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. 

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