Tag Archives: Reps

Reflecting Meathead


Is it true once a meathead always a meathead? 

I’m not entirely sure but I have been testing it out on a weekly basis.  During the week I perform multiple Ballet Beautiful workouts, however in the weekends (and one day a week) I save my weightlifting sessions and treat them like royalty.  I savor every exercise and every rep even though I changed my rep style and training techniques.

Since my goals are different my programs consist of higher rep ranges than what I’m used to, also more circuit-training style and also tri-sets/giant sets.  The rest time has been super short and interesting.  Ever since I started spreading out my Ballet Beautiful workouts throughout the day – I became comfortable with doing quicker workouts.  I also became addicted to a different kind of fascinating localized burn.

For a long time I used to perform 2-3 hours in the gym on weightlifting and cardio sessions but now I’m on to doing everything different.  To be honest, I don’t think I enjoy long workouts at the moment.  At the moment it feels like getting my workouts done quickly is a new accomplishment.  I do have to control my breathing as I’m dying half the time, with or without digesting caffeine.  On this note:  The last few years I actually enjoy taking caffeine for workout sessions because there are times when it blunts the hardcore pain and burn – it makes it easier to get through difficult super intense workouts.

I’ve broken up my weightlifting/strength-training bouts typically into these body parts:  Shoulders, Traps & Back, Chest & Back or Chest, Squats & Arms or Legs, Glutes and Arms.  It’s very typical of me to do any body part along with Back (and I’ve been trying to get out of this habit) because I love training back!  Then there are times when I throw in many different push ups at one time and bang them out as quickly as possible while aiming for 100 reps or higher as a round 1 or round 2 of my workout in the day.  I have a soft spot for push ups because being a woman it proved difficult for me to get to a place where I could do one push up, so now generally I go buck-wild doing them because I can now.  It keeps the upper body and core strength high anyway.

This past weekend I performed Barbell Bent-Over Rows (underhand), Dumbbell Shoulder Press, Bent-Over Rear Delt Flyes and Dumbbell Bicep curls one after another.  I’ve never been a big fan of tri-sets or giant sets back in the days – here and there they were a once in a blue thing, but for the most part straight and supersets were always my go to with rest-pause/staggered sets.

Back to the weekend, I dug my feet into the ground and got into a perfect 90 degree with my body so my hamstrings are stretched yet contracted isometric and pulling underhand for the Bent-Over Rows.  I felt absolutely amazing!  It’s like an invisible breeze flowed through my hair, although it felt like a sauna in the room.

And I felt wild fire spread across the forest of my muscles.  I love when it feels like my entire body grows swollen in a matter of seconds and the delts start to fill like balloons.  I love when the body comes off as if it’s hitting muscular failure when each set goes on and the pull of the motion seems to get jerky and doesn’t feel as smooth yet the reality is you’re not jerking your body in a discombobulated fashion.  You’re just becoming one with the mind-muscle-body connection.

Then I moved right into the Standing Dumbbell Shoulder Press as my abdominals pulled itself in while the glutes keep taunt and super tight to aid in a strong soldier position.  I pumped out reps and focused on maintaining good breathing techniques as my heart raced and raced and raced.

My lats became a passionate bonfire while in the Dumbbell Bent-Over Rear Delt Flyes.  I got into the perfect 90 degree, and my hamstrings are stretched yet contracted isometric again, but this time I have to pull back almost in an arc.  I fought through the raging flame.  I fought through gravity.  I fought through the speeding heart.  I grinded my teeth.  My cheeks puffed up like a hamster binging.  My mascara sweated and burned in my eyes.

Then quickly I moved into Dumbbell Bicep Curls and smiled at myself in the mirror.  My delts are pumped and I could see these lines embedded in the top of my traps every time I alternated curling and squeezing for two seconds before coming back down.  And it’s in these times where I realized how much I’ve busted my ass training with the first loves of my life:  Dumbbells and Barbells.  This is true resistance.  I love the iron and nothing can ever take its place.

