Monday, September 28, 2015

Workout F #1: Oh, yeah!! (I feel like the Kool-Ade Man) (Workout 28)

My first time with Workout F was a success -- I need to make
some things harder. But the Step Ups are killers. 
I did well with my first time with Workout F for real. As with Workout E, my practice run-through to work out the kinks and figure out what to do with my arms and legs (last Wednesday) was a *huge* help. Though once again, I did have to adjust some of the starting weights I worked out last Wednesday. I'm okay with that. 

There's a guy who is there on weekday evenings -- he's a middle-aged guy, maybe a bit older than me, and he's usually either back working on the abs benches (in the area where I warm up) or on the cable machines. He does these huge, two arm, two cable machine things that just impress me immensely. He's also been quite helpful and nice -- he taught me how to move the adjustable pulleys (lift up a little, then pull the pin out to move them). I don't know if he even recognizes me, he's pretty well in his own space when he's working, but he's kind of an inspiration. Maybe someday a novice lifter will be there and I'll be able to help and they'll see what I'm doing and be inspired to keep going. 

Sorry about the digression. I had a kind of trying day at work (computer issues on a day when I didn't have the time for computer issues) and it was nice to see a familiar and friendly face at the gym. Of course, the most familiar and most friendly face was Patrick, who was back to lifting weights after a couple of weeks off (for too-much-work and a cold). I love walking through the gym and being able to say "hi" as I walk by him. And warming up on the elliptical machine next to him. That makes it all much much nicer. 

There are links to videos of many of these exercises in the Workouts E and F #0 post.

Today's workout was:

  • Cross-body Mountain Climbers - 2 x 10, 20. My plan was to do 10 of these, but that was way too easy and way too quick. Like exercisus interruptus. For the second set, I did 20, which was better, but still too easy. I'm thinking of either going up to 30 next time or going for two sets of as many as possible in 30 seconds. 
  • Elevated Explosive Pushups - 2 x 8 - I think the railing I used today was lower than the bar on whichever machine I was nearest (maybe the triceps press machine) because these were a lot harder than they were last Wednesday. I did two sets of 8, but only just barely. The high end of the target range (10) would have been entirely out of the question.  
  • Alternating sets of:
    • Dumbbell Front Squat - 3 x 10, 12, 12 - I was absolutely right about the 15lb weights for these. Having the weight that far above my center of gravity really increases the challenge. It also makes the need for really perfect form that much more necessary, so I have to totally concentrate on squatting by pushing my hips back but keeping my chest as up as possible and my upper arms parallel to the floor. So it's a mental strain as much as it is a physical one. The reason I did ten on the first set is that's how many I was doing in Workouts C and D and I'm used to going to 10. It's going to take a little while to get my brain used to going to 12. 
    • Rear Lateral Raises - 3 x 10, 12, 12 - Last Wednesday, I figured these for 5lb dumbbells, which is almost sort of embarrassing. I mean they feel so light when I'm carrying them. Almost like nothing. And the first set (when I only did 10), they really felt too light. So for the second set I went up to 10lbs and that was too much -- well, I made my reps, but I couldn't have made them for all three sets. Probably not for two. For the third set I went back to 5 lbs and with 12 reps that felt pretty good. I'll start with 5 next time and see if it feels too light. I bet it will. (Or maybe I hope it will.) 
  • Alternating sets of: 
    • Step Ups to Weight Bench - 3 x 12 - Oh, my stars, y'all! These are hard! That's a high step (the weight bench is only a couple of inches below my knee) and the surface is padded and therefore a bit wobbly and unstable. This is in the program as a hamstring exercise, but with that high a step it hits my quads like crazy as *well*, so my thighs are getting it front and back. Yowzers!! With the high step, I don't need anything more than my body weight. Probably for *months*. 
    • Single-Arm Cable Chest Press - 3 x 12 - I worked through these last Wednesday to get clear on how my arms move and where my legs should be, but I did't quite get to it feeling like I was getting it right. I think I figured out that I was not lined up quite right with the machine. (The pulleys are on a hinge that lets them swing side to side and it would seem like it should be pretty much the same if I've swung to the side so I am out of someone else's way. In practice, it seems to make a big difference with these, though not with the Coordination Rows or the Reverse Lunge and Cable Rows (see below).) The third set, I finally felt like I was doing them just right -- the main trick is to have the pulley stick straight out and to have the weight straight behind me. Once I did it right, it felt like I need to raise the weight. I did these at 15 lbs today. I'll go up to 17.5 next time and see if I want to go up more. 
  • Reverse Lunge and Cable Row - 3 x 12 - I did these at 20 lbs and found them quite hard. This is one of those whole-body, coordination exercises that are so good for me and so challenging for me. This one requires doing a reverse lunge, a move I've done plenty with dumbbells, while maintaining tension on the cable machine line, then doing a single-arm row as I stand back up. Multiple muscles moving at once, in the right order, producing a coordinated response. These are not as hard as the Coordination Rows (at least I don't have to balance on one foot) but they're taking some getting used to. Once I get the move down, I should be able to raise the weight, but 20 lbs was pretty good for now. This actually puts a fair amount of work on the stabilizer muscles in my back to keep the weight from pulling me forward and out of shape for the lunges. 
  • Cardio Intervals - 9 x 20:40 Intervals of Insanity on the elliptical machine. I was so wiped out from the Step Ups and figuring out what the heck I was doing with the Reverse Lunge and Cable Rows, that I didn't want to have to think about what I was doing with these. So I went for the elliptical, which has the big benefit of being very un-complicated. (There's a timer om the machine, I start each interval at the start of a minute and go for 20 seconds. I don't have to think much.) They went a little better than they have been, which I was kind of not expecting given how tired my quads already were from the Step Ups. 
It was a good, hard, sweaty workout and I loved it. Some of the exercises are brutally hard but there's definitely room for some of them to get harder, which is *good*. I want it to get harder and to keep getting better. I'm not putting myself under the pressure I had in Phase 2 to be improving either the weight or the number of reps or *something* every workout, but I don't want to just cruise here either. If it's not hard enough, it needs to be harder. Enough said.

Next workout is scheduled for Wednesday. Goal for the Workout: Make Workout E work when the gym is  going to be *crowded*. It worked great when the gym was empty, but I'm still a little concerned about how the logistics are going to work out when it's full. (Though I think it would have worked out okay tonight. I think.)

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Workout E #1: Good start! Good stuff! (Workout 27)

Workout log for my first go with Workout E. I wound out
raising some of my starting weights and did really well. 
My first go with Workout E went really well -- there were no logistical problems and it was very smooth all the way through. Of course that was helped by the fact that the gym wasn't very crowded at all because around noon today. It might be a little more challenging on a busy weekday evening. I'll find out Wednesday. I'm not sure I have an awesome backup plan if it's going to be difficult to find a spot on the cable machine on a weekday evening -- maybe switch to Romanian deadlifts to alternate with the scaption and shrug, so I'm still working hamstrings and glutes but doing it with free weights. Anyway, I'll burn that bridge if I come to it.

Today it went excellently and I was very pleased. I worked really hard and even moved up some of the starting weights I'd worked out the other day. Most of them were just right, though. I'm not going to be so aggressive pushing the weights this phase -- this phase is about feeling athletic, coordinated and like I'm good at this. Pushing the weights up every time I make my reps won't serve that. Though I'm not going to let the weights get too light for me.

