Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Hands-Free Workout A #1 (and hopefully only): Surprisingly effective (Workout 40)

This was a surprisingly effective workout, though I missed getting
any work on my chest. 
As I planned on Monday, I worked out  two hands-free workout for while I'm recovering from my extremely minor (but annoying) hand surgery. I wanted something that would be a more intense workout than even a fast walk on the treadmill but couldn't do anything that involved weights or stretching my palm (so no push-ups or anything like). 

Before I get on to the details of the workout, a note on my hand: I'm definitely improving, even as to dealing with the stitches. I don't know if I'm getting used to not stretching my palm out so I'm not pulling on the stitches so much or if there's some type of healing going on that makes them less sensitive to it. No matter, improvement is Good. 

Back to the workouts, two of them because I like to alternate. Some research in the Women's Health Big Book of Exercises found that there are basically no chest or shoulder exercises that don't use the hands. This actually makes some sense, I mean chest exercises are push-ups and presses and flyes and all of those require the hands. But I can do some good body weight exercises for the hamstrings and glutes (with both legs working together and with one leg working at a time) and for the quads (ditto). I can do some core exercises (hello Plank, which has weight on the forearms not the hands). And I found a sequence of back exercises to do (which totally might make it into the next phase because those were awesome). 

I also did Cardio Intervals and ramped them up a bit and added some extra time on the treadmill because I finished early. (Relatively speaking -- Patrick had to wait less long for me than he often does.) 

Monday's workout was: 
  • Plank - 3 x 40 - I haven't done Plank itself, the pure form, since Workout A #6, which was back in August. I did the Spiderman Planks (where I was moving) in Workout D. But it had been a while. It was good -- I was able to do a whole additional set and all of them for longer time than I did in August (where I maxed out at a set of 36 seconds and a set of 38 seconds). All that other core work I was doing in Phase 3 is clearly paying off. 
  • Bodyweight Squats - 4 x 15 - I'm used to doing squats with some amount of weight in addition to my own body weight, so I ramped these up by a) doing an additional set and b) going as fast as I could. I didn't do jump squats because I knew I wanted to do those during my Intervals of Insanity. At the end of the fourth set I was definitely feeling it. I don't think I could have done a fifth one.
  • "Sprinter" Step Ups - 3 x 15 - I was stepping up onto a treadmill deck (I'm still a little leery of stepping up onto a weight bench) but after I'd stepped up with the working leg, I raised the knee of the non-working leg as high as possible with each rep. I'd been thinking I'd maybe do a fourth set, but after three I really felt that was enough. :D 
  • Standing Y-T-L-W-I Raises - 2 x 10 - You can see a video of someone doing something very similar to what I was doing here, though I was standing and leaning forward at the hips about that much and I wasn't holding any weights. I also did the last ones (the I raises) differently and will have to watch that video again to see if I like that way better. These were really rather awesome -- I did  through each of the five for 10 reps moving from one to the next without stopping. Two sets of that was seriously plenty. I was dripping great big drops of sweat by the end of it. These may make it into Phase 4. 
  • Cardio Intervals - 5 x 30:30 Jumping Jack Intervals of Insanity alternated with 5 x 20:40 Squat Jump Intervals of Insanity. The notation may be opaque. Basically, I did 30 seconds of Jumping Jacks as fast as possible, rested for 30 seconds, did 20 seconds of Squat Jumps as fast as possible, rested for 40 seconds. Repeat 5 times. This solved two problems: 1) Jumping Jack intervals being too easy and 2) without the Jumping Jacks the Squat Jumps tire my quads before they tire my cardiopulmonary system on days when I've done squats. Clunky as it is to write out, it was a great Insanity workout and I loved it. :D 
Before I started, I did 10 minutes on the treadmill and after I was done I did another 8. 

As I said, it was a surprisingly effective workout, though I miss getting any chest or shoulder exercises going in either of these. Still, it was very good to be able to do *something* that felt like hard work despite the stitches in my hand. I have another planned for tonight. If necessary, I can keep alternating until the stitches are out without missing a workout. This makes me happy. 

Next workout is tonight. I've got Hands-Free Workout B ready to go and I'm looking forward to it. Even though it has Side Plank in it. 

Monday, October 26, 2015

Workout F # 6 and a cardio day: Look, ma! No hands! (Workouts 38 and 39)

Took forever to post about it, but the workout was excellent! 
I haven't gotten a chance to post about last *Wednesday's* workout, but I really did go and it was really excellent (as workout f has tended to be). But then on Thursday, I had hand surgery and then I've been mad busy. Today I have a moment to catch up with myself. 

Wednesday's workout was the last of Phase 3 -- round six with Workout F means it's time to move on. I haven't yet (still) figured out what I'm going to be doing for Workouts G and H, but I have a little time (another whole week, darn it) to work it out. 

The reason I have this time is that I had (extremely) minor hand surgery last Thursday to remove a lump that I've had for, seriously, decades, but that finally started bothering me and being quite uncomfortable right around when I started lifting weights. Or maybe a bit before. Anyway, while my hand is fully functional for normal things like typing (clearly) and writing and drawing and holding (most) things, anything that puts a stretch on my palm tugs at the stitches uncomfortably and unpleasantly (and makes me feel like I'm going to tear one out). 

You'd be surprised at all the things that put a stretch on one's palm, by the way -- toweling off after a shower has been the big unpleasant surprise. 

The stitches come out on Saturday (Oct. 31), if I have to find a random stranger on the street to do it for me. (The surgeon says anyone can do it.) Once they're out, I'll be able to get back on track with Phase 4 and Workouts G and H. 

In this post-hand surgery time, I'm kind of making do. 

Saturday, I did a cardio day -- walked for 45 minutes at a good incline and a really stiff pace. It was fine, but not as satisfying as lifting would have been. On the other hand, it was way more satisfying that tearing out a stitch would have been, so I'm okay with it. 

For tonight and Wednesday, I'm going to try to figure out how much of an actual workout I can do without using my hands. I figure I can do body weight squats (or jump squats, though I may save those for Intervals of Insanity), body weight reverse lunges, hip raises (maybe even with a weight plate, because I can hold that with my right hand) with both legs, step ups (maybe with raising my knee high as I go up), plank, side plank. So that's quads (both with one leg working and with both legs working), hamstrings and glutes (ditto) and core. I can't find a chest or shoulder exercise that doesn't use the hands, but Y-T-I raises on the floor would work my back some. 

