Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Workout I #4: Post-feasting sweating is good (Workout 62)

I've got a couple of exercises where I'm ready to raise the
weights. This makes me happy. 
We didn't go to the gym on Saturday -- because of the car having to go to the shop we wound having to walk to the bank to deposit Christmas presents so we could pay for the car repairs. According to Google My Tracks it was a 4 mile walk. And we went at a pretty good clip. It wasn't as good and sweaty as a trip to the gym would have been but what with that, and not getting the car back until afternoon, and having to go grocery shopping, I just didn't have the will to get to the gym afterwards. 

I may feel a little bit bad about that. I'd feel worse if we hadn't gone yesterday, right on schedule. 

Yesterday's workout was very good and much needed, after the day sort of off-ish. 

I was pleasantly surprised at how not-crowded the gym was - I was expecting a fair number of people working off the holidays (or earning their New Year's Eve festivities). It wasn't too bad, though. This is the workout that uses two different pieces of equipment that the gym only has one of, so I sometimes have to either change the order I'm working in or share (or both). But I didn't have to do either last night. Which was nice. 

Yesterday's workout was: 
  • Plank with Reduced Base of Support - 3 x 50 seconds - The first set I did holding an arm up (left arm for the first 25 seconds. right arm for the second). The second and third sets I did holding up a leg (same deal as far as time). It is actually a little harder to hold up an arm, I think. I read somewhere On The Internetz that it's to do with leverage, which I'm not sure made much sense to me. But it does appear to be empirically correct. Huh. I didn't make a note of it (so I may not remember), but I'd like to raise the difficulty on these next time -- they were hard but not really hard enough. I might go up to 60 seconds. The other option is to do all arms all the time. I just need to remember. 
  • Coordination Rows - 3 x10 - Still making with the 20 lb weights. You'd think after doing these since September, I'd not get my arms and legs crossed up and do them backwards for a set. You'd think. But you'd be underestimating my lack of deep body understanding of left and right. The way these are supposed to work is I stand on, say, my right leg, hold the handle attachment for the cable machine in my left hand and bend forward, with my left leg extending behind me as I bend. I did the first set yesterday (or maybe half of it, I really did get very confused) with the handle in the right hand as I stood on my right leg, with my left leg extending behind me as I bend. Which, perhaps not surprisingly, makes it a bit easier to balance. Anyway, as I was switching sides, I realized I'd done it wrong, and then got confused. But I did it right the other two sets. And I was perfect as far as balancing in both the first (easier, at least in part) set and the second. And nearly perfect in the third. Woot! 
  • Dumbbell Jump Squat - 3 x 8 - I reduced the weight on these from a pair of 40 (I think) lb dumbbells to a pair of 30 lb dumbbells, but increased both the number of sets (from 2 to 3) and the number of reps per set (from 5 to 8). This was successful -- the reason I reduced the weight was because the 40 lb weights were landing heavily hanging from my shoulders. (If that makes the slightest bit of sense). 30 lb dumbbells were just fine in that regard. But I still got plenty of good work from the exercise. Success!
  • Alternating sets of:
    • Offset-loaded Lunges - 3 x 8 - I used a 20 lb weight again and made sure to go pretty fast as I worked. I'd like to try 25lbs again, as the 20 was a little light. Maybe whatever it is that makes my quads hurt (on the non-working leg) with a higher weight is ready to move up. If it's not, I'll just really push the speed. And maybe add another set. I'm not sure. 
    • Assisted Chinups and Scapular Retraction - 3 x 8 (Chinups), 3 x 8, 8, 3 (Scapular Retraction) - I might have had the weight set wrong on these. The Assisted Chinup machine gets set with how much of your bodyweight you *don't* want to lift, so knowing how much weight to set it at is key. I only weigh myself once a week (Saturdays, usually) and I just assume my weight is more or less steady through the week. (Which is clearly not a valid assumption, but I can't see anything else that would be better.) On Saturday this week, my weight was up because of Christmas (and Christmas Eve) feasting and so on. So I set the Assisted Chinup machine with a higher weight. I might have gone a bit too high with it, though, because I didn't have a huge amount of trouble with these. Which was nice, actually. The sets were hard, especially for the last couple of reps, but I made my reps. I added some reps of the scapular retractions (just pulling my shoulder blades back and down while hanging at arms length (with the same assist as with the chinups) and those are feeling better. I'll be doing this workout again on Saturday and I'll hopefully have a better idea of where to set the machine next time.
  • Alternating sets of:
    • Back Extensions - 3 x 8 - I used the 25lb weight plate again for these and am definitely feeling ready to go up. I have two choices for that -- either use two 15 lb dumbbells and just hold them close to my chest, or try to wrangle the 25lb plate and a 5lb plate. The dumbbells sounds like it will be easier. These are definitely a good hamstring workout, especially now as I'm getting really into a groove with them. :D 
    • Diagonal Raises - 3 x 8 - I did these with a 10 lb dumbbell (rather than the 10lb plate I had to use last time) and that really did make a huge difference. They still seem to move my shoulders in unaccustomed ways, but I don't feel like they're bad ways. I'd love to go up with these as well, but I think that might be a bit of a strain. Maybe next time. 
  • Cardio Intervals - 3 x 30:30 Jumping Jacks Intervals of Insanity alternated with 3 x 20:40 Jump Squats Intervals of Insanity - I don't know if I worked fast or if Patrick went long, but we got to the gym at a reasonable time and I wound out with enough time to do some Insanity Intervals which made me happy. I could probably have done more Jumping Jacks, but after the loaded jump squats earlier in the routine, my quads were done done done after just three rounds. So I figured it was a good time to stop. Before the strength portion of the workout began, I did 10 minutes on the treadmill with a goodly incline (the machine said 11, which I don't think equates to an 11% slope, so I'm not sure what it means) and clipping right along. After putting in my weight, the machine said I burned 150 calories in 10 minutes. So that was good too. 
All in all, it was a very good workout and I was most pleased with it. :D I'm starting to see the end of Phase 5 coming. I've got 5 more workouts (just shy of two weeks) and then it's time to move on to Phase 6, whatever that will be. That's when we're planning on looking into changing gyms, so we need to get on the stick with that. Maybe this weekend we can make an appointment at one of them to take a tour and sign up for whatever free/trial period they have. That would be a good start.

I'm also heading up toward my 1 year Fit-i-versary -- January 22 is the one year anniversary of my first run basically every. (Who else remembers the cute little duckling?) One of my goals in doing this whole fitness thing was to be able to go to the climbing gym in Laurel and see if I can tackle some of their walls, because climbing sounds like a hoot (and doing it indoors seems much less likely to get me gravely injured that doing it outdoors). A day at the climbing gym is going to be my Fit-i-versary present. The plan is to invite others to come if they like, then when the climbing portion of the festivities is done, we'll go to a local brewery for beer and food and stuff. :D

Anyway, that's all in the future and I'm getting ahead of myself. Next workout is scheduled for Thursday, New Year's Eve. The gym closes at 1pm, which is fine because we have the day off, so we'll just go in the morning. Goal for the workout: Rock workout J -- I'm hoping it will be less of a grind this time than it was last time. 

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Posture, Alignment, and First Thoughts for Phase 6

Side view. This is the more telling one.
I'm trying to figure out my posture here. The pictures
are surprising and a bit vexing. Front view.
I saw an article the other day on stretches and exercises to correct posture problems. The article is called "Posture Power: How To Correct Your Body's Alignment" by Kendall Lou Schmidt. You can find it here. It includes photographs of a woman with excellent posture then shows her exaggerating a series of posture problems. For each of the problems, the article talks about which muscles are over-active (or overly tight and need stretching) and which are under-active (and need strengthening exercises). 

I feel as though I have really bad posture, so I had Patrick take some pictures of me while we were at the gym the other day. I was not consciously trying to Stand With Good Posture when he took these. In fact, I jumped in place a couple of times to get myself set naturally. 

According to the article the ears, shoulders, hips and heels should line up. (Actually that's what the text says but not at all what the pictures show, which I find a little annoying.)  The pictures are more informative in that regard than the text, so please go look at the article.  In the side-view picture, the middle of the woman's ears line up with the front of her shoulders. That same line goes through what is probably the ball and socket joint of her hips (maybe a bit behind it, I'm not entirely sure where the joint is inside the body). Her knees are well behind the line and her ankles even more so.

Prior to looking at these pictures of me, I would have said that I have rounded/slumped shoulders and my neck thrusts forward from my shoulders (leaving my head sitting on my neck at a somewhat awkward angle which leads to neck strain). I've always thought I had an excessive  curve in the lower back (my butt sticks out). (Momma calls this "sway back" but the article uses "sway back" for almost the opposite problem.) For most of my life I was terribly pigeon-toed. For several years, my head tilted to one side.

Looking at the pictures, I don't appear to have the butt-sticking-out problem that I thought I have. I also don't appear (at this juncture) to be nearly as pigeon-toed as I used to be. There's a bit of a hint of it in the side view, but not much. I don't appear to have a tilt in my head. I don't think I'm going to worry about those. 

The picture of the woman in the grey tank top (snipped from the article utterly without permission -- so seriously read the article ) shows what they call "Upper Cross Syndrome". The pictures in the article are exaggerated, so the match isn't going to be perfect, but compare it to my side view, below. The angle of my neck is similar. And the round in the top of my back isn't nearly as bad, but there is a definite curve there. 