There are links to videos of many of these exercises in my previous post.

Today's workout was:

  • Half-Kneeling Cable Chop - 2 x 10 - As I mentioned after Wednesday's test run-through workout, this is a core stability exercise. The whole point is to hold one's core stable as the arms move the weight across and in front of the body. I wasn't sure I felt like this was doing much on Wednesday when I was doing it at 20 lbs. I went up to 25 lbs today, to put a bit more work on my core. This is a core stability exercise, but your *arms* are moving the weight. I'm not sure that I'll be able to raise the weights too quickly because that was about as much as my arms could take this time. 
  • Dumbbell Squat Jump - 2 x 8 - I did these with a pair of 20 lb dumbbells (this time, they'll come back around again later). They are a lot like work and the extra weight really does make a difference. I did go to the full reps with these - my range was 6-8 - so I'll go for 25 lb dumbbells next time. 
  • Alternating sets of: 
    • Cable Pull-Throughs - 3 x 12 - These felt really weird the other day and I wound out with the weight *very* low (20lbs), especially compared to the 60lbs (two 30lb dumbbells) I'd been doing Romanian deadlifts with in Workout B. They felt a little less weird today and I felt like I had a better sense of what I was doing, so I was able to move the weight up some. I wound out doing all three sets at 30lbs. I'll probably go up to 35 next time since I didn't have any real trouble with making my reps at 30lbs. 
    • Scaption and Shrug - 3 x 12, 12, 11 - These are *hard*, y'all. Hard. I need to work on remembering to keep my shoulder blades back where they belong with these, rather than rounding my shoulders. It makes raising the 10lb dumbbells harder, but it's better for my shoulders and back. The shrug at the end is kind of a killer too. I barely made 12 in my second set and just couldn't do it in my third. So 10 lbs is the right weight here. 
  • Alternating sets of: 
    • Offset-loaded Reverse Lunges - 3 x 12 - I never really felt like the offset load did much with the Step-ups I was doing in Workout D -- it felt like it was increasing the resistance but I didn't feel any sort of core challenge with it. These really do feel a lot more challenging with the weight unbalanced and I have to work to not wobble. The middle set I was barely able to do 12, but did better with the third set, possibly because my form was a little better. I did have a little hint of the quad problems I was having way back in August -- like an excessive stretch on the down-leg -- but I didn't hurt myself and didn't have any real problems with it. I need to do some extra stretching between now and Monday. I used one 25lb dumbbell and I'll stick at that weight at least one more time. 
    • Kneeling Cable Lat Pulldown - 3 x 12 - I used the bar with the good grip width for these, so I was able to do 72.5 lbs for 12 reps each set. It's the same weight I've been using, but with two extra reps each set, which makes a difference. It was still a good weight today. I might move up to 75 lbs next time (because I can raise the cable-machine weights in 2.5 lb increments). 
  • Coordination Rows (Single-Leg, Single-Arm Cable Rows) - 3 x 12 - This is a *lot* more of these than I've been doing. I'd been doing 2 sets of 10. But this isn't exactly a strenuous exercise though it is a very difficult one for me. I have to say I did really well with it today. This thing requires coordination and balance and muscles moving in concert with one another and in the right order and I'm slowly, but noticeably improving. I'm not yet up to being able to go through a whole set balanced on one foot, but I got through *half* of the first two before I had to put my foot down to keep my balance. When I started I couldn't do a single row. I'm still at 15 lbs -- I figure that sometime in December I'll be to the point of working on increasing the weight with these. (The first goal with these is to do all the reps with good form, which means remaining balanced on one foot throughout the set. The second goal is to establish a rhythm and then speed up the rhythm so it's smooth and fast. The third goal is to make the movement powerful by really firing your hips and pulling on the cable hard. The *fourth* goal is to then start increasing the weight. After a month, I'm still not close to the first goal.) 
  • Cardio Intervals - 10 x 20:40 Intervals of Insanity -- (Just a reminder: that means I did 10 rounds of 20 seconds of all-out, crazy intense effort followed by 40 seconds of rest.) I've been wanting to move away from doing these on the elliptical machine, because my legs become the weak point and I really want to work my cardiovascular system with these. Today I did alternating Insanity Intervals of Jumping Jacks and Squat Jumps. I need to figure out something to do to keep moving at least a little during the rest period -- on the elliptical I don't stop during the rest period, I just go into an easy cruising speed. The Jumping Jacks weren't too intense at first, but I went really fast with them which helped. The Squat Jumps (body weight only, I was too tired by that point to be jumping around with weights in my hands) were hard right from the start - I've got a fair amount of body weight to be launching even a little bit into the air. I was worried after the first couple of rounds because it hadn't been too tough. But as I went on, it just kept building and getting harder. By the end it was great. As these things always are. 
It was an excellent workout and I really feel like the time I spent Wednesday working out How To Do These New Things totally paid off. I didn't have much of the Baby Giraffe Awkwardness while I was working out today, which let me focus on what I was doing and making sure I was doing it with good form. And on how it *feels* -- I like the feel of my muscles working and moving, even when they're hitting the limit of  what they can do.

Next workout is scheduled for Monday. It'll be my first time with Workout F and I'm excited. Looking over it, Workout F is going to be a total snap as far as  the geography of the gym goes, which is nice. It would be nice if they both were, but it's good that one is. :D Goal for the workout: Kick off Workout F with gusto and awesomeness!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Workouts E #0 and F #0: Working through the new stuff (Workout 26)

I don't have a page in my workout log today, so I took a post-workout
picture of  myself. Sweaty hair and all. 
I wanted to take a day off of working out between Phase 2 (which I finished on Monday) and Phase 3 (which I'll start on Saturday). But I wanted to do it without actually skipping a trip to the gym. What I decided to do was to work through one set of each exercise in both of the Phase 3 workouts (E and F). I figured it would let me figure out where there are going to be what I think of as "gym geography" problems with the workouts (and I did find some and need to do some re-thinking). I also wanted to get past the baby giraffe awkwardness of doing Entirely New Things With My Limbs. It did both of those things and I was able to get at least a reasonable starting weight for everything.

So, here's what I learned today. 