But that's looking ahead. Wednesday's workout was: 
  • Cross-body Mountain Climbers - 2 x 30 - Doing these fast makes all the difference in the world as far as how well I feel it's working me. These may make it on in the next round, because I do deflinitely enjoy them, though I'll need to raise the stakes somehow with them. 
  • Elevated Explosive Push-Ups - 2 x 10 - if these are going to go on, I need to make them harder. Which I really want to do because I think they're doing me a world of good. Maybe I can figure out how to go lower or something. As with so many things, going faster makes a huge difference in how much work I feel I'm getting. 
  • Alternating sets of:
    • Dumbbell Front Squats - 3 x 12 - I used a pair of 17.5 lb dumbbells again, because these put so much work on my core that I just can't go higher. I can tell they're not working my quads as much as I'd like, but I get that quad work elsewhere, so I guess that's okay. 
    • Rear Lateral Raises - 3 x 12 - I used a pair of 7.5 lb dumbbells. These are almost certainly going to make it into the next round. I love these. They're crazy difficult, don't get me wrong, but I think they're doing very good things for me. 
  • Alternating sets of: 
    • Single-leg Hip Raises - 3 x 12 - I went up to a 10lb weight plate held on my lower abdomen for these this time, to raise the difficulty and make my hamstrings and glutes work harder. It was a good thing to have done because I could definitely feel that my glutes had been worked hard. It was excellent. 
    • Cable Chest-Presses - 3 x 12 - I'm still at 25 lbs on these and they are plenty difficult at that weight. I might switch to a more "classic" chest press (like a bench press maybe) in the next phase but I need to ponder that. I like these pretty well and like that they keep me standing and work my core. 
  • Coordination Rows (Single-leg, Single-arm Cable Rows) - 3 x 12 - I did one whole set, both legs, without having to put a foot down to keep my balance!! When I started doing these (two months ago), I couldn't even do one whole rep without having to touch. :: happy dance :: Doing them with every exercise is making a big difference, but I probably won't keep that up in Phase 4, when I can do the reverse lunge cable rows as an alternate whole-body exercise. Still at 15 lbs. 
  • Cardio Intervals - 10 x 20:40 Intervals of Insanity -- ALL JUMP SQUATS!! For 10 rounds!! And I didn't die. :D It was fantastic. Absolutely fantastic!! 
Saturday's workout, as mentioned, was just a cardio day. 50 or so minutes of walking at around 4 miles an hour with the treadmill set at incline 6. I watched an episode of Castle on our tablet. It was fine and I worked up a good sweat. But I missed a proper workout. 

Next workout is scheduled for tonight.  I'm sort of developing a plan, which I will finalize before we get to the gym. Goal for the workout -- don't hurt my hand but feel as though I've really worked hard. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Workout E #6; Finishing Strong!! (Workout 37)

Last time with Workout E. The end of Phase 3 is nigh.
Last night's workout went well. There was definitely a bit of a learning experience with it though -- doing jump squats for my Intervals of Insanity is only semi-effective when I've already worked the heck out of my quads (with loaded jump squats and reverse lunges). My legs gave their last before my cardiopulmonary system was totally exhausted. This is sub-optimal. I probably would have done better to alternate with Jumping Jacks, even though those feel less hard than the jump squats. 

I completed one whole set, both legs, of the Coordination Rows with only one tiny toe touch (to check my balance) on each side. :D :D 

Last night's workout was: 
  • Cable Half-Kneeling Chop - 2 x 10 - I took the weight up to 22.5 lbs, then for the second set up to 25. Which means that my arms are getting stronger about pulling the weight. I'm not displeased with that, but I still don't feel like I'm getting the core work I am doing this for. These will probably not be coming back in the next phase. 
  • Dumbbell Squat Jump (or Jump Squat) - 2 x 8 - I actually think I did ten on the first set, though that's not what I wrote down. Doing jump squats for my Insanities has definitely made me better at them when loaded too. I probably need to raise the weight when I do these going forward. 
  • Alternating sets of: 
    • Romanian (straight-leg, mostly) Deadlifts - 3 x 12 - Two 35 lb dumbbells didn't seem like enough for my hamstrings and glutes to be working the way I wanted them to, but I need to review my form instructions before I go any heavier with the weight. I had to really concentrate to keep my back good yesterday. I was deadlifting two 40 lb dumbbells in Phase 2 (though that was "take them all the way to the ground" type deadlifts) and that might be a better weight. 
    • Obviously this is Steve Reeves as
      Superman and a picture I found
      on the Internet, not mine.
    • Scaption and Shrug - 3 x 12 - To keep my shoulders back and my form good, I was consciously pulling my shoulder blades back and down after I'd lowered the weights. This is what I personally think of as a Superman pose -- because shoulders back naturally pushes your chest out and proud like Superman. Adding that kind of ramped up the difficulty a bit, but also the benefit, I'm pretty sure. I'm going to look at an exercise for next phase that does that -- trains the back muscles for better posture and being proud like Superman. 
  • Alternating sets of: 
    • Reverse Lunges (Yippee!) - 3 x 12 - Once again, I was able to do Reverse Lunges with no problems, though my quads were a little tighter than they had been the previous time. I really need to work to keep them loose, I think. Still, I had no problems and felt like I got a good workout, even though I just went with my body weight. I am paying more attention to pushing myself back up with just the one, working leg. I actually lift the other one off the ground a bit so it's not really helping with the push at all. 
    • Kneeling Lat Pulldowns - 3 x 12 - I went back to the cable machine station with the fixed high pulley on an arm sticking out from the machine. That was the harder station when I tested, which doesn't make a lot of sense because I think that's the one that works my back muscles (the target muscles) more and my arm muscles less. But still, it was harder and therefore I did that again. And it went TONS better. Seriously! Loved it! Still at 72.5 lbs. I really wanted to get off that weight at some point during this phase, but alas it was not to be. :( They may be making a reappearance in Phase 4, but I'm not sure. I've been doing them since the beginning and, given that I've been at the same weight for about six weeks, appear to have plateaued pretty thoroughly. It might be time to work those muscles some other way. 
  • Coordination Rows (Single-Leg, Single-Arm Cable Rows) - 3 x 12 - see above note about nearly almost doing one whole set. Just one toe touch on each side. Maybe Wednesday I'll achieve that milestone. I still have a lot more I can get out of these, so they'll definitely be back next phase. For one thing, eventually, I'd like to get my balance and coordination good enough that I can start raising the weight and making them a real work-the-back sort of row. 
  • Cardio Intervals - 8 x 20:40 Intervals of Insanity - All jump squats all the time again, which worked wonderfully on Monday. Yesterday it was really hard and my legs definitely pooped out on me before anything else did -- but then I'd already done jump squats and reverse lunges so my quads had done a lot already. (Workout F has squats, but because they're the front squats with the weight way higher than my center of gravity they're much more a core exercise than a quad exercise.) Anyway, I squeaked out 8 and then my legs would do no more. They weren't sure they wanted to hold me up least for a minute or so. But then I did my recovery stretches and we were ready to go. 
As I mentioned in my previous post, I've only got one more workout in Phase 3 and I haven't yet figured out what I'm doing for Phase Next. But that's okay, because I'm having a tiny little procedure on my hand on Thursday and will have the rest of the day off from work to figure it all out. And then all day Friday to get a sense of how my hand is going to feel about gripping weights and stuff while it has stitches in. 

