Sunday, July 26, 2015

Workout Four: Gettin' serious!

My workout log from yesterday. :D
I did my first real strength workout yesterday -- I'm not counting the circuit stuff (because I couldn't adjust the weights the way I wanted and I didn't like some of the machines in it) or the couple of sessions I spent learning what to do.

That said, I'm still sorting out the weights I should be lifting and what exactly I want to do. Based on a fair amount of research (books and online, main sources listed at the end), I'm working with the following principles: 
  1. I'm going to be alternating two workouts, both of which are total body workouts (but which do different exercises). 
  2. I'm going to be preferring body weight and free weight exercises over machines because they bring in more additional muscles to stabilize the body and the weights and therefore do more good.
  3. I'm going to be preferring large-muscle and compound exercises over those which isolate muscles (see above point) and those which target small muscles exclusively (like biceps curls and triceps kickbacks). 
  4. Every workout should be a challenge. 
Yesterday's workout was: 
  • Squats -- 2 sets of 12 reps each (I meant to do 15 but had 12 stuck in my head so that's how many I did) with 60 seconds of rest between sets (that's the rest period between all the sets here). I'm intimidated by barbells (even empty ones), so I used dumbbells (with the okey dokey of the trainer I spoke to last week). I started with 5 pound dumbbells (10 lbs total) and that was too light. (Though that's in addition to my body weight.) For the second set I moved up to 10 pound dumbbells and that felt closer to right -- I finished my 12 fine, but the 15 I meant to be doing would have been a bit harder. I'm going to start with 10 lb dumbbells next time and (hopefully) move up to 15s for the second set. 
  • Alternating sets (see below for how the alternating sets work) of:
    • Pushups -- 2 sets of 15. I'm not doing the knee pushups that are often recommended as wimp pushups because research indicates that they don't engage the core as well as full-length ones. I am doing modified pushups -- yesterday I was at about a 45 degree angle. (I had my hands on a horizontal bar on the row machine I was using for the next exercise.) I did pretty well with that so my plan for next time is to have my hands on one of the weight benches for the first set and see how I do with that. I can go back to that horizontal bar for the second set if I need to. 
    • Rows -- 2 sets of 15. For this I did use a weight machine of the kind that isolates muscles and that I'm generally not favoring. The cable machines, which aren't so rigid in how they're used, would be better, but they're generally being used by the serious (and seriously intimidating) weight lifters and I'm willing to cede that ground to them (for now). 
  • Alternating sets of:
    • Glutes machine -- 2 sets of 15. What I wanted to be doing was step-ups (step up onto box, step off, repeat), but except in the circuit area, our gym doesn't have steps. Which stinks. I didn't really like the glute machine, though some of that was because I had the weight too low by a lot, so next time I'm going to invade the circuit area and use their step boxes and dumbbells instead. At least until they seem too low for me, then I'll have to, erm, think of something. 
    • Abdominals machine (one of three or four with similar names at the gym) -- 2 sets of 8 (except I had the weight too low for the first set and did 12). What I wanted to be doing here was an exercise I've seen called "Reverse Jackknife" and "Swiss-ball jackknife" or "Ab Pull-in". You can see more about it here. Our gym doesn't have stability (or Swiss) balls, and doesn't allow outside equipment, so I have to do something else. I didn't particularly like this machine either, but that may be because I wasn't using it right. I'll use the machine again next time, doing it correctly, to see if I like it better. 
  • Back extensions machine - 2 sets of 12. This is another case where I was going to do sets of 15, but had 12 in my head so that's how many I did. I wasn't necessarily planning to do this one, which is why it's added in purple (the pen I was using at the gym) while I was there. I'm not sure I need it and I don't want to be targeting those muscles in such an isolated way. I have it down to do again next time, but may not after that. I'm not sure. 
Alternating sets work thusly: Do one set of the first exercise, rest 60 seconds, do one set of the second exercise, rest 60 seconds, go back to the first exercise and repeat until all sets are done. It's pretty simple. 

That took about 30 minutes, which with cardio to warm up (and a few warm up moves) was about right. I want to do a bit of recovery stretching in the future, though I may do that when I get home. I'm feeling a little achy today -- not in a bad way at all, but in a "I used my muscles and now they're recovering" way. Which is actually kind of cool.

I've already worked out the weights I want to start with next time I do this workout, and that I'm going to be doing the step boxes (with dumbbells) instead of the Glute machine I didn't like. 

That said, Monday's workout is going to be Deadlifts (with dumbbells), Shoulder Presses (dumbbells), Pull-downs (machine), Lunges (body weight and maybe dumbbells) and a different ab machine (which I probably won't like). The optional extra is Torso Rotations. I'll see how I feel at the end of everything. I know from yesterday that I underestimate the weight I can handle, so I'll take that into account.  

  • The New Rules of Lifting for Women, by Lou Schuler, Alwyn Cosgrove and Cassandra Forsythe. 
  • Knack Weight Training for Women, by Leah Garcia
  • Fitness Weight Training by Thomas R. Baechle and Roger W. Earle
  • We just got two more books, which is part of why both of these workouts may be changing over the next few days. Those are: 
    • The New Rules of Lifting for Life by Lou Schuler and Alwyn Cosgrove
    • The Women's Health Big Book of Exercises by Adam Campbell

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