The "Rounded Shoulders" and "Forward Head" pictures aren't as close a match as this one. You can check the article to see (I don't want to copy more of their pictures). 

I'd appreciate anyone taking a look at my pictures and the article and seeing if there's something I'm missing. Or if there's something I'm seeing that isn't there. 

In the absence of other thoughts, I'm going with the "Upper Cross Syndrome" idea. What the article says is: 

Overactive muscles: Trapezius, levator scapula, pectoralis major and minor, neck extensors (the back of your neck, traps, upper back, and chest)
Stretches: Neck self-myofascial release, chin to chest, front-delt stretch, elbows-back stretch, chest stretch on stability ball, dynamic chest stretch, chair upper-body stretch
Underactive muscles: Rotator cuff, lower trapezius, rhomboids, serratus anterior, and deep neck flexors (muscles in the back surrounding the shoulder blades, rear delts, and in front of the neck)
Strengthening exercises: Isometric front-neck exercise, seated cable row, back fly with band, shoulder external rotation, rear-delt row
 I honestly don't feel like I have *any* overactive muscles in my upper body. It helps if I just think of them as *tight*.  I can definitely add some of these stretches to my post workout routine -- thought I need to look them up. I can also work some rows and shoulder rotations into my Phase 6 workouts. Maybe even a back fly.

Workout J #3: Christmas EveEve workout (Workout 61)

This was such a difficult workout -- things were surprisingly
hard all the way through -- but I really got an excellent
workout from it.
I'm not sure why, but this was *such* a difficult workout. Everything was just really hard -- from the Dumbbell Push Presses, which I did in Phase 4 and know pretty well, to the YTLWI Raises. It was just a *challenge*. I guess it's most accurate to say that anything that involved my shoulders or back was really hard. I wonder if I was still kind of spent from the Chinups on Monday. 

It was just a hard workout. A good one, all in all, but oh, my goodness did I have to *work*! 

We were going to  go Christmas Eve morning (the gym was open until 1) but we wound out being free Wednesday evening and decided to go ahead and go then so we could relax more on Christmas Eve (we both took the day off). I had one errand to run this morning (vehicle inspection) but other than that and making a dish for family Christmas tomorrow, we've been free. (I even got to watch my one essential Christmas movie (Lethal Weapon) this morning.)

Yesterday's workout was: 
  • Core Stability - 3 x 40 - I used a 10 lb weight plate for these and did 40 seconds of moving it slowly around me while holding my torso and core very still. If there are 15lb weights available next time, I might move up. If there aren't, I'll go up to 45 seconds per set. These are definitely a challenge to my core, but not excessively difficult. I think I like them. Though they do also put some strain on my arms holding the weight out at arms length. 
  • Rolling Side Plank -- 3 x 8 -- It's possible that I lost count on at least one of these sets and did more than 8, which is fine. I don't mind going over. I just don't want to not do enough. I did these the way the video I linked to in the first post about Workout J -- with my arms horizontally across in front of my chest rather than sticking out in front like they would be for a regular plank -- is actually a lot easier. Not easier as far as the difficulty of the exercise (which is plenty hard) but easier as far as not feeling like I'm playing a game of Twister as I move around. I think 3x8 will be good again for next time, but I might want to increase the number of reps after that. 
  • Dumbbell Push Press -- 3 x 5 -- This was one of the exercises that was surprisingly very hard during this workout. I was doing these in Phase 4 with a pair of 20 lb dumbbells and 8 reps, so this seems like it should be totally possible to do 5 reps with 25 lb dumbbells. I think I was doing Shoulder Presses with 25s way back when I was doing those (Phase 2, I think). These should not be so much harder. I wonder if it has to do with what comes before  -- those Core Stabilities do work my arms and shoulders a bit as well as my core. 
  • Alternating sets of:
    • Single Leg Dumbbell Deadlifts - 3 x 8 - These were also surprisingly hard. I use the same pair of 25lb dumbbells I use for the Push Presses. Yesterday, my hips were just very stiff and sore. I'd kind of abbreviated my normal warmup routine, because of a lot of people and an abs class back in that corner of the gym, and part of what I skipped was the hip openers. That may be why these were a little extra challenging. 
    • Pushups - 3 x 8 - The first set was *really* hard and I didn't think it would be possible for me to make my reps with the subsequent sets, but those seemed a little less difficult. Maybe to do with hand placement. Maybe to do with me finding some extra strength somewhere. My money's on hand placement. I'm still working off of the bench. I'd be feeling wimpy about this, except that I've worked down by about 2 feet over the course of a few months. 
  • Alternating sets of:
    • Dumbbell Squats - 3 x 8 - I used a pair of 40 lb dumbbells for these again. I was surprised when posting earlier that I was doing Jump Squats with the same weights (though with fewer reps). Either the Jump Squats are too heavy or these are too light. I'm pretty sure the Jump Squats are too heavy (see my previous post). Though these may go up after one more workout. We'll see. They were hard, but not as hard as the Single-Leg Deadlifts. 
    • Standing YTLWI Raises - 3 x 8, 8, 5 - I'd been planning to do three 8-rep sets after the previous go-round with Workout J, but the first two sets about killed me. I wasn't sure I'd be able to do a third set at all, but decided to go for 5. A set of 5 was pretty easy, but 8 would probably have been too hard. (I have to decide before I start how many I'm doing because of the way these work -- there are five different raises done in sequence without stopping, so I need to know how many to do for each of them.) As it was I was literally dripping with sweat running off my nose while I was doing these. 
  • Cardio - Patrick finished before I was done and ran across the street to the Market (thus completing what would have been a Christmas Eve chore early) while I was finishing up. I didn't really have time to do any Intervals of Insanity, though. Which was fine. I did 10 minutes hard on the treadmill at the beginning, which was good. And the workout was really hard and sweaty. Good stuff. 
I'm hoping that next time won't be such a grind. Though I'm now half-way through Phase 5, which kind of boggles my mind. These phases seem like they're going faster and faster now. As I mentioned in my previous post, around when I start Phase 6 is when we're thinking of switching to a different gym. We'll have to do some research in the New Year as to which of the other two gyms in town we want to switch to. There may be others that I missed during my research about this last summer. (I'd love to find one like the place in my mother's Teeny Little Town in Georgia -- small but well-equipped and with a fairly small clientele. Though they didn't have an elliptical machine that was totally satisfactory to Patrick.) 

Next workout is scheduled for Saturday. Goal for the workout -- workout hard but without it being as grindy-difficult (I don't mind hard lifting, that's what I'm there for, but I don't want to feel like my hips and shoulders aren't cooperating). 

Workout I #3: Mostly good (Workout 60)

I actually had a lot of crowding issues at the gym during
this workout. 
I normally don't run into big crowding issues at the gym when I'm working out. There are lots of dumbbells (of most weights) and lots of stations at the cable machine, so I'm usually able to work something out, even if it involves swapping off between sets. I suppose, realistically, I didn't actually have problems with this workout, but it felt like I did especially for the last pair of alternating sets. 

It might be a harbinger of what January is going to bring -- my understanding from people who are more familiar with gyms and fitness centers is that January is really crowded with people who made New Year's Resolutions to get fit. That's going to be a drag. The crowding on the machines he uses has already got Patrick taking a cardio month (all elliptical, all the time). And we're looking at changing to a different gym in January -- there are two alternatives to Planet Fitness in town and we want to check both of them out. I like the Planet Fitness just fine, but I'm going to eventually get to a point where I need options it doesn't provide (heavier weights, step boxes, medicine balls, Valslides). We'll check out our options and see what we want to do.

I did Workout I #3 on Monday, December 21. I think we were running late, because there has to be some reason why I didn't do any Intervals of Insanity. I do remember for sure that Patrick finished about the same time I did, which was unusual and very cool. 