Workout E
  • Cable Half-Kneeling Chop - plan is 2 x 10 - I'd like to be able to post a link to a video of this one, but there isn't one on my usual resource ( This is a core stability exercise that requires you to hold your core still while moving weight with your arms and shoulders. I'm not sure how I felt about this one -- I didn't feel awkward exactly, just wasn't sure I was working what I wanted to be. I'm happy to stick with this. This will be the first exercise after my warmups and I'm doing it by itself (not as part of an alternating set) so it shouldn't pose too many logistical problems.  
  • Jump Squats - plan is 2 x 6-8 - You can see a similar video here. (The video is without weight and I may be holding a pair of dumbbells at my sides, but that's the only difference.) This is an exercise to develop explosive power in my lower body. I was doing unweighted jump squats for most of Phase 2 and added dumbbells to keep the difficulty up. I'm thinking of seeing if I can somehow increase the difficulty without actually adding weights just because of geographical considerations. In either case this is a familiar exercise and one that works me hard. 
  • Alternating sets: 
    • Cable Pull-Through - plan is 3 x 12 - You can see a video here. As the New Rules of Lifting For Life (one of our key references) says, it looks kind of indecent, but I think it's going to be a good exercise. This is a hamstring/glute exercise, so it's working the same muscles as the Romanian Deadlifts (the ones I did in Phase 1) but feels very different. I think it's because the cable machine provides a different sort of resistance to the dumbbells. Anyway, because these are working the same muscles as the Romanian Deadlifts, I figured I'd be at about the same weight I was for those, which was 60 pounds. Hah! I'm going to be starting these at 20 lbs. Seriously. It feels that different.
    • Scaption and Shrug - plan is 3 x 12 - This is another one where doesn't have a good video. This is a shoulder exercise replacing the shoulder presses that I've stalled out on. Basically one starts with weights at arms' length at your sides, then raise them with your arms at a 30degree angle. Once your arms are parallel to the ground, shrug your shoulders up. Then lower everything down. I'm going to be starting these at 10 pounds -- they're a lot more work than it seems like they should be. I can get a pair of dumbbells to take to the cable machine area so this shouldn't be too tricky unless there's such a crowd at the cable machine that I don't want to leave the station I've claimed for myself (doing the chops) to go get a pair of dumbbells. I need to come up with a backup plan in case that happens.
  • Alternating sets: 
    • Offset-loaded Dumbbell Reverse Lunges - plan 3 x 12 - You can see a video of a basic reverse lunge here. I'll be holding a single dumbbell on the side of the working (up) leg to add to the resistance and to add some extra work for my core maintaining balance. I've been using a pair of 30 lb dumbbells for reverse lunges (total of 60 lbs), so I figured that I could use a single 35lb  dumbbell as a starting point. I was wrong. This is another one that's more difficult than expected -- I'll be starting at 25 lbs. 
    • Kneeling Lat Pulldowns - plan 3 x 12 - These are exactly the same lat pulldowns as I've been doing. I've gotten comfortable enough with the 72.5 lb weight I've been doing, that I think I can do two more reps per set at it and will start there. 
  • Coordination Rows - plan 3 x 12 - These are the same cable machine Single-arm, Single-leg Cable Rows that I've been doing, only doing more of them. I'm absolutely crazy about the fact that I'm getting noticeably better at these. 
The concern with this workout is not that there are four exercises on the cable machine. The concern is that the other exercises in the alternating sets with the cable machine exercises use dumbbells of different weights. I don't want to be a rude gym-goer and lay claim to all the weights I need for the whole workout, when I don't really need them the whole time. When I went through these exercises this evening, I didn't even try to work in the proper order -- I did everything on the cable machines together. But I think that was just me being shy because there were plenty of empty stations I could have used. I think I don't need to worry too much. (Fortunately neither the scaption nor the reverse lunges use a huge weight, so I won't have a punishing farmer's walk to put the weights back this time.) 

Workout F
  • Cross-body Mountain Climbers - plan is 2 x 10. You can see a video of regular mountain climbers here. I'm adding an extra bit of twist component bringing my knee to the opposite elbow. Watching the video was very helpful, because now I know I need to do these fast, which may be a help because they were kinda not too challenging this evening and I was a little worried about them. This is a core stability exercise maintaining stability in the face of movement like the Chops in Workout E. 
  • Elevated Explosive Push-ups - plan is 2 x 8 - 10. There's no good video, alas. I'm sure you can picture explosive push-ups -- where you push up so hard and explosively that your hands come off the ground. I can't do even regular push-ups on the ground, of course, so I'll be doing these at a waist high bar to start. This is an explosive upper-body power exercise. 
  • Alternating sets of:
    • Dumbbell Front Squats - plan is 3 x 12. You can see a video of someone doing front squats with kettlebells (instead of dumbbells) here, but the gist is totally the same. This is a variation of something I've been doing all along. I knew intellectually (and from book learnin') that having the weights so far above my center of gravity would make a difference, but I didn't know how much of one. I've been doing regular dumbbell squats with two 35lb dumbbells. I started with 30lbs for these, aware of the increased difficulty, but couldn't even do one good rep. I moved down the dumbbell rack and finally settled on 15lbs as being the right weight for these, at least for the first time. They really are that much more demanding. 
    • Rear Lateral Raise - plan is 3 x 12. You can see a video of someone doing the same move with their arms while lying on an inclined weight bench here. I'll be doing them standing, because doing so makes them less of an isolation exercise. This is another new exercise entirely, replacing the rows for a time. I had no idea how hard these would be or how much weight I'd be able to lift this way. The answer is "almost none". My starting weight is going to be 5 lbs. Sigh. Ah well, the advantage of starting out so lame is that I've nowhere to go but up. 
  • Alternating sets of: 
    • High Step-up - plan is 3 x 12. I've been doing step-ups all along -- first onto a step box then (when those became unavailable) onto the deck of a treadmill. Having to hike over to the treadmills for these sets has been something of a logistical headache. For Phase 3 I'm going to be doing these onto a weight bench -- so a much higher step up. I'm not going to be using any weights to start because that high step (onto a padded and slightly squishy/unstable surface, I might add) is, honestly, enough of a difficulty increase. At least to start out. Stepping up onto a weight bench is going to eliminate a whole lot of geographical awkwardness because there's always a stray bench or two back near the cable machines . I think I'm going to be really pleased with these. 
    • Single-Arm Cable Chest Press- plan is 3 x 12 - You can see a video of someone doing cable chest presses with both arms at once here, but I'll be doing one arm at a time. This is another one where I was kind of surprised by how low I'm going to be starting my weight at, 20 lbs. total. And by how different moving weight around feels with the cable machine. It took me a few tries to get comfortable with what I'm doing but I think they'll work out pretty well. And, since I'm doing the explosive push-ups, I figured I could do something completely new for my chest.
  • Reverse Lunge and Cable Row -- plan is 3 x 12. There's no video of this. It's a combination exercise, like the coordination rows, specifically designed to train multiple muscle groups to work together with one another in coordinated ways. Anything that trains coordination is extremely sorely needed for me. I tried to work through the baby giraffe stage on these but I don't think I quite made it. I'll probably need to have the instructions with me for a few times just to make sure I'm getting it. 
I want to do something else for my cardio Intervals of Insanity -- the elliptical machine hasn't been working as well for that as I'd like for a while. I explored the Arc Trainer, which seemed like it might be something I can do Insanity on, though I didn't love it. I also tried the stair machines. I'm not sure how I'd modulate the intensity to get the Insanity effect of 20 seconds of full-on effort followed by 40 seconds of recovery. 

Other options include something like jumping jacks or split jacks. I still need to explore. 

Next workout is scheduled for Saturday. Goal is for Workout E to start awesomely! 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Workout D #6: That was a great finish!! (Workout 25)

That was such a great workout!! Sweaty
and hard but so awesome! 
Well, my goal was to finish Phase 2 and Workout D strong today and I totally did! That was a great workout -- the weights on basically every exercise (except the shoulder presses which have been really hard) hit that wonderful point where they were Just Right and it's almost like everything is singing. It's hard to describe, but it's a great feeling. 

I'm really happy to have had such a fantastic experience as my last go 'round with this workout. Phase 3 will have more reps per set (and more overall) and one more exercise per workout and some new things, so finishing strong makes me feel really good. 

I can feel myself better and stronger and healthier. Love it! 

