Monday, August 31, 2015

Workout D #2 Practice Makes Improvement (Workout 19)

Workout D #2 went a lot better. :D
I'm relieved (but not totally surprised) to find that the second time doing my new Workouts C and D has gone a lot better than the first did. I'm feeling much less awkward and uncertain of what I'm doing. I'm glad about that -- I'd definitely liked the confidence I'd built with Workouts A and B and was afraid I'd broken something by changing.

Not too surprisingly, with extra sets (even though the total number of reps is the same) and one whole extra exercise these workouts are taking a bit longer -- more like an hour and 10 minutes than an hour all told. Fortunately, Patrick doesn't mind. He's just extending his cardio time at the end, I think. 

Today's workout was: 
  • Spiderman Plank - 2 x 10 - These were giving me a terrible time today because my feet were slipping. I'm not sure what to do about that, but it makes it really hard to keep going with the knee-to-elbow (while in plank pose) reps. I had this problem doing yoga as well -- my feet and hands would slip and it made me feel very insecure. My yoga teacher recommended getting a heavy blanket for on top of my yoga mat and it made a huge difference. I wonder if I could take something like that to the gym. Hmmm...I need to do something, because I'm afraid I might hurt myself if my feet slip out. 
  • Coordination Rows - 2 x 10 - (One-Leg, One-Arm Cable Rows). I did a little bit better with these this time -- still newborn baby giraffe-y, but maybe about 20 minutes older and more coordinated. I talked with one of our doctors (we have two we see more or less interchangeably) about my balance issues and he pointed out that some of it is strengthening and conditioning the small muscles of the knees and ankles that stabilize you when you're standing on one leg. I still am thinking that these are a long-term project. I'm still working with 15 lbs on the cable machine. The instructions say to work first on getting the movement to be smooth and coordinated, then improve speed, and only then increase the weight. I'll probably be working on the first goal until...umm.. Christmas. There was someone working out at another pulley on the cable machine and he was watching me play Baby Giraffe with obvious bemusement.
  • Alternating sets of:
    • Offset-loaded Step Ups - 3 x 10 - I used a 25 lb weight, which is what I used last time. I absolutely need to raise that next time because it was way too low. I'm getting into a groove with doing these on the deck of a treadmill, I guess, though I liked being way in the back of the gym in the circuit area. Ah well. It was difficult to figure out how to hold the weight -- I need to look at some pictures to see how people do that. 
    • Single-Arm Shoulder Press - 3 x 10, 8, 7 - I used a 20 lb weight and that's still a little heavy, I did 10 reps the first set, then 8, then 7. It's a tough exercise for me -- remember when I started with weights I had No Muscles in my upper body. They're coming, but it is hard. I'll stick with 20 lbs next time and try to make my reps. 
  • Alternating sets of: 
    • Dumbbell Squats - 3 x 10 - I used a pair of 30 lb dumbbells and I need to increase the weight pretty dramatically here as well. These are supposed to be front squats -- with the weights held at shoulder height, kind of in the vicinity of the collarbones. I couldn't even imagine how I'd get the 30lb dumbbells up to my shoulders. I could maybe have done it today, but I was having the same problems with figuring out how to hold the weights that I had with the step-ups. So I just did squats with the weights held at arm length at my sides. This worked totally fine but I need to up the weights next time, this was too easy. 
    • Lat Pulldowns, Kneeling  (cable machine) - 3 x 10, 10, 8 - I used 70 lbs again. It was tough, but mostly doable. I didn't make my reps on the last set and I was working hard the whole way through, so I'm going to start with this weight again. I did these kneeling because I wasn't feeling like experimenting to see if I could make the high pulley work when I'm standing. 
  • Cardio Intervals - 7 x 20:40 Intervals of Insanity - I've gone back to using the elliptical machine for these because the exercise bike and I just didn't get along at all, I never felt like I was getting my heart rate up or getting the whole body moving and coordinated. The elliptical machine burns 200 calories in 10 minutes and I can put my upper body into the Insanity Intervals, which ,makes them feel that much more worky. I'll keep thinking about this, because I would like to do something different. But it went well today -- I did seven intervals and thought of an eighth but just didn't have it in my. I like exercising to that point
It was a great workoutt! I'm feeling really well-worked and like I've done something which is pretty cool. I'm also sleepy and have beer coming. 

Next work is scheduled for Wednesday. Goal for the workout: do more and better than last time with Workout C.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Workout C #2: Lifting Weight Before Breakfast (Workout 18)

Three sets -- at least for some things, and the ones I didn't
was because of time, not because of being worn out.
Workout C went *much* better yesterday than last Saturday -- I was more comfortable with what I was doing and didn't feel quite so awkward and out of place. That was all very much to the good. 

I did have to curtail things a little bit because I had a hard and fast time I needed to be done by because I was meeting up with some friends to go to the Maryland Renaissance Festival. We were meeting up at 9am and I wanted to workout before that. So I got up early to go to the gym, showered there, and went straight from there to the meet-up (with a stop for coffee and a breakfast sandwich). If I'd had longer, I would have gone for three sets of the deadlifts and push-ups. (Actually, as it turned out, I'd allocated a bit more time than necessary to go from the gym to the meet-up, via breakfast, so I actually had the time those additional sets. I just didn't know it.

I also skipped the Cardio Intervals of Insanity because I was going to be spending most of the day walking around the Ren Fest and didn't want my legs all worn out and too tired to do  that. So I didn't get nearly as much of a cardio workout, but I was moving and standing for most of the day.

Today's workout was:

  • Side Plank with Reduced Base of Support - 2 x 30 seconds was the goal - I actually did 37 seconds the first set but only 28 the second. The second set I felt like my shoes were slipping on the floor. I did manage to sort of reduce my base of support, at least a little. I wasn't able to raise my upper leg but I did bend the knee of my upper leg, so it wasn't contributing much to my stability. But that's not the slipping problem I was having. 
  • Jump Squats - 2 x 8 - I did 10 the first set because I forgot I wasn't doing that much. . The second set I did 8. Still getting quite winded with these so I don't need to think about how to ramp them up. 
  • Alternating sets of:
    • Reverse Lunges - 3 x 10, 8 - I didn't have any problems with my quads hurting today, which was nice. I spent some time this week working on stretching them and also practicing how I stand up when I'm sitting or kneeling on the floor so I don't put so much pressure on them. Whatever it is, it's really been helping, it seems. I used 25 lb dumbbells, which is what I used last time, and ramped it up by adding a third set. I could only do 8 on the last set. I'm aiming for 10 on both. 
    • 3-Point Rows (with one hand and one knee on a weight bench) - 3 x 10, 8 (aiming for 10 on both) - I used a 25lb dumbbell here as well (convenient that) and added a third set. Again on the third set, I could only do 8. I'm hoping to increase either weight or volume (number of sets or reps) on each exercise each time I do these Phase 2 workout and this time I increased the number of sets. 
  • Alternating sets of: 
    • Dumbbell Deadlifts - 2 x 8.10 (aiming for 10 on both) - I did fewer reps the first set because I didn't wait long enough between sets, I think. I was using 35lb dumbbells, which was hard and my hands needed a bit of a rest just for gripping purposes. As mentioned above, I would have done a third set if I'd not been running up on my stop-time. These are really good, by the way -- I love the way I can feel my muscles working with these. 
    • Push-ups (Plus) - 2 x 8 (aiming on 10 on both) - I did these off the windowsill again but this time remembered to keep my body straight and my tush down, which made a *huge* difference! Done right they're much harder. I'm just sayin'. I was really only able to do 8 in a set with these once I started doing them right. But I was able to do them, which is good. 
As mentioned above, I skipped the cardio intervals because it was going to be low-grade cardio All Day Long at the Renaissance Faire.

