Back to working on the upper bod

I’m fully rehabbed from my shoulder injury. I had my last follow-up with my Doc, he was quite pleased. We did have an amusing misunderstanding. I asked him about limitations, like “can I do paddlesports”? He misheard me and said “Battlesports? You mean like American Gladiator or something? No, that’s not a good idea.”

Not in my future, apparently…

I said, “paddlesports, like kayaking or canoeing”, and after a good chuckle he said, “oh, sure, that’s probably one of the best things you could do for it”.

So now I’m motivated to get my upper body endurance back and improve my strength.

As I’ve talked about previously, I like to do fun activities for the upper body to supplement my hiking and biking which use mostly the lower limbs. Cross country skiing is great in the winter but it’s a few hours away so I don’t go that often. Kayaking, canoeing, and stand-up paddling are all close by. The closest is Lake Vasona, a county park in nearby Los Gatos. They don’t start there till the spring. But Monterey has kayaking and SUPing year round. I’ll probably sneak over there a couple of times before April since I’m champing at the bit to go kayaking now that my shoulder is better than it’s been in years. I had to look that up to be sure, by the way, apparently the correct usage is “champing” although it’s more common to say “chomping”.

I also do hiking with poles, nordic walking, and heavyhands (walking with hand weights). By doing a combination of all of these activities I have pretty good upper body endurance. I do strength training to get stronger at the things that will improve my fun activities, and to fill in the gaps that are not covered by them.

I think this is important for balanced overall strength for health. For example, you’ll often hear it said that rowing is a “full body workout”, but it emphasizes the back muscles more than the abs and chest. Yes you do use the latter during the recovery but are working against more resistance during the drive. So if rowing were my main activity, I would want to “fill in” with ab and pushing exercises.

So my resistance training routine looks like this:

Crunches for abs. Single set heavy resistance (12 reps, bump up the resistance when it gets easier) of the following: horizontal press and row, vertical “pushdowns” against resistance bands (like dips but my elbows are wide), upright row, french press, curls, kayak trainer, canoe trainer, low horizontal press (elbows down), ski trainer, anti-double pole (crouch with dumbbells at sides, then straighten legs and back while bringing dumbbells to head height). Because these are a single set it goes quickly. I also do the kayak trainer with lighter resistance for endurance, I interleave multiple sets of that with other activities. This routine is a bit modified from what I used to do because I no longer do overhead presses, my PT recommended against them, and there are other ways to work the same muscles. Note this is all upper body. The main lower body strength I do (on other days) is pedalling uphill while standing in a high gear. That is a great quad workout. I have to pull hard on the bars so it also loads my spine nicely. I supplement that with some calf raises against resistance.

I described my kayak/canoe trainer previously, below is a repeat of the schematic of it. I made a similar ski trainer by using resistance bands with handles and mounting the other end high on a wall. I’ve used the Concept C2 ski erg at the gym and it’s a nicer movement with really long range of motion, but my version based on a resistance band is pretty good and a lot cheaper. I would love to try my kayaking handle on a rowing erg, I bet it would feel very smooth, but again the resistance band version is pretty good and I can do it in the comfort of my own garage.

Single-set vs multi-set strength training is controversial, as I’ve discussed before. But I’m not trying to bulk up, just stay strong and avoid loss of muscle mass as I get older. I’m stronger than I was a few years ago, so I’d say so far so good (over 60, without training, increasing loss of strength muscle mass with age is expected).

2 thoughts on “Back to working on the upper bod

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