Today's workout was: 
  • Spiderman Plank - 2 x 10 - If I were going to be doing these in Phase 3, I'd have to figure out a way to make them harder because it's time to take these up a notch. I went fast, alternating legs, concentrating on keeping my butt down and it was so good. :D I like these and will definitely keep them as something to keep in mind in future rotations. 
  • Coordination Rows (Single-leg, Single-arm Cable Rows) - 2 x 10 - I'm still working at 15 pounds because increasing the weight is the *last* goal with these. I am absolutely getting better with these. Today I did five in each set with each leg without having to touch my foot down. When I started, I could barely get through one. I'm continuing with these. 
  • Alternating sets of: 
    • Offset-loaded Step Ups - 3 x 10 - I was back at our "home" gym, so I did the step-ups onto the deck of a treadmill (because they won't let folks use the otherwise unused step boxes in the 30-minute circuit area). I think it is higher than the step boxes though. Certainly this felt like a good workout -- I used a 35lb weight again, held on the side of my working leg. This was the first time I really felt the extra core workout of the offset load -- I could feel myself stabilizing myself against the weight. 
    • Shoulder Press - 3 x 10, 10, 8 - I have been using 20 lbs with these for ages and don't feel like I'm making progress with them. I *think* my form is good, and I'm certainly not hurting myself, I'm just not getting anywhere. These are not going to be in Phase 3 -- I think I need to give them a break and try some other shoulder exercise. 
  • Alternating sets of: 
    • Squats - 3 x 10 - I used a pair of 35 lb dumbbells for these and just felt good doing it. I worked hard and just felt like I was making some sort of music with the weights. (Not a good metaphor, but I don't know how else to describe it -- it's like doing something hard and doing it well and feeling how good it is.) Anyway, was good. :D
    • Kneeling Lat Pulldowns (cable-machine) - 3 x 10 - I'm still at 72.5 pounds with these, because I've been learning the lesson that how wide my grip is makes a *huge* difference for a while. Today I used the handle that has the slightly wider than shoulder width grip. That's the good grip that lets me move 72.5 lbs without feeling like I'm trying to do it all with my triceps, which just aren't that strong. It was so good! I totally felt like I was working my back as I wanted to and it was just perfect. 
  • Cardio Intervals - 7 x 20:40 Intervals of Insanity on the elliptical machine. I've come to the conclusion that Patrick is right -- this is not a machine that really works the quads. Quads pull the leg forward, hamstrings pull it back. That said, I absolutely feel this in my quads and it just *kills* them. No, it makes no sense. Anyway, after the seventh of the Insanity Intervals my legs just wouldn't do it anymore. That was it. 
As always with workout D, the hardest "exercise" is not even on the official workout list -- the Farmer's Walk (which is basically a walk holding a weight) from the back corner where the cable machines are to the front where the weight racks are. After I've done 3 sets of squats and 3 sets of pulldowns, carrying the weights is *hard*.

For Phase 3, most of these exercises are going to be continuing, but not all of them. I mentioned already that I won't be doing Shoulder Presses again (for a while, at least). I'm going to try again to do the Squats as Front Squats -- so the load will be above my center of gravity. The Step-ups I'm either going to do raising my "non-working" knee as high as I can with each step OR step up onto a weight bench (which is considerably higher). The weight bench would be more convenient, but might be a bit too high for me. The Spiderman Planks are going to be replaced with a different core exercise.

Next workout is scheduled for Wednesday, I'm planning on mostly working out the logistics of Workouts E and Fe and trying to ensure that I have a clue what I'm doing with them. So it will be an easy workout lifting wise, but have plenty of challenges. :D Goal -- Kick Phase 3's butt, or at least get it off to a great start! 

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Workout C #6: Early Morning Sweat! (Workout 25)

I got up and worked out before breakfast again. I did really well
and finished Workout C strong. :D
Patrick and I went for a hike today, but I still wanted to lift weights in the morning before we went. After getting really sore and tight after last Saturday's go with Workout C, There were a number of reasons: I was a little nervous about doing it again and didn't want to give in to that. I also want to take a day off between Phase Two (which will finish on Monday) and Phase Three and at the same time to start Phase Three on a Saturday (because we have a little more time for me to figure things out). Finally, we weren't planning on a super-strenuous hike and I didn't want to skimp on working out.

It was a good decision. I was a little bit nervous about it but the workout went really, really well (excellently, in fact) and the hike was no problem at all. 

Today's workout was: 
  • Side Plank - 2 x 40 seconds - This went really well today. I finally seem to be getting a handle on the slipping problem I've been having all along with these. I'm glad about that because when I start Phase 3, I'll be leaving the Side Planks for a while. I'm glad to finish them strong. :D 
  • Jump Squats - 2 x 10 - I used 15 lb weights this time. I'll go up to 20s next time, though I was definitely getting tired by the end of each of the sets, which is as it should be. I think these are definitely helping me feel more able to move quickly if I want or need to. I like that. 
  • Alternating sets of: 
    • Reverse Lunges - 3 x 10 - I used 30 lb weights for this again (the second time at that weight). I *believe* I did 3 sets of 10. The last set I sort of lost count and got confused -  I know I did 10 on the right side, but I'm not sure whether or not I did 10 on the left side. I think so. But I definitely spent a few seconds just all of a sudden wondering. Oops. 
    • 3-Point Rows (Single-leg, Single-arm Rows) - 3 x 10 - I used a 30 lb weight on these as well. This was definitely the Right Weight - I hit that nice sing when the weight is right and it feels like work but not like strain. I'm pleased because this was also my last time doing rows and I love that Right Weight feeling.
  • Alternating sets of:
    • Dumbbell Deadlifts - 3 x 10 - I was really particularly worried about these because last time I did these (with 40 lb weights), I tweaked my back a little and I wound out stiffening up all over for a couple of days. It was no fun. Today, they went just fine, no strain on my back at all and I did them very well. I didn't need to worry. 
    • Pushups - 3 x 10, 9, 10 - Like the lat pulldowns, this is another exercise where it makes a huge how far apart my hands are. Too narrow and they're *really* hard (and I can only do nine in a set). A bit wider than shoulder width apart and they're good -- I can do 10 but absolutely no more. That's a good place to be. 
  • Cardio -- I didn't do any Intervals of Insanity today. Instead, in the afternoon, Patrick and I went down to Calvert Cliffs State Park and went on a 4.7 mile hike. It was lovely. and we had a great time. 
    Us on the beach at Calvert Cliffs
So I achieved my goal of finishing with Workout C strong. I'm very glad about that. Phase 2 has been kind of difficult -- the book (The New Rules of Lifting for Life by Lou Schuler and Alwyn Cosgrove) says that you should be increasing something -- either the weight or the "volume" of lifting -- each workout. I think that pressure had me maybe increasing the weights too much (because I didn't want to increase the number of reps per set and couldn't increase the number of sets) and maybe putting a little too much strain on myself. 

Our travel buddy, Wilson the Bison, with the Calvert Cliffs
behind him. And the Chesapeake Bay.
I have pretty much worked out Workouts E and F, so I'm ready to go there. I'm going to be making some pretty big changes -- swapping in some completely different exercises. The Workout C  exercises that are going to be swapped out for a while are deadlifts (any version of them), rows (any version) and side plank. I'm going to be doing a cable-machine lift (called a "cable pull through") instead of the deadlifts, a raise (one that works the back instead of the rows), and a different core thing instead of the side plank. I'm also going to be radically changing the pushups -- I'll be doing an "explosive pushup", where I actually push so hard my hands come off the support, instead of the regular ones. So I'll be probably back to the hip-high bar instead of the window sill.

