End of Week 2

I have now completed week 2 of my new training program, and I’m happy to say that this week was better than the first in several ways. I felt stronger. My reps felt and looked better, and there has been less muscle soreness.

1. wide grip bench press (2-2×0)

warm up: 45 lbs x 8, 65 x 6, 85 x 5

main event: 95 lbs x 6, 95 x 6, 95 x 6, 95 x 5

2. high bar squats (3-0x0)

warm up: 45 lbs x 8, 65 x 8

main event: 90 x 10, 90 x 10, 90 x 10

3. close grip bench (3-1×0)

70 lbs x 12, 70 x 9

I kept my feet on the bench for the second set, because the back was feeling achy with the arching.

4a. 45-degree back extensions

x 12, x 10, x 8

4b. leg raises

x 12, x 8, x 6

The leg raises were very uncomfortable on the back, which is why the reps dropped so drastically. But I think it was a good session overall.

Choosing Hope

“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.” ~Nelson Mandela

About this time last year I was in the midst of an unexpected choice to leave the job I had held for 12 years. I hadn’t sought out this opportunity, but I couldn’t help but feel optimism and hope when the possibility was dangled in front of me. Such a decision could not be made lightly, no matter how sweet. As frustrated as I was in my job, there was still fear in leaving and losing all that was familiar and comfortable in my position there. I could have allowed that fear to paralyze me. I could have simply remained where I was, feeling stuck and frustrated, but I chose differently.

Although my official 1 year anniversary at my current job isn’t until September 1st, today is the anniversary of two out of three interviews. I remember the nervousness I felt going into each interview and the growing excitement I felt over the very real possibility of making a career change. There was a measure of anxiety and sadness mixed with the excitement knowing that I might need to give notice and disappoint my co-workers. Still, the hope and excitement outweighed the potential negatives, and I have never looked back.

I am definitely more comfortable in my “new” job after 11 months, but I am very much aware that there is still, and always, more to learn! Sometimes I feel frustrated that I don’t know everything by now…until I remember that I had 12 years to learn and grow comfortable in my previous job. It isn’t often that I walk into my old stomping grounds, but when I do I am quickly reminded of all of the reasons why leaving was so desirable and easy. I know that I made the right choice at the right time. Is my new job perfect? Of course not! However, I am happy to be where I am now, and I am proud of myself for stepping outside of my comfort zone and fear to make a choice based on hope.

Out the Door

Going to the gym and training by myself has presented me with a new obstacle to overcome. As I was driving to the gym this morning I realized that this “drag myself out the door” mentality was exactly the same thing I experienced back in my running days. Even though I looked forward to running and enjoyed the run itself, most days I would find myself struggling to get out the door; however, the moment I put on my shoes and shut the door behind me, my attitude flipped like a light switch and I was happy to be running. This is what I am currently experiencing whenever I need to go to the gym. I want to train. I am committed to training and won’t skip a session, but getting out of the house is a reluctant process. I’d like to think this will change in time as I grow more comfortable in my new gym surroundings and get to know the people there. And even if it doesn’t change, at least I know that I am focused, determined, and committed to doing what I need to do to reach my goals.

1. deficit deadlifts (2-2×1)

warm up: 95 lbs x 6, 135 x 5, 165 x 4

main event: 195 x 5, 195 x 5, 195 x 5

Oh boy! So, I put my belt on beginning with my second warm up set. I generally wait longer to use my belt, but since the back has been achy for the past week I figured I’d play it safe. I was in the midst of my second working set, when I suddenly realized why the deadlifts were feeling so easy today…I had forgotten all about the deficit and was doing regular deadlifts! Oops! I considered sticking with the conventional for the final set but ultimately chose to grab a plate and get at least one set of deficits in. Definitely a difference with the deficit! Yet, I think they still felt better than they did last week, and the back was less irritated during the sets.

2. incline bench (3-1×0)

45 lbs x 8, 55 x 15, 55 x 12, 55 x 10

These also felt better than last week!

3. stiff legged deadlifts (3-1×0)

105 lbs x 15, 105 x 8

Unlike last week, there was chalk in the box at the gym today, which meant I was able to maintain a solid grip for all of my deadlift reps. A solid grip helps make the reps feel easier…at least a little bit.

