Here's a routine that will help your running,
jumping, and swinging ability.
by Ellington Darden, Ph. D.
I have a four-year-old son, Tyler, who is big into the Disney animated movies. He's already seen about 25 of them and he often watches one at night before he goes to bed. Some of his favorites are Buzz Lightyear, The Incredibles, Tarzan, and Tarzan II.
Tyler is especially fond of Tarzan II, The Legend Begins because it's the story about a young boy growing up in the jungle. As a result, Tyler stalks around on all fours, jumps off of various objects, and swings on low-hanging tree limbs in our yard. He also knows how to terrorize our two house cats with his screeching yells. It's fun to watch him as he tries to emulate his little hero.
A couple of weeks before Christmas, as I was thinking of some interesting gifts to buy Tyler, I couldn't help but remember back to my childhood in Texas during the late 1940s and early 1950s. Saturday mornings at the movies were popular activities for the kids in my neighborhood – and one of our favorite heroes was Tarzan.
This Tarzan, however, wasn't animated. He was played by Olympic athlete, Johnny Weissmuller. Weissmuller was tall, lean, and muscular throughout his chest and shoulders. What an inspiration Weissmuller was for us kids to run, jump, and swing.
Before his starring role in Tarzan, Weissmuller won five gold medals in swimming at the 1924 and 1928 Olympics. Throughout his swimming career, he held 51 individual world records – which was quite an athletic achievement.
Because of my positive recollections, I put "Tarzan" into Google and was surprised to find thousands of listings. One of the first to appear was www.Tarzanmovieguide.com, which briefly reviewed all the Weissmuller films. What memories the film sketches evoked.
Within another 10 minutes, I had located and ordered for Tyler, what I considered to be a risky Christmas gift: The Tarzan Collection on four DVDs, which supplied six classic films from the 1930s and 1940s featuring Johnny Weissmuller as Tarzan and Maureen O'Sullivan as Jane.
Would Tyler like these old-style, black-and-white movies – which lack the color, razzle-dazzle, Dolby sound, and the latest technology of today's DVDs?
On the night of December 27th, Tyler and I spent 90 minutes with Tarzan the Ape Man, the first movie in the series. At first Tyler was restless because the movie progressed at a slow pace. Then, that famous Tarzan yell preceded Tarzan's appearance by 30 seconds or so. That got his attention.
When Tarzan made his entrance, he was swinging through the tall trees on vines, which seemed to stretch seamlessly for a half mile. Tyler liked that.
Then, there was Tarzan battling the lion, fighting the rhino, and a lot of swimming amongst the hippos and crocodiles. In the middle of it all was Tarzan's kidnapping of Jane Parker, who was visiting her father, and the enviable "attraction."
Finally, the visiting entourage, including Jane, was captured by pygmies – who had devised some interesting torture techniques that involved a killer gorilla. But arriving just in time for the rescue was our hero Tarzan, with his herd of faithful elephants.
"Daddy, let's watch it again," Tyler said enthusiastically as the credits rolled. Or . . . "ungawa, ungawa" . . . which is Tarzanese for YES, or about anything else he wants it to mean.
I knew then that I had picked a winner.
Over the rest of the week, we watched the other episodes: Tarzan and His Mate, Tarzan Escapes, Tarzan Finds a Son, Tarzan's Secret Treasure, and Tarzan's New York Adventure. We especially enjoyed the last three, which brought Boy, played by Johnny Sheffield, into the story.
In those last three movies, Boy progressed in age from about 5 years to 9 – which captured Tyler's attention because he wants to be a "big boy now." Plus, Boy got to carry and use his own special knife, which was about half the size of the one Tarzan kept for protection on his right hip. That impressed Tyler because he's wanted a real knife for more than a year.
The critics rated Tarzan and His Mate the
best of the bunch. Weissmuller's physique certainly looked
the most muscular in this one. Our favorite, however,
was Tarzan's New York Adventure. Tarzan looked rather
natty wearing his tailor-made double-breasted suit.