Next workout is scheduled for Wednesday (because of the hand thing on Thursday). It'll be my last time with Super-Fun Workout F and my last workout in Phase 3. Goal for the workout: Work hard and kick butt. 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Workout F #5: Killing it with the cardio!! (Workout 36)

Saturday's workout was excellent! The Cardio Intervals of
Insanity were insane!
We worked out on Saturday, but I didn't have a great chance to post about it Saturday (errands, fun, and arts & crafts) or Sunday (same, minus the errands). Here at the office, when work is a mite slow, I can't be doing any of those other fun things and it's a great time to post. :D 

It was a fantastic workout -- as I've noted here before, Workout F is always a great time. I raised some weights and pushed myself harder on some things, which was muy cool. I also ramped up the Intervals of Insanity and that was amazing! 

I haven't put much thought yet into what will be coming next after I finish this phase -- projected last workout in Phase 3 is this Wednesday. Part of why I'm so behind this time is because of the aforementioned fun and arts & crafts. A lot of it is because I'm having a minor procedure on my left (dominant) hand on Thursday, so I'm not 100% sure when I'll actually be starting What Comes Next. I'd like not to miss a workout (and will go and bust my heinie on the treadmill on Saturday even if I can't lift), but I don't know exactly what's going to be up with my hand. As important a reason as those two: I'll have all day Thursday after the procedure at home to do some research and pondering. I'll think up a plan then. 

I definitely want to spend one workout running through all the exercises to sort out starting weights and logistical issues again. That worked out *so* well at the beginning of Phase 3. If I can get it together enough to do that on Saturday, that will also give me a sense of whether my hand is going to be an issue.

Saturday's workout was:

  • Cross-body Mountain Climbers - 2 x 30 - Going faster definitely makes a difference with these, but I still need to ramp something up for next time. I don't think I want to do another whole set. Something to consider for What Comes Next. I know that I can keep my focus on keeping my core tight as I go -- that will ramp it up some. :D 
  • Explosive Elevated Pushups - 2 x 10 - I'm still going off the hip-high railing (because it's the best thing available) and they're still hard, but not as hard as I'd like for them to be. I'm aiming for faster and made a note for next time to be sure to work on that. I like these a lot, really. Kind of better than regular pushups, though I can't imagine why. 
  • Alternating sets of:
    • Dumbbell Front Squats - 3 x 12 - I went with 17.5 lb dumbbells again. The first set was really hard (hence the little "OMG!" in my notebooks) but for the second and third sets I did better at keeping my weight back on my heels, so they didn't work my core as hard. So I was actually kind of able to feel that they *don't* work my quads as hard as regular squats. I'm not quite sure how I feel about that. 
    • Rear Lateral Raise - 3 x 12 - 7.5 lbs again and that was good. I'm sticking with that weight for next time. It might be a little light next time, but I think it will be in that celestial alignment state of perfection. I hope. I love that feeling. 
  • Alternating sets of:
    • Single Leg Hip Raises - 3 x 12 - Doing these with the working leg on a bench wasn't quite working my hams and glutes as hard as I wanted so I checked in the Women's Health Big Book of Exercises for a variation to scale it up some. What I found was holding a weight plate on my lower abdomen (right where my hips hinge) so that my hams had a bit more weight to raise. I used a 5 lb plate and next time I'll use 10. But that was definitely good and a bit more hamstring/glute focused than Step Ups. 
    • Single-Arm Cable Chest Presses - 3 x 12 - I had planned to go up to 25 lbs, but forgot that for the first set (and for some reason didn't check my notebook). I did go up for sets 2 and 3 and had no problems.Working out on Saturday around noon is fun because the gym is pretty close to empty, so I plenty of room to work on the cable machines. I might change to some sort of bench press for next phase -- though I prefer not to sit down during my workout. 
  • Coordination Rows (Single-Leg, Single-Arm Cable Rows) - 3 x 12 - Getting better all the time!! So exciting. I'm not sure if my body is just finally *getting* these or if doing them with both workouts (instead of just one) is making the difference, but I like it. That said, I'll still probably go back to doing these in only one workout in the next phase, just to get more different kinds of work in. 
  • Cardio Intervals - 8 x 20:40 Intervals of Insanity -- This totally sounds like I was slacking (only 8 Insanities instead of 10) except that I did Jump Squats for ALL of the Insanity intervals. Thursday, I caught myself thinking of the Jumping Jacks Insanity intervals as the easy ones, or like I could rest a bit more during them, but I couldn't figure out any way to ramp them up (I was already going as fast as I could). So I just cut them out and went with nothing but Jump Squats. Which was just an awesome killer! Loved it! 
I also did 10 minutes of warm-up walking on the treadmill -- when I was warming up on the elliptical, I could burn 100 calories (according to the machine ) in 10 minutes but on the treadmill I was barely making it to 80 calories in 10 minutes. It was a bummer. But on Saturday, I got up to 93 calories in 10 minutes -- mostly by raising the incline. Knowing that, I think I can get up to 100 calories in 10 minutes, which totally makes me happy. 

Next workout is scheduled for tonight -- it's my last time with Workout E. Goal for the workout, finish STRONG! 

Friday, October 16, 2015

Workout E #5: I can do reverse lunges again! (Workout 35)

Nothing's scratched out! I did a whole workout! :D
After about 10 days of giving my quads the babying treatment so they would recover from whatever insult they felt they had received, I was able to do Reverse Lunges again!! I didn't push them too hard -- no weight but my own body weight -- but they handled that with no issues at all. So yay!! 

In addition to that bit of excitement, I did well with everything -- I went up with the weights on the Romanian Deadlifts (from a total of 60 lbs to a total of 70) and the the Squat Jumps (from a pair of 20 lb dumbbells to a pair of 25 lbs dumbbells). I continue to improve by leaps and bounds at the Coordination Rows. 

I also got more data for my question about the Lat Pulldowns -- if the type of high pulley (fixed on an arm out from the machine or adjustable makes a difference in how hard they are (which I'm sure is a function of which muscles are being worked).

Yesterday's workout was:

