When Math Gets Complicated


Since Winter has been a total pain in the ass this season, I decided to finally do what I’ve been thinking about doing for the better part of 7 months: weight lifting.

Me: “Oh sh– I need to exerciiiiiiiiize”
I’ve been reading up on Starting Strength for a while, but it wasn’t until about a few weeks ago that I decided to go to a gym, buy a membership, and feel the uncomfortable wrath of being in a gym with swol-looking dudes and creepy dudes. I wasn’t biking as often as I wanted and my body was taking a noticeable hit from lack of exercise and I needed to do something.

So here I am. Into my third week of Starting Strength pumping out baby weighted squats, bench presses, and deadlifts. Well… ok. My bench presses are very baby-ish, because I basically have no upper body strength. I started doing overhead presses and yeah. We shant speak of that. My deadlifts are packing pounds nicely though. (That’s a weird thing to say.)

While I enjoy my brisk walks to the gym and getting sweaty in the weights area, I have come to realize that weight lifting is quite complicated.

Because math.

Until Sunday, I’ve been adding weights without actually thinking about how I’m adding weights for my work sets. I just did warm up sets until I got to the work set, which was usually 5 or 10 pounds more than the last work set. No fuss.

But when I was prepping for the day’s work out, I noticed that I’d be doing a bajillion warm ups during my deadlifts before actually doing a work set. No bueno, as I figured all those warm up sets would just exhaust me before I even got to the work set.

I asked Matt for guidance, and eureka. There’s a formula to all of this that I’ve forgotten about reading in the not just one book, but two books we own about the program. Way to go, Gina.

So after some confusing attempt at math and figuring out what my actual workout was going to be for the day, I got it. That math makes more sense now, and my workouts make more sense now.

But that’s not the math that was really tripping me up.

Until I sat down with Matt to work out the formula, adding weights was really a struggle… Because it’s not enough to just add the weight. Adding 5 pounds doesn’t mean add 5 pounds to each side (which is what I was sort of doing in the beginning…).

You have to divide the weight by two, then add that to each side, then still make sure the total weight with the bar is the actual weight you want to work with.

With no shame, I tell you, dear reader, this was very hard for me. And I probably looked pretty silly, standing over the plates with a puzzled look on what the eff weights I needed.

But alas! Sunday wasn’t so bad! After revisiting the formula Matt worked so hard to get me to understand, all I had to remember was to add the work increment to the last weight! Boom. Bang. Done. Twenty-five pounds is 25 pounds.

Of course, now the tricky part is replacing multiple plates with single, heavier plates so I’m not balancing five 10-pound weights on the bar.

I didn’t realize I’d also be revisiting basic math skills while incorporating weight lifting into my bike routine.


Of course, as a journalism major, math isn’t something I typically look forward to anyway…



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