I remember the first time I met your muscles. I mean, that is what you wanted me to meet right? Draped underneath your stringer tank and your unlaced basketball shoes that you’ve never played basketball in. I heard you first, with your forceful grunting in front of the mirror at my local gym. As you stood there curling the equivalent of two small children in each hand, you smirked at me and my 30lb dumbbells. You waited impatiently as I used the squat rack to bang out some quick bench sets. The huge gallon of pink pre-workout you sat down beside me said, “dude, hurry up.” As I started to re-rack my weights, you were the guy who said “no, it’s cool, leave them.” Then you added two more plates to each side. I watch you as you study your muscles in the mirror between sets. You make sure that no angle is forgotten. I tried to tell you that you missed checking out a backwards biceps pose during your last exercise. You must not have heard me over your Beats headphones. It’s ok, I understand. I’ve always meant to ask you why you never work your legs. It must be some advanced weightlifting technique I don’t know about. About an hour after I left the other day, I realized I forgot my wallet. When I came back to grab it, you were still there. Yet you didn’t notice me or say hi.
The funny thing is, I’m there for the same reason as you. I want to be fit. I want to be a better me than I was yesterday. I’m not annoyed by you. I actually envy your work ethic. I envy your resolve. You have a ton of knowledge about so many things having to do with fitness that I could only dream of knowing about. It’s because of what you have achieved with your own body that I work so hard to build mine. It is through your inspiration that I seek to inspire others. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for you. It is because of the motivation you’ve given me that I push my body to its limit to see just what I’m capable of. I have become a better human. And for that, I thank you.
When I look back at my progress over the last few months, I started to ask myself, “if I could recommend one thing to someone, what would it be?” The answer to that question is easy. My best investment is a two-part investment that I use together. First, I bought a rafter mount chin-up bar. This chin-up bar is heavy duty and can hold my body weight easily. It has sides that flare out and also two bars that come forward. The amount of variations you can do can really pay dividends in your shoulders and back. The second part was purchasing gymnastics rings. I bought rings that can adjust via straps much like the tow straps you would buy for your truck. This allows me to raise the rings and lower the rings for a variety of different exercises. I can keep them raised and do dips, lay underneath of them and do a row variation, lower them all the way to the ground and do push-ups, etc. The advantage to using rings is that you are now forcing your body to use all those little stabilizer muscles to support your weight and keep you balanced. I noticed a lot of strength gains from doing exercises with just these two things.
Farther down the line, you can purchase a dip belt. If you are unfamiliar with what a dip belt is, it’s basically a belt with a chain attached to it where you can hook on additional weight. Eventually, dips and chin-ups will become easy with only your body weight. Adding extra weight will force your muscles to work harder and push you to the next level.
I don’t claim to be a professional or to have all the answers. I just want to share what has worked for me. For a small investment, you can add some variation to your workouts and become a better, stronger you. That’s what everyone wants right? Keep at it. Stay motivated. Reap the benefits. AROO!
A lot of dads ask me, “How do you find the time to work out?” I often hear, “I would love to work out but don’t want to sacrifice time with my kids.” “I was planning on working out after I put the kids to bed but I was too tired.” Or my favorite, “My kids tired me out!”
So how do I do it? What’s my secret? I wanted to be fit. I wanted to be the dad that my daughter looked up to. I wanted to be her superhero. I found the time. I usually put my daughter to bed around 9ish. So 9:15 was workout time. I retreated to the basement lair and it was my time to shine. I would throw on a little Krewella or some Watsky and get lost in the iron. My wife can sing the lyrics to my favorite Watsky songs just from hearing them blast from the basement. Usually I can get a good hour in so that I can have my much needed chill time before I pass out for the night.
This past thursday, we took a family trip to High Rock in MD before cruising over to Cunningham Falls State Park. While at High Rock, my daughter was amazed at the view from the top of the graffiti laced rock. So I decided that we should go down the trail to a different viewpoint. My daughter says, “we like hiking daddy, cuz we are spartans!” AROO right? So we get to a different set of rocks and it was a fairly steep climb. I kept Jocelyn (my daughter) in front of me as she climbed the rocks like it was a Spartan cargo net. As I stepped forward, I noticed a long brown creature with diamonds on its back slide down the rock beside us. Without any time to react, I grabbed Jo and jetted up the rock while yelling to my wife, “Copperhead! Stay down there!” Do you have any idea how hard it is to climb a 45 degree incline with a 4 year old in one arm? I got Jo down while the slithering serpent escaped into the brush away from us. I used this opportunity to teach her what a copperhead looks like. Now I know that if she comes running up to me at home and tells me that she saw a copperhead, I KNOW that there is a copperhead, and I need to grab the closest, sharpest shovel. The cool part of this whole story is the walk back. Jo was walking back to the car with me and said, “Daddy, you saved me from the copperhead, you’re like a superhero.”
Every dad wants to be their child’s superhero. There isn’t much greater that a dad can hear. Looking at my daughters eyes, I imagined how she looked at me. Was it like how I used to look at Superman on my TV when I was younger? Am I worth looking up to? Am I being the best dad I can be? Am I being the best man I can be? Then she looks at me, puts her little arm up in the air with her best flex and says, “look at these pythons.” In that moment, I knew I was doing something right.