Tag Archive for weight lifting

Using the Time We Make

Last night, I sat down on the weight bench so exhausted I could hardly lift the plates to put them on the ends of the barbell. I thought about just skipping the workout. To hell with it. Crash out and get some much-needed sleep.

Tired as hell, but the weights will not beat me.

Not as heavy as the soul-crushing weight of defeat

Then I got pissed.

I don’t have time for this shit. When do I make up a workout? When I’m at work? When I’m writing? When I’m in karate class? During my next workout?

No, I made the time for this workout, and I needed to use it. I got under the bar and started pushing. I kept moving and watched the clock during my rest periods to make sure I didn’t waste any of that precious time. An hour later, my sets were done and I felt great.

The same attitude applies to creative tasks.

When I’m writing, I don’t have time to screw around. The fingers need to be flying on the keyboard if I’m going to get anywhere. If I’m tired and the words come out in long streams of crap, I can clean them up later.

It’s about time I remembered that.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Stayin’ Alive

I’ve been pushing myself a little harder last few days. I keep this up, I’m going to need to show my wife the Vinnie Jones CPR instructional video in case I have a grabber.

Incidentally, I’m CPR certified through my karate school and we were also told to do chest compressions to the beat of “Stayin’ Alive”. Even better, we were told “Another One Bites the Dust” works. Not sure I’d want to be singing that one alongside someone who collapsed. At least, not in front of witnesses.

Anyway. I’m digging lifting again. My body’s always responded well to it, and it’s a good complement to my karate training, which doesn’t come so easy to me. Sure, I memorize the terms and movements just fine, but getting my body to move the way it’s supposed to is a whole ‘nother matter.

Weight lifting and cardio should especially be handy when I start hitting Judo classes regularly, so long as I keep stretching. Neither judo nor karate will be effective if I turn into one of those guys who lifts so much he can’t even wipe his own ass. I’m too big and my legs are too short for moves like the triangle choke, and I may not be able to pull off fancy taekwondo kicks, but there are still plenty of moves available to me.

Triangle Choke

Breathe deep the gathering gloom!

I’m trying to concentrate on my weaknesses, too. My ab/core conditioning isn’t terrible, but I find what foils moves like sit-ups are my hip flexors. I tacked the P90X Ab Ripper onto the back of today’s lifting workout, and wow, did it exaggerate that shortcoming. I’m pretty sure that dude is the Devil. As torturous as those fifteen minutes were, I’m going to keep at it and see if I can’t make some improvements. Tacking it onto the end of a lift group incorporating squats and such may not have been the smartest move, but nevertheless, it will become part of my routine.

As for the rest of P90X, it’s pretty much like any other fitness video, and it follows the structure to a T. I borrowed the DVD set from a friend who saw some success from the program and surfed through the videos. I didn’t see anything I couldn’t get out  of a solid karate workout or my current weight lifting program, but if you’re not one for hitting the gym (or you don’t have a decent gym nearby), it may be worth a shot.

But hey, this is a writing blog, so let’s bring this around to writing.

Writers, get out of your chairs once in a while. Many of you may already know from your aches and pains that a sedentary lifestyle isn’t doing you any favors. Nobody says you need to train to be a fighter like Wrath James White, but at least get the blood flowing and break a sweat over more than your bank account once in a while. Exercise has several benefits, including improving your mood and sharpening your mind. You going to tell me neither of those will help any as you pound the keys?

Sure, writers got by on coffee and cigarettes in the old days, but they didn’t know better. Doctors prescribed thalidomide to pregnant women back then, too. Do you want your book to be a flipper baby?

Kuato

Or worse. Though at least Kuato will sing to you.

Also, how many of the full-timers out there have health insurance? Yeah, that’s what I was afraid of. Part 1 of my day job exit strategy was to have the Wife back at work. This gives us a steady income and health insurance for the family when I get to the point I can live off such ethereal things as royalties, options and advances. Getting into some semblance of shape will ideally prevent or delay my needing health insurance at all, but I at the very least don’t want to find us crippled by medical expenses because I sit in front of a keyboard all day.

Which reminds me, I should probably have my life insurance plan reevaluated. I know my blood chemistry is better and my weight is lower since we set it up. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could save money now by getting in shape?

If nothing else, exercise is a distraction from the drudgery at the desk. As much as our friends and relatives think writing is easy and we’re just playing games and surfing porn all day, we know better. It’s hard work. Like any other job, you need a break once in a while. If not, the pressure builds, and, well, we all know how that turns out.

