Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Strength Barometer?

I recently got a complimentary membership to a brand new gym here in town. It's an extremely large facility, built from the ground up by Life Style Family Fitness. I think it's 32,000 sqft.
It's a very popular gym, attracting many people of varied ages and fitness levels.

It has been a few years since I worked out last, in one of these testosterone filled, mirror lined, machine laden workout centers. ;-)

I wanted to share some observations and thoughts;

1. Not much has changed over the last 3 years. Eventhough there is a plethora of information on strength training available, it seems most people are still going through the same motions and doing the same things they did 3 years ago. Case in point, I recognized 2 guys that worked out in the gym where I did 3 years ago, and their bodies looked pretty much the same as when I saw them last, albeit a tad heavier in the midsection.

2. Why do people bring a GALLON of water (or lemonade/special drink) to them gym? They proudly carry the gallon container from station to station.

3. Why do I see NO-ONE doing pull-ups or push-ups?

4. Why do most of the guys walk around with an angry scowl?

What's your gym like?

I was in and out of the gym in about 25-30 minutes.
Here was my routine for those interested.

4 minutes jump rope warm up.
5 sets of 5 L-pull-ups and, one leg stability ball push ups on a bosu ball (one foot/toe on the stability ball, 5 each side) and 10 lunges with 35 pound dumbbells

5 sets of seated shoulder presses (55 #'s), 10 bulgarian split squats, 15 box jumps.

About 3-4 minutes of planks (straight and both sides)

As I never stopped moving I got some funny looks, I did catch 2 guys watching me do the L-pull ups. I don't know if they were intrigued or were making fun of me ;-)
The same 2 guys performed numerous sets of chest joke.....I think they completed 3 different exercises in the time I was in and out. They were there before I got there, and my guess is, long after I was gone.

So that got me thinking about a post a I read a while back from Steve Maxwell.
Take a look and see how you stack up. I think that 99% of the "muscle-men" I saw in the gym yesterday morning could not do any of these exercises. Do you think Steve's exercises are a good "Strength Barometer"


Anonymous said...

Too funny!! I actually just found myself in my town's huge gym (seriously found myself there as the driver did not tell me we were headed there) this past weekend. On our tour I just saw a whole lot of what you were talking about! I haven't made it in for my first "workout" yet, a little overwhelmed to be honest. I feel a lot less judged and watched when I'm just hitting the pavement outside.

Smoketheblowfish said...

I've never understood bringing a gallon of H2O to the gym unless the shower is broken and it's BYOH2O day at the club. I really love it when the boys on a Muscle Stimulus Plan bring in a quart or two of protein.

From the looks of your workout, it appears that you could've stayed at home and been okay. I think my $19.95/month at the gym allows me to use the treadmill, pullup bar, kettlebells, and get some outstanding entertainment value!

ps. I think I'm a Shmoe (a highly trained in tune with my inner-man kinda Shmoe...but alas, I am still a Shmoe)

I would love to see the Manly Lifter/Bodybuilder guy pump out a single leg squat.

pss. excellent post!

later, MikeZ

Anonymous said...

This makes me laugh - I haven't been to a regular gym (used to have a clubhouse gym where we lived). If nothing else it is fun to watch people. The best are the high school students who are prancing around on mom and dad's dime attempting to work out on a machine they clearly don't understand.
I did like the ability to watch t.v. while on the treadmill tho (without interruptions from kids)!

Mark said...

Similar experience for me. I left Gold's gym 15 years ago. When I moved back and rejoined, I saw a lot of the same people doing the same things. The cardio hounds. One guy is always jogging on the treadmill (he was 10 years ago too) but he is noticeably fatter than he used to be and he just looks old.

Gold's is classic T-nation. Lots of benching, talking, and swearing. The women who lift are usually all spandexed up. I get to the gym and am through a pretty fast and demanding set of fullbody exercises and most guys are still doing their bench presses between chatting.

People don't do pushups b/c that is a "baby exercise" - not real iron. Whatever. People don't do pullups b/c they are actually hard and require strength.

Marc said...

Anon 1,

Trust me you don't need a gym. ;-)
Keep running and start doing some push ups and burpees.

as to being a shmoe;
I can do the l-pull ups and enjoy them. I can do the toes to the bat curl. I can only bust out 2 one handed pushups and I need help with pistols. Can't do one un assisted. I'm a shmoe ;-)

Anon 2,
People watching IS great ;-)
I can certainly understand the uninterrupted tv time.

Thanks for feeling my pain ;-)


Bryce said...

Sounds like a pretty good strength test.

The pistols are extremely challenging for some people (like me). It has taken me forever to be able to do just one, but I think it's mostly a hip/ankle mobility issue. Getting them barefoot was even tougher, as the removal of the heel elevation provided by the shoe necessitated even more ankle mobility.

Good luck with them! I am working on a one armed pullup right now, and I think that should be added to the test, along with hand stand pushups!

Marc said...


You are spot on with the ankle flexibility for the pistols.
I struggle with them as my ankles are very tight from years of soccer and tennis. I do assisted pistols with a strap or similiar.

Love handstand pushups. They actually ""healed" my shoulders. (and made them stronger)

One handed pull you hang free or do you hold on with your hand on your other forearm? That's the only one I'm able to do. Not free hanging yet.

Keep up the great posts on your blog!