Posts Tagged crunches

50 Straight Days Of Exercise

I am still doing some kind of exercise every day. I finished out the year with 125 push ups in eight minutes of straining: 47 non stop and then multiple sets of 5-8 at a time to add up to 125. Being this disciplined isn’t proving so difficult. Just inconvenient some nights as I delay eating dinner or going out. I generally alternate with bicycle crunches and am up to 300 non stop, although I am touching my elbow to my opposite knee no more than 199 times (196 yesterday).

This week I arm-wrestled a 23-year old who claims he can do 50 push ups upside down with legs against the wall. This means he is pushing up his entire body weight each time. He has very strong wrists, and I was NOT victorious, although I did make him work hard one time for his inevitable win. I also played tennis and did a two-minute plank after bent over rows.

The funny thing is that I met a man who is in the gym 3-4 times a week. A friend informed me tonight that he is exercising 45 minutes a day five days a week. I know there are people who exercise every single day of the year. I will never grasp how these people do it, fit it in, make it happen. But at least I am making my own kind of progress. You have to stop comparing all the time and just do the best you can with whatever skills, talents and abilities you have.

Let’s hope 2012 brings a happier world to people everywhere. These are terrible times, and the best of times. Some are fighting for freedom and opportunity. Some are protesting injustice and exploitation. Many are frustrated with their situation, finances, politicians. At the same time, I am doing a few push ups and crunches, because they feel good, help me look better, fitter, better toned. In a couple of weeks I may be skiing in Idaho, so I have to really get in shape for that. All so meaningless…inconsequential…and the ball will drop in Times Square in 12 minutes, and the wheel will start it’s annual turn once again. Happy New Year everyone…

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How Did I Become “Obsessive” About Exercise?

Somehow, unbelievably, magically for the first time in my whole life, I am exercising every day. For 33 continuous days (and 35/36), I have done either push ups or bicycle crunches. It’s for three minutes or less. Not a big deal in time. But huge in terms of discipline. At least I am doing something. Even on the 16 days of the 33, when I spent as many as four hours on the tennis courts, in the woods hunting or hiking, and ice skating.

One day I played 2 1/4 of doubles tennis with one group, then another two hours with a second group. Next I drove 1 1/2 hours to America’s only jai alai fronton outside of Florida, practiced jai alai to near exhaustion for 45 minutes, watched a tournament, then drove home for another hour. It was close to 12 am when I dropped down to do 75 push ups (45 non-stop and then five sets of six each). That’s when I heard that I was obsessive.

Sometimes I didn’t even remember to do them until midnight or 1 am. But no matter how tired I was, I did them. This is an unprecedented accomplishment for me, and I am both proud and astonished to have achieved this challenge.

It all began when I wrote that I “could” do exercise every day if I had to. But I was too lazy. I guess it was so easy to say that I could do something that I had never done. But then I had to see if I was all talk and no action. So I began this routine. IT IS VERY HARD SOME DAYS. Especially when I am tired from other activity, forget about it, fall asleep watching TV and then wake up and remember that I HAVE to keep the record going.

It’s the continuity that I am most proud about. A few push ups or crunches over 2-3 minutes isn’t going to build much muscle. Especially compared to the guys in the gym 3-4 days a week for an hour or two each time. But I am showing myself that I can be disciplined if I want to. And my numbers are going up: I am now at 78 push ups total (after an initial 45 or so non-stop) and 250 bicycle crunches (although only a max of 176 in which both elbows touch both knees). At least I am improving. Pretty terrific.

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Exercise/Sport Report

David Beckham shows off abs for Armani ad—2009

David Beckham shows off abs for Armani ad—2009

I am now addicted. Maybe it’s endorphins that are kicking in. I read that they can be as powerful as morphine. I have become a sportaholic or exercisaholic. I am astonishingly fit, hardly tire, barely sweat (it is 40-50 degrees outside the indoor tennis courts I play on these days).

In just 25 November days, I have done the following:

Tennis—played 15 times, some sessions for three hours of singles and doubles

Squash—played, mostly practiced 6 times, three in a clinic, each session one hour.

Hunting—3 times, average of three hours each time


Crunches—9 times, some slow, some sloppy but 500-700 most times

Lat pulldowns—6 times

I am now an exercise junky. Read the rest of this entry »

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Exercise Update

Since July 30th, I have only been to the gym once, because my right arm and both shoulders started aching. I thought it might have been “tennis elbow” or that I had hurt myself doing pull ups. The orthopedist said it was a mild case of whatever it was, and that nothing appeared torn. I needed rest and time. In spite of that advice, I continued to play tennis and practice squash, noticing that the aches were minor after each match.

ira balancing on one foot on the trampoline—9/23/09

ira balancing on one foot on the trampoline—9/23/09

I have also been to a physical therapist five times for two hours each visit. In addition to arm exercises, I am now doing lat pull downs there and working a lot on my right ankle, which has not healed completely since I sprained it on May 12th and interrupted my racket sports for over a month.