Finally, grinding out reps or turning laps on a track frees up the mind and lets the ideas flow. I’ve solved more than a few plot problems between sets because my mind is disengaged from the process of creation. The pressure is off. If lifting weights and running isn’t your thing, fine. Just get out there and do something. Go golfing and walk at least nine of the holes. Shoot some hoops at the park. Join a softball or soccer team. Swim. Ride a bike.

Remember Bo Jackson? Just do it.

Which leaves the dilemma for those of us with full-time, non-writing jobs: balancing that free time between writing, working out, and family. I’m working on it. I’ll let you know when I figure it out.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

About That Fitness Resolution

C’mon, you know you made one. Everybody has. “This is the year I get in shape!”

And then you sit on your ass and suck down Pepsi and potato chips while watching shitty reality shows until Thanksgiving when you wonder where the time went and decide to go on one last holiday binge before you really, seriously this time, decide you’re going to shed those extra pounds.

Yeah, don’t feel bad. I’ve been there. But I’m doing much better now. Signing up for karate is the best thing I could have done, and now I find myself exploring other options to improve my fitness, which in turn will improve my karate.

Shureido Self Portrait

So far, so good

I did cut some pounds this year, and I do feel like I’m in better shape. Not a drastic change, but enough to drop another pant size and tighten my belt a couple notches. Enough that people have been asking me what I’m doing.

Right now, I’m concentrating on weight lifting. I did both lifting and running this summer, and while I’m not a great runner, I do enjoy lifting and, although I allowed an injury to sideline me for a brief period, I’m back in full swing. Swapping muscle for fat is good for you and improves your metabolism, and there’s data out there suggesting upping protein intake and controlling (not limiting or eliminating) fats and carbs helps shed the dead weight.

Here’s the part where I say talk to your doctor. I’m not a guru or medical expert, this is just what works for me. Don’t be an idiot. I’m also not a dietician. I could eat better. I don’t watch my numbers enough to turn into a serious bodybuilder. I happen to feel like I’m built for weight lifting and that’s what I’m gonna do.

So here’s the plan:

First, find inspiration. The mirror is a good start, but I’m also talking about things like magazines. I’ve been reading Men’s Health for a while now, but more recently I broke down and picked up magazines like Muscle & Fitness and Flex. I enjoy the former because it doesn’t make me feel like I need to be built like the Hulk, but both are full of workouts and advice. I’m not looking to be the next Mr Olympia, but I can learn from their workouts.

Second, build a plan. If you’re not a lifter or are just getting started, check out the current issue of Muscle & Fitness. They have a lifting plan that starts on day one with exercises like the plank. Then, over the course of several weeks, it builds up to actual free weight and machine exercises. The routine behind me in that pic was tweaked just a hair from an article in M&F, and the weight numbers have gone up twice since I took the picture. I found a new workout in MuscleMag I intend to try soon.

Third, find a gym or buy some equipment. I happen to prefer free weights, and you will see the magazines have a strong bias toward them. Machines are better than nothing if you don’t have a real gym nearby, but there’s a lot more flexibility to free weights than you would think. Also, just a barbell and a bench is a great start. I happen to use a compact, foldable Olympic bench, a barbell, and a few dumbbells at home and can do my full routine with them.

Four, get to work! Lift metal, move it around, repeat. Read up and watch online videos for proper form. Even if your routine sucks, it’s better than just curling 12oz cans of sugar and thumbing the remote. You’ll learn as you go and as you read. Do it solo at home or go to the gym. Don’t depend on friends if they’re going to bail on you! Go to a gym and start talking to people. Maybe you’ll find a new lifting partner, or at least someone who will spot you and motivate you.

That’s all there is to it. I happen to think it’s fun, and it works for me. Get moving and then worry about your diet and supplements later. I’ve become a whey powder guy, but I’m not too worried about all that other stuff like creatine and BCAA’s right now. I’ll worry about the rest once I tweak the rest of my diet.

Lifting not your thing? That’s cool. Find your thing and get moving. Run, swim, hike, whatever. Just move.

Good luck.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Ah, YouTube, you’ve done it again

So I’m lifting again. I popped over to YouTube to make sure I was doing one of my lifts correctly.

The problem with YouTube is it takes you to very strange places. Sometimes it’s strange and wonderful, sometimes it’s strange and terrifying. Tonight was no different.

For example, a new way to build up your calves. We visit the ’80s, a time where we can mix blinding Spandex and dudes comfortable in their sexuality and put it all on video.

Whoever added that soundtrack? Brilliant. My hat is off to you, Sir.

This, of course, led to strange and terrifying. I would have linked them, but you know, I still have a day job that I need to keep for a while. No linky on the website. Just know Rule 34 came into full effect, and some dudes really, really like muscle chicks and glamazons.

