Sunday, December 13, 2015

Workout I #1 (and the Pre-Phase 5 walkthrough): Going Heavy!! (Workouts 56 & 56)

I'm a little concerned about how this workout is going to
work, logistically. But I'm excited about it. 
I decided a week or so ago, before I really was getting down to the nitty gritty of planning Phase 5 and Workouts I and J, that I wanted to do another "heavy" phase. If you remember (and if I remember), Phase 1 had 2 sets of 15 reps and fairly low weights, Phase 2 had 3 sets of 10, and Phases 3 and 4 had 3 sets of 12. Phase 4 was kind of modeled on the same philosophy as Phase 1, but I didn't want to go lighter on weights (so I could do more reps), so I just continued on with 12. I'm ready for another heavy phase now, though, because it's been a while and I want to really push myself.

So for Phase 5, I'm going for 3 sets of 8 reps, which means fewer reps overall by rather a lot (which I'm not entirely in love with, but I don't think I have time to do 4 sets of everything). If I get to a point where I want to increase the volume of lifting (the number of times I move the weight) rather than increasing the weight, I'll go up to 4 sets on a few of them, maybe. And maybe we'll just enjoy a month where workouts take a little less time than they have been. Or I'll be able to get back to doing Cardio Intervals every time because I won't be running so long. Or something. 

Reducing the reps means I can increase the weight by a fair amount, though less than you might think in some instances. Certainly less than I thought. 

I did my Pre-Phase 5 walkthrough -- where I do one (or maybe 2) sets of each of the exercises in both workouts so I can set the weights, make sure I'm physically capable of everything I'm planning on, and sort out any logistical wrinkles. I'm clearly getting better at planning these workouts, because I didn't have to make any changes from my initial plan after the run-through. I can do everything and the balance of what I'm working when (which muscles get worked in which workout and how) is good. 

There is a logistical problem with Workout I -- two of the exercises (Assisted Chinups and Back Extensions) use equipment that there's only one of in the gym. I don't know about how much use the Assisted Chinup machine gets, but I know the Back Extension station gets quite a lot. I have an alternate exercise for both of them though. If the Assisted Chinup machine is in use when I need it, I can do Lat Pulldowns. If the Back Extension station is in use, I can go up to the dumbbell corner and do Romanian Deadlifts. So I am not without recourse for those busy nights at the gym when there can be traffic at some of the stations. 

Yesterday, I went late enough in the afternoon that the gym was nearly empty and I didn't run into any traffic problems on anything at all. So I was able to do the whole workout as I planned it. :D 

