The Closet of Pain

I do a lot of core and specific strength work in the off-season and I’ve really come to enjoy it.   I’ve found it makes a big difference, especially for my upper body.  Coming from cycling and running, I had the equivalent upper body physique of an 11-year old girl.  It’s taken a few years to gain power and endurance — and it tends to fade very quickly — but I’ve made good progress.  I do a full strength workout twice a week. When I can’t train with a group, I go to the Closet of Pain.

The Closet of Pain is my front hall closet where I store most of my core strength gear:  medicine ball, physio ball, ankle weights, arm slings, etc..   A pull-up bar is installed in the door way with a couple height levels for pull-ups, leg raises (with the arm slings) and inverted rows.  It’s cramped, poorly lit, hard to get to.  But because it’s in my house and I have to walk by anytime I go in or out, it’s a persistent reminder and it’s easy to throw in some exercises after a run or ride.

One of my favorite core-strength workouts is the “Pull-up Ladder”.  I start with 10 pull-ups, then every minute (or less) I drop a rep, until I’m down to one rep.  This way, I can maximize the total number of pull-ups I do over a session.  Sometimes, I’ll do an extra set of 10 reps at the end.  As I get stronger, I add another rep or two to the starting set, or I’ll do them with 10 lbs of ankle weights.

The formula for calculating the total number of pull-ups =  ((starting reps + ending reps)/2 )* the number starting reps.

Before doing the Ladder, I could manage at most 12 or 13 pull-ups.  After a few weeks, I was in the low 20’s.  I maxed out last year with 29 pull-ups in one continuous set.

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