Monday's workout was: 
  • Plank with Reduced Base of Support - 3 x 50, 50, 44 seconds - I wrote this down as 3 x 45 seconds. The first set I was holding an arm up. The second and third sets I was holding a leg up. I hold one limb up for half the time, then the other one for the other half. That's actually why I did 50 seconds the first two sets -- I made a math error on how long to hold up the first side and I wanted to keep it balanced on both sides.  
  • Coordination Rows - 3 x 10 - I was just about nearly perfect this workout. I did one perfect set and two very nearly perfect sets. I'm *finally* really rocking these and may actually raise the weight from 20 lbs (which I went up to from 15lbs when I went from 12 to 10 reps) before I'm done with this phase. :D 
  • Dumbbell Jump Squats - 2 x 5 - These are a bit of a conundrum for me. I used a pair of 40 lbs dumbbells for these, which was fine for the first two times, but on Monday seemed kind of hard on my shoulders. Obviously jump squats are a leg (quad) exercise, but landing with the heavy weights at the ends of my arms was a jolt on my shoulder joints. Which I didn't like. I'm thinking maybe I should go for 35 lb weights and see if that's still a workout for my legs (I can always add reps if I need to). That might help. 
  • Alternating sets of:
    • Offset Lunges - 3 x 8 - When I did these with a 25lb dumbbell, these were too hard on my (non-working) quad. No that doesn't make much sense to me either. With a 20lb dumbbell it went much better and I didn't have any problems, but I was still working pretty hard. I need to ramp up the speed if I can't have the weight higher though. 
    • Assisted Chinups and Scapular Retraction - 3 x 8, 8, 7 (Chinups), 2 x 6 (Scapular Retraction) - These went much better. At the very least I didn't fall off the machine with a bang and a clatter.  I didn't quite make my reps, but I didn't miss by much -- just one in the last set. The way this machine works, the weight you set it to is how much of your own bodyweight you're *not* lifting. Which means that if your bodyweight fluctuates, you can lift more or less from one time to the next. (I only weigh myself once a week, so I am not up on day to day fluctuations.) It's possible that when I did these so poorly before, I was actually lifting more weight. I don't know. I also did better on the scapular retractions. I think I might be getting actually stronger. This is cool. 
  • Alternating sets of: 
    • Diagonal Raises - 3 x 8 - This is the pair of exercises that I ran into crowding issues with. There was someone on the Back Extension station when I got to that corner of the gym, so I did the Diagonal Raises first. The 10lb dumbbells I use for these were in use and the next lowest weight available was 17.5 lbs, which would have been WAY too heavy. So I used a 10lb weight plate. I figured 10lbs would be 10lbs, but it wasn't. The weight plate was kind of awkwardly balanced and shifted while I was lifting it and was just weird. I can't say I liked it very much, but I made it work. 
    • Back Extensions - 3 x 8 - By the time I finished my first set of Diagonal Raises, the station for these was free again. So I was able to do these. I moved up from 20lbs of weight plates held against my chest to 25lbs, which was good, Not too much, but not too little. 
  • Cardio -- As I mentioned above, I didn't do any Intervals of Insanity, because Patrick and I needed to stop on the way home and didn't want to get home (and to dinner) too late. Before starting with the strength training I did a 10 minute warmup on the treadmill. According to the machine I burned 150 calories in 10 minutes. Which I don't know that I believe. On the other hand, when I first started working on the treadmill (because the elliptical was beating up my quads), I could barely get to 80 calories in 10 minutes. So I'm doing a lot better than I was then. That's nice. 
We thought when we left the gym on Monday that we'd be going back on Thursday, Christmas Eve, in the morning when they were open, but decided to go on Wednesday instead. That will be my next post. :D

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Workouts I and J #2: Going Great! (Workouts 58 & 59)

Back at our home gym and it went really well, for the
most part.
I'm not *as* far behind as I have been, but I do have a couple more workouts to catch up on. Usually the second time around with a workout is starting to get smoother and better than the first time around -- though previous Phases aren't a great guide because I'm getting more experienced and this particular phase has a lot of repeat exercises. 

Workout I #2 was last Thursday. We were back at our home gym, which was nice. It was a really hard workout -- absolutely exhausting. Which was totally awesome. I love that! 

Workout I #2 was Thursday, December 17. It was:

  • Plank With Reduced Base of Support - 3 x 40 seconds - It really does make a huge difference if I put down a specific time (40 seconds) or a generic one (30+ seconds, which of course would include 40 seconds). If I decide in advance I'm going for 40 seconds, I'll do that if I'm at all capable. If I leave it up to the moment, I'll stop earlier. For some reason that probably has to do with being a bit lame. Anyway, I wrote this down to be 40 seconds each set and that worked. 
  • Coordination Rows (Single-Leg Single-Arm Cable Rows) - 3 x 10 - I've gone to 20 lbs with these because I'm doing fewer reps per set. I had two PERFECT sets as far as standing on one foot while doing them. Which is such amazing and awesome improvement. I love it. 
  • Dumbbell Jump Squats - 2 x 5 - I'm doing these with a pair of 40 lb dumbbells at this point. With the weights, they are an entirely different sort of thing from the body weight only, go as fast as possible, jump squats I do during the intervals of insanity. These are great quad work and do seem to really push my quads and just generally are a lot of hard work. 
  • Alternating sets of:
    • Offset-Loaded Lunges - 3 x 8 - I actually backed down the weight on these a bit, because I was feeling too much strain in my (non-working) quad at 25 lbs. At 20 lbs it was a lot better, so I'll go with that until I don't feel like that's a potential strain. 
    • Assisted Chin-Ups and Scapular Retractions - 3 x 8, 6, 6 - I had the machine set to the same level of assist as the first time, so theoretically I was lifting the same 90 lbs, but oh, my goodness was it hard this second time. I almost fell off the machine off the second set I was so wiped out by these. I wound out dropping the weight stack with a big echoing bang, which I was deeply embarrassed by. The third set was a little better, but there was absolutely no chance that I could have done any more than I did. I guess this leaves me a lot of room for improvement in  these. I was a little worried about these because there's only one machine at the gym, but it worked out fine. The other person using it and I just traded off and it really wasn't an issue. Except that he was Right There when I dropped the weights and made a big noise. Oops.
  • Alternating sets of:
    • Back Extensions - 3 x 8 - I used two ten pound weight plates while doing these. I feel like those are maybe a little easier than Deadlifts as far as being a hamstrings/glutes exercise, but they do make me work. I made a note to go up -- I'll try a 25lb plate next time. If the weight is weird on my back, I'll go instead for another set. 
    • Diagnoal Raises - 3 x 8 - I'm doing these with a pair of 10lb dumbbells, Which doesn't seem like a lot, but I don't have a lot of strength in my upper body (though that's improving). I'm hoping to be able to take these up after one more time. ::fingers crossed::
  • Cardio Intervals - 5 x 20:40 Jump Squats Intervals of Insanity - I didn't do any of the intervals with Jumping Jacks that I usually alternate the jump squats with. For a very lame reason -- the gym's trainer was back there with a class and she was sort of watching me and I didn't want to seem lame doing jumping jacks. Yeah, yeah, I know. I did jump squats until my legs pooped out and that was that. 
It was a very, very good workout. Aside from the embarrassment of dropping the weights on the chinups. And we weren't even too horribly late getting home, if I remember right. 

The workout was good, though I missed a bit doing the
Cardio Intervals.
Saturday, December 20, I did Workout J #2. I did a revised version where I replaced Dumbbell Front Squats with regular Dumbbell Squats because the front squats were too much the same as the Dumbbell Push Presses. We got to the gym really late because we had about a million errands to run -- we didn't get there until 7pm -- so I was, once again, in a bit of a rush with this one. Aargh. 

Saturday's workout was: 
  • Core Stabilization - 3 x 30 seconds - Next time I'm putting myself down for 40 seconds for these. It just doesn't work expecting myself to keep going beyond what I had written down to do. I'm not increasing the weight because holding the weight at arms length is hard and I don't want to derail these from being a core exercise.
  • Rolling Side Plank - 2 x 7, 8 - I increased the number of reps in the sets from the first time with this workout, which makes me happy. I think (but I don't remember for sure) that I have myself down for 3 sets of these next time. They're hard but I can do more than two sets, I think. 
  • Dumbbell Push Press- 3x5 - I'm still at a pair of 25 lb dumbbells, which is where I feel good right now because I don't want to hit my shoulders too hard. And these are some kinda work, I'm just saying. I'm not sure why they're so much harder with just 5 lbs more than I was doing them at in Phase 4. Maybe because of what comes before them. I'm not sure. 
  • Alternating sets of:
    • Single Leg Dumbbell Deadlifts - 3 x 8 - I did the pair of 20 lb dumbbells with these again on Saturday, which was fine. But I have a note to go up next time. So I'll move up to a pair of 25 lbs dumbbells. I think that will be a better workout on my hamstrings and quads. 
    • Push Ups - 3 x 8 - I'm still good and difficult on the weight bench and don't feel a need to move up yet. These are hard and I'm definitely not ready to move on. Good stuff.
  • Alternating sets of: 
    • Dumbbell Squats - 3 x 8 - For these I used 40lb weights and that was very very good. It was a great level of work, but not too much. This is a much better fit for this workout than the Front Squats, I'd originally started with. I'm pleased. 
    • Standing YTLWI Raises - 3 x 8, 8, 5 - I'm absolutely not ready to move up in weight from the pair of 5lb dumbbells that I'm working with, but I did add a third set. I did half a set (well a bit more) and will try to do a third full set next week. I hope to raise the weight at some point, but not quite yet. 
  • Cardio -- I started out with 8 minutes of walking (at almost 4 miles an hour on the treadmill) to get warmed up. I didn't do any Cardio Intervals at all though -- it was a late evening!
Two great workouts. These heavy phases are difficult -- I feel a bit creaky and sore because of the extra weight. But it's worth it. It's good to do a heavy weight phase every so often. 

Workout J #1: Visiting at a different gym (Workout 57)

Kind of rushed and weird at a different gym, but a good
workout nonetheless.
Workout J #1 was last Monday, December 14. Because Patrick had to work late, I wound out going to a different Planet Fitness (one near where I pick him up every day) instead of our home gym. I've worked out at this gym before (under similar circumstances) and it works out fine. It is a much smaller space than our usual place -- they have pretty much the same equipment (for the most part), though, so the other place is really a lot more compact and sort of compressed. 

Among other things, there's not really a comfortable place for me to work with the dumbbells. This is purely a psychological thing -- at our home gym there's some space near the windows that's sort of on the edge of the free weights area and out of people's way. There's no place like that at this other gym so I'm either crowded into a corner (where I'm emphatically in the way of people getting to the squirt bottles of disinfectant they want people to use) or kind of on display in the middle of the crowd. Neither of which is psychologically all that comfortable for me. But they have everything I need and the folks seem nice there, so it's okay. 