  • Cable Half-Kneeling Chop - 2 x 10 - I raised the weight on these for the second set, because they still seem like not enough work. Or too much worko n the arms and not enough on the core. Or something. On the other hand, today, I can definitely tell that my core has been worked, so maybe I'm not doing as badly as I feel like I am. 
  • Dumbbell Jump Squats - 2 x 8 - I raised the weight from 20lb dumbbells to 25lbs because I hadn't really felt like I was working hard enough last time. Increasing the weight definitely helped a lot, I must say. Though I might work my way up toward doing sets of 10 of them eventually. 
  • Alternating sets of: 
    • Romanian (Straight-leg) Deadlifts - 3 x 12 - As mentioned above, I raised the weight on these from a total of 60 lbs to a total of 70. And they still felt really good. I'll stick at 70 again next time -- just because going up another 10 lbs would be rather a lot. I haven't decided what's going to be coming in the next phase yet, but I really like deadlifts so I wouldn't be surprised if I'm still doing them. :D 
    • Scaption and Shrug - 3 x 12 - Still doing 10 lb dumbbells and still really having a hard time with them. These are *difficult*. Or I just have no back/shoulder muscles. Which is also entirely possible. The only way to make them stronger is to work them and these are definitely work. I can't say I enjoy them, but I'm getting better at them, so I think they're doing their job anyway. 
  • Alternating sets of: 
    • Reverse Lunges!! - 3 x 12 - I'm back in the Lunge business!! Well, not really a business as I don't make any money or anything, so I guess I'm back in the Lunge hobby. But still, hooray! :D I had absolutely no problem at all with bodyweight lunges yesterday. They didn't feel like a great big ton of work, but I was happy to be doing them. I've only got one more time with Workout E and will probably do bodyweight reverse lunges again just because I don't particularly feel like pushing my quads too hard. 
    • Kneeling Cable Lat Pulldowns - 3 x 12 - As mentioned above, and building from the lengthy babbling about these in my previous Workout E post (from last Saturday), I did these from the adjustable pulley at its highest point, rather than the overhead arm fixed high pulley. They were still hard but from the high adjustable pulley, I felt like I could maybe raise the weight. From the overhead fixed pulley I can barely make my reps. At the same weight. That probably means I should alternate them, so I don't neglect the muscles that are getting used with the more difficult ones. I actually went up to 75 lbs (from 72.5) for the third set. Woo hoo!! I've been at 72.5 lbs for like a month or more. 
  • Coordination Rows (Single Leg, Single Arm Cable Rows) - 3 x 12 - I may be moving up the weight on these before Thanksgiving! There was a time when I was thinking I wouldn't be moving the weight until 2016. Improvement is improving! I love it! 
  • Cardio Intervals - 10 x 20:40 Intervals of Insanity, alternating Jumping Jacks and Jump Squats during the 20 second Insanity intervals. I may need to stop with the jumping jacks and just do all jump squats all the time -- I'm not getting worn out enough anymore. :D 
So all in all it was a good workout. I'll be doing my last Phase 3 workout next Wednesday so I totally need to get cracking on what I'm doing for Workouts G and H. Before that I need to figure out if I'm circling back around to phase 1 (and thus doing Workouts A1 and B1), but I don't think I totally like that idea.

Next workout is scheduled for Saturday. I'm going to stick with the single leg hip raises for Saturday, but maybe the next time I'll go back to the bench step ups. Goal for the workout: Have a blast -- Workout F is a ton of fun. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Workout F #4: Loved it!! (Workout 34)

Did the single-leg hip raises again, rather than the step ups, but
that still makes for an awesome workout. 
Yesterday evening's workout was epic and awesome! I had such a good time. Workout F is pretty much a blast through and through. (Workout E is good too, hard work and lots of it, but I don't seem to have as much fun with it. Maybe because the Mystery of the Lat Pulldowns stresses me out.)

Anyway, last night was awesome. I've got three exercises that I'm ready to improve. Maybe four. I'm ready to raise the weight on the Front Squats (which I didn't think would ever happen), though only by a little bit (from two 15 lb weights to two 17.5 lb weights), but still. I also need to ramp up the Explosive Push-ups. I wish there was a lower bar to work from that's not as low (or as inconvenient) as the windowsill, but there's nothing really available so I'll escalate by going faster and trying to push higher. The Crossbody Mountain Climbers I'm already doing as fast as I can, so I'm going to either go up to sets of 35 or to thirty second sets. I'll see how long it takes to do 35. :D

The one I'm not sure about raising is the Single Arm Cable Presses. I think I'm ready to go up to 25 pounds, but I want to revisit my instructions to make sure I'm doing them Just Right before I do that. 

Last night's workout was: 
  • Crossbody Mountain Climbers - 2 x 30 - I did these well and did them fast. The second set, I put my hands on a mat, which wound out being something of an error because my hands were sliding. On the other hand, that instability probably added to the core workout so maybe it was good. I'm not sure I'm willing to do it again though. 
  • Elevated Explosive Push-Ups - 2 x 8, 10 - Hmm, maybe I'm not ready to find a lower bar for these. I wrote down that I wanted to do two sets of eight, but last time I did sets of 10. No wonder they seemed a bit easier. I actually did 10 for my last set because I sort of got in the zone. So next time I'll do two sets of ten -- and still see if I can go faster and push higher. 
  • Alternating sets of: 
    • Dumbbell Front Squats - 3 x 12 - As with last time, I could really feel yesterday that these work my core way harder than they work my quads. I'm not really sad about that -- I'm getting plenty of work and my core definitely needs it. But I think I'm ready to give my core a bit more of a challenge with these and move up the weight from a pair of 15 lb dumbbells to 17.5 lb dumbbells. It's not a huge jump and I think I can do it. 
    • Rear Lateral Raises - 3 x 12 - These are getting better, though still extremely hard. I don't think I'm ready to go up from the 7.5 lb dumbbells I've been using for a couple of times, but I'm definitely getting better able to handle these. Some kinda work these are. 
  • Alternating sets of: 
    • Single-Leg Hip Raises (with my foot on a bench) - 3 x 12 - I need to see about making these harder without actually having to tote a weight over from another part of the gym. Of course, if the reverse lunges in Workout E on Thursday go well, I might try the bench step-ups again, which would solve that problem. :D We'll see. 
    • Single-Arm Cable Chest Press - 3 x  12 - I'm still at 20 lbs with these though I think I'm ready to go up. This is another one where I need to review my instructions to make sure I'm doing them just right -- I think I am but I want to be sure. I'm definitely getting better with them, especially with controlling any rotational stress on my shoulder. 
  • Coordination Row (Single-Leg, Single Arm Cable Row) - 3 x 12 -  I did one whole set of these without having to stop and correct my balance. A whole set!! (Well, okay, half a set, because I was only able to do it on one leg. But then I did it on the other leg a couple of sets later.) I might actually make it next time. This, like the chest presses, is one where it's important to coordinate which leg is working with which hand -- this would seem to be totally obvious, but I'm left-handed and therefore a bit backwards about the whole "right and left" thing so I get muddled up sometimes. I wonder if that isn't part of why these are sometimes harder than others -- I think balance is maybe easier when doing them right, but I'm not sure. 
  • Cardio Intervals - 10 x 20:40 Intervals of Insanity with Insanities of alternating Jumping Jacks and Jump Squats.  I don't think I could possibly do all jump squats for these intervals, but the Jumping Jacks are maybe a bit too easy, even though I"m trying to do them as fast as I possibly can. I'll look around and see what else I can find for when I move into the Next Phase. 
It's starting to get around to time to think about what I'm going to be doing after Phase 3 -- if I were following New Rules of Lifting For Life exactly (which I'm not), I'd loop back around and do something like Phase 1 all over again, only with exercises and weights suited to my current level of ability. The problem with this plan, however, is that I wouldn't be keeping up with the coordination/whole body exercises and I really feel those are helping me tremendously. I don't want to let them go, really. 

So I'm not sure what I'm going to do. I could go back to lighter weights and sets of 15 reps, that was part of Phase 1 as well. 

I've got a week and a bit to think about it. 

Next workout is scheduled for Thursday, because Thursday really worked tons better than Wednesday last week. It'll be Workout E #5 (of 6), this is why I'm to the point of needing to think about my next workouts. I'm going to be giving the reverse lunges a try -- just with bodyweight to start and then I'll see if my leg is okay with that before even really thinking about adding weight. Goal for the workout: Do reverse lunges without hurting. If that is not possible, have the good sense to stop. 

