2
Scorpion Roll x 2
Unagi Nigiri x 2
Toro Nigiri x 4
Ebi Nigiri x 2
Green Tea Moshi x 2
Saki Flask x 2


HOW I FEEL:

A hell of a lot better after the sushi. Deck's still broke, though. And there's still logs in my backyard (no, that's not a euphemism).

Friday, August 24, 2007

Day 4

Today's Notes:

You'll note that I jump from Day 2 to Day 4. That's because I used Day 3 as a rest day. I don't know if I should count by the days I actually work out, or by the days between the day I started and the day of tryouts, so I wrote both options on a post-it note and hung it on the wall, then threw a dart at it.

I missed entirely, but I missed at the bottom, so I just figured that the closest option won. So that's how things are being done.

The rest day was kinda hard to take. It's weird - you want to rest and relax, but at the same time, you feel like you're slacking. And that's because you're, like, slacking and stuff. But it's a necessary slack... Kind of like the slack you do after lunch at work, because if you don't, you'll vomit up all the tacos you ate during those Federally mandated 30 minutes your job graciously gives you to keep nourished.

I digress.


****************************************

The Workouts:
(You can read descriptions for all of these exercises here)


Morning Session (drills)

No drills today. Just weights.

************

Evening Session (weights):

Friday: Chest + Tricep day, heavy

Bench Press - 4 sets: 1 set x 20 reps @ 135lbs, 3 sets x 10 reps @ 245lbs
Incline Bench Press - 3 sets x 12 reps @ 185 lbs
Decline Bench Press - 3 sets x 12 reps @ 190 lbs
Dumbbell Flys - 3 sets x 12 reps @ 45 lbs (per hand) - superset with Bat Curl
Bat Curl - 3 sets x 12 reps @ 25 lbs (per hand) - superset with Flys
Tricep Extension - 3 sets: 2 sets x 10 reps @ 95 lbs (both hands), 1 set x 10 reps @ 80 lbs
Tricep Curl - 3 sets: 2 sets x 10 reps @ 87.5 lbs, 1 set x 10 reps @ 80 lbs


HOW I FEEL:

Just fine, thanks.

It's good to go in and just lift for a day. I was in a bit of a hurry, but Fridays are lift-only days due to Saturdays being drill and cardio.

Tomorrow's going to be fun - I get to hit the sled a bit.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Day 2

Today's Notes:

Today's workout has been videoed. I have yet to decide if this was a good or a bad idea. But like everything else, I tend to do things before I think them through, so here you go:




(Note - you're only seeing one iteration of all the drills. I DID do my work :P I just edited this thing the best I could so it would at least move along quickly... I can't think of any more boring thing to watch while ditching work than this video. But it's quick.)


****************************************

The Workouts:
(You can read descriptions for all of these exercises here)


Morning Session (drills)

5 x 3-5-7's
5 x lateral zig-zag touch-and-run
5 x 3-way cone drill
5 x shuffle-step (agility ladder)
5 x cariocce step (agility ladder)
2 x lap around field w/ parachute


HOW I FEEL:

Today was HOT. It was 85 degrees when I started, nearly 90 when I stopped. It'll be 102 today (no, not Celsius, you poor, poor Canadian readers).

The parachute? I've seen it in training videos and on ESPN during behind-the-scenes stuff with football training, but I never dreamed it could really screw you as bad as it does. Without it, it's just "Concentrate on breathing. Push. Legs hurt a little. Keep pushing."

With it, it's "JESUS CHRIST, I HATE THIS DAMN PARACHUTE. Keep breathing. NO REALLY, I HATE IT. I WANT TO BURN IT. Legs hurt. SERIOUSLY, ARE YOU LISTENING TO ME? THIS SUCKS" and so on.

I am physically sapped. Among all of the little nuances I forgot existed in football training (like, real football training), the biggest was that the sun, when sufficiently motivated, will utterly screw you over.

************

Evening Session (weights):

I won't be visiting the gym and lifting today.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Day 1

Today's Notes:

So, today's my first day of logging this endeavor.

A recap of the past month - I've been going to the gym about 5 days a week for the past month, so I have a decent foundation. The "OH GOD I AM SO SORE I'M GOING TO PUKE" part is over, and now it's just "Wow, I'm getting old."