While I was doing the workout, I realized something that I'd missed during my walkthrough of these Phase 5 workouts -- Dumbbell Push Press and Dumbbell Front Squats are very similar, at least for part of the move of the Push Press. Doing them one right after the other is too much of a muchness. I've changed the Front Squats to regular Squats, which will be just fine. 

Monday's workout was: 
  • Core Stabilization (at least that's what The Women's Health Big Book Of Exercises calls it) - 3 x 30 seconds - (You can sort of see a video of this here. The trivial difference is that I'm using a weight plate rather than a medicine ball. The significant difference is that I do them a lot slower and the focus is on keeping my torso and core *still* while moving the weight around them. It's all about stabilizing my core in the face of the weight moving around instead of using my core muscles to move the weight around.) These are good -- one of the challenges is holding a 10 pound weight plate at arms length for 30 seconds at a stretch. I wrote this down originally as 2-3 sets, but wound out doing three on Monday. They challenge the core, but they're not a beat-down. 
  • Rolling Side Plank - 2 x 6 - (You can see a video of this here. Though actually what she's doing in the video looks a little easier because of how her arms are positioned. I'll have to do it that way.) This is a really good exercise and really challenging. Especially after the good core work of the Stabilizations above. I kind of think I have two dynamic stability exercises rather than one dynamic and one just about stability. But I'm okay with doing these two together -- they're a challenge and I like it.
  • Dumbbell Push Press- 3x5 - (You can see a video of this here. Though I do a bit more of a deep squat than the video shows.) I was doing these in Phase 4 with lighter weights (though not as much lighter as you'd think) and fewer sets (though a higher overall number of reps). That makes me want to raise the weight or something, except that a pair of 25lb dumbbells is the right weight for now. I suspect that the first thing I'll raise is the number of reps per set before I raise the weights (because I don't want to over strain my shoulders). 
  • Alternating sets of:
    • Single Leg Dumbbell Deadlifts - 3 x 8 - (You can see a video of this here, except that I'm resting the non-working foot on a weight bench. This takes some of the balance out of the equation, though not all of it, and keeps the focus on my hamstrings and glutes where I want it.) I used a pair of 20lb dumbbells for these which is a considerable increase over the amount of weight I was using for 3 sets of 12 in Phase 4. (I'd gotten up to 10 lb dumbbells.) These are tricky, even with my foot supported, but seem to give good work to my hamstrings. So okay. 
    • Push Ups - 3 x 8 - (I don't figure you need to see a video of these.) Because this is a heavy phase and I'm only doing 8 reps per set, I'm doing these from a weight bench rather than  the windowsill I'd been on for ages. I'm actually pleasantly surprised that I can, with some struggle (some lots of struggle) make all my reps off the bench. If that keeps up, I'll have to figure out some way to go lower -- maybe use a pair of dumbbells as supports or something.
  • Alternating sets of: 
    • Dumbbell Front Squats - 3 x 8 - (You can see a video of this here. Except that I'm using dumbbells and the video shows a guy using a barbell.) This is the one that was too similar to the Dumbbell Push Presses (as I do them). Especially since I'm using a pair of 25lb dumbbells for these as well. Front squats are more of a core exercise for me than really a quad exercise, because I need to stabilize the weights up high. I want this to be a quad exercise, though, so it's changing to regular squats.
    • Standing YTLWI Raises - 2 x 8 - (You can see a video of someone doing something very similar to what I was doing here, though I was standing and leaning forward at the hips about that much and I wasn't holding any weights. I also do the last ones (the I raises) differently.) I'd been doing these as 10 rep sets in Phase 4 without any weights. I'm doing them here as 8 rep sets with a pair of 5 lb weights. Adding that little bit of weight has me back to dripping sweat off my nose as I do these. Which is extremely cool. 
  • Cardio -- I started out with 8 minutes of walking (at almost 4 miles an hour on the treadmill) to get warmed up. Normally, I do ten minutes, but in the interest of time, because I knew it was going to be a crunch, I kept it to 8. I didn't do any Intervals of Insanity for the same time-crunch reason. 
It was a good workout, though it is weird working out in a different space than I'm used to. And while I understand that sometimes it's a necessity, I don't like being pressed for time as I'm working out. Main thing is that it was good. 

I'll make another post soon about Workouts I and J #2. Those were the next workouts. 

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Workout I #1 (and the Pre-Phase 5 walkthrough): Going Heavy!! (Workouts 56 & 56)

I'm a little concerned about how this workout is going to
work, logistically. But I'm excited about it. 
I decided a week or so ago, before I really was getting down to the nitty gritty of planning Phase 5 and Workouts I and J, that I wanted to do another "heavy" phase. If you remember (and if I remember), Phase 1 had 2 sets of 15 reps and fairly low weights, Phase 2 had 3 sets of 10, and Phases 3 and 4 had 3 sets of 12. Phase 4 was kind of modeled on the same philosophy as Phase 1, but I didn't want to go lighter on weights (so I could do more reps), so I just continued on with 12. I'm ready for another heavy phase now, though, because it's been a while and I want to really push myself.

So for Phase 5, I'm going for 3 sets of 8 reps, which means fewer reps overall by rather a lot (which I'm not entirely in love with, but I don't think I have time to do 4 sets of everything). If I get to a point where I want to increase the volume of lifting (the number of times I move the weight) rather than increasing the weight, I'll go up to 4 sets on a few of them, maybe. And maybe we'll just enjoy a month where workouts take a little less time than they have been. Or I'll be able to get back to doing Cardio Intervals every time because I won't be running so long. Or something. 

Reducing the reps means I can increase the weight by a fair amount, though less than you might think in some instances. Certainly less than I thought. 

I did my Pre-Phase 5 walkthrough -- where I do one (or maybe 2) sets of each of the exercises in both workouts so I can set the weights, make sure I'm physically capable of everything I'm planning on, and sort out any logistical wrinkles. I'm clearly getting better at planning these workouts, because I didn't have to make any changes from my initial plan after the run-through. I can do everything and the balance of what I'm working when (which muscles get worked in which workout and how) is good. 

There is a logistical problem with Workout I -- two of the exercises (Assisted Chinups and Back Extensions) use equipment that there's only one of in the gym. I don't know about how much use the Assisted Chinup machine gets, but I know the Back Extension station gets quite a lot. I have an alternate exercise for both of them though. If the Assisted Chinup machine is in use when I need it, I can do Lat Pulldowns. If the Back Extension station is in use, I can go up to the dumbbell corner and do Romanian Deadlifts. So I am not without recourse for those busy nights at the gym when there can be traffic at some of the stations. 

Yesterday, I went late enough in the afternoon that the gym was nearly empty and I didn't run into any traffic problems on anything at all. So I was able to do the whole workout as I planned it. :D 

