Monday, July 21, 2008

Microloading for Busting Stalled Weightlifting Progress

WHILE ENGAGING IN THE CURRENT (and, one hopes, ongoing) round of exercise, I checked my past recorded efforts, most of them failures. I noticed I tended to stall out at one maximum weight, then stop, get discouraged, and lose all of my progress.

The barrier seems to be that jump to the next higher weight unit. I use machines as well as free weights. The weakness of some of the machines is that the smallest unit is 10 lb. When you're barely strong enough to pull down 100 lb., 110 seems very distant. So I would end up leveling off, then flounder.

Enter microloading. Bodybuilders have long added smaller-than-usual weight plates to their barbells to push past the sticking points that lie between the standard 2.5- and 5-lb. plates. Some use magnetic mini-plates, others rig custom additions from huge washers or lengths of chain. For a sampling of what some bodybuilders have done, check this article the Dave Draper IronOnline message board. It's where I got my solution to the problem:

I don't need the single-pound nudge as much as the ability to make gradual progress between those big 10-lb. steps. To accomplish this, I hit the neighborhood hardware store (not yet driven out of business by Home Despot), and bought a length of moderately thick 2-ft. length of chain and a 150-lb.-test carabiner. I can dangle a 2.5-lb. plate from this, not unlike one of Flavor Flav's clocks, then attach it around the weight stack, so the next step from 100 becomes a slightly more manageable 102.5. When the time comes, I can up that to 105.

The only thing I need now is a gym bag, both to make sure this thing comes with me to the gym, and to hide it from casual view. Just sitting on my passenger seat, it makes me look like I'm heading to a rumble. An extra in West Side Story I'm not.

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