4a. side plank

x 30 seconds each, x 30, x 15

4b. barbell row

65 lbs x 12, 65 x 12, 65 x 10

4c. glute bridge

30 lbs x 15, 30 x 15, 30 x 15

 

Procrastination Delayed

It feels like I half-dragged myself to the gym this morning. My intention was to go first thing in the morning, assuming my coach sent me week 2’s program before I was ready to head out. I got up this morning, had a bite to eat, and got ready for the gym. Looked for my car keys and could not find them. I am not the sort of person who misplaces or loses things very often, so it didn’t take long for me to realize that my husband likely had taken my car. A look out the window confirmed my suspicion. Since I work this afternoon and late into the evening, I had a small window of opportunity to hit the gym this morning. I determined that I’d have to train tomorrow morning if my husband didn’t bring my car back by a certain time. Thankfully, he brought it back and I was able to go today. I’m glad I didn’t have to push it off until tomorrow.

1. high bar squats (2-0x0)

warm up: 95 lbs x 5, 135 x 4, 165 x 3

main event, with belt: 175 x 3, 175 x 2, 175 x 3

My coach gave me a couple of new cues to use for my squats, so I was trying to incorporate those today. I’m not sure how successful I was, but I tried. The new cues made the heavier sets feel a bit tougher; however, I think these still felt better than last week’s sets at 165 pounds.

One of the things my coach wanted me to do was to face out of the squat rack rather than facing the mirror. Mirrors are a new thing for me in the gym, because my old gym simply didn’t have any. There I would squat facing the wall or facing the open gym…neither bothered me very much, even when there were other people training in front of me. While I am not fond of seeing my reflection while I squat, I found facing the gym today to be rather disconcerting. In competition I am used to focusing on one spot, having tunnel vision and blocking out everything around me. In the gym during my set, I am still quite capable of focusing my attention and ignoring my surroundings, so I don’t know why I was bothered so much today. Maybe it was the fact that there was someone using the rack directly beside the one I was using…close enough that I had to wait for her to finish her set before I could change my weights.

2. close grip bench (2-0x0)

warm up: 45 lbs x 8, 65 x 5, 85 x 5, 95 x 3

main event: 105 x 5, 105 x 5, 105 x 5

These definitely felt stronger and easier than last week’s sets at 100 pounds. I was nervous about these this morning, because I didn’t have my husband to give me a hand-off for the heavy sets. Somehow I figured out a way to get the bar off the rack by myself without putting my shoulders into a bad position or sapping my strength. The back is still achy and cranky, so the arch wasn’t super comfortable.

3. front squats (3-1×0)

75 lbs x 10, 75 x 8, 75 x 8

Even though the weight increased from last week, I’m so glad that it is still relatively light, because the legs turned into gelatin in the midst of the second set.

4a. walking lunges

60 lbs x 12, 60 x 12, 60 x 10

4b. dumbbell rows

30 lbs x 10, 30 x 10, 30 x 8

4c. plank

x 40 seconds, x 30 seconds, x 25 seconds

4d. dumbbell rear delts

8 lbs x 13, 8 x 12, 8 x 10

 

 

Scheduled

“To be prepared is half the victory.” ~Cervantes

My daughter has expressed her growing excitement for the past several days as she was anticipating the start of a new day-timer. Sure, I rolled my eyes over her excitement, but the truth is that I am just the same when it comes time to begin a new day-timer, calendar, or journal. In fact, my current day-timer will be finished at the end of July, which means I am also rather excited to crack open fresh pages very soon.

I like to be organized and part of being organized means planning my time. Life is busy, but I function better when there is more order than chaos. Since I have never worked a Monday to Friday/9-5 kind of job, as much as I strive for consistency, I have to be flexible. With a work schedule that is rarely the same from week to week, a paper day-timer (as well as the calendar on my phone) is absolutely essential for my sanity.

My training times over the past few years have been fairly consistent, although there were occasional changes made to accommodate holidays, my work schedule, and other situations that would arise from time to time. Now that I am no longer training one-on-one with a trainer, I have more flexibility in what days and times I go to the gym. This can be both good and bad.

Ideally, I would like to train on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays; however, there will be times when I have to change days up a bit. I might also need to be flexible with what time I train, although I am already used to training at different times in the day. I exercised a lot of flexibility with this first week of training in my new gym with my new program. I received the program Monday morning and had to work that afternoon/evening, so I started the program on Tuesday. I had considered sticking to the planned Wednesday training day, I ultimately pushed it back until Thursday, because I was sore and needed the rest day. Of course, pushing day 2 until Thursday left me with the same dilemma for day 3…either go to the gym on Friday, sore and unrested, or push it back until Saturday. I opted for Saturday. I made it work for my schedule and what my body needed during this first week back at the gym with a program more physically demanding than what I have been doing for the past month or so.

