Monday, April 29, 2013

White Noise, Squat Tips

White Noise was Don Delillo's breakthrough novel, and it's easy to see why. It concerns a professor of Hitler Studies (yes, that's right) named Jack Gladney and his dysfunctional family. Jack and his wife Babette are both terrified of dying to the point where their fear is making life unbearable. Babette takes solace in a prototype drug called Dylar, which Jack desperately wants to get his hands on. There's a lot else going on: an air born toxic event occurs, causing a mass exodus, and Jack becomes exposed. He discusses his fears and observations on American life with his friend and fellow professor Murry,  a New Yorker who wants to "become immersed in American magic and dread." Murry says some ridiculous things throughout the book (he's fascinated with generic packaged food and the supermarket, as well as Babette's hair, which he refers to as "important") but he's also the most self-aware character. Everyone in White Noise seems to be buried by television, radio, commercials, advertising, fast food, and consumerism. Delillo wants us to realize how lost we've become in the modern world, alienated by our pursuit of pleasure and the repression of our fears. White Noise manages to be eye-opening, depressing, and hilarious. Definitely worth a read.

Moving on to other matters, the squat has been my nemesis, but I think I've finally figured it out. Starting Strength, a basic guide to barbell training, has helped me a lot. I heartily recommend it to anyone lifting weights, even if you've been lifting for a long time. Here are some cues that have helped me correct my form:

1. Keep your knees out, like a pregnant woman having a baby. Keep them in line with your toes. Don't let them cave in.

2. Stop your knees from moving too far forward. The barbell should be kept over your midfoot, and it should travel up and down in a vertical line. If you're letting your knees slide forward, you're wasting energy, as well as putting a hell of a lot of pressure on your joints.

3. Stick your toes out at about a thirty degree angle. Easier to engage your hip muscles this way.

4. Film yourself (this is my own tip). Not for vanity purposes, but to assess your form. You can't correct a problem if you don't know what's wrong.

5. Keep your head in line with your torso. Look down about five feet in front of you. This helps maintain your back angle.

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