I've also been in training for a marathon I was going to run in December, but given this NEW goal and the absolutely huge difference in training for a marathon vs. training to be a lineman on a football team, I'm definitely not doing that. But it put a good 3 - 4 miles a day of running under my feet, so that's good.

So, today, I went to the local rec fields and ran some of the old drills I remember from years of football camps. I've picked up some equipment for this - it's all Nike Sparq stuff. Very neon-green, very well built, and very very pretentious.

No, I'm not sponsored by Nike. I paid cash. If the products suck or fail, I'll let you know.


****************************************

The Workouts:
(You can read descriptions for all of these exercises here)


Morning Session (drills)

5 x shuffle-step (agility ladder)
5 x cariocce step (agility ladder)
5 x Icky Shuffle (agility ladder... and yes, it's a stupid name, but that's what it's called)
10 x left-side offensive block (hit sled)
10 x right-side offensive block (hit sled)
10 x left-side defensive loop drill (hit sled)
10 x right-side defensive loop drill (hit sled)
2 mile run


HOW I FEEL:

Dear GOD, I have a lot of work to do.

A LOT.

************

Evening Session (weights):

Tuesday: High-rep day (low weight, high repetition - circuit style)

Squats - 8 sets x 12 reps @ 185 lbs
Lunges - 8 sets x 12 reps @ 185 lbs
Modified Bench Press - 4 sets @ 20 reps @ 135 lbs
Tricep extension - 4 sets @ 20 reps @ 20 lbs (per hand)
Shoulder Press (dumbbell) - 4 sets @ 20 reps @ 20 lbs (per arm)
Curl (slow bar) - 4 sets @ 20 reps @ 40 lbs
Curl (dumbbell) - 4 sets @ 20 reps @ 15 lbs


HOW I FEEL:

I've been lifting weights for a very long time, but I haven't done a full-bore circuit workout since I was 18 years old. 30 seconds of rest between each exercise is... Not enough. But hey, it'll get me where I want to be. I think.

I hope.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Exercise Descriptions

These are descriptions of the various exercises and drills I will be doing in order to train for tryouts. I will add to this list as I think of or read about new and interesting ways to hurt myself. Also, I didn't copy these from anywhere, I wrote them all myself, so if you know something about them and I've done them wrong, please email me and let me know.

Drills:

3-5-7's are where the player starts at a marker and shuffle-steps (side-to-side step) 3 yards and back, then 5 yards and back, then 7 yards and back. Meant to improve side-to-side movement while shoulders are parallel to the line of scrimmage. I will usually do this with a strength band tied to my ankles, to make lateral movement harder. Makes you look like a dork, but it works.

Lateral zig-zag touch-and-run is where the player begins at one marker, and shuffle-steps (side-to-side step) diagonally to a cone, then diagonally in the opposite direction to another cone, so on and so forth until they're done. This is probably the funniest thing on earth to watch me do, because I look like Corky from Life Goes On trying to figure out how to cross a rope bridge. But again, it works.

3-way cone drill is designed to work on multiple skills in one drill - backpedal (so player faces the play action while moving backwards), sprint, hard-turn / post-turn (quick turning at speed to change direction), and field awareness by knowing how many steps equals 5 yards. It's much more a receiver drill, and I inherited the need to do this from my old football days when I played linebacker. But I just feel like something's missing if I don't do it.

Shuffle-step (agility ladder) is a foot-agility drill designed to teach the player foot placement and quick-stepping. The idea is to keep the foot just high enough to clear the bar of the agility ladder, and step just wide enough to advance without overstepping the center of balance. The keys to this drill are a deep-seated butt and low center of gravity, while shoulders are high and chest is out. Head must remain up. This is VERY akin to the 3-5-7 drill, but the steps are far quicker and shorter.

Cariocce step (agility ladder) is very hard to describe without a diagram, but I'll try (and eventually, i'll just draw one). The player follows a straight line for 5 yards - but instead of sprinting straight forward with normal steps, they place their left foot where the right would step, then cross-over with the right foot where the left foot would step. It's a balance and cross-stepping drill with a silly name.