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Workout E #4 (Modified): Getting better! (Workout 33)

Still no single-leg quad exercise, but my quad is feeling a
lot better and I'm planning on giving reverse lunges a try
next time in Workout E.
Yesterday was an awesome day on many fronts -- we had pizza and beer for brunch, which just kicked things off to a totally happy start. Fortunately, several hours after brunch, I also had a fantastic workout! I'm still babying my quads, but was able to do a hard workout anyway. Loved it! 

I wrote down a new single-leg quad exercise -- Single-leg bench Stand Up (you can see a video here, though the book had it start from sitting rather than standing) that I thought I could maybe do because it wouldn't put any sort of stretch on my quads. On the other hand, I couldn't even begin to figure out how to make it work as far as center of gravity and making any part of my butt move off the bench. So that was a scratch, though an intriguing one that I want to try more of because it seems like a great exercise and one that's *functional* movement, which I love.

Despite that disappointment, I worked hard and had a great workout! 

Yesterday's workout was: 
  •  Cable Half-Kneeling Chop - 2 x 10 - I did these at 20 lbs again, moving as fast as I could so I gave my core more work to do holding me stable as I move the weight. I'm still not really feeling these where I think I should be, but at this point, 2/3ds of the way through this phase, I'm going to stick with them and re-evaluate when I start planning my next two workout. I'm sticking with 20 lbs and moving as fast as possible next time.
  • Dumbbell Squat Jumps - 2 x 8 - I did these with a pair of 20 lbs dumbbell and it's time to move up. I've been doing squat jumps (body weight) as part of my cardio Intervals of Insanity and I think I'm getting better at them because of it. So when doing it as part of my strength workout, I need more weight to really be working the explosive muscle fibers in my legs. 
  • Alternating sets of:
    • Romanian Deadlifts - 3 x 12 - I did these with a 60lb fixed-weight barbell again and it is definitely time to go up with the weights. Unfortunately (sort of) that means I'll be going to dumbbells, because they don't have a heavier barbell (unless I start working on the Smith machines, which I don't want to do). The dumbbells are a bit more of a pain, but it'll be fine. And it'll be especially fine to be working harder with these. :D 
    • Scaption and Shrug - 3 x 12 - Still at 10 lbs and that's still a *hard* weight. I can't say I especially enjoy these, but I definitely work hard and I'm glad to be doing something other than Shoulder Presses. But they are *hard*. 
  • Kneeling Cable Lat Pulldowns - 3 x 12 - This is where I *tried* to do alternating sets of these with the Single-leg Bench Stand Ups, but couldn't actually *stand up*. I am still trying to figure out why sometimes the Lat Pulldowns are really, really hard and sometimes they're very doable. At the same weight, which has been 72.5 pounds for like a month. I thought it was the wide-grip bar, but that doesn't seem to be entirely it. My current hypothesis is that it has to do with which of the high stations on the cable machine I'm using. The high pulleys come in two varieties on the machine -- the fixed ones that stick out on an arm from the top of the machine and the ones on the adjustable pulleys. It seems that the fixed ones would be more of a straight down pull for a pulldown and the adjustable ones would have a bit of an angle (pulling toward me and down). I think the adjustable ones may be the easier ones. I used the fixed high pulley today and it was hard, but I could do it. Next time I do these (Thursday), I'll use one of the adjustable pulleys and see if that makes a difference. 
  • Coordination Rows (Single-Leg Single-Arm Cable Rows) - 3 x 12 - I came very very close to being able to do these without having to stop to regain my balance. I am *almost* there. And as I'm getting more stable, I'm able to be more rhythmic and powerful and all the other goals for these. I love these because I'm seeing So Much Improvement! 
  • Cardio Intervals -- 10 x 20:40 Intervals of Insanity - I'm still doing these as 20 seconds on, 40 seconds off with the on-intervals alternating between jumping jacks and squat jumps. I was really focusing on doing them both fast fast last time, so I was completely blown by the end of these. But boy are they good. I love it! 
As I said, I've put the Offset Loaded Reverse Lunges back into the workout for Wednesday, because I think my quad is better now. I'll be super gentle and tentative with them though, until I'm absolutely sure I'm not hurting. That said, I'm also going to be seeing if I can work out the Single-Leg Bench Stand Ups because those seem like they'll be awesome. 

Next workout is scheduled for Monday. I've got the day off but Patrick doesn't. I do have about a million projects in progress that I want to work on. So there's going to be a busy, full day before we even get to the gym. Goal for the workout: Make it as awesome as the rest of the day is shaping up to be. 

Friday, October 9, 2015

Workout F #3 (Modified): Oh, that was good! (Workout 32)

The main modification I made was getting rid of the High
(Bench) Step Ups. But the replacement worked me hard , so
it was all good. 
I'm still babying my quads, specifically my right quad, though it hasn't actively felt weird in several days, so I'm working on a modified Workout F right now. I replaced the High (Bench) Step Ups, which put a lot of work on my quads, with Single-leg Hip Raises, which worked my glutes and hamstrings really well but didn't transfer any work to my quads. 

One of my warm-up stretches is a quad stretch where I go down on one knee and lean to stretch the down leg. On the left, I could get a very good lean and stretch going. On the right, I could feel it as soon as I started and essentialy had to back off a bit from "starting position" not to feel like I was doing too much to it. 

So that leg is not right at all. It just didn't stop me being able to get my workout in. 

That is a very happy thing indeed. 

The official trainer who works at our Planet Fitness (I think her name is Janet or Janice) was doing an abs class in the same corner I was working in when I was doing my front squats and rear lateral raises -- when we made eye contact she told me I was doing good. That was nice. :D 

