The body is clay

The body is clay. This is what I’m learning. It can be molded, reshaped, rebuilt. I’ve always been fascinated with how the mind works — my degree is in Psychology, not because I thought it would be useful in the workforce (it’s not) but because I just love learning about how the mind works.

I’m becoming equally fascinated lately with how the body works.  The day Ben said “I didn’t build you to be good at sit-ups” got me started thinking. First I laughed — he’d said he “built” me. I’m not a construction!  Then I thought about it.  What am I, if not a work in progress — muscles, tendons, ligaments, central nervous system all being trained? Look at the piece of clay he began with, and what it’s been molded into now. And that’s just the housing. I wish I had a video of my first time trying (emphasis on trying)  to bench press the empty bar that I could compare to now.

What a difference a year makes

So it’s true then. I’ve been built to be good at squats, built to knock out chin-ups. Now Ben says he needs my arms to be bigger — I’m being reconfigured to be better at bench press. And there’s a method to this mad science. It’s not just pushing a button or taking a pill. There are subtle shifts in training. Rather than multiple reps of chin-ups last week, I added weight and just did singles. Instead of sets of 4 reps at 90% of my max on bench press, I did sets of 6 reps at 80%. We added in some new activities like cleans and roll-outs.

Deliberately and methodically, coach is refining what he’s built, focusing on what he calls the work muscles, not the show muscles (though I request exercises for the show muscles as much as I think I can get away with — I want more than anything to be strong, but I may as well have something more than my powerlifting total to show for all the work!).

I wish I could take my training partner Susan’s strengths that Ben has built in her, and add to mine, but this isn’t Weird Science. Instead it’s his challenge to develop our respective weak areas into strengths. And seeing how he targets our training, focusing on improving  different elements of a lift with each of us, customizing accessory work, is as fascinating as those psych experiments I used to love to read.

Best of all, the building process is never done. When we’ve built my arms up, it’ll be time to turn to something else. Maybe next it will be those show muscles! (just kidding, Ben! ; )


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