Running w/ parachute is a total pain in the ass. The idea is to apply constant resistance to the runner while they train. The parachute succeeds where weights tied to the waist or ankles fail - as a runner becomes stronger, five pounds strapped to the ankle becomes easily compensated for. The same is true of a pull-sled or weight. With the parachute, the resistance increases as the runner's speed increases. It NEVER gets easy. It sucks, and you look like a dork while doing it. It builds character though.

Icky Shuffle (agility ladder) is where the player stands to the side of the first box on the agility ladder, then places one foot into the box, followed by the other foot. Then the player places the lead foot out of the box on the other side, followed by the other foot. Repeat for each box forward until the ladder ends. The idea is to keep the feet very low to the ground, keep the spacing between the feet very short, and do the drill VERY fast. Improves shuffle step side-to-side and on-field coordination.

offensive block (hit sled) is where the player enters a three-point stance (hand in front... That thing Goldberg did right before he drilled people) and explodes into the sled in front of him. Left or Right indicates which direction the play is going, which means it's the side the player keeps their head on while pushing the sled. The idea is to teach head placement, hand control (no holding, only pushing), and shoulder technique.

defensive loop drill (hit sled) sounds more complicated than it is. The direction (right or left) is of utmost importance for the description, so for this, assume we're talking "left." Player enters a three or four point stance (one hand or both hands down). When the whistle is blown (or in my case, when I feel like it), The player explodes forward with the play-side foot (left foot) laterally, meaning directly horizontal to the line of scrimmage. The follow-foot (right foot) steps forward into the "hole" (see football terms). The hands explode forward into the offensive lineman in front of the player, "shocking and locking" him out. The idea is to get the defensive player into the gap as SOON as possible to stop the run and scan for pass while maintaining control of the blocker. It's all very manly.

N-mile runs are precisely that - just running for N miles, where N is a positive integer greater than zero and less than, oh, 26.2. Because screw that.

Weightlifting:

General Terms:

High-rep day (low weight, high repetition - circuit style) is a killer. It's where stations are set up in a "circuit" and lifts are made one directly after another. This style of lifting isn't designed to build brute strength, instead, it builds a muscle endurance that can't be gained any other way. The muscle can do more work longer, while burning less oxygen and more fat overall. Maximum 30 seconds rest between each exercise. A "set" indicates one full rotation through every exercise. Maximum 2 minutes rest between sets.

It HURTS. It's an advanced type of training, and if you've decided to use my descriptions here to begin or modify your training program, I highly advise at least 2 months of lifting and cardio on a regular basis before you begin seriously working on circuit work.

Strength days - Heavy day is designed to build brute strength. Three to four sets, lower reps (8 - 10) at higher weight (65 - 75% of your maximum one-time lift). Some strength days use a "pyramid" structure for the "big" excerises (example: bench press - 10 reps at 225 lbs, 8 reps at 245 lbs, 6 reps at 275 lbs, 4 reps at 315 lbs, 2 reps at 345 lbs). I did this a lot in high school and college, and I'm not really going to do it for this. It's a very taxing method, but it works - and while strength is definitely a goal of mine, it's not the sole and only goal, and that's what pyramid structure is designed for.

Strength days - Light day are designed for a toning or endurance build. They are crucial to mix in with the heavy days to build overall strength and not just increase your max bench press or whatever. Three to four sets, higher reps (12 - 15) at lower weight (45 - 55% of your maximum one-time lift). These really work the stability muscles and give a strong balance to the brute strength. They may make you feel like a sissy while all the meatheads are lifting the big stuff, but hey, you're not doing this for them. If you are... Well, good for you, welcome to a lifetime of hell.

Methods:

Bar means a straight or crooked bar instead of a dumbbell. A normal grip on the bar is assumed, where "normal" means an overall, non-isolated grip to work all muscle groups, usually just inside of shoulder-width.

Inside is a grip on the bar where the hands are closer together to isolate a muscle or set of muscles (for instance, on bench press, this will isolate the triceps almost exclusively). It's important to note that the hands should NEVER touch on any grip on any exercise using a bar of any sort. Keep at least an inch between them. This isn't for safety, this is to force you to use proper technique.