Go ahead, Google it. I dare you.

And yes, I know these people are out there. To each their own. It just surprises me they’re willing to share it with the rest of the world.

Fortunately YouTube did come back around to wonderful through another search. See, bodybuilding includes figure and bikini competitions. So click through enough bodybuilding and you land in safe-for-work-but-it’ll-make-your-coworkers-wonder territory:

Just don’t stay there too long. Strange and terrifying is always lurking around the corner.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Realistic Goals (in Fitness)

I’m enjoying having the weight set in my office. I don’t have to go anywhere, pay for gym memberships, deal with pinheads, or follow someone else’s schedule. I can put on my music, play with different exercises, and set my own pace. Sure, it’s only been a week, but I’m already remembering how good weight lifting felt and I feel like I can keep at it.

I already pull some workouts from Men’s Health, but a while back I picked up a copy of Muscle & Fitness on an impulse. There’s a great home workout in this particular issue, and there are a lot of great articles on specific routines and some diet strategies. Between the two, I should be able to stay motivated and put together a good routine.

However, there’s one problem with Muscle & Fitness: it’s geared toward the real musclehead. Sure, anyone can do most of the exercises in there, but many of the articles mention hypertrophy and extreme bodybuilding. I had to ask myself if that’s realistic, and more importantly, is that even what I want?

HULK OUT!

You won't like me when I'm angry.

For one thing, that’s a huge commitment, and probably more than I’d be able to accomplish with the time and equipment I have. For another, my wife doesn’t find that very attractive. The veins gross her out, and the overall look is almost inhuman.

The deal killer for me, though, is the weight lifting is supposed to supplement my karate training. I want to get stronger for judo, and utilize weight lifting to cut some fat, but if I go overboard and really bulk up, I’d lose a lot of flexibility and probably a lot of speed.

Can he shake hands with Mr Happy?

Would a guy like this be able to perform a proper side or roundhouse kick? Probably not. And forget kata; it would be a mess.

I do think it’s important to have a realistic goal in mind, though. A visual target gives one something to shoot for, and if it’s realistic, it’s more attainable. My goal is based on a simple example: Michael Chiklis.

Yeah, the guy who played Vic Mackey. And The Thing in the Fantastic Four flicks. Odd choice? Maybe. But bear with me a second. Observe Mr Chiklis in an old cop series called The Commish:

Fat guy with a little badge.

I didn’t watch the show, but my folks did, and I seem to remember him as the jolly fat guy running a police department. It ran from ’91 to ’96, and Chiklis hit 30 halfway through its run.

Six years later, he shows up on The Shield as the infamous Vic Mackey, by all accounts a huge departure from The Commish’s Tony Scali. And at nearly age 40, he looks like this:

Vic Mackey

You talkin' to me?

Older, thinner, in better shape. He’s not huge or ripped, but he looks good. He looks fit and healthy.

This, I think, is totally doable. Karate, I believe, started me on the right path. Now I’m hoping the weight lifting — and yes, some running — will help finish it off. (Hell, with the direction my hair is threatening to go, I may even go for the same haircut. Again.) I may not be able to afford personal trainers, but my karate instructors know their stuff and I’ve got the magazines to pull ideas and information from. I don’t know what Chiklis weighed before and after, but it looks like I’m going through about the same thing and I’m built about the same way.

Let’s see if I can’t make this summer count.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

The Big Guy Under the Fat Guy

Running is for little people.

That’s not to say I’m giving up on running, as I intend to get back out there at least a little bit when my hip muscles are done trying to tear themselves apart. I just mean that someone my size is just not built for running and I’m not sure I’d ever be good at it.

It took an injury to make me realize that. I did some upper body work, then looked in the mirror before a shower and I could see the potential hidden beneath the layer of pudge. A lot of my muscle is still there, and I’m confident my strength is, too, thanks to my karate workouts. More and more I realize I could probably bring that muscle out pretty quick if I start a weight lifting regimen.

So, this evening I dragged the old comics boxes out of my office to store elsewhere, cleared space, got rid of some old, crummy filing cabinets, and ordered the weight bench I’d been eyeballing on Amazon. It should be here by Monday. In the meantime I will head out to find a 6′ Olympic barbell, because a full seven-footer won’t fit in the space I have.

What better gym than my own office? I get my best thinking and brainstorming done after a good workout, and any excuse to spend more time in my office is a good one. As long as I don’t let it turn into an expensive coatrack or bookshelf, I’ll be golden.

I don’t expect it to be a problem. I will be adding judo to my karate soon and will need both the strength and the muscular endurance. But that’s a story for another blog post.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.