Monday, May 11, 2015

Fitness Regime

Last summer I decided that I had no excuses; it was time to get in shape.  I still had some post-partum fat from my baby who was nearly one year old.  We decided to join the Arvada Rec Center's all access pass which grants us unlimited use of the gym facilities, its fitness classes, and up to 3 hours childcare per kid per day.  I started going twice a week, sometimes three times.  Once we go through the holidays I ramped up attendance.  Three turned to four times per week.

Six weeks ago I decided to start lifting.  Well no, I take that back.  Last summer I decided to start lifting.  I read a couple books, joined some forums, found some programs, took the weight room orientation class, and dallied with entering the weight area.  I was scared about injury and social etiquette in an unknown culture, and doing things wrong and looking dumb/hurting myself.  But I kept reading over and over how beneficial lifting is.  I tried it a few times in December and struggled to squat even the bar (45 pounds) and everything felt wrong.  It was boring and uncomfortable and I hated it so I stopped.

So six weeks ago I decided to just do it.  I was going to the gym nearly five times a week and you can only take so much time on the elliptical machines.  I made a plan and stuck to it.  I heard somewhere that you need to do something new for six weeks to see results/make it a habit/have a valid opinion/etc so that was my marker.

I settled on cardio Monday and Wednesday in the form of my beloved zumba.  Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday I lifted.  Friday and Sunday were rest days (sometimes I made up a missed day on Friday).

I settled on the StrongLifts program because it's simple, short, and had good support from the online fitness community.  I alternated each day either [squats, bench press, barbell row] or [squats, overhead press, deadlifts].  Halfway through I decided I truly hated the barbell row and it had the most chance of back injury.  I replaced it with assisted chin-ups because those also work the back and arms and it's a long term goal to be able to do a chin-up.  I also added a plank after a couple weeks because I wanted more targeted abdominal work. 

The first day I was low weight on everything: 45 pounds on most activities and couldn't even make the full reps and sets on bench press and overhead press.  My plank was barely 30 seconds when I added it.

This was my last week:

Yup.  ONE HUNDRED pound squats.  Even more on my deadlift.  And a TWO MINUTE plank.  In the words of Jack, "Holy Moly Guacamole."

My arm presses are still crap.  I hear that's common, for some women to do better with posterior chain stuff and struggle with arms.  Part of the problem is the lower weight barbells are provided in 10 pound increments so I have a hard time jumping up that much between days.  (The 35 pound was actually two 17.5 dumbbells, but dumbbells feel very different and still go up by 5's). 

Videos, if you care about that.

I take the videos to check my form because the mirrors are not always visible and only waist high.  Plus you can't really crane your neck to check and keep proper form.  I can tell I need to keep my knees more stable on my squats.  My back angle is too flat on deadlifts (partly because my plates are still small so it's lower to the ground) and I could hold it up longer at the top.  Any lifters have other pointers for me?  Jason?  Jenn?

So yeah.  This is basically a brag post.  I'd apologize but this IS my journal.  I get a real high from lifting now.  I feel stronger and capable.  My back has been great.  I'm a little worried about my knees - my left one gets a little creaky and sore.  I'm going to back off from 105# that I did on Saturday and work at 95# this week, focusing on form.  I still like zumba but I look forward to my lifting days more than cardio days.  I haven't lost any weight in the last six weeks (or the last four months for that matter - serious plateau here) but I definitely have more muscle tone and an inch off my waist.

I don't know how long I can keep up this 5 day per week schedule, but I'm going to try to stick to it.  My goals are to squat my body weight (160), do a chin-up (ha!), and overhead press 50.

Wish me luck!


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