Yesterday's workout was: 
  • Crossbody Mountain Climbers - 2 x 30 - Sets of 30 was definitely right for yesterday evening. I was able to work fast and really get going on these though and they went well. I'm going to work on speed and stick with 30 for next time, but I'll probably go up to sets of 35 for the nest time. 
  • Alternating sets of (notice this is out of order): 
    • Dumbbell Front Squats - 3 x 12 - I'm finally getting to a point with these where I can feel how they're working me that's different from the squats I've been doing. I'm still using a pair of 15lb dumbbells for these and I could feel last night how hard my core was working to keep my form good and my back protected. I could also feel how hard my quads are *not* working -- most of the exertion is when I'm squatting down (keeping my torso as upright as possible) not when I'm raising my body and the weights back up to standing. So these are being more of a core exercise than a quad exercise at this time, but I'm cool with that. My core needs the work, for one thing. My quads are a bit tender for another. AND I get other quad work with the jump squats I'm doing as part of my Insanity. 
    • Rear Lateral Raises - 3 x 12 - I went up to 7.5 lb dumbbells for this one and that worked really really well. It was hard -- I was dripping sweat off my chin onto the floor -- but it was good. (During these sets is when the trainer noticed me and said I was doing good.) 
  • Explosive Elevated Push-Ups - 2 x 10 - I would normally have done this before the first pair of alternating sets but got a little mixed up and, well, didn't. Whoops. They went well. I'm pretty sure I'm not ready for a lower bar on these, so I just need to focus on being more explosive when I do them. 
  • Alternating sets of:
    • Single Leg Hip Raises - 3 x 12 - (You can see a video of hip raises (they call them glute bridges) here, but I"m doing them with one knee held to my chest.) I started these with the working foot on the floor for the first set and that was too easy. For the second and third sets I did them with the working leg on a weight bench, so I have to lift the weight I'm lifting higher. That was a lot better. This and the step-ups it's replacing (whether those step-ups were to a box or a treadmill deck or a bench) are in the workout as Hamstring/Glute exercises where I'm working one leg at a time. I've never really felt that, exactly, from the step-ups. I've always felt they were more of a quad exercise, even at the lower heights. This finally felt like I was really working my hamstrings and glutes. Perhaps it was a bit too isolating (I prefer to work muscles in concert with one another than in isolation), but it was nice to feel the work in the target area. 
    • Cable Chest Presses - 3 x 12 - I moved up from 15 to 20 pounds on these, though there was a bit of a mis-step at first with the machine due to there being two different kinds of "high pulleys" on the cable machines -- the adjustable pulley moved to the top and the ones with a fixed pulley on an arm sticking out from the top of the machine. Working with the fixed high pulley these were virtually impossible at any weight and clearly going to do Bad Things to my shoulder (I gave about two test pulls and stopped). From the adjustable pulley moved to the top, they worked great. Huh. 20 lbs was a good amount of weight, but not too much. Yay! 
  • Coordination Rows - 3 x 12 - I'm doing these in both of my workouts right now because they're doing me a world of good. The whole body/combination exercise I was doing in Workout F involved a lunge movement and that's not going to be happening for a while. So I'm just doubling up on the Coordination Rows. What I'm getting from them is about the balance and coordination, not so much the rowing, so I don't think I'm overworking anything. 
  • Cardio Intervals - 10 x 20:40 Intervals of Insanity alternating Jumping Jacks and Jump Squats during the 20 second "go like crazy" intervals. Those are a pretty good combination of exercises to do for this, though the Jump Squats are a lot harder than the Jumping Jacks. Maybe I should do 30:30 intervals with the Jumping Jacks and 20:40 with the Jump Squats. I wonder if that would get too confusing around minute 8 when I'm starting to get pretty cooked and negotiating with myself over how much more I can do. ("I can do one more round of Jumping Jacks, they're not so bad." One minute later: "Heck, having done those, I know I can do one more round of Jump Squats.")
So that was my awesome workout. Moving to Thursday to avoid the crowds Wednesday evening worked well (though with only one data point, we can't really say anything for sure). It did have one unintended consequence, however -- Patrick didn't run into any traffic jams on the machines he was using, so he was able to go straight through his workout really fast. He was done with his entire workout, including the cardio (though he doesn't do the Insanity business) at the end, before I'd even started the Coordination Rows. So he had around 15 minutes to hand out and wait for me to be done.

Next workout is schedule for Saturday. I'm doing a modified Workout E. I'm going to see what happens if I replace the Reverse Lunges, which I'm not even going to be trying for another week, probably, with another quad exercise that works each leg individually. I'm looking at a Single Leg Stand Up (where you sit on a bench with one foot on the floor and the other sticking straight out in front of you then stand up using only the one leg). I'm not sure I can actually *do* those -- there seem to be some balance and center of gravity issues, among other things -- but I'm going to give them a try. I can also try Single Leg Squats, but a few test goes with those seem like they're going to be rough on my knees unless I can figure out how to modify them. (And seriously, my whole body weight is a lot to lift with one leg.) Anyway, goal for the workout -- sweat and be awesome without aggravating my quads. 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Workout E#3: That went really well, all things considered (Workout 31)

You can see that I crossed off the Offset Reverse Lunges and
changed the Cable Pull Throughs to Romanian Deadlifts. 
Despite the pain in my right quad (about which I posted earlier), which is making anything like a lunge or a split squat a total non-starter for the nonce, I did really well today. I didn't even attempt the  Offset Reverse Lunges, but didn't have the slightest bit of problem with the Romanian Deadlifts or even the Dumbbell Jump Squats (which are a quad exercise, just one that works both legs at once). 

When I was doing the Intervals of Insanity at the end, I was alternating Jumping Jacks and Jump Squats (without weights) and after two rounds of the Jump Squats I knew I needed not to be doing any more. The sets I did were fine and didn't hurt, but I knew not to be doing any more. 

There is no substitute I can do until my leg isn't hurting. I have some hope for Saturday, but I'm certainly not going to push it. 

I also want to switch out the High (Bench) Step Ups that are part of Workout F with something else that's a single-leg hamstring exercise. I'm thinking of something like a Hip Lift (you can see a video here), but a single leg version where I hold one leg up and raise my hips with my glutes and hamstrings. It shouldn't put any particular pressure on my quads, I don't think, so it seems like a good choice. But that's getting ahead of *this* post. 

Today's workout was good and I didn't put any strain on my quads. So I feel really good about it, even if I didn't work as hard as I would have liked. I warmed up walking on the treadmill rather than the quad-busting elliptical machine. It's not really possible to burn calories as quickly on the treadmill as the elliptical, but I between raising the incline and the speed, I did pretty well. 

Today's workout was: 
  • Half-Kneeling Cable Chop - 2 x 10 - I used 15 lbs of weight in hopes that doing this fast would help me feel as though it is working my *core* (which is what this is for) rather than my arms. I'm not sure I feel like it did. I'm thinking I might prefer to go back to Plank or Side Plank because this just isn't rocking my world. I'm going to ponder that. 
  • Dumbbell Jump Squats -- 2 x 8 - I used a pair of 20 lb dumbbells for these and did the first few kind of tentatively. Once I realized they were going to be fine, I went at them with a bit more gusto. 
  • Alternating sets of:
    • Romanian (Straight-Leg) Deadlifts - 3 x 10, 12, 12 - I haven't done these for a while so I started with the same weight I used the last time I did them, which was a 60 lb barbell (like a dumbbell with a fixed weight). Last time I did them, I was doing sets of 15, but that was over a month ago. 60 lbs was, I think right for today. The first set was only 10, but that wasn't an issue with the weight. That was an issue with me still not having totally internalized sets of 12 yet. I definitely feel better about these than the Cable Pull Throughs -- those felt like I was working things I didn't want to work and not working my hamstrings and glutes enough. 
    • Scaption and Shrug - 3 x 12 - I had written down to use 15lb barbells for this and as soon as I picked them up, I knew that was not going to work. So I went for ten and sort of berated myself for a wimp. After the first set, I looked back to see what I did with these last time -- 7.5 lbs. Oh. Well, okay then. So apparently when I wrote down 15 I was having a totally woolly-headed moment. 10 was actually a bit of a stretch. Which is why it felt like one. There we go. 
  • Kneeling Lat Pulldowns -- 3 x 12, 10, 10 - These are such a vexation to me. Last time I did three sets of 12 at 72.5 lbs and felt really good about it. So good, in fact, that I decided to go up to 75 pounds, which is just a tiny little increase. Today, I was just barely able to do 12 reps at 75 lbs, then when I backed it down to 72.5 lbs, which I've been lifting for a while, I couldn't do 12 at all. Grar. I definitely got a good lot of work out of it, so I feel okay with it. But I'm mystified at these. I might try a session doing pulldowns on the cam machine (rather than the cable machine) just to see how I do with those. 
  • Coordination Rows - 3 x 12 - I'm getting so much better at these, y'all. I don't think I ever really adequately conveyed how *bad* I was at these to start out and now I'm not. I'm still not getting through all of them without having to re-balance myself, but I'm getting so close. And it's just such an incredible improvement from the wobbly baby giraffe to standing on one leg and moving in a vaguely coordinated way. So cool! 
  • Cardio Intervals - 5 x 20:40 Intervals of Insanity - As mentioned above, I was alternating Jumping Jacks and Jump Squats for the 20 seconds of all out crazy going. I stopped when I knew my quads wouldn't take another round of the jump squats, though they weren't hurting yet. I would have liked to do more, but I really am trying to be a bit gentle with myself. 
Patrick has been running into traffic jam problems in the gym on Wednesday evenings, so we're shifting our workout schedule to Monday, Thursday, Saturday. This shouldn't make a huge difference except that we'll be able to get through our workouts without having to wait for space at the machines. (We don't mind waiting for space at the machines when people are working out on them. It's when people are sitting on them chatting that it gets vexing.) 

