Dr. Superpez: or How I stopped worrying and learned to love the press

Posted: May 10, 2011 in CrossFit, Exercise, Fitness, Obesity, Uncategorized
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“Love” is probably an overstatement, but how else would I match the movie title?

The overhead press, even the weenie version I do, is a pain in the neck. Literally. Your neck will get friggin’ sore with it. For other newbies like me, an overhead press looks, at first, pretty simple. You’re just going to lift a bar over your head, and I started with a PVC pipe. Not so simple. Not in the least.

My husband had been walking me through it before he left town, and now that he’s back, he’s gotten to review my form. I was all kinds of pleased with myself just for doing it while he was gone. Turns out I only remembered three of the multitudinous things one must do all at once during the press. I used to think I could multitask. Not so much with the press, because I have a hard time even remembering what count I’m on.

The three things I remembered: Superman, Pez, and “elbows out.” When doing the press, you stand like Superman, chest out and shoulders back with your feet about shoulder-width apart.  You then “rack” the bar, grasping it overhand and then holding it up to your neck. Yeah, all the way. Supposedly pretty much over the notch in the collarbones. Not me. I have too much adipose tissue (take that, fat, I’m making you sound all clinical) in my wobbly upper arms. After a while, Gary gave up and said, “Just worry about keeping your elbows out; when we add weight, it’ll take care of the problem.” He also assured me that everyone says that at first. Even skinny people. I’m having a hard time buying it, but, okay, let’s go from there.

You then have to get your face out of the way, because you will otherwise smack yourself in the chin or move the bar out in front of you, which will be a bad idea someday when there are weights on it. The bar needs to go in a straight line up over your head. So you act like a Pez and suck your head back. After the bar has passed the top of your head, you should put it back where it belongs while you hold the bar over your head. I keep forgetting and try to stay permanently pezzed out.

Turns out Gary got the Superman/Pez instructions from Heather Bergeron, who, among many other achievements, coaches a lot of kids. So, yes, simple instructions are good, even for adults, particularly for those of us whose exercise intelligence is on the elementary school level. Here’s the video, some of which I may be reiterating:

[Haven’t gotten to the Oompa-loompas yet; I think she’s talking about the Gene Wilder version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which I never cared for. Give me Johnny Depp any day. And the stick trick? Yeah, you put a stick against my butt and shoulders and it will never, ever, go straight up.]

Now that the sucker is over your head (and this is the part I completely forgot), you have to straighten your arms all the way out and then shrug your shoulders upside your ears. This is the part that will make your neck hurt. Or at least that’s what I think; I haven’t asked and could very well be completely wrong. (I got through seven years of higher level education without ever taking an anatomy class, so I make no promises. I’ve learned what I know through work, reading, and my own dadgum illnesses.)

Gravity will be your friend, next, surely. No such luck. After you’ve pezzed your head back out of the way, you are supposed to slowly bring it back down to your neck — and keep those elbows out.

By this time, I have no idea how many I’ve done. Six, maybe? Oh, no, it was just all those blinking steps that made me think I’d been through more than one exercise by now.

But, I have to admit, I’m getting so I don’t forget all the steps; just a few every time. Occasionally only one. And once in a while, I get all of it right.

That’s actually a pretty good feeling.


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