Outside is a grip on the bar where the hands are spread further apart. This will isolate a set of muscles (for instance, on bench press, this isolates the pectorals quite a bit). NEVER let your hands touch the sides of the rack point for the bar - you WILL pinch your hand when you rack the weight and it'll hurt. It's fun for me to watch, but no fun for you to experience. So yeah... don't do that.

Dumbbell means that dumbbells were used instead of the bar. Some exercises use a dumbbell exclusively, so I won't mention "dumbbell" when I do these. I will only specify when I used these instead of a bar... Or if a particularly stupid moron does something dumb while I'm working out.

Machine indicates that, instead of a free-weight (bar or dumbbell), I used a machine for the exercise. There is no shame in machines. They are fantastic for building strength. But it's important to work free-weights in routinely so as to develop balance and technique.


Legs:

Squats are the granddaddy of all pain exercises. This can be done with a bar and free weights or a "sled" machine - I prefer the machine, due to a lifetime of knee abuse, but I work in a free-weight bar set at least once every two weeks to keep the balance and technique. The lifter places the weight behind the head on the traps (make DAMN sure the weight doesn't roll backward to the shoulder blades, or you're going to tear your... Everything). The legs bend at the knee and the hips "sink" for stability. The body lowers the weight until the legs are slightly above a 90 degree angle (don't try to be a super ironman and go to 90 degrees... You'll lock yourself out and can potentially drop the weight). The body explodes the weight upward until the legs are straight again (don't lock out your knees - go almost to lock-out, but DON'T lock them out). This lift strengthens the quads, hamstrings, and butt (I don't say glutes, because everyone knows the glutes are your butt... So just say butt).

One big caveat: DON'T use one of those huge pads on the bar. It's not a sissy thing, it's a safety thing - the pad encourages the bar to roll backward down the spine, OR causes quite a lot of unnecessary stress on the position of the neck. It takes a few times of doing it before the bruise goes away and it stops being uncomfortable, but it's really worth it. Trust me.

Wow, I'm very pushy in this description. I guess its because I've probably torn, ripped, strained and otherwise mangled just about every bendy point on my legs due to all the mistakes I've made throughout the years. Learn from my pain.

Leg Press is where the lifter lays on their back at a slight angle and places the feet on a platform in front and above them. Weight is pressed upward. Strengthens the hamstrings and glutes (arrgh, I said it). Great lift, but again, don't lock the knees out, and don't go directly to 90 degrees in your downward motion, or you'll be riding the failboat all the way to the orthopedic surgeon.

Lunges are where the lifter places weight on the shoulders (usually using a bar) and takes a good, long step forward. The back knee sinks, and the forward knee bends to nearly 90 degrees. The back knee should not touch the floor. The body raises back up and the feet are reset, then the opposite leg is used. Pretty advanced lift, and causes major soreness the next day. It works. I hate it.

Calf Press is also done as a calf raise if you don't have access to a calf-press machine. Weight is placed on the machine and the legs press the bar forward - then the knees are locked out and the toes are used to push the weight forward. This isolates the calf and builds a very strong running / blocking leg. If you don't have a machine, place weight on the shoulder OR hold dumbbells to the side, stand on a step or platform with your heels hanging over the side (the balls of the feet should be on the step), and sink your heels almost to the floor. Then, press with the toes until you are standing on the very tips of them. Rinse, repeat as desired.

Leg Extension is a seated leg exercise and yet another you've seen in movies and commercials. The ankles are placed under a padded bar and weight is lifted using the lifting motion at the knees. Builds the quads almost exclusively.

Leg Curl is the linear opposite of Leg Extension. The lifter lays on his / her stomach and places the heels under a padded bar. Weight is lifted with the bending of the knees until the heels come toward the butt. Builds your hamstrings almost exclusively. Feels a bit weird on the tummy. Bring a towel for the machine, or else your face is going to be near or on a BUNCH of other peoples' spit and mouth sweat.


Chest:

Bench Press is pretty damn ubiquitous, so I don't know why I'm explaining it here, except to maybe educate people on how to do it properly and not like a Neanderthal dick who wants to impress t3h wemmins. The lifter lays on a bench with hips equal height to the head. hands are slightly less than shoulder width apart for a chest-centric lift, or placed almost to the edges of the rack for a tricep-centric lift. The bar is pulled off the rack and placed directly over the chest, elbows nearly locked out, over the "nipple line".