Yesterday's workout was: 
  • Plank with Reduced Base of Support - 3 x 30 + seconds - (You can see a video of a regular Plank here.) This is like a regular Plank only with fewer points of contact with the ground, and therefore less stability. The options are to raise one leg, raise one arm, or raise one arm and the opposite leg. What I did yesterday was to raise one arm. The instructions in the book (The New Rules of Lifting For Life) say to do half the time with your left arm or leg up and half the time with your right arm or leg up, which makes a lot of sense. In quest of a video to link to, I found one site which suggested that raising the leg is easier than raising an arm. Huh. I'll try that next time to see if it's the case. This is going to present the same problem I had with planks before -- clock watching and stopping before I need to because the clock says to. The first two sets I did 30 seconds (15 each side) and felt like I could have done more. The third set I did 40 seconds. So I'm going to start there next time. 
  • Coordination Rows - 3 x 10 - Because I'm doing a heavy phase, I decided to reduce the number of reps of these so I can increase the weight a bit. I might change my mind about that though, because really the point of these is to stand on one leg and move and doing that for *longer* is what helps my balance more. Or something like that. I'm going to ponder this between now and next time and think about going back to 12 reps per set. 
  • Dumbbell Jump Squat - 2 x 5 - I used a pair of 35 lb dumbbells doing these which was hard. I need to be careful how I do these to not put strain on my back in either the jumping or the landing, which is why I'm reluctant to increase either the weight or the number of reps. I'll keep an eye on them and when I feel I can I'll either go up to 3 sets of 5 or I'll raise the weights. 
  • Alternating sets of:
    • Offset Dumbbell Lunges - 3 x 8 - (You can see a video of this here.) I've been doing bodyweight lunges only (or trivial weight -- I went up to a pair of 7.5 lb dumbbells for the last workout in Phase 4) since I had my Hurty Quad issues back in Phase 3. And when I hurt my quad back in Phase 3 it was doing Offset-Loaded Reverse Lunges. So I'm feeling just a tad diffident about these. During my walkthrough on Wednesday, I figured I could use a 30 lb weight for these. During my workout yesterday, I accidentally grabbed a 25 lb weight. (I'd like to think it was in the rack in the wrong place, but it was probably just a swing and a miss on my part.) I felt the first bit of a twinge of that pain in my quad when I was doing these, so I'm probably going to back the weight down a bit until I'm not straining my quad. I'll try 15lbs next time. 
    • Assisted Chinups (and Scapular Retraction) - 3 x 8 - I decided to take a break from the Lat Pulldowns I've been doing since, well, Phase 1 (eep) and do Chinups instead. Except that I'm totally not ready for lifting my whole bodyweight. So I'm using the Assisted Chinup machine. (You can see a video of how to use the machine here. Ignore the first half where he's showing how to use it for dips -- I'm not doing those.) I started with it set so I was chinning up about 85 lbs, but moved it after the first set because that was way too light. I now have it set so that I'm chinning-up about 90lbs, which is a nice increase over the 80 I would be doing if I were doing 12 reps of Lat Pulldowns. There is a lot more *core* work in these chinups than there was in the Lat Pulldowns. I'm excited about that. While I'm on the Assisted Chinup machine, I'm also doing what The Women's Health Big Book of Exercises calls Scapular Retraction -- hang from a chinup bar and pull your scapulae back and down. (You can sort of see a video here, though I'm doing them a little bit differently -- I'm doing 2 sets of 4 repetitions and holding each rep for a count of two (one-one thousand, two-one thousand), at the end of a set of Chinups.) I might eventually fold those into doing the chinups -- start with the scapular retraction and continue to chinning up. If the Assisted Chinup machine is in use, I can do Kneeling Lat Pulldowns at the same weight I'm doing these at. I can also do the scapular retractions with that bar. 
  • Alternating sets of: 
    • Back Extensions (or Hyperextensions, as they're called on - 3 x 8 -  (You can see a video of these here.) I need to remember to set the pad that I lean against at a low enough height that it doesn't interfere with the hinge action of my hips. I did it right when I was doing my walkthrough on Wednesday but had it one notch higher yesterday and it didn't feel quite as right. I started out holding onto a 10lb weight plate, but two sets of that made it clear that was way too light, so I went up to two 10lb weight plates for the third set and that was a better challenge. If this machine is in use when I need it, I'll go up to the front corner and do Romanian Deadlifts. My last weight for deadlifts was two 40lb dumbbells for 12 reps. I'll probably try 45s at first if I have to go that route. 
    • Diagonal Raises - 3 x 8 - (You can see a video of these here.) This is one of those upper body exercises in an area where I am Not Strong. After the walkthrough on Wednesday, I set my weight for these at 7.5 lbs. After a couple of sets I went ahead and moved up to 10lbs because 7.5 wasn't enough of a challenge. Which means I'm maybe getting stronger. Which is cool. 
  • Cardio Intervals - 5 x 30:30 Jumping Jack alternated with 5 x 20:40 Jump Squat Intervals of Insanity - It was good to do Insanities again. Fortunately, I was under absolutely no time pressure yesterday, so I could spend as long as I wanted. I've manged to balance the level of effort of the Jump Squats and the Jumping Jacks pretty well (because of the different amount of time and the different recovery periods) so it's a lot of crazy all out effort. Love it. Though I was definitely About Dead when I finished. 
So that was yesterday's workout and my first venture into Phase 5. This is going to be a serious muscle-building phase. I can tell, I'm kind of creaky sore today. In a good, "I used these muscles hard" way. I'll take something for it tonight before bed so I don't go through the day creaky sore tomorrow too. 
I'm pleased with how Phase 5 is shaping up. As I was drafting the workouts, I really liked how Workout J looked. Though it's a lot more familiar than this one. Workout I has a lot of new things that I've not done before with only a few old friends. If I remember right, Workout J is the opposite -- mostly familiar things with some new stuff to brighten it up. 

Next workout is scheduled for Monday. Goal for the workout: Rock Workout J and get it off to a great start! I'm hoping to really kick some things up quite a bit. :D 

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