Monday, March 24, 2014

#479: Leg Day #Rebooted

Never Skip Leg Day
Leg Day. Speak the words above a whisper, and watch weight lifter's faces turn pale.It conjures memories of hugging the squat rack until the room stops spinning, staggering like a disconnected marionette among the benches, praying you can get to the sauna without crashing to the floor in a heap. Clenching your jaw and your fists tight, as you desperately scan the walls for a trash can to throw up in.

Leg Day. 

It isn't for the faint of heart. 

But Dude, you can't spend your whole week doing bench presses and bicep curls in the mirror. You'll turn into a  Macy's parade baloon. The above picture may be photoshopped, I don't know, but I've seen this boy's kin folk all over town. The guys who only work the pretty muscles, the mirror muscles, the ones that show up in selfies. It's kind of sad. 

Real lifters do legs. Hard. Brutally hard. And the results can be amazingly beautiful. Maybe you find her sexy, maybe you find her creepy, but I promise you, Oksana Grishina didn't get legs like that without working hard at it. She earned every cut and curve. And definition like this does not come cheap.

A body builder's legs may be awe inspiring, but they are not really ideal for a distance runner... and they are not really attainable for a 53 year old man without the genes, the training, or the little bag full of steroids that make them happen. 

Pushing deep squats till you puke may feel macho, and it will make you strong as a bull, but it won't get you to mile 26 without a lot of pain, fatigue, and, to be honest, chafing. That much bulk just isn't built for distance.

Consequently, runners don't train their legs like that. Lifting gigantic weights with the biggest muscles in your body takes a lot of strength, and runners kind of need their strength... you know... for running. You aren't going to get much training value from road miles if you've left the best of your legs in the weight room.

Still... Dude... you gotta work legs. Not for bulk, and not for brute strength, but for muscular endurance. And just a little vanity. Cause, I gotta tell you,.. my biceps may resemble sausages hanging from the ceiling of a Brooklyn Heights Deli, but when the light hits them right, and you look from just the right angle, the Fat Man can have some badass looking gams. Hey, it isn't much, I admit, but you play the cards life deals you.

So here's how I'm doing Leg Day, now that racing season is upon us.

The organizing principle here is "Do More with Less." Low weight, high reps. My goal is to execute each rep with perfect form, through a full range of motion. 

After a quarter mile on the treadmill and some prisoner squats facing the wall to get the juices flowing, I hit the rack.

Supersets, 3 x 10, 30 sec rest
Barbell Squats, Barbell Split Squats

3 x 10, 30 sec rest
Romanian Dead Lifts with Barbell
Machine Leg Curls
Machine Leg Extension

2 sets, 30 seconds each, 30 sec rest
Plank (side, front, side)
Bird Dog
Dead Bug

It's a quick workout, and left me feeling pumped but not burned, so I thought I'd get a little creative with a finisher. Usually I'll finish with some vigorous cardio on the rowing machine or a bike, but since I knew I'd be running with the kids at the Y in a couple hours, I decided to finish with 20 minutes of kettlebell swings. 

Better make that 15. 

It's been a long time since I rang the Bell, and I forgot two things: what an intense workout it is; and how badly out of shape I still am. The good news was, I didn't drop the weight through the studio floor, or slip and fling it through a mirror. But it's going to take me a while to work back up to those 30 minute swing fests I was enjoying out in the sunshine, back when I was in racing shape. 

Finally, I spent about 15 minutes on some yoga and stretching, hoping to diminish some of the soreness I'm sure I'll be feeling around 3:30 this morning.

Oh yeah. Then I went for a 2 miler with a 10 year old girl who kicked my butt every step of the way. She pushed me as hard as I could go. But she never dropped me. That's right. I'm bragging. I am as tough as a 10-year old girl. Maybe you aren't impressed by that? Maybe you've never met a Kentucky girl.

All in all, a pretty good workout that burned an absurd amount of calories. Might even make up for the pizza I ate yesterday...

And, Dude... even if I do say so myself... The old legs do still look pretty good when the light is right...



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