There's also going to be a lot of reassorting and re-shuffling, so the pairings of which muscles get worked in alternating sets change. That just keeps my body on its toes and therefore is a Good Thing.

Next workout is scheduled for Monday. I can't actually think of any reason why it won't happen Monday, but who knows. It should be my last time with Workout D and I'm hoping to finish that one strong as well. The only exercise I'm really worried about is the shoulder presses -- I'm not making an progress with those and the weight still hasn't gotten to that Right Weight feeling (though I've been at 20 lbs for all of Phase 2). Goal for the Workout -- This will be my last time with Workout D and the last workout of Phase 2, I want to end both really strong and happy. 

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Workout D # 5: Visiting a Strange Gym (Workout 24)

Worked out at a different gym, which always makes it
weird. But it went well. 
I worked out at a different Planet Fitness gym than usual last night (because reasons), which always makes it a little weird -- not in a bad way, necessarily, just in an "I don't know where things are and I don't know these faces and I don't know what the local customs are" kind of way. It worked out better in one important way because I could use the step boxes instead of a treadmill for Step Ups. That was cool. On the other hand, I had to work in a different order (and thought I would have to skip the Coordination Rows altogether) because of a traffic jam at the cable machines.

It was also nice that the dumbbell rack is right near the cable machines at this gym, so I didn't have to take a walk with two 35lb dumbbells.

It was a good workout and I feel great today. I felt great yesterday evening too, which seems to be the norm for me after lifting weights. (That's not really not the norm after running -- after running I'm stiff and creaky for days. I just figured it was normal.)

Yesterday's workout was:

  • Spiderman Plank - 2 x 10 - I was looking at the instructions for these the other day (part of sorting out Workouts E and F) and realized that I've been doing them wrong in a way that's caused most of the slipping problem I've been having with them. I've been doing all the left leg reps, then all the right leg reps. The instructions suggest doing them alternately. Alternately worked a *lot* better because I was able to reset my foot every time and that nipped the slipping right in the bud. I had to focus on keeping my butt down, which makes it a much better workout. Good stuff made even better. 
  • Alternating sets of :
    • Offset-loaded Step Ups - 3 x 10 - I used a 35 lb weight for this for (I think) the first time. I was able to use the step boxes at this other Planet Fitness because they're the allow you to use the step boxes in the 30-minute circuit area even when you're not doing the 30-minute circuit workout. I asked before I started to make sure it would be okay and they seemed surprised that our home gym doesn't allow it. (Judy-who-says-no strikes again, I think.)  
    • Shoulder Presses - 3 x 10 - I'm still using the 20 lb weight that I've been using for weeks (the entirety of Phase 2 and maybe even before) and still feeling like it's almost too much for me. I'm thinking of dropping down to 15lbs for these (or finding a different "push" exercise entirely) for Phase 3 because I'm just not sure I'm getting the right stuff out of this one. The last set I was only able to do 9 with my left arm, but 10 with the right. 
  • Alternating sets of: 
    • Squats - 3 x 10 - I used a pair of 35lb dumbbells for this. I should probably move up, but this still feels good. I was able to work fast, too which really had me feeling like I was firing my quads hard. There was a neat crispness to the movement that I liked. 
    • Kneeling Lat Pulldowns (cable machine) - 3 x 10, 9, 8 - They had different handles to attach to the cable machine at the other gym I was at, so I'm not sure I found the right grip that makes Lat Pulldowns with 72.5lbs feel Just Right. I had the grip that works my triceps more and really reveals the difference in  strength between my (weaker) left arm and (stronger) right. 
  • Coordination Rows (Single-leg, single-arm cable rows) - 2 x 10 - I wound out doing these last (rather than after the Spiderman Planks) because of a traffic jam at the cable machines. I was afraid I wasn't going to have enough room to do them (they take a lot of floor space because I wind out on one leg in a sort of T-shape (one leg out behind me with that arm stretched out in front) connected to the machine by the cable, plus the wobble component of me going off to the sides) but a lot of people had finished their workouts and there was enough free space for me to do my thing in. They really are getting better , though I still really stink at them. I think I used 20 lbs yesterday (because it was either that or 10 the way the weight plates were on that machine), but the weight has always been almost entirely trivial to these, so I'm neither concerned nor jazzed about the change. 
  • Cardio Intervals - 6 x 20:40 Intervals of Insanity - My quads were still pretty beaten up from running (though I've been trying to stretch them out this week at work) so my legs wouldn't let me do another round even though my cardiopulmonary system was doing fine. It was disappointing but that's kind of what I'm running into. I really need to figure out something else to do for the Intervals of Insanity for Phase 3 -- the elliptical just isn't working for that for me any longer. 
It was a good workout and aside from some "I work at a desk and on a computer all day" tightness in my upper back (which is pretty normal for me, especially lately), I feel great. Better than I have since Saturday's kick-my-butt workout.

Which is very happy making. Now I'm in a good frame of mind to buckle down and get my Phase 3 workouts sorted -- I've only got one more time with each of Workouts C and D before it's time to move on and I'm not ready at all.

Next workout is a little up in the air -- it might be Saturday, though if we're going on a hike it won't be (probably, though not certainly). If it's not Saturday it'll be Monday. That's for sure. It'll be the last time with Workout C so my goal is to finish strong!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Run Seventy-Three: No really, a run! :D

I went for a run around the lake this evening --
it was such a beautiful evening! 
Patrick decided to stay home from the gym today on account of still being a bit sore from last week (he's starting to do a "heavy" week every couple of weeks where he'll lift higher weights for fewer reps and he over-did it a bit). It's an incredibly gorgeous evening here -- perfect temperature and sunny and clear -- so I decided to go for a run instead of going to the gym by myself. 

Especially as I'm a little creaky and sore my own self after Saturday's workout -- which didn't seem like that much more than the previous time, but absolutely tied me in knots. I figured it would be fun to run again and see if the weight-lifting is making anything like a difference in my running. I was maybe a little bit disappointed to find that it really didn't make a huge difference. Huh. I'd've figured that stronger legs would be good and the fact that I can deal with the Intervals of Insanity driving my heart rate up over 180 would help. 

Things I learned on this, my first run since July 22: 
  • Running hurts my lungs in ways that lifting, and even the Intervals of Insanity, doesn't. I come home from the gym after a lifting workout absolutely soaked in sweat, having given everything I have to give, but I don't have the hurty-lungs-cough-post-exercise asthma (that I couldn't replicate for the allergist, by the way). One fairly easy run and I do. I'm not sure if it's the sustained work (though going on the elliptical doesn't seem to do it as much) or something about running specifically. Some experimentation might be in order. (Also some looking back over old posts to look for patterns.) 
  • The custom arch support in my right running shoe, which was *fine* when I first started running, is now awful. It was really hampering my running because it felt like I was stepping on a stone in my arch for most of the way. Kind of miserable. I've actually taken it out and replaced it with the one that came with the shoe. 
  • It wasn't as much of an "I'm taking it easy" evening as I expected -- that worked the hell out of my quads and calves -- but I don't feel like I worked nearly as hard in general, all over, as I would have lifting. Despite the fact that my lungs feel awful. 
  • I should have done my usual post-workout stretches and foam rollering because I can practically feel myself tightening up. Sigh.
On the whole, I think the main lesson is that I'm  pretty happily in a weight lifting place right now. When/If I start running again, I definitely need to talk to the allergist about the post-exercise asthma thing because this lung thing is No Fun.