The bar is lowered using a smooth motion, elbows bending along with the shoulder. The wrist should not move. The bar lightly touches the chest, and forward progress begins to lift the bar directly over the chest. The bar should touch the chest at or just slightly above the "nipple line" - if you touch below, you are severely taxing stability muscles. That's not a bad thing, its just... Kinda wasteful.

Whatever you do, do NOT have your buddy stand there and "spot" you by allowing you to put way too much weight on the bar while he helps you lift the damn thing.

Modified Bench Press is a bench press done on a short bench or Step platform. It's usually only used during circuit training, as it is really, really bad form to go hogging an entire bench to do your silly little circuit lifts. Can (and sometimes should) be done with dumbbells.

Incline Press is a bench press where the bench is angled upward so that the head is above the hips, preferably at least 30 degrees above. This isolates the upper pectoral and some of the shoulder, and builds a strong upward-moving push. It also shapes the upper portion of the chest.

Decline Press is a bench press where the bench is angled downward so that the head is below the hips. This isolates the lower portion of the pectoral and gives those neat little Hulk Hogan lifty pecs that can jiggle on command.

Flys look goofy, but work. The lifter lays flat on their back on a small bench with dumbbells out to the side. Elbows are slightly bent and the dumbbells are parallel to the body. The lifter lifts the dumbbells directly over the chest with locked elbows - NO BENDING THE ELBOW KTHX. The dumbbells angle slightly as they are lifted, giving strong contraction and isolation to the pectoral. When directly overhead, the dumbbells "butt" against one another in a v-shape. The movement to create this angle happens progressively as the weights are lifted overhead - just shifting them to make a V once they're overhead is cheating and cheaters only win at poker.


Triceps:

Tricep Extension uses a cable machine with a weight stack. The pulley is located above the lifter. The lifter faces the machine and takes a straight or crooked bar (or, if feeling adventurous, ropes) and pulls the bar directly downward to just below the waist, then slowly lets the bar return to starting position. Proper technique is an isolated frame and isolated upper arms - pretend that your elbows are welded to your waist. Isolate the tricep on each push.

Tricep Curl is the backward-over-the-head correlary to Tricep Extensions. The lifter faces away from the machine, the pulley is in the same position as it is for Tri Ext. The bar is grasped overhead and from behind, and a large step is taken forward. The bar is pulled from over the head to directly in front of the lifter. There are two isolation techniques - one involves a shoulder-press style motion where the arms are bent at the elbow but perpendicular to the upper arms - the shoulder is engaged and moving. The other feels more like a bat curl / skullcrusher movement where the shoulder is totally locked and the tricep is the only moving part.

Bat Curl (Triangle Curl) is where a dumbbell is held behind the head, then raised up and overhead using a slight curve motion. The resulting position looks sort of like a triangle. It looks NOTHING like a bat. In fact, I haven't the first clue why anyone ever called this a bat curl to begin with. But that's what it's been called since I started lifting, so that's what I'm going to call it here.

Skullcrushers are where a lifter lays flat on his / her back with a crooked-curl bar with weight resting on the chest. The bar is raised directy up much like a bench press lift, but instead of going direclty up and down, the arms bend at the elbow and the bar is brought to the nose / skull. It's a type of tricep curl, and can result in some facial injury if done with too heavy a weight or incorrectly. So, like... Don't do that.


Shoulder:

Shoulder Press is also called Military Press in some circles. I'm not a member of those circles, so I call it simply Shoulder Press. A straight bar is used. Lifter sits directly upright or at a slight backward angle (which is my preference) and the bar is lifted directly overhead, brought to the chest slightly above nipple-level, and lifted again. Strengthens the shoulders and triceps quite a lot. Some opt to go behind-the-head with this lift, and I won't stop them, but I've found it to be severely uncomfortable and have read where this could lead to problems down the road.

Forward Lateral Raises are where dumbbells are raised directly in front of the lifter with straight arms. Hands are angled such that knuckles face directly forward. Do not lean, shift, or use your back or biceps to lift the weight, or you are a failure and your father will disown you.

