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If you weigh two hundred twenty five pounds, can you bench press your weight ten times?

In some alternate universe a strong man laughs and says, “Easy.”

At the NFL combine where each college player gets under 225lbs and pushes it as many times as they can, it looks easy.

They’ll do ten repetitions, or twenty, or thirty.

Young men who lift weights for their sport, for their future, practice a lot. And it shows.

For an accurate visual, 225 is an Olympic bar with four forty-five pound plates. Two on each end.

Does it sound like a load? It’s more than a load.

Add one more forty-five pound plate to each end and it adds up to 315lbs. Call that one super load.

Before you jump to the danger of early boomers, those born between 1946-1952, hurting themselves, I’m not asking sixty-seven year old men to push that weight.

Even middle boomers born between 1952-1958 should use caution.

The late boomers from 1958-1964 can do it. They all can do it, but it takes time. Here’s the plan:

After you get your doctor’s okay, and spend a few weeks getting used to pushing a weighted bar, find a comfortable limit you can lift ten times.

If you weigh two hundred pounds and bench one hundred pounds ten times, you’ve got two obvious choices. Either lose a hundred pounds, or get stronger. Then there’s the third choice of doing both and meeting somewhere in the middle.

Portland baby boomers, and boomers across the nation, flock to gyms with their New Year’s resolution to get in shape. It’s part of the baby boomer exercise craze. They create an enthusiastic crowd, then it thins out a few months later due to injury or lack of interest.

The best reason for quitting a gym so far? “It would be a lot easier if the weights weren’t so heavy.”

Large men who’d be better off in the dance studio or cardio machines hit the weights like they’re thirty again. They forget that thirty year olds have thirty year old shoulders, not sixty year old shoulders, when they load up the bar with the weight they benched in college.

If two benches sitting in a row have a young guy on one and an older guy on the other, problems start right away. Older guy wants to show he can do it. Younger guy gives a few technique tips. Older guy gets snappy.

Instead of blowing up, try this on the bench:

  • Force your shoulders down and keep them down as if reaching for the sides of your knees.
  • Bend your elbows at ninety degree angles.
  • Now move your elbows away from your body at forty-five degree angles.
  • Arch your back enough to create a space between you and the bench.
  • Without losing the angles you’ve established, reach up and grip the bar.
  • Lift it off the rack.
  • Lower it until it’s a few inches above your chest.
  • Push it up keeping your forearms perpendicular to the floor.
  • Repeat.

Proper technique keeps you in the gym. Using the correct muscles builds your strength. Do that and the smart aleck on the next bench over will ask you for tips.

Use good gym etiquette and be kind. The old question was how much can you bench; the new one is how many times.

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About David Gillaspie
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