The Not-So-Good Kind of Hurt
First a warning, this post is about something I like and most people don’t – exercise. Lifting weights, in particular. If fitness isn’t your thing, no harm done. You may move along with no guilt on your conscience. For the two people still reading, let’s talk about squats.
I’ve been seriously lifting weights for thirteen or fourteen years now. Sure, I worked out before that, but not with any clear understanding of how best to do it. I dabbled and saw some results, but then would get pulled away by life and lose them. These days it’s a part of my life and not something I’m capable of abandoning.
In all that time I’ve worked up to some impressive weights and accomplishments, including a peak in my home gym of 475lbs while squatting. That was years ago, probably between 2009 and 2012. I’ve squatted up to and over 400 since then, but squats and I never really got along. I suspect it has to do with my body mechanics. Leg to torso ratio and whatnot. I’m a lot better at other lower body exercises than any sort of squats – deadlifts in particular. And don’t get my started on front squats!
Last night I stretched and warmed up, then went for a light squat workout with 225lbs. Like always, I felt the pain instantly in my quads. It’s a jabbing and stabbing kind of pain, or maybe there’s a pinch or two in there too. Whatever the case, every rep at the bottom of my range of motion (I go as far below parallel as possible without falling over or sitting on the ground) my quadriceps yelp and squeal like baby pigs about to be turned into bacon. It’s not just unpleasant, it hurts.
So last night I went for a wider stance after my first set. A wider stance calls in more hamstring activation. I’ve got great hammies, strength-wise, so it should be a no brainer. Except my intent is to work my quads. In any event, the experiment was a minor success – my thighs didn’t hurt as much. They still hurt, but not as badly. It’s a problem and one I haven’t been able to solve in more than a decade – I just sucked it up and dealt with it. Power through, that’s always been my mantra. Even the times when I ended up injuring myself – but I’m getting wise enough to learn that maybe pain is a warning and powering through isn’t the best option every time. Maybe.
I’ll keep squatting for a few more weeks. Typically I go through a circuit of squats until they hurt so damn much I can’t do them anymore, than I switch to deadlifts or something else for my lower body. That will probably be the case this time too, but I’m not sure how invested I’ll be down the road to doing this kind of exercise again. Focusing on a wider stance the entire circuit might make a difference too, only time and hard work will tell.
After the squats I did a few sets of clean and presses. Only 135lbs, but I really enjoy doing power cleans and clean and presses. I can’t lift as much, but the explosive movement is fun. Not to mention the whole body exercise does great things for, you guessed it, my whole body. The only downside is the day after a lower body day has me wiped out and ready to take a nap at a moment’s notice.
Is there a message to be shared and learned here? Nothing obvious, only me willing to share some data for other exercise junkies out there. I like to think that somebody, somewhere, can learn from my trials and mistakes without feeling to consequences of poor decisions. I like to learn my lessons the hard way, it seems, but somebody out there has to be smarter than me!