It was a good workout and much much smoother this time, for which I'm glad.

Next workout is scheduled for Monday. It'll be my second time with Workout D and I'm hoping for much the same improvement in knowing-what-I'm-doing-ness. Very much hoping. Goal for the workout: Aside from generally getting better and doing more, my specific goal is to look a little less like a baby giraffe doing the the one-arm, one-leg cable rows, which I've taken to calling Coordination Rows because it fits in my book better. . 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Workout D #1: Coordination? What's that? (Workout 17)

First time with new Workout D -- after a brief hiatus.
This feeling-my-way stage with Workouts C and D is kind of a drag. I'd gotten good and confident with Workouts A and B by the sixth time through -- I knew what I was doing both in my head and in my muscles. I knew where to go in the gym and it was all quite smooth.

Workouts C and D are like being back at stage one. In particular, they introduce some elements that are totally new and challenging -- like today's single-leg single-arm cable rows, which require coordination and balance, both of which I totally fail in. The wimpy "stay in my comfort zone" part of me wishes I'd just stuck with Workouts A and B for another month or three. It felt good to know what I was doing. :(

I'm just kicking that wimpy side aside -- I'm not going to learn to do different things and to be coordinated and to have better balance unless I do different things that require coordination and balance. I'm not going to get better and stronger and healthier unless I work it.

I was planning to do Workout D (#1) on Monday, August 24, but Patrick and I went for a nine-mile hike on Sunday and both of us got blisters on the balls of our feet. (If we'd gone for a seven-mile hike we'd have both been good, I reckon.) We also got some joint tweakiness from walking trying to avoid hurting the blisters. I drained my blisters on Monday and was totally feeling up to working out tonight. Patrick is more reluctant to open blisters than I am, so he waited until Tuesday and his feet and calf still feel a little off. He did not workout tonight.  

Anyway, I went to the gym on my own and sort of fumbled my way through round one with Workout D. 

Today's workout was: 
  • Spiderman Plank - 2 x 10 reps - To do this you get into Plank position then raise one knee at a time toward your elbow, alternating sides until each side has done all of the reps. Aside from my tush getting too high, this went pretty well. Tiring, but definitely doable. In addition to concentrating on doing it, I need to remember to concentrate on keeping my butt down. 
  • Single-Leg, Single-Arm Cable Row - 2 x 10 reps - Oh, lordy kittens! This must have been totally comedic street theater for the other people working on the cable machines. The really big, really competent, really ever-so-serious people working on the cable machines. And then there's me being entirely unable to stand on one leg and, you know, move at the same time. The 15 lb weight stack on the other end of the cable was almost entirely irrelevant. I was just trying to get the movement coordinated and didn't really care about the weight except that it provided a bit of resistance (so it helped keep me from falling over in a weird way). I'm probably going to spend all of Phase 2 (the next month or so) just getting so I can do a set without having to support myself or put my foot down. (It's gonna be a long month.) That said, I did do my reps. I just did them haltingly and rather clumsily and with the coordination of a newborn baby giraffe. 
  • Alternating sets of:
    • Offset-Loaded Step Ups - 2 x 10 - The idea with these is that the weights are off-center, so they require more effort from the core muscles to maintain posture and suchlike. This is all probably true. I failed to take into account when picking my starting weight that I'd been using 2 20lb weights for these (for a total, obviously, of 40 lbs). I should have gone for, probably 40 lbs at least, though that would be hard for me to hold. As it was, I went for 25 lbs and it did feel like work. So maybe I did okay after all. I'm going to go for three sets rather than boosting the weight next time, then see how I'm doing. I also need to remember to keep my elbow up when I'm holding the weight -- upper arm parallel to the floor. There's a lot less strain on my elbow that way.

      Planet Fitness, in its wisdom, has declared openly a policy that the 30-minute circuit area is to be used only and exclusively by people doing the 30-minute circuit. People using the equipment in that area in other ways are at risk of forfeiting their gym membership. As you may recall, those are the only step boxes in the gym. Sigh. So I can't use the step boxes there for my step ups. Dammit. I wound out doing the step ups on the deck of a treadmill - which I've done before and works just fine. Though it's crazy inelegant. 
    • Single-arm Shoulder Press - 2 x 10 - These went really well -- I used a 20 lb weight and they were some serious and genuine work. I'd like to add a third set and will do that before I boost the weight.  
  • Alternating sets of:
    • Squats - 2 x 10 - I was supposed to be doing front squats but just couldn't. My arms had already been extensively worked by the time I'd done all the planks and step ups and shoulder presses. No, this is not a arm exercise, it's a quad exercise and a good one, but to hold 30 lb dumbbells at your shoulders, you have to be able to lift them there. Which I could not at that juncture. If I ever get these weights to my shoulders, this is another one to remember to keep my elbows up and upper arm parallel to the floor. I'm going to go up to three sets with the same weight next time.
    • Kneeling Cable-Machine Lat Pulldowns - 2 x 10.  I was going to do these standing and had figured on a 25% weight increase from what I'd been doing in Phase 1, because of the fewer sets and a good, braced split-stance position. It did not work out that way  I had some problems with these because the highest overhead pulley on the cable machine wasn't quite tall enough for me to not feel like I was dropping the weight stack at the end of my release (or whatever the proper term is for relaxing the tension and releasing the weights in a controlled manner) when I was standing. So I went back to kneeling. With the slightly less braced position, 75lbs was rough. I did my first set with 75, but could feel my form utterly breaking down by the 10th rep, which seemed sub-optimal. For the second set, I lowered the weight to 65 and that was better. This was definitely another case where I didn't take into account the difference being rested (vs. not) would make. Next time I'll try 70s. If I can do 70s kneeling, I'll try again standing from a different high pulley to see if standing can possibly work for me. 
  • Cardio Intervals -- 7 x 20:40 Intervals of Insanity. I went back to the elliptical machine because I really feel like I'm getting a great workout when I do my Insanity Intervals on the elliptical. I've now experimented with doing cardio on both the upright bike and the recumbent bike and on each of them it was almost impossible to feel like I was putting out a max effort which is the whole point of the Insanity Intervals. I did use the recumbent bike for my cardio warm up and learned that it burns about half as many calories as the elliptical (as I use the machines) and didn't feel like nearly as good a "get your heart going" workout. Also it shook somewhat alarmingly as I was trying to go faster. I really don't want to get locked into doing my Insanity on the elliptical machine, but I haven't liked anything else I've tried. I'll have to look into other options for this.  
I'm definitely feeling my way along again and I'm sure by the end of Phase 2 I'll feel good and strong and confident and all like that. I'll get better and more coordinated (and have better balance) as I work on these things. I'll get there over time. I just need to be patient.


