The Perfect Workout
I started competitive sports when I was in third grade. I was seven at the time because my birthday isn’t until the end of May. So, I started playing basketball in 1974, and it wasn’t like it is now. At seven, we had grueling two-hour practices every Monday thru Friday: drill, drill, drill.
Forty-seven years later, all that work has taken a bit of a toll. Back then, recovery was for “girlie men.” So, now I created the perfect workout for myself and my never-ending joint pain. Please remember, this is my workout. It works for me. Will it work for you? I don’t know. So, this isn’t advice, this is just a snapshot of my life.
Now, I want to give credit where credit is due. Special thanks to Jeff Cavaliere at Athlean-X for his Youtube channel; Jeff is a physical therapist and was a trainer for the Mets.
Sets and reps.
Every exercise is done to failure. After failure, I try to grind out about five more using less weight, partial reps, or some kind of modification. And, I only do one set. Just one. For legs, I do some bodyweight lunges for warmups.
Physical development is a two-step process. First, you train. Second, your body changes to adapt to the stress of exercise via recovery. Without recovery, exercise is harmful. This was big for me when I was younger. I didn’t give my body the time to recover, and I often paid for it. People who work out twice a day are using chemistry to recover faster.
Chest. For chest, I do a special kind of pushup that I learned from Jeff Cavalieri at Athlean-X. It mimics the path your arms take when you bench press. The key is that you’re not pushing up off of the ground, you’re squeezing your elbows towards each other.
Back. For the back, I do eccentric or negative pull-ups because I weigh a lot (240 pounds). So, you jump up to the top of the exercise and then let yourself down slowly using a count of 4 and then 3 when it gets harder. Any less than three and stop. If you weigh less, you might want to add some weight.
Shoulders. For shoulders, I do a superset. Sitting on a bench and leaning forward, I lift both hands up in front of me, then to the sides, then pulling back while rotating the wrist to be up, and then finally pulling the elbow in tight to the body with my palms parallel to my sides
Biceps. For biceps, I love using bands. So, I do crossbody curls with a green 70-pound band. I’m actually using about 50 pounds. For every one full rep, I do three 1/3 reps at the top. This is because most muscle is activated at peak contraction.
Triceps. For triceps, I do bench pull-overs tricep extensions with the green band. Like the name, you start with a pullover and then turn it into a tricep extension. Extending the weight behind your head like a pullover stretches that tricep muscle.
Abs. For these, I do a different exercise every time. I really like negative crunches. I take a 50-pound plate and hold it in tight when I crunch up and hold it over my head when I come back down slowly.
Quads. I work out at home because of pandemic. So, I rely on the Romanian Split Squat and a backpack. I have 50 pounds in my backpack, and I do them to failure. Drop the backpack and do 10 more. Remember to keep your knee stable and do them in a doorway to help with balance and spotting.
Hamstrings. First off, you need to kneel down and then stuff your feet under something heavy. I use a weight bench that has a weight rack. I load up the weight rack, kneel facing away from the bench, stuff my feet under, and then slowly lower my upper body down using my hamstrings. I love these. It helps to start with an exercise ball to control the drop.
Calves. The first rule of calves, no bouncing. The tendons were made for bouncing and they’re not muscle. I have to admit, I have weak calves. I tried doing these one-legged, and it was too much weight. I do them two legs with the 50-pound backpack. One rep consists of 4 seconds at the absolute stretched bottom, a slow rise to the top of the contraction, and then another 4 seconds there. To failure with grinders.
So, that’s my perfect workout: short, sweet, and efficient. I do this twice a week, sometimes three, sometimes, once. It depends on my recovery.