The Watchtower of Destruction: The Ferrett's Journal - Weightlifting and Videogames
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Weightlifting and Videogames|
So in yet another attempt to make myself fit, I have begun working out with dumbbell weights three times a week. And what’s weird to me is that I have to fight my videogame habits all the way.
See, in videogames, it’s all about minimizing effort. The whole goal is to move efficiently and quickly as possible, with the least possible input. And so when you get really good, you’re shifting the joystick minimally, quickly, utilizing existing vectors.
Which is how I’ve approached weightlifting. But that’s wrong. When I lift weights, the goal is to maximize muscle workout – and yet here I am, waving the dumbbells back and forth as quickly as possible, not coming to a rest because it’s that much harder to get them moving again, positioning them so they work the fewest amount of muscles. And it’s taking all my willpower to go, “No, that’s playing the game wrong” and to teach myself that unlike every other game, my goal is to inconvenience myself as much as possible.
As a result, I’ve been using the same fifteen-pound weights for two weeks, but the workouts have been getting harder each time. Nothing’s changed but my willingness to stretch muscle.
Worst. Videogame. Ever.
Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.
This entry has also been posted at http://theferrett.dreamwidth.org/220993.html. You can comment here, or comment there; makes no never-mind by me.
Tags: terrible quirks of the ferrett
It's funny...in some ways this post reminds me of the "Quest for Glory" games, which was one of those point-and-click adventure games from the early nineties that was trying for realism. In other words, if you wanted to improve your character's strength, he would have to climb that miserable little motherfucking training rope in the thieves' guild for days on end until his strength went up. And I was the only member of my family patient enough to play all the games through.
That's crazy. I like it in the abstract, but I'd never be good at that game.
Try Fitocracy. There are achievements and quests for doing the weightlifting thing.
I want to like Fitocracy a lot more than I do. I find it just doesn't game-ify the right aspects of working out. At best, it provides incentive to try new things, or to do mild-impact things for very long stretches of time-- it made me feel really good about my hour-long tai chi class, or my two-mile strolls, but when I started doing push-ups it didn't provide a lot of motivation to do more push-ups. Or to keep doing them every day. (At worst, it feels like a dick-measuring contest populated by people who have already communed with the Exercise Gods.)
I feel like it would hijack my gaming instincts more successfully if each day had a small mission just for that day, something that nudges me just a little farther along in an activity I've done before or have indicated to the game that I want to try. With bonuses for streaks.
Along those lines, what I do recommend is the iPhone app Run, Zombies! -- it's basically a post-apocalyptic audiobook that will only play you the next snippet after you've run for a set amount of time. It doesn't actually keep track of how fast you run, so you could use it as motivation for other exercise too, but the story revolves around your role as Runner 5 accomplishing tasks for the township. I pair it with Runkeeper to keep track of my stats, and I did actually run both farther and faster due to the app. (Until my car broke down and I stopped running because I was walking three miles to work every day.)
It's able to be really good at what it does because of the way it's limited-- but I'm still waiting for something that will help me lift weights more regularly.
Pretty much the same experience. I wanted to like it, but just didn't get that same thrill. I think it'd involve a lot of creative writing work to do that, and it could be done, but it's just too dry and clinical now.
That does sound like an AWESOME app, though.
|Date:||June 20th, 2012 01:06 am (UTC)|| |
reps of 30 with 15lb
If you're not already, it helps to be standing when using dumbbells. Besides, that way it's more like a wii workout, right?
|Date:||June 20th, 2012 02:00 pm (UTC)|| |
Re: reps of 30 with 15lb
I do, except for the ones I have to do lying down.
(Reps of 10 with 15 lb, and then repeat the whole thing.)
Actually, the body is designed to game the system, too. Over time, the body will naturally economize motion in order to do things with the least effort possible. This is why cross-training is recommended so highly - it never gives your body time to get good at anything enough to slack off and do things the "easy" way - it forces the body to be constantly adjusting to new movements and actions, thereby making exercise "harder".
I'm not lazy, I'm just listening to my body" or something.
I usually switch up between drumming, biking, and weightlifting. I'm not cross-training, I'm just bored.
Boredom is why I tend to things like gymnastics and dance, or actually biking/rollerblading TO somewhere. Nothing kills an exercise routine for me faster than boredom.
