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BEARDED BEAR UPDATE, WEEK FOUR

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STUFF HURTS AND THAT’S FINE

PICTURED: RECOVERY DAY
  1. CATCHING UP: You may recall we got a workout from the former assistant strength coach for the North Dakota State Bison, Ryan Napoli. He’s now the head strength coach at Southeast Missouri State, but was happy to take time out of his busy schedule to a.) not fight me for saying he looked like a bear, and b.) also gave me a workout regimen to follow when I asked him for one. It’s week four, we are overdue for updates, and here’s an update. The workout, for reference, is posted in screenshots below the post.
  2. Stuff hurts—that’s a general rule if you’re over 30, and it should not freak you out because most of the things that hurt don’t do it for long, and do not hurt in a way that signals that something is torn, broken, lacerated, or seconds from bursting. That has to be the assumption, at least, if you’re going to try moving or doing anything at all once you get past the glorious and stupid state of naturally assisted physical stupidity.
  3. For instance.
  4. At one point, I could lift weights and run a very, very slow three miles post workout in Florida heat after drinking far too many Miller High Lifes. I could get four hours sleep and still pull off a respectable squat session, perhaps after eating only three eggs for breakfast and a 1200 calorie Chick-Fil-A fried chicken sandwich meal with fries and Coke for lunch, and without feeling that I had just tried to squat with a gut full of greasy, intestine-streaking fried chicken. It was dumb then and it would be dumb now— but I could do that. For a long time you can drive your body like it is a big ol’ stupid new car that requires no care whatsoever. Most people who do this with cars trade them in the instant the first big repair happens, or if they need a new set of tires.
  5. You can’t trade your body in yet. When I can, I will. I will custom order one to look exactly like Drax the Destroyer in Guardians of the Galaxy. Note: Not Dave Bautista, the WWE wrestler and actor, but Drax, right down to the blue skin and red tattoos. It’s my body, and if I can have my brain implanted in new custom lab-grown one for another 50 to 100 years for money, it will be the one I order to spec. I might even carry the knives, local laws permitting.
  6. Because I can’t do that yet, I have to deal with this one. I have to be very positive about it, too. Anyone who works in sports for a second knows, you did not win this lottery. Other lotteries, sure—societally, socially, intellectually, sure, but physically? Physically, I am not an aristocrat. I’ve seen physical aristocrats. They are LeBron James, and they can dunk with a two-step approach, do sets of 15 pull-ups at 250 pounds bodyweight, and casually become decent amateurs in strange sports with a week’s practice. They’re Randy Moss, or JJ Watt, who for all the talk of hard work making everything happen also takes advantage of having very, very good genes. This is a prole body, with mostly prole specs, the budget rental of bodies. It is average at best.
  7. Still: The cool part is that it works, even with the litany of little parts I believe are seconds from shearing off my body. Better still, when I’m lifting, I can sometimes just notice this little private history of immense foolishness. There’s a tweak in my neck, just a little one, that I sometimes feel from the time a friend of mine and I in college tried to go back to back, link arms, and flip me over after a few beers. It turned into a piledriver. No, I didn’t go to the hospital, but every now and then it says: hello. There’s a spot in my shoulder from the time I slept so hard on my stomach on a giant beanbag after drinking that my head gradually sank beneath my arm, slowly straining my rotator cuff over the course of ten hours’ of sleep. Being drunk isn’t a vaction: it’s a bad job, and the worker’s comp is practically nonexistent.
  8. There’s also the spot in my back where I broke the edge off a vertebra falling off a pullup bar onto a 45 pound plate, when I drove home thinking that I’d lacerated my kidney, or maybe just had a deep bruise. By the way, that’s another difference between you and football player. That inury—a fracture of the xyphoid process—is a common injury for players speared in the back by the crown of tacklers’ helmets. I had to lay in bed for a week blasted off painkillers and muscle relaxers afterwards. Football players have played games the next week after that, albeit often with the help of drugs designed to get car crash victims through major surgeries.
  9. Those are all healed, but I also still know they’re there. They like to remind you: don’t do anything stupid, because you’ve already done that, and anything stupid you do from this point forward won’t be as polite with the reminders.
  10. In the middle of week four, there’s all that, and there’s stupid things you can’t control. For instance, you might get food poisoning on a plane going cross-country. If you can help it, ever: DON’T GET FOOD POISONING ON A REDEYE GOING CROSS-COUNTRY. It will cause you to miss a workout because you have nothing left in your body to digest, and also make you no friends when you lay on the floor of a bathroom for three and a half hours with an ice pack made out of a rubber glove on the back of your neck.
  11. Still only missed one workout, though, shouts out to the Retro Fitness in lower Manhattan. (They had a platform and chains and stuff! It’s like New York is almost part of America.) Stuff—your stuff—can generally hurt, but it also generally feels a lot better if you go ahead and move it. That’s another one of those extremely corny and obvious metaphors from the “my workout is a lot like lahfe” inspirational board. It’s also true—even if it’s sore as hell, you should go ahead and move it, because it will probably feel much, much better afterwards. (Even if you’re 24 hrs removed from a marathon retching session in a JetBlue bathroom.)
