Work Those Quads!


By Neil Offen

Been to the gym lately?

Yes, it can be an intimidating place, particularly for those of us whose idea of exercise is manually switching from Netflix to HBO Max. But it doesn’t have to be.

All those fearsome exercise machines, imported directly from the Spanish Inquisition? Not scary, if you understand how they work, what you’re supposed to do and what they do for you.  

Bicep curl

Adjust the seat to the appropriate height and make your weight selection. That’s the weight you want to curl, not the weight you plan to weigh after finally eliminating Oreos from your diet.

Place your upper arms against the pads and grasp the handles. This will be your starting position. It also likely will be your ending position because you probably won’t be able to move your arms.

Flex the elbow, pulling your lower arm towards your upper arm. Scream in pain.

Pec fly

Adjust the seat so the handles are slightly below your elbows but above your knees and close to your kidneys if you know where your kidneys are (right above your spleen, wherever that is). Rotate the hand grips until your hands are bloody. As you make coordinated movements leading smoothly to that awful crook in your neck, try to figure out what a pec is and how you could make it fly.

Lat press

Press your lats close to the point where you can feel the tension between your desire to be home reading a trashy murder mystery on your Kindle and your embarrassment that other people in the gym might be watching you.

Pause at the top of the movement, and then slowly return the weight to the starting position. Take a deep breath and then cancel your gym membership.

Chest extension/leg curl

Choose your weight and sit on the machine with your legs under the pad (feet pointed forward, teeth clenched, brain hyperventilating) and hands holding the side bars with mouth ready to ask for help.

If the angle of your elbow is less than 90 degrees, that means your ulna is already dislocated and you should go to the emergency room as soon as possible, or after you do 10 reps, whichever comes first.

Triceps extension/sealed dip/abdominal crunch

Make sure you adjust the knee pad of the machine to fit your height and prevent you from flying across the gym floor and right onto the elliptical, whatever that is.

Have both arms extended in front of you, holding the bar at the chosen grip width, then bring your torso back around 30 degrees until you hear something crack. Exhale loudly, so staff will come help quickly.

Hip abductor/hip adductor/triceps press

The upper torso should remain stationary, the lower torso should be frozen in fear and only the arms should move while you whimper.

Lateral raise/seated chest contortioner

Breathe out when you bring the bar down until it touches your upper chest before shouting for help. Work your pecs, your delts and your glutes. If you do not know your delts from your glutes, be careful while putting on your pants.

Shoulder hoist/leg press/triceps twirl

Adjust the pad so it falls on top of your lower leg (just above the scar from the hip abductor/hip adductor/triceps press). Also, make sure your legs form a 90-degree angle so you can get up from the machine quickly before it comes crashing down.

Depending on the gym you frequent, there may still be more machines and other potentially significant injuries you can suffer. Remember, you don’t have to try out all the machines at once. You can always come back for another go, if there are no good podcasts available and you are certifiably insane.

Carrboro resident Neil Offen has written humor pieces for a number of different publications, in a number of different countries. His column appears twice monthly in The Local Reporter.

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