Friday, April 26, 2013

This new strength routine

So, I've been doing strength training for almost 2 years with months here and there taken off for injury, vacation, doing other stuff (landscaping my yard), etc. But, in general, for 2 years strength training has been a priority.

As you know, if you've been reading here for awhile, I was doing the Les Mills class, BodyPump for strength training for much of that time. Then last fall I started working with a personal trainer in conjunction with BodyPump and then this January, I dropped BodyPump all together and just worked with a personal trainer twice a week and now I'm still working with a personal trainer once a week for a few more weeks and doing New Rules for Lifting, Supercharged with my husband 3 times a week at the gym.

Now, with BodyPump, every 4 months (or is it 3 months?) there is a new weight routine. The routine goes: warm-up, squats, chest, triceps, back, lunges, shoulders, abs, cool-down. The instructor will give some indicator if this routine is harder, easier or about the same as previous routines, so you have an idea of how much weight to put on the bar. And, as it gets easier, you should add more weight to the bar and so on.

Both my husband and I were good about upping our weights with pushing ourselves, but it did get to a point where we felt, "Ok, I can finally do it." Then, we would add some more weights to the bar for next time. That next time we may or may not be able to do all the reps, but we tried to. In any case, I always felt like I was accomplishing something - or getting better. Even though I was always pushing myself, it didn't feel like, "here we are again, super hard." I think it's because we had other people in class to compare too. We could see how far we had come. We could feel that we were getting better and improving. We knew our starting point and current point, even two years in as we always did the same exercises.

With this new routine, I'm not feeling that. With New Rules for Lifting, if you can do the required 10-15 reps, then it's too easy and you need to add more weight or do a different exercise so that you max out before the 10-15 prescribed reps. You basically should never complete things easily.

Plus, there is no one to compare yourself too. Well, I have my husband, but with most things he can do more than I can or we can do the same. (Core, lunges, power jumps, combination weights up and lunges, we are the same. Anything upper body and squats he is stronger). I just feel it's hard, hard, hard every time. And, well, it should be, but so far at least, I'm not feeling a sense of accomplishment. It's not just about adding more weight. It's many times changing the activity to make it a harder activity. So, it's easy to lose track of the starting point.

Well, there is one exception. With nearly every exercise grouping, there are different levels of difficulty. With core, Sven and I are already at the Super Charged level as I guess our cores are strong (and neither of us used to have strong cores). We tried each exercise prescribed for one workout and until workout 6 or so, every time we had to do a harder one the next time. We can hold a plank for 60 seconds, hold it with one leg up for 30 seconds (each side) and we can hold up an arm tucked in for 30 seconds each side, and in push-up position hold up one arm, each side 30 seconds. The Super Charged exercise is to hold opposing arm and leg up in push-up position. This one we can hold for about 15 out of the required 30 seconds, both sides.  So, in this case, it's easy to see that we have made progress. For everything else? Nope.

Even the push-ups. It starts with doing two sets of 15 full length push-ups. Now, there is a side note that says if you can't do full length push-ups to start at the wall and gradually work your way down to the floor at varying degrees of incline until you can do push-ups, but in the pictures it starts with full-length pushups and just gets harder from there.  That alone is so discouraging for me as I couldn't do 15 full length push-ups. Then I could do a few, but then a few shallow ones. Just yesterday, on workout 7 or 8, I lost count, I can do 2 sets of ten full length push-ups with full depth, perfect form. In the meantime, my husband is doing them with two small rubber balls under his hands to increase the difficulty after already breezing past the one leg, legs inclined and probably something else.

And, after every workout next day there is some sore muscles somewhere. Today it's my traps and glutes. Last time it was my hamstrings and lats. Basically, I'm always slightly sore.

I know this is good, as it means I'm building muscle, but it adds to the "I'm not getting better!"I hope that feeling goes away. Doesn't help that the gym is full of gym rats who can run circles around me. I am so thankful for the days a woman comes in that is way weaker than me, it gives me a bit of perspective of "OK, you have made some progress", but I still feel like a weakling most of the time!

And... sorry for the absence. It was a crazy, crazy weekend and a crazy week, but all that is behind me and caught up, so I can concentrate on writing here again. Eating has been spotty. Exercise has been good. That's been my unfortunate pattern as of late. Hoping I can make it better.


  1. Where are you? We're missing your posts. Hope all is well.

  2. I've been missing your posts too. I hope everything is ok.