A friend cautioned me the other day about being too loose with scheduling my training sessions now that I am on my own. Although my friend knows that I am fairly disciplined and consistent with my training, he is familiar with how easy it is to allow training to fall by the wayside when life gets busy. I understand what he had to say and cannot disagree with it. I certainly felt the tugs of laziness this week. It wasn’t that I felt disinclined to get the training in, but rather I found myself wavering in terms of when I would go. I didn’t really want to train Saturday morning, because I knew I’d have to go early in order to be finished and have time to get ready for work; however, I didn’t want to train Friday with the way that my back was hurting from Thursday’s session. I wanted to sleep in on Saturday instead of being at the gym at 8:00 in the morning, but I wasn’t keen on going to the gym after work around 5 pm. There was never any doubt that I would go to the gym, yet my motivation was difficult to find. If I didn’t have a specific purpose to focus on, like my competition in November, I can see how easy it would be to make excuses for skipping a training session now and then.

I’d like to think that I am not such a person as that though. In several areas of my life I am highly disciplined and focused. Depending on what is on the agenda for a training session, I might need to be more flexible with the day and time I train for the simple fact that I might need assistance. Now that my husband and I both go to the same gym, he can give me a spot or a hand-off when necessary, but he won’t always be available to go to the gym at the same time I might like to go. The recent changes to my work schedule might also require more random training sessions than fixed. This is one reason why I live by my day-timer. I function better with the ability to visualize what needs doing and when, and it is easier to put the pieces together in the best order when I can see them all at once.

Week One Done

The low back has been quite achy since Thursday’s deadlift session. ¬†While still not as bad as it has been previously, I am frustrated by this reappearance and doing what I can to attack it. As I was warming up at the gym this morning, the ache and discomfort persisted and made me wonder how I’d be able to do my squat sets when I could barely do a body weight squat.

1. wide grip bench press (2-2×0)

warm up: 45 lbs x 6, 65 x 5, 85 x 4, 95 x 4

main event: 110 x 3, 110 x 3, 110 x 3, 110 x 2

The back discomfort made arching uncomfortable, so I minimized my arch during the warm up sets by having my feet on the bench…barely since the benches are not very long. I don’t like to do heavy sets without the use of my legs though, so I put my feet down and had a small arch for the working sets. Even then, I was a little slow getting up after each set.

2. high bar squats (3-0x0)

warm up: 45 x 8, 65 x 10

main event: 90 x 10, 90 x 8, 90 x 8

The weight was light, but the slower eccentric and higher reps made these sets anything but easy. The back was less bothered than it was doing body weight squats earlier, but it still wasn’t completely normal.

3. close grip bench press (3-1×0)

65 lbs x 12, 65 x 12

These were done with my feet on the bench again because of the back.

4a. back extensions

x 12, x 12, x 8

4b. leg raises

x 12 , x 10, x 8

The back extensions actually felt good on the low back, but my hamstrings were screaming in agony. The leg raises, however, were like torture on the back.

Week one of the new program is complete.

Familiarizing

Day 2 of the new program took place this morning. It wasn’t horrible. It wasn’t amazing. I am still familiarizing myself with the new gym, where the various pieces of equipment are located, and the quirks of worn flooring, loud grunting, and the details of my program. Becoming familiar and comfortable in my new gym will take some time, but I know it will eventually happen. The quirks of the building and equipment aren’t likely to change anytime soon, but I will at least grow accustomed to them or figure out ways to work around them.

1. deficit deadlifts

warm up: 95 lbs x 6, 135 x 6, 165 x 4, 195 x 2

main event: 195 x 4, 195 x 3, 195 x 3

My working sets were programmed for 220 pounds, but my warm up at 195 felt tough and uncomfortable on my lower back. I put my belt on and opted to stay at the same weight for the working sets. The target was 4-6 reps. The ache in the back continued and remains even now…nothing too severe but I’d rather be cautious than risk further back troubles. I’ve had quite enough of that already this year.

2. incline bench press

45 lbs x 8, 55 x 10, 55 x 8, 55 x 8

I am definitely weaker benching on an incline, and I am definitely not a fan of my gym’s incline bench set up.

3. stiff leg deadlifts

95 lbs x 12, 95 x 12

Grip was definitely an issue with these. I did locate the chalk box at the gym, but it was empty. Also, that ache in the lower back was an issue doing these.

4a. side plank

x 33 seconds each side, x 25 each, x 25 each

4b. barbell row

60 lbs x 10, 60 x 12, 60 x 12

The weights for some of these accessory exercises were left blank for me to fill in. The leeway is welcome, but it also makes me feel a measure of uncertainty. I’m probably playing it safe and easy, at least for now.

4c. glute bridge

25 lbs x 15, 25 x 15, 25 x 15