I felt the rush of blood raged through my veins rep after rep after rep as I moved and grimace on to each exercise until I finally took a rest for a few moments before I had to hit it again for another 3 more big sets.  This was another reminder that once a meathead is always a meathead.  It’s a drug.  It’s an addiction.  It’s something my body and my mind calls for without a shadow of a doubt.  This is true love.

Weightlifting gives me a different outlet by allowing me to tap into various types of emotions that dwell within me.  When I want to feel like a hungry beast, when I want to take my aggression out, when I want to tighten my skin, when I want to swell my body parts like I live off a tank of helium and when I want to feel like my strong self again – I have weightlifting to count on.

Ballet Beautiful allows me to feel feminine and it provides contrast for my weightlifting.  Weightlifting makes me feel masculine – and if this sounds sexist to you – then that sounds like a personal problem.  I embrace both essences of gender.  Both training systems work for me in different ways, like I work on bigger muscle with weights and smaller ones with Ballet Beautiful.  They both have everlasting techniques and history.  They both share technique, strength and grace.

I acquire distinctive endorphins from both training systems, but it seems like weightlifting is what makes my blood fire instinctively and it makes me feel powerful and invincible – capable of anything and everything.

  -Pennington

Lack of Drive Kind of Night


Pale Comparison
Today I woke up, among a lack of drive, aches in the center of traps, spinning wheels against the uneasiness of day.  I looked for inspiration in opened paperbacks, dipped into phony motivation within cups of roasted caffeine.  I regretted it once I finished the cup because my mouth tasted like darkness and death.  But, the mood was lightened through warm phone conversations.  I came across a twenty-four hour CVS store, entered awkwardly like an orphanage and lingered in the wellness aisles, until I purchased a 5-hour energy drink.

On the train platform I waited.  Destination to gym was approximately thirty minutes.  Similar to a concealed alcoholic, I glanced over my shoulder; full suspicion, threw my head back and drank junk energy.  Eleven-something-PM and the red line pulled in with swarming bodies.  I entered and a kind middle-aged man took his jacket off the seat, so I can sit and wouldn’t have to scramble for a comfortable standing spot.  I smiled.  I didn’t want to be rude and decline the offer and in return I thanked him.  I sat between him and another man who plainly made love to his dazzling tablet with his eyes.

Smashed in the middle, my arms laid over my book-bag, hands clasped obedient.  Heat rose to caress my face, but it was followed by rolled evil eyes.  I scanned mush-sardines everywhere.  And every now and again, I stared awfully long and awfully hard at the ceiling, prayed to God for bodies to exit the cart or die.  I wasn’t sure how much longer I could take my inner thighs contracting under excruciating tension.  There was wicked edge in my legs and they were about to cramp like Charlie horses in the core of night.  I prayed in excess.  I needed anything and everything to take my mind away from expanding fury.

When I noticed a group of male friends in front of me lined up like bowling pins and how each had the same brand on:  Levi’s.  My heart rate decreased from anger and eased once I searched for the outlines of buttocks:  Who owned the biggest, who was trying to show it off and who was trying to put their glutes out of sight?  Then the kind man who made space for me originally was getting off the train and my heart soared knowing I’d be able to breathe large again by swerving to the left and conquering the corner seat.  Thank god and the heavens!

Walking through the gym doors, I saw the regular night shift receptionist guy put his conversation on hold to greet me with a huge grin; he puts my mind at ease by saying, “Hello!  Have a good one!”  All smiles, passing a row of proud ellipticals; I jog the flight of stairs.  I quickly analyzed the weight-room with a criminal grill, turned the corner to find a caramel-Dominican running on the treadmill in mesh shorts with buttocks hopping in succession.  I slowed down to catch a few seconds of eye-candy and disappeared like magic into the locker room.

