GAINS: Chicken Legs

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Leg day is my least favorite day of the week in terms of workouts, and I’m not alone in that regard.  It’s just not a fun routine to me, and I don’t get any sort of high from it like I do from other routines.  There’s a sort of stigma that comes with “skipping leg day” but I do not skip leg day.  I may not go as hard as other days, but I do understand the importance of a good lower body.

I always start my leg routine with squats.  I try to go as deep and heavy as possible to maximize my effort, but with special attention to form.  Sometimes I’ll end up dedicating the entire leg routine to squats due to either laziness or lack of specialized equipment like leg press machines.  My legs may still be sticks after two years of lifting, but those sticks can squat 230 pounds.

You may think leg day sucks.  You may hate it.  Do not skip it.   Legs are one of the largest muscle groups and provide a lot of functional strength across the entire body.  Once you finish your routine, you’re that much closer to a more enjoyable muscle group.

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GAMES: Ain’t No Party Like a Mario Party

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Recently at The Cave, we’ve been hooked on Mario Party 7.  Mario Party is a long-running series from Nintendo that takes the Mario universe and throws it all onto a board game.  Players move across a game board, earn coins, and collect stars while competing against each other in many different mini-games.  Whoever has the most stars at the end wins, and it’s always a wild ride right down to the last turn.  They say Mario Party ruins friendships, and that’s what makes it so fun.

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Photo credit: Moby Games

Mario Party is about crushing your friends’ hopes and dreams through any means necessary.  Not many games at The Cave can get as heated as Mario Party 7 or any other game in the series, and we all become much different people as we go from 1st place to last and back again.  All it takes is a couple stolen stars to bring out the worst in someone.  But overall, first place or last, everyone is most certainly having a great time whenever we’re all sitting on the couch with controllers in our hands.

GAINS: Crank It Up

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Music is a very important part to my workout routine.  It makes me work harder, elevates my mood when I’m too tired to get anything going, and helps me tap into some aggression when I need it most.  The first step to any of my routines is plugging my phone into the stereo and putting on my ever-growing workout Spotify playlist.

Currently, there are 478 tracks in the playlist, totaling 31 hours and 54 minutes of music.  Genres include metal, rap, pop, jazz, electronica, and rock.  The playlist is set to be collaborative, one of Spotify’s many great features, which allows Brandon and whoever else works out with us to add their own favorite music.  It’s always great to have variety, especially with how quickly the music gets stale because of how often we listen to it.

Here’s a link to our playlist if you’d like to use it yourself, I’m sure you can find something in it that helps you find that inner beast.

GAMES: Shadow of the Colossus

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You find yourself in a forbidden land, and the girl you love lay comatose in an ancient temple.  A mysterious beam of light tells you that you must bring down the sixteen skyscraper-sized beasts that populate the region in order to wake her.  You hop on your trusty horse, Agro, and get to work.

Shadow of the Colossus for Playstation 2 is a fairly simple game.  There’s one objective–kill the designated colossus.  The challenge is in scaling the giant beasts and finding the hidden weak points on their bodies as they struggle to shake you off.  These bosses are living, breathing puzzles, and each requires a different way of thinking to defeat.  The game is absolutely fantastic at conveying the difference in size between you and your opponent as you cling to their fur hundreds of yards in the air.

This was a game Brandon decided to play from start to finish, and it was one of the few games that we all sat and watched the entire time.  Whether you’re playing or not, you definitely feel the tension that each colossus presents the player with.  It’s easy to call Shadow of the Colossus a classic of post-2000’s gaming, and it is certainly a gem in our collection.

CAVE CULTURE: Growing Things Other Than Ourselves

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A love for growing flowers probably isn’t the first thing you’d think of a group of mostly guys who spend their time playing video games and lifting weights.  Starting late summer 2014, Brandon and I saw all of the seeds and pots at Dollar General were 80% off, and we decided to start a small garden.  What was once an impulse buy has become a great hobby for us.

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It’s hard to not be proud of these little plants.  Most of them have been either grown from seeds, or bought half-dead off of the clearance rack at Lowe’s and nursed back to life.  None of us have any sort of gardening experience, but we are steadily developing green thumbs.  These flowers provide another interesting aspect to The Cave, as well as carry on the theme of growth and improvement.

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GAINS: Give It A Rest

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You’ve been giving it your all in the gym the past few days and you’re feeling great.  Tonight, on that precious first set of preacher curls, you feel a sharp pain in your wrists all the way up to your elbows.  You shake it off, saying it’s just some early-routine tightness, but the pain progresses as you progress into the routine.  It’s time to give it a rest.

Injury from weightlifting can be very discouraging.  It’s hard to take a day or two off that you hadn’t previously accounted for, because as hard as it is to stop, it’s even harder to start again with the same intensity that may have caused the injury.  A general rule of thumb I follow is to rest until I feel 100%, do some light movements to test my range of motion and check for pain, then rest another day.  Rest days are as important as lift days, and it’s very important to allow your muscles time to repair and develop.

GAMES: Building a Console Arcade

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Dark rooms.  Stained floors.  The faint smell of nachos and teenage shame.  These are all things that come to mind when thinking of the classic American arcade.  At The Cave, we’ve tried to put together an arcade of our own with a large collection of gaming consoles, accessories, and CRT televisions.

We have legacy systems such as the Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, Nintendo 64, and Sega Dreamcast.  We also have a pair of Playstation 2 systems, a Nintendo Gamecube, and a pair of Microsoft Xbox systems for the approaching-legacy division.  We have a total of four Xbox 360 systems and a Nintendo Wii serving as our more modern era collection.  Games for these systems are beginning to approach 250 in number.  As for televisions, we have 4 CRT televisions and an HDTV.

The beauty of our unconventional arcade is that it is a combination of all of our collections.  All of our tastes in games come together in the collection, allowing whoever stops by to experience what we feel is the best in gaming.  From the weird and wacky Katamari Damacy to the party classic Rock Band, you will certainly find a game to love among the stacks of cases.  And though the smell of nachos is replaced by the smell of grass on a lawnmower, the spirit of the classic American arcade is alive and well in the games half of The Cave.