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! 

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