Yesterday's workout was: 
  • Plank with Reduced Base of Support - 3 x 30 + seconds - (You can see a video of a regular Plank here.) This is like a regular Plank only with fewer points of contact with the ground, and therefore less stability. The options are to raise one leg, raise one arm, or raise one arm and the opposite leg. What I did yesterday was to raise one arm. The instructions in the book (The New Rules of Lifting For Life) say to do half the time with your left arm or leg up and half the time with your right arm or leg up, which makes a lot of sense. In quest of a video to link to, I found one site which suggested that raising the leg is easier than raising an arm. Huh. I'll try that next time to see if it's the case. This is going to present the same problem I had with planks before -- clock watching and stopping before I need to because the clock says to. The first two sets I did 30 seconds (15 each side) and felt like I could have done more. The third set I did 40 seconds. So I'm going to start there next time. 
  • Coordination Rows - 3 x 10 - Because I'm doing a heavy phase, I decided to reduce the number of reps of these so I can increase the weight a bit. I might change my mind about that though, because really the point of these is to stand on one leg and move and doing that for *longer* is what helps my balance more. Or something like that. I'm going to ponder this between now and next time and think about going back to 12 reps per set. 
  • Dumbbell Jump Squat - 2 x 5 - I used a pair of 35 lb dumbbells doing these which was hard. I need to be careful how I do these to not put strain on my back in either the jumping or the landing, which is why I'm reluctant to increase either the weight or the number of reps. I'll keep an eye on them and when I feel I can I'll either go up to 3 sets of 5 or I'll raise the weights. 
  • Alternating sets of:
    • Offset Dumbbell Lunges - 3 x 8 - (You can see a video of this here.) I've been doing bodyweight lunges only (or trivial weight -- I went up to a pair of 7.5 lb dumbbells for the last workout in Phase 4) since I had my Hurty Quad issues back in Phase 3. And when I hurt my quad back in Phase 3 it was doing Offset-Loaded Reverse Lunges. So I'm feeling just a tad diffident about these. During my walkthrough on Wednesday, I figured I could use a 30 lb weight for these. During my workout yesterday, I accidentally grabbed a 25 lb weight. (I'd like to think it was in the rack in the wrong place, but it was probably just a swing and a miss on my part.) I felt the first bit of a twinge of that pain in my quad when I was doing these, so I'm probably going to back the weight down a bit until I'm not straining my quad. I'll try 15lbs next time. 
    • Assisted Chinups (and Scapular Retraction) - 3 x 8 - I decided to take a break from the Lat Pulldowns I've been doing since, well, Phase 1 (eep) and do Chinups instead. Except that I'm totally not ready for lifting my whole bodyweight. So I'm using the Assisted Chinup machine. (You can see a video of how to use the machine here. Ignore the first half where he's showing how to use it for dips -- I'm not doing those.) I started with it set so I was chinning up about 85 lbs, but moved it after the first set because that was way too light. I now have it set so that I'm chinning-up about 90lbs, which is a nice increase over the 80 I would be doing if I were doing 12 reps of Lat Pulldowns. There is a lot more *core* work in these chinups than there was in the Lat Pulldowns. I'm excited about that. While I'm on the Assisted Chinup machine, I'm also doing what The Women's Health Big Book of Exercises calls Scapular Retraction -- hang from a chinup bar and pull your scapulae back and down. (You can sort of see a video here, though I'm doing them a little bit differently -- I'm doing 2 sets of 4 repetitions and holding each rep for a count of two (one-one thousand, two-one thousand), at the end of a set of Chinups.) I might eventually fold those into doing the chinups -- start with the scapular retraction and continue to chinning up. If the Assisted Chinup machine is in use, I can do Kneeling Lat Pulldowns at the same weight I'm doing these at. I can also do the scapular retractions with that bar. 
  • Alternating sets of: 
    • Back Extensions (or Hyperextensions, as they're called on Bodybuilding.com) - 3 x 8 -  (You can see a video of these here.) I need to remember to set the pad that I lean against at a low enough height that it doesn't interfere with the hinge action of my hips. I did it right when I was doing my walkthrough on Wednesday but had it one notch higher yesterday and it didn't feel quite as right. I started out holding onto a 10lb weight plate, but two sets of that made it clear that was way too light, so I went up to two 10lb weight plates for the third set and that was a better challenge. If this machine is in use when I need it, I'll go up to the front corner and do Romanian Deadlifts. My last weight for deadlifts was two 40lb dumbbells for 12 reps. I'll probably try 45s at first if I have to go that route. 
    • Diagonal Raises - 3 x 8 - (You can see a video of these here.) This is one of those upper body exercises in an area where I am Not Strong. After the walkthrough on Wednesday, I set my weight for these at 7.5 lbs. After a couple of sets I went ahead and moved up to 10lbs because 7.5 wasn't enough of a challenge. Which means I'm maybe getting stronger. Which is cool. 
  • Cardio Intervals - 5 x 30:30 Jumping Jack alternated with 5 x 20:40 Jump Squat Intervals of Insanity - It was good to do Insanities again. Fortunately, I was under absolutely no time pressure yesterday, so I could spend as long as I wanted. I've manged to balance the level of effort of the Jump Squats and the Jumping Jacks pretty well (because of the different amount of time and the different recovery periods) so it's a lot of crazy all out effort. Love it. Though I was definitely About Dead when I finished. 
So that was yesterday's workout and my first venture into Phase 5. This is going to be a serious muscle-building phase. I can tell, I'm kind of creaky sore today. In a good, "I used these muscles hard" way. I'll take something for it tonight before bed so I don't go through the day creaky sore tomorrow too. 
I'm pleased with how Phase 5 is shaping up. As I was drafting the workouts, I really liked how Workout J looked. Though it's a lot more familiar than this one. Workout I has a lot of new things that I've not done before with only a few old friends. If I remember right, Workout J is the opposite -- mostly familiar things with some new stuff to brighten it up. 

Next workout is scheduled for Monday. Goal for the workout: Rock Workout J and get it off to a great start! I'm hoping to really kick some things up quite a bit. :D 

Workouts G #5-6 & H #5-6 (Workouts 52-55)

Once again, I've been working out reliably but not posting so well. 
I've been working out like a good 'un, and really enjoying it, but I've just got so much going on, most of it fun, that finding time to post has been challenging. On the other hand, I have a knitted scarf I've been using and another one on needles that's about 2/3ds done. And a knitted washcloth or dishcloth with a design on it for a friend is on needles as well, though I think I'm going to rip that back a ways and see if I can get the design to stand out more.

I'm going to miss Workout G -- it was
so much fun!
Anyway, workouts have been going great. I finished Phase 4 -- Workouts G and H really strong. I started Phase 5 on Saturday (after the walkthrough day I do when starting a new pair of workouts) and I'm pretty excited for it. 

My workouts on Monday 11/30 and Saturday 12/5 -- Workouts G #5 and #6 -- were:
  • Plank - 3 x 60+ seconds - I really do watch the clock when doing these and stop at 60 seconds. If I could break myself of that, I could maybe go longer. When I start doing plank again, I'll probably set my time for 75 seconds or something and make myself go that long. It think I could, it's just hard to press on when the clock is up. (Also, I was cheating a little because I'd shift position part way through -- resetting my toes and arms -- which gave me a sort of a rest. I need to not do that.) 
  • Dumbbell Push Press - 2 x 10 -- I went up to 20 lb weights for both of these workouts at the increased number of reps (in earlier workouts I'd done 8 per set instead of 10). These are continuing in Phase 5 because I've started feeling really good about them and what I'm getting from them. 
  • Alternating sets of: 
    • Romanian Deadlifts - 3 x 12 - I used a pair of 40 lb dumbbells for these, which was cool. Deadlifts and Squats are the exercises where I have my Honeymooners Ed Norton moment as I address the weights, "Helloooo, weights!" I guess it's because those are the two exercises where I'm using the heaviest weights.  Fortunately most everyone else at the gym is using headphones, so people can't hear me. 
    • Lateral Raises - 3 x 12 - On the Monday workout I used the 5lb weights again, though I'd been planning to go up to 7.5 lbs because the 7.5s were in use. I did use the 7.5lb dumbbells on Saturday and that worked great, though it was really challenging. It is a nuisance having to tote them from the other side of the gym though. 
  • Alternating sets of: 
    • Alternating Lunges - 3 x 12 - I did these as bodyweight lunges, working fast to keep the work on my muscles and make them hard enough, on Monday. On Saturday, since I already had the pair of 7.5lb dumbbells, I used those. I think I got tangled up in writing my weights down for later sets and wrote 77.5 lbs for the lunges and 7.5 for the lat pulldowns, but that's just me writing things down wrong. :D 
    • Kneeling Lat Pulldowns - 3 x 12 - I did 77.5 lbs both times. Finally!! After ages in the 72.5 lbs doldrums, I finally have the weights moving higher. If I'd had one more go with workout G, I would have gone up to 80lbs, which is cool as nuts. :D 
  • Coordination Rows (Single-Leg, Single-Arm Cable Rows) - 3 x 12 - On Saturday, I did one completely perfect set. Completely perfect!! All twelve reps on both legs without having to catch my balance!! :D :D ::happy dance::  The other two sets were good, but not that perfect. Still woo-hoo! My balance is actually and noticeably improving. (I also have a balance-requiring element in my warm-up routine, which I've never spelled out here, and I've been getting better at those too.) 
  • Cardio Intervals -- On Monday, I did 4 x 30:30 Jumping Jacks alternating with 4 x 20:40 Jump Squats, which was good. I think there was a time issue, which is why I didn't do 5 of each. I know there was a time issue on Saturday which is why I didn't do any. These are actually really hard and daunting, though very satisfying to have done, so it's kind of easy to skip them. Which I shouldn't do. 
Oddly, much as I loved Workout G, only two of the exercises are continuing into Phase 5: the Dumbbell Push Press and the Coordination Rows. And the Cardio Intervals, of course. 

I was going to change away from the Coordination Rows, as I've been doing them since the beginning of September, but my next choice for a whole-body exercise was going to be Reverse Lunge Rows (also on the cable machine) but I was already doing Lunges in that workout and didn't want to do Lunges twice. I'll probably change away from the Coordination Rows for Phase 6, just to keep things mixed up and moving.
I decided to cut back on the Side Plank for time reasons -
each set takes like three minutes. 