Feeling internally flirty, the hair went in a high ponytail, bangs are held back by a bobby pin and I creep to the weight-room floor.  I eye-fucked the first exercise to get me primed and ready to rock and roll:  Seated rows!  And with the lat-pulldown bar attachment, taking the hand placement as wide as the sky, set after set, fifteen full reps each, I burn and flame, burn and flame.  I start to love myself.  The blaze starts to give me repeated drive.

I moved on to dumbbell seated shoulder press and with the first set I reached a full fifteen reps with 30lbs.  But by the third set my triceps were fried (thanks to the bang of the buck of Seated Rows – surely you can figure it out) and my favorite technique, rest-pause took over.  It went from 5 to 4 to 3 reps.  My mental flare shook its head each time in a kind of displeased failure.  Angry, I powerwalked to the back of the gym and sighed at the sight of the pull-up assisted machine.

I know how every rep feels before I perform them:  Difficult, treading through deep water, muddy-like, an overload of massive bodyweight.  Sometimes I wish they were a walk through the park, but deep down inside I would never want this.  Roughly 8 set of tough chins and pulls than kept it moving.  The incline rear-delt flyes are tougher than they appear; the ego lowers itself along with the weight to be used, another exercise that stops the hardcore flare in my mind.  After deep breaths taken, full contraction and 2-3 second holds at the top of every rep, the first set wrapped, and I notice the group of men from the corner of my eyes nodding respect at my performance.

The most challenging thing of the rear-delt flyes is not dropping my face into the bench when I start to fatigue and create grimaces like a mad hulk, to fight any sort of momentum and not go beyond the range of motion to strike a meek nerve.  Then on to the front raise with a barbell, go high above my head, core braced and my entire body tight in one line.  The scorching starts from the top of my traps, slides into my deltoids and enters in the center of my back.  By the end of the sets, I pause on every fourth rep.  I shake my head in partial defeat, and I rise again in full power.

By this time, I imagine the snarl of my vagina rages with odors of unfathomable ammonia, growing more teeth as every bit of exhaustion tries to yank me in submission.   I stuck my hand out in front of my body and examined my fingers for the rush and temp of adrenaline.  I need the shaking reminder, the bearing of fruit.  Happy and high, bent-over rows became the name of the game, pyramided by 10lb increments, pushing through countless reps and the dead hang arm feeling only to row, row, row it back.

Face pulls, a classic, cable tension, good stretch, long step back.  I felt my teres minor flared from the front raises and as a result I stretched for twenty seconds in between sets.  Then the lat-pulldown machine, not cable, actual machine because my muscles respond at a greater frenzy.  Within this meantime, I couldn’t help but enjoy the puzzled look on the woman’s mug, a kind of blasé air, pursed lips on a nipple water bottle, eyes lowered, dragged in slow-motion to the corner to glare towards my action.

I finished with calves on an extension machine I grew to love; abusing it bilaterally until they scream further into mercy unilaterally followed by abdominal exercises.  My entire happy ending came to a halt once I got down on the perky blue mat of heaven and performed 50 reps of Superwoman’s and heard the middle of my back crack.  I found myself in the locker, hands washed, headphones bagged in its pouch, headed down the stairs where the guy receptionist said, “Have a good night.”

And I did.
I did. 

But I’m still struggling from the lack of motivation.

-Pennington

Training Maturity


Camera 360

I’m not speaking about how older muscles have hardened over the years with recurring lifting or mean this by the density which occurs with steady reliability and perseverance that comes from the power of character and passion to train.  But I mean this in terms of the mental and belief development and how wonderful it is to be receptive to change.

I love change, more specifically when there isn’t a conscious decision made to transform.  I love when the tiny things in life flow under the disguise of remarkable intuition and unquestionable faith.  The splendor within the apparent connection of mind and of body has been excellent to me when it comes to Training.