Next workout is scheduled for Wednesday. I expect I'll be lifting again, even if Patrick isn't going to the gym with me. I feel like I get more out of the weights. Goal for the workout -- rock Workout D, don't hurt, be awesome. 

Workout C # 5: Took a couple of days to recover... (Workout 23)

This was a tough workout -- felt great at the time, but kind of
run over the day after. :D 
Patrick and I worked out Saturday morning first thing, before breakfast even, though we did have a snack to get some carbs into our systems and available for energy.

I worked hard during this workout -- kept my heart rate up the whole time and put a lot of strain on my quads. And pretty much every other part. Workout C is my killer right now -- D seems a little easier. The Coordination Rows are difficult, but I don't *exert* really. (I'm too busy wobbling and trying not to fall.) Workout C is all exertion all the time. 

I did fine with everything *except* the second to last Deadlift in the last set. I didn't have any problem lifting the weight (which is really all quads and glutes), but setting the dumbbells back down I let my form slip just a tad and tweaked my lower back on one side. It wasn't enough to stop me doing my last rep and I didn't have any trouble setting them down the last time. Or putting them away. Or getting through most of the day. But by the end of the day (in which we ran a million errands and went to a mall and so on), my back was just *stiff* and sore. Like I'd slept on it badly. 

Sunday I felt kind of stiff and sore all over -- not just my back (and not at all localized to the bit that had barked at me when setting those dumbbells down) but really everywhere. Which didn't do a lot for my motivation to post (that and being awfully busy) or for my motivation to figure out Workouts E and F which are really coming up quickly -- I start them in a week. 

Anyway, Saturday's workout was: 
  • Side Plank - 2 x 40 - I'm definitely getting stronger at these. I can feel that while I'm doing them even, though the last few seconds are crazy hard. I need to remember to keep my body straight and firm while I'm holding the side plank position, but otherwise, I'm pleased with how these are going. 
  • Jump Squats - 2 x 10 - I held 10 lb dumbbells while I was doing these this time, because they have started seeming a bit easy with just my body weight. I also did more -- 10 rather than 8 each set -- and between the weight and the additional reps I was really working hard on these. Yay! 
  • Alternating sets of:
    • Reverse Lunges - 3 x 10 - I did these with a pair of 30 lb dumbbells. If I remember right that was my second time at that weight -- the first time I had to take big breaks between the left and right sides in each set, which is not optimal. I didn't have to take those breaks on Saturday, so I did better.  I think I've managed to deal with the quad issue that had me struggling with lunges/split squats for a while. I made my reps, but I'm still going to stick with the 30 lb weights next time, because I don't really feel ready to go up to 35lb dumbbells. Also, it's convenient having the same weight for these and the rows. 
    • 3-point Rows - 3 x 10 - I used a 30 lb weight. I remembered what I learned last time -- that I do better if I work my left side first, then the right. It doesn't make a lot of sense, but it is consistent. I'm planning to stick with the same weight next time -- these are still really hard and I don't want to go up too quickly. 
  • Alternating sets of: 
    • Deadlifts - 3 x 10 - I mentioned above that I used a pair of 40lb dumbbells, which were a good, hard, heavy weight for it, but very doable. These really are all quads and glutes and a little bit of upper back just to finish strong and proud I do need to be careful to protect my back, though, when I do these again. I need to remember to keep my quads carrying the load as I set them down.
    • Pushups (I forgot the added "Plus" of the push upwards at the end) - 3 x 10, 9, 9 - I'm still working on the windowsill and not making my reps, so I'm clearly working at the right level. I think the "Plus" actually makes it a little easier to do these because it's almost like a tiny break between reps. Someday I'll be able to move down to a weight bench. Someday...
  • Cardio Intervals - 7 x 20:40 Intervals of Insanity - I raised the level (I think it's a resistance level) on the elliptical machine on Saturday and it actually took some of the work off my quads so I was able to go more insanely cardio-wise without feeling like my  quads were on fire. That was nice. I also burned more calories per minute, so I got to 100 calories about 20 seconds faster. Which was also nice. 
I spent most of yesterday wondering if I was going to feel up to working out tonight or if I was going to still be too sore from yesterday, but two nights of sleeping much of the night with everything all aligned properly (which helps more than I can say) has me doing pretty well. My upper back is still a little tight and I clearly worked the hell out of my quads, but I'm feeling pretty good today. 

Yay!! I really didn't want to miss a workout. 

That said, I'm kind of planning to take a day or two off from lifting between Phase 2 and Phase 3. I didn't when I moved into Phase 1 and I think it was a mistake. I think I could have really used the break to sort of integrate what I'd gotten from Phase 1. It's also possible that we're going hiking this Saturday (if the weather actually winds out as gorgeous as the forecast says), so we'd both skip lifting in exchange for a good, strenuous hike. :D 

Next workout is scheduled for tonight, because I've been so slow posting. I believe it is going to happen, though I reserve the right to bail if it feels bad or like I shouldn't be doing it. Goal for the workout: Go to the gym, do something (either Workout  D or some sweaty cardio time). Do it hard and with enthusiasm. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Workout D #4: Phase 3 is in sight! (Workout 22)

Made all my reps of everything!! Time to move up! 
This was another great workout and I feel like I've done really good things!! I have four more workouts in Phase 2, then it will be time to move on to Phase 3. I'm going to have to do some significant modification of what's in New Rules of Lifting For Life for Phase 3, because I really don't want these workouts to take *longer*. I already take longer than Patrick every time and I don't want to make that worse. I'd also like to maybe take the layout of the gym a bit more into account when planning Phase 3 -- workout C is great as far as that goes, I can do everything with the dumbbells in one corner of the gym. Workout D is silly that way -- I spend a fair amount of time walking around with dumbbells to get the weights I need to the place where I need them. Which is itself an exercise called a "farmer's walk" and it's not a worthless exercise. But not one I really want to be doing. 

I didn't raise the weight on anything today, which does make me kind of sad -- I was going to go up to 35 on the offset-loaded step ups, but all the 35lb dumbbells were in use and I didn't want to wait, so I went with thirty. Next time I want to go up on at least a couple of them, if possible. 