My workouts on Thursday 12/3 and Monday 12/7 - Workouts H #5 & #6 - were:
  • Side Plank - 2 x 45+ seconds - I cut back to two sets of these because each set takes a while (45 seconds per side with a bit of time between sides and about a minute between sets). This exercise is part of why Workout H always took so long and was kind of awkward in the timing. With only two of them, I pushed myself past the 45 second timer once, but only once. They really are hard.
  • T-Stabilization - 3 x 12 - For Monday's workout, H #6, I pushed myself to do these fast, which really did ramp up the intensity. Which was totally cool. :D That it also sped up the workout was a bonus. 
  • Dumbbell Hang Pull - 3 x 10, 3 x 10, 12 - I don't now remember why I decided to increase the volume (number of sets and reps) with these rather than increasing the weights, but that is how I ramped up the intensity. Workouts H #3 & 4 I was doing two sets of 8 and I decided to go up to 3 sets for H #5 and then to 3 sets of 12 for H #6. I kind of wish I could reconstruct what I was thinking, to be honest. Anyway, aside from forgetting the higher number for the first set on Monday, I did just fine with the increased volume. 
  • Alternating sets of:
    • Sumo Squats with a Single Dumbbell - 3 x 12 - I used a 50 lb weight for H #5 and went up to 55lbs for H #6. I'd like to come back to these, though I'll need to solve the "where do I go from here" problem pretty quickly as the dumbbells at the gym max out at 60 lbs. 
    • Standing YTLWI Raises - 2 x 10, 2 x 10, 12 - These continue to be really surprisingly hard, though I am definitely improving. In fact, I decided to go up to 12 reps per set for H #6, then forgot that I'd decided that for the first set and just did 10. Oops. These are continuing in Phase 6 because I like them despite (or maybe because of) the difficulty. 
  • Alternating sets of:
  • I didn't do any Insanities after this workout, but I did get back
    on the treadmill for another 8 minutes for some hard walking.
    • Single Leg Dumbbell Deadlifts - 3 x 12 - I'd thought about going from 10lbs dumbbells to 15lb dumbbells after H #4, but didn't do it until H #6, where I tried it for one set and went back to 10 because it really raised the difficulty quite a bit more than you might think. These are hard and good -- though it's not entirely clear why my weight for these is so very much lower than for regular deadlifts, particularly once I started resting my non-working foot on a weight bench so I didn't have to work so hard on balancing. 
    • Pushups - 3 x 12 - These are still really hard. I haven't been able to go lower than the windowsill I've been working on since forever, but I did make an effort to go a lot faster for both of these times. They're still really hard. 
  • Cardio Intervals -- I didn't do Intervals of Insanity either of these workouts -- in both cases on account of time. Fortunately, it's a really intense workout, so I don't totally feel like I'm cheating myself. And for H # 6, I did get back on the treadmill for some pretty hard and intense going, just to feel like I'd  really worked. 
Of those, three are continuing -- Single-leg Deadlifts, Push-Ups, and YTLWI Raises. I'm not sure those were my favorite exercises from this workout, but they worked well and I felt like I was gaining a lot from them. (And there maybe wasn't anything else I wanted to go to.) 

Phase 4 really did seem to go by in a big blur. I swear that doesn't feel like it was more than a couple of weeks, let alone a whole month. But it went well. 

Phase 5 is going to be a heavy phase -- fewer reps and heavier weights. I kind of hope that means that each workout will also be a little shorter, though I don't know how reasonable that hope is. I'm not actually reducing the number of exercises I'm doing each time, which would be the sure way to make each workout shorter, but I am going to be doing fewer reps all told. At least for Phase 5. 

I'll be making another post shortly with information about my first time with Workout I -- it's got some tricky parts logistically and some really *tough* exercises. I love the tough exercises, but the logistical problems might be...problematic. 

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Workouts G #3 &4 and H #3 &4: Lots of Goodness!! (workouts 48-51)

I love workout G -- this one is fun and hard and
feels so good! 
We took one week off from working out a couple of weeks ago, because I had a cold, so I wound out missing one Monday and one Thursday workout. We were also insanely busy and pretty stressed and Patrick had to work late a couple of days. We got right back on the routine on Saturday and have since been back to reliable -- even went to the gym on Thanksgiving morning (so we'd be feeling virtuous about feasting in the evening).

I probably wasn't sick enough to have missed one of those two skipped workouts, but was just so wigged out by work and stress we took one more day off. I was afraid that I'd do poorly my first workout after two days off, but really that didn't happen. It was a great workout  and I did just fine. That was cool!

Workout G of awesomeness!! On Thanksgiving, I
did a lot of Insanity Intervals -- I wanted the
extra work! 
I'm not going to go into extreme detail on each of these four workouts, but I do want to catch up on posting. I know why I've gotten behind -- I was posting in the evenings after I got home from the gym but I've added a new hobby (knitting) to my other main evening activity (drawing and painting). The new hobby has kind of taken up some of my free time and pushed posting about workouts into something I do when I have a chance at work (which is most of my computer time anyway). And then I've been really busy at work. Anyway, I'll try to be better, because I don't like being behind on this. 

My workouts on Saturday 11/21 and Thursday 11/26 -- Workouts G #3 and #4 -- were:
  • Plank - 3 x 60+ seconds - I have an eye on a clock in the gym when I do  these, so I tend to stop at 60 seconds when maybe I could continue a bit. On Thursday, I did go to 70 seconds for the first set because I was trying not to pay attention to the time. 
  • Dumbbell PushPress - 2 x 8 (on Saturday) 2 x 10 (on Thursday) - I've gotten better at these and now feel like I'm really getting some good out of them. I used 17.5 lb weights both time, but I did do 10 reps per set instead of 8 reps per set on Thursday. For Monday, I plan to go up to 20 lb weights (and 10 reps per set). 
  • Alternating sets of: 
    • Romanian Deadlifts - 3 x 12 - I stuck with a pair of 35 lb dumbbells for both of these workouts, but am planning on going up to 40s for Monday. The 35s felt *perfect* on Monday, but a little light on Thursday. Which is the sign it's time to go up. 
    • Lateral Raises - 3 x 12 - My shoulders and upper back are Not Strong, which is why I've been using 5 lb dumbbells for these. I've made a note for myself to raise the weights though next time. I'll probably try to bring the 7.5 lb dumbbells from the Far Corner of the gym, rather than doubling from 5lbs to 10lbs, which is a really huge jump. 
  • Alternating sets of: 
    • Alternating Lunges - 3 x 12 - Still doing body weight with these, though I'd like to go up to using some weight next time. I also changed from doing all the reps on one side then all on the other to alternating each leg during a set. Among other things, I have a suspicion that this increases the number I do, because I lose count. :D But that's okay. If I do use the 7.5 lb dumbbells for the Lateral Raises, I'll probably get a pair of light weights (maybe the 7.5s to start) to use for these as well. (That's a logistical thing.)
    • Kneeling Lat Pulldowns - 3 x 12 - I have finally gone up to 75 lbs on these. After like two months at 72.5 lbs, I finally moved up and now I'm ready to move up again. I'm planning on 77.5 lbs on Monday. That'll be cool. 
  • Coordination Rows (Single-Leg, Single-Arm Cable Rows) - 3 x 12 - I've been doing so incredibly well with these, that I experiments with raising the weight to 20 lbs (after FOREVER at 15, but it actually didn't work out so well. I'm pretty much there with the balancing on one leg the whole time goal (goal 1) with these. Next goal is to get rhythmic and smooth. Third goal is to get powerful. Fourth goal is to raise the weight. I definitely I jumped up the weight too soon. So -- now I'm working on rhythmic and smooth (without backstepping on the balance thing). 
  • Cardio Intervals -- I didn't do these on my first exercise after a week off because I had worked really hard doing the workout. On Thanksgiving I did 5 x 30:30 Jumping Jacks and 5 x 20:40 Jump Squats. It was *awesome*!! 
So yes, with Workout G, I have five of the seven exercises that I'm planning on raising the weight on. Rock on!! :D :D 
Workout H is a lot harder -- harder on my
shoulders and more strenuous. And it
takes a lot longer, which is a bit of a problem.
Workout H, I don't like as well - it takes a lot longer which is just awkward and it puts a but more strain on my shoulders. That said, I like most of the pieces just fine, just not how they go together into a workout. 

My workouts on Monday 11/23 and Saturday 11/28 - Workouts H #3 & #4 - were:

  • Side Plank - 3 x 45+ seconds - This is another one where I tend to watch the clock. On the other hand, I really am *done* when the 45 seconds are up. I made it to 47 seconds for one set. That's it. That said, this exercise is part of why 
  • T-Stabilization - 3 x 12 - These are really tough, but I think they're good. They are a bit much on my shoulders after the Side Planks; I don't feel like I'm hurting myself. Just putting a bit of strain on my shoulders. I do like these as well. 
  • Dumbbell Hang Pull - 2 x 8, 10 (on Monday), 2 x 10 on Saturday - I was supposed to do 2 x 10 on both days, but I remembered wrong on Monday. I'm planning on going up to 3 sets of 10 (rather than raising the weights ) for next time. 
  • Alternating sets of:
    • Sumo Squats with a Single Dumbbell - 3 x 12 - I used a 50 lb weights both times. I like
      Add caption
      this exercise -- it puts a lot of work on my inner thighs, which is a cool variation from the normal squats I've been doing. 
    • Standing YTLWI Raises - 2 x 10 - These are really surprisingly hard. I like them and I'm definitely stronger with them, but I'm not at all ready for even 5lb weights with these. I'm also not ready for an additional set. So I'm still at 2 x 10 -- just better at that than I was.
  • Alternating sets of:
    • Single Leg Dumbbell Deadlifts - 3 x 12 - I tried these a different way on Saturday, after struggling with them for the first three times with this workout. I've been doing them trying to balance on one foot, but that adds a whole lot of difficulty just in the balancing. Which kind of keeps me from being able to work my hamstrings and glutes the way I want. On Saturday, I followed part of the instructions for Single-Leg Barbell Deadlifts, which had me putting the foot on my non-working leg onto a weight-bench rather than just holding it up off the ground. That kind of took the balance issue out of the equation and let me work my muscles a lot better. Between the first and second set, I went from 5lb weights to 10lb weights. Next time, I may go for 15lb weights. 
    • Pushups - 3 x 12 - These are still really hard. I haven't been able to go lower than the windowsill I've been working on since forever, but I have been making a shallower angle and better form with them, which is something. 
  • Cardio -- I didn't do Intervals of Insanity either of these workouts -- in both cases on account of time. Workout H takes a lot longer than Workout G and if we've gotten a late start on exercising (like on weeknights after work), it's hard to make Patrick wait for another 10 minutes while I insanity. Not that he has ever minded, let me be clear. It's just -- well, getting home after 8 and then having to make dinner and clean up, means that we have no evening. That was Monday. Saturday, I'd just worked so hard I was feeling really good about even the cardio workout I'd gotten. (The Single Leg Deadlifts with my foot on a bench made a huge difference -- instead of tipping and stumbling, I was able to lift and lift fast, which got me good and winded.)
Next workout is scheduled for Monday. It'll be Workout G #5, which kind of blows me away. I can't believe that I'm getting toward the end of this phase already. I feel like I just started. I think for the next phase, I'm going to be doing higher weights and lower reps -- maybe 3 sets of 8. But I'm not sure about that. Goal for the workout -- do my insanities again and have an awesome workout! 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Workout G #2 and H #2: I like both of these!! (Workouts 46 & 47)

Another great workout!! 
I really like both of these Phase 4 workouts. Last phase I had a lot of exercises on the cable machine -- which I enjoy using but which requires a bit more moving around the gym and getting things set up. This time only Workout G has anything on the cable machines. I'm thinking of rearranging the order so that I do the Coordination Rows last. That way I only have to walk back to that corner once and I can just claim one station for the whole time. Workout H is mostly bodyweight exercises, with a few free weights, so I can just camp in the free weight area. 