One exercise requires me to stand on my right foot for two minutes while throwing a five-pound ball to the therapist who throws it right back to me…but I am standing on a trampoline! This is very hard. It stresses and strains the whole leg. Amazing how much I improve with each session as the muscles strengthen. The therapists can hardly stay up on one foot when they try it, and they are on the solid floor.

During this injured, two-month period, I lost my momentum with exercise workouts, became lazy and undisciplined and basically stopped almost everything. For no physical reason, I eased up on my abs workouts, which could have continued without any problem. I only did crunches four times in all of August. Pretty sad and really bad. I had been doing a minimum of eight times a month.

September has been better. Disgusted with my inaction, I started the crunches again and have actually set records. I worked on the abs eight times: Read the rest of this entry »

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After Two Hours Of Physical Therapy

Working on strengthening my right arm and right ankle, both of which were injured and still ache. This picture was taken after two hours of therapy—my third visit in the last week. Last night I did 650 ball crunches (150+150+150+200), which was the 4th time crunching in the last 8 days. I’m trying to make up for lost time. Only went to the gym once in the last 6 1/2 weeks—lots of discomfort there. Anyway, the abs didn’t disappear.

abs after physical therapy—9/15/09

abs after physical therapy—9/15/09

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I Can’t Believe It!

Just did some bicycle crunches: 100+75+75+75=325 followed by 225 ball crunches= 600 total. My record before was three sets of bicycles, 100 each time, plus 200 ball crunches after a two-minute break. This is the third day in five that I am crunching. Good progress. Could have done more on the ball, but don’t want to hurt myself. I’ll get there…

The most amazing fact is that it only took 16 minutes. I should be able to knock these out like crazy. We’ll see.

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I’m Back After 40 Days and 40 Nights

That is how long since I went to the gym. What an intermission. Lots of excuses, soreness, travel, family responsibilities, and my own ordinary human nature. As I confessed in the posts about my background (see “my background” posts on April 4th), I have a history of not being disciplined about exercise, never went to a gym before two years ago and rarely played sports regularly.

I did injure myself (I think it happened when I was setting personal best records doing pull ups), went to a nurse, took anti-inflammatory pills, met with an orthopedist, and now a physical therapist. I’m told it could be a lot worse than it is, and I am almost sure to heal with a few weeks of special exercises for my right forearm, elbow and shoulder. (I did tear my right shoulder in three places back in 2006).

There is really no physical excuse for not doing abs work like crunches. There has been nothing wrong with my abdominal area. Nevertheless, I did crunches just six times. Three of those efforts were during the first two weeks of August (max of 750), and the latest was today, when I ground out only 350, mostly the more difficult bicycle type.

During this 40-day period in the workout desert, I could have lifted weights with my left arm. But I basically stopped. It was all mental. Too pressured and too lazy. And then too guilty. Could barely even write on this site. As much as I quote that “two steps forward, one step back” mantra, it’s painful to accept it. I hate it. Thinking about the Nadals, Picabo Streets, and a thousand other top athletes who get injured and push through their setbacks to return to their game and shine should be an inspiration. Well I am trying to be inspired.

Here’s the breakdown of my limited home crunch exercising: Read the rest of this entry »

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Exercise Report—More New Crunch Records…Like 750 Total

Good news and not-so-good news. My right arm may be strained, near the elbow. Too much tennis plus squash? Too many pull-ups, push-ups and chin-ups?
No idea…but my abs aren’t affected. So I did the following:

August 3—100+100+100=300 bicycle crunches plus 250 crunches on the ball. Up from 500 total, which puffed the muscles out for my recent photo.

August 8—175+175+200+200=750 crunches with legs on a couch…a new record, up from 700 total.

August 15—100+100+100=300 poorly executed bicycle crunches plus 200 crunches on the ball.

Did fit in 35 push-ups non-stop one day and then 49 another. But didn’t keep at it. Could do no more than 20 on another day, and then 45 on another.

Haven’t been to the gym since July 30th. Mini-vacation with friends, guests on two consecutive weekends, family events, and lots of racket sports have been the choice instead. Uh-oh. I am falling over the cliff. How do I get back on track with a sore arm? Eight times in a month is looking pretty distant, more like impossible.

I feel guilty and down about my lack of exercise.