Today's workout was: 
  • Spiderman Plank - 2 x 10 - I did better at staying stable and my feet not slipping doing these today. They're still hard but getting a lot more doable. I finish my sets without collapsing into a puddle at the end. That's some good progress. :D I need to look into how to ramp these up or do a harder exercise. 
  • Coordination Rows - 2 x 10 - (Single-leg, single arm cable rows) My nemesis. I'm getting better at them -- I actually did a few in a row without putting my foot down, which is pretty cool. I've been practicing standing on one foot at work (I have a standing desk) to strengthen the little muscles in ankle and knee that provide support and I think that's helping. That said, this exercise is standing on one foot plus moving which is a whole 'nother ballgame. Anyway, I'm definitely seeing improvement though I'm still miles away from even working on increasing my speed, let alone increasing the weight. Baby steps. 
  • Alternating sets of:
    • Offset-loaded Step Ups - 3 x 10 - As mentioned above, I planned on using a 35 lb weight for this, but went with 30 lbs (the same weight as the last few times) because all the 35lb dumbbells were in use. To keep it hard, I went a lot faster this time. It worked out well and I definitely felt it then (and feel it now) in my quads. Next time I definitely want to go up to 35 lbs. 
    • Shoulder Press - 3 x 10 - I'm not sure why these are so hard and I'm progressing with them so slowly. I've been doing 20 lbs on these for a while, possibly all of Phase 2, and it's still the right weight. I'll stick here next time. I've actually been at 20 lbs for all of Phase 2, it's like I've hit a plateau or something. I might consider doing something else for this push exercise in Phase 3. 
  • Alternating sets of :
    • Dumbbell Squats - 3 x 10 - I did these with 35lb weights again. This is my second time at this weight and it still feels right. Maybe after one more time of these I'll move up to 40 lbs for my last time with this workout. Actually, I like this plan. :D One of the hardest things about these is getting the weights back to where they belong after three sets of these and three sets of the pulldowns. That's a bit of walking with a pair of dumbbells. 
    • Kneeling Lat Pulldowns (cable machine) - 3 x 10 - Last time I did these, I had huge problems because my grip was too wide -- I could barely do 7 or 8 of these at 70lbs with the wider grip. My grip was too wide because I used a different bar on the cable machine. This time I went for my "usual" bar and my usual grip and did three sets of 10 without any trouble. Next time I'll go up to 75, and use my usual bar.  
  • Cardio Intervals - 9 x 20:40 Intervals of Insanity. Still having the quad/cardiopulmonary mismatch on these -- my legs get tired before my heart and lungs, which is pretty much NOT the point. I'm thinking about seeing what happens if I go backward on the machine to rest my quads. There are other possibilities -- I haven't explored the arc glider machine and the treadmill and the stair-machine (which, just shoot me). I'll play around a bit. I want to take a session off from lifting between Phase 2 and Phase 3, because I regret not having done that between Phase 1 and Phase 2 -- that session would be a good time to play around on the cardio machines to find a new one for my insanity intervals. 
Next workout is theoretically scheduled for Saturday -- however, Patrick and I are hoping to go for either a hike or a museum trip on Saturday. So my next workout might be Monday. Or it might be Saturday (if we're museum-ing we may workout first). Or it might be Friday -- I have an appointment after work and might be able to get to the gym between it and when we have some friends over in the evening. Whenever the next workout is the goal for it is to make it as good as my last time with Workout C. 

Monday, September 7, 2015

Workout C #4: Much Weight! Such Lifting! Wow! (Workout 21)

It isn't obvious from the log how awesome this workout was.
You just have to trust me. :D
We had a lovely Labor Day holiday today -- we spent most of the day playing board games with our friend Bill (via Skype). After two unexpected wins (we play cooperative games so all of us win or none of us do), Patrick and I said goodbye to Bill and headed off for the gym for our workout. It was really nice being there when it was so un-crowded. It was almost a pity that I wasn't doing the workout that involves the cable machines because there would have been so little competition for them. 

That said, this was such an amazing workout I refuse to wish that I'd done anything else. It was incredible. I don't really know what made it so great, but it was. I raised the weights on two of the exercises -- the rows and the deadlifts -- and still made my reps on both, which was cool as cool. I did 8 rounds of the insanity. I had sweat dripping off me and running into my eyes. It was really awesome! 

Today's workout was: 
  • Side Plank - 2 x 40 seconds (for the most part) - I did 40 seconds both sides on the first set, 40 seconds on the left side on the second set, but only 32 seconds on the right because I was slipping and having trouble keeping my feet stable. I still can't figure out how to reduce my base of support -- but I'm almost up to 45 seconds each side with them regular and when I get to 45 I need to really figure out how to do that. 
  • Squat Jumps - 2  x 8 - These are getting too easy and I need to figure out how to ramp them up some. I was winded after 8, but not after 5 or 6, so I don't think I'm working hard enough on them. 
  • Alternating sets of: 
    • Reverse Squats - 3 x 10 - I used a pair of 25 lb weights again. Last time I'd made all my reps at 25 lbs, but had to take a break between the left side and the right (because each set is 10 on each side). This time I didn't take the breaks between sides -- so I did better this time than last (which is always my goal). I found that it makes a huge difference whether I started with my left leg and my right leg. Next time, I'll move up to 30 lb dumbbells.
    • 3-Point Rows - 3 x 10 - I used a 30 lb weight for these single-arm, single-leg supported rows. This was an increase over last time. This is another one where I found that which side I started with made a big difference. The first set (and my general pattern previous to this workout), I started with my right arm then did my left arm. I have found in the past that getting the reps in on the left arm was really hard. Today, I tried starting with the left arm and then doing the right arm and that was, oddly, much easier on both sides. I have no idea why. Even though I made my reps, I'm going to stick with this weight next time.
  • Alternating sets of:
    • Dumbbell Deadlifts - 3 x 10 - I used 40 lb weights for the first time ever on this one. It was cool. And it was good -- I made all my reps even at the new weight without ever putting any stress or strain on my back. Woot! I don't think I want to move up again right away, so I'll stick at 40 lbs for next time. 
    • Push-ups Plus 3 x 10, 10, 8 -- I'm still working on the windowsill at the gym and working on remembering to keep my butt down and do that extra little push up at the end. I had a little trouble with my hands slipping, but just re-set my hands and made it work out okay. The last set I only made 8 reps and just about face-planted on the last one. At some point, I'll be moving down to one of the weight benches (and maybe will get a better grip on it) but I'm not there yet. 
  • Cardio Intervals - 8 x 20:40 Intervals of Insanity - I'm still working out how to ramp these up, because this is supposed to be metabolic training for my cardiopulmonary system but my quads get fatigued first. Which isn't to say that the 20 seconds of Insanity don't push my heart rate way way up -- after a few rounds my heart rate is high and stays there the whole time. So it's working. I may try increasing the resistance on the elliptical machine, though I think that will just make the quad fatigue problem worse. 
Breaking it down like that really doesn't convey that it was a good, hard, excellent workout. I'm not sure what the words would be anyway -- how does one convey how cool it is  to be lifting weights and sweating and  working at the very edge of my physical abilities. How amazing it is to see those physical abilities improving in just a couple of months time.

Next workout is scheduled for Wednesday. It'll be round 4 with Workout D. That workout's biggest challenge is the Coordination Row exercise. Definitely a sign that I need to kick that whole workout up a notch. That's the goal for the workout -- kick it up a notch and make my next workout as awesome as this one was. 

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Workout D #3: Groovin'! :D (Workout 20)

It's not the tidiest workout log, but it is very much me. 
Yesterday's workout went really well -- we went out between grocery shopping and lunch (a couple of hours after breakfast is the most important point). I didn't get a chance to post all day because I had a big project at home (major wardrobe purge and re-organization, much needed) that took up the whole afternoon until we spent the evening with friends.

It was a good workout. The big surprise (and lesson) of the workout was how much of a difference it makes having my hands a little farther apart on the lat pulldowns. The first two sets (where I did 7 and just barely 8) I had my hands further apart. The last set I had my hands closer together (a little wider than shoulder width but not a lot wider) and did 10 relatively easily. Huh. I need to keep an eye on that. 

It's also apparent when working with weights that are at the limit of my ability that my left arm is weaker than my right. Which is really weird because I'm extremely left-handed. 

Though actually, that's not weird now I think about it -- I need my left hand to do things so I tend to hold stuff in my right. When I worked in bookstores, I regularly carried a stack of books as long as my arm in my right hand and shelved with my left. Okay, so actually it makes perfect sense and I need to focus on strengthening my dominant arm. 

