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When you spend as much time in airports as I do, you find yourself contemplating the magazine racks pretty often. I’ve noted that there are two kinds of men’s magazines: the ones with women on the cover and the ones with men. The magazines that have men on the cover nearly always also have a cover feature about how to improve some aspect of our anatomy—usually in 30 days, and usually abs.

Now, you might not guess it to look at me, but I’m in pretty good shape, especially for someone who spends a lot of time in airports. Perhaps the $6 dollar airport beers have something to do with it, but even though I’m in pretty good shape, I don’t look like the guys on the covers of the magazines. You could practically pick one at random, but I decided to see if the program hyped in the December 2005 Men’s Health was as good as its word. “Six Pack Abs! See Results in Just 14 Days!” (I thought about testing the story under that—“Dress for More Sex: The Looks That Worked on 800 Hot Women” but 800 seemed like a lot more work than the sit-ups would be.)

Actually, there are no sit-ups in this particular program. Instead it is a set of four exercises done with dumbbells—exercises I’d never seen before. It seemed antithetical to the ethos of the gym I attend to go over with a page I’d torn from a magazine—they are a serious bunch at my gym, and acting like you don’t know what you are doing would make me too self conscious to do anything.
The description of the first exercise was so complicated that I had to ask my daughter to read it to me as I did it. “Stand with your knees slightly bent and hold a pair of dumbbells at knee level. Keeping your chest up and your back arched straighten yourself in an explosive movement, pulling the weights to chest height. Continue to rise onto the balls of your feet, then quickly drop underneath the weights and ‘catch’ them on your shoulders with your elbows high. Press the weights overhead, then lower them and return to the starting position.” Got that? It sounds like juggling chainsaws, but once I had it figured out at least I was able to do it. The next one was simpler to visualize—basically it was pushups that rotate—down, up, lift your dumbbell toward the ceiling, turning your body so that you “resemble the letter T”. Unfortunately, although I could picture it, I couldn’t do it.

Reverse lunge curls followed this. (“Stand holding a pair of dumbbells at arms length. Take a step backward as you bend your knee until it forms a 90-degree angle…. As you step back, curl the weights to your shoulders. Lower them as you push yourself back to the starting position.) I finished with a charming stunt that had me balanced on my butt, feet and shoulders off the ground, turning from side to side attempting to touch the dumbbell to the floor. Three circuits of these took me about twenty minutes, and left me wrung out.

Fourteeen days.  Wow, that's a long time.

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