Over the weekend I had the profound pleasure of actually taking part in a privately held, very much improvised, socially distanced barbell workout. A friend of a workout buddy owns a warehouse so 5 of us gathered to lift some weights for the first time in 2 months (Note: in the country where I live, gatherings of up to 6 people are allowable under new measures as of last week). The barbells were most decidedly not regulation size or weight and all of the other equipment, such as it was, was a monument of ingenuity and making do what was on hand. Nevertheless, I was absolutely thrilled to take part. Man does not live on bike rides alone…
“So”, you might ask, “how did it go after no heavy barbell training for the last 2 months”? Honestly, not as bad as I had thought. Yes, I am detrained and, yes, I lost strength but I was psychologically prepared. You can’t expect miracles if you’ve lifted nothing heavy in 2 months. Also, the lifting itself (deadlift and bench press) was made more difficult by a short, non-standard 8Kg barbell instead of a longer, 20kg standard one.
Deadlifts were tough. The weights were shorter than “bumper” plate height so consequently we had to bend down further than usual to pick them. I did 5×5 at weight that would have been very easy 2 months ago, and it proved to be challenging. I was moderately gassed by the 5 rep of each set. After conventional deadlifts, we put the barbell between stacks of pallets to do “rack pulls” at varying heights
I was pleasantly surprised with the bench presses. I did 5×5 at a moderately heavy weight relatively easily, especially considering the short bar and the improvised bench set-up. I guess muscle memory is a real thing and training the movement over years does pay off. Hopefully I’ll be able to train in this improvised manner twice a week until gyms open again.
The funniest side-effect of this training was the DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) that I encountered the day after the training. My entire posterior chain (basically the muscles from my hamstrings all the way up to my Traps) were well and truly sore…And I was as happy as a clam. I was correctly recruiting all the required muscle groups on my deadlifts, so my form hasn’t completely degraded. Interestingly, I had no soreness in my chest, shoulders and triceps although in relative terms I was lifting heavier for bench presses. Anywho, it was great to be back in the saddle, metaphorically speaking by challenging my body once again. Hobbling around and groaning like an old man is small price to pay.
Look, the confinement has meant that making baked goods and binging on Netflix are almost laudable, socially responsible activities. I can dig it, however to enjoy the Yin of serial couch potatoing, I need the Yang of regular physical stress (aka training).