Yesterday's workout was: 
  • Spiderman Planks - 2 x 10 - I worked on remembering to keep my tush down while doing these and it worked well. The big problem I have with these (though they are exhausting and good work) is that my foot slips. I suppose part of the point is stabilizing myself despite that. So I  don't know if I need to exchange my weight lifting shoes (really cross trainers) for a different kind with maybe better grip. 
  • Coordination Rows - 2 x 10 - These are the single-leg, single-arm cable rows which involve standing on one foot and moving and pulling a very slight weight. I'm still awfully wobbly at them, but definitely improving. There weren't many people back at the cable machines on Saturday, so I didn't get anyone looking at me kind of confused this time. (That was last Monday -- someone was watching me wobble my way through these obviously wondering what the heck I was doing and what I was getting out of it.) Yesterday, I did a lot better though I'm still working on the first goal -- doing all the reps with good form and remaining balanced on one leg throughout the set. 
  • Alternating sets of: 
    • Offset Loaded Step-ups - 3 x 10 - I used a 30 lb dumbbell and stepped up onto the deck of a treadmill. This was too easy this time, I got sweaty and worked but it wasn't nearly hard enough. I need to move up to a 35 lb weight next time. No question. 
    • Shoulder Press - 3 x 10 - I used a 20lb weight again. I'm not sure on this one whether it's time to move up -- the first two sets were good, the third was really hard. But I didn't have to take breaks, not even between one side and the other. I'll probably stick with 20 lbs. 
  • Alternating sets of: 
    • Dumbbell Squats - 3 x 10 - I used a pair of 35 lb dumbbells here and that felt really good. I don't think I'm ready to move up to 40s yet, though, so I'll stick with 35s next time. I'll just focus on going *faster* to ramp up the difficulty a bit. 
    • Lat Pulldowns (cable machine) - 3 x 7, 8, 10 - The first set I miscalculated so I think I had 72.5 lbs (rather than the 70 I wanted to start with). I also had the wider grip (as mentioned above), so I wasn't bringing as much strength and muscle to the process as I might have been. So the first set was rough. Second set, I took the weight back down to 70 (where I'd wanted it) but still had the wider grip and still was just not pulling with strong muscles. Third set, with 70 lbs, I had a slightly narrower grip and it was fine. Next time I'll either do 65 with the wide grip or 72.5 with the narrower one. 
  • Cardio Intervals - 7 x 20:40 Intervals of Insanity -- I'm getting an interesting (and vaguely irksome) mix of better and not better at these. And my experience of them is changing. The 20 seconds of "Go Insanely Fast" seems longer and longer each time (which I totally didn't expect). My cardiovascular/respiratory system are definitely getting better able to handle the load. On the other hand, the elliptical machine still works my quads like crazy and my legs get extremely tired during those 20 seconds of insanity. So I have to pull back a bit, which means my cardio system isn't getting the workout I want. It's a tough balance. I'm managing it right now, but I need to start thinking of what to do for my Insanity Intervals next if the elliptical stops working for me. 
All in all, I need to kick it up a notch for my next go-round with Workout D. It was good, but I want better. Next workout is scheduled for Monday -- it's going to be Workout C #4, so I'll be doing deadlifts and reverse lunges and push-ups and rows. Logistically that's a very easy workout -- all free weights in the same corner of the gym. I like it! Goal for the workout -- make it harder and do it well. 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Workout C #3: Loving it in the groove (Workout 20)

Made all my reps on everything but push-ups. :D 
Patrick and I worked out last night, but I decided to save posting about it until this morning because I have a tendency to fall asleep while posting, so it winds out taking up the entire waking portion of my evening. I watched baseball instead -- unfortunately I still fell asleep before the part where the Nationals won the game. 

A couple of weeks from now, when I move into Phase 3, I need to remember that it takes me a couple of times with each workout to get into a good groove. But once I get there, the workouts are great. I did really well last night on the whole  -- I was sweaty and working hard the whole time and I just love that feeling of kicking some butt. 

Life Lesson from Lifting Weights: The harder the exercise is the more satisfying and rewarding and interesting it is. When I'm lifting with weights that are too light for me (unless I'm specifically working on speed), it gets kind of dull. When I'm doing something difficult, where I'm really having to work it's really easy to stay focused. It's also just immensely satisfying. 

Last night's workout was: 
  • Side Plank - 2 x 35 seconds - My plan for Phase 2 was to be doing these with one leg raised, but I still can't really figure out how to make that go. Not just stability-wise but also physically -- if I'm holding my glutes tight (for good form) how am I supposed to then raise my leg? I'll keep trying to do something along those lines, but I'm not going to feel bad about myself if I can't do it. Side Plank itself is still plenty difficult and I can keep holding it for longer to continue getting more out of it. 
  • Jump Squats - 2 x 8 - This is my explosive power exercise and I'm doing pretty well with it. Eight reps is getting easier, but I still get winded at 5 or 6, so this is still good work now. I need to think about what I'm going to do when these get too easy, though I can always do more. 
  • Alternating sets of: 
    • Reverse Lunges - 3 x 10 - I used 25 lb weights and was able to do all my reps, but I had to take a break between doing the right side and the left side, as well as between sets. On the good side, my quads didn't hurt at all so I think I'm getting that tightness under control at long last. I'll stick with the same weight next time and see if I can do both sides of the same set straight through. 
    • 3-Point Rows - 3 x 10 - I used a 25 lb weight for this as well, which is awfully convenient for alternating sets. I think I need to either go for a fourth set here or take the weight up to 30 lbs next time because this wasn't exactly easy, but it wasn't hard either. I do love these, by the way. 
  • Alternating sets of: 
    • Dumbbell Deadlifts - 3 x 10 - I used 35 lb weights for these and that was totally right. I don't think I'm ready to take the weights up for next time, because this was hard enough. These require some concentration on form so I don't put stress on my back and I don't want to escalate the weight too quickly. Next time, I'm going to start with 35 and if the first set is too easy I'll go up to 40 lbs. 
    • Push-ups Plus - 3 x 10 was the goal; what I did was 3 x 9, 9, 8 - I'm still working off the windowsill because when I'm remembering to have proper form and keep my butt down that's plenty hard. I didn't finish all my reps in any set of these, so the sill is still the right height. I need to figure out something to do about my hands slipping on the window sill though -- my palms get sweaty and then it's hard for me to keep from sliding. 
  • Cardio Intervals - 6 x 20:40 Intervals of Insanity - I was afraid I wouldn't be able to do any Insanity Intervals because I was so wiped out by the weight lifting, but just the process of walking over to the elliptical machine and doing my minute of getting used to the machine again got me able to do six. Five is my desired minimum and I went one better so I was happy with that. I thought about doing one more, but when the time came I just couldn't. So I stayed on the machine until 10 minutes (or 100 calories) and that was good. 
It was a great workout. My workout is running longer, time-wise, than Patrick's and I feel a little bad about keeping him waiting. But he says it's okay and I believe him. He just gets more time on the elliptical after he lifts and then gets a bit of time to sit and gather himself while I'm finishing up with a few stretches. 

Next workout is scheduled for Saturday -- it'll be my third round with Workout D. I have some hope that the coordination rows will go better this time -- one of my warm-up exercises is a similar stand-on-one-leg-and-bend kind of thing and those went better yesterday. So fingers crossed. Goal for the workout -- Make all my reps and do the whole workout as planned.