Gym Quitter

Today I came across a scrap of paper while looking for a tape measure in my toolbox.

It was a training diary (well, of sorts) from 2005. I scribbled out the resistance and reps implemented with my new training gear. For about $1200, this consisted of:

LA Sea of Chrome
1. A "rack" - with 4 sturdy uprights and two cross bars for spotting yourself. This also includes a chin-up bar, a stand for dips, and a low/high pulley attachment.
2. An adjustable bench.
3. A barbell and 300 pounds of plates.
4. Two fairly junky adjustable dumbbells.
5. A chin-up/dip belt to add resistance to those movements.
6. An old but sturdy stationary bike. Ugly green, of course.
7. An old CD player.

I've added more weight and some other gear here and there, but even today the home gym is little more than that.

Ah, 2005, the year I quit traditional gyms. I learned a TON through that process. The first major lessons being:

1. No b.s. I've elaborated on this concept some here and here:

I Pick Things Up and Put Them Down 
The Best Time to Train

Yeah. No excessive talkers, unsolicited advice givers, grunters, women marketing butt floss, and other typical bullshit that goes on in big commercial gyms.

2. I finally got stronger! I was 28 then. The resistance and reps listed on that scrap of paper are unimpressive given the fact that I had already been training HARD for about 9 years. I mean, most of the working weights that I used then are what I use now for my first or second warm up sets.

The real reason that I got stronger is because training at home limited my options and thus focused time and physical resources on what really matters in training: PROGRESSION.

I previously lifted 3 to 4 days per week at a gym in Harrisburg and played intense street (basket)ball at least two days per week. With the home gym, it wasn't long until I was weight training only 2 or 3 days per week because the workouts were so much more intense that I needed extra recovery days.

No more seated leg extensions. No shoulder abduction machine or pec dec. No more this, no more that. These days I've settled on a "main stay" program that has me lifting just two days per week for about 1 hour. I see progress like never before. That's what cutting out the fluff and wiser recovery will do for you.

3. The social aspect of training is critical.

Descending to your own basement by yourself at 7 p.m. or a.m. on a dreary Wednesday in November to do battle with a "big" exercise that nearly freakin killed you last week is just plain TERRIBLE. I cannot under emphasize the importance of having others to go into battle with you, to encourage and inspire and showboat with you.

I trudged to the basement solo for close to a year before inviting a brother from basketball over. Best. Idea. Ever. I've forged some truly meaningful friendships and really gotten to know every person who's trained with me on a regular basis. I've witnessed people change mentally and physically. And importantly, we really kicked some ass.

4. This is not for everyone.

Driving yourself into the floor with minimal variation in a select few exercises is super effective AND efficient.  But it's not for anyone who constantly craves something new or feels that they really do need a whole warehouse full of high tech chrome gear to achieve anything. It's not for the semi serious person who just wants a decent calorie burn, "pump," or goes to the gym with the mindset of "getting in shape for swimsuit season."

But it is for busy parents and professionals who have 30 minutes tops. It's for any person who views that walk down stairs as a mind and body and spirit pilgrimage to known territory with uncharted potential. It's for the brave soul with butterflies in his stomach, eager to square up against something that nearly flattened him last week and take on .5% more. It's for the person who wants not just a big bench press or sick abs, but to walk up the stairs as a different person.

But yeah, abs are a decent side effect...

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