Across the decade, I’ve made several mistakes, I’ve taken on the delightful delights and terrible burdens of injury, I’ve underwent many setbacks and on the flip of the coin sprung with vigor forwardness, I’ve followed like a scared newbie on what others did inside the gym and learned to lead my own path and training philosophies and now I can reflect on some changes that are coming out on top: Training maturity.

The first thing I noticed over time is I slowly strayed away from isolation movements and went into exercise programs that only allowed room for compounds.  This proved well as I have less muscle imbalances and various smaller muscles have caught up to the much bigger ones giving me fewer injuries and smaller amounts of overcompensation overall.  And although switching out isolation exercises for compounds may seem logical, the combination of misinformation on top of the endless harassment of the ego is a complex mission to prevail.

Second thing I noticed more this coming year is how I’ve found myself taking pleasure in working my body in multiples planes and engaging every muscle to work in synergy.  This has introduced lots of gains at a quicker pace in terms of visual definition.  For years I relied on Bodybuilding style.  Except I realized the gains are time-consuming if you don’t couple this approach with extreme dieting as close to one-hundred percent of the time.  I’ve realized it’s better for me to push to train (almost) like an athlete with total body workouts with a wide range of labor.  I can do this now because I’ve developed vastly and because of this quality I’ve been able to grasp one plain fact:  There isn’t one road to being fit or appearing the part.

Nowadays, my motivation comes differently and as one fitness enthusiast or gym rat can say, motivation is hard to sustain and throughout the years motivation comes in different behaviors, different apparel, through different gym clubs, through different people and different frames of intelligence and strategy.

Lately, I don’t find it challenging or motivating to lift and stick with one or two body parts per training session.  I don’t find it challenging or motivating to stick with basic tried and true exercises with a rep and set scheme.  I don’t find it motivating to be in a box or keep myself trapped in there.  A perfect example was how for many years I’d remain limited on a rep scheme.  I would write it down on paper long before heading into the gym and because that number was the one in my head it was all I ever did for a long friggin time.  I never went pass that particular number, almost as if it were a crime.

This led to a chain reaction because the questions were obvious:  How many times could I have gone pass the rep and created new and improved muscle growth?  How many times could I have increased the poundage if I weren’t afraid to pass beyond the rep in my head?  Why did I choose to limit myself in this way?  Was this a part of self-sabotage?  Or what I constructed around the entire belief system of the rep scheme?

Another thing where I’ve matured is actually utilizing the training partner at hand.  Tonight I trained my ass off and stood probably 2 hours in the gym just zoning out and lifting to my hearts content. However back then I wouldn’t have used my training partner the way I did this evening because pride and selfishness.  During the Hammer Strength Incline Chest Press I had him assist me by pulling on the lift itself first (at extension) so I didn’t have to waste not an ounce of pointless exertion pushing entirely on the first rep.

I didn’t have all the bright energy I’m used to having on a regular basis.  But this helped me enormously and I didn’t allow myself to feel crucified by my ego or having to be prideful to do every little thing myself rather than saying, “Yeah we can use a little help today to cut a slight corner or two and what’s wrong with that?”  Nothing, if you don’t limit yourself (or abuse help).

The permanence of the mind and what things we hold close to our chest in the act of searching for meaning can be a tricky thing.  How do you learn to let go of concrete beliefs when they become too old to even be useful anymore?  Surely, every person has their own response.  Yet if you ask me, I’m more than willing to say maturity is my answer back, along with being aware with what is the precise type of intuition within your significance of mind, expansion and substance.

-Pennington Hall

Strong Days, Weak Days, Egging On And Acceptance


You’re going to have strong days and weak days.

Surely, when it comes to life and every single aspect it has to offer you in general.  However in this case, I’ve learned to accept this strong vs weak days truth just like I’ve accepted the system in the United States of America is corrupted beyond means.  But, yes, I’m talking about the many episodes of my Training Life.