So, next workout is scheduled for Thursday (and I think it's probably going to take a while before I have that totally internalized). Goal for the workout -- Make Workout F work without hurting my slightly sore quad. 

Workout F #2: Darn it! (Workout 30)

The ouch doesn't show on the front and I was in fact able to complete
everything. But...
In some ways, Saturday's workout went really well -- I feel like I'm ready to go to up on the weight with the Rear Lateral Raises and the Cable Chest Presses, which is awesome. I felt like I'd worked out a different way of doing the elliptical that didn't beat up my quads so much (and may have really succeeded with that, it's hard to say in light of what came later). For the most part, I felt like I had the *move* down for the Reverse Lunge/Cable Row. It was really good. Even the Dumbbell Front Squats went well and felt good (those are just really hard). 

What didn't go well is that my right quad is definitely and un-ignorably Not Happy. I think the High (Bench) Step Ups is what got me, because I was fine until that point. The extra height on those adds a lot more quad work to something that's in the workout as a single-leg hamstring exercise and those are just killers. I think that's what did me dirt, though that's not when I started hurting. I felt a sharp pain across the front of my right thigh when I was doing the Reverse Lunge and Cable Rows (specifically on the side when my right leg was stepping back and being the non-working, down leg, which is when I've always had problems). 

I've been holding off posting in hopes it would sort itself out over the next couple of days, but it hasn't shown any sign of doing that. Well, I mean it hurts less than it did, but even just sitting it doesn't feel quite right. I took an Aleve last night and that my have helped some, but I don't want to read too much into it either. 

As I've always said, you shouldn't be aware of your insides. If you are something's not working right. As I'm sitting here typing doing nothing at all, I can feel the muscle in my leg. It doesn't exactly hurt, but I'm aware of it. 

Not good. 

So, I'm going to have to figure out something *else* to do for my single-leg quad exercise, because reverse lunges are out of the question at this time. I'm also going to have to figure out something else to do for my single-leg hamstring exercise, because I do think that the high step-ups are the real, actual culprit. At the least they're *not* helping. And no more elliptical for me, at least for a while, because I know that's hard on my quads. In a few days, I'll see if I can do something like a single-leg stand up (sit on bench, extend one leg straight in front of you, stand up using only other leg) or a single-leg squat instead. 

Eventually. I'm not even trying for a few days at least. 

I'm not sure exactly how long I'll have to stop the Reverse Lunges and so on -- I'm hoping only for a few days, but I don't want to risk a serious injury. A coworker of mine tore a muscle in his arm a few years ago and had a bruise basically from elbow to shoulder and was in a lot of pain for a while. I do not want to have that happen.  

Saturday's workout was: 
  • Cross-body Mountain Climbers - 2 x 30, 25 - I was finding lower numbers of repts way too easy for these, so I ramped up both the speed and the number of reps and that was *good*. Very very good. :D I'll probably stick with 30 as a target next time, because I didn't make my reps in the second set. 
  • Elevated Explosive Push Ups - 2 x 10 - I'm still good at the hip-high railing for these because while I made my reps, that was really really hard. And I think I can go lower into the pushup-ness before pushing back up. And I can concentrate more on using my chest muscles rather than my arms. 
  • Alternating sets of: 
    • Dumbbell Front Squat - 3 x 12 - Glory be, these are hard. I need to keep a note in my book to keep my weight back on my heels and to push up through my heels when standing back up. I was rocking too far forward onto my toes. That doesn't make them easier, but it is the right form. I continued with a pair of 15lb dumbbells and will continue with those again next time because this exercise is *hard*. 
    • Rear Lateral Raise - 3 x 12 - I used a pair of 5 lb dumbbells again and really felt good about it. The weights weren't quite singing, so I may stick at this level one more time, but they were close. So I may go up to 7.5 lb dumbbells (if those aren't in use). I'll see when I'm doing these next. They're definitely a good exercise for me. 
  • Alternating sets of: 
    • High (Bench) Step Ups - 3 x 12 - I'm still not using any weight for these (other than my bodyweight) and they're definitely very very hard. Less technically difficult than the Front Squats, but they just kick my butt. And my quads. I didn't make a note about my right leg hurting at any point when doing these, but I did note that they're *hard*. 
    • Single-Arm Cable Chest Press - 3 x 12 - I think I've finally got the knack of these. The trick is to have the pulley behind the shoulder of the working arm, so there's not as much rotational and wobble motion involved. I did 15lbs again and will move up to 20 next time because now that I get what I'm doing, I feel I can totally move more weight. 
  • Coordination Rows - 3 x 12 - Still improving, but not to the first goal of being able to stand on one foot while moving for 12 whole reps. Still at 15 pounds. I'm probably going to just do these in every workout until I can do the reverse lunges again. The work isn't in the rowing, it's in the standing on one leg, and that's not putting undue strain on my muscles. 
  • Cardio Intervals - 10 x 20:40 Intervals of Insanity alternating Jumping Jacks and Jump Squats. Interestingly, perhaps oddly, despite whatever's up with my quads, these Jump Squats didn't bother them at all. Though maybe they got tired a little sooner. I didn't really notice that though. It does bode well for me being able to do jump squats tonight. 
Next workout is scheduled for tonight. Goal for the workout - do as much as I can without putting any additional strain on my quads. I'm going to be walking for warmups, because the elliptical is out of the question. My routine tonight is supposed to be: Half-Kneeling Cable Chops, Dumbbell Jump Squats, Romanian Deadlifts, Scaption and Shrug, Offset Reverse Lunges, Kneeling Lat Pulldowns, and Coordination Rows. I'm definitely not even trying the Reverse Lunges and I'll probably do the Cable Chops as totally kneeling rather than half kneeling. Everything else I'll *try* to see how it goes. Any twinge and I'll just move on to the next thing. 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Workout E #2: I have to rethink this a little (Workout 29)

Not a bad log page -- some things marked to go up next time. :D
Yesterday's workout was good in some ways, not so good in others. The good is that I want to raise the weight on the Kneeling Lat Pulldowns next time. I've been doing 72.5 for a *long* time and I'm excited to finally be budging with that. The other good is that I really am getting distinctly better at the Coordination Rows. I may be only a few more sessions from getting through all of one set without having to put my foot down to catch my balance. We'll see. 