This is where I stopped writing on Wednesday night because I kept falling asleep while I was typing (which leads to utter gibberish, because I don't actually stop typing until after my brain has gone bye-bye).

Next workout is scheduled for Saturday. So is a trip to the Maryland Renaissance Festival (for me, Patrick is staying home). :D My plan is to get up early, leave Patrick happily sleeping, go to the gym and work out, shower at the gym, and get breakfast on the way to the meet-up place for the Ren Faire (someone else is driving!!). Because I'm going to be traipsing all over the Faire all day, I'm planning on skipping the Insanity Intervals and just doing a little bit of cardio cool-down at the end instead.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Workout C #1: Went well, but feeling my way (Workout 16)

First time through workout C -- some successes, but definitely
feeling my way a bit.
Workout C went very well today, though I was kind of working things out and getting used to what I'm doing. 

One of the things I need to work out is the weights to use. I'm doing fewer reps per set (and more sets once I get the weights calibrated), which means more weight. See, you're kinda supposed to be *done* when you get to the end of the set, so you can move more weight to get to that *done* point if you're moving it fewer times. In Phase 1 I was doing 15 rep sets; in Phase 2, I'll be doing 10 rep sets. 

I talked with Patrick and his suggestion, which made a lot of sense to me., was to go up by 25% from what had been my final weights (or final good weights) in Phase 1. I could have gone up by 30%, because that's how many fewer reps there are per set, but that seemed like it would be a bit aggressive for starting out. I'll raise them until they're right, no worries, I just didn't want to risk hurting myself. 

Today's workout was: 
  • Side Plank -- I was supposed to be doing a Side Plank with a reduced base of support (in other words lifting one of my legs while in a regular side plank), but I couldn't make that work. I really couldn't get my leg to raise -- I think I need to experiment with it a bit just to see how that works. So I wound out doing regular side plank, which is plenty hard, for 35 seconds each side the first set and 40 seconds each side the second set. 
  • Jump Squats -- 2 x 5-8. (You can see these, including a video, here.) This is my first experiment in New Rules of Lifting for Life's Power category. This is all about generating explosive power. So the jump squat has you go down into a squat then jump straight up as high as you can from there then, when you land, go straight down into another squat. I did 8 of these in both sets. I might add some weight, but the book suggests to do that if you're not winded after 5 or 6 of these, and I was plenty winded. I want to see about starting to jump higher before I do that. 
  • Alternating sets of: 
    • Reverse Lunges - 2 x 10 -- (You can see these here.) When I was standing up from one of my warm-up exercises, I over-stretched my left quad again. So these were kind of tricksy. I take a shorter step when I do them with the sore leg down (which is when it hurts) and all the work is done by the other leg. It's good, but not quite how it's supposed to be and feels a little awkward. I used 25 lb weights, which was good. When I do this workout next (Wednesday, most likely), I'll do three sets with 25lbs. Then see if I want to move up. 
    • Single-Arm Rows (neutral grip) - 2 x 10 -- I've also seen these called 3-Point Rows. (You can see these here.) The "neutral grip" thing is with the palms facing inward toward the midline of your body. Neutral grip is a good one for power and the extra support of having the hand and knee on the weight bench means that one can get kind of aggressive with the weights because there's good support and help from additional muscles. The last time I did rows (without such a strong position), I used 20 lb weights. Today I used 25lbs for the first set (25% increase) and it was too light, so I went up to 30 for the second set. That was good and I'll start there next time. 
  • Alternating sets of:
    • Dumbbell Deadlifts - 2 x 10 -- (You can more about the kind of deadlift I'm doing now here, though these are with a barbell and I'm using dumbbells.) I was doing a 60 lb barbell for the Straight-legged deadlifts I was doing. Going up 25% would be 75lbs, but there's no way to get there with a pair of dumbbells. These present more of a risk to the lower back than the ones I was doing so I went low and used a pair of 35lb dumbbells. As it was, I didn't put any strain on my back, I just had to be attentive to my form and what I was doing. I think I chose wisely -- I could probably have deadlifted more, but I'm not sure my *grip* is strong enough to hold onto 40 lb dumbbells for all my reps. Working with the 35s a time or two will let me get a really good feel for the right form while my grip gets ready for the 40s. 
    • Push-ups (with the Plus I talked about last time I did Workout A) - 2 x 10 -- I did these off the windowsill which is a few inches higher than my knee. Way lower than the hip height bar I've been using. That was a good height for these, but I realized just at the end of my second set that I probably had my butt too high so my form was somewhat compromised. I'll try to do better next time. Still, I managed all my reps and it felt good. 
  • Cardio Intervals - 7 x 20:40 Intervals of Insanity. I did my cardio warm-up on the elliptical machine so I could be next to Patrick, but did my Intervals of Insanity on one of the exercise bikes. I wanted to mix that up, see. I have to say that I absolutely hated the exercise bike -- it hurt my tushie and I didn't feel like I was getting nearly as much out of (or into) the Insanity intervals and it was just kind of ick. Maybe if I adjusted the height better (it was definitely too high when I started, but maybe I made it too low) and adjusted the resistance somehow, but I'm not especially motivated to try when there are other things I can do. I'm going to try the recumbent bike next time -- it's got a more comfortable seat and maybe it will be more satisfying. I really don't want to only training myself to do this sort of interval thing on the elliptical machine. 
So on the whole Workout C went well for my first time with it -- but there are definitely areas for improvement. I need to figure out how to reduce my base of support with the side planks. I really need to figure out what's up with these sore quads. (I also need to remember to stretch them Every Day -- I forgot on Friday at work.) I am looking forward to getting more certain of (and comfortable with) my form on the deadlifts, so I don't have to concentrate so hard on not straining my back. I think I need to tweak some weights still, but the 25% guideline was a good one and I'll apply it when figuring out starting weights for Workout D. 