Crucifix Raises (Jesus Christ Pose) is where dumbbells are raised to the side of the lifter with arms straight, ending in... well... (sorry Christians. I'm quoting Soundgarden here, and frankly, they rocked SO much harder than "Onward Christian Soldiers" ever could). Hands are angled such that the knuckles of each hand face directly outward.

Shrugs are ouch. The lifter uses either a straight bar or a shrug machine. Hands are shoulder-width apart on the bar. The weight is lifted to the waist, then "shrugged" upward using ONLY the traps, neck and shoulders. DO NOT ROLL YOUR SHOULDERS. If you do, you're an idiot who deserves the arthritis you're going to develop by doing that.


Back:

Upward Iso Row SUCKS. But it works. It's a row where the handles pull 45 degrees toward the user, beginning above the head with arms outstretched and ending around mid-chest with hands on either side of the chest. Works the lats, upper back.

Lower Iso Row is the angular inverse of the upward iso row. Hands begin outstretched at waist-level, and pull toward the chest diagonally upward, ending on either side of the chest. Meant to isolate the lats more than anything, and the upper back gets a good rollicking out of it.

Iso Row is the de-facto rowing exercise. The handle is directly in front of the lifter and is pulled horizontally to the chest. Strengthens the upper back, lats and to some degree, biceps (but if you feel a lot of strain in the biceps, YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG).

Deadlift is where insane amounts of weight are placed on a bar for the lifter to pull to the waist using only the lower back. The lifter stands on a 6" - 12" platform and bends at the waist, keeping the knees slightly bent for stability. The bar is grasped and pulled vertically up using ONLY the lower back - no shoulders, arms, or legs. Strengthens - you guessed it - the lower back.

Lat Pulldown is one of the more famous exercises - you've seen it on Saved By The Bell and in gym pr0n. A bar is connected to a cable which leads to stacks of weight. The lifter grabs the bar, sits on the seat, and pulls the bar down to either the chest or behind-the-head. Strengthens the lats. I will usually forego this in favor of upward and lower Iso rows, but sometimes I stack it in.

Plank Lat Raise is where I lay on a small bench with my back flat against it, legs stretched out, with a dumbbell in my hands. I raise it up off my chest, extend it all the way back over my head until it almost touches the floor, then pull it back up. For extra measure, I will sometimes do a quick tricep-push with the dumbbell off my chest between sets.

Pull-ups / Chin-ups are something you'll rarely see me do, if ever. I hate them. That's not because they're not a good excerise - they're FANTASTIC for overall back / lat / arm conditioning. I just hated doing them as a kid in gym class because everyone loves to laugh at the fat kid who can't pull himself up to a bar, and that stigma just never went away.


Biceps:

Curl is what too many men focus on in the gym and, as a result, they get ridiculous Popeye arms. Strenghens biceps, which is important, yes... But as a part of a package. Biceps pull. When you're tackling people or wrestling, it's good to have. When you're out at bars machoing it up and you end up in a fight, it's bad. Sure, you LOOK good, but the guy who was training triceps and chest just ended your night with a good right cross because you're an idiot training pulling strength. Dork.


Full-body:

Power Clean is the thing you see in training montages for football, basketball and wrestling movies. The weights are on a straight bar and placed on the floor. The lifter bends at the knees with the torso straight. Hands are placed on the bar at shoulder width, just inside of the feet which are also shoulder width. The weight is lifted off the floor using ONLY the legts until the bar is nearly waist-height, at which point the body sinks slightly to snatch the weight above the waist and up to the chest.

Don't try this without someone teaching you how to do it. It can really, really hurt you.

Precursor - a summary of events until now (or more simply, why the hell I'm doing this)

To kick this thing off, I'll start a few years back, around 2004. And why not? 2004 was a fine year for things to start.

Back then, there was this... Well, the only way to describe him is "jackass"... Who worked for me at a software company I led development for. This guy - we'll call him "Norman" because that was part of his name - was one of those fitness-freak types.

Not the kind we point and giggle at in public because they like working out a lot, but the type we point and giggle at in public because they are doing jumping jacks in the middle of the hallway regardless of who is working or standing around them.

