My legs are sore today, quite sore. More on that later.
On a winter night in 1981, my friend Mike Wolf and I took a leg workout, after hours, at the Nautilus Fitness Center in Littleton Colorado. Mike and I, a couple of young bodybuilders at the time, were both trainers with Nautilus.
We were there for 3-hours that evening and did nothing but squats. Inspired by Arnold Schwarzenegger and guided by youthful stupidity, we had decided we would each do a set of squats every 3-minutes for the entire 3-hours. This, we thought, would coax our legs into new growth.
I don’t remember too much about the weights that we used at night other than we started heavy and by the end of the night we were using just the 45-lb. bar on our backs.
Barely able to walk, we stepped out of the gym into snowy single-digit temperatures, got in Mike’s Volkswagen and were on our way when Mike noticed the car was low on gas. It was probably some kind of guy thing but since it was his car, it would be my job to get out and pump the gas in the frigid air.
Though I had been sitting in the car for only a couple of minutes, my legs had gotten cold quickly after 3-hours of squats and were not responding to the signals my brain was sending them.
Standing beside the fuel door, with the gas pumping away, I suddenly collapsed onto the sheet of ice below my feet. My legs weren’t cramping, they were just unable to move and I was unable to control them in any reasonable way. For a moment, I honestly thought I had become paralyzed. Eventually the gas pump clicked off and I was still on my side next to the rear wheel of the Volkswagen, unable to stand.
Eventually Mike would step out of the car and begin looking for me. I can still recall the chuckle he gave when he saw me sitting on the ice trying to get up — kinda like Bambi on the frozen pond. Mike would help me to my feet, get me into the car and deliver me home where I could sleep and eat dozens of eggs over the next couple days in hopes of growing larger quads.
For the next few days my legs felt a profound soreness that they haven’t known since — until yesterday.
Since I’ve been riding my bikes upwards of 150-175 miles week for the past year, I’ve cut back on my leg training some and have been okay with that. In particular, as somebody who has always squatted ass to the grass deep, for the last year or so I’ve been doing only parallel squats rather than deep squats.
By parallel, I mean squatting to the point where my femur is parallel to the ground, pausing for a 1-count and returning to the top. For most of my weight training life — 40+ years, I have squatted deeply but always safely.
Recently I noticed my quadriceps, just above the knees, look a little thin. Despite my cycling and that I still train legs with some intensity, I didn’t like what I saw.
Now this could be an age thing. Strength trainers and bodybuilders over the age of 50 and approaching 60, often lose leg development first. Very often this is due to cutting back on or abandoning leg training after a certain age, but it is also part of the aging process. In my case, I attributed this to a lack of deep squats for the past year. The legs of older bodybuilders just don’t pop, and popping quads was my calling card for about 30-years.
Considering that squatting deep again might help fill out my quads over my knees, last week I began squatting deep for the first time in a year. For a day or two after that first session, my legs were more sore than usual and it felt good. It was even an indication that I might be on the right track.
Three nights ago I did a second workout including more deep squats and much heavier this time. The next morning I felt a soreness in my thighs that took me back to that squat marathon with my friend Mike nearly 40-years ago. Today it felt like the entire Chinese Army walked by me and one by one, and kicked me hard on each thigh.
Every step I have taken today has felt like electricity and sledgehammers were attacking my thighs simultaneously. And then it was time to get on my bike…
I actually thought about skipping my ride. In truth, it was a great ride as it always is, and my legs loosened up quickly once I began to ride.
However, with the type of symmetry that can only be part of a divine and humorous universe, as soon as I got off my bike today, I collapsed and fell to the ground — exactly like I did at the gas station in 1981.
And that my friends, is a true story.
This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb
Bike: Bomer The Kreeps
16.5 mph avg
Today’s earworm: Paper Late, by Genesis
Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there is this from Genesis. Enjoy…!