You're starting with 15-lb weights? Man, you're a lot fitter than I am. I'm just managing 8, and I've been at this for over a year.
I'm a drummer. My upper body's pretty well muscular. Also, I'm only doing 10-reps, and I think if I did 30, I would die, so that could be it.
I'm going to go with the drummer angle, and thanks for making me feel like less of a wimp.
And here I am going through physical therapy, because I screwed my knee joints doing kettleball squats.
Stick with out. I got addicted once I started levelling my strength attribute in real life (it helps that all the motions and weights have numbers... e.g. 3 sets of 15 reps @ 15kg etc).
We'll see. I go on exercise kicks for months at a time, then slack off. I'm awful that way.
Workouts were a pain in the ass until I realized that we can reconcile those two views.
Fact is, with bad technique you can put tons of effort into a workout and get very little, or even negative progress. So if you move the game one meta level up, to "How can I accomplish my workout goal as efficiently and with as little time/effort possible?", then you can engage those old gamer instincts to help, rather than hinder you.
Seriously, F, I don't know if you've seen my photos (The user icon being one), but I used to be in awful shape. At this point, I'd be surprised if I've put in more than two hours a week at a gym in the last year. There's definitely a few right ways, and a lot of wrong ways to do it.
I hope it clicks for you.
Edited at 2012-06-20 05:22 pm (UTC)
Do tell. I could use a bit more efficiency in that respect.
I've come to understand more recently that there are steps that people don't usually talk about that are foundational, but don't make huge changes in and of themselves.
Example, we know from a huge body of research and evidence (That I can try to dig up specifics if people need) that big multijoint exercises like squats and deadlifts provide the biggest gains, both in absolute terms and especially in terms of time efficiency. But! You can't just jump into squats and deads because without good technique you'll destroy your back and knees.
What we end up with is a chain: Big exercises will get you there (And let me be ultra clear here, if you're not already deadlifting several plates and you're doing biceps curls and shoulder raises, you are flat out wasting your time). Full body multijoint exercises get results --> You need proper form to do those exercises --> you need flexibility to enact proper form --> you need to do the research to make any of this work.
Now we have a plan of action. Honestly, guys like us will see more tangible fittness improvements by using our spreadsheeting abilities to keep good records than we will by just throwing ourselves at the weights and hoping for the best.
So: Step 1.) do the research. Go to youtube and watch the SquatRx video series, or read the articles on bodybuilding.com. Elliott from YoElliott has a ton of good advice for starting right.
Step 2.) Start a focused stretching program with the intent to set you up for good form. Things like mobilizing your lumbar spine, loosening up your shoulders, and stretching out your hip flexors. (And advice I should follow more: rotator cuff work. Ounces of prevention, and all that)
Step 3.) Start with small weights on full body exercises until you've laid the necessary neurological groundwork for coordinating muscle recruitment. This is what fittness specialists mean when they say 'work on form'. Practice doesn't make perfect, it only makes permanent. So practice it right, and it'll stay right.
Step 4.) If you go in, do 3 sets of squats and deadlifts and then just pack up and go home, you'll have better results (measured in lean muscle mass gained, and the resulting fat loss) than most people's current workout plan, and you'll be done in 10 minutes. But we can do even better than that by applying the other things you'll learn in the research process.
Once you get it down, it gets way easier.
Hope that helps!
Edited at 2012-06-20 09:29 pm (UTC)
Thanks much, that is helpful.
add one thing, lysanderlove
Squats and deadlifts are not a "big boy" exercise. Squats and deadlifts are what should be recommended to your 80 year old grandma to prevent osteoporosis, the soccer mom who only has 1 hour a week to lift, the 20 year old star athlete.
They are not just for the "musclehead" at the gym. Dainty ladies in their spandex need to get off the stepper and squat. Squats don't make you into a steroid veiny monster. Genetic potential does that. So if you are a girly girl with poofy hair, go do those squats, all that will happen is you'll get that "toned" look you've been trying to achieve for the last 10 years, and wonder why nobody ever told you.
In case I made it sound like this was just for ridiculous football meatheads, I'm totally with FBG. This goes for absolutely everybody who can stand.
The veiny monster ideas are the funniest excuse to avoid productive workouts. Whenever I worry that my veins are getting too prominent, I just sorta... stop flexing so hard.
Worst video game ever, and the graphics suck.