Thursday, March 8, 2012

Squat gains, presses just chilling in neutral

I mean, I did gain a TINY bit in my push presses--basically, instead of failing out at 4 reps at 65 pounds, I was able to do two sets before I needed to scale down to 60 pounds. So, ten reps over four is a tiny improvement.

My squats went both well and not well. They went well in that I increased weight to 95 on my last set. My sets were 75, 75, 85, 85, 95. However, it was all sort of uncomfortable form-wise. The gym was really busy when I went (I need to get it through my head: do not go between 4 and 7!), so I had to wait a good 15 minutes for a rack, then when one opened up it was a squat cage rather than the slanted deadlift rack I usually like to use. Squatting inside the cage is of course safer, but I just feel weird and boxed in. No like.

Also, I was battling the lovely side effects of my Special Lady Friend, who has rolled into town with a minimum of headache this time around, but has brought with her the usual bloating and more-than-usual sad feelings. It's not as fun squatting heavy weight when a) stuff is shooting out of your uterus in a downward trajectory that the squat is, anthropologically speaking, designed to enhance, and b) you cried at a Sleepy's Mattress commercial in the car on the way to the gym.

Waking up to HIIT

I've devised a new way to squeeze in my HIIT, which always seems to fall by the wayside: do it immediately upon waking up.

This little workout will be done daily, for time:

Warmup of 2min jump rope and 5 sun salutations
150 rep challenge: 25 pushups, 25 squats, 25 tuck jumps, 25 rollups, 25 burpees, 25 leg lifts

I split the workout into 5 rounds of 5 reps each, because I hate when one move at high reps completely depletes a muscle group; it just means that form is sacrificed for the rest of the moves. Also, it allows me to move through the workout pretty much unbroken, whereas doing 25 burpees in a row would have me pausing to gasp for breath every other burpee after around #11.

This morning I did this whole thing (minus the warmup) in 11:17. Tomorrow I will attempt to beat that time, and so on and so on. My ultimate goal is to do this in 6 minutes.

Tuesday's lifting session was good. I did deadlifts and pullups. Scaling back my deadlift weight to work on form was a really good idea. I did 135 the whole time and really concentrated on tightening across the shoulders before initiating the pull, and it helped a lot. Not more butt-lifting. I then went over to the assisted pullup machine, which is a really old-school thing with basically just a lever you rest your foot on while doing the pullup, and on the other end of the lever is whatever weight you load. I liked it a lot better than the fancy ones at the globo-gyms, which seemed to do more of the work for me, whereas this is really just a place to rest your foot. I did my 5x5 with 55 pounds of resistance loaded. I'm going to try to cut that by 5 pounds each pullup workout, and in the meantime I'll be doing negatives in between lifting sets during my other workouts. I WILL GET A PULLUP, if it kills me.

Today is a Push day, so I have squats and push presses. Hopefully I'll be adding weight; we'll see how it goes.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Falling in love with lifting

Wow, I haven't updated in a while. A few things have happened since my last post. First of all, I moved to Austin, where I'm currently having a blast. Way preferable to where I was living. Second, I got deeper into the sport of weightlifting, and now consider myself thoroughly obsessed. We're talking, "staying up past bedtime to read lifting blogs even though the number one lifting rule is get TONS of sleep" style obsessed.

I joined an awesome gym here in Austin that's very no-frills, just tons of racks and benches, with everyday regulars lifting heavy. I think there's maybe one treadmill in the whole place. No music, no freezing air conditioning, no makeup-spackled Lululemon bunnies bouncing slowly on ellipticals for their "cardio". Everyone who works out there is really nice, too, and very willing to offer advice, help, or a spot if you need it.

I mentioned a while back that I was doing three sets RPT-style, but I've switched back to 5x5s because I was just feeling like I needed more work on form and more practice with the weekly toll of lifting before I tried a style that essentially has you starting the set with your max load. One of the sites I've come across in my gigantic lifting info-feast is Nerd Fitness, which has a great forum, and whose founder wrote an ebook called Rebel Fitness. I purchased and read the whole thing (it's sitting on my ipad alongside Starting Strength as my current most-read book) and have been scaling back the various lifting moves I was doing for a more streamlined approach that I think is going to build a stronger base of not only strength but skill on the bar. So right now, my lifting routine looks like:

Day A:
Push Press 5x5 (current load: 65)
Squat 5x5 (current load: 85 [I can definitely squat more weight, but my form requires a lot of work due to my tight hips and sway back, so I'm keeping it a little low]).

Day B:
Pullups 5x5 (currently: still cannot do a single one. Am doing a lot of negatives and one-foot assisted pullups.)
Deadlift 5x5 (current load: 155 [I will probably be doing 135 tomorrow, though, because my form on this one is also bad. My fireman friend at the gym helped me correct it last time and I need to scale back the weight to practice.)

I alternate back and forth every other day instead of defining "workout weeks", because I discovered that I just really don't like taking two rest days in a row (usually what happens when I do a MWF lifting schedule). On the off days, depending on how I feel, I'm either resting, sprinting, or doing a quick metcon with my sandbag, kettlebell, or hammer.

In the interest of full disclosure, I'll say that I also walk River 2 miles twice a day, and have been throwing in a run with her in the morning lately, just because I need to get back into the habit of running for Tough Mudder--nothing long, just a couple miles. I'm going to start adding my niece in her jogging stroller into the running mix, too, because running while pushing an extra forty pounds seems like something that will help with TM training. Lastly, I also ride my bike, not daily, but probably something like three times a week. I mostly go short distances, and usually for utility, like going to the grocery store and hauling back my groceries, or buying dog food/cat litter, or riding to the coffeeshop to work, like I did today.

So, it's a much more active life here in Austin, which suits me fine.

Another great thing about lifting is that skipping a workout is not just unthinkable, it's a huge bummer when forces intervene to make me miss a workout (i.e. the gym closes earlier on Saturday, which I found to my dismay when I showed up at 7 to work out the other day). I enjoy it so much that I look forward to the gym--like, a LOT. So I've been really on top of getting my workouts done.

I'm going to try to be more diligent about posting, but I'm moving again in about a week, this time into the apartment where I will be living indefinitely, so I'll be pretty busy.