The guy was a FREAK.

He was also a troublemaker with a huge race-related chip on his shoulder, but that's a story better suited for my next book. Anyway, he was a bit of a weirdo, but he had this idea that, at age 24, he could try out for the Georgia Force arena football team. After all, he played quarterback in high school and was a walk-on for his college team, so he had a good shot.

I laughed at him. "There's no way," I told him. And I was right - he was 5' 4" and about 160 lbs. He knew nothing about his chosen position (both in football and at the job he was hired for at my company). He failed right the heck out.

But it got me thinking... "Could I make it?" And yes, I know the name of this blog thing is "Could I have made it," but I'm getting to that part, so just simmer down.

It brought to mind a number of conversations between my father and I about playing in high school, and the opportunities I had to go to college and play... What would have happened if I'd stuck with the sport? What could I have achieved? My dad held (and still holds) the opinion that, if I'd not turned my back on the game my Senior year after some of the players peed in my helmet during a ridiculous hazing attempt, I could have GONE... ALL... THE... WAY!

Like, to the pros.

But then again, he's my dad, and as a matter of course, it's his job to say such things. And as his son (and a fervent realist), it's my job to poo-poo such silliness. And I'd done a fine job of it all the way until Norman The Fitness Freak directed my attention to the fact that there was a professional arena team in Atlanta that held open tryouts every year. And what's more - they post the results after the tryouts.

I looked at the results for 2004 and couldn't help but smirk. Bench press 225 lbs? Sure, not a problem. Run a 40 yard dash? Yeah, I could do that. Run through pass rush and pass blocking drills? Why not? I still remember how all that stuff works.

And that's where the notion turned into a little spark in my brain, based mostly on the realization that I still remember everything.

Every drill, every assignment, every technique... It's all second nature to me. I spent 8 years of my life practicing 5 days a week, 38 weeks of the year hammering that crap into my head. Of COURSE it was still there.

My thoughts while watching NFL and College games with my father began to change. They went from "Boy, I wish I was playing Tekken right now" to "Yeah, I remember that stuff..." to "Okay, yeah, maybe I COULD have made it to the pros."

Quite the leap, I know, but I'm trying to cover three years here. So give me a bit of leeway.

So, in 2006, I had a bit of a life experience that I'm not going to go into right now. It convinced me that I have no choice - get my ass back into the gym and do something with my body or I would end up in a very bad way. So I joined back up with Team in Training and trained for century rides in Tahoe, NV and Tuscon, AZ, and after that, I kept an intermittent schedule at the gym, lifting a few times a week and occasionally running.

Then, this year, I saw on television where the Georgia Force lost to Columbus Destroyers in the conference finals for the Arena Bowl. It reminded me of the conversations I'd had with Norman, and of the fact that the Force held open tryouts every year... And of course, of all of my talks with my dad and all of my past football-playing. And with the season ending, that would mean that open tryouts would be right around the corner.

And that's where the spark turned into a fire. At 30 years old, I've become obsessed with answering one question that has been bugging not only me, but a lot of people in my life -

Could I have made it?

And now, I'm determined to answer it.

Make no mistake - I don't have any retarded former-glory influenced delusions. I don't expect to walk into open tryouts at age 30 and say "Hey, I played in high school! Sign me right up!" I don't expect to make the best showing out there. But I know that, with enough training and enough drive, I can walk onto the field and at least make a showing. I can at least put on a decent tryout.

And if nothing else, I can end up with a pretty cool t-shirt.

So yeah - I'm going to try out for the Georgia Force, and I'm going to take you all along with me. My intention is to post my workouts to this site every day, and once a week, post a little video of my drills and whatnot to keep you appraised of my progress. The tryouts have not yet been announced, but according to the very nice people in the front office, there WILL be tryouts this year. They will probably be near the end of October (and last year, they had two - one in October and one in December). So, once they're announced, I'll post the date and begin a countdown. Until that point, I'll just keep track of my workouts and try to make them as interesting to read as possible.

Not that that's likely... It's a dude's workout. How interesting could it be? But hey, the background I made is nice to look at. Sorta. And the colors are cool.

Actually, I probably need to add moths and a vampire bat circling the lights to make them ultra-realistic.