Next strength workout is scheduled for Monday -- it will be my first time with Workout D which is going to be squats and lat pulldowns, step ups and shoulder presses. And attempting to move while in Plank, which may be trickier than I originally thought it would be. Goal for the workout: Get a sense of what weights to go with for 3 sets. 

Before that though, we're going on a hike tomorrow. Patrick had a good cardio workout on the elliptical machine today and I worked out well all over, so we're going to be going on a kind of easy hike on the Western Maryland Rail Trail -- an old railroad that parallels the C&O Canal. We're heading out toward Hancock, Maryland, because it's supposed to be very scenic out that way. 

Note: I'm changing the way I name posts, because the numbers weren't actually all that informative. 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Workout Fifteen: Phase one is Done!!

The end of Phase 1 -- Workout B #6. 
I'm at an exciting point in this weight training thing -- I've finished Phase 1 (the first month of three-times-a-week weight training) and am moving into Phase 2 with my next workout. I'm excited about this, because Phase 2 is supposed to be all about really building on the progress made in Phase 1 and I've made so much progress, I'm not even sure I can grasp it all. I mean, I can do Plank for 45 seconds (sometimes), I can do push-ups that aren't against a wall, I can do Romanian deadlifts with a 60 lb barbell. My balance is better, my knees are better and I feel better in about a million ways.

As actress Anna Kendrick said on Ellen DeGeneres a few months ago: "'Oh, this is how healthy people feel.' I get the appeal." (No, I don't watch the show, I ran across the quotation in a magazine.)

Even aside from the physical changes, I feel more confident. I claim my place with at the cable machine with the big guys moving lots of weight without hesitation now. I walk up to the barbell rack and grab the heaviest weight on there. I take my dumbbells with pride. Outside the gym, I'm feeling more confident as well at work and just moving through the world.

That's awesome too. :D

For my last workout in Phase 1, I pushed the weights on one exercise (Shoulder Presses) and backed them down on another (Split Squats), but mostly kept at the same level as last time because it'd been such a great workout on Saturday. You can tell it didn't kick me quite as hard yesterday because I was able to do more of the Intervals of Insanity at the end. :D 

Yesterday's workout: 
  • Side Plank - I was aiming for 2 x 30 seconds. I went a little higher than that -- 35 seconds the first set (on each side) and 38 seconds the second time. The first set I had the same problem I had Saturday with my feet slipping, but I somehow managed to avoid it the second set. Not sure what I did differently, alas. Especially alas because Side Planks are in phase two as well (only I'll be lifting one leg up so I have less support and more wobble to deal with). 
  • Alternating sets of:
    • Split Squats (with dumbbells) - 2 x 15. I'd written down to use a pair of 25lb dumbbells but forgot to check my log before I went to pick them up off the rack so I grabbed 20lb dumbbells instead. Oops. It still wound out feeling like a really good workout, so I'm not sad. My left quad is definitely better now but my right still requires just a little bit of babying on these. Basically, I just keep my feet a little closer together to reduce the amount of stretch on my non-working thigh on that side. (The stretches I've been doing during warmups and cool-downs, and on non-workout days have helped *tons* with the tightness of my quads and hip flexors. I'm super-pleased about that.) 
    • Lat Pulldowns (cable machine) - 2 x 15. I stayed with the 60lbs that I used on Saturday, which had been almost a little too much for me -- I don't think I made all my reps but I did get close on Saturday. I made them all yesterday, but it was *work*. Felt great, but oof! 
  • Alternating sets of:
    • Straight-leg Deadlifts - 2 x 15. I used the 60lb fixed-weight barbell again. I'm bummed that this is the heaviest weight barbell they have at the gym if one isn't using the Smith Machines, which are a) always in use and b) really not at all tempting to me. This is a large part of why I've planned on dumbbells with for my deadlifts in phase 2. I didn't get as much of a workout from these last time -- I don't know if I was using other muscles to lift so I didn't use my glutes as hard or what. Or maybe 60lbs was just a little too light. 
    • Shoulder-Press (single-arm) - I was aiming for 2 x 15. I used 20lb weights last time and probably went up a little too much. I'd used 17.5lb dumbbells on Saturday and they'd been hard -- I hadn't finished my reps on one set and only barely finished them on the other. I had myself down for 17.5lbs again and should have done that, I think. (My main reason for going up to 20lbs were not great -- the 17.5lb dumbbells live at the way far opposite corner of the gym from the barbells and I didn't want to have to get them and then put them back. The secondary reason was that there were a lot of people working out in the corner where the 17.5lb dumbbells live and they were using the weights, so I hated to take something that might be in demand to the far corner of the gym.) The 20 lb weights were tough -- I did about 8 or 9 with each arm straight through (and I don't understand why my non-dominant arm is stronger with these than my dominant arm), then squeaked out the rest alternating the weight back and forth. (So 8 with left arm, 9 with right, 3 more with left, 4 more with right, etc. until to 15 on each arm.) The first set I was able to get to 15. The second I stopped at 12 because I was *done*. 
  • Cardio Intervals - 7 x 20sec:40sec Intervals of Insanity. I did well with the Intervals of Insanity after all that hard work, which always pleases me! I did seven of the 20 second rounds of all out crazy effort (with 40 seconds to recover), which is pretty good for after that workout. Hooray! The elliptical machine still beats the heck out of my quads, though. When I start Phase 2 on Saturday, I'll switch which machine I go on for the Insanity. I'm thinking the bikes.  
After all of that, I was pooped but the recovery stretches felt great (except the one that's sort of a lunge and feels a bit like work). The foam roller work when we got home also felt good, though I've stopped doing the illo-tibial band rolling (the outside of the thigh from hip to knee) because it just didn't feel right (it hurt in a way that felt like it was doing harm not good). I'm going to work on stretching and strengthening it instead. :D 

All the recovery and warm up and everything is really paying off -- once I figured out that post-workout soreness for two days after every workout (when I'm working out every other day) was just not going to fly, I've made changes so I have basically none. That's much better! 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Workout Fourteen: Last time with Workout A

Last time with Workout A went well, though I didn't get
as aggressive with the weights as I maybe could have.
(Note: I started this post on Monday then fell asleep and finished it Tuesday.)

I ended my time with Workout A well, but not as aggressively as maybe I could have. Or maybe it just feels that way because I finished all my reps of everything. I did move to a higher weight on the squats and added a little bit of an element to the push-ups, so I didn't go easy.

I feel really good after this workout -- I worked hard and I feel really good about it. 