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And Even More Gym Records—701 Ball Crunches And 10+10 Pull Ups+Chin Ups

For the 9th time in a month, I exercised, 8 of the times in a gym. I had mentioned that I did 500 crunches and was told about a guy who does 1000. So I went to beat my record and did 150+150+200 crunches with legs on exercise ball and back on floor (60 seconds in between sets) and then a two minute break followed by 201 crunches—could have done more— with back on floor and smaller ball between knees in the air. I’m not rising up much, but I am tensing the abs, which are growing. This total for the ball is 701, compared to the earlier record on July 21st of 360!

After that record, I did a few machines and went to the chin up bar, where I bested my previous record of 10 pull ups + 8 chin ups by doing 10+10. Felt great.

Don’t know where this strength is coming from. Maybe it is inspired by the Chris Ivey push up story that I just received…

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More Gym Records—500 Crunches and 11 Chin Ups

Went to the gym today–the 7th time in the month–and there was another exercise hour at home. So I might make 9 sessions this month! Set two new records today: did 300 bicycle crunches–this was three sets of 100 each (up from 290 in four sets!). Then I did 200 crunches using the exercise ball for my legs with back on the floor (up from 150).

After that, another record, sort of: did 11 chin ups followed in five minutes by just 6 pull ups. Previous record is 10+8…maybe it still stands if I look at the totals. But 11 is 10% better than 10, and I am a bit closer to my goal of 25. Sure have to gut out the last two.

Not pleased with the minimal growth of my lats. May have to change the routine more. But the abs are appearing. One gym rat said he sees his abs best when brushing his teeth. Maybe that is where I take the next photo.

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Exercise Report—Shirking Visits But Setting Records

Falling behind schedule these last days—only going to the gym once a week. And not working at home. Uh oh. Not a good sign. Only excuse is lots of tennis, four days out of town, and some tiredness from changed diet due to taking doxycline to fight Lyme’s disease.

But I did set some crunch records each time:

On July 10th I did 85+60+75+60=280 bicycle crunches followed by 100 ball crunches. Previous record was 250 bicycles in 4 sets. Then only 8 pull ups + 7 chin ups (record is 10+6½).

On July 14th, I did 150+100+100=350 ball crunches (record was 300), supermans on the ball that lasted 15 seconds some times, and only 7 pull ups + 6 chin ups. Not too bad, considering that I played tennis in the morning.

Today I never made it to the gym, but I did do 9 chin ups followed within a minute by 6 (or 7) pull ups. And the 45-lb dumbbells felt a bit light for bent over rows.

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Exercise Report—Two New Records: 300 Normal Crunches; 10+6 Chin Ups+Pull Ups

Practiced squash today at the prep school courts of the club I just joined. Such an exhausting sport. I love it. What a workout. Too tired to look at local fireworks.

Last night at the gym late—done at 9pm. Two new personal bests: 300 crunches (3 sets of 100 each) with the exercise ball (not the bicycle-type crunches, which are much harder) and 10 chin ups followed by 6 pull ups (increased from 10 + 4 1/2). On June 16 I was at 135 crunches with the exercise ball. That’s progress to me. I am loving the chinning bar. I want to move along it like a ninja.

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Some Gym Progress and Tennis Movement Way Backwards

Played tennis again this week and went to the gym twice. The good news is that I did 150 bicycle crunches (3 sets of 50) and then today actually had some sets of 60 ab crunches on the exercise ball.

On the chinning bar, I did 8 pull ups, when I did those first—and then just 6 chin ups—and today I did 10 chin ups—when I did those first—followed after a break by just 4½ pull ups. These are new records for me. Both days I did the usual stretches and various machines and some free weights. And here is another accomplished set of abs for inspiration:

ryan reynolds must work out a lot

ryan reynolds must work out a lot

After Tuesday’s terrible tennis, I hit with my son for an hour on Wednesday, and was pretty consistent. I was raring to go Thursday, but played poorly yet again. Serve no good, forehands too long, awful. After the doubles losses, I played singles with one of the guys, took a 5-1 lead and then lost lost lost until we were at 6-6. Then I blew the tie breaker 2-7. What was that all about? Just a normal slump?

I was attempting a different serve, a spin serve. I was trying a different toss. That may have messed me up, along with being tired from so much activity (four hours on Tuesday, 2 hours on Wednesday). But that doesn’t excuse all the other poor shots.

I practiced alone for an hour and did great. Then I picked up a hitting partner who was more powerful than any of the guys I played doubles with, and I was stroking fantastically. I can’t explain it…other than recalling those famous words about how one should play the game as relaxedly as when one is practicing.

Tomorrow I will play squash at my friend’s court–first games in ages. Can’t wait to see how I do, now that I can hit the ball so much better and have worked at volleys, rail shots and service returns.

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