Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Olympic Exercises

When I was a kid I always loved the weight lifting part of the Olympics. It was amazing to me to see those guys lift that incredible amount of weight over their heads. I loved how the bar bent and the cluster of weights at either end sagged as the exercise was executed.
My dad had a weight set and I would practice what I saw. I even got the neighborhood kids involved, organizing weightlifting competitions.
I could do them all. The “clean and press”, the “clean and jerk” and the “snatch”.
When I started my weight lifting routine last year, I never even considered doing any of the Olympic weight lifting exercises. Those routines are about massive amounts of weight, and are better left to stocky guys of Eastern European persuasion.
Or so I thought.
Then one day I was reading a book about weight lifting and fitness by the writers of Men’s Health Magazine that I had picked up at the library. They said that Olympic Exercises are perfect additions to anyone’s weight lifting routine. They are explosive exercises and are very healthy for the whole body, especially your core. The difference is that you work with a manageable amount of weight, and you don’t try to set Olympic or World weight lifting records.
They were right. I do barbell clean and presses and dumbbell clean and presses and I do the snatch and everything else. They are excellent exercises, and I highly recommend them.
I finish off my routine with leg curls, on that leg exercise thingy on my bench, and I do them face up and face down.
My favorite exercise of all is the one I end with. Dumbbell flies. I do them on the living room floor instead of on the bench for more stability. This is because I really like to do a lot of weight with the flies.
Some exercises, like flies and bench presses and curls, just plain feel manly. That’s okay. It’s important that your routine be a total body workout and that you work all your muscles, but it’s especially satisfying to work muscles that just make you feel manly.
Remember, I’m not advocating exercise as a path to fitness or health or fashion. I started lifting, and I continue to lift, strictly because it feels good. It’s fun, and it makes me happy. If working my pectoral or bicep muscles feels especially satisfying, then by all means I work extra weight and extra sets.
I believe working out is about rewarding ourselves and not punishing ourselves.