This was my second workout back at the gym after a few week hiatus. There was something new in store, but before we get to that, I must mention that this workout was in jeopardy of not happening.
Being just three days before Christmas and my part-time job as a house-sitter, my schedule somewhat unexpectantly conflicted with the workout. I was to meet a client for dinner at the same time I was going to workout. I wasn’t very happy about missing my workout and my client wasn’t very about happy about missing dinner with me. Compromise is usually the best solution, so I moved dinner up half hour and decided I would just have to be a little late to the group workout. In the end, both my client and I were happy.
Arriving about twenty minutes late meant that I didn’t have too much time for a warmup. Instead of 10 minutes on the elliptical, I skipped it altogether and went right into the stretches. Captain Morgans, lunges, squats, march kicks, etc I blew through so I could catch up with the rest of the group.
Then our trainer broke the news… we are doing something a little different, a pyramid workout. While I instantly thought of Egypt and mummified kings, my stomach wanted to churn. Today’s workout was going to be a true test of devotion to bodily punishment:
1) Pushup knee tucks
3) Step-ups with weight
4) Hanging leg raises
5) squat and press.
6) 1/4 mile sprint on the treadmill
These don’t seem like much, but when performed in pyramid sequence, they are someone’s worst nightmare. The pyramid was 5, 10, 15, 20, 15, 10, 5, with 1/4 mile treadmills in between.
The first five were fine, in fact the first five were downright exhilarating and fun. Even though I can’t do a decent body-weight pull-up for the life of me, I was actually enjoying trying. I even caught myself thinking that this might be easy as I sprinted through the first treadmill sprint… but nothing is easy in the world of athletic performance and fitness.
The next ten were a little more difficult, but I started to really feel the pain at the end of the workout. The shoulders and fore-arms in particular hurt a lot. Going onto the treadmill, I took it a little slower than usual, realizing that a pyramid is not only about speed, but it is also about endurance and my shoulders and fore-arms needed a break.
Starting the circuit of 15, worried me. The push-up knee tucks were excruciating, the pull ups impossible, and the squat and presses made my arms scream with agony. I was feeling every movement and I started to feel nausea coming on. The lack of food in the hours previous to the workout was coming back to bite me (I anticipated eating with the client, but only had a drink as we ended up at a slow service restaurant). Now was the time to focus.
Focus I did. I took a queue from Apolo and closed my eyes, focused on breathing, and feeling my body recover with each breathe. It worked, going onto the treadmill I was starting to feel better. I continued with visualization while on the treadmill, with my eyes shut I felt the pain leave my body with each breathe.
Starting the circuit of 20 though made all the relaxation go out the door. I got through three push up knee tucks before collapsing. I forced myself through two more… I made it to five! It was time to focus on the breathe and getting these done. Before I could start up again, our trainer told me that I should only do a half pyramid, that is stop after the circuit of 20 and the following treadmill sprint. I wasn’t going to argue.
I mustered up enough energy to push out ten more push up knee tucks, using the old saying of mind over body. The last five though, the body pushed back and insisted that body over mind was really the correct saying. It seemed like each time I tried to push up or do a knee tuck, the body simply didn’t respond, if it did, the movement was so minimal and painful that it was hard to tell if I should count that as “one”.
To make a long story short, I took each movement as it came. The hanging legs raises were probably the easiest of the circuit, everything else, including the pull ups were simply painfully difficult.
In fact, I had never been so happy to see a treadmill in my life than after that circuit of 20. The guided swinging of the legs, the spinning of the motor, and the calculated breathe all seemed like heaven to me.
In the end, I was drenched with sweat. I was exhausted, and somewhat upset that I had only made it through a half pyramid. Given my previous hiatus, I have to be content that I simply was there and I did my best. I even got to practice positive visualization during the workout. It really doesn’t get much than this!