Ever seen a racy car — a Ferrari or Lamborghini or some such with a V12 and zillion horsepower? Sleek, shiny, 0 to 60 in 0.001 seconds? Or close enough, at any rate. Then come to find out, it’s a kit car. The outside looks fabulous, but it’s no faster than your average teenager’s muscle car. You have to wonder — what’s the point?
I will get back on track, but these days I’m having a bit of a wallow in self-pity because I’m starting to feel like a kit car. Sure, I’ve got muscles. Thanks to the paces my trainer puts me through my triceps and biceps are popping more than they ever did before. I feel like freaking Popeye. My legs are like rock and my back is getting carved up. But it feels like it’s just for show.
Back when I was powerlifting sometimes I wished I could work on the showy muscles, but really I was so happy to be strong it didn’t matter. I loved being strong, loved what it did for me, the confidence it built, the sense of being able to tackle anything. Now that I can only lift weights in a controlled environment, under supervision, I don’t see the point as much.
What good is being strong if you don’t use it? Before, my arms looked like they did because I did a million chin-ups, one of my most favorite exercises. I can’t do chin-ups anymore, so I build my arms with machines, bicep curls, and funky push-ups with one hand elevated (even then on my knees to protect my back). My muscular back came from the king of full-body exercises; deadlifts — now I have to carefully work it in sections, so the muscles are machine built. And we won’t even talk about squats. As exhilarating (and scary — my hands were shaking, my heart racing) as it was to get under the bar for some heavy Smith machine squats last week, I know full well that those dozen reps at 165 pounds aren’t equal to one real squat at 165. And I’m still nowhere near over the loss of my sport.
Maybe if I were interested in bodybuilding or physique competitions it would be different, but I loved strength training for the simple fact that I loved getting strong. When I can’t carry heavy things now for fear of re-injury, and I can’t try nearly all the sports I want to learn for the same fear, I see less and less point in being strong. I still prefer a muscular look to a skinny or soft appearance, but that’s really not enough. I don’t want to be a kit car. I want something useful and amazing under the hood.
My husband tells me to give it time, that it’s only been three months since surgery. But I still can’t even do so much as jump rope, I’ll only ever deadlift in my dreams (which I do) and I’m lucky/maybe even tempting fate to even be using a machine so loathed by real weight lifters for my new ‘squats.’ It’s a constant battle to find challenging workouts that won’t damage my spine further. Since the surgery didn’t fully repair the damage to begin with, I can’t take risks any greater than I already am. And that’s the worst of the injury’s legacy. Strong = limitless. And now I push up against limits every day.
Do kit cars ever get to transform into real supercars?