Looking at the World Upside Down

I wasn’t even stressed out about today being upper body day, which is kind of weird. It’s not like upper body work has suddenly become super easy. Maybe I just didn’t have as much free mental space to think about how difficult upper body day would likely be this morning…and that was probably a very good thing!

1a. handstand push-up practice

You know, my brain is a funny, cruel thing at times. As soon as I saw the handstand push-ups on the white board, I was equally excited and fearful. The work that I have been doing for this goal is slowly showing me that I can do more than I think I can; however, there is still a substantial part of my brain that thinks I must be 10 shades of crazy for ever putting handstand push-ups as a goal. Okay, so it truly is a crazy goal, but I am kind of okay with being called a little crazy. Besides, the thrill of doing something that I once thought I couldn’t is one of the best feelings in the world.

The first set started with my head on the mat, kicking my legs up and Michael assisting me to push myself up into the handstand position. From there I did 3 micro push-ups. At some point between having my head on the mat and doing my micro pushes, I seemed to have kinked something in my lower neck or trap. There is a definite sore spot, and it hurts to turn my head too far either direction. I did some foam rolling on the spot, then switched to a lacrosse ball for a more targeted attack, and ‘attack’ is definitely the right word for it.

The second set started by kicking myself up into a handstand position without my head on the mat. The first attempt was a complete fail, but the second attempt was much better. For someone who used to do cartwheels all the time, it sure was intimidating to start off without being on my head! This time I did 5 micro pushes.

We stuck to the handstand start for the third, fourth and fifth sets. I think I did 6 pushes on the third set, a little deeper than previous sets, and my head even touched the top of the mat at least once or twice. For the final two sets, Michael wanted my head to touch each of the 5 reps.

By the time I was finished with the handstand push-up practice, I was feeling so much more confident about having included them on my list of goals! This is a clear example of just how much power our brain has over us when it comes to stepping outside of our comfort zone to do something we aren’t really sure we are capable of doing. It would be easy to listen to my brain telling me that this is way too scary and difficult for someone like me to have as a goal, but the more I practice and the better I get at the movement, the more I realize that the goal really isn’t too scary and difficult. Mind over matter may not be a solid principle in every situation, but I’m learning that it usually does apply to the things that scare me.

1b. chin-ups

Did you read my lengthy comments about the handstand push-ups? Yes? Great! Now forget all about that, because now I am talking about chins and all of the above does not apply!

Of course, I am kidding. Sort of, not really. Chin-ups are a different sort of beast, and they are frightfully intimidating. They really sucked today. They felt incredibly hard today. I am not even sure that there is actual progress happening, because today certainly didn’t feel like it. Michael said there was. I’ll have to take his word for it.

No bands anymore because I was stupid enough to put unassisted chin-ups as a goal. Silly, silly me! We are still working the little range of motion at the top and at the bottom.

3 + 4, 3 + 5, 2 + 4, 1 plus an 8 second eccentric

2a. dips

purple band x 8, blue band x 8, blue band x 8, red band x 8

When Michael wanted me to use the red band for the final set, he said that he knew I could get 6 reps. I joked about him thinking that I could only get 6. Reverse psychology works on me quite often. Naturally, I got 8 reps.

2b. one arm kettle bell rows

16 kg x 15 each, 20 kg x 10 each, 20 x 10 each, 20 x 10 each

Michael switched up my stance a bit, so that there would be less twisting. My left arm was definitely feeling weaker today; I could have done a few more reps with the right arm.

3a. incline rear laterals

10 lb dumbbells x 12 reps x 3 sets

3b. ????

I don’t know what this is called. Still on the incline bench, pinching shoulders together and lifting elbows. I can’t even explain it well!

10 lb dumbbells x 12 x 3 sets

Elbows out dumbbell rows! Ha! Yeah, I would never have figured that one out on my own…had to wait for Michael to text me back with the answer! Wait! He just texted me again to say that it should actually be called “elbows out chest supported dumbbell rows with scapular retraction and hold.” I think I like my “????” better.

3c. lying barbell extensions

45 lbs x ?

I don’t even know! I was all excited about using a real bar this time, but this set was brutal. My arms were kind of everywhere and I had to resort to some cheater reps towards the end. All told I probably did between 10-15.

For the second set, Michael asked if I wanted to drop down to the 35 pound bar and I agreed. He joked that there was nobody around to see me drop the weight. I joked that anyone reading my blog would know! Yes, I don’t always like dropping weight, but I understand that sometimes it is necessary and the smart thing to do.

35 x 15

And you know, this second set was so much better than the first!

40 x 15

Even this set was pretty decent.

3d. lateral raises

15 lb dumbbells x 15?, x 14

These were a challenge today. Michael expected me to breathe, to keep my head up, to keep the tension, to not pause, to not lean too far forward…and I just wanted to curl up and die. There was clicking in the front of the left shoulder on the descent of virtually every rep, so Michael changed things up a bit for the final set.

15 lbs x 8 on the left, 10 on the right

This time I did one arm at a time and my arm was a little more forward rather than more straight out to the side. This seemed to stop the clicking noise. The left arm had had enough by the eighth rep, but the right arm could have easily done 15-20!

3e. hammer curls

25 lbs x 8

25 lbs x 4, Michael told me to drop the dumbbells, 20 lbs x 7

20 lbs x 8

Again, Michael expected me to breathe doing these! I am quite positive that breath was moving in and out of my lungs, albeit at a much slower rate than he would like to hear/see.

So, today wasn’t all horrible. The dips and handstand push-ups were good, and I am excited about the handstand push-ups! The rest ranged from utter suck to decent. That kink is still there, which means I have a date with my lacrosse ball again soon. I’ve also been instructed to do more shoulder work with stretching and rolling, and we’ve come up with a plan of attack to shut down the hangry episodes mid to late afternoon. I need to add a bit of fat to each meal, and I need to make sure I am eating more than I currently do 2-4 hours before my afternoon training sessions.



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