Today is another long day at work. It’s been a hectic period at the office. I’ve been assigned many projects at once. I’m not a multitasking guru. I like to focus on one major task at a time. That’s not the case right now. But that’s out of my control. I’m doing my duties as best as I can. The outcome is not completely up to me so I’m not going to worry about it. The worry won’t help.
After the aforementioned long day, I’m lying here on the gym floor, resting between sets. Today is another workout day, as usual. The iron gives me something to work on, so I’m not just sitting there stressed about the heavy workload. This here in the small and quiet gym, I am home. I’m just here working on getting better at lifting; that’s all. Nothing complicated. My one task is to move weight up and down. That’s it. That’s my goal for this evening. This is my life now. At this hour, I don’t have to deal with people. I don’t have to deal with any assignments during this workout. It’s my escape. When I finish tiring myself out I will just go to make dinner. The simplicity of being here in the gym is very therapeutic to me.
The iron has offered me more than a way to get stronger. This here is my therapy.
Sometimes I feel old. My memories of high school and college are still fresh. Now that I am almost 40, sometimes I wonder how I get here and where have all the years gone.
Time seems to pass by faster as you age. When you were a kid, every moment was filled with new experience. You saw cool new things and you were amazed by them. The world was exciting. You collect the moments in your memory bags. The length of the day was determined by the weight of the that day’s bag.
As you get older, new experience comes less and less frequently. Each day seems more and more similar to yesterday. The days’ bags don’t get filled anymore. Days without new experience feel short. Short days turn into short months and years.
You put your head down and do things that adults do. Work, get paid, build a life for yourself and your family. Suddenly your childhood years are way behind you and you wonder where has all the time gone.
When excitement doesn’t come by easily, you need to find it your own way to keep going. You can be a responsible adult who works hard but also finds things to put in your memory bags. It doesn’t matter if you are 40, 50, or 70. The whole point is to keep being amazed about being alive. Find the things that make you feel alive, and do them.
I’m not perfect. I don’t know many things. I’m not very good at many things. I make many mistakes. I say stupid things sometimes. I’m not as smart as I wish I am. I don’t make people smile or laugh as much as I wish I can. When I die I probably won’t have changed the world as much as I wish I can.
I’m not great. I’m just okay.
But I give my best effort. I think I contribute to the world more than I take away and I help make it a better place as much as I can with my limited abilities.
And that’s okay.
I’m okay with that.
Having lots of stuff requires time. Time to take care of them. Time to worry about losng or breaking them. Time of worry is time wasted in your life.
There’s also financial burden to keep them in good conditions. Dirty things need cleaning. Broken things need repair.
Most things you own aren’t necessary. They are extraneous. They can be a burden.
A minimal life requires less maintenance. Own things that matter to you. Discard the rest.
Phones have gotten pretty powerful these days. You can search for any information from anywhere with internet access. The opportunity to learn is almost unlimited. When I was a student in college the internet wasn’t this great. I still went to library to look for information. I’m a curious type who always want to know more about stuff. Technology can be great. It should be appreciated more how we can learn about anything any time we want. (Except in countries where contents are heavily censored. Free information access should be a basic human right. That’s a subject for another day.)
Nowadays I use my phone mostly to
– blog on wordpress like I’m doing right now
– learn stuff
– connect with people via line, facebook
– log workouts
– find directions
– enjoy music and watch YouTube
– work – emails, reminders, appointments, write stuff
I like games but I prefer to play on a PC. I only play sudoku and chess on the phone.
Last but not least, I just like to kill time during long bus rides. Like this evening, which is almost exactly like last Friday, I spend so much time sitting in one place. (It’s been almost 2 hours 30 min on the bus.) Without a phone I would probably suffer much more.
Smart phones are pretty great. I don’t know what’s the big deal with people moaning how much people are spending so much time on their phones. Simple: phones are fun and useful. That’s why people like to use them!
I will start writing about my main lifts for a little bit in a short series. They won’t be consecutively posted but I will try to wrap them up before too long.
There are probably thousands of articles and hundreds of videos teaching you how to do these exercises. But these are about my personal feelings about them. Nothing too technical here. I’m by no means an expert. I’ve been lifting for less than two years. My lifts are pretty average. Still, I know more than when I started out. If there are somebody out there at my two-years-ago level (skinny late-30s who has never picked up a weight before), the posts can be a tiny bit useful. Anyway, let’s begin.
All these lifts can be done with just a barbell, a flat bench, and a power rack. No fancy machines are needed. They are minimal, like me.
Lift 1: Squat
The best leg workout there is. The basic setup is to rest the barbell somewhere on your body, stand up straight, squat down until you hit parallel (hip crease below knees), then stand up. Pretty straightforward. It’s a natural human movement. Kids squat all the time to pick things up or to rest their legs. The squat should feel natural when you perform the movement.
There are different variations to the squat. Three main bar positions are high bar (on traps) back squat, low bar (below rear delts) back squat, and front squat. Feet width can be close stance, middle stance, wide stance. By varying along these two parameters you have already nine squat variants that work muscles to a different degree. Then you can customize the squat in even more different ways such as pausing at the bottom or even starting there.
I’m not comfortable doing low bar squat as it hurts my shoulders. With front squat, I have trouble securing the bar in place when going heavy. Everybody is built differently. My natural squat stance is high bar squat.
The high bar back squat “body checklist” that works for me is
1. Back flat. Don’t round it or you will get hurt.
2. Head neutral with back. Don’t look too high or low.
3. Toes out, knees out the same direction.
4. Tighten everything. Squeeze bar, pull shoulder blades back, squeeze glutes.
5. Fill stomach with air to tighten core. Don’t exhale until rep is completed.
6. Sit down to parallel.
7. Then imagine pushing feet through the floor as you stand up, extend knees and hips at the same time.
8. Keep bar directly above feet at all time.
Squat builds the base of your body. It gives you strong quads, hamstrings, glutes, and core. It’s awesome. Everyone should do it. It also builds confidence like no others. With the weight pushing you down, you force yourself back up. Just like life.
Learn new things. Be a noob (newbie). Take a first step into a road you have never traversed. Get uncomfortable. That’s how you grow. Go out and do the things you want to do. It will be hard at first. That’s the point. Change yourself by challenging yourself.
Experts are all once noobs in their respective specialties. When you meet someone who is really good at what he does, recognize the road of learning he must go through. That road takes him from a novice to an expert. You too can be an expert if you aren’t afraid to be a novice.
Life is short. Experience. Satisfaction comes from achieving something difficult. To achieve that you must first dare to attempt it. Be a noob and keep learning.