January 20, 2006

Weight lifting for geeks

It occurs to me that I haven't mentioned my workout routine here. Back in June of last year I read an entry in Avram Grumer's livejournal about an exercise program with the unlikely name of "Shovelglove" that had something to do with a sledgehammer. Avram linked to the web page which told me this scheme was created by a guy named Reinhard Engels. I tucked the link away in del.icio.us and unlike with most things I tuck in del.icio.us I didn't promptly forget about it. In August I spent $20 at Lewis Hardware for a 10-pound sledge hammer which sat in the corner for another couple of months before I finally started using it.

The basic idea is to use the sledge hammer to make movements that are similar to those used to do real work--the kind of work people who don't sit at a desk all day do. There's a movement like you're shoveling gravel, and one like you're pounding a fence post, and a bunch of others. That's where the "shovel" part of the name comes from. The "glove" part comes from the old sweater that Engels wrapped around the business end of his sledge hammer to keep it from scratching up his floors and knocking holes in his ceiling. I've got carpeted floors and while the ceilings are low, I've carefully gauged what range of motion I can use without doing any damage to them (or the TV or the windows or the cats, though they're harder to judge) so I just use mine naked. (The sledge hammer! Not me. You people.)

The other excellent bit of design in this program is that you're supposed to wave your sledgehammer around for just 14 minutes a day and only on week days. Engels chose this timespan since it is shorter than the smallest schedulable timespan: 15 minutes. It's really hard to pretend that you can't spend 14 minutes on something.

The other thing that I like about it is that it's pretty much silent so I can do it after everyone's gone to bed without bothering anyone.

It's silly, but it really works. Not that it's saying much, but I've got more upper body strength than I've had in decades after doing this five(ish) days a week most weeks for a couple months. I actually have biceps! I still look more like a pudgy Lance than an Arnold, but I'm a geek, any upper body strength beyond what's needed to lift my coffee cup is impressive. Plus I'm getting pretty good at swinging a sledge hammer around. Now all I need is some demolition work to do.

Posted by jeffy at January 20, 2006 01:54 AM

I, for one, would be the first person to whack themselves in the head with the sledgehammer. Once I was strong enough to lift it, that is. I think it's safer if I just stay wimpy.

Posted by: gillian at January 20, 2006 09:16 AM

Upper body strength improves your bicycling, too.
The bicycle becomes a fragile, lightweight toy
between your massive quads and your bulging biceps,
especially when you want to just stomp out of a
stoplight (it induces acceleration envy in iron

Posted by: Dan L at January 20, 2006 06:58 PM
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