Also they're both a lot of fun. Well, except for the single-leg deadlifts which are really hard for an exercise that involves no weight at all. 

Anyway, I've been bad about posting again so this post is going to be about my second time with Workouts G and H -- that will get me all caught up before we go to the gym tonight. :D 

Last Thursday, I did Workout G #2: 
  • Plank - 3 x 60+ seconds - I did the full 60 seconds for the first two sets and 65 for the second. If I can keep myself from watching the clock, I find that I can go a little longer with these. But it's really hard not to watch the clock. Still, I'm getting definitely better at them and I really love that. 
  • Dumbbell Push Press - 2 x 8 - I moved up from 15lb dumbbells to 17.5 lb dumbbells with these and that was good. I'm planning to stick with that weight tonight. I might go up to 10 reps per set though, as these aren't quite as much work as I want them to be. 
  • Coordination Rows - 3 x 12 - I used a slightly higher weight (20lbs) on these for the first set and really liked it, though I went back to 15lbs for the second and third. I think I'm pretty much ready to move up the weight on these. I'm not quite to every single rep of every single set standing on one foot, but I am so very close and have been kind of working on smoothness and rhythm and power. I think those will actually be easier to develop with a heavier resistance on the other end of the line. Maybe. 
  • Alternating sets of: 
    • Romanian Deadlifts - 3 x 12 - I'm using a pair of 35 lb dumbbells for this (because the fixed-weight barbells at the gym max out at 60 lbs and beyond that to use a barbell you have to use the Smith machine and I don't really want to do that). I have my Ed Norton moment at the beginning of each set as I address the weights. "Hello, weights!" I don't think I'm quite ready to move up the weight, but these are going along really well. 
    • Lateral Raises - 3 x 12 - I'm using 5 lb dumbbells for these. I'm not at all ready to go up to 10 lbs, which is the next step readily available. The Most Distant Corner of the gym from the main free weights area has a pair of 7.5 lb dumbbells, which might be good for me about now, but I don't want to schlep them over and back. If I do well with 5lbs again, I'll try doing 10s next time. 
  • Alternating sets of: 
    • Lunges - 3 x 12 - I'm still doing these as bodyweight only, because I'm doing forward (rather than reverse) lunges for the first time. They do tire me out, so I'm probably still okay with the bodyweight. I just don't want to be slacking. I don't feel like I am though.
    • Kneeling Lat Pulldowns - 3 x 12 - I FINALLY raised the weights on these. After a month stuck at 72.5 lbs, I was able to go up to 75 and make all my reps on Thursday!! Woot! I was starting to feel like I was stuck in limbo on these. 
  • Cardio Intervals - 4 x 30:30 Jumping Jacks alternated with 3 x 20:40 Jump Squats Intervals of Insanity. I was pretty pooped when I started (the lunges do wear me out) and I've been getting side stitches while doing these recently which make it hard to breathe and recover from the Insanities (the crazy all out go go go go! times). So I only did 7. Which is less than my preferred minimum (8) but more than my absolute bare-bones, taking it easy minimum (5). So okay. 
Saturday's awesome workout!

I'm sort of kind of coming down with a cold. I've been "coming down" with one since Friday, which is a long time to feel it coming. It has neither settled into a full-blown cold nor gone away yet, though. I've just got the nasty post-nasal drip sore throat, despite taking Sudafed every morning with breakfast. (The real stuff from the pharmacy counter.) 

The almost-cold didn't stop me from working out on Saturday -- I actually felt a lot better while I'm working out and for several hours afterwards, though it seemed to come on a stronger Saturday evening. During the workout Saturday things went great and I felt entirely awesome afterwords. It's hard to describe exactly *how* or *why* a workout is great, but that one was. 

Saturday's workout was:
  • Side Plank - 3 x 45+ seconds - These are substantially harder than the regular Plank -- not surprisingly, I suppose, because they are more off balance and so on. It is, at this juncture, almost impossible for me not to watch the clock and just collapse when the 45 seconds are up. I'm going to try to start closing my eyes and not looking at the clock when I get toward the end of the time so maybe I can surprise myself by sneaking in a few extra seconds. 
  • T-Stabilization - 3 x 10 - I'm still pleasantly surprised that I can do these at all. Patrick expressed concern, when he read the drafts of these workouts, that Side Plank and the T-Stabilizations might be awfully similar to be one after the other. When I did the test run-through workout for Phase 4, it was fine and I thought nothing more of it. As it's turning out in practice, it is a lot of work on my shoulders all at once. If it looks like it will be a problem, I'll switch these and the Coordination Rows (in workout G) and spread them out a bit. So far it's working out okay. I don't think I want to ramp these up by doing more of them though so I might need to work on going faster. 
  • Dumbbell Hang Pull - 2 x 10 - I used 15 lb dumbbells for these the first set and they were way too easy (now that I'm getting the hang of them) so I went up to 20 lbs. That seemed about right and I'll stick there for next time. 
  • Alternating sets of:
    • Sumo Squats with One Dumbbell - 3 x 12 - I raised the weight on these from 45lbs to 50lbs and really felt good about it. The wider stance makes the hip adductor muscles really come into play as well. Which is cool as it can be. I said last time that the dumbbells only go up to 50 lbs so I was going to be hitting a wall with these soon but I was wrong -- the dumbbells go up to 60 lbs so I still have a bit of grow room. Hooray! 
    • Standing YTLWI Raises - 2 x 10 - These are getting a little easier, but I'm still not ready to add any weight to it, not even 5 lbs. I'm not dripping sweat just from holding the bent-over at 45 degrees or so position for long enough to do 50 raises. That's progress. When these get too "easy", I'll have to decide between adding weights or doing another set of them. 
  • Alternating sets of:
    • Single-leg Deadlifts - 3 x 12 - These are ridiculously hard for an exercise where what I'm "deadlifting" is air. (Or my fists in the position they'd be in if I were holding dumbbells.) But they do involve the whole standing-on-one-leg-and-moving thing that I'm still pretty wobbly at. Patrick pointed out that I might actually do better with a little bit of weight, just to provide a bit of a counter-balance and stabilization. That makes a ton of sense and next time I'm going to try 5 lb dumbbells to see if that makes a difference. 
    • Push-ups - 3 x 12 - I'm doing pretty well with the push-ups off the windowsill (just above knee height) but I'm kind of intimidated by trying to go lower. Because they're still hard, for one thing. And when I tried to go to much lower too quickly before I wound out making my shoulder sore for a couple of days. Don't want to do that. Still, by the end of this phase, I should be trying to do these off  a weight bench (just below knee height) even if it means I don't quite make my reps. 
  • Cardio Intervals - 8 x 20:40 Jump Squats - I just did jump squats because I knew I was going to be stopping a little early (not going all the way to 10 rounds). Patrick finished before I did and we had a lot to do Saturday afternoon, so I didn't want to take *too* long. I could (and arguably should) have stopped a little earlier still, but I was feeling good. 
So two great trips to the gym! I'm feeling really good about both of these workouts -- they're challenging and fun and leave me feeling like I've accomplished something. That's so cool! 

Next workout is scheduled for this evening -- I'm still coming down with that cold but at this juncture I can't imagine it stopping me from going unless I feel radically worse after work. It'll be round 3 with Workout G. Goal for the workout: Increase the work where it needs it (Dumbbell Push Press, mainly) and make sure I'm pushing myself everywhere. 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Workout H #1: First real test of my hand (Workout 45)

I think I'm going to really love this workout, though the single leg
dumbbell deadlifts are really weirdly difficult. 
This was Monday's workout. I'll post tomorrow (I hope) with this evening's workout. This was my first time with Workut H and I had a great time with it. It was hard (Side Plank is not a lot of fun) and at times weird (Single Leg Dumbbell Deadlifts, only without any dumbbells). But it was really good. 

With the T-stabilization and the Push Ups, this workout put some actual stress on my palm (which had minor surgery in October). It went just fine while I was working out. I still feel like I'm healing and have a thick spot where the lump was removed, but I didn't have any problem with my workout.