Today's workout was: 
  • Plank - I was aiming for at least 2 x 30 seconds and did a little better than that (35 seconds the first time, 38 the second). I felt a little unstable in my footing (or toe-ing) like I did doing side plank on Saturday. I don't know what's up with that. Maybe I need to get my feet on the mat and my arms off. Or something. Anyway, I would have liked to go longer, but I wasn't being cheap or cheating myself either. However, I didn't do better than I did last time, which is a bit of a boo.  
  • Alternating sets of:
    • Squats (dumbbells) - 2 x 15. I moved up to 25 lb dumbbells today and that was really good. I remembered my goal of moving quickly with them, which (I think) makes them kind of harder. The first 10 or so of each set were pretty easy and fast, but by number 15 I was really working hard. I could maybe have gone up a bit more with the weight, but I'm not sure I could have gone up to 30 lb dumbbells (which would be an awfully big jump). And I was working hard, so I guess I'm happy.  
    • Bent-over Row - 2 x 15. I used 20 lb weights again. For the first set, I did these one arm at a time, but that went so well the first set that for the second set, I worked both arms at the same time, which seems significantly more exhausting, maybe because I can't brace myself with my free hand. I'm not sure I would have been able to work 25 lb weights for 15 reps at a time, so I think 20 was right for this set. 
  • Alternating sets of:
    • Step-ups (dumbbells) - 2 x 15. I used 20 lb dumbbells, which is a new weight for this exercise for me. (Maybe I pushed the weights more than I thought I did. Cool! Go, me!) I also re-read the instructions (because I was typing them up as part of planning phase 2) and realized that I was doing them subtly wrong. I'd been stepping up with Leg A, bringing Leg B to the step, stopping a fraction of a beat, stepping Leg B back down to the ground, then stepping Leg A back down and pausing for a beat. That gives the working leg some time to relax (in those brief pauses). Apparently it keeps more tension on the muscles to just brush the top of the step with Leg B, then lower it back down to the ground without ever putting weight on it at the top, brush the ground (but don't really put weight on it) then lift Leg B back to the step. Basically the idea is to keep tension and *work* on the working leg the whole time. (Leg A in the above examples is the working leg.) It made a difference -- -20 lbs was a lot of work, though not more than I could handle. 25 might have been a more gutsy choice. 
    • Push-Ups -- 2 x 15. Sigh. I did the step-ups on the step boxes back in the circuit area because all the stair-climbers were taken the whole time. This had me about as far away from the mid-thigh height windowsill I used on Saturday as possible. So I went back to the hip-height railing and added a bit of an extra (or "plus") to the push-ups -- I did what The Women's Health Big Book of Exercises suggests and added an upwards press at the top of the push-up -- which they say gives extra work to the serratus anterior muscle which helps move your shoulder blades back and down and helps posture. I'm all in favor of better posture. So, since I was on a higher surface than I wanted to be, I added that plus to ramp it up a bit. 
  • Cardio Intervals -- I did 10 of the 20:40 Intervals of Insanity today, which was awesome! I seem to consistently have been able to do more of the Insanity with Workout A than with Workout B. My guess is that it's because Workout B includes lunges, which really work my quads. Anyway, I did wonderfully well with the Insanity -- 10 (!!) of them!! That's more than I've ever done by two -- which doesn't seem like a lot except that they really are all out, everything on the table (or elliptical machine) effort for 20 seconds. 
And that is where I fell asleep Monday evening while posting. 

I realized when prepping my log with Saturday's workout that I was wrong when I said the other day that Workout C will be built on the same bones as Workout A. In New Rules of Lifting for Life parlance, Workout A has a stability exercise (plank), a squat, a pull exercise (rows), a "single-leg stance" exercise (the Step-ups), a push exercise (push-ups), and the metabolic/cardio intervals. Workout B has stability (side plank), a lunge (split squats), a pull (lat pulldowns), a "hinge" exercise (the deadlifts), and a push (shoulder presses). Those elements -- plus dynamic stability, power, and combination/whole body -- are still present in Workouts C and D but they get shuffled around and recombined some. 

Workout C  will have stability (side plank with one leg lifted), power (jump squats), lunge (reverse lunges), pull (rows), hinge (deadlifts), push (push-ups with the same extra "plus" I did today) and cardio intervals. Workout D will have dynamic stability ("Spiderman" plank, which is plank plus movement), combination/whole body (single-leg/single-arm cable row), single-leg stance (offset loaded step-up), push (shoulder press), squat (dumbbell front squat), pull (lat pulldowns)m and cardio intervals. Each workout will have one more element than Workouts A and B. 

I made some final changes to Workouts C and D yesterday and think I have a good starting point for them. The big changes is that I changed the power exercise from split-squat jumps to regular squat jumps. Split-squat jumps seemed like they had the potential to be rough on my knees, which can be a little touchy. They were also going to come on a day when I'm already doing lunges so I'm already putting a bit of stress on my knees that day.
I've still got the single-leg/single-arm cable rows to work on my coordination with. :D

Next workout is scheduled for Wednesday. I'll be doing my last time with Workout B (side plank, split squats, lat pulldowns, deadlifts, and shoulder press). This is the workout that so gloriously kicked my butt on Saturday and I'm hoping for that again tomorrow. Goal for the workout: End phase one STRONG! 

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Workout Thirteen: 60 lbs

45 seconds on the side planks and 60 lbs on the deadlifts and
the lat pulldowns. :D Go, Sara!! 
I worked out *hard* today and really pushed myself. There were two exercises where I pushed the weights a bit and didn't finish my reps, but I'm okay with that. I did more side plank than I thought I could even do, which kind of balances that out. And I worked *hard*, really hard, the whole time. Which makes me extra-happy.

I didn't have too much trouble with the split squats this time. My left quad was completely fine. My right was mostly fine -- I just needed to not have my feet quite so far apart so my quad got less of a stretch and I was able to do it without any pain or tightness at all. Hooray. 

I did wind out with my left glute feeling a bit hollow, which I realize makes no sense at all. I particularly noticed it when I was doing the Intervals of Insanity at the end. Maybe people who have more of a clue would describe it as weakness. I don't know. It didn't (and doesn't) hurt, it just didn't have a lot more to give. Which is why I only got five Insanity intervals in today. 