Although the old Tarzan movies are certainly tame in action and razzle-dazzle, compared to The Incredibles, there's something simple, basic, and straightforward about them. You know quickly who the good guys and the bad guys are. There are no misleading characters, no red herrings, no complicated plots, and no laser guns. They are all as elementary as, "Me Tarzan, you Jane, him Boy."
The black-and-white Tarzans are refreshing and easy on the ears, eyes, and head . . . matched up to the multi-million dollar, computer-animated, Pixar/Disney productions, such as Finding Nemo, Toy Story, and Monsters, Inc.
Tarzan most definitely makes you feel like building a tree house and going ape.
Inspired by Tarzan's adventures, and the eminence of 2006, I decided to change the three HIT routines that I had been alternating for the last year to something more basic and simple.
Tyler often hangs around the gym as I'm training. To stimulate his interest, as well as mine, I'm calling this new workout the Tarzan Routine.
I've been using the Tarzan Routine since the first of January 2006 and I like it a lot. It's for anyone who has more than a year's worth of training experience and especially for those of you over 40 years of age.
First, a look at the exercises:
- Squat with barbell or leg press machine, immediately followed by
- Regular chinup with supinated grip, immediately followed by
- Calf raise with barbell or machine or wrist curl with barbell
Rest for 2 minutes.
- Standing overhead press with barbell, immediately followed by
- Parallel-bar dip
Rest for 2 minutes.
- Prone back raise on bench, immediately followed by
- Stiff-legged deadlift with barbell, immediately followed by
- Trunk curl on floor or reverse trunk curl
Try to arrange your equipment so you can do exercise 1, 2, and 3, with minimum rest in between. The same holds for exercise 4 and 5, and exercise 6, 7, and 8.
You also have several choices: squat or leg press, calf raise or wrist curl, and trunk curl or reverse trunk curl. Or, you may alternate between the two. Personally, I like sticking to the same exercises for at least two weeks, but some of you may require the needed variety.
I recommend that you do the movements in good form (approximately 3 seconds on the positive and 3 seconds on the negative) for one set of 8 to 12 repetitions. Be sure and keep all your repetitions smooth. Add resistance when you can do 12 or more repetitions.
Do the routine no more than twice each week.
At 62 years of age, here are the weights and the repetitions I performed during my workout on January 17, 2006.
- Leg press machine (Nautilus Nitro), seat in 7th notch: 440 pounds/12 reps
- Regular chinup: body weight (190 pounds)/8
- Calf raise (Nautilus Multi-Exercise) with hip belt: 250/15
- Overhead press (thick-handle barbell): 110/9
- Parallel-bar dip: body weight/10
- Prone back raise (off Bowflex machine): body weight/15
- Stiff-legged deadlift (Nautilus Multi-Exercise) with handle attachment: 250/10
- Reverse trunk curl on floor: body weight/9
The entire routine took me 12 minutes to perform. And I got very good cardiovascular involvement from it.
Try the Tarzan Routine several times and let me know your thoughts. It just may be a workout you'll want to continue with for several months.
It's late afternoon and a pleasant 70 degrees outside. I'm logging off my computer because Tarzan's due in the back yard to join Boy and Cheeta.
Remember Cheeta? He's that mischievous baby chimpanzee. Our black cat, Bumps, is assuming Cheeta's role, at least in Tyler's mind.
But first we must get rid of our shirts. Tarzan and Boy never wear shirts in the jungle. Everybody knows that . . . according to Tyler.
Cheeta (Bumps the cat) watches somewhat attentively, and occasionally hisses and rolls over . . . as we run around the yard, jump off boxes, and swing on a few tree limbs.
"Tarzan, stop . . . Cheeta, move back," Boy cautions, as he reaches for his pretend knife. "There's a big lion on the other side of the fence."
Ungawa! I hope we finish our adventure in time for supper.
Four-year-old Tyler Darden, after some swinging in the trees . . . flexes his arms. Tyler is 3-foot 4-inches tall and weighs 52 pounds.
(Photo by Phil Campbell)