Untethered Dog

An Online Journal

Workout Log

Get Your Reps In

In writing, in lifting, in life, there is a tension: to do enough. Progress is most easily achieved in small daily doses of moderate to low intensity. You must push yourself. A little. Not too far. You can’t stay comfortable. But you can get so uncomfortable that you don’t pick up the pen, the bar, […]

The Dance

You only need to counteract self-restriction twice: 1. In order to begin. 2. In order to continue. Once you begin to lift or write there is usually a moment some minutes in during which you consider stopping lifting or writing. If you let this inquisition go, if you do not indulge the idea that you […]


To start is sometimes the hardest part. Start as soon as you can. Start slowly. Start modestly. Resist the notion to take on a task as a whole. You do not walk without taking more than one step. You do not draft an article or essay without writing more than one sentence. Workouts take several […]

Lighten the Load

Your muscles don’t know how many pounds are on the bar. What your muscles do know is how much tension you place them under. When you can safely move a weight, go deeper rather than heavier. Direct your mind to the muscle; go fuller, go slower. Feel the flex, observe the burn. Every repetition is […]

Try (But Not Too Hard)

Effort is important. So is ease. In the sweet spot you know both. (Lifting is like this. Writing is like this. Life is like this.)

First Steps

The first thing you do when you wake is important. The instinct is to move slowly into (or back to) the day. Instead, write right off. Go directly to the gym first thing. Walk. Prepare. Do not be anxious yet do act with purpose. What you do first sets a tone for all that follows.

More Is Less

I notice how frequently I negotiate with myself in the gym: you should do more reps, more sets, more weight. This is good so more must be better. This is flawed thinking. I am still working my way back and, frankly, also searching for a smarter, new normal. What I did before was good but […]

Monster Mash

American exercise habits seem to fall into two predominant camps at present: many people seldom move beyond that which is absolutely necessary and many others don’t think they have gotten a good workout unless they are unable to easily move their extremities the next day. One sign you worked out well is that the next […]

All the Way Down

The guy working in the rack next to mine the other day was back-squatting. He had more weight on the bar than I did. He was younger than I am. What he wasn’t doing was getting as low I do. He wasn’t going through the full range of motion. He wasn’t even going through close […]

The Intellectual Gymnasium

This morning between sets of deadlifts and overhead presses I pulled out my copy of The Manual for Living by Epictetus (Hallmark edition). I did this in response to a discussion during book club last night. We are reading The Philosophy of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy by David Robertson. In a chapter on the history of philosophy, […]

Starting Over Again

Editor’s Note: The intention here is to start a Workout Journal. Who will want to read such a Journal is not especially clear. Mostly, the benefit of such a journal is likely to be entirely the author’s, When it comes to fitness, he considers himself a learned Everyman — one who aims to feel good, […]

Resistance Movement

Thanks to editor Sarah Jackson, who commissioned yours truly to write about one of my favorite topics in the current (April 2020) issue of Minnesota Good Age. Print copies available.

Every Bit Adds Up

I wondered why I felt sore Friday, a day after I squatted. Why I felt sore still today, two days later. (It’s always the second day that is the worst.) Then I looked at my log. This month I am doing five-set sessions in the rep range of 8-12. The first session I did five […]

Frequency Redux

Ten minutes. Ten minutes a day. Let us say that is all the time you have to write. To lift. Consider: ten minutes a day adds up to an hour and ten minutes per week. An hour and ten minutes per week is more than sixty hours per year. How many words could you write […]

Habit Forming

One way to form a habit is to make the matter your day’s first priority. If something is important to you, after all, you put your attention to it first thing. This is where the writer-lifter runs into trouble. For here’s another parallel: the later the day gets, the harder it is to lift — […]

Intensity vs. Frequency

There are two means by which one grows muscle: by lifting weights with intensity or by lifting weights with frequency. Intensity: you lift hard. Frequency: you lift often. While you can, of course, find outliers, generally speaking, that is the choice. You must take one approach or the other. That is, you cannot do both […]

Writing and Lifting

Here are two things I must do daily in order to be me in the world: 1. Workout 2. Write With respect to the former, for a number of years now, at least seven, possibly eight, I have made it to the gym with clockwork consistently. Committed or should be is how I phrase it. […]