If you happen to be one of the three or so people who read this regularly you might remember a post last year (who am I kidding?) in which I went on for a bit about dipping my toe into the somewhat alien world of the gym. In my usual fashion I stuck at it for a couple of months before losing interest and going back to just riding a bike.

As part of my quest to enjoy myself more this year I decided to head back. The Cycling physique may be a practical one when it comes to climbing steep hills but that’s where it’s usefulness ends. Long have I been fed-up of the mismatch, powerful and muscular legs coupled with arms that could easily be mistaken for those of a life-size stick figure at a distance. Last year my Swim training went some way to correct it but having not been in the water for the best part of three months (please don’t judge me too harshly) the status quo was soon restored.

So it was that I decided to embark on a mission, making 2018 the year in which I’d finally learn how to lift weights and hopefully get rid of that scrawny upper body for good. Of course with me being me it didn’t get off to the best of starts – with the money I intended to spend on a Gym membership instead being invested in a new bike. I reasoned however that with my completely untrained status something could still be achieved. Good old-fashioned core exercises did in fact come in very useful for a few weeks. Rather embarrassingly the size of my biceps noticeably increased following a regime of simple push-ups.

Once the second portion of Student Loan came through I finally took the plunge and decided to invest in an actual Gym membership. I can hear you sighing already for which I do not blame you, for I was indeed one of those new-years resolution people invading the weight room & getting in the way.

I couldn’t help but laugh at the fact that the only suitable gear I had available on the morning of my first lifting session consisted of my fluorescent green running top (at least one size too large) and a particularly ‘colourful’ pair of shorts – who doesn’t love a bit of orange? My attempt to keep a low profile had already fallen victim to unintentional sabotage. I’ve long since learnt that the best way to fit in is often to act like you know what you are doing, even if it’s not the case at all. In keeping with this principle I walked into the weight room with my head held high and promptly only very narrowly avoided a head on collision with someone. Not to be deterred I carried on, settling on the first machine that became available – I’d like to think I didn’t look too confused when reading the very simple instructions detailing how to use the thing.

Since then I’ll hesitantly report that things have slightly improved. I have now become slightly more versed in the language of weight lifting, at the very least I now know the difference between a squat & a deadlift. I’d even go as far as to say that I’ve started to enjoy it, the indoor environment making a welcome change from the muddy roads & trails that make up my usual training ground.

Rather surprisingly it’s made a difference on the bike. Despite still being a few kg’s above racing weight I’m climbing pretty well, keeping up with riders in my club who could left me for dead over the summer. At a guess I would say it’s due to improved efficiency owing to a much stronger core reducing the amount of energy wasted. Better still it’s produced visible results, those skinny arms are a thing of the past and, in certain lights anyway, my chest and abs are taking on some decent tone. Nothing spectacular but it’s a start.

Of course there is still a great deal to learn. Any Uni friends reading this will probably laugh when I admit that I haven’t dared touch the free weights yet for fear of injuring myself. Another question to which I have yet to find an answer is that of exactly what you’re supposed to do when the machine you want to use isn’t free? Standing there awkwardly whilst scrolling through my phone is surely far from the best long term solution.

Lifting is slowly working it’s way to becoming a regular and long-term part of my training. For what it’s worth I’m glad to have made the effort, who knows – one day I might even get to the point of being vaguely competent at it. That’s all for today, time to go and clean my bike.

Thanks for reading.

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