The bad is that my right quad (this time, last time it was the left) started really hurting during the reverse lunges. Not so bad that I had to stop, though I did modify how I was doing them to put less strain on that leg (fortunately it's fine when it's the working leg, it hurts when it's the non-working leg). 

The other bad is that the gym is just a lot more crowded on Wednesday nights -- Patrick runs into regular traffic jams on the machines he uses and there are classes with the trainer using up the weights and so on. Mondays are less of a problem. It's less of a problem for me than for him, just because of the exercises we each do, but it's still vexing. I don't know that going to a different gym would make a difference. Going a little later might, but then we won't get home until later and that's vexing too.

I'm not liking the Cable Pull-Throughs, I find. The fact that they're vaguely indecent looking doesn't bother me (you can see a video here), but they seem to put more strain on my arms and shoulders than they should for something that's a glutes and hamstrings exercise. There are plenty of other things in these two workouts working my arms and shoulders, so I don't really want the extra work here. In addition, because my arms aren't nearly as strong as my glutes and hamstrings I can't work them as hard as I'd like (by moving as much weight as I want) because my arms and shoulders can't take the load. It's vexing. I'm going to ponder for a few days (I don't do this workout again until next Monday) but I may switch back to the Romanian Deadlifts for the rest of Phase 3. I liked those, they didn't strain my back at all, and I can really put a lot more work on the target muscles. 

This change will also do nice things for the geography and logistics of this workout -- I can do the Romanian Deadlifts and Scaption and Shrugs up in the free weight area and then go back to the cable machines with a 25lb dumbbell for the Offset Loaded Reverse Lunges. Believe me when I say that will be easier, though it's maybe not immediately obvious as I describe it. 

I didn't change any of the weights from Workout E #1 because I forgot to write in my starting weights into my notebook, which means that I didn't have a record of any changes I wanted to make. I just used what I did for E #1 (with one exception) 

Yesterday's workout was:

  • Cable Half-Kneeling Chop - 2 x 10 - I used 25 lbs for these. I need to review what I'm doing here. It's possible I have the weight too high, though I don't want to make it too low. Anyway, this is a Core Stability exercise intended to work the muscles that stabilize my core while my upper body is moving. Unfortunately, what I'm working most (and what gets tired), is my *arms* because they're Not Strong. If I lower the weight so my arms can handle it maybe I can start doing the chops faster so that then I have more work for my core to stabilize against. I'm going to drop these down to 15 and make a note to go fast and see if that helps me feel like I'm working what I want to be working. 
  • Dumbbell Jump Squat - 2 x 8, 10 - I used 20lb dumbbells for these and did the first set of eight without too much trouble, so I did ten for the second set. That was a bit more trouble, but the book says these should be sets of 6-8. I don't mind doing more than the book says and I do think these are helping with explosive power, which is very very good. I'll see how I do with 20 lbs and ten reps next time. When that gets to feeling like it should be harder, I'll raise the weight. 
  • Alternating sets of:
    • Cable Pull-Throughs - 3 x 12 - As mentioned above, I'm having some problems with these because they put extra strain on my arms and shoulders without putting as much work as I'd like on my glutes and hamstrings. This is not satisfactory as Working The Big Muscles is part of the basic idea of this whole program. Also, it's not nearly as much fun. I used 35lb weights, which is just over half of what I can do with the Romanian Deadlifts (or what I think of as Romanian Deadlifts, which name I'm not 100% sure about). I'm jumping ship and going back to the Romanian Deadlifts -- I'll start with 60lbs, which is where I left off when I stopped doing these at the end of Phase 1, but expect I'll be moving up pretty quickly. 
    • Scaption and Shrug - 3 x 12 - I actually had to decrease the weight I used for these from 10lb dumbbells to 7.5 lb dumbbells yesterday because of the aforementioned crowding problem at the gym. All of the 10 lb weights were in use, so I got a pair 7.5lbs from the rack in a different part of the gym. I'm actually not particularly upset about this -- they were still hard but I think I was able to do them with better form and keep my shoulder blades back and down better with the lighter weight. I'll probably stick with the 7.5s next time. Particularly because they were still plenty hard, especially the last set. 
  • Alternating sets of: 
    • Offset-loaded Dumbbell Reverse Lunge - 3 x 12 - I used a single 25lb dumbbell for this. As I mentioned earlier, I had problems with my right quad doing these. It is so strange to me that it's not when it's the working leg that it hurts. I really worked my quads hard on the elliptical warming up, though I'm still trying to figure out the knack for using the elliptical without beating up my quads, and even though I stretch them some during warmups, I clearly need to do more of that because they're still really tight when I get to work. I do like the offset load, though I need to be careful when supporting the weight to keep my core engaged which helps keep it balanced. 
    • Kneeling Cable Lat Pulldowns - 3 x 12 - I was able to do these at 72.5 pounds (and the wide-grip bar) without too much trouble, so I think I'm actually *finally* ready to go up to 75 lbs (I can increment the cable machine by 2.5 lbs if I want to). Huzzah! With these I need to really focus on keeping my shoulder blades back and making sure the main drivers of this lift are my back muscles. Not my triceps, which are totally inadequate to the task of shifting 70+ pounds. 
  • Coordination Rows (Single-leg, Single-arm Cable Rows) - 3 x 12 - I'm still getting better at these. As mentioned above I figure I'm a week or two away from being able to do one whole set (of three) without having to put my foot down to correct my balance. There are no words for how much of an improvement this represents -- when I started these I could barely get through one whole rep without having to catch myself. Once I can do that, I can start getting rhythmic and faster and more powerful. I can't wait. Still at 15 pounds for the foreseeable future though. 
  • Cardio Intervals -- these were a scratch. The corner where I did jumping jacks and squat jumps the other day had a class doing abs work, my quad hurt so there was no way I could do more on the elliptical, and Patrick had been done for like 20 minutes when I got to this point, so I decided to pass. I sort of regret it -- I didn't get nearly as sweaty as I like and didn't feel like I worked nearly hard enough. But the reasons were sound -- especially the hurty quad part. I'll get back on these on Saturday. 
So it was a good workout but not a great one -- I learned some things and know where I'm going next with Workout E. That's all important. :D

Next workout is scheduled for Saturday. Goal for the workout -- pick up the pace and the intensity a bit to make up for a slightly easy workout on Wednesday.