Today's workout was: 
  • Side Plank -- 2 x 45 seconds. When I started this strength training, I was doing 15 seconds of side plank. Today I did 45 both sides, both sets. :D :D I had a little problem on my right side getting to a stable position -- my foot felt like it was slipping, then when I got that settled my (sweaty) arm felt like it was slipping on the mat. So I actually did a little longer on the right because there were a few false starts getting to a good position, then I went to 45 seconds. 
  • Alternating sets of:
    • Split Squats -- 2 x 15, pair of 20 lb dumbbells. As mentioned above, the split squats went fine today. I'm not totally loving the quad stretch I added to my warmup (because it doesn't feel like it's stretching my quad all that much) but between that and doing some impromptu stretches just during the day, it seems to be a lot better. Certainly, the 20 lb dumbbells had me feeling like I was working hard, but I was able to finish my reps. I think I'll bump up to 25 lb dumbbells next time -- at least as long as my quads continue to feel good.
    • Cable-Machine Kneeling Lat Pulldowns -- the goal was 2x15. I did one set of 15 and one set of 14 with the weight at 60 lbs. Last time I had the weight at 50 lbs and they'd seemed way easy so I made a big jump. Possibly too big, though since I was able to do them (mostly), possibly not. It certainly felt all kinds of difficult this time and I don't think I need to adjust the weight for next time. 
  • Alternating sets of:
    • Straight Leg Deadlifts -- 2 x 15 with a 60 lb barbell. I believe these are also called Romanian Deadlifts. With these one doesn't take the weight all the way to the ground between each lift. They just go from below the knees to hip height (straight arms) and it's very much mostly a glutes and hamstrings thing. (Bend at hips to lower weight, fire hips forward to raise it, repeat.) I'd wanted to go with a 60 lb barbell last time but thought it was in use so I'd used a 50 lb, which had been not as hard as I wanted. I'm glad I did 60 lbs, today because that was some kinda work. These are the same deadlifts I've been doing all along, but I'm describing them more accurately to distinguish them from the ones I'll be doing next phase, when I will be taking the weights all the way to the floor every rep. 
    • One-Arm Shoulder Press -- the goal was 2 x 15. I did one set of 10 and one set of 15 with a 17.5 lb dumbbell. Last time I'd used 15 lb dumbbells and worked both arms at the same time. With the 17.5lb dumbbells, and with being pretty whipped already from the rest of the workout, I worked one shoulder at a time. In some ways that's more of a strain, because the off-balance load makes the core work harder, but I found it a lot more do-able one arm at a time. Even so, the first set I could only do 10 before I was afraid I'd drop a weight on my head. I rested a bit longer before the second set (I only rest as much as I need to between sets and sometimes probably not long enough) and was able to finish the 15, but only by stopping after 10 and switching arms. But that worked and for the second set, I got them all in. 
  • Cardio Intervals -- 5 x 20:40 Intervals of Insanity. I only did five 20 second rounds of Insanity (crazy, all out effort on the elliptical machine, followed by 40 seconds of recovery) because I'd worked so hard throughout the workout, I just didn't have a sixth one in me. But I'm not too upset about it. I did five and I did them well and I certainly worked myself to what the fitness people call "volitional exhaustion". I could do no more. Well, except that I did spent another few minutes on the machine. I generally stay on the elliptical machine until it tells me I've burned 100 calories, which, in practice, is about 10 minutes. 
We went and checked out a different Planet Fitness today -- there's one right near where I pick up Patrick after work and we thought it might be more convenient on weeknights to get there than go to the gym near our home. The guy at the counter was nice and the place seemed entirely fine, but it doesn't look like there will be much of an advantage going there -- we were hoping to get in before their busy time and that won't work. 

I'm pretty sure I have Workouts C and D all sorted out. I'm excited to get started on them -- I'm going to start doing a dynamic stability exercise (moving while holding the core tight and steady), a power exercise (an explosive move), and a "combination" exercise (which involves moving more than one part of the body at one). I've tried to put these new pieces in and balance them so the workouts won't be hugely longer. We'll see how that works out. 

I'm worried and excited because the power exercise I've picked and the combination exercise I've picked both require some coordination, which is not a trait I have in abundance. On the other hand, I have some confidence that it will improve with training. It certainly won't get worse and if I look goofy doing these things, I'm okay with that as long as I'm getting better, stronger and healthier. 

In related news: Despite a week in Nashville eating (well there were other things too, but there was an awful lot of eating for sure), I managed to lose 2.4 pounds between my last weigh-in (August 1) and today. Huh. I can't say I expected that what with the weight lifting building muscle and the FOOD in Nashville. (If you ever go there, go to the Hot Hattie B's near Broadway and get hot chicken (I liked the medium; Patrick got the hot). Then go next door to Gigi's Cupcakes. So good!)

Next workout is scheduled for Monday. It will be my last time with Workout A. I'm going to see if I can push things just a tad, as this will be my last time with this number of reps and these specific exercises for a while. :D (Workout C is built on the same bones as A, so I'll still be doing plank and squats and rows and step-ups and push ups, I'll just be making them *harder*.) Goal for the workout: End phase one strong!! 

Friday, August 14, 2015

Workout Twelve: Making progress with push ups! :D

Workout Log 8-13-2015. I didn't squat as much weight as planned,
but other things went way better than expected.
Yesterday's workout (the fifth time with Workout A) went well -- though I had to make some changes in response to the situation on the ground, so to speak. Some elements wound out modified easier, other modified harder.

I was working hard the whole time, for sure, except when I was trying to figure out where to do step-ups.

We had friends over on Wednesday evening, for reasons that don't bear going into at this juncture, so we did our workout on Thursday. This worked out fine *except* that the trainer was doing a class in the 30-minute circuit area at the time when I really wanted to be using the step boxes for my step-ups. As your may or may not recall, those step boxes in the circuit area are the only "official" steps in the gym. More on this vexation below.

In related news: I've done some research and I think what was making my quads hurt doing split squats while we were in Nashville was that they were really tight. I made modifications to my warm-up routine and my recovery routine, including the foam rollering, to take better care of them. I think it helped, but I'll know for sure on Saturday when I'm doing the split squats again.