Monday's workout was:

  • Side Plank - 3 x 45 seconds - I can't say that I exactly enjoy doing Side Plank, though I kind of love having done it and it's a great part of a workout. I haven't done them in a while, so it's good to get back to them. 
  • T-Stabilization - 2 x 10 - (You can see a video of this here.) This is the exercise that I was not at all sure I would be able to do when I did my test workout last Thursday. It just seemed like it would require more balance or upper body strength or whatever than I expected I would have. I was dead surprised when I could do them. They're hard, no doubt, but definitely possible. In fact they're so possible, that I'll quite probably add another set of these before Phase 4 is done. 
  • Dumbbell Hang Pull - 2 x 10 - (You can see a video of this here.) As the dude in the video says, it's a good explosive exercise. I'm doing it as a power exercise and also a whole-body exercise (all in one). I sure hope that video is sped up or something, because I'm nothing like that fast. I need to remember to drive myself all the way up onto my toes. On my test-run day, I tried doing this with a barbell rather than dumbbells, but those didn't work as well. The dumbbells are a little easier to manage with these. I used 15 lb weights and that was a good weight for while I'm getting the hang of these. I think I'll be able to move up soon, though. 
  • Alternating sets of: 
    • Sumo Squat with Single Dumbbell - 3 x 12 - (You can see a video of this here.) I realize that in the page pictured above, it looks like these are Jump Squats with Dumbbell. It's my own handwriting and that's how I read it. But no, no Sumo Squats. I'm doing Jump Squats for my Intervals of Insanity. I used a single 45 lb dumbbell for these and it was good. The problem looming is that the dumbbells at the gym only go up to 50 lbs, so I don't have a lot of room with these before I've maxed out what I can do at our gym. But I'll burn that bridge when I get to it. For right now, 45 lbs is a good weight. 
    • Standing Y-T-L-W-I Raises - 2 x 10 - I posted a video of these when I was doing Hands Free Workout A - These are surprisingly hard. Partly because I'm standing and leaning forward while I do ten reps of each of five exercises without a break. And it's all upper body stuff which is where I need the most help. No weights -- even 5 lbs would just about kill me, I reckon. 
  • Alternating sets of:
    • Single-leg Dumbbell Deadlift - 3 x 12 - (You can see a video of this here.) This is another balance exercise and is therefore, very challenging for me just doing the movements right. So I'm not using weights just bodyweight for now (which makes this really incredibly mis-named). I was a little dubious that the bodyweight version would do much for me, but it is. 
    • Push-ups Plus - 3 x 12 - I haven't done regular (non-explosive) push-ups since Phase 2, so it's nice to get back to them. By kind of broad values of nice anyway -- I don't really like push-ups but I'm much better at them now than I was when I stopped. I'm still at the windowsill height (about knee level) but I could make all of my reps at that height. I might try a weight bench next time. 
  • Cardio Intervals - 4 x 30:30 Jumping Jacks alternated with 4 x 20:40 Jump Squats. I did well with these and don't stop until I can't go on. I've been getting some side-stitches during these lately, which has been making me stop at eight rather than ten Insanities. Ten is always my goal. 
It was a good and effective workout. I'm definitely in the start of a new phase -- I'm always sore for the first week or so when I move to a new phase. I think it's because there are always some new exercises and my muscles aren't used to them. It's not a bad soreness -- just a little bit lurking around when I make big movements.

I could take an Aleve to deal with them, but I really don't like to do that. I read something (which may be wildly wrong, it was in a magazine or something) which said that the post-exercise soreness is from inflammation and that inflammation is part of your muscles rebuilding and getting stronger after exercise. So stopping the inflammation can stop the beneficial effects of exercise. (As I said, this may be wildly wrong, but it makes a certain amount of intuitive sense.) So I usually wait at least 36 hours before I even think about taking an Aleve.

It's not really right to day that my next workout is scheduled for Thursday -- my next workout happened on Thursday. It was kind of awesome. I'll post about it tomorrow. 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Workout G #1: First Time Awesome (Workout 44) (Also Phase 4 trial, Workout 43)

First time -- I made a change from the plan as I was going,
but it was a great workout nonetheless.
I started Phase 4 with my first go with Workout G (workout 44) on Saturday. It was absolutely awesome and I loved it.  I did have to make a change, which I'll get into in a bit. Still, what I did was fantastic, though I can tell there are some things that I'm going to need to ramp up as this phase goes on. I feel a little weird that I'm doing the same number of sets and reps that I did in Phase 3 -- but the New Rules of Lifting for Life (the source of the phases I'm sort of working on) suggested that after Phase 3 one go back to Phase 1 with heavier weights, harder exercises and fewer reps. He specifically suggested 3 sets of 12 reps. (I could call this Phase 1a but that seemed a bit confusing.) 

Before Saturday's workout, I did actually hit the gym on Thursday. That workout was workout 43 -- I worked through one set of each exercise in the two new workouts to figure out starting weights and make sure I understand how the logistics are going to play out. It was a bit disjointed and I didn't do absolutely *everything* because Patrick finished way before I did and some of the exercises I already knew. I looked at videos online of a couple of them to make sure I knew what I was doing before I started slinging weight around, and that slowed me down. 

I keep thinking that I'm ready for the Single-Leg Stand Up thing (sit on a bench, raise one leg off the floor, and stand up just using one leg). Or I think I'd like to be able to do them, so I try, but I can't even begin to muster the strength. I tried those on Thursday as part of this workout,  but I couldn't do it. So I thought I'd do Single-Leg Squats, which involve standing on the edge of a weight bench  on one leg and doing a squat. (Only as deep as I could go without getting to a point where I couldn't control the squat.) 

I tried to do those on Saturday morning, but those were impossible as well. Balancing on the weight bench was about as much as I could manage and it seemed like I was going to be in danger of hurting myself if I tried to do those. So I wound out doing Lunges. Not Reverse Lunges, which I was doing in both Phase 2 and Phase 3, but actual forward Lunges. It's going to make for some logistical problems later when I want to add weights, but I'll make it work. 

Saturday's workout was: 
  • Plank - 3 x 60 seconds - I haven't done plain old Plank since Phase 1 back in August (at least until my hands free workouts), though I've done a lot of core exercises since then. I didn't expect that I'd do as well as I did, though. I mean 60 seconds. Three sets. Seriously! :D
  • Dumbbell Push Press - 2 x 8 - (You can see a video of this here.) These were a little too easy and I want to ramp this up. It's in the workout as an upper-body power exercise, and it just wasn't quite there. I'll add a bit of weight, but I don't want to go too far in that direction because I don't want to push my shoulders too hard. I can add reps and will and maybe that will do it. 
  • Coordination Rows (Single-leg, Single-arm Cable Rows) - 3 x 12 - I'm back to doing these in one workout rather than both of them. I'm still pleased with my progress on these -- I'm going to start increasing the weight before too long, I imagine. 
  • Alternating sets of:
    • Romanian Deadlifts - 3 x 12 - This is another very familiar exercise that I did in Phase 1 and in Phase 3 (when I decided I didn't like the Cable Pull-Throughs). For some reason they didn't feel quite as good as usual on Saturday -- I think the weight I need to work my hamstrings and glutes is getting to a point where it's harder for me to stabilize it. I might need to stay at this weight and increase reps if I keep feeling like it's not hitting the mark. 
    • Lateral Raises - 3 x 12 - (You can see a video of this here.) I was thinking I could do these with 10 lb dumbbells but it was totally clear that wasn't going to work as soon as I picked up the 10lb dumbbells. So I went with 5lbs. I hope I'll be able to move up pretty soon. The book I got my instructions from said to hold the weights with the palms facing forward, but that's not how the dude's holding them in the video. I think the main thing the book was warning about was rotating the arms on the way up. 
  • Alternating sets of: 
    • Lunges - 3 x 12 - (You can see a video of this here. Try and ignore the dude's flowered bathing suit.) I didn't use weights on Saturday but will in the future (maybe not next time thought). Just to keep it hard enough. I've been doing reverse lunges, but they are said to put less stress on the knees than forward lunges. My knees are sometimes a little fiddly, so I want to move into these carefully.
    • Kneeling Cable Lat Pulldowns - 3 x 12 - Another old familiar exercise that I've been doing for a while. Possibly since the beginning. (I'll make a note to find another lat exercise for next time if I've really been doing these in all the phases.) I did finally move the weight up from 72.5 lbs to 75 lbs. So a teeny little move but I don't think the weight budged at all in Phase 3. Which should have been a sign that it was time to rotate to something else. Ah, well, I'll keep them for this phase then move on.
  • Cardio Intervals - 4 x 30:30 Jumping Jacks intervals alternated with 4 x 20:40 Jump Squats intervals. Because I didn't do squats this time, I would ordinarily do all jump squats for my Intervals of Insanity, but I was already thoroughly winded from the awesome workout and felt like I'd get plenty enough of a cardio workout from the Jumping Jacks/Jump Squats routine. It was good. I only did 8 Insanity Intervals because I got a side stitch that wouldn't shake off in the rest periods. 
It was an awesome workout. Truly awesome. I'm excited about this one. It'll be a good month. 

Next workout is scheduled for Monday. It's going to be the first go with Workout H. My only concern is a bit of residual tightness in my palm (after my tiny surgery two and a half weeks ago), I don't expect it will be a problem -- I did fine during my test run on Thursday. If it is an issue, I'll re-group. Goal for the workout: Strong kickoff for workout H!