Upper Hand on Upper Body

Upper body sessions are not my most favourite thing to do at the gym. While I know that it is important to work the upper body, it just feels incredibly tough. Or it makes me feel incredibly weak. When I groan and struggle with 25 pound dumbbell presses, Michael reminds me that I am quite capable of bench pressing more than 100 pounds. He seems to think that there shouldn’t be much of a difference between a barbell bench press and doing essentially the same thing with two dumbbells. Obviously I struggle to believe it, even if it really is true.

And isn’t that truly the heart of the matter…that what I think and what I choose to believe can so profoundly affect my confidence, my attitude, and even my performance. My struggles with upper body work isn’t a new thing. Upper body work has always been tougher than squatting or deadlifting. Even when my deadlift seemed to be going nowhere, I would still have rather been frustrated while deadlifting than struggling through an upper body day. As much as I might not enjoy the upper body work, I am glad that I have a trainer who sees the big picture and works everything rather than catering to my preferences. He may mock my whimpering every time he brings out the 25 pound dumbbells, but he also knows what I am capable of before I ever believe it myself. I knew that this morning would be an upper body day, and I was determined that I would finally rise above the struggle. Mostly.

1a. overhead press

45 x 6, 55 x 6, 60 x 4, 60 x 4

I tend to not lean back enough to keep the bar path vertical, and I had a little issue with moving my head for at least one rep.

60 x 7 push press

1b. prone incline rows

75 x 10, 85 x 10, 95 x 10 PR, 85 x 12, 85 x 12

2a. dumbbell presses on a flat bench

25 pounds x 8

29 pounds x 8, 29 x 12 PR

The 29 pound dumbbells were a little surprising. The first set had some stability challenges, but it was generally easier than I had anticipated. The second set felt even easier, and I probably could have done a few more reps without grinding them out.

2b. lat pull-downs

90 pounds x 10, x 9, x 8 or 9…dropped the weight to 60 for another 9

I particularly like how Michael tells me to pull with my elbows, that my arms are just hooks. I understand what he’s saying, but in the moment that feels about as simple as…well, I don’t even know! Ha!

2c. rear laterals

sitting using 5 pound dumbbells x 20

standing using 8 pound dumbbells x 20

I hate rear laterals. But I did them. Despite what Michael may think, I was even breathing as I did them! I really don’t understand why everyone seems to think that I don’t breathe. I haven’t passed out since I was about 16.

All in all, I think this upper body session was a good one. There were a couple of PRs, and I realized that I could surpass that 25 pound dumbbell ceiling. I’ll take it!

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