Thursday's workout was:
  • Plank -- 2 sets; the first was 35 seconds, the second 40 seconds. I don't think it's normal to be able to do more in the second set, but for the second set I was just paying less attention to the time. Or something. I'm not really sure how I did it, actually, but "better on the second set" happens pretty regularly for me.
  • Alternating sets of: 
    • Squats (dumbbells) - 2 sets of 15. I used 20 lb dumbbells this time. I'd planned to use 25 lb dumbbells, which is what I used the previous time, but the corner of the gym I was in only had them up to 20 lbs. I'll have to move out of that corner next time so I can get to the full weight rack and use 25lbs. 
    • Bent-over Rows -- 2 sets of 15. I used 20 lb dumbbells. I did these one arm at a time, rather than both at once, because bracing my free hand on my thigh gave me a bit of extra support. That did not make these easy, but I did better than the first time I did this with 20 lb weights. I have written down to start with 20 lbs next time, but a note to maybe up the weight. I'll see how I feel. 
  • Alternating sets of: 
    • Step Ups -- 2 sets of 15. These were a total pain last night. As mentioned, there was a class in the part of the gym with the only steps in the facility. I walked around pretty extensively with a pair of dumbbells (itself an exercise called a "Farmer's Walk") trying to find an alternative. I've been wanting to move up to a higher step, but there aren't any other good options in our gym, so this seemed like a good opportunity to experiment. I tried a weight bench first, but quickly rejected the idea when I found that the benches are padded, so it was going to be a wobbly landing surface. My balance is improving (yay!) as are my knees (double yay!) but that was going to be a pretty stern test of both. I finally wound out stepping up onto the deck of a treadmill (there are lots of them and even with the gym a bit crowded there were plenty free, so I wasn't keeping anyone else from their workout). I think that was maybe a little higher than the steps. I was planning to use 20lb weights and hold them at shoulder height (which is harder because it's farther from the center of gravity), but because I thought I was going to be stepping a lot higher (onto a bench), I went with 15lbs. Next time I may try stepping up onto the step of one of the stair climber machines, if one is free. That would *definitely* be higher.
    • Pushups -- 2 sets of 15 was the goal. I'd been doing pretty well (completing my reps anyway) with with the push-ups off a bar at about my low-hip height and have been wanting to move lower but couldn't in Nashville. Thursday, I wound out doing them off a windowsill a few inches above my knees; I think it was about a foot lower than the bar I'd been using (Patrick says more like 15 inches lower). At that height, I could only do 10 the first set and 11 the second. I didn't make my reps, but I'm still pleased with how well I did with them; last time I tried to go lower with pushups, I had to stop after just a few because they were messing my shoulder up. This time, I just was exhausted -- one more and I would have landed on my face.
  • Cardio Intervals -- I did 7 rounds of 20 seconds of insanely all out going followed by 40 seconds of slow going and recovery (I don't stop, I just go from 15 miles an hour to 3 miles an hour) on the elliptical. Totally spiked my heart rate in a great way and just did wonderfully. After the last round of Insanity, I cooled down on the elliptical at a moderate pace (around 5 miles an hour) until the machine said I'd burned 100 calories. Then I went and did recovery stretches. 
We each had a thing of Greek yogurt for a post-workout snack, which I really do think makes a *huge* difference in how we feel later.

In related, but other, news, I'm pretty confident that I've sorted out what are going to be Workouts C and D -- I've got one more time with Workout A and two more with Workout B (I'm doing each one six times) and then I'll be switching to a new phase. I'm not following in lock step with The New Rules of Lifting for Life by Lou Schuler and Alwyn Cosgrove, but I'm following the general concepts of their plan. 

Their system has three phases, each with two alternating workouts. The phases last a month or a month and a half depending on how often one works out. Phase one is all about training your body to do things it can't do -- either because it's never done them or because it's forgotten how. In my case, I'm training to be able to do a lot of things I've never been able to do before. It improves total-body conditioning and athleticism. That's the phase I'm nearly at the end of.

Phase two is about pushing yourself -- striving to improve some aspect of performance each workout by using heavier weights, more challenging exercises, or more sets (of 10 reps). The reps are lower in each set (10 instead of 15) and there are potentially more sets (2 to 4 instead of 2), so I'll be moving heavier weights in this phase right from the start. The plan is to pick exercises that will allow me to increase both weight and volume (number of reps) of lifting. This is the phase I'm planning now. 

Phase three is a ways off yet, and I'll talk about it when I get there. 

The beauty of the system is that it can be repeated and varied almost indefinitely. I'm already making some changes by choosing exercises not just from this book but also from The Women's Health Big Book Of Exercises -- trying to find exercises that train the same muscle groups but are doable with the equipment available to me (that's my main reason for variation).  

I also skipped one whole category of exercises (the power category) from my phase one. I'm going to be bringing it in with Workouts C and D.

Next workout is scheduled for Saturday -- I'll be doing Workout B (Side plank, split squats, deadlifts, lat pulldowns and shoulder presses). Main goal is to do the split squats without my quads hurting. Otherwise, get better and stronger. 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Workouts Eight, Nine, Ten and Eleven: Hurty Quads, but Good Stuff

 I've been busy like crazy the last week, so I haven't had time to post, but I've been working out on schedule and enjoying it. Patrick and I are back home now from a trip to Nashville for a professional conference. Last Monday and this evening, we worked out at our normal gym here at home.

Last Wednesday's scheduled workout we did at a Planet Fitness in Nashville because Patrick was going to be using their weight machines and wanted to be using the machines he was used to. (They weren't exactly the same, but they were close.) Last Saturday, Patrick was doing a cardio day, so we worked out at the fitness room in our hotel. Our hotel actually had an excellent fitness room -- the only thing I had any trouble with was the pushups because I'm still at the hip-high support level (about a 45 degree incline maybe) and there wasn't much at the right height.

I'm getting to a point where I need to think about what I want to change to in a few weeks. I've got two more times with each workout and it will be time to start a new workout -- the next stage has two to four sets of eight reps each. So the weights will be higher and the reps lower. Which will be pretty cool. I'll probably change up some of the exercises too -- reverse lunges instead of split squats, possibly some sort of cable machine row rather than dumbbell rows, etc. I need to work out what I want to start doing.

I had a problem last Wednesday with Workout B -- it involves split squats, which are normally not much of a problem. Unfortunately, my quads were killing me (and still are a bit). One leg got sore when I stood up from sitting on the floor before we left home. The other got sore when I stood up from doing some warm-ups on the mat on Wednesday. It wasn't a good feeling when they got hurt, but I don't think anything is really wrong. They only hurt when I did something like a lunge (which you can see here) -- with all my weight on one leg and the other behind me a step and the knees bent. The leg that hurt, for the record (and my mother's peace of mind) was the *down* leg which doesn't do nearly as much work.

Anyway, when I got to doing the split squats last Wednesday, they just didn't feel at all good, so I did regular squats instead. When I worked out again on Saturday morning, with Workout A which doesn't have split squats but does have regular squats, I gave one try at doing the split squats and did regular squats again. (Actually, my warm-up sequence has a sort of lunge-y thing in it and I knew from that I wouldn't be able to do split squats.) I was back to Workout B today, though, and was able to do split squats, though my range of motion wasn't entirely where I'm used to it being.

I'll just keep going with the "pain free range of motion" thing, and if it's too small a range for me to really be working my glutes, I'll do regular squats until they don't hurt anymore.

The weird, and maybe interesting, thing is that it really does seem like the problem is more with the stretch in the less-working leg. The initial pain felt pretty sharp and immediate (and lousy) but only when doing that kind of move -- lunges, split squats, reverse squats, standing up from the floor one leg at a time. Any other kind of move is fine.