  12. Despite that, in week four the side effects are real. The urge to eat meat, all meat, any meat, is irresistible. I haven’t fought it at all, or resisted the urge to actually go to bed because I’m tired at a reasonable hour, and actually need sleep. It’s very weird to think about sleep not as an inconvenience, but as something you need to get to the next workout without bonking or drudging through the day like you have Spanish influenza. You will totally do this if you’re not sleeping enough, provided you are not an 18 year old with naturally occurring HGH surging through your system.
  13. Also that thing everyone jokes about where a guy goes to the gym twice and walks around perfectly upright with his shoulders hunched? REAL. THIS IS TOTALLY REAL, EVEN AFTER FOUR WEEKS. I will not admit it if you see me but I am dying to find reasons to lift things, any of the the things. I lifted my wife by her belt loops onto the kitchen counter. This was totally unnecessary, and Idid it. I will happily try to lift you if I see you. If you bring this up in person I WILL DENY EVER HAVING SAID IT, EVEN IN WRITING.
  14. Everyone’s body reacts to lifting weights differently, i.e. different things pop out first. For some reason my shoulders are the only thing that noticeably change shape, while everything else just becomes a harder, but still recognizably me kind of profile. The only weird thing about the bear workout I’ve noticed is that with some of the conditioning and grip-heavy stuff, my wrists are bigger? I was either seriously shorting my hand strength in previous workouts, or I’m on drugs, or they’re swollen with swamp gas and seconds from exploding. I hope it’s the first or second or both.
  15. I had to get new t-shirts, is what I’m saying. American Apparel going-out-of-business sale, 50% off, big through the shoulders in XL but long enough so you don’t have toddler equator/plumber butt going on from front to back, respectively. These newly visible traps thank you for being a poorly run company, American Apparel.
  16. As for the conditioning....look, I know it only says 15 minutes at the end of the workouts, but it can be a very dicey 15 minutes. Next time we’ll talk about the Butcher, i.e. the sled I plow my yard with twice a week for crops I will never plant. Or we won’t, depending on whether the Butcher and I are speaking. To hell with it, and with the sledgehammer sets alternating sides that made my hands cramp up like crab claws for ten minutes after I did them in my backyard. I don’t know whether the conditioning is working, but it definitely doesn’t seem to be hurting at all. After three and half weeks recovering from sets is easier. Verdict: It’s probably helping, along with walking and being generally twitchy.
  17. Don’t go buy a sled, though. I love and hate mine, but I am not smart. (For evidence: see points 7 and 8 above.)
  18. Sum: after three and a half weeks, everything feels as good as its going to feel, the weights have gone up easily, and I can’t stop eating steaks. Do I feel more bear-ish? Yes, already, if bear-ish means I throw children around with greater ease, feel like breaking into cars for food, and have gotten at least swole enough to require backing up to a tree to itch certain spots on my back. It’s slow, but that’s fine. It takes three years of gestation and care to raise an actual Grizzly. This can’t and shouldn’t be any faster
  19. At the risk of internet humiliation, rep weights for sets of 5x5 for this week follow, all done at what’s probably something like 60-70% max right now. Body weight is 230 or so depending on what I ate or what’s fallen off since the morning. (Only two pounds of that is beard.)
  20. Overhead press: 145. Highest set weight I’ve ever done for something like 5x5, which is remarkable. Wasn’t even that hard, actually.
  21. Squats: 255, probably cheaping those a little to prevent cataclysmic soreness.
  22. Deadlift: 315, that’s fine because it feels heavy but it also feels good
  23. Bench: 215 and creeping upwards by nickels
  24. Pullups: Um. Yeah those are hard, I can do like seven or eight unassisted, and then it’s machines or green band for the rest of the sets. Skinny people, kiss my entire fat ass.
  25. Also I’m doing dips with this because I’m addicted to them because they just look cool, and also because C.T. Fletcher, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Jim Wendler all love them. THEY MUST BE GOOD, AND THEY MAKE YOU FEEL LIKE AN IMPRISONED MAN PLANNING BRUTAL THEATRICAL REVENGE ON SOMEONE. No, you put chains around your neck while doing them, you performative little shit.
  26. I also ride a bike where I can, easy, probably like two or three times a week at this point. It looks ridiculous, because men over 200 pounds on bikes look like actual bears.
  27. It’s nice, even with all the little things that remind me that I’m not indestructible, to be at least a little less destructible after a few weeks. A masseuse told me I did not look forty, which I take with a little more credit since they see you basically nude. Did I ask her what age I looked like? No, because she could have said “not a day over 39”, and I like some mystery in my compliments. I ran with it, reader. I took it and ran to the horizon and did not look back.
  28. Coach Nap said you could have the workout. If it doesn’t look like much to you, please: try it. It’s enough, and if it isn’t increase the weight until it is.
MMMMM BEAR STUFF
MORE BEAR STUFF, IRON IS YOUR ONLY FRIEND

P.S.