What’s interesting enough is there are still days and nights where I want to go against myself and the acceptance of naked reality when there’s someone egging me on quite in the way groups will instigate an all out brawl in High School.  (But maybe that was my High School and not to be confused with yours?)

There are moments of betrayal even when I know how hard I should or shouldn’t push myself.  Even when I’ve kept to close examination and intuition of my own body.  I know when I’m feeling weak as a person who’s lost their will before they even began a weight-loss or school program and I also know when I’m feeling army strong and can take on all the planets in the solar system.

Last night I wasn’t completely weak.

I noticed on numerous occasions, on the days I’ve let out shit loads of emotions externally (mostly anger) that by the time evening falls and when it’s my time to shine I can’t gain that lost energy back.  So it’s tremendously vital for me not to waste precious exertion on anyone or anything.  But there are good days when every street corner presents a red light to drivers so you can cross.  And than there are bad days where the beauty of the sky becomes a state of hell.  I can’t promise myself to be a saint when it comes to maintaining composure at all times.  But I can try.

So I started with Box Squats (which I’ve never performed in my life).  Did 5 sets of those.  I moved right into Military Presses than came Deadlifts.  Typically I warm up with 135lbs (doesn’t everyone?) and increased.  When I did my reps for 175lbs (grip: double-handed) I felt that it was tough as oppose to last week when it felt light as a feather.  Up to 195lbs, (making a snow-white of a mess with chalk because I like being dirty) still came off like a struggle.

My personal record is 210lbs for 4 reps.  However with the way I felt last night I knew I wasn’t going to hit that mark or even break a fucking record.  I told my partner in crime, “I don’t have it in me.  I don’t even want to do those 5 goddamn reps for 205lbs.”  He went on, “You got it.  Let’s go.”

I did 2 reps.
It seemed fairly easy.
I counted 10 inhales.
Got another rep in.
Both my entire hands hurt.
I grimaced in pain.
Is this chalk not working? 😉
I shook it off.
Once.  Maybe twice.
No more buying time.

Partner in crime says,
“You’re almost there.  You got it.”

But deep down inside I’m fucking scrambling.
My normal chants in my mind aren’t working.
I searched around the gym for strength.
I’m sweating under my own pressure.
15 inhales/exhales later.
I get the 4th rep up.
My grunt is even louder.
It comes from the womb I believe?

And once the dead weight comes to it’s deadness.
I crouched down and shuddered.. at knowing the 5th rep is a no go.
I still refused to admit defeat of any kind.
Partner In Crime is saying,
“You got it.  You got it.”

20 inhales later.
I make the first attempt to my 5th rep.
Not even halfway up I crashed the weight back down.
I felt pitiful while trying to keep composure.
But I make no mention out loud.

Partner in crime with his odd words of encouragement:
“You’re not giving up that easy.”
As I walked away from the barbell.
Smacking my hands together in anger.
Powder flourishes in the air.
I shake my brain this time.
I snapped, “I’m not!”

I attempted another rep after 15 inhalations.
With my body trembling,
I pulled more than halfway this time…

And I want to make it for me.
I want to make it for him.
I want to make it for every Fitness Family Member I know.
I want to make it for every woman.
I want to make it for my aggression.
I want to make it for everything I stand for.
But I didn’t have it.
And even though I had someone egging me on.
On one of my weak days.
And though I kept pushing.
Betraying my body.

I was reminded by nearly injuring myself.
To stop.
Even if my partner didn’t know any better or know my body.
Because my form was crumbling.
Because my struggle quivered in my sneakers.
Because it occurred during my anger..
Of not getting the last rep where I needed it to be..
When I know in every shred of my being
I’m fucking stronger than this.

Years ago I’d get depressed and mope.
But now I understand how you have to handle your business.
By handle I mean:  GIVE IT YOUR ALL!
Because sometimes it’s going to be one of those weak days.
Even when you’re mentally:  One-hundred percent.
So accept it!

-Pennington