I will say that whatever it is that's up with my quads is slowing me down a tad with the Intervals of Insanity part of each workout -- especially last Wednesday when they were at their worst, I couldn't go nearly as fast for my 20 second intervals because my legs just wouldn't generate as much power.. Though what that meant was that I could do eight of the intervals rather than the five I'd been doing.

All of these issues seem to be resolving, along with the pain, now. Which is excellent.

Wednesday will be Workout A -- which doesn't involve split squats. The Step-ups I do with that workout *never* caused me any problems, even when my quads were most weird. Which kind of means I have an extra couple of days off for my legs to recover before I tax them at all again. Hopefully by Saturday, my quads will be even better and more back to normal.

Anyway, we're back to normal -- today's workout was at our usual gym at (approximately) our usual time. It was nice to be back. Next workout is scheduled for Wednesday -- goal for the workout: is to get better at everything, Without hurting my quads.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Workout Seven: Side Plank is much harder!

I love this workout! And I love this workout log book --
it's all handwritten and low tech, which means it's
whatever I need it to be today.
This morning was my first time with re-vamped Workout B -- as with the revamp of workout A, this is basically the same exercises, but this time with free weights and the cable weight machine (for the lat pulldown). (And no ab-machine-I-don't-like.)

After Wednesday's workout, I was worried that I was going to be sore -- I felt really achy after Monday's. If I did I was going to have to rethink something, or a few things, because sore all the time is no way to live your life. But the new recovery program -- a few stretches while still at the gym, a high protein snack when getting home -- and the warmup exercises (some stretches and range of motion exercises after a few minutes on the elliptical machine) made a huge difference. I felt great on Thursday. 

I did the same warmup and recovery stuff today but also did some work with a foam roller today when we got home. (You can see some exercises you can do with a foam roller here.) Using the foam roller is a bit of work, but it's like a massage as you roll over the dense foam. I'm interested to see how I feel tomorrow -- right now (about 6 or 7 hours hours after the workout) I feel awesome. I feel like I worked hard, but there is no achiness at all. 

Today's workout was: 
  • Side Plank -- 2 sets of 30 seconds on each side. (You can see how to do it here, though they call it Side Bridge.) This is another one that doesn't have reps -- just hold the position for 30-45 seconds on each side. It's harder than the front plank, probably because of the asymmetry. The first set I did a "modified"  side plank, where I had my knees on the ground (rather than the side of my foot). I did all 30 seconds in that, so for the second set I did the full side plank. I'm not at all sure of my form with that -- it really is *hard* -- so I'll be working on that lots. 
  • Alternating sets of: 
    • Split Squats (dumbbells) -- 2 sets of 15. Last time I did these with 10 pound weights, but I didn't feel like my form was all that great, so for the first set I backed down to bodyweight only. I did have better form with bodyweight and felt like my body had a better grip on what to do, so I went with 15 pound dumbbells and that was good. Very good -- I worked hard. 
    • Kneeling Lat Pulldowns (cable machine) -- 2 sets of 15. I invaded the province of the Serious Lifters (or at least serious-acting ones) who use the cable machines today. I had to screw up my courage a bit, but I'm glad I did. For one thing the guy using the other side of the machine was pretty nice. For another, I really loved this exercise, though I need to increase the weight next time. You can see about the cable lat pulldowns here, but instead of sitting (with padded bars on the bench to help hold you down), I was kneeling. Kneeling makes it more of a whole-body exercise, which I prefer, and more of a core workout. You can lift more sitting, but work harder in ways that are important to me standing. (Sources are in consensus on this.) Because I'd heard that you can't lift as much with the kneeling pulldowns, I backed down the weight some. I did 45 pounds with the pulldown machine (which is has a seat and the padded bars to hold you down) last time. 30 pounds was way too easy, so I went up to 35 for the second set. Next time I'll go up one more step -- which will be 42.5 lbs.
  • Alternating sets of:
    • Deadlifts -- 2 sets of 15. Instead of using dumbbells this time, I used a fixed-weight barbell, which was a little easier to wrangle. I used a 30 pound barbell, which is the same weight as the two 15lb dumbbells I'd used before. I was thinking of taking the weight up a notch, but I wanted to work more quickly today (more on this below) and decided to stay at the same weight. I liked the barbell (much easier to wrangle) but next time I think I need to move up a notch. (Though from 30 lbs to 40 lbs is quite a big leap, so we'll see how that goes.)
    • Shoulder Presses -- I planned to do 2 sets of 15, but was a little aggressive with the weights so I wound out doing 1 set of 15 and 1 set of 11. When I did these on Monday, I used 10lb dumbbells and thought it was a bit light maybe. So I went with 15lb dumbbells today. The first set was *hard* -- I barely eked out the 15 reps. I thought about backing down to 10lb dumbbells for the second set but decided I'd rather see what I could do with the 15lbs. Only doing 11 was okay, given the situation. I'll go with 15s again next time and see if I do better. (I bet I will!)
After the weights, I did my Intervals of Insanity again. Goodness, I love those. Once again it was five rounds of 20 seconds of insanely all-out effort on the elliptical machine followed by 40 seconds of easy going. This time it was five *full* 20 second stretches though (Wednesday it was more like four and a half and on Monday I missed a few seconds of one). I thought about doing a sixth, even got started on it, but after like five seconds I was done. My legs were wobbling. 

One of the big changes today was that I moved faster when lifting. I've been extremely deliberate with the weights -- pausing after each rep for a beat or two before doing the next one. I thought that was what you were supposed to do (for some reason). Sources indicated that not only is that not necessary, it is really not as good because one doesn't tire one's muscles as effectively. So I was consciously working more quickly today -- I still took rests between sets, but I didn't stop to reset (or even pause) between reps. I liked that a lot -- I could feel the difference in how I was working my muscles. 

Unfortunately, the faster work wasn't reflected in how long it took me to do my workout. Patrick wound out having to wait for me. I think he did 45 minutes on the elliptical (he was doing a cardio day) and he probably waited another 15. I suspect I'll get quicker as I get more confident and comfortable. As I get more familiar with my warmup sequence, that will get faster too.

All in all, it was another excellent time in the gym. I really love the two Workouts I've built. I'm figuring I'll do these for another four or five times each, then move on to new challenges. I don't think I need to do any more tinkering with these, though.

Next workout is scheduled for Monday. I'll be doing Workout A -- plank, squats, bent-over rows, step ups, and pushups. I'm looking forward to it. I've already got my first set weights picked, though I need to figure out how I want to make the step ups more challenging (given that there's only one height of steps at our gym). Goal for the workout: Keep getting better!