4 open-heart operations later
by Kurt Schley
(Rio Rico AZ USA)
I am 60 and started lifting with my father when I was about 10. I came up through the Peary Rader days, the Bob Hoffman-Joe Weider verbal battles and was fortunate to witness the Golden Age of bodybuilding. I was not gifted with good genetics and though lifting hard (many times over-training) I will never be a Casey Viator. That said, I have always derived a lot of satisfaction just being somewhat stronger and better built that the average Joe.
I have had four open year operations over the years (bad valves) and for a couple of hours each time, I had better pec separation than Ferrigno! I was always back in the gym about 6 weeks after getting opened up. Always interesting to see if your restitched-up sternum was going to split open during the first incline presses.
I recently took the first 6 month break from the iron that I have ever had. I had to have a shoulder rebuilt and the recovery was not the best. Still feels like someone is picking at violin strings inside the joint during every overhead lift.
During the forced lay-off I did go into a depression which I just could not diagnose, until it disappeared when I forced myself back into the gym. Depression disappeared during the first set and I have felt better about myself ever since.
I am now back on a two day on-one day off routine and workout at 5:30 in the morning before driving to work. Workouts are about 45 minutes with 60 second rest periods. I have forced myself to stay on this schedule because I have a tendency to over-train. For the few months before the shoulder finally gave up, I was lifting once or twice a day, every day. Naturally I was over-training and was rarely getting a pump and the strength just did not increase. Sure signs of over-training which I used to ignore.
In the last three months since returning to the gym I have regained all of the size (165# bodyweight at 5'6") and strength from my post-operation condition and I am crediting the rapid recovery to staying on a reasonably schedule. Bust ass when in the gym but give the body time to recover before beating it up again.
For some unfathomable reason, after the recent return to the gym I have fallen in love with full squats. I never did like them and usually substituted leg presses. Now I look forward to leg day and pushing the poundage's up slightly every week. My goal is to do a set of 10 reps with 200# on my 61st birthday (seven months from now). Yesterday I did 4 sets of 10-12 with 145# so I think I will make it.
The main point of this story is that it took 47 years of lifting to finally accept that hitting the weights hard day after day without recovery time is counter productive. Though the mind is screaming "get into the gym once or twice every day" the body ain't gonna take the punishment without recovery time. If you don't get a pump for two or three session in the gym, you are probably over-training. Lack of a pump during the workout is a good indicator of a over-stressed and over-trained body.