Thursday, August 05, 2004


I had been in the gym about 18 minutes and I was almost done with the workout. I was covered with sweat from exertion. Tuesday was the first day of my new workout plan - Power of 10. I have been weight training on and off for the last 4 years. Six months ago I started back in the gym lifting weights 3 days and week and 30 minutes of cardio 5 days a week. I haven't really seen much in the way of results although my butt is probably about an inch higher than it was when I started. It seems that all that work has mostly been maintainence and that's about it.

When I started lifting weights 4 years ago I also started eating about 5 small meals a day. In the past year I've been having dessert after every meal so it's not all that shocking that my workouts aren't bringing on weight loss. I am sugar's bitch.

So when I saw one of those magazine shows featuring the doctor who developed the Power of 10 program going through a workout with Leslie Stahl, from 60 minutes, who looks like an elf, and she was leg pressing 400 pounds, I stopped to watch. The premise/promise of this plan is that if you weight train very slowly - a count of ten up and a count of ten back, using weights that will cause muscle failure in only 8 reps, then you only have to work out about 20 minutes, once a week. That's all.

Well, that sounds great to me! I hate working out. I do it so I can be healthy and sit down without blowing the ass out of my pants. I do like being strong and I do like being toned, and if I can do it by lifting weights slowly for about 20 minutes once a week, I'm in! So I ordered the book and it arrived Monday. I read it quickly and was pleased to see that I was already basically following the nutritional recommendations. I just had to cut out all sugar - completely. But you know if I can lose weight and only work out once a week I can make that sacrifice. The third part of the plan after the slow weight lifting and the 6 little meals a day is rest. Yes, you are supposed to rest and give your body a chance to recover. I am an excellent rester.

Yesterday was the first day of the Power of 10 program. Armed with my form upon which I wrote down the 5 exercises I was to do I went to the gym and for the first time in a really long time I didn't do any cardio. I just got right down to it. Since Leslie Stahl is able to leg press 400 pounds I thought I'd start with 200 because, you know, she's been doing it a while. Clearly I would need to work up from the lower weight. I hopped on the machine and pinned the weight and pushed - nothing happened. I couldn't budge the thing. So I kept lowering the weight until finally at 130 pounds I was able to get the thing to budge and I slooooooooowly, being conscious of my breathing, pushed myself back against the machine so that at the count of 10 my legs were almost straight and I began to ease myself back down, breathing and counting to 10. On the second rep I could feel my muscles start to burn but I kept going slowly and evenly, sweat breaking out from the effort. By the time I was on the 8th rep my muscles were trembling and I was unable to push myself any further than halfway back. The burn was intense as my muscles failed and I sat there pushing and burning for another 10 seconds.

Success - I had muscle failure!

I went through the lat pulldown, the chest press, the bicep curl and finally the abdominal crunches, completing the circuit in about 20 minutes. I found that I wasn't able to lift weight much heavier than I normally did because lifting slowly worked the muscles so much more intensely. I was a quivering mess at the end of what seemed to me, a very brief workout. But in that brief period of time I had expended more energy and was feeling it more than I had in a long time. I could barely shower and was completely exhausted by yesterday afternoon. My body was profoundly tired. I fell asleep in about 10 minutes last night.

And woke up this morning sore all over. I thought that, maybe, just maybe, I would get up and do 30 minutes of cardio just because I'm used to the discipline of working out everyday. But when I got up to pee every muscle in body shrieked in protest and I almost fell in the toilet as my aching muscles continued to fail. As I sit here writing this I am aware of every muscle in my body. The rest part of the this program is more profoundly necessary than I thought.

I think I will start lifting like this twice a week because it will make me stronger faster and I will rest the day immediately following the lifting. But I'm still going to go do my cardio at the gym because, well, there is a very cute guy who does yoga near where I work out and I love to watch him. I think it will be even more fun because now it's a "want to" instead of a "have to" and if this program works they way it's proponents say it does then I should also get really strong. And that's a good thing because with my dating track record so far it may always be up to me to get the lid off the pickle jar.

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