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Getting physical

Workout 101 – Part Four of Six
Ross von Metzke hits the wall, and lives to tell

Ross von Metzke | 18 August 2006

David Rich
It finally happened.

Up until now, I have to admit, I�ve not once had this workout plan kick my ass. I mean, don�t get me wrong. I�d go in there, give 85-percent (which is a good 30-40 percent more than I used to give), work up a decent sweat, feel my muscles tighten, make three or four trips to the water fountain and wander off to the locker room feeling good about myself. I�d do that four times a week and hike or run once or twice a week. I was doing pretty good, gained a few pounds of muscle, confidently walked around San Diego Pride sans shirt � I was taking two steps forward in the right direction.

But I can�t really say I felt challenged in the traditional sense. Challenged because I had a column to write so I knew I had to try? Yes. Challenged because what I was being asked to do was on the outskirts of my abilities? No.

But that all changed last week. Two things happened actually. I decided to stop half-assing it (OK, I wasn�t half-assing precisely, but I had more to give) and we entered month two of my workout – the month of the drop set.

Now we�ve done drop sets before, in month one. But they were fleeting – a few here, a few there: Mixed in and among continuation sets, muscle rounds, cardio, abs. If month one was an appetizer platter, this is the main course. And it�s all meat, all the time.

Needless to say, I�m feeling challenged. Yes, I�ll say it. David Rich kicked my ass. I went into the gym last Monday and I damn near hit the wall. By the time I was done, I was dripping sweat, my nose was running. I had to hose myself off before I could even think about face time with anyone. I was wiped.

I�m not saying this to scare any of you off of this workout commitment. I�m sharing with you because, no matter what your path – 100-percent dedicated, lazy as sin or somewhere in the middle – are going to feel like its an uphill battle at some point. And that�s when you have to kick into gear and work that much harder.

I learned something else about myself on that fated Monday – I like a challenge. Now this is not to say I�ve never been challenged in the past. You�re talking to the guy who fell off the parallel bars during that presidential academic fitness test every fourth and fifth grader in America has to go through.

I�m also the kid who was relegated to left field as early as tee ball because when everyone else was learning how to use a mitt, I was spinning around in circles and singing Madonna, Paula Abdul and Janet Jackson to myself. I was a little better at soccer, but a youth athlete I was not.

So when I got older and started going to the gym, I learned to rely on the things I knew I�d be good at. Just like those dance classes my mom made me take in junior high (OK, so I kind of liked it, but don�t tell her that), I knew that as long as I could count and focus, I could do anything. So any time a friend or a trainer presented something I might possibly see as a challenge (cardo and heavy upper body training in particular), I smiled, I nodded, I half assed it, and then I went right back to doing what I did best.

Which is not exactly the best approach to working out. You see, any good trainer will tell you (and many have) that the exercises you have the most trouble with are the ones you need to do the most. So when I go to do the side shoulder raises and my arms conk out on the dinky 15lbs weights, it�s a sign I should focus on that area.

The problem is these drop sets snuck up on me. I didn�t see them coming. I thought, �Oh please. How hard could it be? I�ve done drop sets before. Bring it on.�

Oh, they brought �em alright. Kicked my damn ass. One or two sets of drop drop sets in a work out – fine!

Eight? Insanity.

I�m doing back, chest, calves, quads, biceps, triceps, forearms � three drops sets on most which involves you maxing out your body, dropping the weight and without resting, maxing out again, then dropping the weight a third time and maxing out again. The goal is to hit 24 reps. Then you get to rest for 90 seconds and start all over again. It�s tiring, it requires focus.

And for the first time in a long time, I loved every minute. Now I didn�t love it at the time. I wasn�t standing, bracing the drinking fountain for support, screaming �Thank you David Rich. God bless you for making me feel pathetic.� In fact, I think I actually cursed his name a few times.

David Rich

But you know? When I got home that night, laid back on my sofa and started flipping through the channels, I realized how relaxed � how energized I felt. I really felt like I had used my body to its fullest that day, and so the next morning, sore as I was, I went back. I took it a bit easier, but I pushed. And the day after that and the day after that.

Now, a week and a half later, I�m into this workout full speed ahead. I wake up excited to go to the gym. I even have my own soundtrack I�ve compiled for the different days. Maybe that�s too obsessive compulsive, but whatever gets me through right.

It�s not too late to join the journey. I�m on month two, but you can kickstart your first month of the program whenever you want. If the tales I�ve been telling sound like something you�ve gone through or can relate to, head over to and sign up. Rest assured. You may be a little sorry to begin with, but it�s worth it.

We�re getting close folks. Just four more weeks until my big reveal. The before shot, and the after shot. I know most of you wish I�d just slap up another three pictures of David, but my time to shine had to come sometime.

This is a big step for me, so I�ll need your support.

Until we meet again!

Related stories
Workout 101 � Part Three of Six


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